12/30/2007

The 17th Day of Christmas - Ten Neglected Hero(in)es

What is eternity doing tonight? has become Mega Megane Moé. For the latest posts, please change your links accordingly.
'Rooting for the underdog' is something that a lot of people can sympathize with. There's something enchanting about watching a scrappy little fighter defy all the odds to come out on top - no one likes a winner, winning.

This is highly applicable to anime as well - take a look at the premise to nearly any shonen action anime out there. One boy sets out to be the Master of X. But he's just a kid, how possibly could he defeat the established professionals at whatever creature phenonema / children's card game / etc. has enraptured the world? The answer, of course, is through many, many episodes.

Or in harem anime, the same concept pops up. Quite often the fans will rally behind the girls who seem to be 'losing' - the girl who gathers the largest fanbase is often the one who doesn't get the guy at the end.

If you've been here a while, it should be no surprise that I subscribe to this theory as well. I enjoy fighting for the shows I think are underrated, for the characters I think are underloved. Are they? Maybe not. When great amounts of like-minded people like me come together you end up with something resembling Sacchin's (Tsukihime) fanbase. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if her arc ever actually gets released.

Still, there are quite a few characters out there who truly have gotten the shaft in their anime, and today I hope to bring to light some of the characters with a lot of potential and not half as much screentime, or development, as they deserved.

(Spoilers: Myself;Yourself, sola, Da Capo, Code-E, Tokimeki Memorial...kind of)

Kiri Komori (Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei)
Kicking off with a character I ranted about well enough yesterday in the Facepalm List. Kiri the hikikomori appeals to me for the same reason that Konata of Lucky Star hit it big - no, not because she's a loli - because of that fleeting, ever-so-pathetically-adorable "hey look, it's something like me, except cute" sensation of seeing a fellow geek-type in anime.

Kiri had a strong start in SZS episode 2, with an entertaining segment, a quick obsession developed with Itoshiki-sensei, and lots of random pop-up "Sen-sei~" cameos. Unfortunately, SZS populated its main cast with other crazy characters, such as the OCD perfectionist Chiri or the flamer Meru. And so Kiri got left mostly to the shadows from which she arose from, popping up only to cue a random fanservice transition - a demeaning job for any character.

Itsuki / Mayumi - Shuffle!
This comic duo wasn't incredibly neglected, making many side-character appearances over the span of Shuffle!, but this is one of those instances where one could almost imagine them deserving a spin-off show of their own. Simply put, their manic personalities solo combine to form a side-splitting pair with a relationship that's almost Calvin-and-Susie in nature.

What really inspired this pair's nomination is the unearthing of a few insights into Mayumi's path from Shuffle! On The Stage (the PS2 port), which hinted that the two of them go way back; certainly the energetic manner in which they tease each other could hint at more than a hint of affection, although neither of them will live up to it. This element just enhances their already comedic, exaggerated antics together, and it's something that I'd want to see more of.

Aoi - Myself;Yourself
This one, I'm tentative about. From the raw data readout, Aoi is one of the most appealing characters to ever be penned, at least from my perspective. I just don't think it's possible to go wrong with a glasses girl who likes to read and is very clumsy; perhaps because I'm more than a bit of that myself.

Still, when such a character remains static and two-dimensional while the rest of her friends get gripping, epically dramatic stories, it's kind of dissapointing that Aoi never really played much of a role in anything.

I really wish she had seen a more central role to the plot, but there's a little voice in the back of my head saying otherwise; given all the uberdrama that characters like Asami and the Wakatsukis had, maybe it's a good thing that Aoi wasn't expounded on.Still, I'd rather take the chance.

Moe - Da Capo
Actually, whenever a character gets relegated to Random Fanservice Girl, it's kind of dissapointing for me. Both the Mizukoshis get the short end of the stick in Da Capo - Mako's affections go more unsaid than that of any other character - but Moe set the bar the lowest in terms of plot, since she didn't really have any to speak of.

A quick Wikipedia perusual does confirm that Moe does have a story behind her and she does have a reason she's so sleepy-sounding all the time, but if you were just a viewer of the anime, you'd never know, since all she really does is jiggle around a lot.

Mikuru - Haruhi
Forgive me if I'm behind on the novels a bit, as I haven't read them in a while, but it certainly feels like Mikuru's getting a bit left out in the rain, especially compared to the other Haruhi characters.

Haruhi speaks for herself, we know her, her fears, and her uber-hax powers far too well. Nagato, although she doesn't express herself that much, has had a book and probably more devoted to her. Even the inner workings of Kyon have been pretty exposed. Most of the characters in Haruhi have very developed personalities and inner conflicts, but the SOS Brigade's mascot doesn't have much other than a lot of costumes.

Maybe it's the fault of her being a time-traveler (Kyon figuring out anything about her might paradox us into the ground), but certainly it's a shame that the series's most developed character is also one of the least developed.

There's Itsuki as well, but who really likes him? ...Even when he's not getting into pseudoyaoi relationships with Kyon?

