Anime Character Roleplaying

How Roleplaying an Anime-Style D&D Character Taught Me to Make Big Character Choices

“Adventuring fantasy dweebs” by dianthus-alpinus, CC Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License

Have you ever played a Dungeons and Dragons campaign where each character was the same blah carbon copy of each other—everyone tried to be the serious protagonist with the perfect one-line zinger before chopping off the big bad boss’ head? From a storytelling standpoint, roleplaying a dynamic character creates a more meaningful experience. Look at any good story with a group of main characters—what makes the story so successful? Each character is distinct, quirky, flawed, and has an individual personality.

With many of my characters, I struggled with finding my voice, my persona. I always ended up back with the flat character that reacted the same to all roleplaying situations, and it made me feel like a bad player. I knew that I needed a change in pace, and I needed to make some big choices.

So what better way to create a dynamic character than to go with a BIG anime personality? Surely we could pick up a few tips in roleplaying through learning to emulate anime characters.

Example: Sakura the Gnome

I’ll tell my story using the example of my Gnomish Arcane Archer Druid, Sakura. Sakura was about as archetypical as an anime female could be: pink hair pinned in two buns on top of her head; a high, excited voice (whiny when necessary); I even set up chibi-styled pictures on cardstock that reflected her emotions, displayed in front of my character sheet.

As a Forest Gnome, Sakura added the Minor Illusion cantrip to her repertoire, which was used solely outside of battle to add sound effects: eye blinking during an awkward pause, dreamy chimes to express infatuation, reverberated horn for a minor mistake, and many more I had at the ready for such roleplaying occasions.

And while Sakura was built mostly for comic-relief, I found it easier for my character to express resolute support to fellow characters, because I knew how to emulate a silly anime girl. This eventually allowed me to roleplay with my fellow players—something I’ve struggled with for years.

How to Roleplay an Anime Character

When focusing on building an anime-style character, I recommend making a few decisions beforehand:

What is your trope?

  • Are you the younger sister with a big heart like Mei Chang from Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood?
  • Are you a nerdy Otaku who has a HUGE obsession with his fandom like Itaru Hashida from Steins;Gate?
  • Are you the broke, cheap, or lazy bum who is always wagering his last coin for a chance to rid himself of boredom?
  • Or maybe you’re the bratty Honorable Grandson of the fourth Hokage?

Whatever trope you choose, find a character you can study and emulate to a degree. You’d be surprised how nice it is to have a reference when sailing through new roleplay-territories.

What does your character say?

I will admit that when I started to forget how to act like Sakura, I would dramatically raise my clenched fist to the DM, point my finger, and say “I’LL SAVE THE WORLD IF IT’S THE LAST THING I DO! HMPH!” and that would put me back into the character of Sakura the Gnome.

It’s no secret that having a phrase to repeat helps you get back into character, but it can also be beneficial to jot down a few idiosyncratic catchphrases that your
character can say to prompt character-to-character roleplay if you’re in a bind. Here are a few basic examples:

  • Stop screwing around with me!
  • I’ll do my best!
  • I won’t forgive you!
  • I won’t lose!
  • Let my sword and my soul be one
  • Doo doo doooo!

Get a catchphrase you can say, and you’ll be on your way to making a memorable character.

What does your character look like?

As mentioned above, I took an evening before Session 1 to draw a few chibi-styled emotion reactions to place in front of me during the game. Not only did it give my teammates a good laugh every time I switched my card, it helped me stick to my guns and roleplay my emotions rather than reverting to “telling” them. And remember, it’s easier to roleplay when the rest of your party is roleplaying, so showing an increased effort in your roleplaying, like through audio and visual effects, can really help bolster the overall party’s confidence to roleplay more.

It’s easier to roleplay when the rest of your party is roleplaying, so showing an increased effort in your roleplaying, like through audio and visual effects, can really help bolster the overall party’s confidence to roleplay more.

What is your character’s reason behind it all?

Finally, as a good tip for roleplaying anything, what is your character’s motivation to adventure? What is his or her backstory? The stronger and more specific your story and goals, the easier it will be to make choices in-game. When you know where you’re going or where you intend to go with your character, it’s easier to choose a voice, a quirk, a flaw, a vice. Work with your DM to incorporate these elements into the story, and you will find yourself feeling one with your character.

How Roleplaying an Anime Character Helped Me Make Big Choices

When I first created Sakura, I thought she’d just be a throw-away character—I’d have no emotional attachment to her, so if I made a big choice and she died, I could move on easily. But as I played her, I interacted more with my fellow players; I decided to do risky things that paid off extraordinarily; I saw her charm, her kindness, and her power develop before my eyes, and I realized just how much I loved this character.

Because I let Sakura overreact with Minor Illusion sound effects and reaction images, I allowed her to act in such a way that reflected these extreme responses. I had a clear understanding of Sakura’s ideals, her flaws, her goals, her past. I knew how she would react to the death of a child, that she would give a villain a second chance to reform himself, that she’d jump out and kick the butts of whoever threatened her friends. My character came to life before my eyes, and I knew that I had created a character I would love and remember forever.

If I had one piece of advice for any new player, it would be to find an anime character they think would be fun to play and emulate the crap out of him or her. Not only would the player find it easy to explore motivations and a backstory, but he would be able to break that barrier of rocky roleplaying and discover for himself the satisfaction of a good Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Do you have any tips on roleplaying an anime character? Share with us below!

2 thoughts on “How Roleplaying an Anime-Style D&D Character Taught Me to Make Big Character Choices”

  1. Honestly, I don’t even play dnd so I don’t know why I’m here, however, this seems like a good guide for role-playing just in general. I could see myself getting a character from a comic or something and using this guide so, cheers to you I guess.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top