Anime Vice News

Almost Otaku: Who is Anime's #1 Character?

Who's got the biggest swing? Goku? Astro Boy? Speed Racer? Pikachu?

 Might speedo and knee-highs be keeping Astro Boy from keeping hip to the times?
 Might speedo and knee-highs be keeping Astro Boy from keeping hip to the times?

Frieza: Comic books have Superman. When it comes to anime/manga, what 1 character has had an impact upon japanese manga/anime like Superman had  to American comic books? Two that come to mind, when I think about this, are Astro Boy and Goku, but perhaps they aren't the ones who have had the biggest impact upon japanese anime/manga. Who do you think has?

Every field always has its “big man,” its figurehead, its originator. Rock has Elvis, wrestling has Hulk Hogan, video games have Mario and, yeah, comics have Superman. They might not have been the first (or even the greatest in a lot of people’s eyes) but they’re the ones everybody thinks of first.

Astro Boy would seem like the logical choice. You can't get much more "#1" then the creation of the "god of manga." He was even the star of the very first anime TV show, right? And he's inspired however many imitators and tributes (I'm looking at your, Mega Man!)  I also wonder if the dominance of mecha in this field might have a lot to with the kid's robotic nature.  

But that ASTRO BOY movie last year didn't do too well, even in Japan. Maybe this is more of a generational thing?  
 I'm not done YETTTTTTT!!!
 I'm not done YETTTTTTT!!!

See, I might’ve said Goku. He basically is Japan’s answer to Superman, anyway.  An orphaned, exiled, absurdly-powerful alien who's raised on Earth and defends from his fellow, evil refuges? Which one am I describing there, you know? The moving movement’s certainly faster than a speeding bullet and the kamamaya’s certainly as powerful as locomotive. And, lord knows, he's famous the world over.  

But I wonder if this might also be a generational thing. Sure, he’s big in the eyes of guys my age, but how relevant is DBZ to kids these days? Say, anybody born after ’95? Has KAI been doing a good job of keeping it relevant? Has Goku been eclipsed by Pikachu?

I bring that up, because I'm sure some older fans would really want to give Speed Racer as an answer - - and they might have had a point at one point - - but I'm sure most of you are going to disagree. His hour may have passed, just Astro Boy and Goku's may have.

Anyway, keep the questions coming. Seriously, I’ll answer anything you ask me in this column.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of   HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE. Order them on Amazon here & here.

sotyfan16on Sept. 6, 2010 at 10:26 p.m.

I think Goku is a def. possibility as even the younger generation has heard of DBZ. Hell, my dad (who is in his late 40s) said he remembers watching a bit of Dragon Ball when it came to the US. However, I'll take a step away from this topic as I think a number of fans can agree with me saying that while anime/manga have stand-out characters the mediums are more about stand-out titles (ex. Akira, Eva, Astro Boy, DBZ, etc.).

sotyfan16on Sept. 6, 2010 at 10:31 p.m.

Sorry that I keep asking questions for this segment but I have another:  
Sports anime/manga: good, bad, or just plain ugly?

frsty13on Sept. 6, 2010 at 10:39 p.m.
A few years ago, I'd say Pikachu is the modern #1.  These days, I might be leaning towards Naruto though.   It's really changed over the years...when I was a kid, I would have said Akira.
 
The litmus test for me has always been what non-fans associate with the medium/genre.  Astro Boy / Superman had their time in the 50s,  Akira and...well probably Superman still...had the 80s, Goku and Batman had the 90s, Pikachu and Spiderman in the 00s....  I don't know if comics have theirs for this decade yet, but Naruto is definitely a contender for manga.
Nerxon Sept. 6, 2010 at 10:48 p.m.
@sotyfan16 said:
"

Sorry that I keep asking questions for this segment but I have another:  
Sports anime/manga: good, bad, or just plain ugly?

"
Some are good actually
rubberluffyon Sept. 7, 2010 at 12:19 a.m.
@sotyfan16: 
Speaking as someone who isn't into sports, there are some sports manga I enjoy.  Nononono (ski jumping), Baby Steps (tennis), Teppu (mixed martial arts), and I enjoyed watching the Ookiku Furikabutte (baseball) anime.
 
And on-topic, I'd actually say for wordwide-ness, Goku is a top contender.  But I also think alongside him and Astro-boy, the title characters for Captain Tsubasa and Saint Seiya should be mentioned, although both series had little popularity in the US.
Theresonlyoneon Sept. 7, 2010 at 12:47 a.m.
Goku no contest he is to anime what Superman is to comics.
shelson Sept. 7, 2010 at 12:55 a.m.
@frsty13: not to be bitching about it, but if we are talking about #1 characters Akira couldn't be it because he's a little kid and doesn't have the protagonism say a Goku or a Astro boy have in their series, Tetsuo or Kaneda would be more fitting.
 
As to the question i agree with the 2 choices, but there are other possibilites who are equaly popular  or perhaps even more.
Doraemon and Totoro, i think every little kid in Japan has heard about them, as well at pretty much every place in the rest of the world
in Spain per example i think Doraemon and Shin-chan are a lot more famous than any other anime character, they even have  exclusive spanish produced films released there.
fulcilivezon Sept. 7, 2010 at 1:35 a.m.
Cool
kashif1on Sept. 7, 2010 at 4:04 a.m.
HEre's my question, what do you think is a good length for an anime? On one hand you have Bleach which is now almost 290 episodes, Then there are the full metal alchemist amines which are both around 60, and then you have stuff that is 27 or even 14 episodes long.  What is the best length to tell a story?
blaakmawfon Sept. 7, 2010 at 5:48 a.m.
Yeah, It's Goku. I also think that the American voice actor who plays him helps to make him so iconic.
Gaseroon Sept. 7, 2010 at 6:03 a.m.
I would have to go with Goku as well. When you think of what has remained iconic to Japanese animation and comics for the longest amount of time Goku is the answer. I can't say Astro Boy or Speed Racer or any of the older anime because they have lost their relevance in the modern day. Superman on the other hand remains a top character for Americans.
 
