Well, not really, but I felt that this awesome AMV above could serve to get my readers pumped and primed for my Top 10 Favorite Anime Characters of All-Time Countdown!
A few ground rules before I begin...
This is, of course, just my own list of favorite anime characters. It primarily reflects my own taste in fictional characters, particularly those presented in an animated medium. This list is not designed to convey which ten anime characters are the most influential of all time... although a case can be made that at least two or three characters on my list are influential. This list is also not meant to determine which ten anime characters are the most complex, multifaceted, and unique of all time... although, again, a case can be made that many of these characters are complex, multifacated, and unique. Certainly, I tend to very much like prominent, unique characters that stand out for me in a good way... but, at the same time, characters that do a truly outstanding job of representing a particular archetype appeal to me as well. For example, my conception of the perfect tsundere is in this Top 10 list.
So, in a neat and tidy nutshell, this list is only to display to you, gentle reader, the ten anime characters that have most left an indelible impression on me through out the dozens upon dozens upon dozens of animes that I've watched. Needless to say, many excellent anime characters never made the cut. To help explain why one or more of your favorites may not be on the list, let me introduce you to a few criteria that I used in rounding down the vast array of anime characters that I have to choose from...
1) The character has to stand out for me, over and above the broader cast that he or she or it is a part of. While it's true that I loved the Sailor Moon anime and its cast, neither one or two of the Sailor Scouts fully stood out to me as being particularly more notable or enjoyable to watch than any of the others. It is a strong and stupendous cast, and I like them all, but I just don't like them enough to put them all in my Top 10 list, and at the same time neither one of them (including Sailor Moon herself) strikes me as more deserving of the honor than either of the others. At some level, I'm inclined to think that truly great characters will shine a bit more brilliantly than their fellow cast members.
2) The character needs to have significant screen-time. I like Akasaka (Higurashi) and Gihren Zabi (Mobile Suit Gundam) a lot, but neither received much screen-time. Each was displayed prominently in one of my favorite anime scenes of all-time. However... I can't really justify putting into my Top 10, characters that may be completely conspicuously cool for a short stretch of time in one episode, but aren't fleshed out a great deal beyond that. By extension, this also means that characters in brand new, yet unfinished, animes (such as Bakemonogatari) aren't on the list. I will say, though, that there's at least a couple of Bakemonogatari characters that may very well challenge for Top 10 spots in the future.
3) How much I like the anime that the character is from is important. Dragon Ball Z was one of the first animes that I ever watched, and I liked it a lot at the time... but looking back on it now after watching much more fast-paced shonen fare, I can see where it has considerable weaknesses, primarily in the pacing department. Due to how DBZ doesn't appeal to me like it once did (the linked AMV above notwithstanding), its characters probably suffer from that. On the flip-side, one of my favorite animes is the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and that helped to lift one particular character into my Top 10 list. You'll have to wait to find out who that character is. ;)
4) The character has to be known primarily as an anime character (at least for me). Captain Falcon is astonishingly incredible, and M. Bison can make you gleefully shout "Yes! Yes!" while watching him fight, but both are known better for their video game roles than their anime roles.
So, all-told, those are my Fantastic Four Filters (provided by the always malleable Reed Richards; him being such a great guy who'll stretch to great lengths for just about anyone's sake ;) ). There are other factors playing into the precise ordering of the characters in my Top 10 list, but you can be assured that each and every one of them survived (or mostly survived, anyway) this screening process.
However, in piecing together my Top 10 list, I found that there were actually close to twenty characters that I had to make some tough choices amongst. Even the Fantastic Four Filters weren't able to totally make this an easy selection for me. As such, I feel compelled to honor five particular characters that just missed the cut, but nonetheless deserve some special spotlight moments, in my opinion.
So... here are five honorable mentions, in alphabetical order, with a brief blurb on each, explaining why I like him or her or it...
Éclair (Kiddy Grade)
Tall and voluptuous is my favorite female form, red's my favorite color, and I love wavy brunette hair. So, on sheer character design alone, Eclair appeals to me quite deliciously. ;) She also has perfectly sized breasts, in my estimation. Eclair was also one of the first leading ladies of anime that I came into contact with after I started watching anime heavily a few years back. Up to then, my exposure to anime was unwitting (i.e. I couldn't distinguish anime from other cartoons), and limited to DBZ, Pokemon, and Sailor Moon. Eclair was the first buxom bodacious broad, of a non-magical girl type, to be a female main protagonist, that I came across.
