On What it Means to Call Anime Characters One’s Favorites

legend of the galactic heroes kaiser reinhard von lohengramm

We have favorite shows, and we also have favorite characters. Sometimes our favorite characters aren’t even on our favorite shows (if we look at our top 5 lists). Here I will look at our habits of favoring anime characters and speculate a little on why we do it the way we do.

In any case I will present my own method (or lack thereof), and at least one other, as explained by the generous Pontifus, of the superfanicom blog. First, a set of samples:

Here are three subjects. Including myself are Pontifus (as mentioned) and lelangir. All of us blog anime.

ghostlightning Pontifus lelangir
Fav. Characters Fav. Shows Fav. Characters Fav. Shows Fav. Characters Fav. Shows
Nekki Basara (Macross 7) SDF Macross Athena Glory (Aria) Princess Mononoke Sis (Now and Then, Here and There) K-ON!!
Lynn Minmay (SDF Macross) Eureka SeveN Ginko (Mushishi) FLCL Fate Testarossa (Maho Shojo Lyrical Nanoha) Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG
Char Aznable (Mobile Suit Gundam) Neon Genesis Evangelion Reki (Haibane Renmei) Aria the Animation Yang Wenli (Legend of the Galactic Heroes) Legend of the Galactic Heroes
Reinhard von Lohengram (Legend of the Galactic Heroes) Cowboy Bebop Sasahara Kanji (Genshiken) SDF Macross Sakurai Yuji (Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad) Planetes
Kamina (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann) Revolutionary Girl Utena Koiwai Yotsuba (Yotsuba&!) [none listed] Nakano Azusa (K-ON!!) Maho Shojo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS

Immediately noticeable are the lack of correlation between the characters and the shows. The correlations appear to be exceptions rather than the rule. I don’t think there’s much to this, as there are plenty of memorable characters that can be found in not as remarkable shows. At times the characters are the primary draw for such shows.

Also, there is some connection I think with Azuma’s ‘Otaku Database’ theory. There are shows that aren’t viewed for particularly Liberal Humanist values such as timeless quality, but rather for the possession of characters that have elements viewers like. This shouldn’t be a strong connection however, as I don’t think that the sample group (or perhaps the larger fandom) favors shows strictly on database elements, at least not yet.

quattro bajeena

Speculation: Admirable Traits Wins over “Interesting Complexity”

Beyond the people on the table above, I noticed in many (perhaps most) MAL profiles that people’s favorite characters are those whom they admire. Perhaps I should qualify this for males favoring male characters. Males will also admire favorite female characters, but there is also a layer of sexual attraction in play, so it is more difficult for me to speculate on this.

That said, the admirable qualities of favored female characters qualify them to exist in an imaginary romantic pairing with the viewer, whether this is actively imagined or not.

Looking at Pontifus and lelangir’s list, from what I know about the characters listed, these are all admirable and upstanding folk. They are fallible, in a way that is charming or endearing, as opposed to more complex flaws as can be found in characters like Paul von Oberstein (Legend of the Galactic Heroes), Lelouch Lamperouge (Code Geass), or Ikari Gendo (Neon Genesis Evangelion).

I can easily imagine someone favoring a set of characters like these, but even I don’t do so, as much as I really like them. I’m not concerned with viewers who dislike these characters, but rather with those who do like them and yet would not consider them favorites. I wonder if there is an answer beyond the obvious: that they just like other characters more.

aria athena manga vol 8 cover

Pontifus Justifies

Explaining my MAL favorites, using the ghostlightningian admirable/complex spectrum. In fact, I want to add a third dimension: relatable. This is just a quick overview for the sake of getting ideas out there.

Athena Glory (Aria) — Admirable, but maybe more complex than is immediately evident. At any rate she’s a favorite because I admire her willingness to help Alice without the least expectation of reward, unless one counts her own pleasure in having done something nice for her kouhai.

Ginko (Mushishi) — Admirable. He’s probably complex, too, but again, I like him because of how he values life. He assumes personal responsibility whenever he has to kill a mushi.

Reki (Haibane Renmei) — Complex. She’s troubling in both her actions and her function as a character, and thereby saves Haibane Renmei from being a mostly bland and generic example of slice of life.

Kanji Sasahara (Genshiken) — Relatable. His predicaments feel very authentic to me.

Yotsuba Koiwai (Yotsuba&!) — Admirable for her being Yotsuba. Probably the characters I enjoy most in Yotsuba&! are the adults, but they’re probably able to have as much fun as they do because of Yotsuba’s being around to justify it.

Max Jenius (er, Macross) — Admirable. Much as he ceases to be so admirable and becomes a little more complex in Macross 7, it’s probably admiration (in the form of awe of his manly prowess — he makes intelligence look cool) that made him a favorite in the first place.

Mullin Shetland (Last Exile) — This is tough because I’m not really sure. Mullin is the oldest favorite on the list by far. But ultimately I think it has to do with his being relatable — he’s just a guy who doesn’t know what he wants out of life, much less how to get what he wants out of life.

Souichi Negishi/Krauser (Detroit Metal City) — Relatable, amazingly enough. I get his sense of being torn between multiple identities — including the associated anxiety — and his inability to settle on one over another. I sympathize with his discovering that life takes strange, unplanned, un-hoped-for turns.

So for me that’s 50% admirable, 12.5% complex, and 37.5% relatable — and I suppose that supports ghostlightning’s observation that people are drawn primarily toward characters they admire (and not necessarily toward complex characters), an observation I agreed with re: myself in the first place.

But then I wonder about how people consciously choose faves — for me it has a lot to do with whether a character feels satisfying in the context of the show’s events, I think (though once that stipulation has been met, they can be removed from those events and I’ll still be excited about them, i.e. Ramba Ral as he appears in fan art and Dynasty Warriors Gundam). And maybe that’s why Nekki Basara is so great, singing to space whales notwithstanding.

So, to put it another way, what I’m talking about here isn’t really like Azuma’s database business; I’m not savoring Ramba Ral’s discrete elements. I think of my favorite characters as complete packages in the sense that their existence — say, in fan art, conversation, or memory — implies everything they’ve done plot-wise. They’re these horribly clunky things that resist reverse-engineering, not at all like constructs of convenient moe building blocks.

How Do I Explain My List?

The top two characters, Basara and Minmay are there for very specific reasons. I love Macross in a way that I think that’s different from other anime fans. It’s almost as if I am a fan of Macross as much as I am a fan of anime in general. I am a fan of Macross more than I am a fan of robot anime. It is a powerful love that finds expression in We Remember Love.

Macross My Fair Minmay Diary on Couch

Minmay represents my discovery of the show in 1984. Love at first sight. She represents my loyalty to the show. She is grossly imperfect and generally makes a mess of things – and not in a winsome, moe fashion as one may expect from such a statement. She represents my view that I love Macross not because it’s the best anime I’ve ever seen. Rather, I esteem it above all other anime because of my love for it.

But Minmay is a woman, and I too seek to look up to in some way to my favorite character. Basara serves this well because like Minmay he represents how flawed the franchise is and yet how much I love it anyway. And yes, he pilots a variable fighter using a guitar hero controller and makes space whales LISTEN TO HIS SONG.

[VIP]Macross 7 TV - 43[Central Anime][R2 DVDrip][720x480,x264,AC3][FB842CE3].mkv_snapshot_16.26_[2010.07.22_17.42.15]

If Minmay is the symbol of my love for Macross as a whole, Basara allows me to be aggressive with it and champion my favorite anime franchise to the ends of the galaxy. THAT’S WHY THEY’RE THERE.

The rest are generally admirable, Char, Reinhard, and Kamina are strong-willed men who do great things. But in the case of Reinhard and Char, they are very interesting in that I disagree with many of their ways. I don’t really see myself as the galactic conqueror type, nor the amoral revolutionary. Even so, I find them the most fascinating among all other anime characters. That’s why they’re there.

Kamina and Basara are alike in that they’re courageous morons that don’t let their lack of intelligence get in the way of saving the universe. I fancy myself an intellectual, but I have a deep intellectual appreciation for this kind of idiocy.

kamina badass tatoo

So what?

