Everybody loves them…except me

Everybody loves them…except me

I was thinking about the characters I’ve liked from every anime series I’ve watched. What I quickly realized is that in many series I’ve watched, the character with the biggest fanbase is one that I’m indifferent to, or actively dislike. So, I’ve compiled a list of characters (some more popular than others) that most fans who have seen these series like…but I don’t.

  1. Sailor Mercury (Sailor Moon): I’ll start off with her because she’s a pretty recognizable character. Like many of the other characters on this list, I don’t actually dislike this character – I find her to be pretty boring, but harmless nontheless. However, I don’t understand her enormous popularity – in a poll from Animage magazine ranking the most popular female anime characters of 1992 (the same year as Sailor Moon ‘s debut), Sailor Mercury was voted number one.  Out of all the characters from Sailor Moon , I definitely prefer Sailor Venus and Sailor Jupiter, who have much brighter personalities.
  2. The elusive Madoka.

    Madoka (Kimagure Orange Road): Now, KOR is from 1987, so I wouldn’t exactly say Madoka’s the most popular female character in anime today. However, back in the late 80s, Madoka was the number one girl-next-door for anime fans in Japan. Even in the late 90s, when Kimagure first came to America, Madoka was seen as a goddess by male anime fans because of her beauty and constant teasing of Kyosuke, the main male protagonist in the series. However, the reason why fans love her is the very reason I have a problem with her character: she’s too perfect. She can play the saxophone and piano, she can sing, horseback ride, ski, surf, is beautiful, and gets good grades without trying. Her only flaw is that she’s so melancholy – which is because everything has come so easily to her. Since I don’t find this to be a very good excuse for her sullen nature, I don’t really sympathize with her. Meanwhile, her best friend and love rival Hikaru, who is considered to be very annoying by most Kimagure fans, I find to be very sympathetic because she is the third wheel in this triangle.

  3. Roy Mustang (Fullmetal Alchemist): Here’s another character I don’t have any actual problems with – I just don’t see what the fuss is over him. Now, Ed is still more popular than Roy, but there is a huge fanbase of fangirls for this flaming hot coloniel. Now aside from the fact that I don’t actually find him hot, I’d much watch Ed and Al in action, or find out Lust’s background than waste time seeing Ed and Roy duke it out. Yet,  he was always voted in Newtype’s Top Ten male characters throughout 2004, when FMA was first airing in Japan. Furthermore, in an Oricon poll asking Japanese fans which side characters were most deserving of a spinoff, Roy ranked sixth among male fans. But considering how many fans love Roy because they ship him with Ed, I may have to chalk this one up to not being a yaoi fangirl.
  4. Haruhi in a typically bossy stance.

    Haruhi Suzumiya (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya): Haruhi is a unique character on this list for several reasons. First, she comes from a series that I really dislike, while all the other characters on this list come from anime I actually enjoyed at one point or another. Second, rather than being neutral towards her or curious as to why she’s so popular, Haruhi is definitely the character that I most actively dislike on this list (and probably in anime in general). Finally, while she’s an enormously popular character, maybe more than any other character I’ve mentioned, she’s also got a significant hatedom. Yet while there are many who can’t stand the loud, bossy leader of the SOS club who sexually assaults it’s female members, her fans seem to outnumber her foes. In a 2010 Newtype poll, Haruhi was ranked the fifth most popular female character of the 2000s. What I have noticed, however, is that the people who dislike her character often tend to be women. Thus, my hatred for this character perhaps can best be explained by the fact that I am not a member of the show’s target demographic: moe-loving males.

  5. Riku Harada (D.N.Angel): While Riku is not anywhere near as popular as, say, Haruhi Suzumiya, of all the female characters in D.N.Angel, Riku is by far the most liked. Now this could be because fans find Risa, Riku’s boy-crazy twin sister to be shallow and Mio, a hyper girl who isn’t from the original manga, to be annoying, thus making her the best of the worst. However, while Risa didn’t really bother me because I’ve met several girls like her, I found Riku to be too bossy and irritating to be considered the ‘nice’ girl, and I’ve never cared for her since.
  6. Rui Hanazawa (Hana Yori Dango/Boys Over Flowers). This…is a hard one. I think the main reason I’m not a fan of Rui (aside from the fact that I don’t see why people find him to be a prince charming) is because I love Tsukasa Domyoji, Rui’s rival love interest, so much and want everyone to love him too. That sounds sort of childish, but I just hate when people gush over Rui so much when I find him to be cold and kind of boring for a good portion of the series. There are so many fans who were willing to look past Rui’s jerky moments because of his kinder acts towards Tsukushi, but weren’t willing to do the same for Tsukasa, EVEN WHEN TSUKASA RISKED HIS LIFE FOR HER. Just look at this poll: Crea magazine asked for the top 100 male manga characters Japanese females fell in love with most, and Rui is number four on this list. Four. Out of all male characters in every manga ever created. The only saving grace is that Tsukasa is also on the list, at a very respectable number thirteen. But he’s so much more funny and loving. Sigh. There is no justice.

So have you guys noticed that you tend not to care for characters everyone else seems to love? Share your thoughts!

Cover-to-Cover: Sailor Moon

Cover-to-Cover: Sailor Moon

Cover-to-Cover is a column where I’ll choose my favorite cover from a particular series. This time, it’s the one and only Sailor Moon! This Cover-to-Cover is going to be a little different than my previous ones because the Sailor Moon manga has had the honor of being released not once, but twice in America. And while I own the original Tokyopop edition of the manga, there are many people who are just getting into the series through the Kodansha release. Not only that, but the re-releases are quite lovely, and I have a fondness for the simple yet elegant covers. Thus, I’ll be choosing my favorite cover from both the original release and Kodansha’s re-release.

