Mankanshoku Mako – Kill-la-Kill
*WARNING – SPOILERS BELOW*
Kill-la-Kill, which I rated Excellent, is quite a fun anime to watch. It’s a lightning-paced action anime. Though not particularly original in terms of plot, what it does, it does in a new and interesting way. Especially its use of tropes – it twists or puts a new spin on familiar concepts in anime. One warning, it has a lot of skin, if that puts you off. Literally every character will be missing clothes at some point or another, but not exactly in a “fighting girls-anime” nudity sort of way. Don’t worry, though. It’s plot. Seriously.
Mako is a crazy, silly, spastic, chronic underachiever. Even so, I still think of her as the star of the show. It’s really amazing that in the crazy world of Kill-la-Kill, Mako still stands out as, perhaps, the craziest. That said, the funny thing about Mako is that she can be incredibly serious and put together when she wants to be. In certain situations, she really pulls though for the team. Mako does really well when everyone’s counting on her.
But that’s not the reason why she’s here. Mako is the best female character because you could not find a better friend in anime. She is incredibly supportive of Ryuko and others, even as they do crazy things. One thing in particular stands out – Mako was willing to stand up for and believe in her friend, even in some ordinarily terrifying situations. Even, perhaps especially when, she didn’t understand the situation. For example, she stood up for Senketsu because it was Ryuko’s only set of clothing. It didn’t matter that Mako (and her family) probably thought Ryuko was crazy (and creepy) for talking to her clothing. Mako is an exceptional character without really wanting or trying to be.
Benten – The Eccentric Family
*WARNING – SPOILERS BELOW*
While I had so many males to choose from for favorite character on the last question and had to really work to narrow it down, for this next question…well…I kept throwing names on paper and never felt like I really liked them enough to choose. There are certainly female characters that are cool or cute or fun to watch or make me laugh, but I am a demanding person and I require more than any of those things.
So I decided on Benten from The Eccentric Family. She’s classy, she’s intriguing, she’s dangerous, and (like Yakushimaru), she’s lost for most of the show, then finds her way again in the end. Perhaps I’m seeing a trend here.
Benten is a human taught in the magical ways of the tengu (in Japanese folklore, usually depicted as grumpy old bird men from the mountains). She can fly and control the wind with her sensei’s fan, and seems to possess other powers, though the story doesn’t go into these. We look back and see her in perhaps high school, so elegant and enchanting as she first flies through the sakura-laden branches of an old cherry tree. Fast forward a few years, and she is dressed up in the latest fashion with a distant look in her eyes as if she wants something but is seeking it in all the wrong places. And now in the present, she is a beautiful, sophisticated woman of pride and importance with elegant bearing and a gracious demeanor…when she’s not trying to kill you. What I find very interesting about Benten’s story is that it feels as if she got involved in a very sophisticated, but bad crowd—KuramaTengu and Friday Fellows both included. She’s rich now, sure, and she is respected and admired and even feared, but the feeling is that none of it is good for her.
Benten doesn’t know what she wants. She’s casting about for something to fulfill her, and she can’t seem to find it. Yasaburo the tanuki has known her for long enough that he doesn’t give her the awe and respect that everyone else does, which she seems drawn to, yet hates at the same time. Her face and tone are nearly inscrutable, and yet one can see that there is a raging turmoil of frustration inside of her as she searches for what it is that she truly wants. She loves Yasaburo (at what level or what kind, I don’t know), but she can’t seem to figure out what she wants from him, either…kiss him, eat him, take a moonlit walk with him….
When last we see her in the anime, she’s seems content and free of the burden that she had been wrestling this entire time. What happened? What changed? We know when it changed, but what was it? What did she decide? What does she want? There are hints and ideas, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter. After all, the allure of a woman of mystery is indeed just that…her mystery.