Hanepin - Tsukihime
Y'know, I look at the last four characters and I think I'm onto something here. There is something about characters with a large rack not having much character development. Is this the power of mascot fanservice characters at work?

To be fair the lack of Hanepin is mainly because she's a side character in a side story in Kagetsu Tohya, though. Side characters are often a lost cause, but fools like me rally behind them; perhaps it's easier to proclaim a victory for the cause of one of these characters, where even a small appearance or bit of fanart means something. It's similar to why Nagato is so widely adorable (and awesome).

That said, Hanepin's an adorable and underutilized character not because of Tsukihime Fun Fact #49: she beats Arcueid in chest size but because she's kind of an Osaka beta-version, being a very kind and spacey person.

Miyuki / Minami - Lucky Star
Two different characters here, but I'll lump them together since they're part of the same series.

Miyuki pretty much echoes everything I said about Aoi above; glasses, brains, classy, and a bit clumsy, I don't really see where she could go wrong. Unfortunately, she got excluded from the main group pretty quick, with the show preferring to focus on either Konata and the Hiiragis or some of the many other numerous side characters. The show could almost make a spin-off out of the second group - it's probably the only way that all the characters, even the ones not mentioned, could get justice.

Minami was cool because she was the stereotypical 'quiet cool girl', but she got shoved down the DFC track pretty quick. There's probably something hypocritical about being mad that a character is one cliche instead of another, but I enjoy the strong and silent characters, so there you have it. I thought Konata had a much better 'flat chest is a status symbol!' act anyway.

The Spies - Code-E
I've lost track of how many times I've said it by now (and how many times I've opened a segment like that), but - Code-E needs more everything. The twin German spies took on a variety of roles, some comical, and some serious, and it was never really revealed who they were or what their purpose was.

Additionally, the female one was randomly crushed under a collapsing building at the end of the season, a strange shift from their mostly lighthearted antics, and something that the show never got back to. Here's to hoping that we can find out more about them (among other people) in the second season.

Mo-chan - TokiMemo
Rooting for Mina to win over Riku was a heartwarming if not mostly futile fight; but luckily, with the depth of TokiMemo's side cast, there were plenty of alternative relationships to look out for as well. That between Mina's friend, Mo-chan (whose full name, if it exists, I can't recall) and the class delinquent Inukai was another battle, that, ironically, was almost as difficult as Mina's.

Mo-chan got shot down time and time again by the far-too-cool-for-love Inukai, and got up every single time, always ready to offer a helping hand to Mina in her fight as well. I certainly hoped that he was just being stubborn, the typical cold-exterior soft-interior character, but right down to the very end he didn't change, leaving Mo-chan out in the cold with her friend Mina. I think, more than any other character in TokiMemo, she was the one that deserved to get her guy. And she didn't~

Mana - sola
It would be hard to say that Mana didn't get a lot of attention over the span of sola, since she even gets the last scene and line of the show (pre-credits, anyway), but somehow it still feels like she didn't get as much storyline love as she deserved.

Maybe it makes sense from a story perspective to have Mana be the character out of the loop, but she's up there with Mo-chan in the 'it makes sense how it is but I still want more!' department. I think I have a weakness for characters who don't even make it to something resembling the confession stage.

After all, her tearful forgetting of Yorito circa episode ten or so seemed like something that the show would come back to before the end, but instead she ended up moving on, remembering Yorito more in his beliefs than in his person itself. It's something that, like the ending of AIR, probably is the 'better' ending in the long run, but still is kind of sad to a simple mind like mine.

-CCY

57 comments:

Whoa, is that Sacchin? I think I can recognise her now unaided, surprise, surprise. Or maybe I've been hanging out too long with a crowd that digs the v.novels...

Kiri Komori: Sad but true. From interesting and somewhat cute character to yuri fanservice tool. How the hikki have fallen, indeed.

Aoi: Nothing more than a tool to promote sales of the game? Maybe I'm being cynical here, but I don't think much could've came out of that helium-from-hell voice. Maybe I just grew tired of the whole oppai meganekko dejiko bookworm who is also an osananajimi thing.

Mana/Miyuki/Minami: Ah, the downfall of having too many characters. There's bound to be specialisation at some point, and I guess these didn't make the cut, unfortunately. Like Nayuki, they're always doomed to be neglected in lieu of the main girl, but that's how harem (and its counterparts with large casts) rolls, I suppose.

Score one for the Sacchin crowd! *fistpump*

...I really have to stop doing that. But seriously, if you haven't checked out the Tsukihime visual novel, it's good stuff.

Incidentally, Kiri actually did get a little bit of non-yuri attention in episode 11 (I follow a.f.k., so I'm behind), which was pleasant, if not a little overdue.

You might be right about Aoi, I didn't take into account the fact that the M;Y game wasn't out yet, so they couldn't play all the character cards. From what I heard, her plot isn't relevant much to anyone else's, however.

I had a sudden vision of Lucky Star as a harem thanks to your last comment as well. That was...interesting. XD

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