The Awesomest Anime Characters in the History of Forever – Part Three
Know how people like to say that it’s a hero’s villains that help define him? Batman has The Joker and all those dudes, The Fantastic Four has Dr. Doom, and so on. That doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes to anime. When you get a series that comes down to a distinct hero/villain clash, you rarely see that sort of dynamic between the main hero and the main villain. Beats me as to why that is, but you rarely hear about how Goku and Frieza are like two sides of the same coin or whatever.
Where you do see this sort of character development is in anime rivalries. Goku and Vegeta are allies for most of the series, but they butt heads even when in the heat of battle. They play off of each other’s personalities the way a super hero plays off of his nemesis.
And since this is a “favorite character” post, it just so happens that a few of my favorite anime characters fit into that rival niche.
Biko Daitokuji and Kaori Sakiyama
The ways B-Ko and Sakiyama play off of the respective leads, A-Ko and Maki, are pretty similar. Both characters feel completely and utterly inadequate when compared to the main character in their series.
B-Ko is supposedly the smartest, prettiest, and most popular girl at her school before A-Ko and her annoying alien princess life partner C-Ko arrive. While A-Ko’s appearance doesn’t take away from B-Ko’s popularity, B-Ko is infuriated by the fact that A-Ko possesses the one thing that she can’t have: said annoying alien princess. This isn’t simply a matter of desire or lust or anything basic like that. If B-Ko merely wanted C-Ko, she would remain her cool, calm, seemingly level-headed self when dealing with the situation. When she realizes that C-Ko refuses to leave A-Ko’s side, B-Ko becomes utterly consumed with defeating A-Ko. She spends numerous sleepless nights constructing all manners of mecha to crush her opponent. By the time the second movie in the series rolls around, her obsession with defeating A-Ko has gotten so all-consuming that her various giant robot schemes all but bankrupt her daddy’s megacorporation. When confronted with this truth, B-Ko couldn’t give a damn. She just wants blood. And C-Ko.
Sakiyama’s obsession with Maki is pretty similar. She wants the adoration that Maki gets. She loathes the fact that people find Maki more attractive (Maki’s Amazonian looks stick out far more than Sakiyama’s gorgeous-but-generic looks.), loathes the fact that Maki has so many friends, and loathes the fact that Maki can kick ass like all gets out. When they first meet, Sakiyama’s a fit woman, but she’s by no means a martial artist. She’s on par with your typical bored housewife that watches a Taebo DVD three times a week. But she doesn’t let that stop her. Through sheer force of will, Sakiyama becomes a martial artist on par with many of the other freaky fighters in the series. Within a matter of days (The timing isn’t exact, but not much time passes between episodes as far as I can tell.), Sakiyama goes through extreme martial arts training and goes toe-to-toe with Maki. She gets her ass kicked, but she gets right back up, goes back to training, and emerges a few days later all the more improved. Yeah, we’re talking about days here. Maybe weeks at the most. She goes from gym bunny to street fighter faster than someone learns how to make a basic pot in ceramics class, and it’s all because of her undying frustration with Maki’s “perfection.”
For all intents and purposes, Sakiyama and B-Ko are psycho bitches. They’re violent, obsessed, angry women hellbent on accomplishing their goals at all costs. B-Ko is willing to ruin her dad’s fortune, while Sakiyama has a tenacity that’s unmatched by even Maki. They want nothing more than to rub their heels in the faces of their enemies, but despite this they often find themselves allying with their object of hatred. That’s what makes them true rivals rather than outright villains– that ability to set aside differences when it’s necessary to do the right thing.
On more than one occasion, A-Ko and B-Ko are forced to set aside their differences to save C-Ko. Transvestite aliens want to take her back to their home planet, blahblahblah gotta save their object of lust, team up, and punch shit hard. Shit like that. In having to team up, the two come to a sort of understanding that only two people in a one-sided rivalry can share. That is, the obsessed one realizes that they kinda need this asshole standing over there while the other one wonders why that asshole trying to kick her ass can’t be this sensible all the time. Maki and Sakiyama come to the same sort of mutual not-really-understanding-but-close-enough agreements on several occasions, including an awesome tag team wrestling match that nets Maki another rival that’s almost as obsessed with her as Sakiyama.
It’s these one-sided rivalries that really help establish these sorts of heroes. Maki and A-Ko, for the most part, are kinda clueless when it comes to the feelings of others. They just plain don’t get how someone can be so obsessed with something or someone to that extent. These rivalries help make characters like them seem a bit naive, which is often a necessary trait/stereotype/whatever for a lead in an action anime. And it’s awesome to see these rivalries play out, since they’re often fodder for some amusing moments. Playing nice doesn’t get as many gags going.