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I wanted to make an anime-themed visual connect wall, but chickened out from including copyrighted images...so here is a much harder version of it, that is also no longer visual. Never tried to make a connect wall before, let's see how this goes .w.

As you, the chosen one of your universe, begin your nth time loop to fix all teh problemz using the weeb powers you got by selling your soul to the anime god, you accidentally say one of the flashy things incorrectly and find yourself reborn into a new world in the body of a dragon. As if that weren’t enough of a headache, you’re attacked by bandits after walking a kilometer or two -- only to be saved by a mysterious masked warrior, who looks you in the eye intensely before flying away wordlessly.

A bit farther down, you find a wizened old man sitting by a lone cottage, and given his archetype, you decide you can trust him enough to ask where the heck you are and how this world works…but all he does is rant about all the thieves who come in from other Japanese animated pop culture worlds. He’s lost gold and silver axes, a giant peach, and recently, all his fish in his warehouse have been stolen. Scared that he’s going to try to accuse you of thievery as well, you decide not to ask why he had a giant warehouse full of fish in the first place, and clarify that you’re not there to take anything. Fortunately, he believes you, and in fact thinks you look strong and clever enough to identify and take down the fish thief. Should you be successful, he is willing to give you a legendary stone that will give you control over the kingdom.

Sure, whatever, that sounds like a good turn of fortune, given how bizarre things have been lately...

The old man shows you the wall where he has the names of sixteen people pinned. He knows it’s not one of them, but the real fish thief shares a characteristic with all of them -- namely, there are four non-overlapping groups of four characters, where each group shares a characteristic, and the fish thief has all four characteristics of each group. Unfortunately, you don’t read the language of this world even though you can speak it for some odd reason. Fortunately, you happen to have an endless pocket of helpful devices. You pull out a magical alien machine that can translate anything, and use it to translate the names into something you can read. The thing is, the device is just...really bad at translation.

Image of the connect wall; text below

Who is the fish thief?


The sixteen "translated" names in table form:

dragon’s peak emperor person moon field rabbit cool shrine haruhi Greek victory goddess/ナイラ
shrine garden fragrance defense shrine warrior son 五・izumi 運命・赤毛
first torrent izuna ring ABC west tree field real princess little field creek future
dog night fork gold tree sharpen bind city yuuna god valley fragrance

The emboldened headers do not make any entries any more important than the others.

Notes

  • Story and title are just for flavor, although given the amount of tropes I added into it, many of the franchises do exhibit some similar events. The entire puzzle is contained in the connect wall image/text.
  • All characters, except one, have appeared in an anime that has aired in Japan (though their series may have begun as manga, light novels, or games). The one that has not appeared in an anime has only appeared in a game (as far as I know), one that was first released in Japan, and that uses anime-style art.
  • All characters are from different franchises, including the fish thief.
  • All of the franchises have at least one major work (e.g. an anime series, a manga) officially translated into English.
  • All characters are important to the plot in their respective franchises.
  • The groups are not based on release dates or any creators of the franchises.

Hint 1

The comment about separators is correct -- note that the center dot is often used to separate parts of foreign names in Japanese, while lists of Japanese names often have the family and given names separated by a space. Also notice that some of the "translations" seem to have stayed (?) in Japanese...

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  • $\begingroup$ One thing to notice is that most of the clues have a visible separator (a double space or a middle dot, maybe a slash counts too) which is likely between the first and last names. $\endgroup$
    – Bubbler
    Nov 13 '20 at 0:13
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Just to start... I think the second clue

moon field rabbit

is

Usagi Tsukino, aka the protagonist from 'Sailor Moon'.

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