Same face syndrome is when anime shows copy and paste faces from their earlier projects.
A good example is Kyoto Animation. As good as they are as a studio, they’re known to take faces from some of their earlier anime and throw them on top of newer anime.
And then make a few changes to give the “new” character a fresh look, with a fresh name and a fresh identity.
Except you can tell the face has similarities to others.
And it’s not just Kyoto Animation either.
Let’s talk about it.
Anime with same face syndrome:
1. Weathering With You
Weathering With You is a successful anime movie from the same creator as Your Name.
The creator’s name is Makoto Shinkai. Makoto Shinkai is a legend in the anime industry for his works.
And despite the success of Weathering With You, it’s a cheap rip off in one obvious aspect. The designs.
If we compare Your Name with Weathering With You, we can see Weathering With You took the earlier faces and slapped it onto a new anime movie.
Nothing about the designs or art is original. It’s “same face syndrome” in every sense of the phrase. With a few subtleties to make it feel different.
2. Tamako Market
Tamako Market is another anime with same face syndrome. It’s made by Kyoto Animation and they have a habit of doing this in many of their projects.
Kyoto Animation surprisingly gets away with same face syndrome because it’s not always so painfully obvious. And they make some of the best anime in the business.
Tamako Market though can’t be denied when it comes to faces and designs.
Some of the characters faces are taken from K-On. The main characters of both series make it obvious when you pay attention.
3. Fairy Tail
Fairy Tail doesn’t suffer from same face syndrome as much as other anime on this list. But it’s still there none the less.
Characters like Gildarts from Fairy Tail (right image) are obvious examples. He’s a duplicate in some ways of SHANKS from One Piece.
It’s not the first time it’s been pointed out either.
Even if you look at this cover of the main characters, if you were to swap out their hair or remove it, they’d look similar.
So it’s happening even within the anime itself.
Apart from this guy Fairy Tail does pretty well with character designs. And has some of the best there is.
4. Blue Exorcist
Blue Exorcist is another anime that only mildly suffers from same face syndrome.
The main character: Rin Okumura has a strikingly similar face to Gray Fullbuster from Fairy Tail. But only in some ways.
For the FT haters: Fairy Tail started in 2006 for the Manga. And the anime started in 2009. Blue Exorcist started later in comparison.
Same face syndrome isn’t a bad thing, just a common thing anime studios tend to do. Including Blue Exorcist.
5. Love Live Sunshine
Love Live Sunshine is like a spin off to the original Love Live series. With its own set of characters, slightly different setting and other small details.
But it can’t be helped or ignored when it comes to the anime’s designs.
Love Live Sunshine is almost a copy and paste of the original, with personalities of each characters standing out the most. Even though there’s still similarities with that.
Even when we compare the covers of both anime there’s obvious similarities. And the same is true for the main characters.
Both have similar hair, cheerful expressions and it drips down into their personalities as well.
Regardless of the obvious similarities – Love Live Sunshine has done well for itself.
Also – even Love Live School Idol Project has similar faces with its cast of characters.
6. Yuru Yuri
Yuru Yuri follows the same face syndrome logic. The main characters themselves have similar faces with different hair colors, styles and drawings.
If you were to take away the obvious differences between the anime’s cast of characters, you’d have boring designs with no individuality.
On the creators part this is a smart move because it saves time and money. But if you’re OCD it’s pretty savage when you peel back the designs.
7. Attack On Titan
Attack On Titan is another surprising anime with same face syndrome. I say surprising because the characters LOOK good in this series.
The animation, the sharpness and quality is in a league of its own compare to a lot of anime.
But… if we’re talking about designs and faces, Attack On Titan sneakily reuses their designs for their own set of characters.
All you’ve gotta do is look close at the cast, cover up the hair and you’ll notice how much they all resemble each other.
And if we wanna get more detailed, Mikasa Ackerman shares similarities from the original Rukia Kuchiki from Bleach.
The only difference is in shading, style, and other features that makes Mikasa Ackerman different.
8. Sword Art Online
Yes, Sword Art Online is one of those anime that slides into the same face syndrome category.
Take a close look at the main cast of characters. Don’t they look similar?
If it’s not obvious, try zooming into the characters faces, covering up their hair, and paying close attention to their eyes, mouth and what not.
It becomes clear that SAO reuses designs in its own anime its characters, but uses clothing, hair styles, colors and more to differentiate them.
9. Mob Psycho 100
Mob Psycho 100 is an obvious choice and fans of the series know why I’m including it here.
The main character: Mob, or Shigeo Kageyama has obvious similarities to Saitama from One Punch Man.
This is more intentional than other comparisons because the One Punch Man manga artist ALSO worked on Mob Psycho 100.
The main difference is Mob’s mop head and black hair style. And other features the anime reveals down the line.
Believe it or not but Clannad got its designs from an anime called Kanon A Kyoani series released ONE YEAR before Clannad.
Both anime are of the same studio.
Clannad became more popular than Kanon, and one noticeable feature is Clannad’s “same face” syndrome.
The girls, boys, men and women share design traits, expressions and other features. Each covered up and modified with hair colors, styles, height differences and clothing.
Goes to show you a GREAT anime doesn’t need the most mind-blowing designs to do well.
11. Sakura Quest
Sakura Quest is another anime that takes from its “earlier” works from the same studio, and uses those designs to make something new.
Even though the designs in Sakura Quest look “new”, they don’t look unique by any stretch of the imagination.
Here are some examples.
As you can see – the main character looks like Shirobako’s main character, but with pink hair, a different role, clothes and more.
This is made more obvious when you compare other characters from both series and put them together.
Both anime are from the same studio: P.A Works.
12. Lucky Star
Lucky Star, also by Kyoto Animation takes advantage of same face syndrome to create plenty of characters. Some of who are memorable.
In this anime Kyoani uses slightly different design styles to what it usually pumps out.
They look different to other Kyoani shows.
But similar to shows like SAO, Lucky Star has character designs within its own anime that are identical rather than similar.
The hair colors, styles and personality is what tricks you into ignoring it because it becomes irrelevant as you enjoy it.
13. Sailor Moon
Sailor Moon is the last anime I’ll mention on this list. There’s so many anime that do this.
This old school classic happens to be one anime that did it from the 90’s. And likely inspired the trend to some degree.
Usagi, Sailor Mars, Sailor Venus, Sailor Jupiter and the rest of the crew share similar eyes noses, faces and mouths. Even their body shapes are similar.
That didn’t stop the anime from doing well though. Just like tons of other shows.
Even Studio Ghibli has “same face” syndrome!
As I already mentioned, same face syndrome isn’t a bad thing. And it doesn’t mean the artists, animators and creators are lazy.
Sometimes it’s necessary because of consistency. Other times because of convenience and other reasons when making anime.
In Studio Ghibli’s case or any other successful studio, it’s clear same face syndrome has no effect on sales, popularity or likability.
- Amagi Brilliant Park.
- Lucky Star.
- Idolmaster Cinderella Girls.
- Akame Ga Kill.
Can you name more anime with same face syndrome?