2. Strong female characters (the maidens in distress who will kick your butt!)
3. A lead worth cheering on, in the face of the worst adversity
4. The extreme side of this statement: "Without darkness, there can be no light!"
5. The worst in someone brings out the best in another
Well, now I realize that these are generic statements, but the more generalized the story, the more universal it becomes. The more universal the concepts, the more likely a multitude of people will identify with it. That's why most manga and anime is set in high school. It appeals to a particular age group more literally. But the reason that it appeals to different age groups (oldies like lil ole me) is because of the universal truths. Oh, and things like plot, narrative, character design, theme, etc. And the pretties.
I'll even watch a mech show if ya twist my arm. And I may even like it!
I'll post some more of these tomorrow. I want my stories to have all of these things eventually, so it'll help me focus. :)