 Like Superman, Goku remains relevant. There's a reason why DBZ airs so much that they just went ahead and remastered the series. I also imagine that little boys in Japan wear Goku underwear just like little boys in America wear Superman (or Batman) underwear.
frsty13on Sept. 7, 2010 at 6:13 a.m.
@shels: heh, somehow I knew that kinda comment would come up.  Back then, I was a kid and not a fan.  Neither I nor anyone I knew had seen Akira at the time, so if we just saw a picture of one of the characters and was asked what that was, our response would have been "Akira".  I think it was more the movie as a whole being the first thing a non-fan would think of when they thought of anime.
Halberdierv2on Sept. 7, 2010 at 6:55 a.m.
i think Astro Boy would be it, since he's been popular and been around for a very long time.
Superevil225on Sept. 7, 2010 at 7:11 a.m.
Honestly Astro Boy or Tetsuo from Akira. Really, Goku is just a testosterone fueled Tetsuo, and alot more non-anime fans have heard of Akira (or astro boy), like how a lot of non-comic book fans know of Superman.
YotaruVegetaon Sept. 7, 2010 at 7:20 a.m.
I think Pikachu may be anime's #1 most recognizable character. Adults, kids and parents have all been made aware of the character over the years through video games, cartoons, toys, plushes, etc. Astro boy has faded with time. More people would recognize Pikachu
zaldaron Sept. 7, 2010 at 7:37 a.m.

It depends on how you are really asking the character.  If you are asking who do people know the most then gokkou or Pikachu would be a good answer.  If you are asking which character has had the most influence INSIDE the world of anime, effecting the direction in which the later stories are told (either being in the same vein or purpossly in a different vein) then I might have to pick something like speed racer, akira, or astro boy or maybe even eva. 
 
Superman does both for comics, certainly everyone the world over knows who he is...but he also influenced the way superhero comics are written even today.  I mean batman was basicly the anti-superman (normal guy no superpowers but still a crime fighter) and you could even say the same for spiderman since he was supposed to be kind of an everyman superhero (movies did this very well).  I am not sure anime has one character that fills both these roles the way superman does. 
 
Man...I love this site honestly you don't get real intellecutal questions and conversation like this at other sites....I get so tired of the, the sky is falling anime is dieing, who would beat who threads... 
 
And to ask another contriversial question (I just love stirring the pot) when Japan was trying to outlaw loli manga, the argument from many of the people against it was that it keeps the people with the urges from doing things to real children, since they can read the manga instead.  One mangaka even did that argument in manga form.  (http://www.sankakucomplex.com/2010/06/10/kentaro-miura-vs-tokyo-loli-ban/)  crazy argument or maybe some merit.  (and I promise to ask a less icky question next time).
titoxivon Sept. 7, 2010 at 7:48 a.m.
I actually think its a generation thing with everything, with the exception of superman in comics maybe, kinda weird but superman will never go down from being #1 i don't think, in the other hand many people might say hulk hogan is 'the man" of wrestling, and to others the rock comes to mind, and some might even go for john cena now days... with anime i would definitely say that astro boy, speed racer, akira (tetsuo or kaneda), goku, pikachu, and naruto now days, they all have their place in being labeled "the man" of anime/manga  each in their own time within american audiences, i myself would have to say goku reigns them all, but then again im a dbz generation kid
Naruto79on Sept. 7, 2010 at 8:27 a.m.

Popular thinking would be that it's Goku. Especially with Dragon Ball's direct influence on Naruto and obvious other series like One Piece and Bleach. Although I would not be made with Astro Boy either. In a lot of ways, you can see how he's influenced not only hero driven character series like DB but to a lesser degree, mech series like Gigantor and thus Mobile Suit Gundam and so on. In addition to children based series like Pokemon. But that is quite a leap... 

TriforceFon Sept. 7, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.
I would like to think Goku is the most iconic but really I'd think it have to be Pikachu only because it seems like it doesn't matter on the gender or age you walk up to them and say Pikachu and they will have a slight inkling on what your on about. Although in my opinion Pikachu is more of a video game character apposed to anime as I see the anime and manga as more supplementary material to the game (although I guess the bigger the franchise grew the more stand alone it became). 
obscurefanon Sept. 7, 2010 at 9:38 a.m.
As much as I want to say Goku is the number one anime character, I think Astro Boy will always hold that spot in the same way that Mickey Mouse will always be more recognized than other cartoon characters, he's been here the longest and has had the best publicity and commercial campaigns. 
 
@sotyfan16 said:
"

Sorry that I keep asking questions for this segment but I have another:  
Sports anime/manga: good, bad, or just plain ugly?

"

Sports mangas are sort of a nitch thing and not everyone is going to dig them, however if you normally don't like Sports manga or anime, then I would suggest Eyeshield 21. It's the sports series for people who hate sports series, its far more like your typical shonen series like Naruto or One Piece than like a typical sports series.

Dig Deeper into Astro Boy

Astro Boy was created by Osamu Tezuka, the "Father of Manga". As the story goes, Astro Boy is a child robot made by Dr. Tenma to replace his dead son. Instead, he becomes the greatest superhero.

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