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Tom's Favorite Anime Characters Ever - - Part Four

Who makes the last cut?

 They all were waiting there, patiently, over the weekend.
 They all were waiting there, patiently, over the weekend.

Good to see all you lunatics again. We were going to run this piece, the last installment of my all-time favorite anime characters list, last week. But then, Skynet took over and we had to repel the waves and waves of Terminators and Hunter-Killers. Either way, here are the final three favorites whose ranks include a space pirate, a space girl (no relation?) and a dragon rider with aggressively ambiguous sexuality. If you need to catch up, check out parts One, Two and Three, then brace yourself for the finale below.

 "I am Harlock, captain of the Deathshadow. There is nothing more to say."
 "I am Harlock, captain of the Deathshadow. There is nothing more to say."

Captain Harlock from SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK (clearly)                            

Along with DORAEMON, I have very early memories of watching this space pirate’s adventures on idle evenings when I was growing up in Asia. “Space opera” is a term that gets thrown a lot, but few heroes embody its connotations as fully as this impassioned, often romantic captain with his oh-so-handsome scar. An old school fan who’s a friend of mine broke it down to me that Harlock’s basically anime’s equivalent of Clint Eastwood. While I could never picture “ol’ squinty” in a get-up like that, the lankiness and laconism certainly evoke the Man With No Name better than other character in this arena - - even the one who don’t have names, either!

 "Burn... burn... BURN!!!"
 "Burn... burn... BURN!!!"

Dilandau Albatou from THE VISION OF ESCAFLOWNE  

I used to amusedly comment on the frequency of “I can’t believe he’s a guy” pretty boys in anime and, without spoiling the tragic twist, I can’t help thinking that creators of ESCAFLOWNE intended this maniac to be a sly parody of all that. Touching on another observation I’ve had about adventure fiction (in general,) I’ve always preferred stories that’re comfortable enough in their own skin to the let their villain be off-the-rails evil. And when it comes to bat shit crazy, the baddies don’t come that much battier than this frenzied dragon rider’s who got a tendency to pyromania and to losing it without much provocation.

Of course, Dilandau has that fierce, nigh-familial loyalty to his subordinates and he does through a bit of (somewhat gross) redemption later on to add that third dimension discriminating fans covet so much in their villains. Even then, I was enjoying crazy eyes for what he/she was up until that point.


 "It takes an idiot to do cool things."
 "It takes an idiot to do cool things."

Haruko Haruhara from FLCL  

Lately, there’s been an odd bit of backlash against this kind of character - - the scorned “magical pixie dream girl” - - but I can’t get behind any of that. Yeah, Haruko pops out of nowhere to more-or-less shove young master Naota into adolescence with a manic brew of hormones, adrenaline 'n rock-ano-roll. Yeah, she’s a none-too-subtle walking metaphor for the fleeting nature of his coming-of-age. But she makes it so fun along the way: what with her electric guitar and the magic it unleashes whenever she clubs somebody on the head with it (she makes El Kabong look so simple by comparison.) As I said when I got to the end of FLCL, I’m still befuddled as to how, in the decade or so since the conclusion of that series, that we haven’t seen any further adventures starring this spitfire free-spirit. Just imagine how many hijinks she could get all up into in outer space?

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of  HYBRID BASTARDS!  &  UNIMAGINABLE . Order them on Amazon   here  &   here .  Follow him on Twitter:  @tompinchuk

kashif1on April 25, 2011 at 7:04 p.m.
I don't know these people.  I need to fix that
ninjadude853on April 25, 2011 at 7:10 p.m.
I've heard about Harlock, and i have no idea who the other guy is. And i've only seen the first two episodes of FLCL, so i still have no idea what the fuck is going on in that show. I probably never will if it really is only six episodes
sotyfan16on April 25, 2011 at 8:13 p.m.
@ninjadude853:
FLCL is a Gainax baby so up front no one knows what the fuck is going on. Once, or if, you finish the series, sit back and think about the implications and deeper thoughts that were presented. Or, just read some reviews or look at the Wikipedia page. Or, maybe better yet, just watch the whole thing while high.

If you go with the last suggestion then either your mind will be blown or everything will make perfect sense.
AgentJon April 25, 2011 at 8:31 p.m.
Lol, Haruko may not be one of my favorite characters, but she certainly played a big part in my formulative anime years. The way I see shows and characters have two time periods; before FLCL and after FLCL. Ninamori will always be my personal favorite from the show, but Haruko truly is one of a kind. 
WarlordPayneon April 25, 2011 at 11:10 p.m.
Dilandau is one of my favorites, too, because he's just SO damned crazy.

I could definitely see a Haruko focused show being awesome.  The series hinted at there being so much more out there in that universe and her random, violent nature could lead to some really interesting stuff.  It's a shame that they never did more with her.
Aetheldodon April 26, 2011 at 12:49 p.m.
Captain Harlock , the uber man , the perfect representation of nihilism , good pick Tom ^^ Also screw Naota , FLCL was made for and by Haruko , and Dilandu well ..... you said it best , but I dont think that it is gross as you imply .... it just happened to be that way.
Lambwisegamgeeon April 27, 2011 at 12:55 a.m.
Man i watched Escaflowne the other week...Dilandau is truly mad, but understandably so.
thekokapellion July 2, 2011 at 4:58 p.m.
I'm pretty sure Chuck Norris checks his closet every night to make sure Harlock isn't hiding in it. 

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