Renn’s 12 Moments of 2011: 12 Characters
And… finally. The last moment in my 12 Moments of 2011 project. Only two days late (three on the other side of the world), but hey, better late than never.
To those who haven’t seen my previous posts, 10-12 all celebrate the same moment: realizing this was a great year in anime. This post covers characters, six female and six male. And this year really was one of memorable characters. Weirdly, I feel the boys were more memorable than the girls this time around (it’s usually vice versa, considering the medium’s penchant for fanservice and moe), but there are definitely a lot of characters that I love. Narrowing this list down was a pain, but I do think these twelve are my twelve favorites.
Ladies first. Hit it!
6: Saber “Arturia Pendragon” (Fate/Zero)
I like Saber a heckuva lot more in Fate/Zero than I do in Fate/stay night. Without Shirou distracting her and telling her to stay inside, woman, it’s easy to see that she’s hardworking, noble, caring, agreeable, and very funny with her stoic one-liners, not that she always realizes she’s making a joke. Plus, that suit is hot. Sure, her wish is dumb, and she needed the mental slap Rider gave her (though he could work on his, uh, “kingly” philosophy as well), but this is the series where I recognized that she really is a king.
The moment she won me over? Episode 2, when she was a gentleman with Iri and a warrior before Lancer (while Kiritsugu was macking on Maiya, the man-slut). She was too fetishized in Fate/Stay Night, but she was the regal King Arthur here.
5: Sui Shijima (Hanasaku Iroha)
All three generations of Sui’s family are awesome, but I’m giving Sui the shout-out because anime just doesn’t have enough badass old people. And when anime staff write badass old people, instead of whiny teenagers, they do it so well. In many ways, Hanasaku Iroha is Sui’s story. Sure, it’s a very important chapter in Ohana’s life, but for Sui it’s an end, if not the end. Her will is carried through her granddaughter. Her job is done. That she’s such an awesome, hard-working, smart and self-aware character makes the farewell in the finale all the more bittersweet.
The moment she won me over? When she slapped Minchi, and then she slapped Ohana in the premiere. Actually, I remember hating her in that moment, but in retrospect, what a brilliant move.
4: Yuno Gasai (Mirai Nikki)
I love yanderes for the same reasons teenage girls love yanderes. You know, yanderes like Edward Cullen, who remove the engine of their girlfriend’s car when they don’t want her driving to see her guy friend and try to kill themselves when they think their significant other is gone (oops, Twilight spoilers). Absolute, morbid dedication. She will love you no matter what. For you, she’ll take everything to extremes. It’s scary as hell, but it’s definitely an ego booster. And Yuno is ultimate yandere. Better yet? There’s more to her than her yandere side, as we’ll see in Mirai Nikki’s second half.
The moment she won me over? Since I read the manga. Oh, fine. When she mentioned she would have killed Yukiteru’s mom if said mom did not accept her as Yukiteru’s bride-to-be. That’s a hardcore yandere right there.
3: Ringo Oginome (Mawaru Penguindrum)
Like Yuno, Ringo is a yandere, too, but that’s the part I like least about her. Instead, I love how multi-faceted she is. I love her ridiculous, whimsical fantasies in contrast to her frank manner of speaking. I love how she speaks differently around other people: high-pitched and fake around Tabuki and strangers, low-pitched and honest with Shouma. And I love how much she grows over the course of the series, from the show’s biggest psycho to a dedicated friend. Her sacrifice in the finale is convincing, a feat in character development considering where she started.
The moment she won me over? I always thought she was charming in a totally-not-charming way, but she broke my heart when she tried to flirt with Shouma, and he blew her off (only to break her heart again in the finale).
2: Victorique de Blois (Gosick)
I love Victorique in the way I love Taiga from Toradora. She’s so adorable. Like a Pikachu. Alright, now I sound like a bit of a creep, but honestly, I stuck through 24-episodes of Gosick and enjoyed them… all because of Victorique. Her mannerisms–from her rolling on the floor, to her off-key singing, to her insulting laugh–are well delivered by seiyuu Aoi Yuuki and flawlessly animated by BONES. Yes, Gosick’s budget went to Victorique. Wise move as she’s infinitely more interesting than those crummy mysteries and Kujo.
The moment she won me over? “Ho, ho, ho.” Made me realize she was witty even if the show wasn’t.
1: Kurisu Makise (Steins;Gate)
And I love Kurisu in the way that I love Erza Scarlet from Fairy Tail, a fellow redhead and one of my favorite characters of all time. I love that she’s at a genius at what she does. I love that she’s a geek who feels more comfortable in a lab coat. I love her wit and sass. I love her chemistry with Okarin. I love her kindness, empathy, bravery, and clear-headedness. I love that she has the sexiest kind of hair. Oh, god, it’s glorious. But you know, the real reason I love Kurisu the same way I love Erza is that I’d love them both, just as much, even if their hair were blonde. They’re fantastic characters, whether they’re genetically blessed or not.