Of the original eighteen volume release of the series, one thing that sticks out to me is how many of the covers are group images.  Several volumes are of all the Sailor Senshi, and these covers match the tone of the manga at its most serious moments. But I have to say, of all the covers in this release I probably like the image on volume eight the best. It’s simple but lovely – Usagi is giving the reader a pretty smile while gorgeous pink flowers surround her. I think I’m a sucker for covers that highlight nature and the passing of the seasons, so I guess it makes sense that this would be my cover choice. And while many of the manga covers feature the Senshi, this cover is of Usagi the girl, not Sailor Moon – and I think that’s part of the reason why I like it.

Now, choosing my favorite cover for the Kodansha release of the manga is going to be a lot harder. First of all, I have to say that it’s impressive how much Naoko Takeuchi’s artwork had improved by the time she drew the covers for this edition of the manga. The character’s faces seem rounder, and overall the covers have a softer (dare I say, more feminine?) feel that really suits Sailor Moon. The covers are also more simple, and many of them only highlight one Senshi. At first, I considered choosing volume four’s cover because Jupiter is my favorite Senshi (and because I love her pink and green color combination). But I’m going to cheat and choose a cover that Kodansha has not yet released yet: volume 12. I have a fondness for seeing Neo-Queen Serenity because she’s so regal and I’ve always loved her dress. But what really made me choose this cover is that Neo-Queen Serenity is with Chibi-Usa and Chibi-Chibi, and I’ve always liked seeing pictures of these characters as their future selves. Overall, though, I love all of the covers of the Kodansha release of the manga because of the use of white backgrounds, which allows the image to speak for itself. Sometimes less really is more.

The Heart of Sailor Moon: Usagi

The Heart of Sailor Moon: Usagi

Like so many others, I first got into anime through Sailor Moon. I remember being six years old, sleepily watching Sailor Moon’s final battle with Queen Beryl at 6:30 in the morning. A few years later, when Sailor Moon began airing on Toonami, my classmates started watching the show as well, and we would pretend we were Sailor Scouts (which is a bit embarrassing to admit now). This prompted the question: who is your favorite Sailor Scout (or more accurately, Senshi)? Even though I was always chosen to play Mars because we both have black hair, I could never relate much to either her haughtiness in the anime or her more mysterious nature in the manga. When the anime originally aired in Japan, Sailor Mercury was the most popular, but I never cared for Ami’s shyness.  And even though the Outer Senshi are extremely popular, I find their aloofness to be off-putting. The two Senshi I like most are probably Makoto, whose tough exterior hides her kindness and femininity, and Minako, who is just goofy and charming. But there isn’t much appreciation for the heart of the series: Usagi herself. So I want to take this chance to defend her.

I’ve heard many people complain about Usagi, who is commonly criticized for being an annoying, clumsy, scatterbrained, overeating crybaby. But as someone who reads a lot of shojo, in my opinion, there are many other female leads who are far worse than her, such as Miki from Marmalade Boy, who cries and complains over simple love problems, or the weak-willed Hatsumi from Hot Gimmick. If either of these females were faced with the daunting task of protecting the world, I don’t think they would be as courageous or strong as Usagi was. And because I didn’t read Naoki Takeuchi’s manga until several years after watching the Sailor Moon anime, the show’s portrayal of Usagi has also influenced my overall opinion of her. The anime exacerbated many of Usagi’s foibles – almost every episode features her tripping, dressing up as a ninja to stave females away from Mamoru, or saying something goofy during a battle scene (“Supreme Sundae,” anyone?), while in the original manga Usagi is a bit more mature. But at the same time, I feel like the filler episodes of the anime also highlighted Usagi’s kindness. For example, in episode two of the series, when Usagi gets her fortune told, she chooses to visit a kind old fortune-teller on the street rather than the new fortune telling shop nearby that everyone else is visiting. In one episode of SuperS, Usagi helps a starving artist by making him fried rice (which he gratefully devours despite the food’s scary appearance). And when she uses the Silver Crystal to deadly results in the R movie, Usagi’s strong will to protect her friends is heightened.  Thus, the anime sharply accentuated both the good and bad of her character, while the manga Usagi is a bit more balanced, thanks to Takeuchi’s craft. Usagi’s compassionate nature is what ultimately prevents me from seeing her as ‘annoying,’ because there are few anime characters more selfless than her.

But there are reasons why I love Usagi that aren’t explored much in the anime. I’ve always had a tremendous amount of sympathy for Usagi, who struggles not only with her role as Sailor Moon, but also her past life as Princess Serenity. One scene I love is in Act 8 (published in volume two of TOKYOPOP’s release of the manga), when Usagi’s hair starts growing out upon recovering the memories of her previous life. This scene is present in the anime, but her fear that her body’s changes signify that she’s becoming somebody else isn’t mentioned at all, and it adds a sense of realism to her character. Most importantly, I feel as though the manga did a better job of bridging the gap between Usagi and her past and future selves. Both Princess Serenity and Neo-Queen Serenity are elegant and feel highly romanticized, which is why it’s hard to reconcile these two identities with Usagi.  Yet in Act 24, which is volume seven of the TOKYOPOP release, Neo-Queen Serenity is revived and wishes to see Sailor Moon despite the fact that it is forbidden because it could change the course of history. Yet Sailor Moon wishes to see her as well, and against all odds, they meet and thank each other. What I love about this scene is that no matter how different Neo-Queen Serenity may seem from her, she’s still Usagi on the inside. The heart of Sailor Moon is Usagi’s maturation, and the fact that she remains so compassionate despite her struggles is a huge reason why I still love the series so much. And I think I may love it even more now.