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Dated 31 December 2010: 2010 Girl of the Year

Aoba
Aoba is the Best Girl of 2010 even though
Adachi Mitsuru can only draw one face.

Congratulations to Tsukishima Aoba, 2010's Best Girl. This was a pretty easy choice despite a lot of strong contenders. More about Aoba herself and the rest of this year's nominations below.

Shimizu
Shimizu sees Goro again after a long absence.

Shimizu Kaoru from the sixth season of Major got an automatic nomination by virtue of being last year's winner. Unfortunately, Shimizu did not get many scenes during this epic baseball show's final season, and had many of her presumably more important moments from the manga relegated to the montage during the last episode. I suspect Major probably has enough material for a seventh season, but I don't think we'll get any more in anime form unless there are OVAs.

Conan and Ran
This usually means somebody's about to get fucked.

I've decided to add Mouri Ran to basically every Best Girl of the Year list from here on out on general principle because Ran is one of anime's All Time Babes. Detective Conan doesn't change much and appears capable of running indefinitely, and Ran is enough of a sweetheart that she could potentially win this contest any year, so consider her a baseline metric of sorts. Certainly anyone below the Mouri Ran Line has no hope of winning.

Sasha and Katja
Katja breaks Sasha's brain.

Only people who watched Seikon no Qwaser will fully understand why Katja gets a nomination. Too many people either did not watch the show at all or gave up on it far too early to fully appreciate just how ridiculous Qwaser managed to be. Katja's contributions are too numerous to list here, but I'll point to three key moments that cemented her nomination in 2010's Best Girl competition: (1) The scene where she connects her phone to her television. (2) The railgun powered by breast milk. (3) The scene where incorruptibly loyal Hana comes flying in out of left field.

Yamada
Yamada is basically Ranpha, the early years.

Yamada from B Gata H Kei barely makes the list for being outrageous (only medium outrageous in a year containing Seikon no Qwaser) and for being an excuse for Yukarin to say amazing things.

Nagato Yuki
Be glad this isn't a Key story, Yuki.

Nagato Yuki qualifies this year because of the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya movie. As I've said before, this is more her movie than Haruhi's. Now, in order to answer the obvious question that people who have seen the movie must be asking without venturing into spoiler territory before those who have not seen it, let me just say this: Based on how Kyon views Nagato in the beginning of the film, the middle, and the at the end, I think the impact she has on him (and hopefully the viewer) elevates her into the upper pantheon of this year's nominees.

Ika Musume
Squids love the long ball.

A late arrival, especially because I did not start watching Shinryaku! Ika Musume until it was already half over, Ika Musume herself easily gains a nomination as one of 2010's Best Girls. A genius at everything (except invading) and filled with verve and imagination, Ika Musume should be on everyone's list of this season's Best Girls. Well, I guess there is that technicality about whether or not squids can be girls, but I consulted the judges panel and they allowed it.

Aoba
Nobody on the team trains harder than Aoba.

Finally, our victor, Tsukishima Aoba from Cross Game wins the title of Best Girl of the Year for 2010 with her solid showing throughout the yearlong baseball anime. Aoba nearly won the title last year, and was an early favorite to win even though Cross Game ended in March.

Aoba
The best coaches are in the stands.
-Charles M. Schulz

It's easy to describe Aoba as another Haruka Tomatosauce tsundere, but I believe Aoba honestly hated Kou when they were children—jealous of the attention he got from her sister. However, Aoba grudgingly comes to respect Kou's physical talents for baseball and dedicates her considerable knowledge and love for the game into transforming him into the type of pitcher who can make her sister's dream come true. My memory is very hazy on this point, so the accuracy of the following anecdote is suspect at best: I believe Don Drysdale once lamented it was a shame the Los Angeles Dodgers did not have a pitcher with Orel Hershiser's brain in Kevin Gross' body. That's basically the idea behind the Aoba + Kou combination in Cross Game. It's a pity Adachi Mitsuru could not re-write the rules of Japanese high school baseball, but Aoba's head—and her heart—were enough for her to win it all this year, even if her arm could not officially compete.

