Posted by: AceRailgun | January 22, 2012

That Anime Character #5 – Fish out of Water

No i’m not refering to a new bland male protagonist going to a new school. I’m not even talking about a cool male protagonist going to a new school. Yu Nakamura I’m talking about somone so far from their normal life they may as well be on another planet.

Another name for this could be the normal guy in a bunch of misfits. Recruit from Arakawa under the Bridge is a perfect example of this. He is normal, very normal and yet because of one tiny thing he is forced to live with the biggest group of misfits of all time. The comedy is usually formed from the strange things the group does and the small changes that start appearing in the “fish out of water” which can eventually lead to the fish adapting to the new surroundings.


Katsuragi from The World Only God Knows also fits into this trope. He treats the real world as something to examine but not interact with which is his undoing when he is force to interact with real women. He spends so much time playing computer games he may as well be from another world.


The fish out of water character itself doesn’t necessarily have to have a certain personality as long as the person in question is very different from those around him or her it works. The character doesn’t even have to be the main character it can be a minor character or even a background character that has at least one spoken line.


  1. I feel like this is a pretty broad category because there are plenty of characters that fit this mold that I would like and plenty that I would dislike.

    • I think the fish out of water situation can be combine with another trope to make something interesting or something really annoying. Take something like yandere or dorky comic relief guy and combine it with the fish out of water idea and you have the potential for something amazing.

      I think the idea of having someone outside their comfort zone is appealing to a lot of people.

  2. Well, the one from Araragi was not actually normal, especially if you think of his past and of his way of living….:D

    • I think what I’m trying to say is that compared to the Nun and the Kappa, Recruit was a normal suit and tie kind of guy. He has his quirks but you will find that he is only open about the whole payback one to start with. Over time you start to realize how well he fits in with the crew under the bridge.

  3. The ones you named are good examples, but I can not think of one. I keep drawing blanks, lol :O

    • It took me a while to come up with those two because they are extreme cases.
      Off the top of my head I can think of a few more

      Rock – Black Lagoon
      Keiichi – Higurashi no Koro ni
      Kamiyama – Cromartie High School

  4. This is a common trope in fiction in general, but I’ve seen it used in interesting ways in anime/manga.
    A common sub-trope of this is when you have a normal character who somehow ends up in a magical world (eg Fushigi Yuugi, Gakuen Alice), and another is when your regular character gets thrown into an environment full of people quite different from her or him (eg Fruits Basket, Mirai Nikki). I think Oz from Pandora Hearts is a particularly unique example of a character who just rolls with it when he’s flung into an entirely new world of intrigue and unexplainable phenomenon.
    Also: Kujo from Gosick and Yune from Ikoku Meiro no Croisee are good examples in regards to culture shock, and Natsume from Natsume Yuujinchou and Nura from Nurarihyon are examples of characters who are different from everyone else, and struggling to fit in and hide what makes them different.

    Related to all this are viewpoint characters who are “everyday people” who are new to the world they enter, which enables the audience to learn about the new setting along with them. (eg Otonashi from Angel Beats, or Rakka from Haibane Renmei) This is extremely common in fiction, particularly when fantasy settings are concerned.

    I think another trope similar to this could also be “the loner,” where you have characters who simply don’t fit in anywhere (whether or not its their choice). This is a very interesting trope to me, and includes the likes of Ginko from Mushishi, Kino from Kino’s Journey, and Lain from Serial Experiment Lain.

    • The Loner is such a great term for a sub trope of this. It usually leads to some interesting character and limited interactions. Lain and Ginko are great examples of this.

      The culture shock character trope is also fairly common. I remember a minor character in Rurouni Kenshin and in Samurai Champloo who both had culture shock upon arriving in Japan.

      I think an interesting idea that stems from this is the opposite of someone trying to fit in. Someone who shapes the world to better fit their personality. Kamina from Gurren Lagann for example.

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