Finding the "Manly Men" In Anime (Not To Be Confused With The "Macho Men")

“…the point I want to make is that there’s a significant difference between being manly, an awesome masculine badass who we can respect and admire; and being macho, a muscular, insecure tosspot with no social skills.” – Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw

This post by video game journalist Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw on his Extra Punctuation feature caught my interest a few weeks ago. It’s about distinguishing characters who are ‘manly men’ from those who are ‘macho men’ – the gist of it being that a ‘manly man’ is a guy who’s completely badass while still being honest with his emotions and respectful of other people, while a ‘macho man’ is a guy who tries to constantly reassure you that he has a dick by acting like one. I realize that making this distinction will raise flags with some readers (especially my vocal feminist crowd, hehe), so if you’re wary about this distinction and want to discuss it, please read this disclaimer before leaving any argumentative comments. If you don’t care about all that, then proceed~

After giving thought to Yahtzee’s post, I realized that anime is sparse on ‘manly men’. Most anime characters tend to be young, and lack the clarity of thought and ability to take action that a ‘manly man’ has. Sure, characters will sometimes do manly things, but that’s not the same as embodying that manliness as a way of life. For instance, I could argue that Kyon from Haruhi has some manly moments of taking action, but outside of those moments he’s still a directionless, complacent teenager, regardless of how much wit and intellect he has to back him up. Nay, I’m on a search for characters who are truly ‘manly men’, and I’ve listed a few whom I think qualify below.

Okay, his outfit is a bit ridiculous. Art by denchi http://gelbooru.com/index.php?page=post&s=list&tags=denchi

Simon the Driller – Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Adult Simon is the epitome of a ‘manly man.’ He’s a man with real goals: to marry Nia and to save humanity; and he will fight with everything to protect those ambitions. Even when others fail at their duties or become unreliable, Simon never casts blame on anyone, and steps up to do as much as he possibly can without complaint. He respects and acknowledges the skills of everyone in his company, and went so far as to stop Russiu from committing suicide after betraying him because he knew that Rossiu was still an important part of the team. Simon never looks down on anyone nor tells them that they’re incapable – he’s always uplifting and inspiring, asking only that everyone give their all in pursuit of their dreams. When his friends betray him and he nearly loses his fiance, he’s never afraid to show his sorrow, but he bites through the pain and continues to rise up and push forward with his goals.

He may be young, but he's definitely manly.

Jing – King of Bandits Jing

In terms of personality and profession, Jing is the most similar to the characters on Yahtzee’s list. As a master thief, Jing has to be fast as well as sneaky – his primary weapon is a large blade that shoots out of his jacket sleeve and retracts with incredible speed for purposes ranging from combat to theft; plus he’s ridiculously agile to an extent that only manga can portray. His ‘last resort’ move is a combo attack with bird companion Kir called the ‘Kir Royale’, a highly effective and usually one-shot-kill maneuver. Admittedly, Jing doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to emote, as he’s a laid-back guy without much to be sad about, but it’s certainly there in places. He’s always gentlemanly and kind as well as quick-witted, but he’s not unflappably cool (despite being represented that way in the anime adaption) and will at times fall victim to gags or traps and what have you, which allows him to remain human instead of seeming too perfect. His eyes are always on the prize, and he goes the distance to get the treasure he’s after… and often the girl as well~

Click image for sexier version.

Sagara Sousuke – Full Metal Panic

Sousuke is a man who takes his work very seriously and knows how to get shit done. While a bit uncultured (only knowledgeable about the military), he’s far from unintelligent, as proven through his effectiveness in battle and tactical mastery. While he does have a hard time understanding others, he’s never disrespectful to anyone he meets. Sousuke has his fair share of bad memories and troubling thoughts, but he fights through them and completes the mission no matter what it takes.

This guy's weapon is a steel fan. That should be enough.

