Japan’s Twittersphere was buzzing today about a blog post that discussed the rankings of the most popular anime characters in Animage over the last 32 years. Animage is the anime magazine that popularized the term anime in 1978, and along with Newtype has helped define the industry ever since the beginning. So I decided to talk about the female anime character ranking in a post.
So let’s look at the ranking, starting all the way back in 1983…
I’ve written before about how, when you learn a foreign language like Japanese, you enjoy a “second childhood” in that language, in which you’ll show the same creative language-play that children have while they explore the boundaries of their first language. If this is true, this is my childhood, right here in one image.
So many classic characters. Misa and Minmei from the original Macross. Nausicaa, the single best anime heroine ever created. Four Masamune from Zeta Gundam. Lum. Kei and Yuri from Dirty Pair. Asakura Minami from Touch, the baseball manga I learned Japanese from. Elpeo Ple from ZZ Gundam, who I hold to be the first modern moe character, whose cuteness was irresistible to fans of the day. And Ayukawa from Orange Road right beside Otonashi Kyoko from Maison Ikkoku. Good times.
Next group in the anime character ranking. The industry is maturing, and it’s becoming a given that it will be followed closely by many foreigners in addition to Japanese. Major shows are Nadia, the breakthrough Gainax anime that parodied Hayao Miyazaki’s works, Ranma from Ranma 1/2, plus the explosion of Sailor Moon, which changed anime forever by unifying the sentai and magical girl genre, and, er, increasing demand for tissues.
I’ve grouped the next segment together because of the huge importance of Evangelion, which cast a shadow over the next few years of anime. For example, every show for a few years after Eva felt the need for an Ayanami Rei-derived “quiet girl character” in the cast. By now, the term moe has been coined, with Kinomoto Sakura, Hoshino Ruri and Lina Inverse good examples. Also, anime based on light novels are starting to take over.
I broke the anime character ranking here because Gundam Seed marks the beginning of the rise of digital coloring of anime, which changed the “look and feel” of the medium significantly, and also introduced “weaponized moe” in a big way, as animators learned to manipulate fans into falling in love with their creations. Judging from the ranking, it looks like Gundam Seed was the most popular show of the era, but it’s important to remember that it’s only with Animage readers.
The final ranking. Truly the modern era at this point, with K-On! and Chu2koi and Railgun on the list. It’s funny to note that there are a lot of characters and series I can’t even identify, even though I do this anime thing for a full time job. Considering that Animage has basically become a BL-anime centered magazine (since that’s where the direction the industry took), it shows how few BL anime I watch.
Thanks for reading the Animage female anime character ranking! Here’s your parting gif. What’s the oldest anime on this list you knew?