It’s a lovely surprise when you see someone from your own country or culture in anime, and for us it’s been fascinating to see the different facets of how we Brits are viewed from a Japanese perspective. Apparently we’re smart, suave and occasionally sinister, but perhaps too much on the boisterous side for comfort from time to time. Over recent years, we’ve fondly remembered our old beloved limey characters and discovered plenty of new ones, so we thought we’d put the best of them (in our humble opinion) in this top five list.
Ryou/Yami Bakura – Yu-Gi-Oh!
We have happy memories of watching the 4Kids dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! (we’re anti-dub snobbishness here). Bakura was a British transfer student, and his school years were more troubled than yours. Whenever he played his favourite table-top games with friends, he’d put them in a coma, poor boy.
Although, with the help of Yugi and co, he defeated the dark spirit that was trapping his friends in RPG minifigs, his fascination with the Millennium Ring kept its hold on him, as did Yami Bakura. And we wouldn’t have had him any other way. Little Ryou was a sweetheart, but his dark side had a sense of debonair superiority that, quite frankly, we couldn’t help but be charmed and flattered by.
Mari Makinami Illustrious – Evangelion
The new girl in the plug, Mari was first introduced in Evangelion: 2.0 You Can [Not] Advance. The only one to get a rush out of piloting, and often admitting to loving the smell of LCL, despite her strength it’s obvious that she’s just as broken as her comrades.
Her rambunctious personality blasts fresh air into the apocalypse, and seeing her empathy with the Evas is an unexpected joy. She seems to understand more than any other pilot that her suffering, blocked out by her buzz from being in action, is also her Eva’s. As she sings and speaks to them, these gentle moments bring us a strange, steady awareness of the catastrophe that birthed such fragile souls.
Seras Victoria – Hellsing
Dracula, buried deep in the earth of our literary history, is fascinating to us in almost all of his iterations. But he often works best beside a human character we can relate to, because they’re just as enthralled by him.
Like Lucy in Bram Stoker’s classic novel, Seras is tempted by Alucard’s beastly charisma, and the glamour of vampirism. But she breaks far away from the Victorian mould of the fallen woman, to become a kick-ass vamp wielding heavy artillery. The complexities of the relationship between her and Alucard ascend human comprehension, letting her flourish as far more than the Dark Master’s pawn; as the “light that stands out from the darkness”, as Hellsing’s creator Kouta Hirano once said.
L – Death Note
Yes, we know, he’s only a quarter English, but the five years he spent in Blighty have clearly left their brand on him. In a sea of stereotypes, he’s a refreshing take on the English quirkiness; his insatiable love of cake, from our point of view at least, is especially accurate.
Striking a remarkable figure that can’t quite be explained, he seems to float somewhere between the ape and homo sapiens. We do hope that isn’t meant to reflect on us, but if it does, his distinctive blend of quiet charm and analytical smarts, which we’re sure comes from his English blood, more than make up for that anyway.
Ciel and Sebastian – Black Butler
Because they’re the model inseparable master-butler duo (and because we can’t pick a favourite), we decided to put them together. And demon be damned – to us, Sebastian’s the match of any Englishman worth their salt. Of course we can all ice-skate while giving ruffians a beating and be back in time for tea. What of it?
When you aren’t being deliciously tortured by the flirtatious tension between these two, or tickled by Ciel’s pomposity and Sebastian’s cool detachment, they’re taking you by surprise with intriguing details of Victorian England. While we as a culture have a tendency to be self-deprecatory about our country and its history, this odd couple helped polish off the old patriotic pride, earning themselves the top spot on our list.
Honourable mention: Excalibur – Soul Eater
But seriously, no. Although, saying that, he does have quite the flair for a song and dance routine.
So, there’s our best of the Brits list, but those are just our thoughts. How about you? Did we miss anyone? Or perhaps you like someone we listed for your own reasons. We’d love to hear about your favourite anime and manga characters from our green and pleasant land.