Hakuoro – Utawarerumono

Possibly the manliest anime character I can name, Hakuouro fits the definition to perfection and excels at it’s every aspect. He’s a skilled warrior who can hold his own in battle, a great leader who’s able to inspire his kingdom and protect it with tactical brilliance, and a family man who values time spent with his surrogate daughter, wife, and pet more than anything. The opinions of his generals and friends are always considered, and he knows how to use each of their strengths to the fullest. Because he’s friendly to his people, Hakuoro is able to create a happy, flourishing nation. As the series goes on, he’s faced with more and more emotionally taxing situations and never forces them onto anyone else, but also isn’t afraid to share his feelings with close friends. Even when he’s nearly at the breaking point, he still finds the strength to press on and fight for what he wants to protect.  [F]

I’m very interested to know what anime characters you consider to be “manly men”, and why you think so. I’ll be responding to all comments in an attempt to raise points and discussion about the character until we can come to a decision about him, so it’d be awesome if you could present all of your thoughts on why you think the character qualifies. In addition, I’ll be adding a few more characters of my own in the comments, as well as making a shortlist of ‘macho’ characters.

53 thoughts on “Finding the "Manly Men" In Anime (Not To Be Confused With The "Macho Men")

  1. I don’t dislike macho men – maybe I couldn’t hang out with them in real life, but I have a blast watching them if their actions are generally positive and ultimately benefit the story.

    Some Macho Men examples would be:

    Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – Goes out to battle with no shirt on screaming about how he’s the best there is, and says things such as ‘a true man fights his opponent face-to-face!’ He certainly is pretty wrapped up in his manhood, but he’s well-meaning and ends up inspiring Simon to become the manly man that he is.

    Domon Kasshu from G Gundam – He’s a hot-headed, brash, honor-code-ridden guy who never lets down an opportunity to prove himself. His social skills are definitely lacking, and he’s the type to, as Yahtzee put it ‘find anyone who can’t knife fight their way out of a kraken’s belly useless’.

    The Entire Cast of Sengoku Basara – Who, for the record, really are meant to look like a bunch of tossers since the show is very popular with the bl crowd, but these are dudes in ridiculously flashy and useless armor who live for the sole purpose of proving their manhood on the battlefield time and again.

    Cromartie High School is a good parody of the macho man, as most of the cast fits into a macho stereotype, and half completely subvert it.

    Onizuka from Great Teacher Onizuka is macho but it’s usually in the interest of helping his students come of age in different ways, so it’s sort of like the Kamina case.

  2. I can’t really think of any manly characters to talk about, but I do want to say that I love that you and Croshaw make a distinction between ‘macho men’ and ‘manly men’. It sucks to see a character who “constantly reassure[s] you that he has a dick by acting like one” (quoted because I couldn’t put it better myself!) being glorified or idolised, especially by young kids, because this isn’t something to try and live up to. I think it’s awesome that you’re talking about looking up to not these guys but (to use a Yiddish word) mensches, because those are the kinds of people who can serve as great role models.

    • Indeed. Although, some macho men can be inspiring – Kamina as I mentioned above inspired people because yeah, he was thickheaded and macho, but he also had worthwhile ideals that would ultimately save a people who might have needed someone that brazen to strike the mold. However, anime also doesn’t usually have the kind of macho characters that American video games have, like Yahtzee describes, who are usually just douchebags. (I think it says a lot that the ‘manly’ characters that he names are two from Ubisoft (French) games and one who, while from an American game, is also foreign (actually, I think he’s French, too!) while his macho characters were more the paragon of the American game male lead.) But yes, I think it’s better to be well-rounded.

      My brother is a little lost between the two. He idolizes manly characters, but almost any in either of the lists I’ve provided, which has mixed results. On one hand, he is certainly a respectful and kind man, but on the other hand he tries to aspire to some ‘code of manliness’ for himself that sometimes just comes off as being an idiot and justifying it with pride.

  3. Manly, though overshadowed by women are:

    Jinto of Crest/Banner of the Stars. Banner II was just sublime for his character.
    Rock of Black Lagoon.
    Max Jenius of SDF Macross. Macross 7 was just sublime for his character.

    • I was going to name Rock but I wans’t entirely sure how to build his case since it’s been a while since I watched the show and can’t put up the best case. That scene from the last thread was a great one, but I also am not sure if I find Rock ambitious enough to be inspiring. Or maybe I don’t remember S2 well enough.

      Max is definitely fucking manly as hell. I didn’t know he was in Macross 7 :O I thought it was like an alt-universe thing.

