About Me

Newfoundland, Canada
I've been a big anime fan for about 10 years or so now. My five all-time favorite animes at this point are, in no particular order... Puella Magi Madoka Magica, El Hazard: The Magnificent World, Love Live!: School Idol Project, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. However, there are hundreds of anime shows that I like. The main purpose of this blog is to provide meta-commentary on anime, and the anime industry - to try to cast a critical, though appreciating, eye upon this entertainment genre that I believe has tremendous potential, but can also be easily wasted. I have always been a fan of animation in general - in the 80s, I grew up on western cartoons like He-Man, She-Ra, Transformers, and G.I. Joe. Through out the 90s, I was a hardcore comic book fan, for the most part. I'm also a big fan of Star Trek. Right now in my life, though, anime is my principal entertainment passion.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Number 10: Kamina!

Top Ten Countdown - Number 10: Kamina

AMV showcase video here.

On the one sword-wielding hand with the firm manly grip, you couldn't ask for a better way to kick off a Top 10 Countdown List than with the legendary Dai Gurren Leader Kamina. On the other more relaxed yet preparing for combat hand, I suspect that this will be a controversial pick; not because he's in the Top 10, but because of the fact that he's not at, or very near, the very top. Simply put, I think that Kamina is one of those characters that tends to be either at the very top of fan favorite listings like this one, or not there at all. You either love his attitude and his fire and his relentless ruthless rampaging race to pierce the heavens with his mighty drill... or he's too much for you. He's like the strongest of alcoholic beverages. Not everybody can hold this liquor, but those that can generally won't settle for anything less; since after you've drank from the blood released during Kamina's sacrificial swashbuckling steamrolling of the Beastmen, everything else seems mild in comparison, and may not give you the desired buzz.

I guess that for myself, Kamina is right on the borderline. If he was any more outrageously cool in a surreal way, I couldn't take him seriously at all, and I'd probably relegate him to the spoof world of Nabeshin, and Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo. That is, to say, I'd probably like him for pure comedy value and astounding amusement, but that's it. However, Kamina is just realistic enough for me to take him a bit seriously, and hence I gain a real sense of meaning and worth from this character, and also from his penultimately powerful philosophy.

And what is that philosophy? Well, just look up (or, rather, down ;) )

The above is Kamina's trademark pose, reflecting Kamina's philosophy that you should always aim for the top, and strive for boundless liberty and freedom, even at all costs. I imagine that for American anime fans, it's not hard to see much of the philosophy and spirit of the forefathers of America made incarnate within the bold bombastic brash brawn of Kamina. Kamina is the ultimate indomitable human spirit, grasping for free will, and refusing to allow himself and his friends to be forced underneath the ground by defeatist oppressors. People of a libertarian political persuasion must profoundly admire a character, and a man, like Kamina, I think.

However, Kamina is also a man of deep and abiding camaraderie, as his heartfelt friendship with Simon, and his alliance with Yoko and the rest of the Dai Gurren, also resounded gloriously with me. As a hockey fan, the Dai Gurren often made me think of a tightly knit hockey team, committed to the core to each other and to the cause that they were competing for. They weren't doing it for the money or the prestige, but simply for the love of the game, the worthiness of the cause, and the unbreakable bonds that they had forged. Kamina is like the perfect player coach and Team Captain; he'll lead by example, and push you onward with zesty encouragement and enthusiasm. He'll believe in you, so that you don't have to. Believe in Kamina who believes in you. Such a great way of inspiring others who doubt themselves: don't see yourself through your own doubting eyes, but see yourself through the eyes of those who love you and believe in you.

In an age of frequently dark and grim, cynical and jaded,
angst-ridden and emo, characters, Kamina is the amazing antithesis that will pierce them all, and show them a better way to be. Deep down, I am an optimist who often finds myself chafing under and against the frequently cynical post-modern philosophies of our time, and hence Kamina is a character and a man that can lift me out of those doldrums of depressing deterministic diatribes. Like the AMV linked to above says, Kamina is "15% concentrated power of will".

In fact, Kamina is the single most unblemished, unparalleled, unrestrained carrier of one of my favorite characterization elements: The Determinator

While I wouldn't want Kamina to have Ahnold's Austrian accent, I'm glad that he has the same refusal to quit that the T-800 brought to every fight. And as such, Kamina's mecha battles are some of the most eruptive and stunning through out all of mecha anime. They are like a double quarter-pounder with cheese and loads of condiments and toppings, for the eyes. Just such masculine meaty,
testosterone-thumping, goodness.

All of the above makes Kamina a most memorable character and sight to behold. He is pure, raw force of determination and will. He is the iconic inspirational image that every army simply dies for, both literally and figuratively. So why isn't he higher than 10th given such a rousing review?

