My choice for the best returning characters depend on time and location of the new game. I’ll take 471 as example because that’s what the OP mentioned, so obviously there’ll be no S4 characters with a normal lifespan, even many S5 characters (who where then young) would be too old. As for location, it must be a land relatively far away from the locations of 1-3, because afaik there’s no “unused” landmass close-by. I’m not choosing one, let’s just say it’s far away. This is important because it makes no sense to let characters return who in fact have long-term duties to fulfill in the S1-3 locations. Example: if the new location is a neighboring country of Toran, I want Camille, who became a Toran general, to return; if the location is New-Armes, I don’t want her to return, because it doesn’t make sense (unless a reason is created). This means returning characters must have some travel spirit and motives.
Under the above circumstances, this would be my choice:
Sydonia – just disappeared, could have formed a new bandit gang elsewhere
Viki + Jeane – classics!
Zerase, Raura – no age problems, can always return
Simeon – it seems he doesn’t age as well, tell us why, Konami
Wakaba – could be one step away from becoming a grandmaster, her last task is to challenge the best martial artist of that new land/continent
Subala + Templeton – Subala has probably some experience in sailing and she is searching for the biggest fish, so she could drag Templeton along, who is still searching for the edge of the world
Bolgan + Eilie + Rina – their wanderlust pushed them to another country
Toma + Maroon – on the one hand they didn’t seem to have itchy feet, on the other hand they were young and curious
Richard – probably searching for Mueller
Shoon – it is said he travels the world after S5
Rowd – where did this rat escape?
Qlon – note that he has become a very formidable gate guard within 13 years, and that he left Toran castle because there was nothing to guard anymore (or no attackers)
Pilika + Jillia – sick of waiting for Jowy, took off to find him
Levi + Norma + Ernst – could they lift the curse? Levi should be very old by then…
Crowley/Mazus – let one of them be in my army, the other in the enemy’s army, and let them have an unforgettable duel
Pesmerga (+ Yuber) – only if they tell us more about their background, otherwise f#ck off, coz I’m tired of the same procedure over and over again
Nash + Sierra – it is rumored they married, which I find incredibly silly, but if there is a vampire plague in this new location, yeah, why not
Pete + Lorelei + Killey – Pete (son of Alex & Hilda) is the new competitor of the Sindar explorers
Bonaparte – Succeeded in escaping from her annoying owner
Ko + X – The little Riou fan has become a young man, just like his friend/rival who is a Jowy fan; this may be silly, but I prefer it to the originals
2 or 3 suitable S3 characters, who were traveling before coming to the grasslands
These would already be more than enough, even S2 had less returning characters. Stop wailing about Fliktor and Riowy, their stories are told, end of story. (I think I’ve mentioned in another thread that I would like them to return for Tactics spin-offs of S1 and S2, if the setting is Toran/Dunan and short before or short after S1/S2.)
Moreover there could be children of S5 characters, like Wilhelm’s son as the new womanizer, as well as children of Nelis + Yahr, Marina + Belcoot, Sharmista + Shula, Salisha + Dinn, etc. Last but not least I wanna see a new pair from the warrior’s village, new ninja, and new Max Knights, because the previous ones don’t make sense here.
"Within the four seas, all men are brothers" Shuihu Zhuan