      Can’t comment on Jinto, being as I still haven’t finished Crest of the Stars. Should get around to that sometimes soon.

  4. I’d call Dutch from Black Lagoon a “manly” man. He’s a hardass that’s “seen it all” but he’s still a decent guy that takes the likes of Rock under his wing, and it’s hinted that he wires large amounts of his illicitly-gained funds to those in need. I’d also like to give Rock those props after the end of the second season. How he handled the yakuza case was very “manly.” I just haven’t read any of the manga past that point to know of he “reverts.”

    And if Dutch is a “manly” man then Jet from Cowboy Bebop fits the bill as well. He’s the grizzled old ex-cop whose heart is always in the right place and isn’t one to shirk back and not let people know how he feels. He might bottle up some of his “issues,” but he doesn’t let those issues get in the way of his behavior.

    • Yeah, Dutch is definitely manly. I missed him on my list because I was too focused on main characters, but he definitely has the cool head, respectability, and skills that come with being manly. As for Rock, see my reply to Ghostlightning’s comment above.

      I don’t know about Jet. For me, a ‘manly man’ has to be someone who is ambitious, fighting for something, and having a positive outlook. Jet is more pessimistic and has more or less succumb to just living life as it comes along, I think.

      • I dunno if I agree that being manly has to do with your outlook on life. I never considered positivity a specific aspect. Thinking about it there might even be some villains we can include somewhere if we take out positive outlook. I like the ambitious and fighting for something aspect. A person of specific convictions and principles but who does not themselves be ruled by them. In short I was thinking of someone fiercely individual and independent. They can go with the flow or against the flow and aren’t afraid to show those qualities that one might construe as unmanly. Grown up Simon being the perfect example for not afraid to show certain emotions. Not letting them rule them though. When I think of a manly person, I think of Invictus:

        Out of the night that covers me,
        Black as the pit from pole to pole,
        I thank whatever gods may be
        For my unconquerable soul.

        In the fell clutch of circumstance
        I have not winced nor cried aloud.
        Under the bludgeonings of chance
        My head is bloody, but unbowed.

        Beyond this place of wrath and tears
        Looms but the Horror of the shade,
        And yet the menace of the years
        Finds and shall find me unafraid.

        It matters not how strait the gate,
        How charged with punishments the scroll,
        I am the master of my fate:
        I am the captain of my soul.

        I would say Jet is captain of his soul. I just don’t associate it with being positive. I associate it with being strong willed and individual.

        • I suppose that could be so. I love that poem, it would make a great melodic death metla or folk metal song. “Captain of his soul” is a good phrase, but how much is Jet the captain of his soul? Is it that he’s resigned to whatever comes, or simply ready for whatever comes? I’m a little undecided.

          • That’s why I didn’t think it had to do with your outlook. He can be resigned or ready it doesn’t matter. What matters is that he has control and knows the direction he wants to steer it in. Whether life throws trouble or triumph at him he won’t be shaken to the core. Being resigned doesn’t always mean you have no direction. A person who is retired doesn’t necessarily have a resigned or negative outlook on life. They are secure in the knowledge that they can take what life throws at them. In whatever manner best suits them. I haven’t seen Cowboy Bebop in awhile but for Jet maybe that means taking a stiff drink, kicking back his heels, and pissing away the day. He’s not doing it in fear of what’s to come. Jet always struck me as someone who was ever present in mind. Though burdened occasionally by the past he wasn’t absorbed in it like Spike. It might even bear mentioning the symbolic fact that Jet was the captain of the Bebop despite his supporting role to Spike’s protagonist.

            As for the original comparison really Dutch has a lot more in common with Jet than he does with the list of traits you mentioned for manly. Being a mercenary he’s hardly ambitious. There’s nowhere upwards for him to go. Fighting for something could be argued but again he’s a mercenary. He may have a price he’s not willing to take for certain jobs and morals to go with it but I don’t know if I would say their is some active goal he is fighting for. Another thing, do we ever get a purely Dutch episode like we got pure Jet episodes? If not we’ve had to piece together his personality over the course of the show. Given what we do know I would be willing to say that Dutch and Jet were cut from similar if not the same molds.