I still believe that the choice of favorites, while an act of collection, is as much an exercise in ‘putting on clothes,’ that is what a fan does to present himself to others. It is a manifestation of taste, declaring what is quality. What is added here is since the characters chosen are admirable, it is an advertisement of what the fan holds as (at least some of the) ideal virtues.

Now I acknowledge that this is but speculation, and the analysis may be extremely fallible. I put this forth less as an attempt to educate readers, but more as a means to educate myself through discussion.

Who are your favorite characters?

Why so? Do you have a method or system in choosing them?

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  1. Posted July 22, 2010 at 3:40 am | Permalink

    I started writing out a list of my favourites and why so but instantly a trend was appearing. My favourite characters are all ones that are the most fun to watch. They make me grin simply by appearing on screen. They steal the show whenever they appear and every scene involving them is warped by their presence. L from Death Note. Horo from Spice and Wolf. Guu from Hare+Guu. Harima Kenji from School Rumble. Nodame, Kamina, Senjogahara, Tokutchi Toua, they all fit this profile. I don’t have a single character who’s there because they’re admirable and the only character I like because they’re relatable is Tomoya from Clannad and even he’s quite a bit down the favourites list.

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Even if there were admirable things about these characters I imagine that for you these would be secondary to how entertaining they are as they move through the narrative. Harima Kenji is gold.

  2. ahelo
    Posted July 22, 2010 at 4:11 am | Permalink

    100% Senjougahara Hitagi (bakemonogatari) because out of all the series I’ve watched (I’m pretty sure a lot)she’s the one that was the most fun to watch and manage to catch my heart because of her awesomeness in manipulation and teasing of the lead character. Favourite characters for me are the ones you had the most fun watching and are completely awesome in their own way (i don’t mean perfect though).

  3. Posted July 22, 2010 at 4:19 am | Permalink

    Well according to my MAL, my top 5 characters are Watashi, Satou Tatsuhiro, Shonen Bat, Sakagami Tomoyo, and T.K. Watashi and Satou are very, very relatable for me, and they’re also really accurate depictions of humanity in today’s society. Shonen Bat is… Well… I’m not sure exactly where he’d fall into your spectrum, but it’s not really the character that I admire, but more of what he represents. I guess he’s a mix between admirable and complex. Tomoyo is my waifu pick (admiration in other words). Tomoyo After definitely played a large part in why she’s there. T.K. is there temporarily because I thought my list needed some more humor, but the person there before him was Ichise from Texhnolyze. He’s another admirable character for me.

    I don’t think I have a system necessarily for choosing favorite characters. But I feel a deep personal connection to a lot of my favorite characters. I aspire to be like Tomoyo and Ichise, and in some ways I see Satou and Watashi as mirrors of myself. Shonen Bat is the one character who isn’t personally related, but he’s simply a brilliant character in my eyes.

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t consider relatability and I really should have. My question for you, is how Watashi is favored over Satou? Is W simply just a closer representation of yourself?

      • Posted July 22, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

        Yeah I do relate a lot more to Watashi than to Satou. I’d say it’s definitely because of the fact that Watashi is still in school, and I can relate to his idealistic search and his struggle in each individual club he joined. It’s probably because I’m around Watashi’s age right now, and Satou has left behind his studies where Watashi hasn’t.

  4. Posted July 22, 2010 at 4:20 am | Permalink

    Basara is BOMBAAAAAA!!!!

    That is all.

  5. Windaerie
    Posted July 22, 2010 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Great post, ghostlightning!

    I’ve seen only about 100 anime titles, but I would probably pick Lelouch from Code Geass to be my favorite character. He has emotional and mental depth, is brilliant, can stand his own (sort of) in a Knightmare Frame, and is evil and good and all the in between.

    Like countless other anime characters, Lulu is driven by a very simple desire, backed by a tumultuous past in a world that is extremely complicated (sounds very cliche, haha). But what makes me love him is that:
    he plunges to create the sort of change he knows is the only way to see his desire come true.

  6. Windaerie
    Posted July 22, 2010 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    Great post, ghostlightning!

    I’ve seen only about 100 anime titles, but I would probably pick Lelouch from Code Geass to be my favorite character.

    Like countless other anime characters, Lulu is driven by a very simple desire, backed by a tumultuous past in a world that is extremely complicated (sounds very cliche, haha). But what makes me love him is that he knows what he has to do in order to realize his desire (even if he becomes a maniacal power-hungry shell in the process). The ending of the Code Geass series really solidified just how much Lelouch was willing to give up, just how much he understood what needed to be done, and just how brilliant the last move in his plan was (I don’t want to spoil ><).

    My criteria for a favorite anime character would probably be 60% likability, 25% depth, and 15% "intrigue factor." Likability for me means that the character is someone I like watching–i.e. not intensely tsundere/ moe, depressed/ hyper, etc. The character can be relate-able or not, superhuman or the average Joe. But no matter what, the anime character has to be likable, just like you'd want yourself to be likable. Depth means that the character needs to have emotional/ intellectual complexity. (Lulu definitely has a lot of this). I like characters who have lived and learned, or are constantly learning. Static characters are the worst (and so are animes without plots)! Lastly, "intrigue factor" is what makes characters unique for me. How engaging, compelling, or inspiring is an anime character? How much does the character make me want to cheer, cry, and be frustrated for him/her?

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Thank you.

      Mmmm, I’m perfectly capable of liking static characters. Basara and Kamina are quite static. They don’t really change, much less grow. Some stories don’t require characters to change, because in those cases, the world is the one being changed by those characters. There are those kinds of stories.

      Regarding likability, it’s very complex thing. There are different things that make a character or a person likable: affability and friendliness? Physical beauty? Not every character will possess both, among other qualities.

      The character can be intriguing, despite being generally unpleasant. Though I doubt they would be your favorite kinds.

  7. KayDat
    Posted July 22, 2010 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Interesting…looking at my own list, I have to admit probably at least half my favourite characters are there from admiration. But then you get to characters like Hosaka or Anime Tenchou, and some head scratching happens. Probably just because they’re hilarious…but then, what makes me like them more than other admirable/complex interesting characters?

  8. Posted July 22, 2010 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Cool article!

    I think mine are probably from admiration too. What about Lelouch from Code Geass or Light from Death Note?

    On the other hand, some villains are very appealing :) I think of Toguro from Yu Yu Hakusho.

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      What exactly fascinates you about villains? Also it’s interesting how your choices are also villains to many of the other characters they interacted with in their respective stories.

      Lelouch certainly is an interesting case.

  9. Posted July 22, 2010 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Since I only really set up my MAL recently my favorites are still somewhat preliminary, but I think the majority of them will stay. I’m still considering whether to drop Reinhard and Maria and replace them with other characters, but I’m pretty certain that the others will stay as they are.

    I’d agree that most people probably base their favorites on admiration primarily. But I think your criticism of people’s favorites being an act of ‘putting on clothes’ is not true in most cases. Aside from some people with big egos, I doubt that the vast majority of fans intentionally select and display their favorites as some sort of branding exercise. Most people just start listing what they enjoyed the most without getting meta or intentional or thinking “what will favorite-ing this get me in the community?” Favorites lists can certainly be a representation of tastes, but, again aside from the ego obsessed, people favorite shows and characters simply because they are their favorites. Looking at it as anything more than evidence of tastes is in my opinion overanalysis that draws a conclusion beyond what is there.

    My calculation is mostly towards admirable, with fun and relatable being a close seconds and complexity as a tertiary, deciding factor in most cases. And then I have characters that are just fun or whose series does not lend itself well to that combination of considerations. Why should every favorite have to come from a serious or meaningful series (or every favorite series be one)? I know most choices end up being from serious series since they often have the most thought put into their writing, but a character that makes you laugh consistently and heartily also deserves consideration in my opinion. One final bit of structure for my MAL favorites is that I decided to pick my favorite five male and female characters to make up my top ten.

    I could give a short description of why for each character, but I’ve already written quite a lengthy comment here so maybe I’ll save that for my Tumblr sideblog or something, heh.

