Anime and manga many times rely on a standard structure to tell their story. This structure is one of five heroes and a mascot vs. four villains. This model is used especially in older stories, but the same form continues to be used as it is successful and works well for telling a story. In fact, it is such a successful way reaching an audience, many films, such as Star Wars Episode IV, use a variation of this structure to tell its story.
This basic layout of characters seems somewhat repetitive, but actually does not hinder the story telling in a significant way, a creative author is able to use this format and still add originality, drama, and tension into the tale.
The Good Guys:
The hero is generally the focus of the story. He/She is often forced to go against the main authority in their life in order to save the day.
She many times is a princess or has some royal connection. She may seem to be a blundering fool, yet can be very capable when the need arises.
The rebellious hero is usually a very powerful character. Often possessing more power than The Hero, but their pride or rebellious nature stops them from realizing the true level of hero.
More often than not, in anime and manga, there is the oaf. The big, lovable guy who seems to be nothing more than an eating machine with huge amounts of muscle. In fact, he is often the most caring of the group and is many times the technical wizard of the team.
This character is used many times to give the team someone to look out for, also The Kid usually has a tendency to get into trouble and need rescuing. This character helps younger viewer/readers to relate to the story more.
Every team needs a mascot, right? In anime and manga, there is almost always some kind of mascot, be it a real animal, a crazy animal mix, or even a robot. This guy is around to add an element of cuteness and comic relief to the story. They even save the day sometimes.
The Bad Guys:
The BAD Guy
Usually the leader of the villains. He is sometimes a rampaging fool and other times he can be very calculating and smart. Unlike western-style stories, in anime and manga, the bad guy has motivation for what he does, he is not just evil for evil's sake.
The Evil Leader
Most of the time in anime or manga, there is an almost all-powerful being who is the commander or leader of the bad guys. This leader can be either a king, queen, magician, wizard, even a computer. The Evil Leader usually does not take part in any fighting unless the hero brings it to them. They are more content to sit back and issue orders to their minions from well behind the lines.
The Fallen Hero
Like the name implies, this character is one who was a good guy, but over time has become a bad guy. Through some cruel twist of fate, this character has become what he or she once despised. Many times The Fallen Hero has some sort of connection to the good guys in the story.
The bad guys usually rely on goons to do their dirty work for them. In quite a bit of anime or manga, the bad guys have countless goons who are sent against the good guys during the course of the story. Goons can be robots, creatures, or even clones.