And she was as luscious in that role as her trademark lipstick whip was... and really, what a cooler weapon for a female than a lipstick whip can you get?! She also had a personality that I found alluring for the most part, and her backstory frequently intrigued me. In the anime, she ends up being a supremely stylish heroine that consistently fights for what is right, even if it forces her to go against her superiors and to take a stand that throws her life into quite dire jeopardy.
Why didn't she make the Top 10 cut then? Her character, for me, was undermined somewhat by gratuitous fanservice; for example, you wouldn't believe just how long it took me to find a non-fanservicey pic of her like this one above. I don't mind some fanservice, especially for a fine feminine fighter like Eclair, but Kiddy Grade (the anime with Eclair in it) sometimes took it a bit too far. Another knock against her is how vaguely defined her marvelous metahuman abilities are. This is a problem that plagues the entire Kiddy Grade cast, in fairness. That, combined with Eclair being virtually immortal, made her somewhat difficult for me to relate to. Finally, there's also the fact that Eclair simply has fewer fascinating character relationship dynamics surrounding her, in my opinion, than some of the similar leading ladies that did make my Top 10 cut.
Still, Eclair is an early favorite of mine, and she definitely deserves a honorable mention at least.
Ifurita (El Hazard: The Magnificent World)
Ifurita, much like Eclair, is here in part due to character design reasons. I simply adore Ifurita's character design, which is one that helped me make the transition from western comic book fan to anime fan. El Hazard: The Magnificent World OAV, as a whole, served as the ideal gateway anime for this Batman, Superman, and Marvel Comics fan. It had several prominent characters with personalities and/or outfits that reminded me a great deal of the costumed heroes and villains of western comics. This is particularly true of Ifurita and one other El Hazard: The Magnificent World OAV character that is in my Top 10.
Perhaps no anime character personifies "mysterious" to me as much as Ifurita does. Even the most diehard of El Hazard fans do not know for certain how organic, or how artificial, she is. She is, in fact, a living weapon of mass destruction, designed precisely for that purpose. And yet, her soft subtle beauty, and magnificent melodic melancholy and style contrast so impeccably with that status. Then there are her epic powers that include creating huge blast radius' that can consume large towns, the ability to copy the abilities and powers of others, dimension dumping, and time travel. Taken altogether, this serves to make Ifurita one of the most intriguing characters in all of anime. As I said, she is mysteriousness personified. :)
So why, then, didn't she crack the Top 10? Because this strength is also a weakness. Like Eclair, she is a bit hard to relate to; perhaps even moreso than Eclair is since Ifurita's personality is more esoteric than Eclair's. There is also the fact that this version of Ifurita simply doesn't get that much screen-time; five episodes in total (eight if you
count her duplicate in the second El Hazard OAV). She simply isn't as fleshed out as much as I'd like.
Still, as Katsuhiko Jinnai says, she is an ultimate weapon that is excellent! ;) And her unusual romance with Makoto Mizuhara is one of my favorites in all of anime.
One area where I would give western comic books and fiction a bit of an edge over anime is in the prominence and quality of antagonists and villains. I know that many will probably disagree with me here, as they may prefer the more understated 'shades of gray' sympathetic antagonist or villain. That's all fine and good, but every now and then I find it very exciting and fun to see the protagonists go up against a cackling, colorful, dynamic, scenery chewing, and theatrical villain. And there's very few in anime that actually surpass the good Dr. Scaglietti in fulfilling such a role.
Of the 'mad scientist' villain type within anime, Scaglietti just edges out Professor Tomoe (Sailor Moon), and Dantalion (Shakugan no Shana) for me. Perhaps the main reason being that, as it pertains to the anime versions of each of those three anyway, Scaglietti gets directly involved the most. He actually shoots blasts and hacks into TVs to make big announcements. Now that's my kind of impacting intense intelligent villain! And then there's the fact that perhaps no villain in all of anime has a larger harem of almost entirely loyal subordinates. I doubt that even Professor Tomoe had the numbers that Jail had. ;)
But even bad puns aside, Scaglietti stands out to me for his funny facial distortions, his reverberating laughter, his wearing of a lab coat over a business suit, and his purple bishi hair. His look is distinctive, but streamlined.