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      “Putting on clothes” may come off as a negative, and at times it could be inauthentic, but I don’t mean it to be intrinsically bad. If you look at my choices for Basara and Minmay, they’re exactly there to distinguish me among Macross fans and anime fans. They’re my clothes to wear; it’s another way of talking about branding, and this isn’t an evil thing at all.

      “They are simply their favorites” It could be the case, but the idea of displaying them on a public profile communicates an identity, and sells the identity as interesting, or unique, or special, or ‘real,’ whether the fan is thoroughly interested in doing so or not. It’s a social network and we put ourselves out there to be interesting socially so we can engage people. If not on MAL, we make blog posts wherein we compete with other blog posts for eyeballs.

      No evil here, but indeed we put on clothes to wear to present ourselves the way we want to — even to just be in control of our identity instead of being completely at the mercy of arbitrary impressions.

  10. Posted July 22, 2010 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    it is rather subjective. I usually found myself favoriting the characters that I “fall in love at first sight” with which mean that first impression is important. It could be for different reasons though which I may or may not explain in my incoming post

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      It’s all subjective I think, we admire things that are particular to us. But your “love at first sight” thing may be governed by even more arbitrary factors.

  11. Posted July 22, 2010 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    For me, gender is a significant factor that affects how I choose my favorite characters. For male characters, I usually choose those that resonate myself regardless of the show (some of them are not even an anime character). For female characters, I normally pick the ones I admire the most, in which case, the nature of the anime is also important. Maybe I should make myself a list soon :)

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Resonate is a tricky word, it implies something beyond being relatable. How exactly do you mean this?

      • Posted July 27, 2010 at 6:17 am | Permalink

        Oh, I didn’t give it much thought about the word. I mean that the character closely resembles me in personality or in certain situation. It’s hard to explain X_X

        • Posted July 27, 2010 at 8:38 am | Permalink

          I just struggle distinguishing it from relating, but I suppose it’s synonymous in this case. Thanks :3

  12. f0calizer
    Posted July 22, 2010 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    I have two favorite characters who stand out among the many anime characters I like, and each one is a favorite for quite different reasons.

    1) Kyouya Ootori from Ouran High School Host Club. He’s a favorite because I relate to and identify with his ambition to meet high expectations and achieve something grand while staying within strict boundaries (i.e. not overshadowing his two older brothers). In the one episode devoted to his backstory, the metaphor he uses for his life is painting a masterpiece on a canvas that is already set in an impressive frame. At the same time, like me, there’s a fun-loving and mischievous side of him that only surfaces when he’s with Tamaki & the Host Club, and I often wish I had a similar avenue to express my sense of fun.

    2) President Aria from ARIA. A fat white cat who doesn’t even say a single intelligible word? Indeed! He provides comic relief, certainly, because he’s really cheerful and cute. At the same time, he’s admirable and brave – he dresses up as his idol Cat Superhero Nyan Nyan Puu and returns a little doll to a kid who dropped in on the street. The anime also hints that he’s very intelligent and mysterious: Martian cats (the setting is a terraformed Mars) are as smart as humans and can understand us perfectly, only they can’t speak in our language; President Aria is apparently quite old and good friends with the mysterious Cait Sith, who rules the “shadow/cat world” of Neo-Venezia, and the President often shows up & helps Akari (the protagonist) when she accidentally wanders into the shadow world. The creators of the manga/anime did a great job with President Aria: he may be a minor character, but he brings out so much in those around him, & he adds a sense of humor and mystery to a wonderful world and series while only saying “Puuu-nyuuuu!”

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      Make your own host club!

      Here’s a post by lolikitsune on Aria Sacho that you may find very interesting: President Aria and the K-on! Company

      Both characters you picked are important, yet background characters. What do you think about this similarity?

      • f0calizer
        Posted July 22, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

        @ ghostlightning: Thanks for the link to lolikitsune’s post about President Aria & the K-ON! girls!

        Re: important but background characters – I think the operative word for me would be “background.” Simply put, my favorite characters are those who shows us more glimpses of the background or world of the anime series outside the life & actions of the protagonists. Their role in world building is at times more significant than contributing to the plot or action, which is what main characters focus on. (I know I’m probably one of the few anime fans who makes this a criterion for fav-ing a character, eh-heh…)

        So, with regards to Kyouya, he is one of the 3 Host Club members who isn’t involved in the love “rectangle” surrounding Haruhi, & while Hunny & Mori are devoted to each other, Kyouya is often aloof & has his own agenda beyond the Club & the high school. We’re given hints that his plans have an impact on the world beyond the high school (like in the final anime episode when he saves his father’s company) but never the full details.

        Similarly, President Aria often leads Akari on adventures in time & space – some of my favorite episodes are when she goes back in time to the early years when Mars was being terraformed, & when she winds up in “Cait Sith” land/the shadow world ruled by Neo-Venezia’s cats. President Aria’s existence hints at another ancient world existing alongside the slice-of-life adventures of our teenage Undines, and it adds to the mystery & charm of the familiar yet strange world that is Amano Kozue’s Aqua.

        Or (if you’ll pardon my rambling) to take a sci-fi series I’m a big fan of – Ghost in the Shell:SAC. I love Major Kusanagi & Batou as main characters, but my favorites are Aramaki & Togusa. Episodes involving these two often show us how Aramaki has to fight with rival politicians & petty bureaucrats to keep Section 9 up & running, & Togusa is often worrying about his wife & daughter – he has so much more at stake than his job as an elite cybercrime squad member. Their presence in the series is a reminder that Public Security Section 9 is more than the cyberhacking & gunfights, which Major Kusanagi & Batou do the most of (& do so well!).

  13. Posted July 22, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I divide my favorites into True Leads, Split Leads, Side Characters, and Random Characters. Who are they? Let me think about it.

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      Split leads? Does this mean they share the lead role with a co-lead? Do share when you’ve figured out your favorites.

      • Posted July 22, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

        Split leads can come up in a number of ways. You could have a story revolving around a group of central characters, like Alto, Ranka, and Sheryl. You could have two central characters on two sides of a story, like Yang and Reinhard. I’ll even consider a supporting character who’s always in the picture, like Tsubasa Nishikiori.

        I started making these distinctions when I realized that most of my favorite characters were side characters. My #1 criterion for deciding favorites turned out to be how much more I wanted to see a character. We see lead characters all the time throughout the show. There’s not much more to ask for. I’m more likely to want to see a side character who doesn’t get much exposure.

        Side characters can get away with being one-dimensional. Split leads can get away with it too, if all the leads together provide balance. True leads have it tough. You need to create a character you’ll see all the time without getting bored/sick of. I don’t know how long many of my favorite characters would last as true leads.

        Anyway, a few of my favorites:

        True leads: Tatsuya Uesugi, The Count of Monte Cristo, Eikichi Onizuka, Kintaro Oe, Negishi/Krauser
        Split leads: Genjo Sanzo, Furude Rika, Yang Wenli, Harima Kenji, Sousuke Sagara
        Side characters: Shizuru Fujino, Athena Glory, Youichi Hiruma, Nara Shikamaru, Kiyone Makibi
        Random Characters: Kibure (Infinite Ryvius), Kuroneko (Trigun), that chick who always showed up working a different job (Suzuka)

        • Posted July 22, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

          I appreciate how you thought this through, with distinctions on the dimensionality of the characters in the different categories.

          I realize the ‘how much more I wanted to see them’ applied to the Reinhard vs Wenli split. I relate more with and generally admire the virtues of Yang Wenli, but I always wanted to see more of Reinhard dealing with his admirals.

  14. Posted July 22, 2010 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Well, you got me thinking about my favorite characters. I was going to make a comment here, but then it got long and out of control, so I figured a blog post would suit it better.


  15. Posted July 22, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    This is a great post, I think I may follow Rakuen’s lead and make my own post (I love lists). I generally seem to gravitate towards anti-hero/morally ambiguous and/or flatout bastard male characters (Lelouch, Light, Izaya, Hei), but go for admirable female characters (Yuuko, Kyouko, Senjougohara, Washu).

    Overall I prize entertainment value in my favourite characters; just like with my favourite anime in general.