  5. Hakuoro, for sure.. dude fights with a *metal fan*, which he got as a gift for his manliness from an old lady, and STILL kicks ass. He’s also clever, and can somehow contain his “brother’s” rage with but a single word.

    I’d say Ginko from Mushishi too, Durand from Le Chevalier D’Eon, and I was always partial to Daisuke Ido from Battle Angel for some reason. And how can you NOT find Lordgenome from Gurren Lagann manly as far as “villains” go?

    The kid in me also loves Vash the Stampede, and if I’m feeling sarcastic I’ll find General Vamp from Sunred more “manly” than most anime men.

    • Ginko, I think he does work. He’s not what you’d expect because his strength isn’t physical, but he is undeniably skillful and fits all the other traits – definitely not one to be forgotten, and is in fact one of the character I look up to.

      Lordgenome is definitely manly, too, and the anti-spirals could even be called manly in their own way, as The Animanachronism makes a good case for: http://animanachronism.wordpress.com/2008/03/18/pure-purpose-in-the-anti-spirals-counterattack/

      I haven’t seen Le Chevalier yet (I’ve been told it’s heavy on political dialog, so I’ve been avoiding, but still interested), and I’ve only read the first volume of Alita unfortunately.

      Vash is definitely close to being manly, but I actually think that if he does achieve it, it’s only at the end of the series. I have nothing against idealism, but I definitely think that Vash gets more mature in the end when he decides to not forget Rem’s teachings, but to follow a path that is his own, which is certainly the manly thing to do. He isn’t really ambitious enough to be inspirationally manly, though I suppose the message of growing up is also sort of inspirational.

      I still need to watch Sunred!

  6. Add some :
    Ryo Saeba – City Hunter
    Goofy and perverted by day ( In front of the girl he loves) , professional and skilled assassin by night ( and when the girl he loves doesn’t look) , Ryo is TEH Manly Man when he doesn’t pretend to be retarded. His goofiness hides a dark and tragic past mostly clouded in mystery, and his greatest enemy ( and incidentally final boss) is the man he loved the most, the one who raised him, his father. His only goal in life is to protect those who are dear to him. Tragic + Badass are the formula to his manliness. And yeah I do realize the fact that he keeps running after everything that moves and has boobs could categorise him as a macho man, Ryo only actually pretends to be that way ( or at least in 97.45% cases )

    Archer – Fate/Stay Night

    Well, there’s not much to say about Archer as his past(future?) is also clouded with mystery. He was a man with a certain goal who probably sacrificed everything to achieve said goal. The end result isn’t completely what he expected, but still thrived to make a difference.

    Aoba Tsukuke – Rosario+Vampire and Sawada Tsunayoshi – Katekyoshi Hitman Reborn!

    While these two generally feel like and act like wimp, but when the people dear to them are in danger, they change into a more serious and badass persona and fend off the danger. Id say they can be pretty Manly when they need to be.

    • And I haven’t seen any of these shows! Amazingly! So I can’t comment on too much, but I will say this – having a sex drive doesn’t make you macho, as it’s just part of being a man. The manliest character on Yahtzee’s list, Ezio from Assassin’s Creed 2, shags a good deal of women in the game canon, and certainly isn’t afraid to tail a good piece of ass. Macho would only be if he had to brag about it to the world and act like he was some huge stud.

      While, I haven’t seen Rosario nor Reborn, I will say that from what you describe, they sound more like the teenage male leads I talked about in the beginning – it’s nice that they can be manly when they need to be, but to be a ‘manly man’ you really have to live it day to day.

    • Seconding Ryo Saeba. He’s kind of like Vash in the sense that he acts silly but kicks serious ass when he gets down to business, but the (hidden) emotional maturity is always there.

  7. A couple recent ones I can think of..

    Lawrence from Spice and Wolf. Boyish enough to charm a difficult wolf-goddess, man enough to make her fall for him. Is about as manly as a medieval merchant probably can get.

    Mattalast from Book of Bantorra. Beds Hamy within seconds of first meeting her, and is whatever man he has to be for a given situation.

    Oddly, Sai Akuto in Ichiban Ushiro no Daimao.. manliest harem lead I can remember, who wins people over with sheer charisma despite being a Demon King, among other things.

