Voting for Anime Awards starts this Friday! We got too excited that we couldn't contain it anymore and got into it about who we think should win: Best Protagonist, Best Antagonist, Best Boy, and Best Girl.
*Anime Awards voting starts this Friday and WE'RE SUPER EXCITED! However we have gotten so loud with our individual opinions on who we think should win that we’ve been told to duke it out via written words instead of continually disrupting our coworkers (sorry fam).
We’ll hit each category by the time we hit the evening of Anime Awards! Today’s piece gets down to the nitty gritty of Best Protagonist, Best Antagonist, Best Boy, and Best Girl. *Let’s down to business!
Retsuko of Aggretsuko
The lady red panda’s life is starkly relatable in some way to everyone. She stresses the necessity of staying true to oneself and taking care of said self by any means necessary. Whether it’s with death metal in a karaoke bar or yoga with the girls despite being an awkward human, decompressing is highly important and she shows that through example.
Sakata Gintoki of Gintama
Who better to lead the charge than everyone’s favorite lazy-ass, strawberry-milk-loving samurai? Even with war tearing Edo apart, Gintoki has stayed the same lovable jerk--he may have to grit his teeth a little more, he may have to take a harsher beating, but he’s still the same idiot we all cheer for, even when he’s being total slothful garbage.
Saichi Sugimoto of Golden Kamuy
Sugimoto is a breath of fresh air for protagonists; he’s vulnerable, but strong, determined, funny, and absolutely devoted to helping other people. I thought he would be a ruthless killer at first, and while he can be, Sugimoto’s relationship with Asirpa has really changed him as their journey went on. Watching Sugimoto change from the somewhat lost and aimless “I just need money” to “I am going to help you, Asirpa” has been amazing, and Sugimoto’s strong personality that grows and develops over time is one of the reasons that hooked me into Golden Kamuy, so him being my pick is a no-brainer!
Chise Hatori of The Ancient Magus’ Bride
In a year full of super powered heroes with abilities that could level mountains, my favorite protagonist is a bit more modest in her abilities. Chise Hatori does possess powerful magical abilities, but it’s something else that sets her apart--her empathy. All of the outlandish abilities in the world wouldn’t have helped her in her journey if she wasn’t able to feel the experiences of those around her so deeply. The Ancient Magus’ Bride told the story of Chise slowly learning to love herself, and it was only through her ability to love others that this was made possible. And that, for my money, is the most heroic character arc of 2018.
Shirase Kobuchizawa of A Place Further Than The Universe
Although starring an ensemble cast, it’s hard for me to think of any of the girls in A Place Further than the Universe as a lead besides Shirase. She’s the reason the girls end up on the expedition and, although they all tag along to experience their own self discoveries, it’s Shirase’s story about getting closure. Her shy personality that gets subsumed by stubborn determination in the face of doubters is extremely relatable.
Vetto of Black Clover
Vetto was the most infuriating opponent that came out of the Eye of the Midnight Sun. He was a monstrously murderous sadist that made every person surpass their limits but not before making sure everyone experienced a personalized version of despair. The slam to Kahono’s throat was what solidified the anger that still makes my blood boil.
Lt. Tokushirou Tsurumi of Golden Kamuy
Tsurumi’s not someone you love to hate, which is strange for someone who is arguably Golden Kamuy’s deadliest and most important antagonist. In fact, we all kinda like him, warts and all, which makes him that much more memorable… and that much scarier when he shows us what he’s capable of.
Viruses, Parasites, Bacteria and Cancer Cells of Cells At Work
Cells at Work was a charming and amazing show that I really learned a lot from in terms of how the body works in terms of fighting off disease and infection, but a large part of that was the unique ways that the show depicted all of those threats. Each one felt wholly unique and easily identifiable, given traits that fit their natural actions and behaviors, and it made me realize that there are some amazing battles going on inside of my body every day!
Joseph Cartaphilus of The Ancient Magus’ Bride
My protagonist and antagonist picks are sort of a 2-for-1 deal. Joseph is by far the scariest, most cruel presence in his series, but he is also the most tragic. Condemned to an eternity of suffering because of some misplaced kindness, simply existing for Joseph is unimaginably painful. He exists as a darker version of the traumatized Chise, someone who was transformed into a monster through immense suffering. The conclusion of the series resolves not in a fight to the death, but a surprising moment of tender kindness from Chise--making Joseph the perfect counterpoint to our heroine.
Ladros of Black Clover
The best villains are always the ones with personality and Ladros has an excess. The magically deranged general of the Diamond kingdom made a huge impact in just a few episodes with his unexpected reactions and schoolyard bullying tactics with a huge voice performance from Takeshi Kusao. Within half an episode I went from thinking he was a jobber to falling in love when he screamed “MILLION LASER!”
