Pointless Debate #11: Favorite Characters

I was really close to putting one of these 2 for a favorite character, but I didn't pull the trigger

After ghostlightning once again set the agenda over at the creatively named THAT Anime Blog, and with followups from Rakuen at Borderline Hikikomori and Caraniel’s…Ramblings, I thought I may as well have a go at something like this too. Categorization of the characters in these posts have broken down into words like admirable, complex, entertaining and relatable. I would also think there are other ways to have favorite characters, which could even be in reaction to the favorites of others; positively or negatively. One could even have characters that are favorites for irony.

Take my MAL favorite seven for instance. I haven’t really updated them since probably December 2008, and I struggle to remember why I put most of them there. Here’s my attempt to think through them:

Kousaka Tamaki (To Heart 2) – probably not a serious selection. Yes, I find her entertaining, but really she is just the older sister-type in Takaaki’s harem.

Matsumaru Fumihiko (REC) – Certainly a serious selection for reasons I’ll detail later.

Kitaouji Satsuki (Ichigo 100%) – I think I had just completed the manga at this point, which still doesn’t excuse the selection. I was probably just having a laugh.

Katsura Kotonoha (School Days) – Maybe there is a place for her on a favorite characters list. At the time I was probably undecided and felt I had to have her on there.

Sakagami Tomoyo (Clannad) – One of three characters I could really tolerate by the time I dropped After Story. Probably not good enough for a spot on a final top 10, though I was impressed by her OVA.

Makoto (Minami-ke) – While I could make a case for Makoto as an interesting character story, I would probably say this was completely reactionary to Hosaka’s popularity.

Ayase Yuuto (Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu) – Was I drinking when I made this? Wait, I probably put him on there as I was thinking up my favorite post that earned zero comments here. Still though…

I believe that makes 2 out of 7 that I was really taking seriously. Now to those who didn’t know that before what exactly would that imply to others. Confusion? More like a lack of taste or plain disinterest. Now to the part of this post that really counts, a real top 9. Ten probably would have taken far too long for me to narrow and I didn’t want to be posting this in November. These are in no real order, except for how they popped into my head. Yes, let’s just go with that.

Sekiutsu Maria Tarou (Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei) Reasoning: Complex – To put this in perspective I once wrote 2,000 words arguing that how she was used in a few of the episodes in the first 2 seasons provided brilliant and unparalleled social and political commentary on modern Japan. Basically it boiled down to the fact that her outsider’s prospective managed to point out all that was wrong with Japanese culture while still maintaining the comedic edge required to make it work. Most importantly, the time she led a movement to “reclaim Japan’s glorious past” is definitely one story I don’t think I will ever forget.

Tatsumi Takeshi (Giant Killing) Reason: Admirable – As a football fan first above anything else (shock revelation on an anime blog!), he’s the type of person I’d really like to see more of in the sport. A former Japanese international, he elected to stay in Europe to learn more about the game and how it was played before embarking on a managerial career in non-league English football. Parachuted back into the J-League with his old club, he has had to adjust to fully professional players, who while better that he has dealt with as a manager, have to overcome the losing mentality that grips the club. Obviously, his position in this list is subject to change as the series continues.

Matsumaru Fumihiko (REC) Reason: Admirable/ Relatable – Matsumaru is one of the more relatable characters I’ve come across. He struggles with parts of his job, and deals with it through alcohol and friends mostly. Given a chance with promising seiyuu Ondo Aka, he actually takes it, which is where the admirable part steps in. He takes advantage of her situation early in the series, but is willing to do anything to maintain a relationship with her that it makes it all the more redeeming they get together in the end.

Katsura Kotonoha (School Days) Reasons: Complex/Reactionary – Not a lot of people like this show, though I consider it a very interesting way to tell a tragic story. What is generally common for her character in all of the iterations of stories she features in is that she is a rich girl ignorant of the real world who begins infatuated by Itou Makoto, and by the end does what is necessary to ensure they wind up together. The fact that she chooses to variously offer herself up cheaply, suffer through rape and even kill off her friends to make sure this happens can’t make her a popular character. That her determination to be with Makoto can be seen as both pathetic and domineering is to me intriguing.

Tsuchida Naozumi (Hanamaru Kindergarden) Reason: Admirable/Relatable – So what is really admirable about a kindergarden teacher to me? I guess it would probably be the impact they have on children at a young age. Tsuchida lives a mostly sad and lonely existence, however, he has a job that he has always wanted and it fits him perfectly. While placed in the middle of a love triangle with Anzu and Hinagiku that will never go anywhere, it is his non-relationship with Yamamoto Nanako that gets him to admit that he is an incomplete person.

Andre Grandier (Rose of Versailles) Reason: Admirable – A real hero of the working class before there ever was a working class. Andre shows complete devotion to the woman he loves and serves, Oscar. With the breakdown of French society, Andre becomes more politically aware of how broken everything in the country is, and through sheer force of will he finds true love with her, even if it was for one night, and dies in a noble cause.

