In this month’s collaboration article, the GUG otaku force undertakes a different sort of challenge: deciding which support characters we believe deserve their own anime series. These are characters who fascinate us with their style, abilities, and personalities, but most of all have compelling stories to tell–possibly outside of what is directly conveyed on the screen or the page.
I couldn’t decide between two characters for this piece; therefore, I will submit brief write-ups for each:
Yoshino Koiwai (Masamune-kun’s Revenge)
Okay, to be fair, Yoshino does get quite a bit of screen time in the show, and she does play a bigger role in the overall plot, but at the end of the day, she’s still a supporting character. We do get some of her backstory—at least enough to understand her connection to the main narrative (no spoilers). That said, she is mainly there to aid Masamune in his quest, so it would be interesting to see her in the spotlight.
Yoshino proves early on to be a versatile character, as her initial quiet, helpless personality turns out to be little more than a farce. Instead, she proves to be quite cunning and shrewd–someone who can present herself as trustworthy while simultaneously working behind your back. Putting Yoshino in the spotlight would provide more room to explore her backstory, and her personality could certainly lend itself to humorous situations.
Takano (BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad)
We first meet Takano when Koyuki begins shopping for his own guitar. He works at the shop where Koyuki ultimately purchases his Telecaster. Takano is presented as a heavy-set man with long hair and an ex-member of the failed band Fire Joker. It is revealed that he started off bald and swore that he would never cut his hair until Fire Joker got a record deal. It is also revealed that he is an extremely good guitarist.
Much of BECK’s appeal is in watching the titular band struggle to become successful, while simultaneously watching Koyuki’s individual growth. Seeing a similar story focused on Takano would take an interesting side character and give more life to his backstory. Watching his growth as a guitarist, the formation of Fire Joker, and the eventual downfall of the band could be a compelling—and sad—story if done right.
Cooper D. Barham
After three years of writing about anime at Geeks Under Grace, I’m going to finally breach an untouched threshold. I wanna talk about One Piece. Hold onto your hats. Your straw hats.
We’re off to a great start.
The support character I believe most deserves their own series (rather than just a really long backstory like we know we’re eventually going to receive) is the influential and combat-decorated “Red-Haired” Shanks. There’s a breathtaking amount of information we lack regarding Shanks, which is impressive considering how relevant he is not only to the main character’s motivations, but also the infrastructure of One Piece’s universe on a global scale.
In a short review of his personality, Shanks is a laid-back man, friendly and fair to his crew, with an underpinning of complexity which takes form in how he philosophizes about the world. He risks his life and lost a limb to protect Monkey D. Luffy, the protagonist, and demonstrates a supreme agency on the battlefield. In a later arc of the series, the mere arrival of his crew at the tail-end of a monumental war is enough to make any continuing bouts come to a grinding halt, for fear they might enrage Shanks and his men.
Shanks is one of Luffy’s greatest motivations for becoming a pirate. Even before meeting the doe-eyed youth, Shanks had dedicated the brunt of his life to exploring the sea and tearing away the shroud of mysteries that hang over the world of One Piece. He had spent time among legendary figures, including a span in the crew of Gol D. Roger, the singular most notorious pirate in the annals of history. Not only did Shanks keep Roger’s company, but the two possessed an uncommonly close relationship. Later in his life, Shanks would take to the seas as a Captain himself, donning Roger’s characteristic straw hat, a parting gift from the King of the Pirates. And this is all before Chapter 1.
We see bits and pieces of Shanks in the hundreds of chapters to follow, but rarely anything substantial. While Luffy and friends trapeze through their own shenanigans and gain a reputation for themselves, Shanks has gone and made himself a Yonko, a weighted term in One Piece identifying only the most revered and powerful pirates. Put in simpler terms: you do not mess with a Yonko. One cannot possess enough raw audacity to challenge a Yonko and expect anything good to come of it. What’s more, Shanks is arguably the only Yonko unassisted by a Devil Fruit affinity (we still aren’t certain about the abilities of the character known as Kaido, but it’s likely he has one), meaning he earned this title, held by only four people in the world, with nothing but flat, unembellished skill. To reach such heights suggests his Haki control (a word far too nuanced to unwrap in this article) could only be of the most mind-blowing proportions.
This is the story I want. Shanks has had a life teeming with activity, both before and after the inception of the series, and we know virtually none of it. I want to see him during his aspiring years as a young pirate–how he interacted with Buggy and Roger, how he came to form a pirate crew, and how he did battle with Blackbeard. I want to see him as a veteran elite, navigating the treacherous political arenas against the other Yonko and the World Government, how he became the kind of man who can step foot into a global conflict and force it to a peaceful conclusion through nothing but raw reputation and authority. I want to see how he came to know his peers in such a way that he’d maintain a healthy respect for his enemies, to the point he would ensure a proper burial, even for one of his deadliest rivals.
I want to read that story.
It’s true that the Trigun manga dives deeper into Wolfwood’s story than the anime series is able to, but for the purposes of this write-up I’ll be treating the anime as its own separate entity.
I think dedicating an anime series to Wolfwood would shed light on his background, upbringing, and the key events and individuals that formed his perspective about life. Wolfwood’s story would probably fit well with the 13-episode format of contemporary anime series, and could lead up to the point when the viewer eventually meets him in the show (as a “well-prepared dead guy”).
What I find fascinating about comparing Vash and Wolfwood are their different outlooks on life, the way they carry themselves, and how they treat others.
Wolfwood, being a “man of the cloth” (A.K.A. a priest, as evidenced by his clothing and giant cross he carries around), would be expected to hold and emulate values which line up with Jesus’ teachings. (Christianity/Jesus is not specifically mentioned in the series, but Scripture is directly quoted, so the implication is there.) However, it’s interesting that Vash actually demonstrates more Christ-like qualities than Wolfwood, and Wolfwood is constantly dumbfounded by his actions.
Given this setup, I think an intriguing anime series could be made about how and why Wolfwood entered the priesthood. Was he forced? Did the priesthood take him in and raise him? Was it family tradition? Who was his family? What nudged him to want to be a professional gunslinger? (The cross he carries around is actually packed with guns, and is a giant gun itself.) What made him jaded to the essential values of “a man of the cloth,” which Vash emulates? Why does he have an apparent negative outlook on humanity?
Another cool idea would be to explore Wolfwood’s life all the way up to him meeting Vash, and then continuing through their adventures (maybe ones that we haven’t seen in the original series) from Wolfwood’s perspective. It would be neat to see exactly what he thinks about Vash and his actions, why Vash’s perspective towards life and others bothers him so much, and yet why he still admires Vash in spite of all of that.
It doesn’t seem like an accident that the series creator, Yasuhiro Nightow, paired up a priest, who doesn’t really act the part, with Vash, who resembles Jesus more than anyone in the show. No doubt Nightow would explore that contrast even further if he got the opportunity to focus on Wolfwood’s life in a separate anime series.
Which anime character do you think deserves exclusive time in the spotlight? Comment with your choices below, and feel free to leave your thoughts about our own picks.
Next month, we’ll be diving into the unspecified territory of defining what makings would go into our “perfect anime.”
Thanks for reading, and God bless.
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