Goblin Slayer of Goblin Slayer
Say whatever you want about the single tracked mind of the slayer of goblins: He’s motivated, supremely focused, and skilled. His mission in life to kill beings that not only rape and murder women but utilize women as playthings is admirable and justified. He provides comfort to goblin survivors and we may not know what his face looks like but we know what practically everything else looks like and I’ll take that.
Honda-san of Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san
Retail is a special kind of hell, staffed by a special, hard-as-nails kind of people. Honda-san is a refreshing retail lead in that he doesn’t hate his job--in fact, he loves it! By loving his customers and wanting to help them find the same joy in books that he does, Honda reminds me of the best parts of working in a bookstore… and a handful of the worst when everything’s on fire.
Okay, so hear me out here. Despite his appearance that didn’t even change when he was given his name, this little goblin seems to be indestructible! Strung up upside down and forgotten in prison? No problem, just summon a tempest wolf and rejoin your party. Be subjected to poisonous cooking? Dude gained the Poison Resist skill to survive, which earns the envy of Rimuru! To add to this, Ranga has unending faith in Gobta due to his quick-witted battling abilities. Gobta is certainly an irreplaceable asset to Rimuru’s group, so don’t make the mistake of underestimating him!
All Might of My Hero Academia
Deku’s great, but the end of the first cour of My Hero Academia Season 3, All Might absolutely stole the Best Boy throne from him. All Might threw himself into danger in order to protect the world and his body was left permanently stuck in his withered form. This was powerful stuff, but what sealed the deal for me was the beach scene pictured above--All Might punches Deku for his recklessness and then embraces him, dedicating himself to training and raising the young hero into someone truly amazing. He’s just SO GOOD.
Rei Kiriyama of March comes in like a lion
I’ll say it again. Every year we get a March comes in like a lion, Rei Kiriyama is automatically best boy. He’s just a nice kid trying to get by despite some pretty unfortunate circumstances. He’s kind, thoughtful, and the way he experiences the world around him hints at an artistic mind that might never get the chance to express itself. He’s compassionate even to those who are cruel and preoccupies himself with finding ways to pay back the generosity he’s been offered. Rei Kiriyama for president.
Mai Sakurajima of Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
Mai-san isn’t just a gorgeous, intelligent bunny girl senpai that works as a beloved actress. She also keeps her rascal, Sakuta, in check. Not only that, she’s incredibly mature, understanding, and trusting despite Sakuta’s life being constantly thrown in a loop by cute girls to the point that she didn’t object to Sakuta dating another girl. She makes Sakuta work for it but she can also be shy under that poker face.
Hina Kawamoto of March comes in like a lion
Probably the most criminally underwatched show this year, March comes in like a lion went right for the throat with an intense story arc dealing with bullying at Hina’s middle school. The complicit cowardice of Hina’s teacher and the professional frustration of her substitute teacher play against the casual callousness of the bully and Hina’s undying fire. She did absolutely nothing wrong--and if she just makes it to graduation, she wins.
Asirpa of Golden Kamuy
For me, there’s no argument that Asirpa is the best girl of 2018. She’s equal share protagonist with Sugimoto, but more importantly she’s a BADASS! Hungry? No problem, Asirpa knows how to hunt everything and cook it up. In danger? Her accuracy with a bow knows no equal. Need to track someone? She’s got it covered. There’s always talk about ‘strong female characters,’ and honestly I can’t think of many as good as Asirpa when it comes to anime. Asirpa holds her head tall and stands shoulders above the rest!
Lily Hoshikawa of ZOMBIE LAND SAGA
Lily is a spot of sunshine in Franchouchou, always beaming with a positive and infectious energy! The zombie idol group is comprised of plenty of eccentric and lovable personas, but Lily struck a rather personal chord with me--we’re both girls that used to be boys. It’s rare to find a trans character in any sort of media, rarer still to find one created with the amount of respect and love that was put into Lily. She’s the shining star of 2018.
Nagisa Aragaki of HANEBADO!
Nagisa literally stole the show in HANEBADO! Despite the subtitle of “Hanesaki’s play” and the focus on the forlorn badminton player, Nagisa got some great moments as she quietly worked on her own game in the background. The result was a redemption story surpassing that of the main character. Nagisa rose up to defeat the opponent who had previously shut her out so completely she’d almost quit the game. Seeing her triumph was a series-making moment for me.
Anddd that's all folks! Check back in to see us argue about who else we think should win the rest of the Anime Awards categories. Don’t forget to vote for your favorites starting on 1/11!
Do you have a super intense devotion to a 2018 show or character or want your opinions shared to the world about Anime Awards? Send us an op-ed in written or video form. The nitty gritty details are in here and you may get published in a future article!
Who do you think should win: Best Protagonist, Best Antagonist, Best Boy, and Best Girl? Tell us in the comments below!
Ricky Soberano is a Features Editor, Script Writer, and Editorial Programming Coordinator for Crunchyroll. She’s the former Managing Editor of Brooklyn Magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @ramenslayricky.