Asuka
That's still an awesome phone.

If you're wondering why Shikinami Asuka Langley didn't win by default, it's because Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 came out in 2009. Also Soryu > Shikinami.

[Update: Added Panty from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt.]

Dated 13 August 2007: Incorruptible Loyalty. In consideration of two-dimensional crushes

Shinji, Rei, Mana, and Asuka
Shinji is aghast. Rei should be ashamed.
Asuka loves Kaji. And Mana is quite the sticker-whore.

Who is the best anime/manga character of all time? Of ALL TIME. This is a question frequently discussed (usually inadvertently) in many forums and channels (although the term "best" is usually taken to mean "hottest"). These discussions often arise in the form of binary comparisons of characters from popular contemporary shows such as "Teana > Subaru" or "Shamal > Signum" that ultimately lead to final decrees such as "FATE > *."

Nanoha and Fate
Nanoha and Fate.
Fate > Nanoha.

Whatever the cause, and regardless of form, one thing is certain: Anime fans are fickle. Inevitably, their favorite characters are quickly replaced season by season; demonstrations and pronouncements of current favorites (such as message board avatars) are ephemeral, soon replaced, and sooner forgotten.

Saber, Emiya, and Rin
Saber, Emiya, and Rin.
Rin > Saber.

I've mentioned this phenomenon among anime fans in the past, and the general consensus seems to be that this flightiness is entirely normal. After all, they are fully cognizant of the fact that their favorites cannot love them back; these fans are not delusional even as they compulsively download and hoard pictures of their favorite characters and collect figurines and paraphernalia emblazoned with their likenesses, only to begin the cycle anew next season when they develop a new favorite in a month or two.

Meyrin, Athrun, and Lunamaria
Meyrin, Athrun, and Lunamaria.
Meyrin > Lunamaria.

I am not damning this behavior. I am merely setting the stage for the real object of my curiosity: Why is it so rare to find a fan with unshakable, indefatigable, incorruptible loyalty to a single character—one for whom there is no superior, no equal, no rival, no successor? To be honest, in the past seven or eight years during which anime emerged as my primary hobby, I can think of very few people who appear completely devoted to a single character. Bear in mind that this is a fandom in which nearly unimaginable perversions, grandiose neuroses, and unspeakable habits are not at all uncommon. And yet, I know of far more people who genuinely enjoy, for example, guro than I know people for whom there is adamantly only one best character. Are the latter the more perverse, since they are the more rare?

Souju and Sara
Souju and Sara.
Souju > Sara.

Perhaps this behavior is related to the aforementioned tendency to associate "best character" with "hottest character." Relying on the old standard, "familiarity breeds contempt," (or the more modern axiom, "show me a hot girl, and I'll show you a guy who's tired of fucking her"), it seems natural that people who are fully aware their 2-D love affairs will remain unrequited must quickly find and fixate on new characters as their fervor for their current favorite inevitably fades. So, do the rare Incorruptible Few not realize that their idols can't love them back, or is it that they just don't care?

Sara
Sara.
A Little Princess > The Secret Garden. Wait....

My optimism tells me it is the latter. For that reason, as far as I am concerned, for these few, their unique peculiarity is an attribute—their uncommon determined, dedicated devotion their defining characteristic. And so, so damning if I am wrong.

Soryu Asuka Langley
P.S. Asuka > *
Soryu Asuka Langley

Dated 18 June 2007: Macross 7

Gigil
Gigil is the best singer in Macross 7.

Well, at least he is through the first 36 episodes.

I didn't think much of Gigil at first. As far as antagonists go, he didn't seem all that interesting. However, the big ugly bastard has won me over with his incorruptible loyalty to Sybil.