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      I wish I considered entertainment value as a distinct factor when I started this. But then again, it’s through discussion via comments and reaction posts that I learn what I hoped to (even if they surprise me). Thanks again for engaging me on this.

  16. Posted July 22, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    A quick read through the comments reveals a fourth dimension at work — “fun” or “entertaining” or maybe even “impressive” — and I think that pure entertainment value is certainly something we should account for. But I submit, also, that every character on my list is fun/entertaining/impressive to me for the reason listed. So I’m curious now as to what degree entertainment factor stands on its own, and to what degree it’s simply a base requisite of all favorites, regardless of the reason behind their being entertaining.

    Some commenters have been specific in defining a fun character as one who steals the show, more or less; to me that quality would fall under the admirable header. But of course we’ll all have our own taxonomies, and I’ve enjoyed cross-referencing mine with everyone else’s.

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      For me, I categorized by which factor leaps out most at me. Like for Maka, she’s got complexity, but it’s shallow. She appeals to me more for her list of admirable qualities. Likewise, Onizuka could probably fall into all taxonomies, but I’m more interested in how he’s a delinquent who has gotten his life on track.

      Then there’s character’s like TK, who ONLY have entertainment value. :P

      • Posted July 22, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        I think you addressed this well in your reaction post. Fascination for entertainment value, due to whatever attributes exists apart from admirable traits and perhaps interesting complexity. I’m glad you share this because some still take the admiration paradigm for granted.

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s worth documenting, synthesizing all the reactions (see trackbacks) and further develop this idea. Maybe on superfani but you take the lead this time lol. I’ll make myself as useful as possible.

      I think it works well with your work on reading strategies, the database stuff, etc etc. LET’S DO THIS.

  17. ToastCrust
    Posted July 22, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink


    I actually haven’t touched my favourites in some time, so it’s probably out-of-date.

    Macross, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Lain, Nadesico, and Dennou Coil: they’re actually all shows I put up there for fairly different reasons (with my like of Macross covering multiple facets, whereas the other shows are more marked by great production and a single, particular facet that I esteem them to have done exceedingly well).

    In comparison, according to current rankings, are Lain, Ruri, Hei, Yang Wenli, and Garrod Ran. So unlike most of you, the majority of my favorite characters overlap with my favorite shows (but 60% or 3/5). If I extend this to include the latter 5 favourites of Loran, Nono, Lynn Minmay, Kino, and Hughes, that brings it up to 80% (with Dennou Coil being the only exception as a show that I thoroughly enjoyed without gaining strong like for a particular character).

    This might just reveal the methodology of how I truly choose my favourite shows, or it may perhaps be commentary on how much sway I let liking characters have on my liking shows, or perhaps it is as simple as memorable show making it easier for me to remember its character and they got a disproportionate likelihood of scoring a spot (due to my transient memory and impression with most shows).

    Going through the characters:
    Lain: Complex, relatable *and* admiration (some transient sense of attraction, though perhaps not so much sexual as a stranger attraction to her being an enigma). Lain’s basically stayed the primary encapsulation of everything I might want from an anime, and though the computers and GUI her show uses haven’t aged well, just the way she interacted with issues of personal identity and internet identity, existential and non-existential crises, left a permanent impression on my part. And I consider her to be both complex (as a sort of multifaceted enigma, whether it’s the quiet introverted Lain in her teddy suit or the brusque, extroverted Lain that eggs a guy on to shoot her). She’s sort of the complete package, though if I were to have to pick one, I will say admiration if only because that I first looked into the series only due to finding ABe’s designs for her very attractive, with good critical reputation making me relinquish doubts. My anime viewing habits having lolicon roots (that is to say, I started when I was a kid, and unlike my peers made the then reasonable choice to affect female characters closer to my own age, even if it’s a great source of moral and ethical agony now that I’m older) is undeniable, but I do have to push that Lain turned out to be a lot more.

    Ruri: Probably just all admiration. She’s more or less the closest thing to a waifu pick. It’s actually with great difficulty that I try to figure out why I like Ruri, and the only thing I do know is that I *know* I like Ruri. Perhaps it’s the character design, or the archaic proto-moe bakabakka or any sort of other things. It’s probably the sum of a great deal of small likes, rather than any specific facet glowingly affecting me. Like Lain, you could treat her attendance as another relic of where I started my modern anime watching from.

    Hei: Admiration and relatability, with stronger emphasis on admiration as far as I can tell. He’s just got the full package of things I only wish I had or at least admire. Physical expertise, perceptive acuity, the ability to adapt to social framework/adopt alternate persona as necessary, and most importantly skill in Chinese cuisine (something of a personal sore spot, where I’m always really regretful and bitter about never having had the opportunity to receive training in my ethnic cuisine’s homecooking). In addition to those though, he also encapsulates ideas that I find relatable, particularly of his big brother-younger sister or father-daughter relationships with both his actual sister, and later on with Suou (at least, after he stops hitting her), and also his affection for Yin, which seems seated less on romance and more on need for companionship, and having lost almost everyone else. As an older brother myself (like, a 7 year gap), I find the issue of selfishly yet selflessly looking after a girl, or just a charge in general, and all that jazz. Still, it’s easy for me to recognize that I much more strongly recognize Hei as an other than someone similar to me, so admiration. Complex is a possibility too, since he does represent commentary about multiple persona as a prerequisite to smooth social interaction, and a few other realities, so he comes close to being a full package like Lain, though not quite as close.

    Yang Wenli: Admiration, relatable, and complex (in that order, I’m pretty sure). It’s quite similar to Hei, but in totally different venues. I esteem values such as personal principle and unyielding moral standards and all that jazz, so seeing such a guy as Yang uphold them so selflessly fed into my predispositions a lot. On top of that, I can strongly relate to his lack of ambition and general laxness, which makes the admiration more pointed as unlike me, despite such traits, he still pushes on to uphold his principles, even championing them sometimes, though he does not make an agenda of it. The complexity of Yang Wenli though, I’m going to lazily assume are self-evident, in the way that he represented a defender of democracy in a much more intricate, multi-faceted way, upholding it simultaneously as an ideal and a compromise (quite unlike most defenders of democracy). Still, to subscribe an order, it would be the one I gave before.

    Garrod: Mostly just admiration. My reasons for liking him are quite a bit more simple than most of the others. He represented a decent break from the Gundam hero mold, not being overly nerdy or loving mobile suits in any particular way (he was going to sell the X after all!) and just sort of a sort of admiration for his battle for romance, which as a romantic cynic means it’s something I can no longer believe in, even if it brings nostalgia to me seeing it in youth. I find Garrod to be a young male character, even if his show might not be perfect by any means.

    Loran: Admiration. Loran is just a cool guy (even if I feel so bad for Sochie and totally think of her as a waifu pick). Despite being girlier than Camille, he doesn’t throw a fuss xD He’s a big man, safe guarding nukes that could literally just kill him spectacularly at any time, yet preserving a youthful earnesty in the way he laundries and everything.

    Nono: Admiration. Nono is just Nono is just Nono. Badass Gunbuster, cute girl, and adorable fanservice bait all in one.

    Lynn Minmay: Complex and admiration: I might be going out on a limb here, since THAT is still technically Hayase waters, but there’s definitely just a facet of me that finds Minmay cute and makes her my idol (rather than waifu). More important than that, though, is the way I appreciate her character, being what I think of as probably one of the best written young girls available in fiction. The combination of her playfulness, pseudo-asexuality, teasing, jealousy, etc. just resemble to me what many young girls will be. She played an excellent foil to the more mature, idealized Hayase, and won points with me in that way. She doesn’t understand politics, she doesn’t understand the war, she doesn’t understand much of anything. And I felt that was perfectly inline with her premise, and how she contributed so much to the show. And I love her for it (though, random gut feeling it out, apparently not enough to break top 5, though she was there before, until a sudden introduction of men into the list displaced her).

    Kino: Admiration. Kino is a cool customer, and the transparent mouthpiece of tons of philosophical parables. She’s good with guns, fairly androgynous, and morally unsubscribed. She has a cool past and the lens through which the show was presented. In addition, she’s just cute and was fairly adorable in her past permutations. Then the author made her a magical girl too in side stories. She’s another strong symbol of those lolicon roots lol

    Maes Hughes: Admiration and relatable. Much the same reasons as Hei, Maes is just a really cool dad, and a cool father figure is something that I both admire and can relate to (not so much the wife part though, but the kid part). That’s all that really needs to be said.

