The sixth post in “100 Characters For 100 Otaku.”
Have you been following “100 Characters For 100 Otaku?” It’s the post series where I go through my top 100 characters and tell you what I like about them, how they mirror the nature of otaku, how they reflect my own otakudom, and how they parallel the first episode of Crest of the Stars! Make sure you keep up, so that you may see how YOUR favorite characters could fall into all this mess! Today’s piece is 75 through 71, so let’s see what we’ve got!
75. Isurugi Noe (from True Tears)
Why I Like Her: I almost didn’t let this formerly high-ranking characters onto this list because I couldn’t decide if I liked her more as a character or as a concept (more on that in a bit). You could consider Noe to somewhat be an example of “The Trickster;*” she puts on a sort of facade of happiness over the pain she feels inside. However, Noe doesn’t come across as hiding her insecurities, nor as acting against her nature. There’s a certain reality to her beyond the moe-moe of a desperate girl. This reality is what makes her all the more horribly painful to watch for me.
A Mirror For Otaku: One of the biggest theories from outsiders about otaku is that they use anime, games, etc. as ‘escapism.’ This couldn’t be more wrong in my opinion. Otaku have nowhere to run – the things they find joy in are the very things that make their reality painful. Anime is less escapism as it is confinement, and otaku are aware of this. Otakudom isn’t an escape, it’s a method of coping. And… Jesus, Noe makes everything hard to talk about! The point is, otaku are depressed, and anime is their facade of happiness, much like Noe puts on an act of happiness, however, in neither case is this happiness outside of the person’s true nature and desire for themselves. (this might need to become it’s own post later.)
Reflecting My Otakudom: The reason I say that I may like Noe more as a concept than as a character is that I feel as though one of two things may be the case: 1. Noe is who I wish I could be – a cute young woman who doesn’t crumble under the impending sorrow and loneliness of her life, but rises up to it with a free spirit and happiness; Or, 2. Noe represents who I already am; A person who uses things like anime, which I do truly love, to lull myself out of the impending depression that would occur the instant I lost track of my passion (as it always does.) My second theory feels all the more pressing when Noe attempts suicide and I can feel her reasons.
The First Episode of Crest of the Stars: Uhh. Well, Noe has a very complex home situation, which eventually leads to her brother leaving her all alone. This could be compared to Jinto’s complex home situation and his father’s leaving to take a place in Abh society.
*The Trickster, as explained in Boogiepop and Others by Kouhei Kadono, translated by Andrew Cunningham: “Not a multiple personalities case, but a manic-depressive girl. At school, she never spoke a word to anyone, but she was always bright and happy at home. Her parents and grandparents were apathetic and cold, and she desperately tried to brighten up the gloomy atmosphere. Unfortunately, the stress was too much for her, and it’s effects started to manifest externally. Her behavior grew stranger and stranger, until finally she was taken to a doctor and the truth came out. She was treated, her family repented, and the house became a much more peaceful place. This sort of “peace making psychological disorder is apparently referred to as “The Trickster””
74. Ladd Russo (from Baccano!)
Why I Like Him: Ladd Russo is a sick motherfucker through and through. He’s a sadomasochistic psychopath who pulp’s a man’s head with his bare hands early in the series, and spends the rest tangoing with another of the baddest of bad motherfuckers (name withheld). I can’t say much else, I love him for his violence and awesome lines. “THANK YOU, FUCK YOU, A HERO IS BORN!”
A Mirror For Otaku: Otaku love to have a ‘waifu’. What they would actually do to this ‘waifu’ is probably something we don’t want to know. Otaku have all sorts of fetishes, and I’ve no doubt that many would get off on the same thing Ladd does, which is ultimately murdering his wife (who’s own desire is actually to get murdered by him.)
Reflecting My Otakudom: I can be pretty brutal on a show I don’t like, and have a lot of fun being brutal on it. Other people will probably get pissed off, as the enemies of Ladd tend to, but it doesn’t stop my fun.
The First Episode of Crest of the Stars: We learn in the beginning of Baccano that by the end of the series, Ladd will somehow loose his left arm. Ladd’s arm is taken when he is overpowered by an opponent later in the show, similar to how the Abh overpower the humans when they take over their planet. You could say that the Abh ‘disarmed’ the humans with their overwhelming strength.
