As promised, a (fairly) concise list of my favourite anime/manga characters, written (mostly) for my entertainment and reference. This is a list that’s constantly changing- I mean, two of these characters I had the pleasure meeting only this year– so I will update it as necessary.
Anyway, these are all characters that have had a profound impact, not just on their respective shows and fellow characters, but on me. Some have made me laugh, some have made me cry, some I have fallen in love with, one I find particularly terrifying, all are completely awesome and fascinating and if you’ve met them, I’m sure you’ll agree!
10. Haruka Haruhara- FLCL
Though FLCL is essentially the story of Naota coming of age and Haruka is merely the catalyst to enable such a thing, she was by far the most interesting character in the show. She was like a bomb, exploding into Naota’s life and blowing it wide open, unwittingly showing him that being mature is about more than just criticising the immature behaviour of others, making yourself look better in comparison, but rather, about stepping up to your responsibilities, by just being so darn crazy and getting him into all sorts of strange shit. She may just be a flat character, but boy, is she the most entertaining and unpredictable flat character out there!
9. Akito Sohma- Fruits Basket
*spoiler alert* If you haven’t read the Fruits Basket manga and plan to someday, I advise you to skip the next paragraph
Akito is a character I probably shouldn’t like- deluded, manipulative, prone to violence, but I can’t help but be drawn to her (that’s right, Akito’s really a woman!) So desperate for love, but the only way she knows how to keep those around her close is through fear, and boy, does she inspire fear in those around her! She even has fully-grown men years older than her flinch at the sight of her, and as soon as she appears, you know something bad is about to happen. She makes a pretty big impact, appropriate given she has adopted the role of God in this story. But all the same, you can’t help but pity her, she really is a broken woman- abused and neglected by her mother, feared by her other relatives and various lovers, raised as a boy when actually a girl… Never have I been so conflicted over a character before Akito- you really want to hate her, but you just can’t…
8. Okita Sougo- Gintama
Okita, like Izaya, is a character that interests me greatly, and much like Izaya, he hides a definite malicious streak, but by using that adorable baby face of his (though it is worth noting he definitely makes less of an effort than Izaya to hide that streak!) But the appeal of Okita, for me, didn’t stop at trying to work out why he was such a freakin’ douche to some, particularly Hijikata and Kagura, but almost respectful towards others, e.g. Gintoki, he was also incredibly funny, this I put down to his aforementioned baby face! For the same reason it was hilarious to watch the mono-expression fairies from Humanity Has Declined bully each other, it is hilarious to watch Okita, someone with a positively angelic appearance do something so unspeakably evil such as counting the slain corpses of his boss instead of sheep to go to sleep. But the appeal doesn’t even stop there, for Okita makes up one half of one of my favourite couples: Okita and Kagura. The pair have such a great dynamic- which I put down to them being so similar in terms of character, they feel the need to compete, as animals with the same food source and habitat do in the wild- any scene where they are in the same room together becomes an instant favourite.
7. Yotsuba Koiwai- Yotsuba&!
This is a bit of a boring choice, really, ‘cause I think Yotsuba’s a firm favourite of everyone who’s met her! She has such an amazing energy about her, and whilst she’s not calculating and manipulative like some of the other characters on this list, she’s still able to influence the behaviour of everyone around her just as adeptly, using this energy alone. I mean, the manga feels so energetic and fast-paced because of this, even during chapters where relatively little happens. Her innocence is something else which makes her that little bit special. The motto of the manga is appropriate given that Yotsuba really does enjoy everything, she sees everything as being exciting and magical, which, aside from being very funny at times, makes you cast back to your own youth when, in your innocence, you used to see everything in that kind of light. And there aren’t many characters that do that out there!
6. Izaya Orihara- Durarara!!
Izaya is fascinating. I mean, DRRR!! is full of fascinating characters, but Izaya definitely takes the biscuit, not just because the large majority of everything that happened in the show was the product of his manipulation, but also because he’s the only one I was never able to fully figure out. Why is it he is the way he is? Did the fact he was brought up in a rich family mean he grew used to having power at a young age and that was translated into later years? Was he bullied in his youth, giving him that thirst for power? Somehow I doubt it. Is there something wrong with him, mentally? I’m tempted to suggest schizophrenia- disconnection from reality and delusions of grandeur are a symptom of the disorder, and those are exhibited by Izaya on numerous occasions (“I love humans”, to me, suggests he feels above them” Or is he some kind of alien? A possibility given that there’s also a headless Irish fairy running around Ikebukuro! I just don’t know. I want to crack his head open and see what’s going on inside, which sounds majorly psychotic, but there you go…
5. Kagura- Gintama
Kagura is a funny one. The reason I adore her so much is because she takes one long, hard look at all the other lead heroines in shounen shows- feminine and reserved, mainly there to cater to the emotional needs of the hero- and laughs. She’s wickedly strong, has next to no manners, cussing and picking her nose like a pro, and was the first, and only, female character in a Shounen Jump show to vomit on-screen (there’s a fun fact for you!) And it’s because of this- contrasting so hard with our expectations of how a traditional heroine should be, that is- that’s she’s so darn funny! But despite all of her gross habits there are points in Gintama where her childlike innocence (she is only young, bless her) really shines through, and as with Yotsuba, it’s terribly endearing… and then she’ll go do something like burp of flick a booger at someone and she’s hilarious again!
