The Fifty Greatest Japanese Animated Characters, Page 4


Name: Naruto Uzumaki
Primary Seiyuu: Junko Takeuchi
Title: Naruto
Debut: 2002

How many ninjas do you know who wear orange? Not that it seemed to lessen his effectiveness, as Naruto gradually became one of the best ninjas in his village. He was the odd combination of happy-go-lucky and hard-working - and managed to keep his positive attitude despite being ostracized by the village due to the demon fox sealed within him. Strength of body, strength of heart; if only he had a little more strength of mind to go with them.


Name: Miyuki Kobayakawa & Natsumi Tsujimoto
Primary Seiyuu: Akiko Hiramatsu & Sakiko Tamagawa
Title: You're Under Arrest!
Debut: 1994

Here we have the Japanese version of a cop/buddy comedy. Miyuki was the brain, Natsumi was the brawn. Miyuki drove the patrol car that she had souped up, while Natsumi stood ready to use the mini-bike or apply the (literal) foot brake. Officially, they worked in the traffic division, but they sure seemed to catch a lot of serious criminals - and some frivolous criminals as well.


Name: Yugi Mutou
Primary Seiyuu: Shunsuke Kazama
Title: Yu-Gi-Oh!
Debut: 1998

Yugi's body held two distinct personalities: an ordinary, game-loving boy, and a darker, more intense king of the Shadow Games. Together, they entered a series of card tournaments with unrealistic rules, with Yugi defeating almost every opponent - usually at the last minute. Although it has long been common for shonen anime to blur the line between competition and friendship, Yugi took it to a new level, virtually equating the two. Maybe that's why he always won.


Name: Doraemon
Primary Seiyuu: Nobuyo Oyama
Title: Doraemon
Debut: 1973

Doraemon was a blue, robotic cat from the future who had no ears; pretty typical, right? Anyway, he came back in time to help create a better life for his owner's great-grandfather. To facilitate this, he could pull a wide assortment of strange inventions out of his fourth-dimensional pocket. Not that they ever really seemed to help. Nonetheless, he has become one of Japan's best-loved and longest-running characters, and his name is often used as a metaphor for a person who comes up with a perfect solution.


Name: Chiyo Mihama, Ayumu "Osaka" Kasuga, Sakaki, Tomo Takino, & Koyomi Mizuhara
Primary Seiyuu: Tomoko Kaneda, Yuki Matsuoka, Yuu Asakawa, Chieko Higuchi, & Rie Tanaka
Title: Azumanga Daioh
Debut: 2002

Talk about a varied group: Chiyo was a super-cute child prodigy; Osaka was incredibly slow and spacy; Sakaki was tall and tough, with a heart of marshmallow; Tomo was ridiculously enthusiastic and energetic, but without a shred of talent to back it up; and Yomi was a studious straight-man (straight-woman?) with a penchant for failing diets. Entertaining enough individually, they stayed together for all three years of high school, providing us with plenty of hilarious interactions as well. This was the series that established the screwball high-school comedy genre of anime, and which remains the genre's king.


Name: Ruri Hoshino
Primary Seiyuu: Omi Minami
Title: Martian Successor Nadesico
Debut: 1996

This little girl was easily the smartest person on board the Nadesico, and did not hesitate to remind people of the fact with her favorite word: "baka." She might have seemed distant or aloof, but that was mostly due to the fact that she could not easily connect with the others: she understood science, but not people. Nonetheless, it was obvious that she wanted to be part of the group, that she had strong emotions which she did not know how to show. She was moe when moe wasn't cool.


Name: Char Aznable
Primary Seiyuu: Shuichi Ikeda
Title: Mobile Suit Gundam
Debut: 1979

Char (or Casval, or Quattro, or whatever you want to call him) is probably the most popular character in the entire Gundam franchise. The "Red Comet" has done double duty as a hero and a villain, gaining plenty of fans each way. His masked appearance has been mimicked in several Gundam series, and even a few unrelated titles. So memorable was he, that prospective space tourist Daisuke Enomoto had actually planned to cosplay as Char on the trip. There may be plenty of imitators, but Char was three times better than any of them!


Name: A-ko Magami & B-ko Daitokuji
Primary Seiyuu: Miki Ito & Emi Shinohara
Title: Project A-ko
Debut: 1986

This movie, a send-up of all things Japanese and some things American, was one of the titles responsible for ushering in America's anime boom of the 1990's. And while its parodies and over-the-top humor were a large part of its popularity, it would have been nothing without the two fighting females. A-ko was a superpowered (but otherwise normal) girl, while B-ko was a spoiled genius ojousama. Much like Popeye and Bluto, they wound up bitter rivals over the friendship of the annoying, ditzy alien princess C-ko. They engaged in destructive battles on an almost daily basis, stopping only to foil some invading aliens before fighting some more.


Name: Yomiko Readman / The Paper
Primary Seiyuu: Rieko Miura
Title: Read or Die
Debut: 2001

An animated character who loves to read? Sounds like something from a boring edutainment program. But boring is one word that would never describe Yomiko. Her bibliomania was cute and endearing; and what she did when she wasn't reading was nothing short of amazing. Yomiko was a paper master, someone with the power to move, shape, and strengthen paper, turning it into a variety of weapons and tools, including functional paper airplanes! Naturally, she used this ability to help her retrieve rare and important books. I still consider paper mastery to be the coolest superpower of all time. Now if you will excuse me, I have a book to read.


Name: Lime
Primary Seiyuu: Megumi Hayashibara
Title: Saber Marionette J
Debut: 1995

On a planet with no women, androids (technically gynoids) called marionettes provided labor and femininity. Lime was unusual in that she had a heart; her "maiden circuit" turned her into a happy, innocent, childlike girl. And this, of course, was one of the key conflicts in the series: was a machine a person? And was it wrong for a human to love one? Lime's cheerfulness, cuteness, and mostly-inadvertent humor would have been more than enough to make this list; combined with the exploration of the nature of humanity, she truly became one of the great characters.

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