Today we begin our cavalcade of end-of-year lists, starting with our favorite male characters of the year. Note: Characters are listed alphabetically by name. We may love some more than others, but there’s no official ranking.
Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – Emiya Shirou may be the protagonist, but Archer is his Number One Critic, and an exceedingly surly curmudgeon to boot, never missing an opportunity to throw the younger lad’s ideals in his face. Heck, he even tried to kill Shirou, lest he sabotage his (and Rin’s) chances of coming out on top of the pile. Archer is a jerk…but he’s an oddly lovable jerk.
2. Handa Seishuu
Barakamon – The young, up-and-coming prima donna calligrapher who was stuck in orthodoxy, slugged a judge, and shipped off to a remote island, met some snot-nosed kids, learned about the simple joys of life, and found a new and daring direction in his art.
3. Izumi Shinichi
Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – This list is full of guys getting raw deals in life, but there are few deals rawer than Shinichi’s, whose very body is infiltrated by a mysterious alien parasite. Sure, he ends up with heightened strength, speed, and senses, but he scares the shit out of his would-be girlfriend.
4. Kaizuka Inaho
Aldnoah.Zero – Inaho is a very very steady, stoic fellow who keeps a cool head in 99% of all the situations he faces, regardless of how intense they may be. He’s a welcome rarity among shounen/mecha protagonists.
5. Kanie Seiya
Amagi Brilliant Park – He starts out as a shameless braggart and cynic, but as he takes on the mantle of park savior, that park gradually opens his heart of gold, without taking away the edge that makes him so good at getting things done.
6. Kiryuu Shougo
One Week Friends – Like Inaho, Shougo’s a rarity: a rom-com guy sidekick who isn’t an annoying jackass. He provides welcome commentary and perspective on the protagonist’s shortsightedness, denseness, or outright stupidity. He also has a pretty damn good little romance of his own.
7. Favaro Leone
Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – Kind of a fantasy/renaissance-era mix between Han Solo, Mugen, and Bossun. A real rogue’s rogue, with a fierce sense of self-preservation that constantly clashes with his agreement Amira (who gave him a demon’s tail) and, indeed, the entire world (which might be better off if he killed her).
Akame ga Kill! – Though he was rarely the focus of the show (and typically used for comic relief early on), Lubba gradually became a more serious and cool, if not particularly sympathetic, member of Night Raid. He actually had one of the most pleasant pasts of all the members—he had it all—but rather than having it taken away, he chose to give it up, for the love of a woman. He kept loving (but never got the chance to tell her) until his badass demise.
9. Luis Herman
GARO: Honoo no Gokuin – A man, called “Shitty Dad” by his son, who is able to balance the responsibilities of a Makai Knight (protect the people, even the ones trying to kill you) and the appetites of an unapologetic Don Juan-style libertine, figuring if he has such a raw deal in the knight department, he might as well enjoy the pleasures of life. Sometimes, though, that means he has to fight horrors in his birthday suit.
10. Shibazaki Kenjirou
Zankyou no Terror – The son of hibakusha, Shibazaki is a brilliant, no-nonsense, hard-boiled detective who poked the wrong hornet’s nest and got demoted to demeaning desk duty—sort of an anime Lester Freamon. Then the Sphinx case comes around and suddenly his not-inconsiderable skills as a profiler and investigator make him indispensable to the force. And of course, he digs deeper than ordered and finds an even bigger shitstorm beneath the grime.
No Game No Life – One half of the legendary undefeated gamer duo known as [blank], you never want to bet against Sora and his inseparable stepsister Shiro…in anything. While in the real world they were NEETs and hikikomori, in Disboard they rise to kingship and make plays to re-annex lost land. While his sis handles most of the number-crunching, Sora is more of an observer and (usually correct) predictor of and opponent’s personality and behavior. A master manipulator with boundless stores of confidence and arrogance…as long as Shiro is close by, of course.
Amagi Brilliant Park – Don’t let the pink fuzziness or girly voice fool you; Tiramie is a guy, and not an altogether moral one. A self-deluded ‘ladies man’, the vast majority of women are rightly put off/creeped out by his schtick. That being said, he’s not a bad entertainer and gardener; his efforts ensured the soccer teams would have a world-class pitch to play on.