    Tallying up, if I did an aggregate comparison where all categories I attributed to each character was used (rather than the 1 I ultimately choose between the 3), it would go: Admirable 100%, relatable 40%, complex 40%. Restricting it to just the top 5 instead of the top 10 though, I get 100% admiration, 60% relatable, 60% complex.
    Using only one category per character though, top 10 goes: 90% admiration, 10% relatable. Top 5 is 100% admiration.

    So, even if I contradict your assumption that favourite shows and favourite characters have no real correlation (where I do), I more or less directly match that it is admiration that seems most key (whether actual admiration, or some sort of attraction). I do think though, truly great characters make you love them for more than just one of the categories, which is why I took the lengthier approach of listing multiples per character, rather than forcing a decision into a particular one.

    After this review of that list though, I do feel like it should be reordered or changed a bit. It’s now missing some really key characters that I really like, such as Bernie from 0080 and perhaps say, Elsa from Gunslinger Girl.

    • ToastCrust
      Posted July 22, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      As an addendum, I think it’d be interesting if people tried to rank their favourites according to each category, and see what sort of characters turn up instead (so keeping separate lists).

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      I’ll respond more thoroughly later, but this caught me:

      Lynn Minmay: Complex and admiration: I might be going out on a limb here, since THAT is still technically Hayase waters, but there’s definitely just a facet of me that finds Minmay cute and makes her my idol (rather than waifu). More important than that, though, is the way I appreciate her character, being what I think of as probably one of the best written young girls available in fiction. The combination of her playfulness, pseudo-asexuality, teasing, jealousy, etc. just resemble to me what many young girls will be. She played an excellent foil to the more mature, idealized Hayase, and won points with me in that way. She doesn’t understand politics, she doesn’t understand the war, she doesn’t understand much of anything. And I felt that was perfectly inline with her premise, and how she contributed so much to the show. And I love her for it (though, random gut feeling it out, apparently not enough to break top 5, though she was there before, until a sudden introduction of men into the list displaced her).

      YOU ARE A BRO.


    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for sharing the examples.

      It’s good to see a viewer correlate favorite characters and shows this way, because I do think that characters are still the primary draw for the narratives, while the narrative progression and other elements are what make viewers stay.

      Yang Wenli is a funny case. I admire Reinhard more for his power (not that he doesn’t have other great virtues), but it’s Yang Wenli that for me has incredible virtues and is quite relatable. I’m a lot more like him (lazy and laid back) compared to the brooding and intense Reinhard — of course I am only speaking about temperament and not military talent. However, I thoroughly enjoy Reinhard deal with his admirals FAR MORE than Yang agonize about the people he’s led to death, weasel his way around the house, or lecture about democracy.

      Lists change, and they do for me almost every year, controlling for recency bias.

      So, even if I contradict your assumption that favourite shows and favourite characters have no real correlation (where I do), I more or less directly match that it is admiration that seems most key (whether actual admiration, or some sort of attraction). I do think though, truly great characters make you love them for more than just one of the categories, which is why I took the lengthier approach of listing multiples per character, rather than forcing a decision into a particular one.

      I think this is a key insight, and worth pursuing further. I can’t disagree really.

      I’d be very interested in what you have to say about Bernie Wiseman. I mostly wrote about Al, but maybe we can discuss Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket in particular here, and here.

  18. Posted July 22, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Going to do this by my top 5 in my DFTU list http://fuzakenna.com/2009/10/13/100-characters-for-100-otaku-part-twenty-5-1-final/ though a tad reorganized.

    1. Itou Nobue from Ichigo Mashimaro – Nobue is my ultimate waifu, and a lot of it has to do with relatability. Her relationship with her sister and sister’s friends is exactly like my relationship with my brothers and their friends. The other half of it has to do with being my ideal woman. Which I guess is relatability?

    2. Aisaka Taiga – Admirable.

    3. Lain Iwakura – Complex, and specifically complex in a way that appeals to me directly. Not so much relatable as relevant to my interests.

    4. Rail Tracer – The perfect mix of Admirable and Relatable. He is equal parts what I see myself as being and what I hope to fully become.

    5. Takasu Ryuuji – Admirable.

    I guess it applies. Seems kinda obvious, though.

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      It’s obvious for you, but as you look into some responses like Rakuen’s, it doesn’t apply as much.

  19. Posted July 22, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    http://bit.ly/bhNiJ8 Got a favorite characters post written right there (along with a generalized bit on what appeals to me in them), but I thought I’d address this post itself in the comments section like a good boy. :p

    I think I get what you mean with the whole “putting on clothes” deal. I don’t necessarily take into account what other people will think of my favorites list when I create it (because, you know, it’s MY list), but at the same time it’s a decent indicator of what attracts you to a series and/or characters and shows what kind of fan you are to other people, even if that is not really the stated intent. Same with favorite anime lists, and basically blog posts in general.

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      It’s a starting point for conversation. I mean, just think about us. Sure I started commenting on your blog after reading something about Escaflowne, but since it wasn’t one of my favorites (as much as I really like it!) it wasn’t much to go on. Bakemonogatari was another touchstone, but we were both caught up in our own blogging that it’s difficult to discuss it.

      And then there were the NBA Champions Los Angeles Lakers.

      The fact that you are a big fan of something I am as passionate about or even more so, allows for a new shared space to be created. Putting on my purple and gold in this case gave you a new and perhaps friendlier access to me, and yeah we won again so that’s even more awesome.

      This is the dynamic that’s possible. Just look at some of the comments on the reaction posts on how people are showing up to agree with each others selections! Favorites bring people together.

  20. Posted July 22, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Whether or not it’s a ‘fourth dimention’ rather than falling under the ‘admirable’ header as Pontifus weighs up, but I’m with Scamp in that my favourite characters fall into the ‘fun’/ ‘scene-stealer’ category, with ‘admirable’ and ‘relatable’ following behind in that order. Don’t have a MAL page, but after a quick think my top 2 would be Kyouko (from Skip Beat!) and Shizuo (from Durarara!!). Both have an awesomely and eccentrically angry side to them, and when they are in this mode they steal the show. So, I guess my system for choosing them is non-existent (at least, not on a conscious level), but they are among the few anime characters that really stand out in my mind for some reason.

    Dunno about anyone else, but I actually find it really hard to select any ‘favourite’ characters at all. I mean, I have a lot favourite shows (e.g.: Skip Beat!, Saiunkoku Monogatari, Fruits Basket, Ouran High School Host Club, Vampire Knight…) and I’m incredibly fond of many of the characters in these, but I’m reluctant to name many ‘favourites’ (like a parent – lol!). Or I’m just very picky, I guess.

    Finally, whether or not it’s difficult to pick and order them, it was definitely interesting reading this post (thanks, Ghosty!) in terms of seeing how people come to such decisions. I’d actually find it easier to list anime characters I’m attracted to (less considered thought required maybe, as opposed to going with instinct/ what simply turns you on?), so I might very well approach my comrades about co-writing apost exploring just that, and how (if at all) our anime husbandos/ waifus may differ from what we’d find attractive in real life… hmm…

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Gonna ask my meatspace waifu (sybilant) to make a mutual list of favorites! First thing that came to mind is Mogami Kyoko! Yesss Skip Beat is awesome. We both loved the show, and sybilant is updated with the manga. Sometimes when we’re too wrecked to talk about our days, I just enjoy letting her tell me about Kyoko’s latest adventures with Ren and Sho.

      The reason I made this post is that I really wonder about how fans construct their own hobby and identity. It’s a really strong fascination for me. I just love it how people open up and share here in the comments, as well as in their reaction posts.

      For me it was kind of mindless at first, until I really reflected on it and considered what’s really important to me.

  21. Posted July 22, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never actually thought about this. Looking at my MAL favourite characters, I can only really say I admire one or two. The others are ones I just thought were cool due to what the fandom portrayed them as or who amused me for awhile. It’s really quite interesting to try and think this out now.

