Thursday, February 13, 2014

Anime Best of 2013, Part 6: Top Male Characters

So, as a straight male, I'm kind of biased. This will be evident in this list, where I have half as many entries for each category as I do for their female counterparts. Except for the "cutest males" category, which has just as many entries, because cuteness transcends gender.

That said, just because the quantity of good male characters is lower doesn't mean the quality of the characters is lacking. So let's go forth and talk about the best male characters of 2013!

Note: There will be no pictures this time around, but there'll still be links to their MAL profiles. Also, since there are fewer people involved, there will be write-ups for each entry. And as before, only one character per show per list.

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Top 5 Most Handsome Males

The male counterpart to the "most beautiful females" list. If I were a girl, I'd probably be most attracted to these guys. Probably. I won't have too much to say about these guys.

#5. Galius, Outbreak Company: Pretty much the definition of a "pretty boy".

#4. Sadao Maou, The Devil is a Part-Timer!: Not-really-evil can be pretty darn handsome, I guess.

#3. Ichiro Komaba, Silver Spoon: Gotta love those farm-trained muscles.

#2. Kyousuke Natsume, Little Busters!: Yeah, this guy is cool.

#1. Haruka Nanase, Free!: Did someone say "muscles"?

Top 10 Cutest Males

Before I start, I should mention that there are a number of "traps" (or cross-dressers) here. And while such characters can be lots of fun and are definitely cute, there can be the danger of thinking that males are "better" as females due to their added cuteness. D.M. Dutcher writes about this "paradox" here.

That said, I make it a point to celebrate all things cute, regardless of gender, and as such, I have just as many entries here as I did for the list of females.

#10. Wataru Asahina, Brothers Conflict: Well, he's cute. And he's one of the better brothers in this trainwreck of a show, so there's that, too.

#9. Yashiro Shimogamo, The Eccentric Family: He's definitely the most timid of the Shimogamo family, but he still manages somehow, and he comes through in a big way toward the end of the show. But mainly, he is cute.

#8. Nagisa Hazuki, Free!: Bubbly and energetic, Nagisa would fit quite well in your standard cute-girls show.

#7. Kou Sawatari, Tamayura ~more aggressive~: I don't blame Norie at all for thinking that this kid is adorable.

#6. Aladdin, Magi: Probably the only guy on the list who is definitively the main character, and also who is neither a crossdresser nor designed particularly feminine, Aladdin is simply a cute boy who happens to also be a powerful Magi.

#5. Ryuunosuke Akasaka, The Pet Girl of Sakurasou: That long hair does give him a somewhat feminine look, but he's not particularly noted to be a "trap" and is pretty much always treated as a male. Doesn't stop him from being cute, though, especially with how Rika seems to shake him up a bit.

#4. Hasta, Nyaruko-san W: He definitely ranks high on the "trap" rankings. Never mind that he's a wind-controlling elder god who wants to make babies with the male lead. >_>

#3. Saika Totsuka, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU: This guy is so cute that he makes male lead Hachiman act like a teenager in love. That's some pretty powerful cuteness there.

#2. Kenjirou Hato, Genshiken Nidaime: I know some will not agree with me for putting Hato here, as he does identify himself as female when he is crossdressing, which in this case is part of his character as opposed to just being a character quirk. Nevertheless, he spends enough time as a male that is quite aware that his female side is not his "biological" side that I am considering him a male.

#1. Makoto "Mako-chan", Minami-ke Tadaima: In the end, though, the cutest male is the classic trap, Mako-chan, who has proven the sheer strength of his cuteness all the way back in 2007 when the first season of Minami-ke aired, and in this season, where the tension between his two identities reaches new levels, he still remains the unfortunate yet adorable crossdresser we all know and love.

Top 5 Male Supporting Characters

Again, "supporting" is defined according to MAL as well as a general recognition that these are not the "main" characters.

#5. Ichiro Komaba, Silver Spoon: He's the lead hero of a baseball anime stuck in a slice-of-life about an agricultural school, but he makes the most of it, pursuing his dream while also keeping an eye out for his farm.

