First Appearance: Pokemon Episode 1 – Pokemon, I Choose You
Voiced by: Ikue Otani
Who ever thought we would get a rat that would become more famous than Jerry from Tom and Jerry? Not me. But this is where Pikachu and the billion dollars franchise known as Pokemon comes in. Even 13 years after throwing red and white balls at creatures known as Pokemon the franchise is still going and only getting stronger with games being released every year since its first release. And seriously who didn’t play the video games as a kid of the 90s.
The one leading the charge of the Pokemon phenomenon is Pikachu. He/She is the poster child for Pokemon and it is incredible that the character and series are still around as kids are still playing the games. And how much bigger can a character get when you appear as a Thanksgiving float. You are an icon when you get your own float which is what Pikachu has been able to do.
First Appearance: Astro Boy Episode 1 – The Birth of Astro Boy
Voiced by: Billie Lou Watt /Mari Shimizu (1963); Patricia Kugler Whitely / Mari Shimizu (1982/1980); Candi Milo /Makoto Tsumura (2004/2003); Freddie Highmore/Aya Ueto (2009 Film)
After successfully having an anime that lasted almost 200 episodes Astro Boy has been a series and character that has tried to make a comeback a few times now since the 60s anime though never reaching the success of the original. Even now Astro Boy is trying to make a comeback with a CGI movie from Imagi Animation Studios that was recently released.
And Astro Boy is an important character and series to the US as it has the distinction of opening the door for anime to enter the US. Astro Boy is a character with identical origins to Pinocchio as he was created by a scientist to trying to recreate his son after his son was killed in a car accident only to be abandon by said scientist to the circus since Astro could not replace his son. And that is where we see that this is just not boy robot as he does have a heart of gold willing to fight evil to protect those who reject him because he knows it is the right thing to do.
First Appearance: Ghost in the Shell Anime Film
Voiced by: Japanese – Atsuko Tanaka; English – Mimi Woods (film), Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (anime)
When you want to talk about anime woman you do not want to mess with is Motoko Kusani. Who doesn’t like a good anime that is set in a futuristic time period? Ghost in Shell is an awesome anime and Motoko is a great character.
As a cyborg you just do not mess with this Terminator/Robocop. And what sets her apart from other cyborgs is that the only real part that is human about her is that she has only a human brain and spinal cord, the rest is full robot. Which brings in an interesting question of what does a cyborg/robot need to be human. Through this question and the setting and job Motoko has undertaken it makes her adventures in Ghost in the Shell fascinating to watch as we see you don’t need much to be human.
First Appearance: Dragon Ball Z Episode 4 – Goku’s Unsual Journey
Voiced by: Japanese – Ryo Horiwaka; English – Christopher Sabat
Though there are plenty of bastard anti-heroes like Light Yagami and Lelouch Lamperouge but not many are better than the original Vegeta. Even though Vegeta himself feels ashamed that he lost to Goku in their first battle he did technically win with Goku being the one that had yet to beat Vegeta in a straight out fight. It was Vegeta’s intense pride of being the Prince, though never King (weird!?), of Saiyan’s that never let that loss he thinks he suffered in his first encounter with Goku to let him get over it. And after that first fight were Vegeta was stronger than Goku he was never able to surpass Goku’s power level only match it.
And it was his anti-hero personality along with all the hard work he put himself through that made him a great character. Even when Vegeta reached what at the time was the pinnacle of strength for the Saiyans he was never really able to surpass Goku. All of that made his transformation into Majin Vegeta during the Buu Saga even better as we finally saw the rematch between him and Goku. Though things weren’t settled it was a great fight. And though we never saw a true conclusion to the fight it was good seeing Vegeta’s life come full circle as he settled down with Bulma and started a family at the end of Dragon Ball Z.
First Appearance: Mobile Suit Gundam Episode 1 – Gundam Rising
Voiced by: Japanese – Toru Furuya; English – Brad Swaile
Who doesn’t like seeing a bunch of giant robots fighting. The king of all giant robot series is the long running mecha anime Gundam. And when you talk about Gundam you can’t go long without talking about one of the best, if not the best, Gundam pilots out of the whole series Amuro Ray. He along with the original Gundam set the stage for the rest of the franchise that is still going on to this day. And even with the various universes Amuro Ray still stands out as the pilot all other Gundam pilots will be compared to.
Also what helps to elevate Amuro from the rest of the pilots in the other Gundam series is that he had the greatest rivalry/enemy in the Gundam franchise in Char Aznable. As they say, a hero is only as good as his villain and for Amuro he did have the greatest enemy in the franchise. All in all Amuro is and will always be what other pilots will compared to.