So here’s one I’ve been thinking about doing for a little while now as a follow up to a previous post I did ages ago called My Favorite Hilarious Troll Moves I’ve Seen in Anime. In keeping with the theme of favorites, this is My Five Favorite BAMF Female Characters from Anime! With so much anime that’s written specifically for a male audience, I think it’s good to take some time and showcase those characters that show a little girl power or at least some damn good writing with respect to women. Hopefully we’ll see more badass ladies as time goes forward but for the time being, this is my list of awesome girls who are great characters that shine in their series.
Now, I will say right away that there are some stipulations. The first is this is only from television shows and not movies because this list would very quickly turn into my favorite girls from Studio Ghibli and the directorial works of Mamoru Hosoda (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, Wolf Children, etc). Second, I’m obviously only picking from stuff I’ve seen so this list won’t be comprehensive and may not have choices that others may have. This list is also unordered because I’d rather not compare great characters when they all have amazing reasons to be number one on any list. Lastly, and this goes along with the second point, this is only my list of favorite characters. I’m not saying this is “The Top Five of All Time” or anything like that because this is entirely subjective and biased to me. However, I do think these wonderful ladies have a chance to warm your heart as much as they did mine with how much ass they kick, both figuratively and literally.
On a last note, I’ll try to keep spoilers to an absolute minimum, but consider this a small warning for minor plot points being talked about. So without further ado, here are our characters who carry wallets like this…
Ryuuko from Kill la Kill:
If you’ve read my previous post on Kill la Kill, I think you can understand that I really do enjoy this show and it’s kind of a no-brainer Ryuuko would show up on a list I made of badass characters. I mean, there are pretty obvious reasons that she deserves to be on anybody’s list of badass female characters. For one, with the help of Senketsu, she took on an entire organization directly inspired by Nazis and their regalia and toppled it, causing a freedom of the people. The first half of the series showcases this with Ryuuko tearing through every opponent on her way to the top. Give this girl a goal, and she’ll plow through every wall on the way to it. For most of the series actually, Ryuko is able to get by on her own skills that she learns and develops over the course of the show. While her friends definitely assist her (and most of her power is based through her sailor suit), Ryuuko’s commitment to her goals and quest for revenge make her a force to be reckoned with. Ryuuko is strong, tenacious, and refuses to take “no” as an answer.
While hot-headed, she is also shown to be very kind to those that mean a lot to her (both Senketsu and Mako). Finding strength through friends is a strong message in this show and I enjoy that the series highlighted this, not as a weakness, but an additional strength in its characters, particularly Ryuuko. Although, it’s still debated whether Mako and Ryuuko might have developed into more than just friends by the end of the series.
Also, about halfway through the show, we finally see her merit to be very capable on her own, even without the power given to her by Senketsu when she’s on her quest to rescue his scattered pieces. I mean, you gotta love a character that can ride up out of nowhere on a motorcycle and completely dismantle the bad guys’ schemes without even breaking a sweat.
Not to mention she definitely knows how to make an entrance:
Even seeing one episode of this series kinda cements her for a guaranteed spot on this list. She’s strong, unstoppable, and is definitely a cool character.
The Protagonist (Watashi) from Humanity Has Declined:
So here’s a girl with the uniquely profound ability to look straight into the abyss of absurdity and roll with the punches as they inexplicably come at her. The unnamed
protagonist of the series Humanity Has Declined is the perfect individual for the situations she finds herself in. As a UN representative of humanity, this girl finds herself strategically and politically interacting with fairies of the old-school variety that have come back to rule the earth after humanity has, well, declined. As a highly intelligent individual, she approaches many things in her world with an almost scientific approach, as strange as that may sound when she finds herself in situations of the magical kind.
What I love about this girl is how amazingly she is able to rule any situation she finds herself in. Yes, her best laid plans seems to be smacked out of her hands every time she confronts the fairies, and this protagonist has definitely been trapped, backed into a
corner, and sometimes found herself in the most mind-blowingly ridiculous situations (like fighting sentient decapitated chickens as they reproduce industry in a post-apocalyptic world). However, she will almost inevitably find a way out of the situation, flying by the seat of her dress and using her cunning, and sometimes quite insidious, intellect to think, bribe, extort, care for, blackmail, aid, and design her way to freedom. I find it very interesting that she isn’t afraid to take the low road on decisions in order to bring about a positive solution that aids the general populace. In a world where that populace dwindles every day, she definitely is the right girl for the job.
