BEST MALE CHARACTER
Bojji (Ranking of Kings)
In a massively oversaturated field of boy adventurers and princes with great destinies, it’s easy for a hero to get lost in the shuffle. But that suits that perpetually underestimated Bojji just fine. Deaf and undersized (especially for the son of giants), the hero of Ranking of Kings is one of the finest examples of a protagonist to ever grace the world of anime because of how his combination of cleverness, grit, and a loving heart work as one. What’s most impressive is that while he has a disability, it’s not used as inspiration porn for the able-bodied. Bojji develops himself in specific ways due to the particular challenges he faces, and he is neither wholly defined by them nor portrayed as if they don’t matter. He’s a character who will stand the rest of time.
BEST FEMALE CHARACTER
Power (Chainsaw Man)
There are very few characters that have made as immediate an impact on me in their first appearance, and even fewer who can make me laugh the way Power can. From her slightly archaic manner of speech, to the way she clearly doesn’t think through most things, to her penchant for violence and undeserved self-aggrandizement, Power is a lot to handle. But it’s in the strange yet continuously growing bond between her and Denji that she reveals what can sort of charitably be called a softer side—though it’s more like she’s the type not to care about anything beyond herself until she recognizes it as affecting her emotionally. I love her antics, and I hereby nominate Power for a Nobel Prize in Being Rad.
Uncle (Uncle from Another World)
Here is a character who speaks to me on a deep and powerful level. His love of Sega is second to none, the combination of reclusive awkwardness, gamer brain, and a caring heart (that doesn’t always come across in the best way) makes him an amazing combination of gag character and hero. I’m extremely biased for a variety of reasons, and Uncle was a hair’s breadth away from also being the best male character of the year, but I felt it was more fitting to dedicate a category just to him for 2022.
It was a seriously tough decision picking my two favorite characters of the year. I had to think a lot about the balance between the characters that are closest to my heart vs. those who impressed me the most, and any slight reordering of priorities would have titled the scales in other characters’ favors. In fact, I think 2022 was an unusually strong year for characters in anime, and in some cases, I even held back because I expect them to do amazing things in 2023 as their shows continue. But an entire year is a long time, and I feel like there might be some upsets on the horizon.