Moving on from antagonist to just my favourite characters in 2016, let’s tackle the male characters first. Both of these categories, favourite male and female characters, were far harder to place than the antagonists. None of the antagonists will show up on this list even though some deserve to be, I feel like they had their time and if need be after my top female anime characters list I’ll make a makeshift favourite characters of the year list. That being said, there really is no great segway to effectively transition into the below list. I guess…uhhhh…males that deviate from the occasional norm are hard to come by. Often the male character is limited to its scope by the many stereotypical personalities and beta existences given to them out of a need for the audience to have a hollow shell to be empowered by. So here’s to those who thankfully don’t fit that mold! I won’t have every character I liked in this list unfortunately, so if they are not there its not really because I didn’t like them more that I didn’t have room for them.
Spoilers for the following series: Danganronpa 3. You have been warned!
10. Kohei Inuzuka from Amaama to Inazuma
At-Home curry was good, wasn’t it, Tsumugi?
– Kohei Inuzuka
Kohei is the embodiment of the doting single parent trying to understand what to do when alone. After losing his wife, Kohei manages to look after his daughter Tsumugi the best way he can. The moments when you see Kohei alone with his thoughts bring back the loneliness you can see deep in his heart. There is this happiness and devotion Kohei has to his daughter that is infectious, and those moments of anger and happiness truly show the full dimension. He is fighting to keep himself together and occupied. Having those home-cooked meals with Tsumugi and Kotori not only helps Kohei’s inability to cook food, but also helps to comfort him in a setting that reminds him of the happy moments of a family setting. It truly is a treasure to see Kohei break into tears over Tsumugi’s happiness and I for one was glad to tear up with him.
9. All Might from Boku no Hero Academia
It’s all right now. For I am here.
– All Might
The pillar of the hero society in Boku no Hero Academia, All Might is one of the better conceived characters of a cast based heavily on western superhero comic tropes. I mean All Might is essentially Shazam to some degree. Though what makes All Might great is that he doesn’t know all the answers and is a superhero searching for a successor to his dwindling power. This creates an interesting dynamic in the mentor as All Might must also learn what it means to pass the torch and what it means to use the time he has left as “All Might” wisely. When you watch All Might in action it truly becomes a spectacle of fighting prowess and you can see why Midoriya truly idolizes him. While the depth within All Might has yet to really be tapped into, he stands out as the one character I enjoy every second while on screen. Sometimes a good character just needs to stand for something, and really manage to tear up a fight scene.
8. Rei Kiriyama from 3-Gatsu no Lion/March Comes like a Lion
What was it like for me? When did I stop crying?
– Rei Kiriyama
There is something beautiful about 3-Gatsu no Lion and its how it portrays the journey of Rei Kiriyama. The visual storytelling, with its evocative imagery and colour use truly bring to light the sadness and confusion within Rei’s heart. He is haunted by a past that won’t ever leave him alone, and a future that wants to push him towards trusting in people again. Rei often doesn’t understand how to react to certain scenarios primarily based on his upbringing by a foster father who sees him more as a means of winning tournaments than as a son, even to the point of pushing his own children aside. Rei’s emotions are bottled up deep inside him, often letting them out in short bursts here and there as he slowly begins to experience happiness. Where I feel the reason why Rei is such an interesting character is in the way his sadness is portrayed through 3-Gatsu no Lion’s visuals, he is still a stand out protagonist in a year that for the most part relied on a narrow view of male characters. I’m looking at you Gakusen Toshi Asterisk, Gate 2, Dimension W, Endride, Mayoiga, the list goes on.
7. Sukeroku from Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
Wouldn’t that be funny? For the dead Sukeroku to become a Yakumo…
When people describe the complexity of Rakugo’s first season, Sukeroku is one of the two names always brought up. Sukeroku is the trouble-maker of the series, breaking through traditional stories of Rakugo with his rambunctious and exuberant style. Truly creating a Rakugo that is his own and bringing all of himself to every performance. Yet we are told at the beginning of the season that Sukeroku is dead…and this tale is made all the more tragic when you find out why he is. Why the spiral of depression started in a world of traditional values who rejected his more rebellious ideals. This man could be considered a genius, one of the greats the world could have known, yet much like Tesla will be forgotten to the annals of history as what could have been. As much as Kikuhiko is the focal point of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu’s story, Sukeroku is the focal point to everything Kikuhiko. Sukeroku is the trail blazer treading down a path that Kikuhiko finds himself upon. If you ever want to find out who this person truly is as a character…just sit down and watch his rakugo, that’s all you need.
6. Kazuma Satou from Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!
Yes, Yes, I’m Kazuma.
– Kazuma Satou
Great comedic protagonists are hard to come by, often ending up as one joke or not really showcasing a variety of fun ways to interact with the world around them. Kazuma on the other hand works because he doesn’t want to adapt to the insane world around him. This is a character born out of an above average intelligence surrounded by people who for the lack of a better term, annoy and confuse him. Kazuma is all about the awkward situations he finds himself in because of his awkward thought process and wanting to get what he wants. He wants to live a comfy life yet is constantly thrown into inane situations by his crazy party members that he has to somehow think a way out of them. He isn’t compassionate, he isn’t fair, he isn’t a good guy, but he is the perfect protagonist for this surprise hit comedy of 2016.
5. Juzo Sakakura from Danganronpa 3: Mirai-hen
Honestly, this is why I hate normal people.