Isamu Dyson (Macross Plus) Reason: Entertaining – I decided to include the most entertaining character from the OVA that probably got me really hooked on this whole anime thing in the first place. Why did I like him best? He was a womanizing hothead who was able to keep cool when it really mattered. At the same time he endured nearly being killed by Guld for the sake of friendship. Also, he gets the girl in the end after dealing with the psychotic virtual idol Sharon Apple. Would this story have even been written today?

Shiro Amada (Mobile Suit Gundam 08th MS Team) Reason: Entertaining – In much the same way as Isamu Dyson I found Shiro just as entertaining. He begins as a naive pilot who is able to survive his first battle piloting the Ball (with plot armor assistance), which begins his love story with Aina Sahalin. He improves rapidly as a mobile suit pilot, ultimately “losing” in the greatest mecha battle I have ever seen. He also gets the girl in the end, though far from unscathed.

Kamijou Touma (To Aru Majutsu no Index) Reason: Admirable/Entertaining – Touma is kind of a wild card here I’ll admit. Described by Himegami as someone who trips flags with girls and winds up going through their individual stories, it would be easy to dismiss him as a typical harem lead…which I am really. I guess I like the way he is able to stay positive despite the whole losing all memories of his childhood, the constant harassment from the girls in his life, his completely absence of luck, etc. He would also be able to handle himself well even without the growing army of women around him. Alright, I might be projecting a bit now.

So my 9 characters breakdown 7 male versus 2 female. Perhaps more worryingly it seems I demand complexity from female characters while I’m willing to accept male characters with loads of flaws. What does that really say about me actually? That is really the point though. A self-selection of certain characters is supposed to say more about the person selecting them than about the characters and shows themselves. Any thoughts on this?

9 thoughts on “Pointless Debate #11: Favorite Characters”

  1. I think it’s easy to accept males with loads of flaws because we can relate to them. We can’t relate to flawed females because they are ‘other’ than us. We want to possess them — our first instinct, and we want to possess those who we are attracted to. For a female to be a favorite, tremendous justification has to happen because it is not natural to us.

    This is all just speculation on my part, don’t put too much stock in it.

    GJ with Isamu. The parts when he endured getting almost killed is just superb — probably one of the best feats of piloting including the context for it. Just delicious.

    1. I suppose that makes me feel a bit better. Part of it might be just putting female characters on a pedestal of sorts in that there is a whole different standard they have to live up to, which is what you point out. That might be why I am liking Seitokai Yakuindomo at the moment because it attacks that directly in my opinion.

      On Isamu, the way he just breaks out of the hospital when he wakes up, just to prove a point to Myung is excellent.

    2. I think it really depends on the person. In my case, I have no problem seeing women in a non-sexual manner. I actually have more close female friends than male. It doesn’t mean I’m not attracted to ANY women, because I’m straight as a rail. Just if I don’t want to be, I’m not.

      I think it says far more for my mindset than for any kind of rule or theory you could derive. It is what it is.

  2. I could probably pick 4 or 5 characters from SZS that I enjoy enough to put on a favorites list. Maria’s definitely a thoughtful character. It’s true that she always pointed out all the hypocrisies and inaccuracies in Japanese society. Not to mention she was a damn funny herself. And so damn cute, she was always happy for whatever others would throw away.

    And as for Andre, the more I meet people in the anime blogging world, the more I see how much of an under appreciated masterpiece the Rose of Versailles is. I felt so bad for him throughout the show. He showed true loyalty & excellent judgement up until the end. I’m just glad he got that one night.

    I have to brush up on some of the other characters. There is still so much anime to watch.

    1. SZS is good in that way. I found Maria interesting because her character goes straight at a topic I happen to be interested in. Some of the other characters are great in different ways and at different comedic levels.

      As far as Rose of Versailles, when I started watching it I went in knowing that it was considered a classic, but availability to actually watch it was the general problem.

  3. I actually used to have Kiri Komori on my list for entertainment factor. That was before I finally finished season 1. Her random appearances in the show kind of tapered off for me. If I had to pick on one character from there, I’d probably have to give it to Tarou.

    Tatsumi is a cool character, for sure. I like how we slowly see the way his mind works. I’m waiting to see how he handles the Sera/Natsu problem, presuming the plot doesn’t solve it for him.

    I always felt Tsuchi got overshadowed by the kids in his class, but you’re right, there’s a lot to be said about following your dream and achieving it, especially when you dream of becoming a teacher.

    1. I could even enjoy Matoi after a while despite the fact her appearances almost always consisted of the same exchange with Nozomu.

      Tatsumi still has plenty of room to develop as he is still a young manager. I have a feeling the Sera/Natsu problem will be solved by the plot, and maybe Sakai wins in the end.

      Tsuchi was overshadowed at times, but I think the best parts of the series were those devoted to him and his development as a person.

  4. Ah, good timing with this, because I just finished Macross Plus. Isamu is my favorite character in the OVA — he can be a bit selfish, but I like that he has his own perspective on things, and the way he carries himself is just cool.

    1. Isamu is great for many of the reasons that you mention. I would say that he probably values friendship above anything else, which is why he disobeys orders so often. He just had to do what had to be done.

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