after a while you notice a trend with your favorite characters. generally speaking, we like protagonists that face challenges. they don't even have to succeed, we just wanna see them make a real effort. and it won't feel like it counts if there's nothing actually at stake. we expect the main characters to make it through, yeah, but there has to be an actual threat. there have to be constraints. something has to stand in the way.
somehow even shounen manga and anime manage to pull this off, even with their ridiculous power ups and implausible physical abilities. (then again we gotta suspend disbelief any time we're watching animation or looking at illustrations.)
there are other factors that go into making solid characters. they need to be convincing. they should have backgrounds, opinions, motivations. characters drive the story forward. at least, they're supposed to. figuring out how exactly they're going to do that is half the fun of writing.
personally, i like characters that...
- struggle with insecurities and/or mental illness
- go the famous "bad guy turned good" route
- change their perception on the world or the people who live in it for the better
- despite their own shortcomings do their best to pull up those surrounding them, friend/foe/stranger
- are big sweethearts
characters should have flaws that balance out their strengths. their human after all. if they don't they probably fall into some mary sue/wish fulfillment category and the former is particularly alienating to fans. to rule out wish fulfillment altogether strikes me as silly. after all, there are many elements of escapism in all types of stories, acted or animated. a little indulgence is fine, it just has to make sense and not go overboard.
character creation is pretty fun. i've had lots of projects that hardly get past the character and world building stages because of how fun it is. anyway, i've got stuff to be doing. seeya!