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.

Burntlettuceon Sept. 7, 2010 at 10:01 a.m.
It completely depends on the location. I would say in Japan Haruhi would be a good choice. She is basically the iconic choice for anyone who in an Otaku in Japan, which makes up the vast majority of fans inside Japan. Besides there aren't a lot of characters who could say that they had a religion spawn from them. 
 
If we were to look into America Goku would make a lot of sense. Almost has everyone has heard of him. But I would lean toward Spike from Cowboy Bebop, lets face it. Anyone that is an anime fan in America has probably seen Cowboy Bebop, and there isn't a character held in higher esteem in the States then Spike.
Gaffon Sept. 7, 2010 at 10:34 a.m.
@Burntlettuce: I personally wouldn't call Haruhi the #1 character, especially after "Endless 8"... 
 
@YotaruVegeta:
 
Kitty wants to have a word with you about merchandising clout. 
Kitty wants to have a word with you about merchandising clout. 
mattysenon Sept. 7, 2010 at 11:35 a.m.
Obviously people will say Spiderman is better than Superman; yet that doesn't mean Superman is the iconic -- the one who spawns the stereotypes about comic characters. There probably isn't a single one character in anime because it's such a varied genre but if I had to make a list.. 
  • Goku 
  • Sailor Moon 
  • Naruto 
  • Astro Boy 
  • Speed Racer 
  • Pikachu 
Outta all of them I'd probably say Goku>> as the frontman of Dragon Ball Z which has lead people accumulating anime is about flashy flashy energy beams and terribly corny dialog. 
hitsusatsu11on Sept. 7, 2010 at 1:17 p.m.
Its obviously Goku 
It was Astro Boy before though. 
Also Gundam 
 
And DBZ is not really something that is relevant to any one generation or not, its about fighting. If you like the fighting genre its relevant, just like FOTNS and others.
Burntlettuceon Sept. 7, 2010 at 1:19 p.m.
@Gaff said:  
 
I didn't say anything about the Endless 8, nor did about the quality of the shows. I myself have yet to actually watch any Haruhi, but that doesn't change the impact it had on the Japanese anime viewer. 
Yumuluon Sept. 7, 2010 at 2:06 p.m.
Even if Dragon Ball is pretty well known Goku in himself isn't really a name that peoples who are not into the medium usually know.
 
Astroboy is on a completely different level because it renew itself every decade or so and well his image is just more unique.
Dream moderator on Sept. 7, 2010 at 2:49 p.m.
I'd definitely say Astro Boy. What Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney are to American animation, Osamu Tezuka and Astro Boy are for the world of anime. Without neither characters, both worlds of animation wouldn't have been able to launch the successful booms in popularity both animated worlds gained and the coming of later animated characters that came after them.
YotaruVegetaon Sept. 7, 2010 at 2:52 p.m.
@zaldar: Who's gokkou? ;)
 
For people who know anime, they see Astro Boy or Goku as a top character. I don't know if it counts as a character, but if it did, the Gundam may outweigh them all. 
 
Outside of anime, I think Pikachu wins.
fullmetalgeasson Sept. 7, 2010 at 3:08 p.m.
What video game/ movie/ whatever franchise do you think REALLY needs to get adapted into an anime? I totally vote for The World Ends With You!!!
YotaruVegetaon Sept. 7, 2010 at 3:28 p.m.
@Gaff:  Ahhhhhh. I concede. :) 
 
@fullmetalgeass: None for now, because the track record for anime-video game adaptations (as well as live action) STINKS. I would go with Guilty Gear, if it hasn't already been done.
Whiskeyjackon Sept. 7, 2010 at 4:35 p.m.
Doraemon. You'll find very few characters who have been as active and prominent as long as that robotic cat. Hell,  in '08 he was appointed the first anime cultural ambassador by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
ramen_reimuon Sept. 7, 2010 at 6:20 p.m.

Astro Boy holds a type of place that mickey mouse has in my heart, and goku is the superman of anime, and DBZ Astro boy has been series that  introduce anime to most.
YotaruVegetaon Sept. 7, 2010 at 6:36 p.m.
@Whiskeyjack: In Japan, most likely, but outside of that, who's Doraemon to the rest of anime consumers and fans around the world?
Randommanon Sept. 8, 2010 at 10:33 a.m.

In terms of what people think of when you say "anime" I would definitely say either goku or sailor moon. Then again, most of the people I talk to are either already into anime or were around when those things were big. Maybe gundam...
Kelleth moderator on Sept. 8, 2010 at 11:20 a.m.
@Gaff said:
"
Kitty wants to have a word with you about merchandising clout. 
Kitty wants to have a word with you about merchandising clout. 
"
 
 Nijntje is about to send you and kitty a letter about blatant plagiarism
 Nijntje is about to send you and kitty a letter about blatant plagiarism
 
I'm going to join the bandwagon and say either Goku or Pikachu, After all Goku is the japanese Superman in most peoples eyes (even though in truth Superman is the American Ogon Bat)
And to tell the truth its what i hear the most when people mention anime.
Kelleth moderator on Sept. 8, 2010 at 12:16 p.m.
@YotaruVegeta said:

" @Whiskeyjack: In Japan, most likely, but outside of that, who's Doraemon to the rest of anime consumers and fans around the world? "

You should ask  @Nerx: Now there's a true fan lol
hitsusatsu11on Sept. 8, 2010 at 12:18 p.m.
There is a Doraemon clock at my local Sushi restaurant 
Gaffon Sept. 8, 2010 at 1:23 p.m.
  @Kelleth: *cough*
 
@Burntlettuce: I'm always hesitant to brand something "THE NUMBER ONE SOMETHINGSOMETHING OF ALL TIME!!!": It requires a certain historical footing that I'm not sure (read: too bloody lazy!) to test and I'm not sure KyoAni's "unhealthy obsession with teenage girls" is something we would want to have as our figurehead, Haruhism be damned. Personal note: Of course, in my time anime didn't have the stereotype of "DBZ / Naruto / Bleach shonen", but "demonic tentacle *ahem* activities and some good ol' ultraviolence". Both of which are of course gross misrepresentations of anime. There is regular anime porn, you know! 
 
Also, I'm not sure Haruhi holds much sway outside of the "I'm going to cut up Aya Hirano 's pictures because she dared have a personal love life / I'm going to wreck this merchandising I bought because they dared air Endless 8 eight times" otaku crowd. Superman, Hulk Hogan and Mario are all recognized outside of their respective (comics, rassling, gaming) fan bases. 
 
Cue "Anime is an art style" vs "Anime is a story telling style" debate.
 
@YotaruVegeta:
 I for one hail our pussy overlords. 
Kelleth moderator on Sept. 8, 2010 at 1:32 p.m.
@Gaff: Musti never got really popular in outside of holland and Belgium Nijntje however was popular in Japan
Gaffon Sept. 8, 2010 at 1:55 p.m.
@Kelleth:

Musti is a cartoon character, created by Flemish graphic artist Ray Goossens in 1945    

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musti_(character)  
 

  Miffy was created in 1955 after Bruna had been telling his one-year-old son Sierk stories about a little rabbit they had seen earlier in the dunes,  while on holiday at  Egmond aan Zee


  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miffy 
 
:P

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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