Hello everyone and welcome back to another edition of The Anime Pulse! The Summer anime season is winding down and soon the Autumn anime season will begin and close out the year. When that happens, I plan on doing a retrospective of 2016 and pick out my favorite shows from this year as well as point out some of the biggest disappointments (I’m looking at you Berserk.)

Last column, I looked at my favorite anime of all time and I was prepared to dedicate this column to my favorite manga of all time, but when I looked at the two lists side by side, I realized three of the manga I had on there were also in my favorite anime list. Those being D.Gray-man, Bakuman., and Hajime no Ippo. Repeating the same reasons for 60% of my topic would have been rather cheap, so instead, I’m going to outline the two manga that are in my top five and then talk about my top five favorite characters of all time! So, this is kind of a two-in-one deal! It’s only fair, after all.

My Top 5 (2) Favorite Manga of All-Time

5 – Hajime no Ippo

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4 – Tegami Bachi

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The anime didn’t make it into my Top 5 (or even Top 10), mainly because, while good, it suffered from deviating from the manga. Fullmetal Alchemist did a great job in establishing itself with an original story and while Tegami Bachi does the same, it’s just not quite as good even though it has some shining moments. The manga, on the other hand, was a LOT better than the anime and had a really engaging story.

If you don’t know, Tegami Bachi (Letter Bee) is about a boy named Lag Seeing. He wants to be a Letter Bee (postal worker) so he can deliver letters which contain the heart of those who write them. Monsters known as Gaichuu pop up and like to steal people’s hearts and the letters are a prime target. Lag’s goal is to go to the underground capital under the man-made sun and become the Head Bee, but a mystery surrounding the government has been exposed by a rebel group named Reverse and Lag wants to know more about this mystery as it seems it is connected to him.

This actually caught my attention by the title Letter Bee. It sounded like a children’s book and knowing Japan, I was curious to see just what a children’s book would look like. What I saw was anything but and after reading the premise, I thought it was radically different than anything I had watched thus far, so I decided to give it a try. After watching the anime, I enjoyed it a lot, but then I found the manga and that’s when I realized that the anime was vastly different. So I began reading and I was hooked more so on the manga than the anime. It has been one of my favorite series since.

3 – Bakuman.

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2 – D.Gray-man

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1. Naruto

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Yeah, my favorite is a mainstream manga. Fite me IRL. I love it because while the anime was riddled with filler around every corner, the manga still told a fantastic story… even if it got convoluted in the end with the Fourth Great Ninja War. Naruto was my true introduction to anime and while I had watched anime before in the past (namely Sailor Moon and Samurai Pizza Cats), I was too young to even realize that what I had been watching was anime. My friend Mike was the one who got me into watching Naruto and my interest in anime took off from there.

It was also then that I found out that the manga was ahead of the anime and if I wanted to know what happened, I should read the manga. In that essence, Naruto became the first manga I have ever read and I really enjoyed the story. Maybe it’s because it was my first that I rank it so high, but Naruto not only helped me get into anime, but I found other people who were also interested in it and I’ve been friends with them for almost ten years now because of that common interest. No other series has produced results like that so I think this will always be my eternal number one, even if I’ve read manga that are considerably better than this.

My Top 5 Favorite Anime Characters

5 – Moritaka Mashiro (Bakuman.)

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I love to draw, but I’m decent at best. I’ve had dreams of creating my own manga, but my lack of artistic talent has stopped me dead in my tracks. In a way, I’m pretty jealous of this character because, fictional or not, he gets to do what I’ve always wanted to do. I guess you can say that I lived vicariously through Mashiro, as selfish as that sounds.

Outside of that, Mashiro’s character is built really well. All of the trials and tribulations he and Takagi have to go through in order to realize their dream remind you of how hard work will eventually pay off. He is also a symbol for the notion that failure doesn’t mean the end, but rather, just a first step on the path to success. You see him learn from his mistakes and become wiser as the older he gets. You also got to see just how obsessed he had become with making his dream into reality when he landed in the hospital and, even still, wanted to continue drawing. There’s a lot of life lessons taught in this series, but most of them come from Mashiro himself just by witnessing his actions. Not everyone will feel that kind of attachment to this character, but I did because it was relative to my interests.

4 – L Lawliet (Death Note)

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Two characters back to back from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata! L was just an overall amazing character. A lot of creators can describe their characters as geniuses, but very few can actually depict them as such. L was a genius through and through and the mental chess game he had with Light Yagami was one of the best told stories in anime/manga history. It felt like a really good WWE NXT match where the crowd chants “Fight Forever” because you just didn’t want this mental chess match to end, but had it not included L’s death in this battle of wits, then I don’t believe this series would have had the impact that it had.

