BEST MALE CHARACTER
Kaburagi T. Kotetsu, Wild Tiger (Tiger & Bunny)
The world of Tiger & Bunny is filled with heroes, but none are quite like Wild Tiger. With the power to increase his physical abilities hundred-fold (his so-called “Hundred Power”), he fights to protect Sternbild City, but when we see him at the beginning of the series, he’s a C-List star, unable to capture the public’s attention as his peers do. However, it doesn’t matter to him, because he loves being a hero to people and he loves to save lives. While his actions may sometimes create more problems than they solve, it’s clear that his heart is always in the right place. In Kotetsu, you have a man full of pride but without an ego.
What is even more impressive about Kotetsu however is that he handles success just as gracefully as he handles failure. When he and Barnaby start showing the world what they’re made of, it’s clear that he’s still the same person he always was. Rank is of no concern to him. And when his powers start to decline, we see him deal with that in arguably the best way possible as well.
Wild Tiger is not the first hero to have his powers wane, but the prior example we’re given shows how the gradual loss of that superhero identity can be devastating to not only the hero but also their family. Tiger, though he struggles with deciding what to do, simply doesn’t have quite the same problem, as his personality doesn’t allow for it. At first, he opts to retire and just spend more time with his family, but he eventually realizes something important : even if he has only one second’s worth of superhuman ability, that’s still one second more of a difference he can make that a normal person could not. This, above all else, is why Wild Tiger is my pick for 2011.
BEST FEMALE CHARACTER
Tsurugi Minko (Hanasaku Iroha)
An aspiring chef working at the inn “Kissuisou,” Minko (“Minchi” to her friends) is notorious for her creatively blunt word choices, whether it’s telling people to go die, or calling them an unborn chick fetus used in East Asian cuisine. However, her seemingly constant and fierce anger is in reality a product of her never-ending determination.
The first scene that really had me take notice of Minko came early on in Hanasaku Iroha, when she rejects the feelings of a would-be suitor by listing the traits of her ideal man. Describing this “perfect guy” as someone with a sharp tongue and the ability to take initiative who is also very kind and takes his work seriously, the profile turns out to be that of Tohru, one of Kissuisou’s resident chefs. This becomes something of a recurring aspect of her character, as she angrily defends Tohru’s character and honor from what she believes to be unjust criticisms on more than one occasion.
It might seem like I’m defining her character entirely by her feelings for a man, but what is clear about Minko is that she is very serious about becoming a chef. She originally even wanted to skip high school entirely, and along with the fact that Tohru acts as her mentor, it is this dedication to cuisine that allows her to see Tohru’s better traits so thoroughly where others would write him off as brash and uncaring. When a rumor surfaces that Tohru is leaving for a better position elsewhere, Minko refuses to stop him despite her strong feelings, because she recognizes that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a chef and knows how hard Tohru works to perfect his craft.
Minko does not want to get into cooking as a profession because she is in love with Tohru; rather, she is in love with Tohru because her dreams (and the ability to follow through on them) put her in a position where she can truly understand him. Even in love, her dedication to her goals shines through.
Kotetsu and Minko certainly do not share the same personality, nor very much anything at all. In fact, the Hanasaku Iroha equivalent of Wild Tiger would be the main character Ohana, while the Tiger & Bunny counterpart to Minko might be Barnaby. However, Tiger and Minchi do have one major thing in common, and that is a strong will. In either case, their powerful personalities potentially lead to misunderstandings for those who don’t know them well, but for those that do they wind up being devoted friends and partners who you know have ideals and goals far above the norm.