Hi and welcome to this week’s Sunday Select Seven! The seven characters here are not necessarily my favorites of 2019. Rather, they are the ones whose character development or personal story became most interesting and unusual, in my view. The entries are ranked in alphabetical order. Let me know your thoughts!
1. Boogiepop (Boogiepop wa Waranai 2019)
I adored the new revamp and the most fascinating character to me was Boogiepop. But this show may not be for casual anime fans due to the psychological and supernatural nature of it. A lot of information is left up to interpretation or is just unclear. So my view of Boogiepop may not be entirely “correct,” if there even is such a certainty to the character.
Boogiepop is a genderless, ageless supernatural entity bound to the body of a human girl (Touka Miyashita). Their purpose is to eliminate the recent threats and imbalances to human society and well-being. Boogiepop’s many lines and actions throughout this thought-provoking anime continue to entertain.
One aspect that I found highly intriguing was the comparison and contrasting between Boogiepop’s existence and the presence of a second personality in Miyashita. In one episode, a psychiatrist diagnoses Miyashita with Dissociative Personality Disorder. But despite the similarities, Boogiepop is not the same as another personality, as they did not arise through trauma as a defense mechanism. On a similar note, Boogiepop is sometimes compared to a spirit possessing Miyashita. Again, this isn’t quite right. It’s difficult to define Boogiepop, which is part of what makes their character such a delight.
2. Dazai (Bungou Stray Dogs)
Osamu Dazai has always intrigued the fans of the Bungou Stray Dogs franchise. His character is loosely based on the famous author of the same name who wrote the literary classic “No Longer Human.” More often than not, Dazai is portrayed humorously, and he seems to love messing around. But this man has sobering sides to him as well, including his obsession with death and suicide, and his past of being in a yakuza group.
In the first few episodes of BSD season 3, we get to see some scenes of Dazai’s past, such as his first time killing a person. Fans are again left wondering exactly how much we can trust Dazai, and if he’s reliably on the “good side.” His words and actions during the conflict with Fyodor also leave viewers with a lot to think about. Lastly, it’s interesting to see Dazai’s interactions with Atsushi and Akutagawa, which seem teacherly and almost affectionate. There is clearly a lot to this character.
3. Erwin Smith (Attack On Titan)
It was tough choosing between Erwin and Armin– joke intended for those who get it. Seriously though, I think Erwin and Armin had equally fascinating character development, and even though I personally like Armin better, more attention and care was given to Erwin this year.
Erwin longs to know the truths of the world and see its effects on the populace. In the newest season, Erwin struggles between the burden of leading humanity and the desire to fulfill his own wish. Before, those two missions lined up virtually all the time. Now, however, in order to lead the recruits in a final charge, he must give up on his own life without ever fulfilling that wish. It’s a dilemma more painful, meaningful, and frustrating than I can imagine.
Without spoiling what this great man chooses to do, the struggle alone shows the thought put into his character development. The anime also shows whole other dimensions of Erwin’s mind; for example, his feelings towards all the deceased soldiers, and his ability to inspire people with his words and charisma.
4. Kohaku (Dr. Stone)
Though she is a bit over-sexualized, Kohaku is believable, admirable, impressive, and sometimes funny. She is nearly the perfect character to balance out the main male cast in Dr. Stone.
I’ve always been a fan of media where the female characters are (or become) strong fighters. This is pretty rare in the anime I watch. That’s why Kohaku’s character was so refreshing. She became a powerful warrior in a somewhat sexist village, and is now acknowledged by nearly everyone there. Kohaku’s dedication to her sister Ruri and the part that plays in her life is profound.
Some anime will portray characters like Kohaku as “meat-heads” with low intellect. This isn’t the case for Kohaku. She’s isn’t a scientific genius or apprentice like Senku or Chrome, but she has the senses of a wild animal, good intuition, and a practical way of thinking. I doubt anyone would call Kohaku a dumb muscle character. Anyway, these aspects and more came together for a terrific 2019 anime character.
5. Mafuyu (Given)
There are several noteworthy characters in the anime Given. Mafuyu struck me most compared to the other cast because his character arc, though far from original, is exceptionally well-written and executed. (It has nothing to do with his cuteness.)
A key part of character development is making a character to whom one can relate. Mafuyu lost someone important to him and sunk into deep grief. The anime follows Mafuyu’s journey of moving past this heavy sorrow as well as his journey of falling in love with someone new. Sometimes, this kind of arc is handled poorly, but I love the way it’s done in Mafuyu’s case. This young man’s story moved me on a deep level, giving me a feeling of resonance with his struggles. The scene where Mafuyu finally sings for an audience is astounding not just because of his vocal talent but also due to the emotions being expressed.
Importantly, Mafuyu is not defined by this arguably predictable character arc. He has his own personality, and it’s simple but lovable. He’s sweet, and though soft-spoken, very expressive. In any case, this young man is a great addition to the anime characters of 2019. (And it has nothing to do with how cute he is.)
6. Ray (The Promised Neverland)
From The Promised Neverland, Ray is only one of the three well-written main characters. I chose him because his character development has the most twists and turns throughout the show. Ray is incredibly bright, but has a taciturn personality. There’s always something mysterious and slightly ominous about him.
Ray isn’t cute like Emma or wistful and patient like Norman. He’s the one who uses hard logic and cold truth. But he’s still a child, quite stubborn, and sometimes swayed by powerful emotions such as anger. Ray also probably has the most complex moral system / reasoning of the three main characters. This is a boy who would stoop very low, at the cost of others or himself, to achieve the end goal.
There are two areas that interest me most about this boy. Firstly, there is his suspected treachery against the group of children, and ability to function as a double agent. Secondly, we have the twists related to his birth and memories near the end of the series. I should avoid saying more, as I don’t wish to spoil The Promised Neverland for anyone. There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Ray, so don’t let the vagueness of these paragraphs deceive you.
7. Tohru Honda (Fruits Basket 2019)
Much has been said about Tohru from Fruits Basket, and the majority of fans enjoy and admire her. As for me, I have a hard time understanding Tohru, and I don’t think her constant selflessness is healthy. Still, there’s no denying she is an excellently written character and psychologically interesting.
Tohru has been through a lot and shows impressive mental strength, despite a timid demeanor. For one thing, she had to deal with the death of her mother. The depths of Tohru’s caring and empathy are quite staggering. A lot of thought was put into her attachments and relationships with different friends and family. She also has cute quirks like her spaciness and how she is so accepting of unusual things.
Now Tohru is certainly not without flaws, as any fan will acknowledge. She rarely sticks up for herself, and has a deep-rooted belief that she is unworthy. Most likely, on some level, she believes being useful and helpful will mitigate her perceived worthlessness. As you can see, this is a complex anime girl.
I hope you enjoyed this list and thank you so much for reading! 🙂