– Juzo Sakakura
I did enjoy Yuri on Ice, I enjoyed its depiction of a healthy gay couple a lot. When it came more to the individual characters, I felt they were particularly stronger as a whole than individually. In essence there was one more drastically overlooked character that never had his sexuality be at the forefront of the story but rather his love being a driving force to who he is. Juzo is a great tragic character, one of Danganronpa’s best in my opinion. Originally Juzo was one of the more hated characters for his brash and aggressive nature. He always charges in, doesn’t care who he has to fight for Munakata’s ideals, and is easily provoked to anger. Juzo easily let’s himself be hated by all just to help Munakata, and you learn that all his ferocity and agitation is being what he considers weak. Being afraid of people finding out who he was, afraid of his image as the ultimate boxer, afraid of losing people because of whom he likes. He hates that he is scared of Junko’s provocation to reveal his love of Munakata to him, when he should be embracing who he is. Your heart goes out to him when you understand the reason behind his unbridled rage, effectively creating a very tragic character. One who, in a series about despair, is one of the ones truly in the most despair by being afraid of the world for not potentially understanding him. The true despair of this season was being afraid of who you are, being afraid that you aren’t good enough, being afraid that you can’t change the world for the better. And with Juzo and Mitarai I’d say the show was on the right path even if I’d say it lost sight of several aspects.
4. Reigen Arataka from Mob Psycho 100
Listen well, we are different than regular people because we are born with special powers. But that shouldn’t give you the illusion that you’re a special being. We are part of humanity. Besides our rare power, we are no different than them. People who run fast, people who can sing well, people who study hard, people who are funny, and people with psychic powers. Are we different from them? Having confidence in your strength, is good thing but do not get carried away. Our powers are a dangerous weapon.
– Reigen Arataka
Reigen Arataka is the best psychic in the world! Yet in reality he is merely a conman trying to scam people out of their money while his “pupil” Mob does all the real work. Reigen is funny because he is extremely savvy when it comes to social skills yet he never understands when he is out of his element. Though in a way Reigen is the most powerful character in a show about super-powered psychics for one reason, his words. Reigen understands the meaning of power and understands the meaning of being the every man. He helps Mob understand what he needs to do in order to not lose control of himself. Reigen is Mob’s moral center, passing off not his knowledge about powers but how to respond to the world at large. In a way this is the best teacher Mob can have and Mob is part of the reason why he gets up every morning as showcased by the ed of the anime. Reigen is this series’ All Might to Mob, even if no one else will see him as such. Sometimes all you need to do is change the life of one person and that makes it all worth it.
3. Kei Tsukishima from Haikyuu!! 3rd Season
Hello I’m the very average guy. Personal time difference. It might be able to trick that barbarian from my side. But it’s useless on me. Pleased to meet you.
– Kei Tsukishima
I wasn’t expecting at the beginning of this year to have Kei Tsukishima on my list this year. Not because he wasn’t a good character, but I believed he would be dwarfed by greater characters by the end of the year. Yet the end of the year also gave Kei his greatest push in development, where he starts to visibly give a crap about volleyball! Kei shows up suddenly in this season, his desire to want to enjoy volleyball at its peak and oh boy does he soar. There was great moment after great moment, supporting the team as its basic defense system. Kei became the “ace” of the team through sheer will and thinking through the problems at hand, minimizing Ushijima’s ability. Truly he becomes a crow with this one, ready to show everyone that he is just as deserving of recognition as Hinata and Kageyama. Kei…you finally have arrived.
2. Masashi Nishioka from Fune wo Amu
Give your mind a break. You might make new discoveries.
– Masashi Nishioka
I wasn’t expecting Fune wo Amu to make any lists for while it was good it still had some core problems holding it back from being great, primarily with its time skip. What stood out to me though where the great cast of characters and leading that charge was the pragmatic Nishioka. Nishioka is a lazy guy with no real drive in the dictionary publishing department, never truly understanding what drives those around him. Rather than wallowing in his own daydreams, he decides to do something about it to help the dream come true. Nishioka is the backbone of why the first part, before the time skip, is so great. He is active in the lives of all and readily supports them even if he might not have the same talent as them. He uses his own talents and ways of thinking to further the project, using his charm, wit and salesmanship to help out anyway he can into getting it published. This is the type of guy you would want to work with, have drinks with and share a nice afternoon chat with. To me he is great for the development he goes through we finally understanding what it means to be a part of something grand, a part of someone else’s dream.
1. Yakumo Yuurakutei from Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
I was so determined to live alone, and yet…Why must a person’s nature be so foolish?
– Yakumo Yuurakutei
There really wasn’t going to be another character I could think of being at the top of the list than Yakumo. He feels like a great tragic literary character with how much he grows to find himself. Yakumo and Sukeroku are polar opposites of one another, with Yakumo being the reserved and subtle of the two. His disposition and upbringing cause him to be closed up to many people, with the only one he lets in being Sukeroku. Yakumo comes to understand himself through his Rakugo, through understanding how to play the more feminine roles in the performance. Yakumo is all about the tradition of rakugo, embodying the teachings of his master and inheriting the Yuurakutei name. Yakumo is a rejection of Sukeroku’s path, eventually starting to derail the train of their lives by deciding to focus on rakugo. The very thing he wanted to uphold forces him to live a life of regret and guilt, wondering when he can finally be with the two people he loved so much. Yakumo is the painfully dark side of adhering to traditional standards, to not understanding the power love can have over a future, and to attaining perfection in a craft. What does one have to give up to be the very best? Well to Yakumo…it was everything.
And there we have it! The second character list done with the next being my favourite female characters of 2016. When you look back on all the really good characters of last year it is hard to really choose what to put into a top 10. Do you choose characters that fit a certain mold you enjoy, a character that was well-written, or one that you truly connected with? What do you guys think of the male characters in 2016? Feel free to leave a comment down below and don’t forget to have yourself a great day!