Our lovely protagonist isn’t perfect, though, which I think is a great thing. She is prone to putting too much faith into trusting a race of magical beings never known to be fully benevolent. She also has to rely on her friends in several situations to help her when the chips are down and the fairies have her trapped in a literal book of their own design. In doing so, however, I find her to be much more believable and the series does a great job of never ripping away her agency. There aren’t any white knights to come and save her, but rather, our main character simply gets by with a little help from her friends.
I love this series for its look at the philosophical concept of absurdity, mixed with humor as black as my coffee, and juxtaposed by beautiful backdrops showing a colorful end of the world. Actually, I feel that definition also quite handsomely matches the very nature of this wonderful protagonist as well. Her witty and cleverly dark mind, along with her almost innate ability to fight through absurd situations to bring about a general good, makes her a definite on my top five.
Aoi “Oi, Meowmori” Miyamori
If you, dear reader, have not have the opportunity to watch a little show called Shirobako, please drop most of what you can and watch this wonderful show. Shirobako follows a group of girls, who were friends in high school, all trying to move towards their dream jobs within the anime industry, from voice actor to animator to project lead. However, as they very quickly learn, it’s not all roses and creativity as they have to work their way through the industry, deal with deadlines, and learn from failure and defeat. The show is incredibly accurate in its telling of how the industry works from the inside, even if the characters themselves are goofy at times. It’s a perfect blend of an interesting plot, wrapped with comedy and drama, and mixed with very real ideas about how project-based businesses work.
While all of the girls in this group of friends deal with immense struggles and become very powerful as characters because of it, I wanted to highlight the main-ish character of the show Aoi Miyamori. (There’s, like, twenty characters we focus on in this show, but she’s kinda like the John Snow of the group.) Aoi is a production assistant at the Musashino Animation company, hoping to move up as the she continues to work hard in the company. As part of her job, Aoi has to run errands and deliver different scripts, keyframes, etc. to the different people within the company. Along with this, it’s her job to make sure production runs on time and that departments communicate with each other to get the work done. At the time that she’s hired, while Musashino Animation had once been a great company, they had recently underwent company gutting and financial loss from a few botched shows, namely the very last one they had done which was an atrocity most people in the staff refuse to even talk about. Because of this, Aoi is thrusted into a situation where her job is the equivalent of sailing a rickety ship and then trying to pail water from it with a little plastic sandbox shovel.
What makes her a badass though, is how very real she is as a character. Aoi deals
with irate employees, insane deadlines, and a constant dread of what the anime viewers will think of the finished product, which as anyone who’s been on the Internet knows, can be a pretty hard crowd to please at times. She’s also very fallible and will mess up or be the butt of a joke multiple times within the show. She’s not perfect, but she learns from her mistakes, especially the times when she falls the hardest. Aoi struggles, she breaks down sometimes, and other times she goes crazy (almost splitting her personality into two different dolls like a shoulder angel/devil trope), but all the while, she perseveres. Honestly, she’s what I aspire to with my work ethic. Her ability to deal with immense stress and hardship while coming out on top all while straining to stay positive is amazingly admirable. This is especially prevalent during scenes where the production is completely halted and they only have a day or two at most before the episode airs. Along the way, she becomes a better person for it, learning from her superiors and co-workers alike, as well as figuring out the very hard skill of asking for help, relying on others when the work is too much, and being a team player. By the end of the series, she’s the head production assistant at the company and is gunning for even higher, all the while staying true to herself and her friends. She may not have saved the universe or kicked literal ass, but she is just as powerful for what she was able to accomplish.
Also, she is the most badass driver in anime. Hands down. (Not the original song, sadly. Yet, it fits so well)
Don-don-donuts. Let’s go nuts!
Senjougahara from the Monogatari Series
What if I told you there is a character out there who is so quick, she tricks a god into doing her bidding so that she can save her boyfriend? If that doesn’t peek your interest, what if I told you this girl fights people with staplers? Milton Waddams would be proud… Or maybe terrified.
Senjougahara Hitagi is an incredibly intelligent character who possesses the sharpest tongue I’ve probably seen of anyone, even outside of the Monogatari Series. Dealing with her is like playing a game of chess. Even a simple conversation is used as a device for her to figure out your mind and find a way to know your likes, desires, and fears. While she can be seen as mean at times, given her blunt nature and her natural talent for poker faces and dry wit, Senjougahara will go to great lengths to help those she cares about, including the above mentioned scene of tricking a god to temporarily save her boyfriend and then working with those she despises in order keep him alive. Senjougahara has also on numerous occasions been the one to save everyone when the main character’s plans go awry, finding a way to help those she cares about, even when they feel they don’t deserve it or had pushed everyone else away.
