As a student of Japanese pop culture, I like to observe how 2D characters evolve and change with each new anime season. Sometimes these character updates are visual, like the Pocky Shiori from Tamako Market puts her hair up with (though we suspect they’re really these Pocky Chopsticks), and sometimes they’re internal, like making the teacher from Kiss x Sis (which I naturally only watch for the plot, honest) into a rekijo, a female who loves Japanese history, which is all the rate in Japan these days. Virtually all sentai (fighting team) stories from Himitsu Sentai Goranger to Sailor Moon follow established character patterns, with the Leader/most heroic fighter, the charismatic Lancer/second in command, the Smart Guy/nerd, the Big Guy/athlete, and the Chick (usually a balancing force who keeps the team together). In the spandex-enabled magical girl anime Vividred Operation, it wasn’t enough to update the “Smart Guy” character (Himawari-chan) to be a genius computer hacker. The creators went a step beyond, making her a hikikomori (NEET) who was also a “factory otaku,” that is, a girl who loves the aesthetics of sprawling manufacturing facilities, which is a thing in Japan.
The latest character design innovation? Hair Pocky.