Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010: A Monolithic In Memoriam - Part 3


Heck, why not?  In an era overflowing with characters having as much personality as a sheet of drywall, we may as well look to the few gems that break the mold.  Divided by gender for the sake of convenience.

Kumashiro Maya (Occult Academy)

If you find matters of the occult interesting in the slightest, I would suggest running for the hills, because this formidable, temperamental bombshell is going to shove those mystical artifacts where the mana don’t regenerate.   Assertive, imposing, and razor-sharp, Maya doesn’t take crap from anyone, alive, dead, or otherwise.  She’s a force to be reckoned with as her mere physical presence is enough to send cracks in the Earth slithering towards and cleanly-bisecting the nearest mountain range.

Well, that is, until the series decides to tone her down by replacing her alluring, bitter dark-chocolaty core with the bland oversweetness of white-chocolate. Essentially, she went from dominatrix to doormat over the course of a few episodes.  Shame, really.

Ayuzawa Misaki (Kaichou wa Maid-sama!)

It wouldn’t be too farfetched to suggest that Misa is the sole driving force behind Kaichou wa Maid-sama! as the juxtaposition of her merciless drill-sergeant persona and the serene, submissive façade she puts on for part-time job is where the series’ gets most of its comedic and even narrative mileage.  Spunky, spicy, and downright destructive, Misa is refreshingly not one to turn to mush at a moment’s notice, nor is she in need of a guardian angel as anyone who attempts to confront her would attest to.  The fact that she looks stunning in a maid outfit is merely the personalized-decorative ketchup on top.

Celty Sturluson (Durarara!!)

A svelte, sexy motorcyclist clad in a skintight leather jumpsuit that sports a kitty-cat-ear helmet and wields scythes made of shadow?  I’m think I’ll side with Shinra here in that I find the lack of a head only adds to Celty’s mystical allure. 

But the coolest thing about Celty is that there’s so more to her beyond being a badass biker babe.  For one, she’s a creature of folklore whose origins are shrouded in mystery.  For two, she’s oh-so-adorably terrified of space aliens.  Most importantly, however, in searching for her missing head, she’s fighting to cope with her identity, her place in society, and how others perceive her, giving her character dimension and depth.  

Okay fine.  For four, she’s half-tsundere and all-S when it comes to her relationship with her kinky co-habitant.

 Heiwajima Shizuo (Durarara!!)
‘Nuff said.

Katsuragi Keima (The World God Only Knows)

Having long since discarded the need for three dimensions when two are more than sufficient, Keima has become what most gamers can only dream of: God.  Asocial, withdrawn, and coldhearted, Keima’s wake-up call comes when he is forced to act as the conduit between the real and the virtual. 

What’s great about Keima is that each successful capture slowly chips away at his critical disillusionment as a part of his own galge-infused soul is similarly-purified.  His significant, gradual character growth may signify the end of his reign as the Divine Overlord of the immaterial, but all that really means is that girls of the real world had better watch their back.

Watashi (The Tatami Galaxy)

The Edward Norton of anime, the narrator of The Tatami Galaxy wants nothing more than to suck every morsel of opportunity out of his college experience from the moment he sets foot on campus.  It is this over-ambition that sends him spiraling down morally-questionable routes that inevitably lead straight to the underbelly of the university. 

Watashi is quite remarkable in that he fits the definition of a “walking-contradiction” to a T.  He’s simple and ordinary on the outside but a bizarre labyrinthine underneath.  He has total control over his desires and priorities while simultaneously being unable to make up his mind about any of them.  He acknowledges his feelings of love, but refuses to acknowledge that he’s…refusing to act upon them.  He regards his only friend as a duplicitous demon in plain sight, yet accepts him as a staunch wingman.  And what’s more, the audience is exposed to his every illuminating thought through his light-speed dynamo of internal-dialogue.

He isn’t the easiest character to pity, but, in keeping with his contradictory nature, he manages to be perfectly relatable despite being a waffle-factory that’s clicking on all cylinders.  Without Watashi at the helm, the journey through college could not have been the unforgettable voyage into our own personal 4.5-tatami galaxies that it was.

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