Best Anime Characters of 2008

Once again, there’s only two categories. I would include a “BEST DEATH” category but I’d feel bad accidentally spoiling events from anime in such a dramatic fashion. So without further ado, I present…

THE BEST ANIME CHARACTERS OF 2008

BEST MALE CHARACTER**

Graham Aker (Mobile Suit Gundam 00)

It’s not easy being a rival character, and it’s even less easy when you’re in a Gundam series. Despite the odds, Graham Aker exemplifies the best in rivalry in a way that is rarely seen in anime.

Graham isn’t some rebel who can’t be contained, or a neutral figure with ulterior motives. He’s no Char Aznable, but that shouldn’t be held against him. He’s loyal to his allies, respectful to his enemies, and approaches every situation with unmatched fervor and determination. His skills as a pilot make him one of the most significant threats on the battlefield. Even when he’s severely outmatched on a technological level, Graham can never be counted out. He’s a rival character who actually has the  potential at all times to end the life of a main character without any convenient plot devices to cheapen his victories. Graham Aker has presence unlike any other.

Graham Aker is a thinking man’s beast. He’s passionate, but doesn’t let passion blind him from the truth. In the end, Graham’s most important trait is that he is simply unafraid to be himself, though he may change his name and then make everyone call him by said name. That’s just Graham Aker, baby.

BEST FEMALE CHARACTER

Sheryl Nome (Macross Frontier)

2008 was rife with good female characters, and unlike last year it was very difficult to choose just one. The more I thought about it though, the more I leaned towards Sheryl Nome.

Sheryl is attractive in a way that harkens back to 1980s anime series while still possessing a modern 2000s flair. She’s confident yet vulnerable, going from being on top of the world to carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders, and along the way all you want to do is cheer her on and be her support. But she doesn’t need your support, because she’s Sheryl Nome and nothing short of death will stop her from moving forward. Even when she’s hit rock bottom nothing can ever truly dampen her spirit.

There are some disagreements among the anime community in regards to recent anime and its treatment of female characters. Sheryl Nome is a compromise between these schools of thought. Actually, “compromise” is a misleading word, as there are no concessions made with her character. She has all of the strengths with none of the drawbacks. Sheryl Nome shows everyone, old and new, fan and detractor, what it means to be a strong character where strength does not preclude vulnerability or vice versa.

Final Word

Picking the “best” characters is never easy, and in the end, the concept of “best” as used in this sense is just an illusion. These aren’t even my favorite characters of the year, but I felt they had much more of an impact on anime as a whole, in addition to being characters I’m very fond of. It’s also pure coincidence that both Graham and Sheryl are from Gundam and Macross respectively, two of the biggest franchises in anime that are also giant robot series. Or perhaps not, seeing as both series dared to do more with its characters than anyone expected.

**What this actually means is, “Best Male Anime Character of 2008 who is not Kenshiro or Raoh”
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15 thoughts on “Best Anime Characters of 2008

  1. Mr. Bushido knocks Graham out of my list, sadly, as much as he was appropriate and admirable in the first season. I do not count him out entirely, but only later development can save him.

    Sheryl, on the other hand, is appropriate for not only the reasons you mentioned, but also that she took two people to act out says something about the character.

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  2. Definately agree with Graham, though I must agree with omo in at least that Bushido did kinda lower Graham’s awesomeness. But with about 10+ episodes left, who knows what’s going to happen? Maybe Graham will remove the bloody mask, pop up in a GN equipped Flag, and kick Sestuna’s ass.

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  3. Great call on Sheryl … of course, I’m biased. On the male side I’d maybe lean towards Alto (Macross Frontier) or Michele. Anyway… good calls on both of these.

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  4. There are some disagreements as to what a Mary Sue is, but I think anyone can agree that one of the key elements of a Mary Sue is that they’re the center of attention in a story. But while Sheryl is important to Macross Frontier, the story does not revolve around her.

    Sheryl is not a perfect character. She may be idolized by many, but that’s to be expected of a pop idol. That’s her job. She has serious personality flaws, and it’s those flaws in conjunction with her strong will and inner fire that make her such a good character. Even Sheryl Nome can’t convince Sheryl Nome to give up.

    Sheryl is a character who earns your respect, and I don’t mean the respect of the people in the show. I mean you, the person watching Macross Frontier. And if a character has that ability, as Sheryl does, then there’s no way you can call them a Mary Sue.

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  5. It would be foolish to make her the total center of the story, Macross producers know better than that; but she is undoubtedly a Mary Sue, if not a very well crafted one. The characters aren’t the ones swooning over her, is us the viewers. As you said she makes US like her, respect her. We like her so much her flaws aren’t so important and she remains a great character, and if you step back and see what that entails…

    In my opinion her personality flaws just make the audience love her even more, so the flaws aren’t such. Let’s review: she’s a ‘natural’ beauty (her words), she’s got some sad past just angsty enough to make you pity her (but she’s Sheryl Nome so you can’t pity her too much), there’s much drama over her ‘imminent’ sickness and death making her a perfect martyr to our eyes (that by the way got such a deus ex machina solution, typical Mary Sue), she changes more clothes throughout the series than any other character and gets to have an almost opposite-to-her rival to make her look much better whenever she’s in the correct situation.

