When looking at the question of the day, to figure out your favorite anime hero and heroine, you can run into a lot of trouble because many that you would put in this category may not really be heroes. They may just be favorite characters or qualify more as an anti-hero. Hero has become such an open-ended word in the last fifteen or twenty years that its value has been reduced so it can be hard to really pin it down to someone who does heroic things. With the sheer number of anti-heroes out there as well, there are many that would work but you could feel uncomfortable with. Amusingly, in looking around on this, there was a comment that in every story, the lead can’t be a villain or a bad guy because the lead in a story must be a hero. It’s an interesting line of thinking, but thankfully isn’t true, otherwise we wouldn’t have such diversity of story at times. Nuanced and layered heroes, villains and characters in general are far more interesting than your one dimensional hero or villain, and I’ve always found that it’s important to remember that for the most part, a villain never sees himself as that and can see himself as a hero in his own mind. Elfen Lied really comes to mind for a lot of that.
But narrowing down the choices for this particular entry wasn’t as difficult as it could be as I wanted to look for those that I think are heroic, nuanced and have a balance of being everyday heroes as well as dealing with larger issues that can place them in the category being a true Hero, capitalized and all.
For the hero side, Edward Elric of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood came to the top of the list for me as he has his failings and is working to correct them even if it takes his entire life. He’s made his mistakes, paid the price and continues to do what he can to save his brother, but will also go the distance for the larger causes that come up as the mysteries surrounding him begin to crystalize. While he’s younger than I would have liked for a choice, he’s the kind of character that deals with things beyond his years but still retains a lot of what defines him at that age with how he reacts to others and an almost naive straightforward approach to doing the right thing.
For the heroine side, well, after making sure I couldn’t include anyone from Queen’s Blade, I went with my real and natural choice of Lafiel from Crest of the Stars. This series works on a lot of levels as it explores the way things have changed with the move into space, and Lafiel is that bridging point that is dealt with as she’s a princess in her own right but has the hard choices to make on a galactic scale, personal scale and with family. That she’s often able to deal with things verbally, making her moves through small actions when possible, and thinking of the impact of larger events, she’s also not afraid to take action when the time requires it and to make sacrifices for the greater good. She has a lot going for her but has plenty of issues to cope with as well, including a slowly blossoming romance that adds even more nuance to all of her actions.