FEATURE: Why Is the Narrator Everyone's Favorite Anime Character?

Why Narrator-kun is the best character of any anime

Stalker from Mobile Fighter G Gundam



Ah, the Anime Narrator. You know the one. The ever-familiar voiceover that lets us know what happened in the last episode, what's in store for us next time, and gives us all those little asides that turn a smile-worthy moment into something that makes us laugh out loud.


The Narrator has always been one of my favorite characters. Which narrator, you ask? Well, all of them, if I'm honest. I have a soft spot for our omniscient storytellers. No matter which anime it is, the narrator always manages to wheedle its way into my usually ice-cold heart, a place typically reserved for characters like Anya from SPY x FAMILY


There's just something about good ol' Narrator-kun. They put a smile on your face, bringing you back to Saturday morning watching your favorite long-running battle series or adding a perfect touch of comedy to one of the latest rom-coms. The narrator is an anime staple that's delighted us for years and certainly will continue for decades to come.


So why am I so obsessed with finding the latest anime with the perfect Narrator-kun? Well, let's take a look, shall we?






Jorge from Yu Yu Hakusho



The battle anime narrator is, perhaps, Narrator-kun's best-known form. Or maybe you recognize the narrator from those more fleeting appearances where they're given a character design and — gasp! — sometimes even a role in the anime!


Narrator-kun always has this unique style to them, a flair all their own. They're a little cheeky, a little omnipotent, the perfect combination of deadly serious and tongue-in-cheek, and are able to build tension, sadness, hope and joy in only a single line.



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Each narrator is different though. Some are more providers of summaries, catch-up, and mid-battle info, like the narrator from Yu Yu Hakusho. Others are whole characters unto themselves, like Mobile Fighter G Gundam's Stalker. And still others are fourth-wall-breaking comedic masterminds.



"Last Time On...!"



Dragon Ball Super



Perhaps the most well-known version of Narrator-kun is the "Last Time On...!" narrator. You know the one. He pops up at the beginning of an episode right after a catchy OP, explaining what happened the last time you tuned into the show. This particular Narrator-kun flavor is particularly prevalent in battle-oriented anime, sometimes adding colorful commentary to the battles our heroes fight for the sake of the world itself.


Take Dragon Ball Z, for example. For hundreds of episodes beginning in Dragon Ball and going all the way through the latest incarnation of the series, our favorite narrator outlines where we left off in the latest life-or-death battle for nothing short of the universe itself.


Narrator-kun feels like a good friend after almost no time at all. There he is, always up-to-date right as to where we left off and who we should watch out for, reminding us of characters we haven't seen in a while and events from prior series we might not remember as clearly as we thought. 


It wasn't until Dragon Ball Super that I realized just how much I treasured our narrator though. There I was, sitting in my living room on a Saturday watching Goku's latest adventure in the very first episode of Super, just like I did when I was a kid watching Dragon Ball Z. Until that very moment when the ever-familiar notes of "CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA" came on and that beloved voice from our childhood said the words "Previously on Dragon Ball Z..." I thought I was already excited. After that intro? I was hyped. Hearing our narrator again after all that time was like meeting an old friend. It's like hearing a bedtime story from your parents again. It's an indulgence and comfort you can't find anywhere else.



"Ready...? Go!"



Stalker from Mobile Fighter G Gundam



This isn't always an all-aboard-the-nostalgia-train extravaganza. Sure, that definitely helps solidify Narrator-kun in the anime halls of fame, but it certainly isn't the only reason. Sometimes, Narrator-kun is more involved in the plot, one way or another. 


Take the narrator from Mobile Fighter G Gundam, for example. Unlike his noncorporeal brethren, this narrator is physically present. He has his own character design. There he is, sitting right in front of us and talking directly to us viewers. Even more unique to this narrator — he has a name!


 Though the name is never spoken, and he never directly interacts with other characters, this narrator does have a name. No nameless Narrator-kun here. Our eye-patch-wearing friend wielding a microphone with his pinky sticking out is named Stalker. 


That's right. The narrator is, well, stalking the cast of Mobile Fighter G Gundam.