    • Lawrence is a pretty good one – he actually does state his goal clearly at the very beginning of the story and seems to be heading for that goal, and to hold his own with Horo takes some brass balls. I’d definitely say he deserves the title.

      I haven’t seen either of the other two, though I’ll be watching Daimao pretty soon, so I’ll be able to comment then. The manliest harem lead (Hakuouro notwithstanding) I’ve seen is Keiichi Maebara from Higurashi, who I’ll be posting about in another comment, so I’ll be very interested to see how this guy fares as competition.

  8. The first one that came to mind for me was Harima Kenji from School Rumble. He is a comedy character so you have to grant him a little leeway but the thing I like about him is that for a time he puts aside all the romantic aspects of his school life and tries to focus on making a career as a manga artist. He walks many paths of life in attempt to realize his dream. He’s actively trying to better himself. He first appears as a complete delinquent at first but he has a soft spot for a double ahoged air head named Tenma. It’s an unrequited love throughout the series. He performs many courageous acts for Tenma and her friends. While at first in these events he’s always thinking of Tenma, as time goes on he truly cares about Tenma’s friends when he helps them and not just about impressing Tenma. Tenma rarely acknowledges Harima is anything special. Sometimes that hurts him, other times he pushes through. It’s been awhile since I watched the show and I can’t name specific details about episodes off my head but I always saw Harima as a man of strong convictions and distinct individuality. He’s probably one of, if not my favorite Male character/protagonist of any series.

    What do you think about Gintoki? I can’t decide myself. I try to avoid using the word but he’s almost tsundere in his affection. He’s just not honest enough about his feelings in everyday life. Though I think that individuality could in some part contribute to manliness. I’m kind of leaning toward manly myself, but the sort of flippancy with which he dismisses the bad guys with isn’t really hot-headed or macho. He’s almost never one for posing. He protects the stuff he believes in but he’s not afraid to let someone else take the spotlight.

    Is it weird that the 2 examples I thought of are both from comedy shows?

    • I haven’t seen School Rumble, but you’ve certainly convinced me.

      Gintoki… I have to say is decidedly manly. On this list, I didn’t really pick out characters who are manly but also an asshole, because they kind of aren’t as inspiring, but Gintoki is sort of an asshole who you actually respect for being just that. He certainly is inspirational to me, so I want to say he is manly.

  9. Takemoto from Honey and Clover becomes rather manly by the end of the first season. I never finished the second, so I don’t know what came of that, but it was a nice development.

    Seconding Gingko. Especially given his traumatic past and his relationship with the mushi, it’s impressive that he can still be so calm and self-assured.

    • Seconded Takemoto. He’s even more manly in season 2. Then comes Spike from Cowboy Bebop, Inuyasha, Maximillien Robespierre from Le Chevalier D’Eon, Athrun Zala from Gundam Seed, Kusuriuri from Mononoke although he’s not technically a normal human but he definitely has that manly character that you talked about and last but not least, Mugen from Samurai Champloo.

      • No. I do not think that Spike and Mugen qualify as manly because they don’t have thier shit sorted out enough. Inuyasha is just a hotheaded teenager, as far from manly as you get. Kusuriuri could be called manly, but he’s really just more of an enigma – we don’t actually know his motivations. I can’t speak for the others.

        @2DT: Takemoto, yeah, I’d say he perhaps does become a man by the end of the series, though he is more of a coming-of-age story, almost like what I said about Vash above. And yeah Ginko (why the extra g?!) is definitely manly.

  10. Off the top of my head:

    Harry Ord. Gets the girl, keeps his job and wears the raddest sunglasses. Here’s a guy who decimated an elite squad in seconds, which had pestered the main character for many episodes. Best bodyguard ever.

    Hiroshi Shiba from Koutetsushin Jeeg. Might have the single most GAR moment of all old-school super robot pilots, not letting the passage of 50 years dull his love for someone who has already turned into a wrinkled old maid. He can also survive in space. Link (too bad video is taken down though)

    I’d also argue that D-Boy from Tekkaman Blade evolved from macho to manly after the mid-series timeskip, which mellowed him as a human being while tempering his hatred against the Radam even more. To a lesser extent, Balzac too, who redeems himself after being an ass for the most part of the show.

