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.

deathmongeron Sept. 13, 2010 at 2:26 p.m.

Pegasus Seiya cause hes a badass
excalibur5150on Sept. 13, 2010 at 2:58 p.m.

I agree that it belongs to Goku but I still think it's imperative that we all give Astro Boy some mad respect!
Connon Sept. 13, 2010 at 8:15 p.m.
Astro Boy might be a generational thing, but DBZ is too terrible a show for Goku to even matter in this discussion. I'd probably go with Pikachu either way.
ShadowKnight508 moderator on Sept. 13, 2010 at 8:22 p.m.
Hmm...Pikachu and Gokuare both to me the 2 best anime characters (known by all and respected among the community), but I will go with Pikachu. That darn pokemon and his 150 friends got me hooked on the Pokemon franchise in the 1990's and took me along for one wild ride (bought every game from Red/Blue/Yellow to Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald while watching EVERY episode of the anime from 1997 to 2001).
 

LPon Sept. 14, 2010 at 2:20 p.m.
I think Goku or Astro Boy or Pikachu are easily going to be the most iconic and recognizable anime characters, even my parents know who PIKACHU is!
 
But the best? That's another discussion altogether.
Darkendblackroseon Sept. 15, 2010 at 7:44 p.m.
@sotyfan16:
some, i think are really good! 
=D
darkwolverineUSMCon Sept. 16, 2010 at 6:01 p.m.
Hell no Kai aint doing a good job. It leaves out so much.
burby8100on Sept. 19, 2010 at 3:43 p.m.
@Conn:
dude DBZ can't be bad when in fact one time it was the number show on tv back in the early 2000's
macker33on Sept. 19, 2010 at 4:18 p.m.
The number one iconic character would have to be Rei ayanami,,no other character could be the face of anime. 

arch4nonon Sept. 20, 2010 at 4:59 p.m.
Seeing as how they're in the middle of airing DBZ Kai on Nicktoons one could argue it's staying relevant.
ReplicaRexon Dec. 28, 2011 at 4:25 p.m.

@macker33 said:

The number one iconic character would have to be Rei ayanami,,no other character could be the face of anime.

I agree with you, but Miku's climbing the ranks I should think...

bbally81on Dec. 28, 2011 at 6:17 p.m.

Most tend to the point the finger at DBZ's Goku, due the fact they share a similar background (born on a distant planet, sent to earth as an infant, home planet destroyed, raised on earth, grew to become protector of Earth), however Goku has a more child like personality and apart from his fighting smarts, isn't exactly the brightest character in the world but he has a likable upbeat personality. Still he tended to kill his opponents (not a prefarable action but most of the time he had no choice) Possibly more comparable to Golden Age Superman.

Next on the list is live action hero, Ultraman, another character who recieved the title of Japanese Superman from fans. He came from another galaxy far away from Earth, has a secret identity as a form of a human who was close to death, therefore forming with the human makes like a lifeforce for his host however some Ultra heroes merely created their own human bodies to take cover as and when monsters go on rampage the human form transforms to Ultraman due to a certain object. However like Goku, every Ultraman (apart from Cosmos) tend to kill the monsters. Again more comparable to Golden Age Superman (and Captain Marvel, being a transforming hero and all)

However in my opinion, Japan's true answer to Superman is Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy, while not as powerfu (plus the fact Astro isn't an alien, but an A.I and he has no secret identity) he can be comparable to Superman for several reasons. While Superman is seen as the grandaddy of comic book superheroes who set the standards that others would follow despite not being the first comic book hero, Astro is seen as the one who set the standards for other manga titles to follow despite not being Japan's first superhero. When Sups had the Flecther shorts that set the standards for animated superhero films, Astro's 60's anime was the first anime to have a more continuous formula (with 2 parters and such). Therefore in terms of importance in their own countries, they share a similar influence.

Like Superman, Astro tries to avoid killing his enemies, he usually stops robots from killing humans or destorying eachother. He is optimistic and kind hearted. Like Sups, Astro can be seen as more universal comic character due to Tezuka's anti-war sentiments. Although in the short manga series "Ambassador Atom" where Astro made his debut, he showed his more violent side near the end when he found the Earthlings decision to attack an innocent alien race, illogical (he didn't kill anybody but still), since this was his first appearance, this version could be comparable to the more violent Golden Age Superman. In that short manga, Astro would sport a more traditional superhero attire (cape included), of course none of that made it, when he got his own manga title although he still wore his red boots.

Unfortunatly like Superman, Astro has been a target of criticism by cynical fans who saw him as too moral, boring and bland therefore prefering more darker, loudmouth or cynical manga heroes, which was trully evidented in the 70's when more cynical, deliquent like manga heroes were big sellers and Tezuka was forced by his publishers to make Astroboy less moral which ironically caused sales to drop, therefore gave Tezuka the chance to make Astro the way he was again (many chapters of that era of Astro was mostly ommited from the manga's US release except for a few).

A nice little trivia for you all, Tezuka was also a big Superman fan and was made honorary chairman of the Superman Fanclub in Japan during the release of the Donner/Christopher Reeve Superman film in Japan.

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.

Edit/View the Wiki
Hit the Forums (7 Posts)
Add/View Images (60 Images)
Watch Some Videos
Pokemon Black and White Looks Delicious in Motion

First video of a Pokemon battle in Black and White.

Comment & Win: One Piece Vol. 52, 53

Time for a giveaway folks! Now, act civil, we don't want anyone to get hurt in the mad rush to win.

Beginner's Guide to FLCL

Gainax's madcap, surrealist anime, broken down for new viewers.

Ballz Deep

Steve gets intimately close to Dragon Ball Z, for science!

Top 3 Awful Anime Dubs

Grit your teeth and get your ear plugs ready cause this week we're taking on the three most amazingly bad dubs of all time!

AKAME GA KILL! #1 -- Special Review

Don't judge a book by its cover!

JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE Pays Homage to Stephen King?

STARDUST CRUSADERS #13 -- Watch & Learn. Christine?

PERSONA 4: THE GOLDEN ANIMATION #1 -- Special Review

This finally makes sense to me?

SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL #1 & 2 -- Special Review

Now that the second episode's out, how does this franchise fair after 25 years?

Is DRAGON BALL Dated?

DRAGON BALL #11 -- Retro Review. Rusty pinballs?!

Does JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE Work as a Horror Story?

STARDUST CRUSADERS #14 -- Watch & Learn. It's scary!

SAMURAI JAM-BAKUMATSU ROCK #1 -- Special Review

The secret history of bishonen?

Community Spotlight 7/18/2014

It's a small but still powerful list of submissions for the second showcase of July.

AKAME GA KILL! #1 -- Special Review

Don't judge a book by its cover!

SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL #1 & 2 -- Special Review

Now that the second episode's out, how does this franchise fair after 25 years?

JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE Pays Homage to Stephen King?

STARDUST CRUSADERS #13 -- Watch & Learn. Christine?

Community Spotlight 7/18/2014

It's a small but still powerful list of submissions for the second showcase of July.

Summer 2014 Simulcast Guide

What's flipping off the stream this season?

PERSONA 4: THE GOLDEN ANIMATION #1 -- Special Review

This finally makes sense to me?

BLEACH Ch. 589 Review

Pick up lines you should never try outside of manga.

Does JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE Work as a Horror Story?

STARDUST CRUSADERS #14 -- Watch & Learn. It's scary!

Mandatory Network

Submissions can take several hours to be approved.

Save ChangesCancel