The Fifty Greatest Japanese Animated Characters, Page 5


Name: Priscilla S. Asagiri
Primary Seiyuu: Kinuko Oomori
Title: Bubblegum Crisis
Debut: 1987

There's a lot of girl power in the top 10, and it starts with this strong warrior. Priss' "day job" was that of a rock singer, who provided much of the show's music; fighting against robotic crime was officially secondary. Generally a loner, though not unfriendly, she was a potential loose cannon, especially when something roused her infamous temper. It was Priss who was the focus of the series' most tragic moments - especially the heart-wrenching death of Sylvie. She may have seemed cold at times, but she was the true heart of the group.


Name: Ryouko
Primary Seiyuu: Ai Orikasa
Title: Tenchi Muyo!
Debut: 1992

And here we have the second space pirate on the list - less iconic than Harlock, but more lovable. And a lot hotter. Ryouko possessed a plethora of superhuman abilities, including flight, super strength, intangibility, and energy manipulation. (Plus, she owned the cutest spaceship in history.) Although capable of tremendous viciousness and destruction, she was also capable of great love and self-sacrifice, particularly when it came to Tenchi. She did mellow out a bit once she came to live with the group, but happily, she never quite lost her piratical ways.


Name: Pikachu
Primary Seiyuu: Ikue Ohtani
Title: Pokémon
Debut: 1997

Pikachu was one of the cutest Pokémon, and was easily the most famous character in the show, even above Satoshi (Ash) and Team Rocket. He could be dangerous when cornered - or when threatened with a Pokéball - but he was normally very sweet and good-natured, and a stalwart companion. Satoshi's Pikachu was also far stronger than most of his species, even able to defeat his evolved counterpart, Raichu. This power was a large part of the reason why Team Rocket continually tried to steal him - and also why they never succeeded!


Name: Misao Amano / Pixy Misa
Primary Seiyuu: Rumi Kasahara
Title: Magical Project S
Debut: 1995

Jekyll and Hyde, Banner and the Hulk, Misao and Misa: all fantastic depictions of characters with genuinely split personalities. Misao was quiet, often sad, and almost painfully shy; Misa was an evil, laughing, fun-loving, wild magical girl. But much like Drs. Jekyll and Banner, Misao's second side was not artificial, but rather the repressed aspects of her personality. (Well, except for the evil part, which was forced upon her.) Since she was unaware of her second half until late in the series, she was frequently and unwittingly pitted against her best (and only) friend in battle; her horror when she discovered this fact was one of anime's most memorable moments, at least for me. But eventually she accepted this other side of herself, and finally began to blossom as a person. Misao may not have been the main character, but she was the show's raison d'ętre.


Name: Ranma Saotome
Primary Seiyuu: Kappei Yamaguchi (male) / Megumi Hayashibara (female)
Title: Ranma ˝
Debut: 1989

Ranma was a fairly ordinary guy, albeit an exceptional martial artist, until he fell into a curséd spring. From then on, getting splashed with cold water turned him into a girl - and a very attractive one at that. While some people might welcome such a change, Ranma was far too proud of his masculinity to consider it anything but a curse; of course, this never stopped him from exploiting his/her new appearance whenever it was convenient. Certainly, he appeared in plenty of martial-arts competitions in each form, each contest crazier than the last, but always figuring out a way to win in the end. He was a funny character, and fun to watch in action, and was great eye candy half the time; he'd probably be ranked higher if only he had ever actually admitted that he loved Akane.


Name: Utena Tenjou
Primary Seiyuu: Tomoko Kawakami
Title: Revolutionary Girl Utena
Debut: 1997

Utena claimed to be a normal girl, except that she wore a boy's school uniform, and wanted to be a prince. After she fought a duel to defend her friend's honor, she won and found herself "engaged" to the mysterious Rose Bride. And that was just the first episode; the series got much stranger after that. From then on, she had to defend the Bride and herself - in duels and elsewhere - from threats both overt and subtle. Along the way, she learned much about both friendship and nobility, eventually confronting the "prince" who had inspired her as a child. For once, the beautiful princess was her own Prince Charming.