73. Samejima Mamimi (from FLCL)
Why I Like Her: Samejima Mamimi Never Knows Best. Being a hot smoker chick almost invariably means a spot on my list, but that’s not for discussion here. Mamimi is very lonely and hurt, but also very selfish and willing to openly use people for her own fulfillment. Without spoiling anything, she gradually comes to terms with the independence she needs to have. [but you can read all about that in my FLCL post series, because Mamimi is far too complex to describe in a paragraph, unless you settle for that first sentence.]
A Mirror For Otaku: Mamimi needs to rely on others to keep herself afloat (or she’ll ‘overflow,’ as she puts it.) She is lonely, scared, and unable to function; bullied and abused and uncared for. Otaku often feel the same way, even if they really ought not to, and have anime as the thing they rely on to get them through.
Reflecting My Otakudom: I can’t say that I haven’t used anime as a crutch to avoid depression, and I can’t say that I totally don’t do it now, but I can say that I think I am more like Mamimi at the end of FLCL. I have largely come to be more independent and capable of existing with myself, only using others as a crutch in my weaker moments.
The First Episode of Crest of the Stars: When Naota starts hanging out with Haruko and blowing off Mamimi more and more, Mamimi begins to feel betrayed. The same could be said for Jinto’s caretaker after his father sells out to the Abh – in both cases, there is some misunderstanding involved in the situation.
72. Casshern (from Casshern Sins)
Why I Like Him: Casshern has lost his memories and travels a broken world, which he is accused of having broken himself at every turn. He searches this world for the truth and witnesses the nature of humans and robots alike at every turn. He is also an immensely powerful fighter, which can be both painful and helpful to him at times. Casshern is at many times a silent observer, but it is ultimately his decisions in the light of what he has witnessed that will shape the fate of the world.
A Mirror For Otaku: I have known otaku to be consumers of vast amounts of information. Whether it be anime-related or not, otaku tend to accumulate a lot of knowledge in whatever fields may interest them, and as such may see fit to take their vision of such things as objective reasoning. Casshern similarly experiences many things in the world and has to ultimately decide what he considers to be right and wrong.
Reflecting My Otakudom: I’ve seen a metric fuckton of anime, and I’d be lying if I said that I don’t have some viewpoints that I consider to be somewhat objective, especially on technical aspects of anime (i.e. I know the difference between ‘good animaiton’ and ‘bad animation.’)
The First Episode of Crest of the Stars: The Abh are said to be a race consisting entirely of beautiful people (no doubt thanks in part to gene manipulation), and we see some examples of this in the first episode. Casshern, too, is said to be the most beautiful of living things, and is called such many times throughout the series.
71. Chigasaki Mayuko (from Niea_7)
Why I Like Her: Mayuko lives in the very melancholy gray area of life. She is a poor, sort of desperate college student who bears up under a lot of hardship, but finds herself wondering why she bothers with it all. Ultimately, she can’t decide whether the cyclical nature of life bothers her with it’s mundanity, or if being flung from it would be even more frightful. Her silly friends and shitty roommate continually test her perceptions.
A Mirror For Otaku: Many otaku have no idea what they want out of life or what they intend to do with it. Mayuko can’t decide if the future is something she should be ready for, or something she should let slide by, and whether or not any of it has a purpose. These are the thoughts ever-present in the minds of every hikkikomori as he finds himself unable to deal with his own pessimism when put against his desire to live.
Reflecting My Otakudom: I can’t claim to have ever known where I was going with my life. I sometimes want to believe that what I am doing now has meaning, and when I can’t be convinced of such, I want to believe that I can accomplish something with meaning. However, I have never truly made myself believe any of that. I have largely come to terms with contentment (otakudom) as the answer to depression, and I want to think that Mayuko ultimately did as well.
The First Episode of Crest of the Stars: Mayuko lives with an alien named NieA who is the worst roommate ever. She eats Mayuko’s food, even though she’s poor, is annoying, unappreciative, and rude. None of the same can be said about the Abh, but the idea of being inconvenienced by aliens is consistent.
There’s 75-71, tune in tomorrow for the next five! We’ve got a Japanese businessman, a cell phone mass-murderer, and who knows – maybe your favorite character!