Every so often, as I slowly swim through the vast expanses of anime and manga, I find characters who I think are just incredible. They’re not necessarily my absolute favorites, but they’re just such good characters that I hope that someone out there champions them the way I do with Ogiue. It’s not just about reveling in a favorite character, but feeling that the character is so well-developed and is portrayed so strongly that heaping praise upon them is the least you can do. I’m going to take this opportunity to list a few.

First is Koizumi Risa from Lovely Complex. In my review of the anime, I mentioned my  hope someone out there considers her to be their favorite character. My statement still stands. Risa is an incredibly human character, a girl who isn’t exactly the best looking and who doesn’t possess the most attractive of personalities, but is so unique and full of energy and character that she stands out in more ways than just her height. Koizumi Risa is totally great and I hope you think so too. If you think her more attractive than what normally passes for attractive out there in anime land, then all the better.

Second is Adachi Hana from Yankee-kun to Megane-chan.  On the surface she seems like any other glasses-wearing character, and that initial judgment certainly isn’t helped by the title of the manga itself, but almost immediately after you realize that Adachi Hana is a girl of comedic genius that few can live up to. Now the entire series itself is hilarious, but Adachi steals the show far more than anyone, and her blank, bespectacled stare the most killer punchline possible. But don’t think of her as a one-note gag. She’s a former delinquent who’s looking to turn her life around by acting the part of the responsible student in the hopes that she’ll actually become one. If you like Sakagami Tomoyo from Clannad but are looking for a more lighthearted character and story, then Adachi Hana might be right for you.

Third is Sumimura Toshimori from Kekkaishi. The youngest of the Sumimura siblings, with main character Yoshimori as the middle brother and redhat Masamori as the eldest, Toshimori has a long way to go before he can fight like the rest of his family. However, he’s in many ways the most responsible, and it’s especially refreshing to see a younger kid-type supporting character who is intelligent and capable and is able to remain primarily a side character. I look forward to where the story will take him, and how he will further distinguish himself from his brothers over time.

Last is perhaps the most deceptively awesome character of all. While Legend of the Galactic Heroes has the geniuses Yang Wen-Li and Reinhard Von Lohengramm at the forefront, Murai is almost equally deserving of praise, if not just as much. An officer in a galactic war, Murai doesn’t have matchlesss intellect, nor does he have youthful passion, and he isn’t even the most experienced veteran, but he makes up for it by being an incredibly good support person. Knowing how esoteric his leader Yang can be, Murai intentionally plays the straight man, asking the layman’s questions so that Yang can phrase his thoughts more clearly. He even makes a big move later on, but again masks it in simplicity. By being so lacking in immediate notoriety, Murai shows his true strengths.

Those are all the characters I’m listing for now. If you have characters who don’t rank in your top 10 but you think they deserve a place on someone’s, feel free to chime in.

Secret Santa Review Project: Lovely Complex – Manzai Can Sigh in Kansai

Note: This is the my review as part of the Reverse Thieves Secret Santa Project.

Romance can be sweet. Romance can be exhilarating. It can be mellow, dramatic, fun, bitter, and much more. But often times the best word to describe this roller coaster ride we call love is “silly.” Not trivial, not foolish, and not frivolous, but the kind of silliness that reminds you that, as serious as love can get, it’s best to approach it with a genuine smile. That is the lesson Lovely Complex teaches over the course of 26 episodes.

Lovely Complex is the story of a girl and the boy who sits next to her in class. The girl is Koizumi Risa, an energetic high schooler who towers over nearly every guy in the class and often believes that love is beyond her long reach. Opposite Risa is Ohtani Atsushi, a diminutive fellow with lots of attitude who is very sensitive about his size. If love is a roller coaster, then Ohtani constantly feels like he can’t meet the height requirement. Though they may argue constantly and are quick to use each others’ height complexes to rub salt in each others’ wounds, Risa and Ohtani are actually friends even if they believe otherwise.

As an anime, Lovely Complex has many strengths. The characters are fun, interesting, and very human. The story moves along at a brisk pace; you never feel like it’s dragging or going in circles even when you think it might be, and the interaction between Koizumi and Ohtani is very entertaining and will have you smiling constantly. The best moments are when the two start to bicker, as even the most heated argument between the two can be defused by their shared enthusiasm for the silliest things, be it arcades, sweet drinks, or their favorite (fictional) hip hop star “Umibouzu.” Watching their bond develop is perhaps the most enjoyable part of Lovely Complex, and the result is that the show gets better and better as it progresses.

If the show has any weaknesses, it’s that not much emphasis is placed on the art. Characters will go frequently off-model and the show often sticks with a “good enough” mode of animation, but fortunately the format of Lovely Complex with its exaggerated expressions and constant style shifts is such that it doesn’t seem too out of the ordinary and it doesn’t lessen the impact of any scenes. In some ways actually helps to emphasize the characters’ personalities over their looks.

If it isn’t obvious yet, Lovely Complex is very much about the characters and I invite anyone who watches anime looking for a more down-to-earth, real sense of romance to take a look. Looking at the cast, if I had to pick a favorite character it would have to be Risa. She builds up her courage and makes a big move, and then immediately frets over it the next day. She’s tall but not “sexy,” clumsy but not “cute,” yet still has her own unique charms that make her feel less like an “anime heroine,” and more like a person. She’s a really wonderful character to the extent that I wish that somewhere out there is a “Koizumi Maniax,” because she really deserves it.

Lovely Complex: it’s a good romance anime where the drama is always cut through by good cheer and laughs. It’s silly, it’s serious, it’s a good thing to enjoy by yourself or with another.

Reverse Thieves Secret Santa, Ogiue Maniax Edition

I am participating in the Reverse Thieves’ Secret Santa Project, in which bloggers picked shows for other bloggers based on their anime preferences with the ultimate goal being a review of one of the anime picked for us.

Anyway, my show.

Lovely Complex.

Good choice, Mr. or Ms. Claus. I hear this series is shoujo at its finest, and so I’ll be looking forward to taking it on.