Name: Lina Inverse
Primary Seiyuu: Megumi Hayashibara
Title: The Slayers
Debut: 1995

Lina would be the first to tell you that she was a powerful sorceress, feared by bandits far and wide, as well as a beautiful maiden who captured the hearts of men as easily as breathing. She'd also be the last to tell you that, as only the first part is true. Indeed she was very strong, always quick to fry a villain - and sometimes an innocent bystander - with a Fireball, Elmekia Lance, or even her signature Dragon Slave. Furthermore, she was skilled with a blade, and was an able strategist. However, even though she was basically good-hearted, she was seldom altruistic, instead being primarily motivated by greed for money, magic items, or food (or sometimes by fear of her sister). Still, she managed to do more good than harm, and even the world's strongest demons eventually learned to respect the name of Lina Inverse.


Name: Haruhi Suzumiya
Primary Seiyuu: Aya Hirano
Title: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Debut: 2006

How powerful was Haruhi? Nobody knew for certain, but some hypothesized that she had created the entire world three years previous! In any event, pretty much every important individual in the world knew she had this power - except for Haruhi herself. Perhaps this power to alter (and maybe create) reality had affected her subconscious, but she was fascinated by the idea of aliens, time-travelers, and psychics, and managed to (unknowingly) gather each of these into her own original school club. This club was focused mainly on having fun, and Haruhi was dead-set on making sure everyone did, whether they liked it or not! From baseball tournaments to murder mysteries to filmmaking, she tackled anything that struck her fancy, and brought her "SOS Brigade" along for the ride. Only she could make being bossed around seem like so much fun.


Name: Belldandy
Primary Seiyuu: Kikuko Inoue
Title: Ah! My Goddess
Debut: 1993

Named after one of the Norns of Norse Mythology (similar to the Greek Fates), this goddess came to live with an ordinary college student after he dialed a wrong number, then made an unreasonable wish. Which was, of course, granted. Belldandy was extremely kind, sweet, and loving - but in a good way. Somehow, her unconditional love for all things great and small never seemed sappy or forced; nor was there any doubt that she had even deeper love for a special few, including her sisters and Keiichi. Furthermore, although she was very gentle, she was not weak; she could and would fight to protect those she cared about from those who would do them harm, though she would rather make friends with everybody. Some fans may like Urd or Skuld (my personal favorite) better, but I don't think it's possible not to love Belldandy.


Name: Usagi Tsukino (Serena) / Sailor Moon
Primary Seiyuu: Kotono Mitsuishi
Title: Sailor Moon
Debut: 1992

Finally we come to the most famous mahou shoujo in anime history. Named for a Japanese legend about a rabbit in the moon (similar to the West's man in the moon), Usagi was the princess of an ancient moon kingdom, reborn to defend Earth from dark forces. Most of her battles were admittedly silly, and she usually needed a lot of help, but there was no one more reliable when the chips were down. When she wasn't fighting, she was a fantastic friend, even if she was impulsive and sometimes airheaded. She was also emotionally impactful, able to make fans cry as easily as laugh - though happily not as often. Like many anime protagonists, she preferred to befriend her villains when she could, rather than fight them; unlike most, she never made that appear childish or contrived, but rather it always felt right. Despite the show's reputation for childishness - and the heroine's frequent actual childishness - Usagi was a fantastic character who made this one of the all-time classic anime.

And since fifty is never enough, here are a few runners-up, in chronological order:

Minky Momo, Magical Princess Minky Momo, voiced by Mami Koyama, 1982
Asuka Langley Sohryuu, Neon Genesis Evangelion, voiced by Yuuko Miyamura, 1995
Eikichi Onizuka, Great Teacher Onizuka, voiced by Wataru Takagi, 1999
Ahiru/Princess Tutu, Princess Tutu, voiced by Nanae Katou, 2002
Taiga Aisaka, Toradora!, voiced by Rie Kugimiya, 2008

And remember to click here for the 50 greatest American animated characters!

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