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Hanamichi Sakuragi, Gintoki Sakata, Luffy… What are the conditions for a hero to become the most popular?

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There are surprisingly few cases in which the main character of a manga or anime becomes number one in a popularity poll. However, there are some protagonists who are unquestionably the most popular.
So, what kind of protagonist is most popular?
We’re going to take our protagonist, who continues to be one of the top favorites, as an example, and we’re going to get to the bottom of that secret!

Are the protagonists of famous works surprisingly not No. 1 in popularity?

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The protagonist is the central character of the story and is the character that readers and viewers are most likely to be emotionally invested in.
Naturally, the protagonist has the most roles and plenty of opportunities to show off his or her skills, so there is no need to worry about how to portray him or her in a cool scene.

On the other hand, it is a simple fact that the protagonist has a “protagonist’s correction”.
Particularly in works that focus on battles and sports, the hero must win due to the nature of the story, and many people seem to think that the hero’s battles and matches are boring because they are predictable from the beginning.

Also, the position of the hero is very different in romance stories where the heroine is the main character instead of the hero.
The heroine may be the center of the story, but it is not always the center of the work.
The main character is rarely the most popular character in a romance story.

Because of this, there are surprisingly few works where the main character is the most popular, and this fact has become a semi-established theory among manga and anime fans.

Now, let’s check if the main character is really not the most popular, by looking at some of the most popular Weekly Shonen Jump titles, many of which are officially voted as the most popular.

First of all, let’s look at the national title “Dragon Ball”.
The main character of this work is Son Goku, who is one of the most famous in the manga and anime world.
However, only in the early part of the Buu Arc was his son Gohan the main character.

The Dragon Ball series was voted twice in the Shonen Jump magazine, once in 1993 (towards the end of the Cell Arc) and once in 1995 (towards the end of the Buu Arc), with Gohan coming in first and Goku coming in second.
In the Cell Arc, Goku had to leave the series due to a heart condition, and the fact that he didn’t get to play many episodes seems to have had an impact on this, but at the time, Gohan was even more popular than Goku, which is why the change of heroes was realized.
However, as soon as he became the main character, the popularity of Gohan settled down and he ended up in the 6th place in the second round of voting.

Mr. Yoshihiro Togashi’s “YuYu Hakusho” and “HUNTERxHUNTER” are famous for the fact that the main character has never won the first place.
The same is true for “Kinnikuman”, and while other superheroes are taking the top spot in the series, Suguru has never been able to get to the top.

There are many protagonists who start out in first place, but fall off as the series progresses.

Tsubasa Ozora from “Captain Tsubasa” was number one when the series was first published in Weekly Shonen Jump, but afterwards he gave up the number one spot to Taro Cape.
Kuroko Tetsuya from “Kuroko’s Basketball” was also No.1 until the 2nd episode, but was overtaken by Akashi Seijuro in the 3rd episode.
Ichigo Kurosaki, the main character of “BLEACH”, was the top by the 3rd episode, but he fell to the 3rd place in the 4th episode.
Deku from “My Hero Academia” came in first place for the first time and hasn’t reached the top since the second time.

Naruto” has won first place three times in seven popularity polls.
However, it lags behind Kakashi-sensei in terms of total votes.

Thus, in many popular works, the main character has lost the number one spot to other characters.
The example of Gohan is a notable one, but the protagonist’s coarseness may be noticeable because of his high number of appearances, which may make fans look harder at him.

However, there are some protagonists who are the absolute champions of the show, no matter how many times they are voted on.

Luffy from “One Piece” has won the first place in all 6 official popularity polls.
Gintoki Sakata of “Gintama” also did not give up the first place until the end, and like Luffy, he won the first place for 6 consecutive years.
Hanamichi Sakuragi from “Slam Dunk” was also No. 1 in all the popularity polls.

There are very few protagonists who can keep the number one spot for as long as they can.
What makes them different from the other characters?

The more unfinished a protagonist is, the more you like them?

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What “One Piece”, “Gintama”, and “Slam Dunk” have in common is that the main characters are not the only ones who are popular, but the other main characters are also very popular.
Zoro and Sanji in “One-Pi”, Hijikata, Okita, and Takasugi in “Gintama”, and Nagarekawa and Mitsui in “Slam Dunk”……..
The second and third places are pretty much fixed in place, with Okita and Takasugi, and Nagarekawa and Mitsui.

However, even without that, the main characters in these three works seem to be the most popular.

It goes without saying that they have that much appeal.
There’s no doubt that they continue to be adored by many fans because they have so many elements to like and are so dense.

However, there are other similarities between Gintoki and Luffy as well.
In addition to being overwhelmingly attractive, they also have a moderately unlikable element.

Luffy is a typical “I can handle it” type of person, a good-natured optimist.
Gintoki is the “when you’re in a mood, you’re in a mood” type of protagonist, and because of that, he’s usually a sloppy, foul-mouthed, down-to-earth ruffian.
Both of these characters are far from honor students, but they are both compassionate and have the strength of will to never give in to their beliefs, and this gap is what attracts many people to them, but at the same time, they are also drawn to them.

Most of the popular protagonists are both good and bad like them.
It’s the strong emphasis on both positive and negative aspects that gives them a human touch and creates interest.
A person who only emphasizes the positive aspects of his or her character will not generate much sympathy.

The same is true of Hanamichi Sakuragi.
If he had simply been a “former delinquent but talented” player who eventually became a perfect player, he wouldn’t have been an attractive protagonist.
Because he remained an overwhelmingly talented player but not a good scorer, many people must have felt a sense of humanity in him.

This human touch often decreases as the series progresses, especially in the case of the main character in the battle series, the stronger he becomes, the more mature he becomes, and depending on the work, he may become a boring character.
However, even though Ginji, Luffy, and Hanamichi have been serialized for quite a long time, there is still a sense of expectation that “this guy is going to do something”.
That’s how unfinished they are, but this is the charm of the characters.



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