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      Go ahead and do it, and if it pleases you, share your thoughts here. I’ll definitely appreciate it.

  22. Posted July 22, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    One thing I thought about when trying to make a list and categorize the characters is that I found the categories to overlap quite a bit. For example, I like Hei from Darker Than Black because he is mysterious and badass, making him complex, entertaining and admirable (who doesn’t want to be badass? Or mysterious?). I found this to be a common pattern with my other favourites including Kazuma from Kaze no Stigma, Kakashi from Naruto, and Kisuke from Bleach. (Whoa those are also all K names? lol) The exception so far is Kyoko Mogami from Skip Beat. I’d say she’s mainly admirable and entertaining. But at the same time, her demons would make her complex… no? Hmm.

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Yes her demons indeed, and that she has a strong moral core and yet her entire life is focused on retribution… Mogami Kyoko isn’t simple really.

  23. Posted July 22, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    If I was to iron out and analyze my favorite characters I don’t think you’d get a response to this post for a month. I’m already terribly slow with my writing, and a complex subject like this would only make it worse. But I suppose a sampling would be good enough.

    When it comes to your statement about favorite characters and anime not exactly corresponding, InuYasha comes to mind. At times, it was an entertaining show, but I would never call it great. I think the same can be said for the character InuYasha. I would call him a great character, but I found him genuinely entertaining. Plus I found him relatable. It’s sappy and cheesy, but being of mixed race I could understand how he felt not fitting in either world of which he was a part of.

    When it comes to complex, what I think is a complex character is hard to describe, but I think Itachi (go ahead and “BOO” me now, I mentioned a Naruto character). He struck me as a character that played a role perfectly up to the very last moments of his life. Anyone who knows Revolver Ocelot from the Metal Gear Solid series should understand what I mean. He had his circumstances flawlessly despite a very convoluted and complicated set of circumstances.

    And finally when i comes to be admirable I would use Tomoya from the Clannad series. In the first season I admired his will and heart to help those he cared about. In the second season (SPOILERISH) I admired his ability to pull through and become a great dad. I’m pretty sure that once I iron out my favorite that most of them will have that admirable quality.

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      I’m quite surprised with your choices, but I can’t boo them since I am rather unfamiliar. My appreciation for Bakuman will never allow me to dismiss shonen manga like Naruto derisively.

      In any case, I look forward to your thought-out list!

      • Posted July 24, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        This sampling will just help prove how much favorite anime and favorite character lists can differ.

  24. Posted July 22, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Let’s see…

    Yang Wenli and Lelouch because you just reminded me of them, Michiko (Michiko e Hatchin), Revy (Black Lagoon), Faye (Cowboy Bebop), Misato (Evangelion), Yuuko (xxxholic), Shigure (Fruits Basket), Hughes (FMA), Ling (FMA), Oz (Pandora Hearts), Xellos (Slayers), Anthy (Revolutionary Girl Utena).

    I think i’m more the type who enjoy a character for their flaws than because I admire them – though, it’s the combination of both flaws and admirable qualities which I find very compelling. However the one thing that tends to push from “character I find awesome in general” – which are many – to “one of my favourite character!!” is attractiveness as a character. I find most of those characters very hot (in a way that’s not only about character design). I think the big exceptions on that list would be Anthy, which is also my #1 favourite character (amusingly) and which is more about being fascinated by the character in her complexity.

    • Posted July 22, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      Well-articulated. The combination of attributes good and bad make characters compelling indeed: the moment you want to dismiss them they impress you, then they ‘fail’ you and so on. Indeed it does help when they are smoking hot.

      Say more about Anthy because I don’t think I fully understand your take on her, despite my own fascination with Revolutionary Girl Utena.

      • Posted July 24, 2010 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        Yeah, I wouldn’t even say the flaws make me want to dismiss them… depending on the case they make me feel “ooh no, don’t do that” or vicariously enjoying them (while not condoning). I love a good villain, so in an anti hero I also very much enjoy the evil side of them XD

        Anthy, hmmm, some of the reason I love Anthy is similar to why I enjoy Lelouch and Hei : they’re character who play a lot of different roles, with a lot of lies and pretending, to the point that they may not know themselves what is their true self. I enjoy that sense of layers and complexity.
        I love her for the reason I, like, most of the other guys on that list, the quirky and kind of dorky sense of humour, when we do see her react genuinely, and as part of her passive aggressive revenge schemes against Nanami (and Saionji on occasion).

        I also enjoy her, like for Lelouch, for the way she’s a genre deconstructing character. She takes on the role of the damsel in distress, but is revealed to be a much more complicated character than that, because she’s also complicit to her victim-hood and to the victimisation of others as well as a victim – and I love that the fact she’s presented as spiteful also doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve to be rescued. And the way that underneath those layers she’s someone in a state of deep and blasé desperation which we only see from times to times makes me feel for her. I also love her bravery when she was a little girl saving her brother and being punishing so outrageously for it. And I always have a fascinating with characters with the role of the witch (which is why I love Yuuko as well).

        And even though she appears to be very passive on first watch, you realise she has actually a lot of subtle agency through the course of the story, organising most of the events of the duels with subtle manipulation and goading. And of course the ending is all about her claiming that agency openly, which I thought was pretty damn awesome.

        Does that satisfy your curiosity? ^_^

        I also really love when Nanami tells her she’s scary and she says “Doumo” with that ^_^ face. She’s got an amazing voice actress.

    Posted July 22, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    I tend to like characters who are extremely inspiring and are at least somewhat over the top in some regard. That said…

    5.) Haman Karn (Z/ZZ Gundam) – I like characters who are strongwilled and fight for what they believe in, even if it is inherently flawed (No Haman, killing tons of Europeans with a colony drop isn’t going to endear them to you). I honestly felt sorry for her because if it weren’t for her idiotic subordinates, she would’ve been victorious in the end. Maybe next time you shouldn’t recruit a male chauvanist (Mashymyre) and a bipolar exhibitionist (Chara) as your praetorian guard. She gets bumped into this spot because she pilots my favorite mecha design of all time (Quebeley).

    4.) Roy Fokker (SDF) – I’ve always liked him because he’s always seemed like the most genuine portrayal of an “Ace” in Japanese Anime. Whereas Max always seemed to have this almost silly and uncanny ability to win (Dancing VF? REALLY?), Roy actually had to use his own skills to survive. It also doesn’t hurt that he was a true man unlike Minmay’s boytoy.

    3.) Ryosuke Takahashi (头文字D)- His ability to plan for the unforeseen and serve as an inspirational leader to his team has made him one of my favorite characters. I also like how he constantly acts with class in the face of adversity. Furthermore, unlike his brother, he actually has automotive taste (I used to drive an FC, so shoot me).

    2.) Kamina (TTGL) – He is what all men should aspire to be. THE END.

    Disclaimer: If you go by the name of “Crusader,” please slowly step away from the computer screen and BREATHE DEEPLY. :)

    1.) Char Aznable (Zeta – CCA Only) – This goes without saying, even with his love of pedophilia taken into account. I don’t like him circa OYW, since he abandoned his awesome Zaku for a fucking Gelgoog (/Z’gok/Zeong/etc…).

    I was going to include Gato on the list until I realized that it’s only cool to be a self righteous zealot when you are actually in the right – Case in point being CCA Char. Sorry Gato, but North America never did anything wrong to you.

    • Posted July 24, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      Haman would be truly awesome if only ZZ GUNDAM DID NOT EXIST

      Also, LOL CCA Char. I think you’ll have more to say about him after reading this.

      And yeah, best not to get the Zeon hater monkeys involved.

      • JDMFLCL
        Posted July 25, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        Link? Lol.

        I know CCA Char makes basically no sense with Zeta taken into account, but he was correct in labeling the EFSF as the deadbeats they truly were. I don’t agree with his methodology, but its better than Amuro suddenly giving the benefit of the doubt to the EFSF and martyring himself for their “cause.”