Because while Kamina is the alpha of his character class, he's far from the omega. He starts the fire going, but he's not the one that keeps it ablaze. He's the originator, but not the man who has to carry the ball. He's the Star Quarterback, but he'd be lost with out the best Wide Receiver in the business... and Kamina himself knows it. As great a man as Kamina truly is, he's an even greater image and symbol.

One of my favorite moments in those first eight episodes of Endless Exuberance, better known as the first eight episodes of Gurren Lagann, was when Kamina let his emotional guard down ever so briefly to Yoko, confiding in her about just how much faith he really did have in Simon. Kamina revealed to her that while he was courageous... he was not fearless. He might sweat under the pressure, but he'd never give in to his fear. And one big reason for that is how much he believed in and trusted Simon.

Kamina wasn't just sounding off some pleasant pretentious platitudes for the benefit of Simon; he truly believed in them. Kamina really did believe in Simon. Kamina quietly admired Simon just as Simon admired him. Kamina had the guts and glory, but Simon had the know-how and skill. And this is what made them the dauntless dominating duo of anime. It also helps to explain why, though, Kamina isn't higher on this list.

When it comes to people leading armies into battle, or people flying mechas, I tend to like to see a certain degree of tactical brilliance. I like to see a charismatic cerebral champion who lifts his legions to victory by equal amounts of intelligence, integrity, and intensity: pro wrestler Kurt Angle's (in)famous Three Is. ;)

Kamina has the integrity and intensity down pat, and in flying colors, but his intelligence at strategy and tactics was just about average; perhaps slightly above if I was to be generous. This is nowhere near enough to deny him a spot on my Top 10 Favorite Anime Characters of All-Time list... but it is enough to deny him a higher placement on it.

Nonetheless, Kamina is startling in how he is both iconic and iconoclastic. Within his own universe, he is the iconic determinator; a hero of virtually mythical proportions. Within our universe, though, he is the iconoclast. Within his own universe, he is an irresistable force for change, and within our universe, he is an immovable colossus standing astride against the jade waters of attrition, cacophonously crashing down at his glimmering diamond form.

Who the hell do I think Kamina is?!

I think that Kamina is a diamond in the rough, and that he pierces the heavens like a diamond drill, and that he is a diamond that can't be worn away by cynical criticism or jaded jeers.

So kudos to you, Kamina, the dashing determined diamond of anime. May you always shine like a diamond in the sunset...


  1. I've always loved that picture you used at the end. While it doesn't feature his iconic pose, it's still one of my favorite shots.

    While I have to agree that he's the type of character you either put near the top or not at all, you did give good reasons for having him only at #10.

    Without Simon bringing him down to reality when his plans weren't working, Kamina would've died a long time ago. Likewise, without Kamina constantly building Simon up, he would've never left their village and grown into the man he became.

    This aspect of the two goes so deep into their characters that even their names reflect it, with "shimo" meaning "below" and "kami" meaning "above." While it can be argued that this should have been reversed, I see it as a representation of how they helped each other become the characters we know and love.

    Kamina and Simon are two of the greatest characters I've ever seen, simply because of this fact. However, this also potentially makes them two of the weakest characters, as neither one could have worked without the other.

    Sorry, I suppose I hijacked your blog with this comment, didn't I?

  2. Kamina is one of the most coolest characters EVER. You already make a good job explaning why, however, there is a point you didn't mentioned.
    As you said, many people love Kamina, actually, many only watched the first 8 episodes because of him. The most important fact about him is he so charasmatic he becomes a kinda of an idol, despite appearing only for 8 episodes in a 27 episodes show.
    Actually, stric speaking, Kamina do very little in these 8 episodes. He brags and talk a lot, defying ot laud every enemy he faces of. However, it is not ''him'' who defeat then, the one to solve many problems they face is not him, but Simmon.
    That is why I believe he is awesome as a character, he manage to be extramaly popular even tough he appears and does very little. His actitue is of a main character, but he is not one. Yet, he stel the sene everytime he is there.

  3. Cleric of Hell's BrigadeSeptember 17, 2009 at 10:41 PM

    A well done break down of kamina, man. I couldn't agree more with what you said and listed. He might not be in my top ten, but he'd be in my top twenty.

  4. Cleric of Hell's Brigade - Glad you liked it, dude! :) Thanks for the feedback.

    tigermoon and Heatth - Good points. As you both allude to, Kamina is the charismatic fire and Simon is the brains that is pushed onwards by it. You could kind of say that Kamina is the heart and soul of Dai Gurren while Simon is the mind and body of it. :)