A Mary-Sue is a term used to describe a character made by an author who possesses traits that cause them to appear perfect or flawless, loved by all, or given special treatment and overall run the plot. This page is in no way meant to attack characters, but offers advice and tips on how to improve them or learn what to try to avoid doing.
Relations and RecolorsEdit
A hand-in-hand trait for Mary-Sues. People will modify or recolor a character and claim them as related in some shape or form. Not only does this give the character some background, but it provides the author with something to build from and give them importance to their story.
Now, it is okay to be related to officia characers, but it is risky if not handled apropriately. For example, in Ojamajo Doremi, a frequent target of this will be Onpu Segawa. One fancharacter had this profile information:
"This is Onpu's older sister, and a singer too! She is much better than her and tries giving her tips, but Onpu is very jealous. She is much cuter and more popular. Her color is a bluer shade of purple and like Onpu she is natrually talented at magic. But she is MUCH more advanced, using Dokkan level magic despite being in her season 1 form."
Now take note of the various details you see:
- The character essentially resembles Onpu in all forms of physical appearance and shares personality traits.
- This character sounds like an even better Onpu, allowing them to take her spot with little to no change to the storyline.
- This character also bashes the character they are based on to make them look better by making them seem out of character.
Now there are times when this is acceptable, and there are ways of managing this by balancing out details in a way that don't overtake the real character and flesh out your own character. Imagine this profile written in another way:
"Onpu's older sister who wishes to become an Idol some day- just like Onpu! She enjoys performing but gets nervous in front of others. She tends to rely on Onpu for charisma tips or advice, and deep down she can be a little envious of the attention she gets. When it comes to magic she does well, being graceful on the broom and twirling her wand!"
Honestly, read the both of them and ask yourself which one sounds more interesting? What girl would you want to read about? The Perfect older sister everyone admires for being the better clone of Onpu, or a sister who desires fame but is unsure of how to find her talents and seeks help from Onpu?
Common Mary-sue TraitsEdit
When it comes to a Mary-sue type, they are all generally the same in some form. Wether it be through color choices, appearance, or quirks. Mary-sues have several "category" types but when broken down are essentially a clone of a pre-exsisting character or someone way over the top who needs to be toned down.
Typical traits consist of:
Usually when someone recolors they may be lazy about it by darkening or lighting the colors of the character they are editing from (such as the bluer Onpu from above). Not everyone does this though, and no matter what the series is, any character whose theme color is "rainbow" is regarded as Mary-Sue by most.
In terms of this series, if a girl has more than 2 main colors (not counting accents), she may be viewed as one. In Ojamajo Doremi, each girl has one theme color, with accents of the same color, but lighter and darker.
Common times, Mary-Sue characters will have an overly long name or go with a name that sounds amazingly over-the-top and fake if used in real life or in the setting of the series. For example, naming a girl Crystal Moonlight Rose. That doesn't sound like a name, it sounds like a perfume.
Sometimes this is okay, for example, a girl might have a Japanese name because she came from Tokyo and currently lives elsewhere. Or perhaps she has asian heritage. But a lot of times when this happens, this isn't the case. It's simply non-Japanese fans trying to look cool or more "authentic".
Take this example:
While running behind her friend, Mitsuri gasped and held out a hand. "Mayumi-chan, wait up!" Mayumi Hajime came to a stop and turned to giggle, pointing to the top of her friends head. "Kawaii, Mitsu-chan, did you forget to take off your Neko-mimi headband? You know how the school feels about it." Mitsuri giggled and nodded, "it is Kawaii! But I was in such a hurry I forgot..." Clasping their hands together, both girls cooed over how cute it looked, a bit surprised when it seemed to catch the attention of others. "Sugoi!" "Koneko-chan!"
See, admittingly this looks fine and cute. But some people can find this annoying if its not in a proper setting or just because its obvious it isn't written by an Asian person and they are just trying to gain appeal from those who do like that. This isn't to say you can't use other cultural words at all, but try to use them in low doses in the right settings. More importantly, make sure you know what the words mean.
