Recently, I have read manga with overpowered protagonists and bland power fantasies. But 2 stood out as being surprisingly good and different in some way.
Then I thought about 2 other characters that tackle the OP character differently too. After thinking, I found that there 4 main ways to write OP protagonists.
• Ultimate Obstacle (Shin)
• Savior and Side Character Love (Kim Kibong)
• Moral and Psychological Analysis (Superman)
• Comedy (Saitama)
They all use each method to varying degrees but there’s one that they specialize in. That’s what we going to focus on.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
We start with Shin from the manga Kenja no Mago. Shin has crazy amounts of magic power and modern-day knowledge. With it he changes the world and proves a big challenge for the antagonists.
That’s how this works, you write from the antagonist’s point of view more than usual. They have to come up with some clever plans to work around Shin’s power.
Add that Shin has less screen time than side characters, when they’re targeted the tension is higher the normal.
When you think about it, Shin is not the protagonist halfway through the story. The point of view is from the antagonists or side characters.
The tension and enjoyment come from how the antagonists plan around Shin and their fights with the side characters. The back and forth between the two sides, the sweet conflict.
When the MC hogs all the plot armor, the side character appears less protected. It might be an illusion from your perspective but it’s effective.
But the last cherry on top is the next method when Shin comes in with the save at the last minute.
Savior and Side Character Love
The next one is a manhwa called Limit Breaker. The MC is even more OP than Shin and easily wins most fights in one punch.
Instead of the other story you’re thinking of, this doesn’t use comedy but the climactic feeling of the savior.
This only works if there’s some side character love. Like in Kenja no Mago, this manhwa gives a lot of screen time to the side characters. They’re given some of the best and most dangerous fights.
So almost every fight is like a time bomb, waiting for the savior to arrive and save the day. When that happens, all the built-up tension is released in one punch.
I’m sure you can think of one series that did this against a Sea King. Limit Breaker and Kenja no Mago do this across the story, not as good but it works.
The biggest problem is that you can overuse this quickly. So if you choose this method, space the time bombs out between arcs. Either with normal fights or fun times.
Limit Breaker builds up the time bomb for only the climax of an arc. Overall, they’ve done it 2 times.
Kenja no Mago does this more often. It either spaces it out with fun times, normal fights or gives the savior role to a side character.
The next method is a bit harder to write because you need to know your character deeply. Only Superman has done it well.
Moral and Psychological Analysis
Some of the most beloved Superman stories involved diving into Clark’s mental state and moral character.
All-Star Superman, For the Man Who has Everything, Peace on Earth, and more.
They don’t focus on his physical strength but on his strength of character. That’s the 3rd way to write overpowered characters, don’t focus on their power.
Your character doesn’t need to be a paragon either. Morally gray characters work with this too. It’s easier that way because paragons like Superman can’t fail morally but your character can.
Explore what being overpowered would do to your character. The psychological and moral problems that can arise from unlimited.
If they fail morally and breaks, how does that affect them and their power? Go crazy with it, there’s fertile ground with this because few stories go this route.
But there’s one character that does do this wonderfully. Time to talk about One Punch Man.
The story of One Punch Man uses 3 out of the 4 methods. It is the best story to use an overpowered character and it’s all wrapped in comedy.
Being OP can lead to hilarious situations that you can take advantage of. Whether it’s the enemy underestimating the MC, shock value, or slapstick.
Think of the humor in Skyrim when getting hit by a giant.
The comedy also contrasts with the quiet and serious moments of the story. Because most of the story is a fun comedy, when stuff gets serious it hits that much harder.
This works well with all other methods. It enhances the moments the you want to hit hard.
Whether it’s when the savior comes at the last moment. Whether it’s when the enemies struggle to plan around the MC. Whether it’s when you explore the MC’s mental state.
You can’t go wrong with some comedy.
Those are the 4 main methods I could tell from all my reading. Hope this helps any writer that wants to write an OP character.
Know that not every OP character follows these methods. Rimuru from That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime doesn’t. The focus of that story is civilization-building more than anything. Rimuru being OP is hardly brought up or causes problems.
In the end, it’s your creativity and writing craft that will help your OP character stand out. At the very least, your character won’t be a simple power fantasy if you don’t them to be.
For more info on this and general power consistency, JaxBlade released a really good video recently.
With that, I’m done.
About the Creator
I’m Blankmarks and I love magic and fiction. I’ll write about various magic types and concepts not only for fun but to help writers create new magical worlds. I'll also post short stories, writing tips, and more.