When it comes down to it, my favorite characters are always the main leads. They’re the protagonist for a reason; and it’s very rare that I fell hard (like super into it) for the rest of the characters of the story. But even though I don’t put ’em in my non-existent hall of famers, I find that these characters are equally important to the grand scheme of things.
I remember sometimes when I read a novel; there is always lack in characterization with the other characters, especially those best friend stereotypes in YA romance stories. Like, they were program to support the friend, cheer her up and once the female lead dated the main male lead than that was the end of her part. She was gone and relegated to the sides because her part was simply over! Even those weren’t romance-centric stories I’ve read in the past tend to dismiss these characters quite easily. It’s the same thing I feel about villains in general—this was always something that was missing in books. So when I came back to manga reading, it was breath of familiar air.
Of course I didn’t mean that manga is free from this kind of criticism or flaws but since manga tend to be longer there are more than enough time for exposition; something that novels tend to sacrifice (I think) to move the plot. And it’s a shame, really. These characters aren’t embellishment or device to only benefit the protagonist/s. Just like villains, they too have important narratives to share. It’s just that the focus aren’t on them so disregarding their existence or not giving it a proper characterization is very unfortunate. When I read other characters that weren’t properly given development I sense a heavy air of regret. I want to see their importance in the story and not just to boost the character quota or the main characters’ ego. They aren’t sidekicks to me; they are their own person which like the MCs has lives to live and stories to share…
If a story has diverse set of characters and it only heavily focuses on the main leads (which is obviously shall happen because duh! They are the MCs) then it’s shame, what a waste opportunity. To me the secondary characters are characters out of spotlight that are equally important; it just a matter of balancing their parts.