I’m gonna start writing posts about my favorite characters. First though, here’s a big post with blurbs about some great ones that didn’t make the cut.
Uncle Iroh (Avatar: The Last Airbender, and The Legend of Korra)
Every character has two pieces: who they are in times of comedy, and who they are in times of tragedy. Often the former side is very warm, while the latter is captivating and inspiring.
For me, Iroh is warm all the way. While his personal tragedy is sad and compelling in its own way, what I find great about him is that in times of tragedy, he’s the person you look to. Uncle Iroh believes in you. Uncle Iroh wants you to find the right path. His monologue in the Legend of Korra was probably one of the most important things I could have heard at that time. Whatever happened in book 2 happened, but that moment stays.
Johnny Truant (House of Leaves)
Johnny’s blunt, selfish, and hilarious. He’s the purported editor of House of Leaves, but frequently makes the book into his own story. We hear about his fears, his lusts, his sex life. There’s few voices as delicious to listen to in my head as his own.
In moments of tragedy though, or more accurately in moments of horror, he focuses on the primal. He is himself a beast, and claims we all are too. Where Iroh was always an appeal to positivism, Johnny Truant is a constant testament to fear and messiness.
Abed Nadir (Community)
Abed’s meta, even this acronym’s. I think anyone who’s seen this show knows how entertaining this cinephile can be. He can dictate entire episodes and spout timeless lines at the drop of a hat.
Abed’s not ‘normal’. He knows that. It hurts. But it doesn’t mean he tries to fit into what ‘normal’ is. Just because you hate something about yourself and suffer because of it doesn’t mean you’ll do anything to change it. It doesn’t even mean your life will be better if you changed it. Abed’s in a whole world of people who can’t change no matter how hard they try, but some stories just hit harder than others.
Anthy Himemiya (Revolutionary Girl Utena)
Anthy is a shy girl who waters plants and makes friends with every animal he meets. A Disney princess in a modern high school. Her mild manners and pranking nature make her an instantly endearing character in the early parts of Utena.
Then it all turns out to be a redemption story. Utena is a show where the protagonist, the antagonist, and the love interest can be any combination of the same three characters. Anthy as an antagonist is easily frightening. She has any number of magical resources at her disposal, and can straight up refuse to be reasoned with, acting as if she can turn off the part of her brain containing her free will. Anthy’s manipulative nature is present from the beginning too, making her a villain in plain sight throughout the whole show.
In the show’s last moments though, Anthy takes on the mantle of protagonist. She goes on a quest of her own, taking more agency in her life than any time since the Fall of Man. Her march out of the academy is one of the finest victories in fiction.
Rose Quartz (Steven Universe)
I’ve got a thing for pink-haired revolutionaries with swords. Rose Quartz is a fascinating character not just in her demeanor and beliefs, but in how she affected those around her. Everyone told Garnet she was a crime, until she found someone who would listen. Amethyst grew up alone in a hole before meeting another person she could feel good spending time with. Pearl and Greg fell in love, and their lives will be forever changed by her loss.
And Steven hates her. For all the unconditional love she offers him, he knows it means nothing when she’s not actually there. Did Rose have an agenda in creating Steven? This question is haunting. Rose kept a lot of secrets, and this dishonesty and carelessness truly hurt people. I think it’s magnificent to have a character embody such pure ideals, and still be incredibly flawed. Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is a strikingly similar example.
But also, Rose is just so fun to have around. Her faces are adorable. She’s often careless but also means to be kind. And she’s a total badass in a fight.