Character Designer (and other shows that I liked their designs in): Sadamoto Yoshiyuki (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo, Diebuster, .hack//SIGN, Summer Wars, Nadia)
You might think it odd that I chose FLCL over the legendary designs of Neon Genesis Evangelion – undoubtedly some of the most influential and attractive designs in the history of anime. I love the NGE designs, but to be honest, while I appreciate the entire cast, it’s only Rei and Asuka that I really love. Meanwhile, FLCL has a greater balance, with every character given a unique and energetic design. Noata’s simple brown shorts and blue hoodie are simply unmistakable, and no one would confuse Mamimi’s uniform as that of any other anime character.
But of course, the most instantly-recognizable design is that of Haruhara Haruko, the Bitch on the Bike (alt. ‘Vespa Woman’). Her red jacket and yellow gloves and boots highly stand out, but are cooled down by the black pants and pink hair to keep from looking too silly. Her yellow vespa and blue Rickenbacher bass are practically synonymous with her character, if not the entire series. Canti is perhaps the greatest accomplishment in being a badass robot that in no way resembles another badass robot (the TV for a head helps). And let’s not for get commander Amarao’s eyebrows.
Of course, my favorite design from the series is that of class representative Eri Ninamori, I daresay the most dangerously attractive young anime girl to grace mine eyes. Eri gets to wear a number of cute outfits and hairstyles which was apparently due to the art director’s bias towards her, but the one that will always be legendary to me is when she wears Naota’s ultra-tight pajamas in episode four. I have had a serious pajama fetish ever since I saw that episode.
Fushigiboshi no Futago Hime
Character Designer: (I’m not really sure, ANN lists 2, and neither’s style seems to be like this at all)
Watching Futago Hime gives me cavities with it’s sheer sugary cuteness, but to be honest, I haven’t actually seen enough of it to write on the designs as thoroughly as I’d like to. In only 5 episodes, I haven’t gotten to see the minor characters enough to know them well, though I have seen enough to know that all of the designs in the show are splendid. Meanwhile, I can still comment on the two leading ladies who are among my favorite characters to look at in anime.
They’re fucking adorable! Fine’s top hat is what gets me the most, and their matching-but-different-color outfits are cute as a button. I can’t even think of anything else to say. I wish I could wear those outfits ;_;
Character Designer: Kawamoto Toshihiro
Someone recently described the designs of Cowboy Bebop to me as ‘unwashed beauty’, and I love that. Cowboy Bebop is caught somewhere between post-apocalypse, science fiction, and a raging boatload of cool, and all of it collides in the design sense. Most of the people you run into in the Cowboy Bebop universe are not pretty, but every one of them is in-place and memorable, all used to create the fully realized vision of the series’ universe. Most of the characters are designed to a cliche with purpose, and then given a twist, as is especially true for the main cast.
Spike wears a cool blue suit on a yellow undershirt that might be suave as hell if it wasn’t banged-up, wrinkled, and dirty, along with his mess of a haircut and semi-permanent scowl. He still looks cool as hell, though, because he is so at home in the settings he inhabits and because Spike Spiegel is just One Cool Motherfucker. Jet Black looks like he stepped out of some 80s post-apocalypse movie, in part because of his robotic arm, not helped by his torn-up mechanic’s garb. His design is meant to make him look old among a cast largely in their twenties, or at least aged beyond his years. However, he still carries with him a grizzled old cop look, which is just as well since his character is a send-out to the archetype. Faye Valentine embodies the femme fatale to a hilarious extent in that besides her normal revealing costume, her outfit changes relative to different situations are always exactly what you expect such a bad girl to wear at those times. Almost as if she’s trying too hard… and then we have Ed, a scraggly-ass brat who exudes all of the fun that she embodies.
Overall, the designs from this series are unforgettable, and in many ways unparalleled within the anime medium. Suffice it to say, I will never be unable to tell you exactly what every character in the series looks like as long as I live. My favorite designs from the series are probably Spike and Vicious as a set, as the two create a perfect balance of badass pulp noir hero and badass villain incarnate.
(Continued on page 4)