4. Yoruichi Shihouin- Bleach
Yoruichi’s here for reasonably shallow reasons, really. Those reasons centring round the fact that she’s just so darn hot! I’m not gay, but boy, does she make my ears go pink! The reason I’ve picked Yoruichi over some of her equally attractive fellow cast members is because, unlike many of them, she’s not simply walking, talking fanservice, she’s fully aware of her sexuality, it helps characterise her and makes up a rather large part of her arsenal. Sure, she’s taken down numerous enemies, saved Ichigo’s butt countless times, and even held her own against Aizen, super-boss extraordinaire, but her real power is exhibited when she reduces her own allies to quivering heaps using just her hotness- the usually cool and collected Ichigo, a red-faced mess when shown a little skin, Byakuya, who’s aloof and distant even from his own sister, a ball of rage after a little harmless teasing, and then Soi Fon, whose adoration couldn’t be more obvious, she makes a slave to her will. She brings out a different side to other characters, which is both entertaining to watch and empowering, this is a woman with real power- a woman who has shunned the power her social standing affords her, preferring to use her wit and feminine wiles to get by. OK, so that last bit’s not all that shallow!
3. Kuranosuke Koibuchi- Kuragehime
Kuranosuke is beautiful. Not just on the outside, but on the inside too. He spends the entire series of Kuragehime trying to convince Tsukimi that she too is beautiful as well as giving her drastic makeovers to instil a bit of confidence in her so that she can follow her dreams. But what’s so gorgeous about him is that, despite his questionable hobby and having previously dated many, many girls, he’s so innocent when it comes to love- he’s completely and utterly oblivious to the strength of his feelings for Tsukimi. I mean, to most Tsukimi and the other Amars would appear to be a lost cause, so stuck in their ways that they are, but Kuranosuke does his utmost to try to bring them all out of their shells and interact with others outside of their group and fight to keep their home, all because he’s so enamoured with this peculiar, jellyfish loving girl- and he doesn’t even realise this himself, he can’t explain why he’s doing all this further than “she interests me”, and questions why it is seeing Tsukimi and his brother embrace makes him feel so angry. Seeing such a flaw (for not realising how you feel is certainly a flaw) in such a confident, outgoing character probably melts the heart of any girl, not just me! You just want to give him a big ol’ hug!
2. Edward Elric- Fullmetal Alchemist
Ed is the character who’s been on this list the longest- I adored him within minutes of starting FMA all those years ago. Why? Well not just because of his pretty, pretty hair (though that does play an important part in why I like him so), but also because he reminded me so much of myself. There were the small things like the height issue and not being able to stand dairy, then there were the bigger things: feeling that the world, which supposedly operates on a fair system, is definitely not fair to some, and using your smarts to hide away some truly abysmal social skills. It was a pleasure to watch him grow (though not vertically) and come to terms with these issues that resonated so much with me- there’s no use just moping about wishing things were different, and you’ve got to take risks and learn to trust people if you’re to make friends with ‘em- throughout FMA and FMA Brotherhood!
1. Yuuko Ichihara- XXXHOLiC
Wow, I bet no-one saw this coming!! Yeah right! I’ve been open about my adoration of Yuuko right from the very start, dedicating numerous paragraphs, and even posts, to her! The reason why she’s retained my fascination so since I watched XXXHOLiC approximately two years ago now is because she’s so mercurial, in other words, there are so many different sides to her that she frequently exhibits, switching between them in an instant: she can be playful one moment, deadly serious the next, a drunk, giggly woman-child cripplingly dependent on her man-servant, Watanuki, then almost God-like in power and intelligence. She’s even fascinating on a visual level, changing her outfits as often as her mood. Yet, despite having so many different sides to her, I’m yet to see a side I do not like, to me she is perfect. And I mean it when I say that. I can only hope I manage to adopt some of her more positive qualities as I continue to mature.