Thursday, January 17, 2008

List o the Weak: My top five favorite anti-heroes

Okay, so I'm going to take a pretty liberal definition of anti-hero here. Traditionally the anti-hero actually has to be the main character of the story, but I do have at least one character in here that is a ally of one of the protagonists. And one that is briefly allied with one of the protagonists.

That said, there's something about an anti-hero that just appeals to me. Whether it's their twisted sense of ethics, their self-delusion or just the fact that they're an out and out jerk. I can't help being interested in how they're going to play out. And I certainly can't help hoping that they'll either grow up or get what they deserve or at least get their revenge.

So here it is, my top five favorite anti-heroes in anime.

Number Five: Kei Kurono, Gantz

There's something about a jerk. It isn't that they're likable, although I do have to say that Gantz is stocked with fairly likable characters, it's that they can say what the audience is really thinking and get away with it.

And Kurono is exactly that character. He starts off simply thinking about how miserable he is, and how the world treats him unfairly and when it starts REALLY treating him unfairly he reacts in a backlash. To be honest, he does do some pretty heroic things, but in general they're out of a sense of wanting to fit in rather from an actual desire to do good things.

The only reason he ended up so low on the list is that his whining does get a bit annoying occasionally. And towards the end, he actually does play the hero.

Number Four: Paul von Oberstein, Legend of the Galactic Heroes

Ahh... what a Machiavellian countenance. To be honest, he looks a lot nicer in this picture than he actually is. (He's the piebald guy in the background.) Generally, the type of anti-hero I enjoy the most is the type who has the best interests in mind, but his methods are a little bit suspect. And while Reinhard von Lohengramm is starting down the road to being an anti-hero, he's being lead there by Oberstein.

Case in point, he allows an entire planet to get nuked so he can use it as a propaganda tool. Granted it worked. He also cuts Reinhard off from his sister to pull him out of his moping. Again, the sensible move, but also the nasty move. He is what Machiavelli meant when he said, "It is better for your subjects to fear you, then to love you."

Number Three: Saito, Rurouni Kenshin

And of course, I couldn't let an anti-hero list go by without mentioning one of my favorite abberant characters. What makes this guy so much fun is his twisted sense of justice. I mean how couldn't I enjoy a character who is a spy, police officer and executioner all rolled into one. Probably what I enjoy most about him, is that he doesn't have any angst about what he's doing. He truly feels that he's acting in the best interest of the nation by eliminating the world of it's scum.

Now, I know that it's always in vogue to rip on the popular character. But I think Saito holds up well even on repeated viewings. And how can I not like a guy who says, "I'm glad he's gone, so now I can kill you." or at least something like that.

Number Two: Guts, Beserk

I had a hard time deciding whether or not Guts should really go on this list. Overall, I think it's a testament to Beserk that it doesn't overtly offer up Guts as a classic anti-hero. But overall, his values ARE pretty warped (he just wants to fight, because he enjoys fighting.) Also he's friends with Griffin, who is a whole different type of anti-hero.

And really, not only is he an interesting anti-hero, but he's also and interesting character. Just watching his arc from where he joins up with Griffin to the point where he leaves to the point where he comes back. He is a character who learns to accept his inner darkness, but ends up not being able to accept what that cost him.

And my number one all time favorite anti-hero is:

Ryu Soma

Like I said, there's just something about a jerk and Ryu Soma is the king of all jerks. He starts off the series as a self-involved scientist, who gets caught up in his own pity party. At times he has moments of understanding and while eventually he gets it, he does remain an anti-hero throughout the course of the show.

Probably the best part of it though, is that he doesn't buck the plot. Unlike other anti-heroes *cough* Shinji *cough* we aren't stuck with hours of "Do I really want to do this? Why doesn't my daddy love me?" Instead, we get someone who's trying to figure out how to take revenge on the actual hero.


Agree or disagree? Leave a comment or e-mail

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it's kinda unfair that you didn't mention that Oberstein pointed out that if they hadn't nuked the planet, they would have lost alot more lives by prolonging the civil war. That's the thing I love about Oberstein. Everything he does is for unselfish reasons, and even though his decisions may be unpopular, he knows that they are all too necessary. Even till the end of LOGH, everything he did was for compelling reasons.