        As for Haman, I honestly felt she was pretty decent in ZZ up until the very end; then again, if I had been fucking newtype hijinked like that, I’d prob. want to off myself too…

        • Posted July 25, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

          I think CCA Char can make sense, what is rather telling is that the whole Earth extermination thing cum Zeon revival thing is secondary to his pettiness against Amuro, and he sold out everyone by making sure Amuro would be practically GOD with the psychoframe technology in his Nu Gundam.

          Char’s a favorite of mine too, but I don’t think he’s admirable for the reasons you gave, is all.

          As for ZZ Haman, kill her with fire. Oh wait, she kind of did.

  26. Posted July 23, 2010 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    Mm I don’t really have a system for choosing fav characters, and they can be my fav for many reasons, whether they’re admirable, complex, relatable, entertaining, cute, funny, endearing, aesthetically pleasing, badass, etc. I think you outlined my no.1 reason actually when you said “I find them the most fascinating among all other anime characters. That’s why they’re there.”

    I don’t really have official list of fav characters but going over several could be fun.
    lafiel, lain, kino, shion (higurashi), c.c., tanabe ai (planetes), sizer (violinist of hamelin), kusuriuri (mononoke), yoko (12 kingdoms), count of monte cristo, kana minami, etc.

    • Posted July 23, 2010 at 3:16 am | Permalink

      I came for Lafiel, left happy ^_^/

      Truly there’s nothing wrong with arbitrariness, ultimately everything is arbitrary here but the will to impose order and purpose against arbitrariness in itself is fascinating to me.

  27. Posted July 23, 2010 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Wow, so many comments (mine will probably get lost among so many, heh).

    Wish you made this post last year when I was counting down my 100 favorite characters. It would be fun breaking down why I like them based on whether they’re complex, admirable, etc. Well, maybe I’ll do that next time when I feel it’s time to revise my list.

    On his list, Rakuen suggested adding another category – “entertaining.” Looking at my top 10, I realized that “complex” and “admirable” are not really the reasons I like most of them, but rather that something about them is entertaining to me. For example, you couldn’t classify a favorite pokemon as “admirable” or “complex.” In cases like this where you like a character based solely on taste, like he/she is cute, funny, pretty, etc., you’d need a few more categories.

    • Posted July 23, 2010 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      I do believe that the entertaining and relatable categories of factors are useful. I just didn’t think of them when I started out and the point of this exercise is for discussion to educate me, and all these comments did just that and so I thank you for engaging this post. I really appreciate it.

  28. Posted July 24, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I could give a random 10 characters and try this out. Also, am going to pretty much try NOT to state any female characters since half the time the attraction’s mostly sexual. Or I’m attracted because of the VAs.

    Simon (admirable, also entertaining)

    Simon is, well, a strange guy for a protag. At age 10 he has his own super robot ride, and half the time, he’s scared of it, requiring encouragement from his bro Kamina to “do the impossible”. Post-timeskip Simon, however, blew me away. He becasme a thoughtful, forgiving guy who did what it took to save his girl, save the universe, and heck, just being flat-out manly. Forgiving Rossiu AND being bros with Viral, it takes a real man to do that.

    SHISHIOH GUY (admirable, also entertaining)

    Doing whatever it takes to save the world, even at the cost of his own life, and is manly enough to admit his own faults. He IS the King Of Braves. FINAL added a nice layer of complexity to him, but he’s still fairly static.

    Domon Kasshu (also complex and entertaining)

    Passion runs in his blood. Naivety is part of his personality. He still considers his master as such even after he tried to kill him again and again. Saving the whole world because he wanted to save his beloved. Maaaaaaaaaaaan, that’s some pretty admirable stuff there.

    Nekki Basara (admirable and entertaining)

    Here’s a man who follows the beat of a different drummer and is not afraid to stand up for his beliefs, though I don’t exactly agree with his actions. He’s annoying, but I love his drive, faith and desire.

    Jiron Amos (entertaining)

    He’s funny and manly in his own way. That’s all I can say about him.

    Lafiel (Admirable, fairly complex)

    Ironically, enough, Lafiel is probably the only female character on the list I do NOT have any sexual attaction to. She’s a strong-willed character who takes a lot of things with a cool head and a painfully fiery passion. She’s also highly pragmatic at times, insanely creative, and sometimes very, very daring. At times, her bravery is comparable to the likes of Domon Kasshu and GUY SHISHOH. But under it all, she has a very, very tender heart that she does not show to almost everyone save for Jinto and her father. And to top it off, she has to put on a brave show when it really hurts her emotionally. Even I can’t do that. (See also, Kyosuke Nanbu from SRW: OGS, only with more MAN)

    Guld Goa Bowman (ADMIRABLE and relatable)

    GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUULD T_T I don’t think I’ve ever met a man of such resolute character and morals. Him realizing his mistake and not bearing any grudges against Isamu after realizing that made him all the more respectable in my eyes. And he has anger issues, which I relate to all too well :(

    Askeladd (Admirable)

    As much I’d love to hate the guy for being an ass and using Thorfinn for his own means, you have to admit, he does it with such panache and badassery, it’s hard to hate him. That, and him caring for something other than his own skin added a much-needed explanation to his actions. Him snapping and killing a bunch of people at the end because of it was a nice touch.

    Minsc and Boo (mostly entertaining)

    Though not from anime (they’re from an old Bioware game called Baldur’s Gate), I gotta put them in. Minsc is a lovable idiot ranger with a greatsword and a duty to protect his witch. He’s a little deranged, as his companion animal is a hamster named Boo, who does nothing but “squeak advice” into his ear. Minsc thinks Boo is an alien hamster. Most of his lines are very, very hot-blooded. And silly. He’s also very, very loyal and fun.

    …Okay, I don’t got 10 characters.

    • Posted July 24, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Guld…. GULD?!?!?!

      I don’t hate him but killing the Ghost was the least he could do. I think it would have better if he survived. I’m serious. Dying sort of makes him a hero and absolves him of responsibility. Yes he still has a big one: to Myung.

      LOL the sexism in Macross Plus where the Myung gets to be rescued from her own demons, while Sharon goes batshit, and only Guld and Isamu work things through like adults… well, LIKE MEN.

      Obviously I’m not hating on Macross Plus because I am who I am, but I do know what I love and this is just part of the things that make the show interesting too.

      • Posted July 25, 2010 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        Well, I believe he would have made amends to Myung had he survived, so there. He’s not a vindictive character, and quite simply, we all have our moments of anger where we do something stupid, only to realize we messed up horribly.

        And besides, if I’m not happy, I just say “Kawamori trolled.” Okay, it’s a copout,. but hey, Kawamori trolled us hard with 7 and Frontier.

        • Posted July 25, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

          I don’t really buy into the Kawamori as troll theory. I still think Zentrans got screwed by making Guld the freak.

  29. Posted July 24, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    I loved this post and it really got me thinking. I don’t have my favorites listed on MAL, mainly because I’ve been too lazy to touch that thing since I initially posted on it…probably should get on that. Anyway, I wanted to give this a bit of thought, since I feel like sometimes I’m easily swayed with recent characters from series I’ve blogged or reviewed. Going through the list of all of the anime that I’ve written a review of, here’s what I came up with in no particular order:

    Tomoe Hotaru- If there’s one character that I could possibly feel what the general consensus of what “moe” is towards, it would be Hotaru. She is from one of my favorite series, Sailor Moon, which is a favorite more for nostalgia reasons than production values, story, etc. Hotaru is put through many hardships in her multiple lives, and, at the end of it all, turns out to be arguably the most powerful sailor scout, with the ability to destroy the entire world. Along with her terrible childhood, this all-powerful ability makes her an incredibly powerful individual housed in the body of a frail and sickly girl. I was a fairly sickly kid myself; however, this is the only way that Hotaru could be considered relatable to me. My liking of her character is definitely more of an admirable one, in that I wanted to get over my own sickness, and be as eventually powerful as Hotaru was. Also, the inner strength that she displays (she’s possessed for the majority of the S season) is very admirable.

    Tsukishima Aoba- Aoba is certainly very relatable to me, specifically in her pursuit of being the best there is in her sport only to be told that she can’t continue to play in competitions because of her gender. The way her actions inspire admiration from the other characters in Cross Game, her series, is something that I desperately want to emulate in my own life. I can easily admire her, along with these other characters in the series, especially since she was much better at her sport than I ever was at mine. She’s also not very honest with her own feelings, which I can also relate to easily. Definitely a mixture of admiration and relatability.