#4. Hayato Hayama, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU: The funny thing is, in any other high school rom-com, Hayato would totally be the main character. He's a kind guy who wants to help everyone and who has a definite love interest. However, he is in Oregairu, and instead, his idealistic "main character" ways butts heads with the "anti-male lead" Hachiman. This, however, only serves to make him that much more interesting of a character.

#3. Kenzou Momoi, Servant x Service: Don't recognize the name? Well, there are some mild spoilers here: [he is the director of the Health Services department and the main characters' boss. But because of his shyness, he appears at work as an animatronic stuffed rabbit. This naturally allows for all sorts of comedy potential, as well as allowing for some great interactions between him and his subordinates.]

#2. Tatsuo Saeki, Gingitsune: The father of main character Makoto Saeki, Tatsuo married into the Saeki family and is thus unable to see Gintaro or the other spirits. Despite that, he wholeheartedly believes in their existence and as such gives Makoto plenty of advice based simply on his faith in what his daughter can see. Japesland of "Beneath the Tangles" goes more into this here. All in all, Tatsuo is one cool dad.

#1. Suguru Koshigaya, Non Non Biyori: And as it turns out, the best supporting male character not only comes from one of last year's cute-girls-doing-cute-things shows, but is also so much of a not-main-character that he does not even get a single spoken line the entire show! That does not stop him from being an awesome character, though, at times being a nice, caring brother, at times having some quirks like being a surprisingly good clay modeler, and at times just being the best supporting character ever in pretty much the purest sense of "supporting character". His sort-of-presence is just one of the many great things about this show.

Top 5 Male Personalities

As before, this list looks more at the aspects of a male character's personality that stay consistent through a show as opposed to characters' development over a show.

#5. Ryuunosuke Akasaka, The Pet Girl of Sakurasou: Well, we can start with the fact that he doesn't normally appear out of his room, and communicates with an AI program that looks like a maid. And then when he does appear, his brutal honesty helps knock some sense into Mashiro's friend Rita (while also making her fall madly in love with him). He does go through some solid development too, but by and large, Ryuunosuke is just a fun guy that is part of the madness that is Sakurasou.

#4. Yasaburo Shimogamo, The Eccentric Family: It's perhaps a bit weird to put the main character here, but I think other characters have better development, which is not to say that Yasaburo isn't a lot of fun. After all, it's hard to dislike a character who regularly crossdresses just for kicks (and still acts very much like a guy otherwise). He also deftly deals with the opposing Ebisugawa family as well as his mentor Akadama-sensei (and a bit less so with Benten), while also being an overall good brother.

#3. Rei Ryuugazaki, Free!: He pursues beauty, willingly wears extravagant butterfly-print swimsuits, and is just a lot of fun overall. He also does some pretty awesome stuff to help out the other guys, so there's that, too. What kind of awesome stuff? Well, I'm not going to spoil it here; you'll have to see for yourself.

#2. Shirou Ashiya, The Devil is a Part-Timer!: This assistant to the former devil Sadao has to deal with all sorts of crap, from Sadao's naiveté to a later cast member's total laziness. That this former military general of the devil's army ends up essentially being the devil's housewife is both hilarious and makes him a fun character.

#1. Makoto, Minami-ke Tadaima: Ah, Makoto. The poor guy just wanted to visit the Minami family to see the beautiful Haruka, but because the youngest sister, his classmate Chiaki, doesn't want him over there, he ends up disguising himself as a girl, "Mako-chan", in order to visit the family. And considering just how well he passes off himself as a girl, this is only the start of his troubles. Despite all this, though, he takes this in stride and tries to be the best female friend to Chiaki in light of this. He's overall a lot of fun and it's pretty clear why he's a fan favorite in this series.

Top 10 Male Characters

Time to get to the meat of the list: the best male characters of 2013.

#10. Armin Arlert, Attack on Titan: As before, I start this list with an Attack on Titan character. Unlike Mikasa, though, who is a strong character from the start that shows her softer side later, Armin starts off as a "soft" character who starts to develop incredible mental strength over the course of the show and in the face of the fearsome Titans. His development is probably the most impressive over the course of the anime adaptation of the various characters, particularly those of Eren's little group of friends.