L’s personality was just amazing, too. At first he just seemed very stoic and calculated and then he would surprise you with some clever quips or some dry humor that seemed uncharacteristic at first, but then you realize that these little nuances all made sense as they fit perfectly into his psyche. His love for sweets and his unique sitting pose all rounded out a deep and storied character that, I believe, will stand the test of time.

3 – Mamoru Takamura (Hajime no Ippo)

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While Hajime no Ippo is an amazing series in and of itself, Mamoru Takamura has got to be one of the best comic relief characters in both anime and manga. He’s serious about his training and being a boxer, but he has a MASSIVE ego about him. Such as the time when he defeated Brian Hawk and gave his victory speech proclaiming to be everyone’s King and how he demanded women to give his seed to so that nine months from now he could populate Japan with copies of himself.

Takamura has zero shame and will do anything his ego desires from proclaiming his greatness to hazing his fellow boxers. He has a serious side to him as well, especially when it comes to the coach and owner of the gym. He has tremendous respect for his coach and will do virtually anything for him. Whenever he is on screen or on page, Takamura steals the spotlight and if he’s not stealing it, he finds a way to take it regardless.

2 – Pain (Naruto: Shippuuden)

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Pain was my first introduction to a tragic villain in anime. It wasn’t just the alluring mystique surrounding the Rinnegan, but Pain’s backstory was also well-done. Sharing the same master with Naruto, Pain was taught about the hardships of life and that pain was just a natural part of it. Nagato took that to heart and decided to embrace the world’s pain and reflect it back upon the world itself. His philosophy is that people will never know peace until they first experience pain. In that sense, he’s not wrong. People learn from their mistakes because mistakes inflict pain upon a person whether physical or mental. Once someone experiences pain, they grow and become stronger.

It’s like touching a hot stove when you’re young. The heat and the searing pain from putting your hand there teaches you that it’s not a good idea to touch the stove when it’s hot. You learn to respect it through pain. This is a simplified analogy of Nagato’s intentions. If he causes destruction and tragedy, therefore inflicting pain unto to the world, the world will cease fighting and know peace. That peace would be born from fear of being hurt and while peace is a noble goal, Nagato is going about it the wrong way.

The depth to this character isn’t really seen on the surface, especially if you take him at face value. When you learn who Pain is, his past and, most importantly, why he arrived at these philosophies, you truly feel a connection to the character. He was one of the best villains in the Naruto series and was definitely my favorite character hands down.

1 – Kurisu Makise (Steins;Gate)

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Is it any surprise here? My love for Steins;Gate makes this a sure-fire choice for my number one pick. Her quirky personality is an instant draw, but everything that happens to her is what makes you feel for the character. From her death to how she plays a role in Okarin’s mental anguish, it’s all well done.

There is a bit of a plot device built into her, though. As Okarin hops from world line to world line, Kurisu, obviously, doesn’t know about anything Okarin is talking about, but out of everyone in the Future Gadget Lab, she’s the one who chooses to believe him time and time again. Plus, she also experiences dreams which turn out to be her experiences in the other world lines and that is the catalyst which makes her believe Okarin.

She slowly develops feelings toward Okarin and to see them erased each and every time he hops a world line really builds a romantic tension between the two of them. It makes you root for Makise in hopes that she can get together with Okarin, even if it’s just once. Part of what makes you root for her is the fact that she is a slight tsundere. In the beginning, she’s mean to Okarin because she doesn’t know him that well and finds him quite annoying; however, as she begins to realize that she likes him, that shell begins to crack. The more and more it cracks, the more her true personality pours out and that’s when you begin to know the real Makise.

Most tsundere characters are cold towards their love interest out of the fact that they love them. Kurisu. They only crack when they can’t hold back their feelings anymore, but in Makise’s case, she cracks when her feelings are realized. She’s no Taiga or Shana, but it’s this lovable side of her that makes her so endearing. I, personally, can’t get enough of her and it’s why she’s my favorite character in all of anime (for the moment.)

That’s going to do it for me this time around. If you have your own Top 5 or want to weigh your opinions in on mine, feel free to do so by adding a comment below or sending me a message at joshpiedra@theouterhaven.net. If you enjoyed my column, consider giving me a follow on Twitter @TheAnimePulse.

Until next time,

Ja ne!

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years!