    • Harry Ord, FUCK YES. I haven’t seen Jeeg, but sounds pretty badass. I still need to finish DANGEROUS BOY as well, but I’ve heard before about his development.

  11. I don’t know if I like your distinction between manly men and macho men. My main issue lies with Sousuke and Simon. Not because they aren’t manly or because they aren’t great men in the end but because they had their mamoru moments, too. They were reluctant and lost their direction is some point.

    Going by your choices I would say that Akiyuki from Xam’d is a manly man, too.

    I classify manly men into smooth and macho.

    Roy Mustang, Char Aznable, late Amuro, Edward Elric, Hei from DtB, Vash, Spike are smooth.

    Greed, Wrath, Scar, Kamina are macho.

    • I think everyone loses their way sometimes, at the apex of their despair, but pulling through that in the end is as manly as it gets. I haven’t finished Xam’d – he wasn’t that manly in the eps I watched, but maybe that changes? Roy Mustang, he is pretty manly, though also kind of an asshole. Char is definitely manly, and late Amuro, Edward Elric I think is just too young. He hasn’t really come of age yet, unless, once again, it happens later in the show where I haven’t seen. I almost listed Hei but then with Hei, what are his real motivations? What’s going on in his head? Not really clear. I don’t think Spike is really all that manly, and my thoughts on Vash are up above.

      • I’d say Roy falls firmly in the manly category. His modus operandi isn’t to be a dick, rather, he razzes those close to him. It’s a very human thing to do, and it’s something almost everyone here does as well. It also helps build the outward persona that protects his phone conversations. He’s serious when the situation requires it and downright icy with people he doesn’t like. He has a clear ambition to reach for the top, but he refuses to claim it at the cost of any of his comrades. The strength of his character and the confidence it inspires in his troops is best illustrated toward the end. Rather than giving some fiery inspirational speech, he says a few solemn words and then issues a very simple order: “Do not die.” He receives a chorus of “Ayes!” in response.

        And, well, you’ll have to see for yourself how his character develops in the endgame.

        • The manliest character in Fullmetal is by and far Olivier Armstrong (no sarcasm there). Hughes is probably the manliest guy, but I also feel Ling Yao is more “manly” than Roy. Roy’s almost there, like Scar, but he lacks a certain manliness factor (he’s cool as all hell though).

  12. Orange-kun. 50% man 50%machine 100% loyalty! I want to say Hei but I am still not so sure if he is honest with his feelings. Takizawa, Akira eden of the east, the man can blow up missiles with his freaking fingers. Hosaka is pretty many imo, he is honest with his feelings…just has a hard time getting them through. Not sure how I would classify Mugen and Jin from Shamploo…thats most off the top of my head.

    • Yeah, I’m undecided on Hei too. If I felt like I understood him better, I might feel comfortable listing him. I haven’t seen Eden of the East. Orange-kun LOL and Hosaka LOL but yeah, pretty damn manly indeed I’d say. I don’t really know about Mugen and Jin- I think both of them try to be pretty macho and neither is great at being honest with themselves.

    • Contractors, by their very nature, cannot be Manly or Macho because such actions would dilute their logic.

  13. Ozma Lee, let’s see… Hijikata Toushirou from Gintama is pretty manly. Definitely agree on Simon. It’s tough depending if the character should be a main character or not :/

    Troll votes: Yuuki (TM8.0), Densuke (DenCo), most of the cast from Baccano!, Hosaka (Minami-ke)

    • I thought about Baccano but only Ladd and Vino I thought would classifly. Some of the other I thought weren’t always honest with there feelings. Actually Ladd was kindof a dick and wasn’t respectful of anything. Idk they were still pretty coal guys.

    • Hijikata Toushirou is a bit more dishonest with his feelings then I’d want form a ‘manly man’ but I definitely think he’s on the right path.

      @crazydave: I think Firo is the most manly character in Baccano. He’s ultra-nice, smooth, a good talker, moving up in the world at an incredible rate, highly skilled, gets the girl with incredible ease, all around the kind of guy I wish I could see myself being at his age lol.