    Abe Takaya- Abe is from one of my more recent favorites, Big Windup!, and is another character who is completely dishonest about his own feelings, which again, is very relatable to me personally. However, he’s also the character with whom my opinion of is the most tainted, because I’ve both read and written things for this series’s fandom. I’d still say relatable.

    Noda “Nodame” Megumi- Playing the piano, being flaky, and being completely messy are things that both Nodame and I have in common, so once again, the relatable factor is there. Nodame Cantabile also wouldn’t be even a quarter of the series that it is without the titular character. This is where Scamp’s entertainment factor comes in, because not only can I easily relate to many of the things that Nodame does, I am also completely entertained by these things as well. Nodame isn’t a particularly admirable character, excluding her genius ability to hear music, but she’s a very realistic and relatable one who falls in at about 80% relatable, 20% pure entertainment.

    Aisaka Taiga- Taiga is the character with the most complex reasons I have for liking her. She has the relatability factor in being short and child-like in appearance, while also being completely dishonest with her feelings. (Do you see a pattern here? Apparently I love the dishonest ones.) Her actual personality, which is quite confrontational in order to cover up her true thoughts, is completely different from mine aside from the fact that she hides her feelings. Her strength, both physical and mental, is something that I admire. I am also completely entertained every time she’s on screen, simply because she’s a multi-faceted and fascinating character to watch. I’d have to divide her character equally between admiration, entertainment, and relatability.

    As you can see, my list is heavily based on characters that I can relate to, at least in some facet, while watching. This is probably why there’s only one male (Abe) and the reasons I have for liking his character are similar to the reasons I like many of my other favorites: mainly his inability to express his feelings adequately. In fact, dishonesty with one’s true feelings is apparently the guiding factor in why I like many of my favorite characters…interesting…

    • Posted July 24, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      As Pontifus above says, and as I acknowledged in several responses, I think entertainment value and being relatable are two factors that are just as important to the original binary.

      The relationships between these factors would probably be best expressed in some kind of venn diagram, where some admirable qualities of the characters may actually feel relatable (e.g. a desire to do better etc.), just as much as flaws can be relatable (Nodame’s messiness etc), which would overlap with her being interesting/complex.

      I do think that order and ranking is important and it’s interesting how you decided not to do it. What made it difficult for you?

      • Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

        For me, ranking is a lot easier for series than characters. Characters are a lot more complex to me, or the characters that I tend to gravitate towards, whereas series I analyze a lot more clinically, making it easier to rank them. This definitely isn’t true for everyone though.

  30. Suiman
    Posted July 25, 2010 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    Personally, the “admirable” traits of a character are their flaws. I find it very compelling when a character’s flaw is a constant compared to a one time or occasional obstacle. Though flaws do not just reside within the characters but also the world they live in serving as extensions of the characters themselves. I have a high regard for the weakness of characters just as well as their strengths, though I usually highlight the former. I also like the role model or heroic characters whose flaws through the course of the show were eventually conquered (usually near the end of the show) concluding with defeating the Big Bad, getting their girl and/or overcoming a crisis.

    I never did bother ranking my favorites. I find it hard to like someone over the other since each affects me differently. Admirable, relatable, entertaining or complex are value laden words that I find hard to quantify. For this case, I just wrote the first five that comes to my mind. This perhaps denotes hierarchy among my faves but I don’t know how. One is for certain, characters I like are very emotionally engaging.

    Simon (Gurren Laggan): I’ve already said things about my admiration for Simon in your blog. Though, here, I would like to mention that the different time skips in the show emphasizing his growth towards himself, others and the world made him very admirable and relatable. Special mention to the last time skip that featured an old Simon. Telling the kid to gently drill the coconut opposed to using strong force adds to his calm and wise personality, befitting an elderly and a contrast to hot-bloodedness. His dialogue with the young boy still features part his idealism from the youth serving to inspire the child much like how Kamina was to him. Still, by accepting his insignificance to the child despite his unbelievable accomplishments showed me that in the grand scheme of things, he was indeed no one.

    Domon Kasshu (Gundam G): This hand of mine glows with an awesome POWER! Its burning grip tells me to defeat you! Take this! My love, my anger, and all of my sorrow! SHINING FINGER SWORRRRDDD!!! GO! GO! GO!!!

    Nadeko (Bakemonogatari)- Despite my Hanekawa Fascination, Nadeko is my favorite because she is…. jailbait MOE.

    Shinji (Evangelion)- He has more than a decade’s worth of discussion and analysis. A lot has been hated about him, most of these were what I loved about his character. His glaring imperfections make for such a “realistic” character.

    Hei (Darker than Black) – A complex character, a large part of it coming from the mysterious and unforgiving world he lives in. One part of what makes Hei compelling was that his personality before (Black Reaper during the South American War) and after he “became” a contractor was practically the same. He was a human, who chose to act like a “contractor” opposed to humans who became one (most probably involuntarily) and a further contrast with contractors wanting to be human (which he wants as well). He was just as powerless before and after he had contractor super powers being oppressed by the syndicate and consequently by himself. Unlike Shinji, “I must run away” was his unspoken mantra in both seasons. Lastly, he was a heart breaking, mook killing, loli beating BADASS.

    • Posted July 25, 2010 at 6:06 am | Permalink

      Ranking can be very difficult because it forces us to assign value. We must make decisions on what is more important. Some of us don’t want to do so. Maybe we care about our anime characters so much, and picking one over the other makes us go through mental (or emotional) stresses that we don’t care for.

      Some have it easy. I know what (or who) is truly important to me.

      I mean, how much do you value Domon’s struggle and will, over Nadeko never becoming a day older? How much is Shinji’s inability to choose worth over Simon’s willingness to commit? Is Hei’s circumstances and how he bears them worth less than all these?

  31. Bwaffles
    Posted August 5, 2010 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    I think you had it right for my choices because most of them are all people I admire and who kick some serious ass. Erza (Fairy Tale), Clare (Claymore), Deunan (Appleseed), Briareos (Appleseed), Teresa (Claymore), Canaan (Canaan), Maka (Soul Eater). Out of all the Anime these characters are from only Appleseed and Claymore made my top favorite shows. Without those characters in the shows they probably wouldn’t have made my favorites list. I’m a girl and most of my favorites are girls because usually in anime they’re just the one that screams, gets kidnapped, or is completely useless, but I love it when the girl turns out to be the strongest. Every female character on my list is like this, so about 86% of my favorite characters are based on Admiration, while the rest(the only guy on the list) I just like. I guess in a way I can admire Briareos, but I find it harder to admire men since no matter how hard I try I’ll never become a male cyborg.

    • Posted August 5, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Permalink


      Have you seen any of the Ghost in the Shell shows? It’s also adapted from Shirow Masamune (mangaka of Appleseed), you may find the lead female character interesting as well as admirable too. I also think you may like Crest of the Stars (and its sequels), it’s lead female character also is pretty awesome.

6 Trackbacks

  • […] list, top 10 Ghostlightning made an interesting post on favorite anime characters over at THAT Anime Blog.  I originally thought to post a comment in response, but then I decided it would be better as […]

  • By A Compendium of Cool Characters « UNMEI KAIHEN on July 22, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    […] of a lie. This isn’t summarizing anything massive; just a little ol’ post inspired by ghostlightning’s post on the why of favoriting characters over at THAT Anime Blog. I’m also a dirty bandwagon hopper, because Rakuen at Borderline Hikikomori has already taken […]

  • […] at THAT Anime Blog, ghostlightning made an interesting post about choosing your favourite anime characters and what […]

  • […] 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 […]

  • […] asked me for a “top ten” months ago), I’m following in the footsteps of Ghostlightning and Rakuen and posting my top ten favorite anime characters.  Let’s get right to […]

  • […] what I wanted to. But responding to a comment on my previous post finally made it click for me. Listing favorite characters and defining how and why they’re one’s favorites is an inexa…. It can also be difficult to figure out which characters are your favorites. But among everything […]

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