Here is an example of someone trying to tone dowe but keep the general setting:
"Mayumi-san! Wait up!" Mimi exclaimed while running behind a friend who was several feet ahead of her. Her friend turned curiously and looked up, noticing a pair of black cat ears sitting on top of her friends head. "Kawaii headband, kitty ears right?" she giggled as Mimi clasped her hands. "I see so many cute neko girl products online, I couldn't resist buying a pair of the "Neko Mimi" in black. I know they're against the rules, but I was in such a hurry I forgot to take them off before I left." Despite her concern, Mayumi giggled as a few other girls walked by to comment on them. "How cute!" "Kawaii, you look like a kitty!"
Between the two examples, you can see the second one is trying to get a proper setting while avoiding coming across as overly forced.
You can tell if you have a Mary-Sue on your hands if their description reads something along the lines of "She's so cute and everyone thinks so! She's so well liked and everyone remarks on her natural beauty!"
When their appearance is described in such glowing terms and appears to be the characters only definiting trait this is because the author thinks their physical appearance is overly important. On the other hand, over elaborate details can be the ire of some fans as well. For example:
Reika is very beautiful with a frame that develope fairly early. Her breasts often get in the way! Her large, crystal blue eyes, shinier than pools of deepened waters and very long, shiny purple hair that reaches her waist with each section perfectly curled. Her looks are normally complimented and she wears expensive clothing, with her appearance being noted from miles away, she often gets love confessions but always turns them down! lol!
Take note of how descriptive and un-needed half of that statement was. While everyone has a different body and it is entirely possible to develop early, there are some cases when this is taken too far. You also do not a million words to describe relatively easy details- especially when they have nothing to do with the actual physical appearance.
To counter this, try to think of the character more realistically. You can still get the same impact but not look like an attention seeker and provide further explaination on other aspects. Such as this example:
Reika is a young and cute girl who developed a bit early- much to her annoyance. She has crystal blue eyes and purple hair that reach waist-length with each section ending in a curl. Her mother is a seamstress, and as such she often dresses in many different styles of clothing. She really likes pearl accessories and wearing fancy dresses.
By doing this the character can still be viewed as cute and pretty but isn't being forced down others throats. Her hair and eyes have been described well enough to picture them properly, and because everything wasn't focused on just saying "I'm pretty" in every sentence, we learn more about the girl.
Usually when recoloring a character, the lazy approach is to either copy said character, make them sound better than said characer, or genuinely make them entirely perfect with no flaws. This can cause the character to come off as very fake and boring and leave the reader no reason to want to get to know them.
Amy is perfect and has no faults. She never messes up and wins everyone with a charming wink and her grace. She likes to cheer others up and always does, just with a mere smile. She has a rare temper but look out when it strikes! She can beat up the strongest man who dares mess with her. She is also really smart, so she has many admirerers and is often approached for help.
Boring right? Why would you want to see a story with a girl like this in it?
Now keep in mind, there are ways to keep these traits but make people want to get to know her. Everyone has their own faults, including our characters. For example, lets try to put some in this character:
Amy struggles to admit her short-comings and faults and has a tendency to act perfect and studious when at school. She tries to avoid messing up and making mistakes, but this usually causes her to stress out. She is genuinely nice and well-liked though, because she enjoys making others happy and helping them. She can get angry if she sees someone bothering others or upsetting them though!
"She was already at a dokkan level while in her first season witch apprentice form! She never needed a wand to cast magic and her crystal never shatters despite how many times she's used it for bad magic."
Already wrong. Just because your Ojamajo is your character doesn't mean she can get away with things nobody else could. She should have magic that matches her current form of apprentice level and may be talented when it comes to magic casting, flying, or even shop work, but that is how far it should go.
If you see someone who you think may have these qualities, please try to remember to be nice about it when telling them. That won't guarantee that the owner may understand or try to be nice back, but you will feel a lot better knowing you didn't mock them for it. In that case, simply let it go and wait, because usually it will pay off in some shape or form.