Best Anime Characters of 2018

BEST MALE CHARACTER

White Blood Cell 1146 (Cells at Work!)

I have been fascinated by the immune system ever since I could read. That’s why Cells at Work!, a manga and anime that anthropomorphizes the cells of the human body, feels like a dream come true. Among the many highly amusing characters, White Blood Cell 1146 is one of the centers of the series, and his actions and personality as the main representative of immune response is an endless source of education and comedy.

White Blood Cell is an absurd entity disguised as a straight-man. His sense of duty and his deep, serious voice present a no-nonsense character. However, when you see him literally biting into a virus as he stabs it repeatedly and then turns to cordially greet his good friend Red Blood Cell, it speaks to an individual who is me than meets the eye. In a way, White Blood Cell being the best is the result of his relationship with Red Blood Cell.

BEST FEMALE CHARACTER

Aisaki Emiru (Hugtto! Precure)

I love Precure in general, and many of its characters among my favorites, but I’ve never seen myself in a Precure character as much as I have Aisaki Emiru. Her initial appearance as an overly cautious girl who over-prepares for the worst spoke directly to who I am, and my similar anxieties on a daily basis. I can’t exactly relate to the enormous wealth and secret electric guitar, but you can’t expect everything.

But it’s not just my similarities to Emiru that make me fond of her. Like all of the girls (and guys!) in Hugtto! Precure, there’s a strong sense of growth and maturation, even for someone as young as Emiru. She learns that friendship can take all forms, that holding back one’s emotions can be harmful, and that a heart which believes in change can make the world a better place. I’ll never forget Emiru’s words as she played guitar that first time: “The ‘nyeowr’ is the shout of your soul.”

THE DAIDOUJI TOMOYO AWARD FOR BEING DAIDOUJI TOMOYO

Daidouji Tomoyo (Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card)

This year brought back to anime one of the best magical girl series ever—Cardcaptor Sakura—and with it the very greatest best friend in anime history. A now-teenaged Daidouji Tomoyo continues to support her beloved Kinomoto Sakura, but now with the power of a personal drone.

What makes Tomoyo great is that she wants the best for everyone she cares for. Wise beyond her years and always willing to dispense advice for her lovely oblivious friends, she’s the one you want in your corner every time.

Basically, I am extremely, extremely biased towards Tomoyo to the point that she unfairly destroys the field of best characters of the year, male or female or anything else. Thus, I’ve spun her off into her own category to make this year’s picks more fair in general.

Hail Tomoyo.

Final Thoughts

There’s one simple word that ties all of my 2018 winners together, including the titanic Tomoyo: friendship. Whether they’re discovering friendship for the first time or long-time believers in its power, all three truly embody the joys and strengths of being a true friend. It’s not just about selflessness, and it’s not just about companionship. There’s a real sense of trust and rapport that come from knowing that you have each other’s best interests at heart, and it lets them overcome just about anything.

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Magic School Bus Meets Terminator: Cells at Work

 When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the human immune system. Just the idea of the body’s natural defense system warding off and destroying invaders was enough to fill pages of drawing books. I even imagined a video game where the player controlled cartoon white blood cells to fight disease! This is exactly why the manga Cells at Work feels like my childhood dream come true.

Cells at Work tells the story of the human body through its cells, personified into more typical-looking humanoid manga characters. From a hardworking red blood cell delivering nutrients to a stoic but diligent white blood cell fending off harmful bacteria, each representative cell is so entertaining to see that you almost don’t realize you’re learning.

While some series based on anthropomorphic characters prefer to keep their reality-based facts as subtext for character interaction, and others are essentially illustrated textbooks, Cells at Work strikes a more even balance. Each chapter involves the body having to deal with some crisis, such as allergies, the flu, and even cancer cells. The manga goes through the varied ways by which the immune system handles these threats, giving the cells highly entertaining personalities that encapsulate well their roles in defense. Platelets are adorable little children who act as construction workers. Killer T Cell is a lymphocyte with an appetite for destruction, and many of his fights are incredibly bloody (pun intended).

As long as there’s no worry about depictions of violence, I think this would be the perfect reading for a classroom biology class. Along the way, narration boxes explain their actual function in the body, with the actions of the characters making the information easier to remember.

I love this comic. The fact that it combines two of my favorite things ever (the immune system and manga) would be enough, but it’s also just very well written and drawn. The series is currently out in English both in print and digitally from Kodansha Comics, and I highly recommend it.

Now, time to watch Osmosis Jones.

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