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Is he physically stalking them? Metaphorically? Well, no matter what Stalker's getting up to, he's definitely up-to-date on what's happening with Domon and the Shuffle Alliance. Perhaps suspiciously so...



A Narrator to Remember



The main cast of Samurai Pizza Cats



No matter what, Narrator-kun is always memorable, with quick, biting commentary and witty one-liners. Before we end our trip down memory lane, there's one more oldie-but-goodie narrator who sits in the highest echelons of the Narrator-kun Hall of Fame: the narrator of Samurai Pizza Cats.


No doubt some of you are scratching your head, trying to figure out what in the every-loving-kamehameha a samurai pizza cat is. Others who are more of the "slowly crumbling to dust" age, such as myself, may fondly remember an off-the-wall anime with an English dub that has a backstory more akin to the dub of Ghost Stories and feels almost like an abridged series more than anything else. 


The narrator of Samurai Pizza Cats is absolutely chock-full of one-liners. There are sarcastic comments galore and the fourth wall is more of a vague suggestion than something that's actually used. Characters regularly comment on things the narrator says, sometimes having full discussions with the usually unseen orator.


This anime would not only be less humorous without the narrator, it would be structurally different. The narrator is what makes this series so incredibly memorable and dearly beloved. Our long-suffering narrator in Samurai Pizza Cats is, hands down, the single best character in the show.



The Informer



Red Blood Cell from Cells at Work!



Some narrators are humorous. Some heavily rely on decades of past narrators' performances, personalities and triumphs. Others are purely informative.


Now, the purely informational type isn't exactly the same as the Battle Anime Narrator. This isn't a "Previously on...!" type of narrator. No. This one is the bearer of pure facts and hard science. 


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Hit favorites Cells at Work! and Cells at Work! CODE BLACK both have narrators of this sort. Their science-filled orations do more than just give us the hard facts though. Absolutely perfect timing adds suspense and intrigue, and the more Narrator-kun conveys, the more dire things seem to feel. Will Red Blood Cell make it out in one piece? And in the case of CODE BLACK, will the body they live in make it out at all?!



Narrator-Kun Today



Reigen from Mob Psycho 100



"But all of these are older shows!" I hear you say. "What about modern stuff? What about things that are coming out now?" 


Never fear, friends. I've got your back. What's Narrator-kun up to today? Well, he's definitely getting ready for an appearance in the next season of Mob Psycho 100. This anime features middle schoolers with psychic powers, wildly OP fantasy battles and, of course, a top-notch narrator.


At first glance, Narrator-kun may look like the typical battle-style narrator, joining in to drop some pertinent knowledge about ongoing battles or the last episode. Yet, there are some real zingers in here too, biting commentary on characters and some very heartwarming moments as well.



"And the Winner Is...!" 



The main characters in KAGUYA-SAMA: LOVE IS WAR



The pièce de la résistance of Narrator-kuns, the lead entry in the Narrator-kun Hall of Fame, hails from a rather new anime. This, of course, KAGUYA-SAMA: LOVE IS WAR


While the anime itself is a rom-com set in a modern high school, it is very much created in the style of a typical battle anime. Love is war, as they say. Each encounter between our two main characters is a battle of wits to see who can get the other to admit their feelings first. 


Narrator-kun uses every trick in the book here. Absolutely biting commentary is dished out to main characters, side characters and poor passersby. Lines drip with sarcasm. All the while, Narrator-kun delivers a play-by-play commentary outlining each move in a battle us mere mortals cannot comprehend, along with the devastating losses one side, or oftentimes both sides, of this romantic struggle endure.


KAGUYA-SAMA: LOVE IS WAR boasts one of the absolute best narrators of them all. The tone, the style, the humor — all of it would be completely different without Narrator-kun. The narrator isn't just what makes this anime great; they're the best character, one of the top things that keeps us coming back again and again.


Without Narrator-kun, our anime would be different. They'd be harder to follow. They'd have less sparkle and pizzazz. Starting a new season of a long-running anime wouldn't feel like coming home with such immediacy as it always does. They'd be less humorous, and most importantly, anime's favorite character would be deeply, sorely missed.



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