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Japan - Top Ten Anime Characters
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TOP 10 MOST FAMOUS JAPANESE ANIME CHARACTERS
By now anime and manga have spread to almost every corner of the world. Instilled with Japanese whimsy and fundamentally different from Western cartoons, anime has established itself as a distinct--yet globally accepted--art form. Who are the giants of the anime world? See if you recognize these names.
Every kid would like a robotic cat that can pull all kinds of gadgets out of his front pocket. Want to use a magic door to go to Antarctica for the afternoon? Want to pass that history exam you haven’t studied for? Doraemon does all this and more for the slightly un-cool Nobita, who is actually the luckiest kid alive because he has Doraemon to help him.
Trivia: Did you know Doraemon had his ears chewed off by mice?
Sazae-san has been running non-stop on Japanese TV since 1969. You could say the show and its characters are as Japanese as furikake. Sazae herself is a housewife who lives with a number of humorous family members that embroil themselves in any number of light-hearted situations.
Trivia: Did you know all of the characters on the show are named after seafood? (fish, seaweed, etc.)
3. Astro Boy
Originally created by the godfather of anime, Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy was an icon of postwar Japan. A robot that can fly and translate over 60 languages, Astro Boy’s endless mission is to maintain peace on earth. Many middle-aged foreigners know him because the English-language version ran on TV in the states in the 1960’s.
Trivia: Did you know Astro Boy is an official resident of Niiza City in Saitama?
We’ve all grown a tad sick of this omnipresent anime character, but the show Pokémon has maintained its strong popularity among school children. Ask a Japanese kid how many Pokémon characters he can draw from memory in one minute, and it is likely he will need more than one sheet of paper.
Trivia: Did you know Pikachu stores electricity in his cheeks?
Said to be of completely pure heart, this superhuman hero from the planet Vegeta uses his famous kamehameha energy blast to blow away enemies. He also gets around on a flying cloud (wouldn’t you?) and can balance himself on his tail. The character of Goku is actually based on the monkey warrior from the Chinese epic Journey to the West .
Trivia: Did you know that Goku’s “Achilles’ heel” is his tail?
If you were lucky enough to be in Japan this past year, you may have had a chance to see the gigantic statue of Gundam in Odaiba. The number of tourists who came to see this icon of SF anime attests to the popularity of the character. Although, to be specific, Gundam is just a type of mobile suite that is controlled by a pilot, and so perhaps not a “character.” But let’s keep this on one the list.
Trivia: Did you know that the name “Gundam” is a combination of the words “gun” and “freedom?”
7. Arsène Lupin III
Lupin is a master thief that is supposed to be the grandson of the character created by the French writer Maurice Leblanc. Lupin and his gang are always working on a heist, while being chased by Inspector Zenigata of the ICPO, who actually has a soft spot for his supposed archenemy.
Trivia: Did you know that Lupin’s favorite cigarettes are Gitanes?
Kitaro is a yokai, or Japanese spirit-monster, who is actually on the side of the humans against evil yokai. Some of his special powers are shooting razor-sharp needles of hair, chucking his wooden geta sandals, and protecting himself from enemy attacks using his magic vest. Often accompanied by his eyeball-shaped father (who used to have a full body in his past life) Kitaro and his strange friends are always out to help those who are in trouble.
Trivia: Did you know that Kitaro is missing his left eye? (but it’s not his father)
9. Muscle Man (Kinnikuman)
You would not think a pro wrestler who uses his farts to fly through the air would be a likely candidate to be an anime hero, but Muscle Man is one of the most recognizable characters in Japan. What originally started out as a farcical character eventually became a hero that took on deadly opponents like Ramenman, Warsman, and Buffaloman. Many foreigners will know him from the plastic figurines that were sold in the 80’s.
Trivia: Did you know that Muscle Man originally used garlic to generate his fighting ability?
Naruto has taken over the torch for the JUMP franchise and continues to rack up popularity in Japan as well as overseas. It follows the tale of young Naruto Uzumaki, who is a ninja that aspires to the strongest ninja in his village. Because he has a “Nine-tailed Demon Fox” sealed within him, Naruto has access to supernatural powers—but it is also the reason he is ostracized by his village.
Trivia: Did you know that Naruto’s favorite food is ramen?