    Don’t get me wrong I like her a lot but she got too perfect in everything she is, did and said AND got the best part of the plot, flaws and all. I can’t help feel the anime staff went too far with her and even if she’s not THE center of the plot she’s pretty close.

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  6. I’m sure there are tons of people who’d disagree with you that Sheryl is close to the center of attention, or that she was placed conveniently at the right side of a rivalry, or that she got the best part of the plot. These people would be called “Ranka Lee fans” and to a lesser extent “Ranka Lee detractors” who felt that Ranka took much of the spotlight from the, in their eyes, more deserving Sheryl.

    You can’t start off with “we respect her” being the foundation of being a Mary Sue. Notice how I didn’t say that she “makes us respect her” as you said. I used the word “earned.” An actual Mary Sue does nothing to earn respect. We are told that we’re supposed to respect them, it is plainly written out, but it is never earned. Sheryl earns it.

    Because we aren’t ignoring her flaws, we aren’t brushing them aside. We’re acknowledging them as part of a character, where flaws make the character more complete. Every well-written character is strengthened by their flaws, perhaps not as human beings, but certainly as figures in a story.

    Yes, in the end, Sheryl overcomes her sickness, but you can hardly call it a Deus Ex Machina. Do you know what that term entails? It means that the solution comes out of nowhere, which is not the case. While somewhat surprising, it also makes perfect sense given what we knew of the show so far and what happened prior. And as for “saving the day,” Sheryl was just one of many who participated and helped. If you single out Sheryl as being the primary factor in winning, then you seem to have ignored the efforts of all of the other characters.

    As for the clothes-changing thing you’re looking at it the wrong way. The main reason to put in her numerous outfits is because she’s hot and they want to show how hot she is. That has nothing to do with being a Mary Sue and everything to do with her being beautiful. And if you’re gonna argue that being beautiful is part of being a Mary Sue, I’d like you to list the number of Macross women across ALL of Macross history who did not look pretty.

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  7. As you say a lot of things that make sense in your point of view, and point of view is anything if partial, I will accept your reasoning because I do like her, but I can see that behind how well crafted they made her they did a Mary Sue.

    A Mary Sue never tells you to respect her (if we get all picky about it), she gets your respect (in the obvious bad cases the respect of the cast) because she’s damn awesome and perfect. Sheryl EARNS your respect because they made it advantageous for her to do so. I never said she didn’t have flaws or the viewers didn’t acknowledge them, she does have them but her flaws are such that her good traits overweight them to the extent she can’t be less than awesome.

    Ranka-Jesus cures Sheryl with a wave of her hand = Deus Ex Machina. It makes no sense because nothing justifies how can Ranka cure a near dead person with a wave of her hand in just seconds. Simply as it is, they needed for us to angst about Sheryl hard enough but needed to keep her alive at the end (because it would’ve suck if she really died). Maybe for you Ranka doing the ‘psychic’ on Sheryl entails as reasonable, but not for me. Maybe I’m just cynic, or maybe I want my plot resolves to have more sense or realism, but the solution to her disease is nothing but deus ex machina.

    Clothes changing. Maybe you haven’t read many Mary Sue fics, but as a fanfic reader one thing I can tell you is that they change clothes more times than the whole cast together, and while Sheryl having many clothes is because she’s hot (that’s not even the point, Mary Sue change clothes because they(the author) want to show the world they’re hot as hell), I can’t help but think the person who decided such a thing for her has some Mary Sue tendencies. The character itself isn’t the issue, the decisions behind her are.

    As I said before, she’s a great character and is well crafted, but I can step behind my hype and see everything that she is, shows and entails and discover what the anime producers did with her.

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  8. Pingback: Best Anime 2008: Music « Kitsune’s Thoughts

  9. hey…. lelouch from code geass should be best male character of the year..
    He has chose from japan from 2007 to 2008..
    * No hard feelings*

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  10. Is it just me or is Sheryl Nome is a copy of Lacus Clyne and Marina Ismail. I totally agree about Graham Aker although when he became Mr. Bushido, his development stopped.

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  11. Yey for Sheryl Nome! All the way for the “Galactic Fairy” .
    Defenitely true. She is the one who deserve this award for being a strong and high spirited person. I can say that shes not conceited, shes just confident. Unlike her rival but a friendly sister of her, Ranka Lee. She sings so great and powerful where she gives all her emotion and feelings in singing. Shes the one who give a strenght and opportunity to Ranka to be also a rising singer on their fleet. She will sing for the people until death and amidst of despair as she stated innthe series. Im glad that I watched the Macross Frontier without hesistation, because I know it would be great and epic to watch just like Gundam SEED/Destiny where I cried at some episode and scenes. (Especially in the movie 2 of Macross F) She choose to save Ranka more than herself and give her life force to sing to shake the galaxy. I really adore her. Whatever happens Sheryl inspired me. -Joyiiee

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