A big part of why I'm such a huge fan of the DQ franchise is because of the art design. I adore Toriyama's unique style, which to me, sets itself apart from anime as a whole.
To me, Toriyama's style is up there with Miyazaki himself (or the other way around), above every other anime style. I really hope the series never goes into another art direction, even after Toriyama retires.. hopefully they'll hire people who can draw exactly like him!
Anyway, I would like to rank the DQ main heroes in order of what I consider to be most appealling/unique to me. Hope everyone shares their own list too!
This one's a bit on the simple side. White toga underneath purple cape and turbant, Madason doesn't strike me as a warrior, nor an adventurer, but more of a full-time wanderer. It's probably due to the fact that he wields a staff (+ cape). His appearance also hides what he really is, throwing you off throughout the whole game without you knowing it (unless you suspected it from that first scene?).
He definitely doesn't look like your average jRPG hero, that's for sure!
This one's an odd one. He doesn't look like a warrior, and not much of an adventurer. He sort of reminds me of a Hobbit, even, but maybe that's what I find appealling about him. Just an ordinary villager who embarks on a big journey, kinda like Frodo Baggins. I haven't played DQ7 yet... but "Seven's" charming design makes me want to buy it soon! (But I'd really really like for it to be on Mobile devices...! Come on, Square-Enix! I want all of my games on the same system!).
He looks slightly buffer than the usual DQ protagonist (the non-chibi version anyway), and with good reason. He's apparently a wanderer who immediately sets off as a hero to rid the world of the Dragonlord. The armor is really cool-looking, so that's about all I can say about him. The blue and red gives him a particularly unique combination not seen in later heroes'.
The legendary hero/heroine "Erdrick" is designed in a way that you know he/she is a hero from the moment you see him/her. I personally have grown to love the blue+mustard yellow color combination thanks to him (and Princess Alena from DQIV). The silver tiara he wears gives him more of a respectable status, even royalty, although he's not (throughout the game, at least).
Bringing back the trenchcoat, this purple wearing character is already pleasing to the eye, wearing his long hair down, is the first "pretty boy"-like character to be a protagonist in the series. Just like Eight from DQ8, he gives off this Adventurer feeling which makes me want to cover every last blade of grass in the world, every dungeon, and every inch of a possible dark world. I really can't wait to play as him in DQXI.
The prince of Midenhall has a particularly unusual outfit. It's a sort of steampunk-like WW1 pilot-knight. His dominant blue color scheme makes him stand out in his own way from the rest. Not to mention the fact that his hair color borders a complete mistery, although his eyebrows narrow it down to brown or blond hair. This somehow gives him an additional layer of mistery that no other character seems to have.
I have a weakness for green-haired ladies in anime. I don't know what is it about green hair in general, but it's enough to make a female character instantly appealing to me... Only Sofia wears it up like an afro! Now, this doesn't look as stunning (to me), at least not in the way that makes me fall in love with her, but MAJOR points because she still manages to look cool, in an oldschool Red Sonja meets Cell Saga Bulma type of way, AND she's the first main character to ever use an afro (in a jRPG). So she still stands out from the usual videogame hero. The 80's gym spandex she uses could have been something else, though. But Sofia still looks great.
I'm a sucker for spiky upwards hair. This guy gives off the "warrior" vibe more than anyone else. Maybe looking the most like a DBZ character is partly the blame, but he just looks like an awesome fighter. Backed up by an amazing battle system, I feel like this guy can survive just about anything. I also love the orange cloth underneath the gi.
The color scheme is pretty out there. Teal/aqua with green and a touch of gold. The long green hair, the slime earrings, and that weird as heck crown/tiara he uses with those bizarre golden wing-ears, screams everything BUT normal. There aren't a lot of jRPG heroes out there who wear green, but I think this guy pulls it off the best.
He looks like a legendary hero even before you get to know him, especially since he was just some guy living in a small, isolated village. (Then again, don't all legendary heroes start out this way?)
The blue clothes, red/orange bandana, and the yellow trenchcoat makes this character stand out from among the rest in terms of uniqueness, and still make him look like an average joe, making him easy to relate to. He uses the emblematic yellow-blue color scheme that (DQ3) Erdrick uses, and gives it a slight modern twist by not having a trenchcoat instead of a cape. He looks like an experienced adventurer, and early on you know he used to be a Trodian soldier. But if you think he doesn't look like he's got warrior material, just wait till he reaches 100 points of tension! (At least on the US PS2 version, anyway).
So this was my list. Know what's funny? I would rate the supporting cast to all these guys/girls in almost the exact same order! Maybe Bianca/Deborah/Nera/Madchen/Parry could go a lot higer..
Sidequest: What are all of these heroes names, anyway? I only know of Erdrick, Solo, Sofia, Madason, Eight, and Nine.
Going to toss these here for anyone to use:
(In the future I might add the Monsters and Spinoff main heroes icons as well).