This was an awesome year for anime! There were a lot of fantastic shows that came out this year with intense stories and wonderful animation. But of course, these shows wouldn’t be what they are if not for the characters that the story is centered around them. So, it’s time to give these characters their dues and talk about which ones stood out to me this year.
Just a few rules before we get started. I’m only doing one character per series otherwise one or two shows would dominate this list. Also I am including sequel seasons because you never know what’s going to happen in each new season. There may also be some spoilers that come with these characters, so read at your own risk. With that all out of the way, let’s get started with the list!
10) Makoto Naegi from Dangan Ronpa 3: Future Arc
Pretty much everything I love about this character was boiled down into two episodes near the end of the season. Makoto has lost someone incredibly dear to him and tries to reason with Munakata, who has clearly lost his mind. Even after he talks to Munakata, there is still more work to do since there is a theory that the killings are really suicides. This is when Makoto takes it on himself to watch the despair video at the risk of dying. As someone who has been with Dangan Ronpa since it came to the states, seeing this much development from a character that could have easily stagnated and stayed nieve was wonderful to see. However, I am ranking him lower since a lot of his development to get to this point took place outside of the anime. But that doesn’t stop him from being a great character this season.
9) Kuro/Sleepy Ash from Servamp
There’s not a lot that can be said about this character or why I like him. There’s not a lot that’s really all that likeable about him and, in all honesty, he should probably be considered an awful character. However, he was probably one of the more believable characters in this series. Most of them either seemed too nieve or too brutal to really make me like or root for any of them. But, Kuro seemed to be the most down to earth out of any of them and easily makes him the most stand out character in the series. He’s the reason I kept watching the show and nothing else really held my interest.
8) Hayato Shinomiya from Kiss Him Not Me
Shinomiya is one of the many competing for the heart of the not so subtle fujoshi, Serinuma. Though, after some extensive discussions with other fans, it seems as though Shinomiya is dead last in the runnings but I genuinely don’t know why. He’s the youngest, so yes he is a little more lacking in terms of emotional awareness. However, he notices these flaws in himself and wants to work past his own immaturity. There’s an earnest innocence about him, but he also recognizes when he’s being vapid and shallow (which nearly all the other boys are as well). No second season has been announced, but it would be interesting to see how Shinomiya’s feelings continue to grow.
7) Haruhiko Ichijo from Musaigen no Phantom World
This character was probably the only good thing about this show. He had an interesting story and a unique power that allows him to either summon or seal away phantoms just by drawing them. Unlike some leads in a harem show (and I use the term harem very losely), Haruhiko is very aware of his teammates feelings and does everything he can to try and help them when they are struggling. He constantly puts himself in danger when many of these girls should be capable of protecting themselves but more often than not need to be pulled out of their depressions or doubts by Haruhiko. There is more interesting development when he faces off against Enigma at the very end of the series. He opens up about his mother and even lose his powers for a while, which makes him use his wits in battle and utilize everyone to their highest potential. It’s a great development to a character that seemed to take a backseat to the pretty girls and fanservice.
6) Riku Yagami from Prince of Stride Alternative
Riku is a character whose enthusiasm is incredibly contagious. He’s reluctant to join the stride team at first, but then he’s brought into the team to run with them. Once he’s there, he does try his best but is constantly worried that he will be overshadowed by the achievements of his older brother. When that starts affecting the team, his first instinct is to leave but the team refuses to let him. While some may see this as him being selfish, to me it seems like something that could be a very realistic response for a person who once had a great relationship with his brother. The two of them used to run together all the time, but when his brother started getting really competitive Riku didn’t want to run anymore. It makes viewers want to root for him so he can remember his love of the sport and realize that he doesn’t need to compete with his brother.
5) Arata Kaizaki from Re:Life
This is easily the funniest character on my list. Arata decides to relieve his final year of high school after struggling to find work as an adult. This is his chance to start again and try to change some of the choices he made going into his adult life. Maybe this is just speaking as someone who is around that age, but a lot of the comments he makes resonate with me and create a whole other level of humor to the show. However, he does not look down on these kids. He genuinely tries to help them and wants them to improve. He knows the frustration of being a teenager and doesn’t belittle them with what they’re going through. It makes viewers wonder what they would do if they were in his shoes.
4) Yoshio Kobayashi from Trickster
Again, this is a character that is probably the most unlikable in the show. But this time, that’s why I like him. All Kobayashi wants to do is die, but he can’t because his powers prevent that from happening. He befriends a member of the Boys Detective Club named Hanasaki who offers to find a way to kill him. Through out the series, Kobayashi is blunt, rude, and just a general pain in the butt. It’s not until the very end that he starts to really show compassion in his own way. He refuses to be ignored or to be forgotten when the members of the club are fighting with each other. He won’t let Hanasaki forget that he promised to kill Kobayashi, so Kobayashi will hold him to that promise. So, even though it’s for a completely selfish reason, he will fight to protect Hanaski when most of the other members have abandoned him.
3) Angelo/Avillio from 91 Days
This is one cold gangster. After his parents were killed when he was a child, he decides to seek revenge on the people who murdered them. But he has no where to start. It’s not until years later when he’s finally given a letter that Angelo can even work on a plan. He enters into one of the mob families under the name Avillio and eventually becomes the right hand man to Nero, the one who will eventually become the next Don of the family. Throughout the series, Angelo waits patiently and carries out some rather brutal missions to gain Nero’s trust. Eventually, he starts to slip up and falls under suspicion. He is an incredibly character because it makes the audience root for someone who is a liar, a killer, and is ultimately no better than anyone he’s trying to kill.
2) Yuri Katsuki from Yuri on Ice
This was the hardest show to decide who I thought the best character was. Ultimately, I chose the sexy pork cutlet bowl Yuri Katsuki. He’s one of the most dynamic characters through out the series, going through a lot of emotional and mental growth. He starts the series with no confidence in himself after he practically self destructed out on the ice, then eventually starts to become more confident as he works through the competitions. Surprisingly, he acts the most confident when it comes to his partner Victor. He is desperate to keep Victor’s attention and make sure that no one will take him away from Yuri. It’s one of the more interesting aspects of his character and I’m surprised it’s not discussed more. He’s not trying to prove that he deserves Victor. He’s almost challenging other skaters to try and bring Victor back to the ice. Yuri sees himself as the only one who can skate the way Victor wants and, ultimately, could see himself as Victor’s greatest competition. Hopefully, that will all be addressed in the second season.
1) Izuku Midoria from My Hero Academia
Izuku had jumped to become one of my favorite characters of all time the moment I watched the first episode. He is the most relatable character I’ve ever seen in a shounen and he is the main reason I wanted to watch the show. I don’t particularly care for shounen shows, so any character that can make a viewer look into a show they would normally never watch deserves some merit in my book. But what is it that makes him so endearing? Izuku appeals to that desire that every child has had at some point in their life, they want to be a hero. However, there is much more than just the basic desire. Izuku was born with no quirk, so by all logic there’s no way he could possibly be a hero. Yet, he continues to work hard and study all the heroes he can so he can try an become a hero any way. All it took was one person believing in him and he was able to find a way to become a hero. This is such a potent message that speaks to everyone on some level and this connection to Izuku is what made him the best character in 2016.
Thanks for taking a look at my list! There were a lot of shows I didn’t get to see this year, so let me know what characters stood out to you this year. This was so far the hardest list to make since there were so many good characters in shows this year. I’m looking forward to see what 2017 has to offer and hope there will be more great characters to come.