So, why doesn't he make the cut? Largely due to how the anime handled him. He ultimately goes down more with a whimper than with a bang, and he was so hopelessly outmatched that I actually pitied him frequently... and it's probably not a good sign when you pity a shamelessly diabolical villain before he even goes down to defeat. If Scaglietti had just had more punch behind his attacks, or had a subordinate like, say, Ifurita, maybe he would have cracked my Top 10. As is, though, he's still very deserving of this honorable mention.
Sakai Yuji (Shakugan no Shana)
Sakai Yuji is my favorite character of his anime character type. That character type being what I would call "The fairly straight-laced Japanese teenager everyman central protagonist". This character type is always at least a bit meek and mild, typically with a solemn stoic side, frequently moved around by the plot rather than driving it himself, usually has dark hair, and almost always wears a student uniform. He's a very common anime character type; all-female casts aside, it's a rare anime that doesn't have a character like this.
And for me, Sakai Yuji is the best representation of this character type, just edging out Makoto Mizuhara (El Hazard), and Kyon (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya). He is also, of course, leaps and bounds ahead of the typical harem anime lead. What makes Sakai Yuji stand out for me in this fashion?
The main reasons are that he's not downright whiny (a frequent annoying aspect to characters of his character type), his actions and decisions typically make good sense to me, his powers are actually rather neat, and most importantly he really undergoes an impressive character evolution during the second half of Shakugan no Shana II. Simply put, Yuji becomes a man; moreso than any other character that he shares his character type with, imo. After a lengthy period of being a push-over and riding on Shana's coattails, Yuji eventually takes control of his life, and much like Prince Adam of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe fame, holding aloft and wielding a magical sword makes all the difference for him. ;) :D
Yuji is also a deeply reflective character, and, I believe, a much more reliable narrator than Kyon is; this being my main reason for putting Yuji ahead of Kyon here. Yuji seems to truly care about others, and that isn't drowned out in either whiny words or snarky sneering. He is an eminently likeable and relatable character. So why didn't he make the cut?
While he's great in the 2nd half of Shakugan no Shana II, his breathtakingly blind and oblivious behavior in the 1st half of Shakugan no Shana II hurts his character a bit for me. He's probably not as indecisive about romances as many of his character type are, but he nonetheless could be better here.
Still, his romance with Shana is my favorite in all of anime, and thus he deserves a honorable mention at the very least.
The four main protagonists of InuYasha (Kagome, Miroku, Sango, and InuYasha himself) are all great characters, imo. I like all of them a lot. So what lifts Sango just a slight touch above the rest of them for me?
Mainly the fact that she's such a sweet and perpetually pure in heart protagonist. She doesn't have InuYasha's boastful abrasive ego, or Miroku's lecherousness. And her fits of tsuntsun strike me as slightly less frequent than Kagome's, as Kagome can strike me as being a bit too quick to anger at times.
Sango strikes me as one of those characters that you'd love to have as either a friend, or as a girlfriend. She is so dependable, firm, and resolute. She has real class and a sense of personal pride. She also brings out the very gallant best in Miroku on a few occasions. When Sango manages to make this happen, it serves to have Miroku become one of my favorite anime characters as well. And when Miroku is at his best, the Miroku/Sango romance is one of my favorites in all of anime. It really resonates with me during those moments when Miroku is at his best.
For whatever reason, Sango is also one of those anime characters that simply exudes Japanese culture for me. And in doing so, she helps me to greater appreciate the cultural heritage of that lovely oriental land, as well as to help me realize why I became an anime fan to begin with. Her fighting style, her choice of weapons, her flying pet cat that can change size and shape... there's a lot surrounding her that's quite nice.
Her outfit is cool and stylish, but while being modest and utilitarian. Sexy with out needing fanservice to accomplish it; now that's a woman who knows how to carry herself.
So why doesn't she make the cut? Sango is a bit understated. I don't mind that in some anime characters, but in Sango's case, I wish she'd get involved in the action and dialogue just a bit more than what she does. Still, she is a character that has earned her place in this "Honorable Mentions" list.
Well, that's all for the Honorable Mentions list.
I hope all of my readers enjoyed this Blog entry, and that people gained a bit of a better understanding in my taste in anime, my taste in anime charcters, my taste in villains, and my taste in romance especially, because of it. As always, any and all comments are appreciated.
Soon... the Top 10 part of the Final Countdown begins! >:)