Stolen Characters & IdeasYou Theif! That's My Senshi!
There is the possibility that one day, while browsing some otaku senshi fan sites, you might come across an otaku senshi that significantly resembles your otaku senshi in appearance. Additionally, you may also find that this other otaku senshi has many stats and profile information that is similar or the same as your otaku senshi.
If you have suspicious that someone is using your character or ideas without your permission, there are a few ways to deal with it; some of these are much more productive than others.
Screen capture curtesy of The Oracle <3
First, take a deep breath. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, but it still might make you quite angry. We dedicate a lot of time and energy to our characters and they become very special to us. Still, it is very important to not jump to conclusions. Even though you might find it very unlikely that someone could've some up with a character so similar to yours, going on the offense immediately will often result it little more than pointless arguments, flames and hurt feelings. Generally speaking, approaching this kind of situation with a cool head will allow you to deal with it more effectively and more than likely, get a satisfactory result. Before you can handle this alleged thief, you need to be in the right mind set so take some time to get your initial aggression out, and then try to focus.
Now, there are a few things that might have occurred here. Bear in mind the following: if your character wears a Sol-styled outfit like the ones the canon senshi wear, then it's very likely you will find other senshi with similar colors and designs. There are only so many ways to combine colors and still have it look nice.
Also, there are some common alterations to the Sol-outfit which you might think were special and unique to your character, but someone else might also think the same for their own. Common alterations include, but are not limited to: stripes or other decoration on the skirt, fingerless gloves, altered bow shape and style, altered sleeve style, altered glove style, and alterations to the bodice. If the physical similarities of your character and another's character are in only ONE section of their outfit, chances are it is a coincidence.
There's also the element of inspiration. All art comes from other art, our brains collect and store little bits of everything we see. So sometimes, when one is designing an outfit, one's brain will recall the element of an outfit they once saw which they liked. The person designing might not even remember seeing the other character, but the style of that element stands out in their head as very appealing. Thus, that attribute makes its way into their design without them even being conscious of its origins.
As explained above, there are many coincidences in otaku senshi creation. Because sailor senshi are inherently linked to celestial bodies, the likelihood that two persons would select the same celestial entity as the basis for their character is relatively high. In addition to that, the mythology surrounding the names of many celestial bodies can also lead to similarly themed senshi with similar pasts or missions. If you encounter a similarly named senshi with similar powers, consider the possibility that the person who made her might have been inspirited from the same type of inspiration you had. That being said, if you find someone else with a Sailor Etherial Selesandis-Amartia, you are more likely to be right that they've actually taken your character's name. ^_^;
There is also something else to consider and that is the intentions of this person. Sometimes someone admires you and they create a character based on your character because they love her so much. Their intent is to praise you. Attacking this person or calling them out would significantly hurt their feelings, especially if they are very young or very new to the community and didn't know it was taboo to copy or use other people's characters. On the other hand, it's also possible you might run into people that purposely rip you off to hurt your feelings. Each of these situations can and should be handled differently, but it's not always easy to determine which case is which and sometimes it's somewhere in the middle.
So what do I do?
If you find you think your character HAS been ripped off and you really don't want to deal with it at all, you are in luck. It just so happens that there is a community of people who like to deal with this stuff for you! For more information, check out Aabita.
However, if you want to deal with this situation yourself, after your have taken some time to cool down, find out if there is a contact for the person that created the otaku senshi in question. If you can find and email address, it's suggested that you compose a well-written, civil inquiry into the similarities that you have noticed. Explain how you found the profile of their character and why you are concerned about this similarities. Avoiding personal insults and accusations is a helpful way to gain their understanding and encourage an open response. While it's not advised that you assume it to be true, try to remember that this person might be new at creating otaku senshi and there is a decent chance that even if they did copy your character's design or information, they might not know that that practice is unacceptable.
Proceed with the intent on finding out if the person did in fact use your ideas, or if they came up with a similar character by coincidence. If they did use your character as basis for their own and willingly admit it, you can then explain to them in a calm manner that it's not acceptable in the community and can lead to lots of drama and unwanted hassle. It's also helpful to explain to new fans that there are many resources out there for getting designs, art, and help with their characters. You could provide this person with help sites on how to make their character truly a work of their own (like the site you are at now), and/or you could make specific suggestions on how they could alter their character to make it less similar to yours.
If you run into someone that intends to hurt you by stealing your art or your characters then you will have a lovely encounter with what is known as an internet troll. For effective ways of combating trolls, I recommend the page Internet Trolls. A basic summary? Ignore them, they aren't worth your time.
Some final thoughts...
A stolen character isn't such a big a deal if you really think about it, because let's face it - it's just Sailor Moon fandom and we are all playing in Naoko's sandbox. Worse things can happen in life, and Sailor Moon fandom is not the end all be all of your creativity. Just remember: this is a hobby, it's supposed to be fun! So if we're cool and calm about things, we can avoid turning trivial matters into the major conflicts which sometimes plague our community. Please remember to have patience for those who are new, keep an open mind and try to work with people.
It's all cool.
Working with each other, that is - not the stealing.
Stealing is bad. :D