#9. Sadao Maou, The Devil is a Part-Timer!: Now, by no means would I put the actual Satan here, but in this fictional account, Sadao is a really cool guy. He takes up his new job of being a part-time worker and restaurant manager of MgRonalds surprisingly seriously, and also cares for his co-workers and even his supposed archnemesis Emile. He's also quite the combatant and magician, which gives him the bulk of this show's awesome moments.

#8. Yajirou Shimogamo, The Eccentric Family: Major spoilers ahead! [Yajirou, the brother that is a frog in a well, is definitely quite the character. Initially feeling responsible for the death of his father due to letting him drink himself into a stupor, he eventually comes through in a big way when the rest of his family is in trouble, in what is definitely one of the show's most awesome scenes. Not going to spoil what that is even in this spoilerrific section, because it really is something that has to be seen to be believed.]

#7. Kyousuke Natsume, Little Busters!: Throughout the Little Busters! series, Kyousuke is a force to be reckoned with. He is the driving force behind a lot of the show, as the member of the eponymous group that all the guys look up to, particularly main character Riki. In Refrain, though, his role expands even further as the whole "secret of the world" aspect gets more focus. Anything further will go into spoilers; let's just say that the revelations that are presented, and the consequences thereof, really bring a lot of depth into this character.

#6. Keima Katsuragi, The World God Only Knows: Goddesses: In the first two seasons, Keima has already shown how he can use his extensive dating sim knowledge to take upon the unusual mission given to him to win the hearts of girls and force out the loose souls inside of them. But when a new threat makes his mission a matter of life and death for the girls themselves, he suddenly finds that he can no longer approach the mission as the detached chessmaster who keeps his own emotions separate from everything involved. The new challenges the Goddesses arc brings to him and the way it forces him to come to terms with his own emotions are a large reason why this season is my favorite one yet of this series.

#5. Deishuu Kaiki, Monogatari: If you haven't seen the "second season" part of Monogatari yet and only remember Kaiki as the deceitful villain of the first arc of Nisemonogatari, you might be wondering why he is listed here. My answer to that is… well, go watch the second season, especially the final arc. All I will say is that Kaiki here not only handles the crisis in that particular arc well, but he also reveals some new aspects to himself that make him much more interesting than he might have initially seemed.

#4. Yutaka Hasebe, Servant x Service: Initially coming off as just a slacker and a bit of a playboy, Yutaka reveals several surprising deeper parts of his character, particularly as he starts to get to know his coworker and love interest Lucy better. I've written a post about him before (always a good sign for a character's rankings), but that really is just the beginning, as far as this surprisingly interesting character goes.

#3. Kenjiro Hato, Genshiken Nidaime: I already brought up this "guy" in the Top 10 Cutest Characters, and again, I know some will complain about my putting him as a male character. That said, regardless of what gender you consider Hato, one thing is for sure: "he" is a very well-written, complex character. Dealing with all of the various gender identity issues on top of the whole being a fujoshi thing already gives plenty of angles to look into his character, and it is all executed very well to make him one of 2013's most memorable characters.

#2. Hachiman Hikigaya, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU: Hachiman is something special. A guy so jaded with the way the world works that he has elaborate internal monologues for every social situation he absolutely refuses to participate in. The events of the series do force him to change ever so slightly as he actually interacts with people, though his overall stubbornness resists that change. Nevertheless, he is a very relatable character and definitely a fan favorite among 2013's characters.

#1. Yuugo Hachiken, Silver Spoon: Even though Yuugo is definitely my favorite male character of 2013, I don't really have much to say about him. All I can really say is that, in terms of likability, relatability, and complexity, he is very much my favorite male character of 2013. The best part is, there's more of him in this current anime season, and as a character, he is only getting better, meaning Yuugo could very well also be the #1 male character of 2014.

Extra: Best Non-Human Character of 2013

Chamber, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet: He starts off as an AI program that helps out main character Ledo on Gargantia, but what happens in the finale is something that just really makes him awesome. I won't spoil it here, but let's just say that it provides one of the most awesome moments--and one of the most awesome quotes--of the last year.

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Valentine's Day is coming up, and conveniently up, next will be the best relationships of 2013. Though that will include non-romantic relationships, and it probably won't go up until after V-day...

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