As another week comes to a close, I am pooped (technical term) from the work week. I think I’m going to keep the list format for the end of the week, where I’m the most likely to fuck up my editing. With that being said, enjoy my newest list of 5 kick ass…
I’ll start with the men, for no reason than because I can. I was honestly dreading this list since I don’t really watch anime for the male characters in it. Still I was able to pull together a list of five pretty bad-ass dudes for this. Enjoy.
Eikichi Onizuka – GTO
You thought I was gonna start out with Spike or Ranma didn’t you? Oh ye of little wit, allow me to guide you to the awesome of Eikichi Onizuka! This crazy ex-biker is one of the coolest anime characters in all anime. He decides to become a teacher, and spends 43 episodes straitening out a class of troublemakers. Onizuka’s humorous dim-witted facade fades away whenever one of his students is in peril, and one-by-one this endears him to his class. This is the engaging part of his character, as his whole being is wrapped up in making school fun for disenfranchised kids.
Some of his exploits include bully prevention, suicide intercession, self esteem building, and overall facade breaking. When you look at it Eikichi deals with a shit ton of pretty serious issues, and this was a late 90’s anime! Very few protagonists of anime at that time can boast a record quite like the Great Techer Onizuka can. Hell, even the live-action adaptation of this show was fantastic! You should check it out, or wait till I review it which should happen sometime soon-ish.
Shoutarou Kaneda – Akira
This one might come as a surprise to some. After all this kid spends most of the movie chasing a skirt while failing to help his friend. Though it is his failings that endear him to me as an unlikely hero. Kaneda’s dedication to his small bike gang is so strong that even when his friend had murdered tons of people, he still tried to help him regain his humanity. Facing the monster Tetsuo had become, Kaneda simply rolls up his sleeves (figuratively) and attempts to succeed where whole police/military units have failed.
I suppose it would be in poor taste to call this character a regular hero, when he’s clearly more of an anti-hero. After all the beginning of the movie has him and his gang ruthlessly beating a rival group on their bikes. Kaneda is also pretty womanizing, as he treats his high school girlfriend like crap the moment he meets Kei. Still his actions at the end of the movie I think make up for his failings as an adolescent. Plus the bike is too freakin’ sweet for anyone to stay mad at him.
Daikichi Kawachi – Usagi Drop
Switching gears in a COMPLETELY different direction here, I’d like to call attention to a different kind of hero. Daikichi Kawachi isn’t a biker, military man, or even a fighter in any sense of the word. He’s a regular as regular gets, but his heroism comes in a different form. When faced with the death of his grandfather and the subsequent reveal that his granddad had a kid before dying, Daikichi puts on his MAN PANTS like too few men do. Instead of letting Rin (his aunt… technically) be sent to an orphanage, he takes her in as his own.
This takes balls, that would shame an elephant, as he is a single man with a career. Japanese men like him have horribly long work days, and due to his new charge he accepts a demotion for less work hours. This frees him to pay more attention to Rin, but sacrifices a career he’d been working on for years. For all his sacrifice I recognize his character as a hero of anime, after all family’s gotta look out for family.
Kenshin Himura – Samurai X/Rurouni Kenshin
Kenshi is a no-brainer for any hero list, because his story sets him apart from most others. His chaotic story from slave, to student, to assassin, to General, and finally rurouni seeking redemption is an excellent lesson in the trappings of youth and the horrors of war. I’m especially fond of the prequel series of Samurai X, where a young Kenshin loses then regains his sense of humanity. Though he falls into the realm of “near unbeatable protagonist”, it’s his will to protect those he holds dear that makes him vulnerable to attack. While that’s not a terribly original story, the two anime that feature Kenshin Himura pull it off nicely.
The thing that really stands out about him in Ruroni Kenshin is his adherence to fight without killing. To accomplish this he uses a sakabato, or a katana with the sharp edge of the blade on the wrong side. This affords him the ability to strike with the blunt edge of the blade to avoid killing blows. It’s less flashy than his fights as an assassin, but it makes him more interesting than an average cutthroat. Much like Onizuka Kenshin is a fun loving guy till you fuck with his friends, then he’s all business, and his business is owning faces.
Kirito – Sword Art Online
I can already feel the anime elite rolling their eyes at this, but I challenge you to say you didn’t at least enjoy SAO’s first arc. The feel of a life or death struggle in an MMO was still pretty new to us, and that first episode was kind of a shock to the system. I enjoyed watching Kirito progress from a loner solo-player to a de facto protector of newbs. Kirito and Asuna’s romance added an element of urgency as nobody (except the heartless) wanted to see either die in the game. I think Kirito’s ability to gather a harem were the only eye-roll-worthy moments in the show, but that wasn’t enough to dissuade me.
After the original life or death struggle of the SAO arc, the show is hit or miss for me. The ALO arc was not appealing to me until the end, and the random adventures after the GGO arc were a yawn fest. Still Kirito practically earned anime/video game sainthood in his exploits through VMMO’s. It’s little wonder why so many guys cosplay as him, and why there’s so much fan art dedicated to him. He earns a spot on this list for keeping a level head in dangerous situations (mostly), looking out for his friends/girl (mostly), and (THANK ODIN) for rejecting his cousins advances… which is more than I can say about a certain show about a little sister (ugh).
It was actually pretty difficult for me to think up five of these guys. Maybe I’m just tired. Though going through lists of anime I found more than enough heroines that fit the bill, so maybe that’s what I’ll do next Friday. Tell me if you can think of any anime heroes you think earned a spot on this list, I could be forgetting someone. I did purposely leave out Watanabe characters though since I feel I’ve featured too much of his anime. I hope you all have a fun weekend, and I’ll catch you on Monday with another post. Till then…
Arigatō my fellow BrOtaku!