  14. I think the Straw Hat guys from One Piece are pretty manly. They all have their goals that they firmly stand by (Luffy to be King of the Pirates, Zoro to be the best swordsman, Sanji to be the best cook, etc) and they’ll fight against impossible odds to not only achieve their goals, but to selflessly defend their crew-mates (nakama!)

    You think there are any manly guys in Bleach and Naruto?

    I’m not sure if Inuyasha would fit the title or not – he’s brave, strong, willing to sacrifice himself for others, and doesn’t take crap from anyone. However, his indecisiveness about which girl he loves could be points against him, at least until the end of the series.

    Ashitaka was the first manly anime guy I saw. He never swayed from his yearning to keep the peace between humans and nature – he selflessly helped both sides, but he knew when he had to fight (his skills with a bow were quite impressive too).

    And what about Ryuuji from Toradora? I don’t think he’d fit the title at the beginning of the series but maybe in the latter half.

    I’d probably be better thinking of macho guys since they tend to be the ones I dislike XD

    • I have no idea how I didn’t get any One Piece guys on my list – all of them are pretty manly and inspirational, and I just love them~ I think the Bleach and Naruto characters are too immature across the board to be called manly.

      Inuyasha is wayyyy too much of a kid, IMO. He could be manly one day, but he’s still stuck in bratty teenager mode up until the end.

      Ashitaka I guess is the guy from Mononoke Hime? It’s been a long time since I last saw it, so no comment.

      Ryuuji I was very close to listing, but I think he takes a lot of time to be sure of himself. He is most definitely and unequivocally a man by the series finale, but I think his and Taiga’s story is a coming of age one.

  15. I’d second Sousuke, Rock, Jinto and Archer as Manly Men who I look up to as admirable and heroic. I’d also add:

    Ginko (Mushishi): a guy who knows a lot, isn’t perfect but devotes his life to helping other people with his extensive knowledge. Quietly awesome.

    November 11 (Darker than Black): He’s a Brit and is therefore the perfect anti-hero…except it’s never clear whether he’s a *bad* guy or not. He simply has his own set of moral standards and stands by them.

    Saiga (Speed Grapher): a cynical old git, but a man who again works to his own moral code. A man who will sacrifice himself for exposing the truth and doing the right thing.

    I can’t think of many macho men who I look up to, mainly for the reasons Yahtzee outlines. In normal circumstances, Macross’s Roy Foker would be a boorish, hot-headed chauvinistic ass but the circumstances give this anachronistic archetype his opportunity to shine. This is a point I’ll expand on sometime in the future, but in a time of war there’s a place for hard-headed bastards that they won’t find in peacetime. As such, the macho Roy is a hero…and also has the most epic, manly final scene in the history of *everything*.

    • Ginko, definitely, as we talked about above. November 11th, not sure, for the same reason I’m not sure about Hei – I just can’t get into his head well enough. Will get back to your on Speed Grapher.

      Yeah, Roy is exactly like Kamina – someone who was needed and was inspiring, because he lead someone else (or a populace mentality) to become a man.

  16. Some more manly men:

    Makunouchi Ippo from Hajime no Ippo – Ippo is just an incredibly good guy. He’s never mean or obnoxious and is very humble, but he is still driven and has an incredible desire to win and move forward in his boxing career. Ippo was a massive inspiration for me and all of my friends when we started getting into fighting.

    Keiichi Maebara from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni – Keiichi doesn’t have a big goal, but he greatly values his everyday life and his friends, which he’d never had before. When things pose a threat to his friends and he becomes aware of the situation, he’ll fucking kill a man to help out his palls. Or several men. Or a small militia.

    Edmond Dantes from Gankutsuou the Count of Monte Cristo – I was hesitant with this because the Count uses all of his manly charms for the purpose of carrying out his ultimate goal of sadistic revenge, however the sheer lengths that he goes to in accomplishing this goal are also inspirational, in a twisted way.

    Char Aznable‘s manliness is currently under heavy scrutiny and debate: http://ghostlightning.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/char-i-am-disappoint-revelations-of-a-3rd-viewing-of-chars-counterattack/

  17. It’s an interesting point that got brought up earlier in the comments that “macho men” tend to be in glorified positions – usually the mentor role to the protagonist, especially in mecha anime – the older, wild, and womanizing ace pilot. And inevitably, they seem to get killed off quite often. I would say though that I don’t think it’s exactly a straight on/off dichotomy – the more “positive” macho characters you list I think mix in some of the same attributes as examples from your list of manly men.

