Fanart Friday returns, micromanaging in the heat of battle. It's all come to this--throughout August, we've identified the key elements of creating THE PERFECT TEAM: overwhelming STRENGTH! Blinding SPEED! Expert SKILL! Bottomless GUTS, all to a badass rock soundtrack! And finally, it comes down to LEADERS, the ones who bring a team together and make sure the mission gets accomplished, the battle is won, and the day is saved (or everybody's dead, depending on whether you're a good guy or bad guy team).
Leaders come in many shapes and sizes, from frontline fighters who lead the charge and inspire their men by fighting alongside them, to back-row tacticians who observe and direct the battle from a safe distance. Neither is wrong, and what really matters is making sure your team gets the job done. Now, let's get started!
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To be fair, let's start with both a heroic and a villainous leader. Megatron and Optimus Prime are two sides of the same coin--both are willing to sacrifice everything in the name of victory, but this means two different things: Megatron is willing to send all his troops to their death, while Optimus will lay himself on the line if that's what it takes to win.
Sometimes, being a leader just happens on accident. At the start of Persona 4, Yu doesn't have any particular plans to become a leader, he just happens to fall into that position as more and more of his friends look to him for guidance. Now, in Persona 4 Golden, he appears more comfortable with the position (although New Game+ will do that to you).
Straddling the line between hero and villain like CC is straddling him, Lelouch spends the bulk of Code Geass as the leader of the Black Knights. He doesn't just have one way of doing things, either--whether he's hanging back and directing an operation like a chess game or on the front lines himself, Lelouch is a ruthlessly efficient leader.
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At the start of The Legend of Korra, our favorite fight-happy Avatar was anything but leader material. As Korra grew to understand her place in the world along with the power she wielded, she matured into the "bridge between worlds" that she was meant to be.
Frankly, I don't know how Bossun does it--Switch is smarter than him and Himeko is tougher, but Bossun is probably the most charmingly charismatic lead character in SKET Dance. Maybe that's how he keeps the leader position so well?
Leader-types are often considered pretty boring--they're the straight man, the good boy, the one who plays by the rules. Sometimes you need this--one thing I really appreciate about the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is why Splinter chose Leonardo to lead. "Because you asked first," he says. Initiative says a lot about a person.
I mean, how often does Roy Mustang talk about how he's going to change Amestris in Fullmetal Alchemist?
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Or Tatsuya in--hey wait a second, he showed up in the SKILL installment! Oh, fine, whatever, The Irregular at Magic High School's Tatsuya also does inspire his fellow students, and a lot of that comes from just how damn smart he is.
Leadership styles can change over time. Before Gintama, Katsura was a hands-on frontline fighter who wasn't afraid to shed blood to further his goals. As time passed, he took on a more reasonable pacifist stance, telling his Separatist brothers that there were better ways to fight for independence.
Some people have such a magnetic personality that they can inspire people to do anything for them. Such is the case with longtime JoJo's Bizarre Adventure villain Dio, one of the most vicious, villainous characters I've ever seen... and his minions will line up to die in his name.
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Thing is, the Straw Hats will also die for Luffy, and Luffy will die for them--One Piece is all about family, and loyalty, and love. While it's kind of crazy to expect to do the work of your entire team yourself, Luffy is the type who would rather take on the entire burden than watch any of his crew suffer.
One of the goals of the Magi is to find a king who deserves the crown that only they can bestow. Sinbad is a pretty good contender for that title, with people who willingly listen to him because they trust him.
Okay, so... watching Sailor Moon Crystal, I know that Usagi is as dumb as a bag of hammers. I also know from later in the series that she eventually develops the confidence and experience to lead the Sailor Scouts Guardians to victory. EDIT: DAMMIT NO EPISODE THIS WEEK
Last week, I talked about how the guts-type was often the last line of defense, but a good leader shows that there's always one more! Gurren Lagann showed this in the most badass way possible with kid-to-kickass-leader Simon's growth!
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Kinda kills me how The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is going back in the vault so soon... did anyone else give it a rewatch?
A leader isn't necessarily the star player, as is the case with Kuroko's Basketball Kaijo High captain Kasamatsu, who gets to pal around with Generation of Miracles member Kise. While his job is to lead the team, it feels like the other half of his job is to keep Kise in line.
Red is a color of bravery, so nine times out of ten you'll see the Red Ranger leading the pack in Super Sentai shows! While I recognize the Zyuranger/Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Red Ranger in the back there, I don't recognize the others.
Fun fact about the Crunchyroll offices: our meeting rooms are Evangelion-themed. The big one with the long intimidating table is SEELE, and we also have Mari and Asuka... and the one downstairs by my desk is Misato. Unfortunately, it's not full of beer or anything.
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So Katsura is a leader of men... and Gintoki kind of is, too. It's just... Gintoki's not naturally inspiring, he just happens to have his moments of brilliance.
Remember how I talked about a leader being willing to sacrifice his men? It's not necessarily an evil trait. Thing is, in Attack on Titan, Erwin knows that there are times he's sending his men off to die. He just takes no joy in the act.
Log Horizon's Shiroe isn't quite as useful in direct combat as a lot of the other leaders on this list--he's kinda like Lelouch, and works best when he's directing the flow of battle and working with his entire team.
Remember how I was talking about Dio and the way he inspires unquestioning love and devotion? For some reason, it's hard for us, the audience, to not feel that way about Griffith. Our first experiences with him in Berserk show him as charismatic, caring, but able to crack the whip and make sacrifices when necessary--very different from the vicious, hard-headed Guts. It makes Griffith's descent into the darkness that much more heartbreaking.
While he's a kid in this picture, it's hard not to march to the beat of Sarutobi Hiruzen, otherwise known as the Third Hokage. The crotchety old man who'd seen far too much was such a figurehead in the early days of Naruto that searching for his replacement felt like a futile endeavor at first.
Some of you already saw this coming: my favorite leader is Captain America. Why, you ask? Well, when you've got a guy like Thor, who gets into fistfights with gods for fun, and a guy like Iron Man, who's in a weaponized suit that can wipe out whole countries with minimal effort, it's really inspiring to see that the guy who's only a little bit faster, stronger, and smarter than an average human (and armed only with a shield) is the one leading the charge and fighting with the most spirit and tenacity. Shit, if he thinks you're gonna win, why are you worried?
And that's everything for this week! There's no way I could have included everyone--who are your favorite leaders? Sound off in the comments and let us know!
Like I say every week, your work is always welcome here on Fanart Friday, regardless of your skill level or experience. Just PM me a link to your work (full URL, please), and I'll use it in a future installment! Here are the next three themes for Fanart Friday:
-Next week, on SEPTEMBER 5th, it's BACK TO SCHOOL once more! From your average, everyday high schools to Hogwarts to the Xavier Institute itself, school makes for a familiar, welcome setting in any number of stories. THIS IS THE ONLY THEME I'M TAKING REQUESTS FOR THIS WEEK!
-Then, on SEPTEMBER 12th, we check out the work of sultry voice actress LAURA BAILEY! What are your favorite roles from her extensive career?
-On SEPTEMBER 19th, it's time for another RECAP EPISODE... and a bit more as we celebrate FANART FRIDAY'S THIRD BIRTHDAY! What could possibly be in store for this special date?
Thanks again for coming by to check out Fanart Friday! Have a great weekend, and I hope you all drop by again next week!