I’ve never understood how folks could think Hinawa has no character. A lot of it’s because she dies in the first chapter. But even in death, her character lives on. I don’t know for sure if Lucas dreamt the Sunflower Fields or if he actually landed in some kind of Magicant or afterlife, but she did save his life. And in the end, she pulled Claus out of his brainwashing and finally let him die, as he should’ve done three years ago. Not to mention the little things we learn: her favorite food is the same as yours, she loves sunflowers and gerberas enough to plant them around the village, and based on what the villagers say about her, she was a respected citizen. In flashbacks and the credits, we also see Hinawa teasing her family, Flint in particular.
Sounds like personality to me.
It’s the same case for Ness’s mother too. We never learn her name (I think it’s Carol; dunno where I got that), but we get quite a bit of personality. We see her tease Porky when Ness brings him over for dinner/a snack/whatever. And we also see her tease Ness just before he sets off on his adventure. Periodically, when her son gets homesick, she’s always willing to make him feel better. And at the same time, just before she hangs up, she’s almost always busy doing housework. It shows she’s a hard worker. And like Hinawa, we even learn a little detail about her: she likes soap operas. Steamy ones. We get all this stuff. But that doesn’t take into account that her love and concern for Ness is so strong that it can turn an already-wounded Giygas into a screeching light show in the game’s ending.
Again, sounds like personality to me.
Little details build the MOTHER universe and its characters. Ninten getting an asthma attack from car exhaust, Ness missing his mother’s voice soon after leaving Onett, and Lucas siccing a dinosaur on Yokuba and his soldiers help make these characters stand out in people’s minds. It applies just as much to characters cheering you on from the sidelines as it does to the characters you control. And in a series where you’re encouraged to add onto the world, it’s pretty darn effective.