Another thing that I have appreciated about her is her forwardness with her emotions and goals, never being afraid to take the lead and never content to be subordinate in her relationships. Senjougahara asked the main character out, not the other way around like many other anime have done, and it was done in a very matter-of-fact way of “Yeah, we’re doing this now. Okay?” Loved it. When they do end up going out, she takes the lead to move things forward and is very open about what she is comfortable with or not (which is especially important given her traumatic past). The same can be said for her friendships as the series goes on. Senjougahara will actively find ways to help her friends when they are going through tough times and never expects them to return the offer, using her intelligent and uncanny ability to be surprisingly manipulative (for the best of intentions, I assure you) in order to get things done. Really the only thing that can trip up this girl is a banana peel. That is not a joke. Well, it is in the series, but I am serious when I say it.
All of this said, this character does come with a disclaimer. As much as I love this series,
and this character definitely deserves on this list, I have to fully admit that the Monogatari series is one of the most sexualized shows I’ve ever watched. Honestly, as much as I want to look past it in order to appreciate some of the most clever writing I’ve seen in anime, it just detracts too much for me to recommend the series to everyone. Luckily, I would argue that the sexualization does not detract from who the characters are, particularly in the case of Senjougahara who uses her own charms to constantly torture the main character for her benefit, which is very fitting of her character. If you have the ability to turn a massive blind eye to the over-sexualization of the female cast, I’d highly recommend this show. Otherwise, this series is really hit or miss for people. Hopefully the movies will be better about this issue because the trailers looked fantastic and I cannot get over how clever this series is.
Ed from Cowboy Bebop:
While some people are in love with the femme fatale of this series, Faye Valentine, the true BAMF of the show is without a doubt Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV. While Faye is busy gambling her life away, getting captured so that bad guys can get at the male characters of the show, and relatively hating herself and her life (though she has some good reasons), Edward is busy hacking computers, brimming with insane positivity, and saving the damn day like it was nothing. I mean, let’s just take one quick example to show how great this character is. In the episode “Toys in the Attic”, an episode that for the longest time scared the ever loving crap out of me, Spike has to fight off an alien monster that’s aboard the Bebop as it infects and slowly poisons the crew one by one. Edward decides to assist until we see her fall unconscious, seemingly to the monster’s infection. In the final scene, after Spike ejects the monster a la Alien out of the airlock and hilariously finds out its origins, he passes out as the ship drifts on autopilot to a hospital.
Here’s the kicker. Edward wakes up from a nap because as it turns out, monster-hunting is tiring business and she was totally fine. Then, a portion of the monster that was still alive on the ship suddenly comes out of nowhere and attempts to attack her. So Radical Ed eats it.
It’s amazing that a monster which left almost the entire crew dead is defeated by the simplest of things, a crazy girl’s appetite, and while we can probably be sure that an ingested monster will not sit well in her stomach, Ed seemingly has no reaction and just rolls over while they all head to the hospital. Definitely a great moment.
To seal the deal, I’ll throw out another quick incident with Edward to show a more
interesting gal: Her meeting with the crew of the Bebop. In “Jamming With Edward”, the wonderful hacker Ed decides to impress the Bebop crew so she can be a part of the team she’s looked up to so much. She decides to help them out with a bounty that they’re trying to catch: a “hacker” responsible for taking the network of space lasers around Earth and using them to graffiti the world below with giant drawings. Edward single-handedly finds the culprit and then hacks the Bebop’s computer transmitter to tell her idols about it. When it’s found that the culprit is a lonely AI who only wanted to draw to overcome his feelings of isolation, Edward hatches an entire scheme to both help Bebop turn in their bounty while also saving the AI, solving a problem of having to turn in the culprit, but also wanting to save her newfound AI friend. On top of this, when the Bebop attempts to leave her behind, Edward just hacks the ship and hastily lands it right next to her so she can hop on and force her way onto the team. I think the lesson here is to not say no to this girl.
Edward is always going to be a favorite of mine. When a girl can take on the greatest chess master in the galaxy, track down crooks like she’s Batman, and is not afraid to take on drug-dealers to get some food and money for bounties, I think I know who I’d roll with in my crew.
And that’s my five! Last, I’d like to show just a few honorable mentions to watch out for if you ever pick up their anime. They are:
Lain from Serial Experiments Lain:
Lain is a very complicated girl. Talking about her personality or experience would actually ruin the show, but she is by far one of the most unique female characters I’ve seen, particularly when it comes to the psychological and demented ideas surrounding this series. Lain herself is every definition of the word multifaceted, and her constantly changing mindset mixed with her slow development from a very timid individual into who she will become is handled wonderfully, allowing Lain to figure things out on her own and fight through the different enemies, real or not, that plague her. She comes to a new and whole truth through her own curiosity and actions, revealing the mysteries around her. Lain is written to be such a unique character that I’ve never really seen her story or characterization done before. Really, there were only a couple of reasons she didn’t make the top five list. One is that her very slow progression of timidness to powerful means most of the show she is being pushed around, though she does eventually comes out on top. The second reason is simply because of the lack of material I can safely say without spoiling the entire show.
