Trucking on through the Fullmetal Alchemist characters... XD If people get really sick of these, I guess I could switch to a different series, but I do like drawing these folks a lot.
WINRY! Adorable mechanic of Ed and Al, brave and smart and a great "normal" character in a manga primarily concerned with superpowered individuals.
Okay, and this brings me to a point: I like Winry a lot. I think Arakawa does great things with her character. She's sweet and tough and Al and Ed treat her with respect, and more importantly Arakawa treats her with respect. There is a character trope typical of stories that revolve around superpowered characters, and that trope is that those characters in the story who are not superpowerer are lesser beings. They exist in the story only to be kidnapped, or killed, or to act as emotional fodder for whatever SuperDuperCharacter is doing, and it drives me freaking crazy, because to me it reveals a storytelling distain for ordinary humans.
I feel like if you are going to write a story about superpowered beings (be they superheroes, wizards or alchemists), you have to make the non-superpowered characters worth fighting for. Maybe they aren't as powerful as the superpowered characters, but they have to be worth those characters' time, because otherwise what is the point of the story? Why are these superheroes or wizards or alchemists fighting for the lives of these ordinary men and women if they're so weak and helpless that they come across as completely useless? They have to be able to stand on their own two feet as (non-superpowered, but still strong) characters.
Winry is the great emotional centre of Fullmetal Alchemist. She's "ordinary," but she's never useless, although sometimes she feels so in the face of Al and Ed's power. There's a great scene in volume 12 where Winry faces down the man who killed her parents, only to fail to kill him and then is saved by (superpowered) Ed. He dashes off after the baddie, and Winry sits in the street staring after him, and says: "Why is there never anything for me to do but wait?"
AHHHH. AWESOME WRITING. FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST HAS IT. It's such a sympathetic moment, the lament of the ordinary character in a story with superpowered ones. She knows she will never be as strong as Roy or Ed or Izumi, but she manages to be awesome just the same. Just sometimes it's hard to see it, when you're surrounded by people so much more powerful than you are.