After reading and I noticed the high similarity in their characters. Some even being identical copies of the characters out of the other series.

So how common is it for a mangaka to maintain the same character design through out several of their manga's? Or is this just something Hiro Mashima does ?

  • 9
    I'm not familiar with the specific series you're talking about, but I don't think it should be surprising that a given artist will develop a single style that they use across all their works. Call it laziness, or consistency, or whatever, but this is a constant throughout art (even in e.g. classical painting), including manga.
    – senshin
    Mar 21, 2014 at 22:23
  • I've seen this before, and will add this as a point of reference. Check out Mariko Kumakura (Girl Friends, cdn.myanimelist.net/images/characters/9/75785.jpg) and Nana Kobayashi (Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakurairo, cdn.myanimelist.net/images/characters/7/146939.jpg). Both are characters designed by Milk Morinaga, are based off each other, and are strikingly similar.
    – Deathspike
    Mar 21, 2014 at 23:20
  • how about akamatsu ken. uq holer does have negi in it. but it is kind of sequel to magi negi.
    – Sp0T
    Mar 22, 2014 at 5:50
  • 2
    IMHO, it's common, because whether he/she want it or not, the work of art will always have the artist tendencies. In manga, that can be found not only in character's physical design, but also character's trait, character's background, etc. To the point some authors even always have the same big plot, that reading some of his/her works made you bored because he/she always does the same thing...
    – user2435
    Mar 25, 2014 at 11:28
  • 1
    Maybe OP mean something like Plue that exist in both Fairy Tail and Rave world
    – Darjeeling
    Aug 28, 2014 at 0:22

2 Answers 2


In Japanese it's called Star system

Earliest manga author who uses star system is Osamu Tezuka. See Wikipedia for details of his star system.

Japanese version of wikipedia has a page for Star system of manga/anime

Manga/anime section describe 3 categories.

  1. Clearly defined same name character. Osamu Tezuka, Fujiko Fujio, Shotaro Ishinomori, etc.

  2. Different character, Different world. and are categorized to this. Other example is heal team in Time Bokan. This contains Team rocket in pokemon.

  3. Same character, Same world. Negima, UQ Holder and CLAMP's manga are categorized to this. Each story is happen in same world, but focus to different time or character.

Outside of this, there are spin off story. Magical Project S from Tenchi Muyo, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha from Triangle Heart and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya from Fate/stay night.

That Wikipedia page also mentioned about game. For example, In addition to 2d action, Mario is protagonist of cart game, tennis game and other.


It's definitely not something that just Hiro Mashima does; in fact, it's very common. Roel van Uden mentions Milk Morinaga in the comments. Sp0T mentions Ken Akamatsu. If you look back at Akamatsu's work, he almost always creates spiritual successors for his characters that have very similar appearances and personalities, e.g. AI Love You's Cindy became Love Hina's Naru who became Negima's Asuna; AI's Forty-chan became Love Hina's Kaolla Su who somewhat became Negima's Ku Fei; Love Hina's Shinobu became Negima's Nodoka Miyazaki; Love Hina's Kitsune became Negima's Kazumi Asakura. In the early sketches for Negima that are given as bonus material in the US manga release, you can see that the original design for Negi looked a lot like AI's Forty-kun with glasses. There are many other examples in Akamatsu.

As another example, in Kozue Amano's Amanchu, the character of Hikari is very similar in appearance, personality, and name to the character of Akari in Aria. (Both names mean "light".) There are various similar-looking characters across the CLAMP works, e.g. Sakura Kinomoto's older brother Touya resembles Subaru Sumeragi from X, and both somewhat resemble Shizuka Doumeki from xxxHolic and Rikuo from Legal Drug.

I think user2435 has a point that artists develop certain habits and tendencies that express themselves in the character design. But it could also be about staying recognizable; when I see the Negima volumes in the store, I know right away that it's by Ken Akamatsu, because Naru's twin-tailed little sister is staring at me from the front cover. Even if an artist is capable of drawing in a very different style, it isn't necessarily advantageous to do so. It may also be relevant that manga-ka tend to write the same kinds of stories for each work, and so might draw in the same style to make sure the art and story match. By the time we get to UQ Holder, Akamatsu has switched from love comedy to adventure, and there are subtle differences in the art as a result (Yukihime looks much more mature than any major heroine in his previous work.) CLAMP uses a slightly different style between xxxHolic and Chobits, even though the two works came out around the same time, because the stories are different.

In short, it's very common for manga-ka to reuse character designs, or to slightly tweak existing character designs.

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