If I tried to explain this series, I’d end up probably as confused as the person reading whatever the hell I put down. It’s a very complicated show and is intentionally misleading, the writer himself taking pride in that fact that some people don’t even get it. To this day there are still incredibly varied interpretations coming out of what Serial Experiments Lain is really about. However, the most I can say is that it’s an amazing masterpiece that way back in 1998, was able to foreshadow our own experiences now of a lessening disconnect between the real and virtual worlds. The series also deals with the ideas of mental and psychological issues, the Internet and hacking, the loss of identity within technology and the freedom of online anonymity, as well as existentialism and the evolution of humanity beyond human form. All of this is told through thirteen episodes that are incredibly patiently paced for the thriller and horror aspects this show throws at the viewer, feeling more like a psychological mystery than anything else. Even outside the medium of anime, this is one of the most influential works of Japan from the 90s and has caused ripples worldwide. I would definitely give it a look.
Also, that opening song, Duvet by the band Bôa, is super cool.
W E S H O U L D A L L L O V E L A I N
Misaka Mikoto from A Certain Scientific Railgun:
Number three of the Level Five Espers, the seven strongest psychics in the world, Misaka trained her way to the top with hard work and uncompromising tenacity. Though she’s stronger than almost all of her peers, she is very down-to-earth and never looks down on others, seeing people as human beings, rather than their Esper level.
Misaka can have a temper and is very prideful, but leans on her friends to balance this out for her for most of the series. Throughout the series, Misaka is shown to have a keen intellect along with her fighting prowess and is able to take on multiple opponents while pushing herself to the limit and protecting others. I’d also like to state that her character development and personal journey in season two in the “Sisters Arc” was almost hands down the best arc from any anime series period. This character showed so much powerful emotional strength and perseverance and I cried probably twice during that arc.
Misaka was actually going to be on the list as I love her character so much and that season two “Sisters Arc” is so damn good. However while her reliance on the main male lead from the sister series A Certain Magical Index was written pretty well in Misaka’s own show, Railgun, her appearances and characterization in Index start getting a little weird and actually hurt Misaka’s chances a lot to be in the top five. Where Railgun is a pretty good show, Index is pretty meh and does a lot to show this wonderful character as more of a love interest to be saved than her own individual.
Haruhi Suzumiya from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya:
This choice is a little bit because of nostalgia. No one can deny that Haruhi Suzumiya is definitely large and in charge. The literal “god” of her series, this girl cannot be reasoned with when it comes to plans and schemes. If she wants something, she takes it, and she uses every trick in the book to get it, albeit at times in a very mean way to her friends. However, her ability to scheme and pull off masterful plans is only shadowed by her own abilities to create and destroy at will, which both constructs the backbone for this show, along with the situations that the characters and fellow members of the S.O.S. Brigade Club, all find themselves in.
Taking off the rose-tinted glasses for a second, the big reason she didn’t make the list is that Haruhi can actually be too mean. Her bossy personality and unreasonable demands from her “friends” show her to think very differently on what relationships actually mean to her than her peers. It seems most of the time that her friends are really just pawns to be used. In fact, Haruhi is known to abuse fellow club member Mikuru Asahina, forcing her into situations (and outfits) against her will throughout the series. If she had a better grasp on kindness or actual empathy towards others, she may have made this list, but it’s not until much later in the show where we see her really care for others in some way. The only real empathetic feeling she shows is the mild bit of romantic interest we see between her and Kyon, the protagonist and narrator for the show and light novels. Thankfully, she seems to like him at least a little as he’s the only one she will even mildly listen to, acting as her conscious throughout the show. Though, this brings up its own problems as Haruhi is not the protagonist and remains a sought-after romantic interest for our actual protagonist and cynical narrator for the entire show. Although, other than perverted thoughts by Kyon, I’d argue that the light elements of romance are actually written well enough to not detract from Haruhi as her own independent character, keeping her agency and ability to do literally anything like a god of her own world should. Kyon’s just along for the ride.
If you get a chance, the series is definitely interesting, very self-aware, and wonderfully weird as it unfolds. Just please watch the chronological “Haruhi order” or the “DVD order” as the other orderings of the episodes are basically like hitting shuffle on a music player. No idea why those are even an option or why they aired a lot of them that way.
And that’s it! If you have a some favorite characters of your own, I’d love to hear who and why in the comments!