The moment she won me over? She’s a redhead in a tie, so the second she stepped onscreen. The rest of the series only improved my opinion.
6: Shinjuurou Yuuki (Un-Go)
Un-Go, quite rightly, gets a lot of praise for its social commentary and political conspiracies. But I also think this show has great characterization. It’s not in-your-face like it is in a lot of shows; instead it’s implemented in the same way as the mysteries, with one subtle development at a time. Take, for example, the hero Shinjuurou, who I dismissed as a stoic in the premiere. Yes, he’s a stoic, but he’s also a good person and broken one as well. He faces his issues over the course of the series, and comes out more noble and understanding because of it. It’s one of the most rewarding aspects of a very rewarding show.
The moment he won me over? Episode 5 when the “Defeated Detective” really did become the “Defeated Detective.”
5: Daikichi Kawachi (Usagi Drop)
The manliest man of the year went clothes shopping with a little girl, got a demotion for a little girl, fretted over a sick little girl… Yes, the manliest man of the year is Daikichi. He’s a bit gruff and far from the motherly type, but his growth from a bachelor into a father is impressive, realistic, and the best thing that ever happened to Rin. One of the best thing that happened to the lucky anime audience this year, too.
The moment he won me over? When he decided to take in Rin. How can you not like a guy like that from the start?
4: Kyuubey (Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica)
Alright, Kyuubey is more a “thing” than a male, but I had to shove him somewhere on this list. He’s the most iconic character of the year, and far and away the best villain (bad year for villains). I should probably be praising his creepy philosophy, but I think his philosophy’s bogus and as full as holes as he was when Homura shot him like cottage cheese. Instead, I just like that he has a creepy philosophy even though he’s the most innocuous of character types: the magical girl mascot. Plushie, anyone?
The moment he won me over? “If you’d like to sacrifice yourself for the universe, feel free to give me a call.”
3: Rider “Alexander the Great” and Waver Velvet (Fate/Zero)
With Fate/Zero, we got a rarity: a cast of mature adults instead of whiny teenagers. It’s ironic then that its best team is the one with a master closest to a teenager. I don’t want Rider/Waver to win the war, but I’ll miss their team the most when the series ends. Waver’s is a coming-of-age story done correctly, and nothing in Fate/Zero is more entertaining than watching him mess up, throw up, show up the old farts, and fest it up with his equally awesome, completely badass dad.
The moment (t)he(y) won me over? Episode 4 for Rider and episode 9 for Waver. Great to see them at their inspiring best.
2: Rintarou Okabe (Steins;Gate)
Can’t say he’s my personal favorite, but Okarin is the lead of the year. He’s also the toughest one to write about because his selling point isn’t just the sheer force of his mannerisms (which is quite impressive), but his complexity. He acts like a theatrical loonybin, but beneath lies a very rational, ruthless personality that is also slightly insane and very human. His development in the second half of the series seals the deal. It’s a trip.
The moment he won me over? I didn’t appreciate Okarin at first, but his development in the second cour (not all positive) was nothing short of incredible. Since the moment is “many great scenes,” I’ll just link the part where he makes mad scientists cool.
1: Kotetsu “Wild Tiger” Kaburagi (Tiger & Bunny)
He’s a thirty-something goofball, underdog, and dad. It’s a miracle he ever got his own anime, let alone a definite hit from Sunrise. But I’m so glad they put in Kotetsu when they could have put in a whiny teen instead. And, it’s not just the concept that works. It’s his development, from an aging star, to a comeback, to an aging star, to acceptance of his fate. Forget the last five minutes where he makes an unfortunate comeback again. And it’s those moments, such as saving his daughter, bickering with Barnaby, falling in the trash and crawling out of a dark place. So, take those DVD sales, Wild Tiger. You’ve earned it. Far and away my favorite character of the year.
The moment he won me over? Episode 1, when he saw that no one wanted a Wild Tiger card and bought ten for himself.
Yes, I know I missed some. So, who are your favorite characters from 2011?
Note: And here, finally, is the final installment in my Twelve Moments in Anime Project. One moment a day for twelve days straight… except in my case where I’m horribly late with these exhausting posts. Jesus, my writing went to shit here. But in the end, I’m glad I did these because I wanted to do a comprehensive yearly review, and I wanted to participate in a blogosophere project… and what do you know, two birds, one stone. All that’s left is the yearly TV review, and it’s done (I swear–it’s done, it’s been done for a month). And it will be posted tomorrow.
Thanks for reading! It’s been fun!