Ever notice how a lot of your anime feel like a lot of your other anime? That’s because anime uses the same characters more often than Dragon Ball Z uses screen time to charge Kamehamehas. So, to help you realize where you’ve seen this character before, here are the 10 characters you will see in every anime...ever!

1) The self-proclaimed genius

The saddest truth about anime is that there’s always at least one jerk who loves to think he’s better than everybody else. And, sometimes, he’s actually right. The only problem is that someone like that is so infuriatingly annoying to watch, you almost want them to be defeated—not because they’re wrong, but because you really just want them to shut up. Examples include Kira (Death Note), Hanamichi Sakuragi (Slam Dunk), Naruto Uzumaki (Naruto) and Vegeta (Dragon Ball Z).

2) The silent genius

Often acting as a foil or rival to the aforementioned “loud” geniuses, these are the more tolerable characters because they don’t feel the need to constantly remind you how awesome they are. Examples include Seto Kaiba (Yu-Gi-Oh!), Mikasa Ackerman (Attack on Titan), Kaede Rukawa (Slam Dunk), Jin (Samurai Champloo), Seijuro Shin (Eyeshield 21), L (Death Note) and Tetsuya Kuroko (Kuroko’s Basketball).

3) The fan service

While not always utterly useless to the story (sometimes they’re actually quite important and well-developed), these are the characters dressed so ridiculously out of context that it’s sometimes difficult to take them seriously. When you see someone with obscenely titillating clothing that has nothing to do with the story, understand that they are really just there to make artists and immature viewers feel a little tingly. Examples include Faye Valentine (Cowboy Bebop), Yoko Littner (Gurren Lagann), Alvida (One Piece), and Mai Valentine (Yu-Gi-Oh!).

4) The racist caricature

Perhaps it’s the result of being developed in a culture that doesn’t have a strong multiracial presence, but anime has the tendency to portray other races in ways that were long deemed insensitive and insulting in most multicultural societies. This is often the biggest reason anime is censored when brought to the United States. Examples include Jynx (Pokémon), Mr. Popo (Dragon Ball Z), one of Buggy’s pirates (One Piece), and Sammu (Ultimate Muscle).

5) The creepy old guy

Sometimes they are perverts who get nosebleeds at the sight of every young lady, and sometimes they are evil death beings out to destroy you in an attempt to ward off the boredom of old age. Either way, the bottom line is that old people just get a very bad reputation in anime. Examples include the Iwao Washizu (Akagi), Master Roshi (Dragon Ball Z), and Maximillion Pegasus (Yu-Gi-Oh!)

6) The incompetent damsel in distress

Anime also tells you a little bit about how entertainment generally tends to view women—i.e., they’re usually pretty inept. These anime ladies are usually so utterly useless that the hero either just shrugs them off or has to save them after they are kidnapped or completely ruin the plan. Seriously, it is a surprise that they have survived in this life for so long. Examples include Sakuno Ryuzaki (The Prince of Tennis), Ayumi Yamada (Honey and Clover), Akari Fujisaki (Hikaru No Go) and Fuu (Samurai Champloo).

7) The sidekick that dies (or at least gets owned a lot)

Once you’re done with the annoying damsel in distress, you have an equally inept annoying sidekick to deal with—someone who is so infuriatingly bad that they really should stay out of the action. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to know that and somehow always end up on the receiving end of a beating, or at least some embarrassment. Examples include Krillin (Dragon Ball Z) and Armin Arlert (Attack on Titan).

8) The fatal schoolgirl

Perhaps the Japanese schooling system has some classes that we really need to make a global requirement, because their high schools seem to harbor the world’s most athletic, deadliest and awesome schoolgirls ever. Never mind that they’re not old enough to drive—these girls are officially more kickass than you. Examples include Saya Otonashi (Blood+), Ryuko Matoi (Kill La Kill) Nadie (El Cazado de la Bruja) and pretty much everyone in Gunslinger Girl.

Watch a 400-year old alien hunk fall in love with a beautiful actress in My Love from Another Star.
9) The overly foreign foreigner

Remember how anime is from a society that isn’t particularly multicultural? Another result of that, perhaps, is that foreign characters look so foreign, they may very well have their passport glued to their t-shirt…in America! Examples include Bandit Keith (Yu-Gi-Oh!) and Terry “The Grand” Kenyon (Ultimate Muscle).

10) The terrible henchmen

And to round out the list, here are some useless thugs that are actually good for our hero—mostly because they can’t seem to damage him at all. They’re usually so unintelligent, so incompetent and so clumsy, it’s a surprise their boss still has them on payroll. Examples include Jesse and James (Pokémon), Gotsumon and Pupmkinmon (Digimon), and Descartes (Trigun).

So what other characters do you keep seeing in your anime again and again? Be sure to sound off in the comments below! And for all your anime needs, make sure to follow DramaFever and myself on Twitter!