    • I think that the reason for this is that it takes a really brash, impudent guy to break the mold when things grow stale. The leads who get influenced by macho guys tend to be more cowardly and introverted, and it’s precisely because the macho guy wants them to change and become a man that the wimpy guy grows up and comes into his own. The macho man tends to die because ultimately, they won’t fit in to the new world that the manly character will bring about for himself.

  18. “Most anime characters tend to be young, and lack the clarity of thought and ability to take action that a ‘manly man’ has.”

    I think you have a really, really good point here! I tend to gravitate towards shows that revolve around older casts as I get older, and have a harder time finding shows with older main characters than high school-age ones. (That sentence alone made me feel old…)

    Maturity has a lot to do with the criteria you set out for manly men – being respectful, honest, and straightforward is not easy! It’s a pretty high bar to set when you consider that a huge chunk of anime characters are 12-16 years old. (Or supposed to be that age, whether or not they look it.) I think it’s pretty difficult for anyone to act with a more mature mindset with the raging hormones and crazy social pressures of adolescence.

    I’m really only familiar with Simon and Sousuke, but would definitely agree with the manliness of those two :)
    I’d put forward a sortof different set of manly values for the likes of some of my favorite men and see what you think. Vash, for his stubborn insistence on peace in a world dead-set against it. Maes Hughes, for his utter joy at the prospect of fatherhood. Kenshin, for his determination to right the wrongs of his past and fight for the future of his country. (Although Kenshin’s character design doesn’t really lend itself to manliness, and he falls into the angsty-lead trap at times … hmmm.)

    – Oh, just read your thoughts on Vash, oops. In the manga, Vash goes through a lot more inner turmoil than the anime, and has to decide for himself what to believe in. I haven’t finished the very end, but it does have a bit more depth than the anime.

    -Also, yay for Gintoki getting mentioned! Gintama is severely underrated, imo.

    I like manly men as well as macho men, though you may not believe it :)

    • Good to know you’re cool about this, haha. Maes Hughes is definitely manly. I think that if nothing else, his death scene is the perfect representation of that fact. Kenshin, I wanted to list, I really did, but I feel like he falls too much into the angsty category… it’s like his ability to be happy is very fragile, and I think that underneath him is a very pessimistic person who isn’t convinced that he’s allowed to be happy int he world.

      • Haha, of course I’m cool with it :) Know why? Because you’re someone who thinks about these things before he writes them! The very fact that you included a disclaimer about why society values the traits you write about in men but not women, and thus are called “manly” means that you thought about it – and that is very cool.

        I think the very, very end of Kenshin redeems him a bit – I’m talking the manga here, not the crappy anime versions. He descends into cardboard-cutout angsty shounen guy for a while, but at the end is able to look back at his past and find happiness in his future with his family.

        Ah, Hughes! My favorite characters always, always, without fail die. It’s a rule. And most often, they die in episode 25 of their anime. So, if I can get past episode 25, I’m usually good. But Hughes, man, Hughes! *shakes head* So sad. I loved Hughes so very much :(

  19. I don’t think it’s that hard to find “manly men” in anime, especially when you have all of these series targeted towards men.

    One thing to keep in mind is that just because a character is a beefy musclehead doesn’t mean they have to be “macho.” In fact, I feel like there are a number of characters who are easily mistaken for macho when they are in fact excellent examples of “manly men,” the chief case being Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star.

    On the surface, he’s just an emotionless jock who makes people explode in an orgy of violence, but when you actually read the series he’s a compassionate man who is weighed down by sorrow and who tries to make the world a better place while crying manly tears for his enemies.

    Akagi is another manly character. He never shows any weakness really, but his trademark brazen deception is done in such a way that his genuine passion for the gamble and his total confidence in himself are what truly define him.

  20. How about Brandon Heat from Gungrave! Although I don’t remember much about him since I saw Gungrave, I remember that he was a total badass!

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