Anime Trending Staff Picks for Main and Supporting Characters of the Year 2021

In celebration of the upcoming 8th Anime Trending Awards ceremony, some of our staff members shared their favorite characters from anime in 2021. These opinions do not reflect the outcome of the voting ballots and have no effect on the winners. The winners of the Anime Trending Awards are entirely decided by the public voting process.

Crystal: Kyouko Hori (Horimiya)

Image Source: Funimation

Hori may be an attractive high school student but she, like everyone else, has her own familial duties to deal with. Her character is very relatable andher problems are all too familiar. Coupled with a healthy, communicative relationship and a great bunch of friends, what’s not to love about Hori? 

She breaks the stereotype that girls don’t have any initiative, and her thoughts about school, family, and love are so relatable that I couldn’t help but keep nodding my head as I followed along. Sometimes, the most “normal” thing reigns supreme. And that’s why she’s the best girl for me.

Crystal: Miyamura Izumi (Horimiya)

Image Source: Funimation

Miyamura is just about the softest and most compassionate guy I have seen in anime. Any guy who is willing to fight housewives for eggs and discounts at the grocery store, and does not mind frequently babysitting a six-year-old is a huge score in my books. 

Children are hard to deal with, and even if Miyamura trips up at times, he’s always willing to take on that responsibility, especially if it means letting Hori get some much-needed rest. He truly cares about Hori’s well-being and happiness. And that’s why he’s my Boy Of The Year.

Gracie: Bojji (Ranking of Kings)

Image Source: Funimation

Bojji luckily won enough votes to be nominated for Best Boy. Unluckily, due to Ranking of King’s status as a two cour anime during the Fall, Bojji’s nomination has been pushed back a year until the completion of the anime. However, I say without hesitation that Bojji is my pick for Best Boy of the Year even with his nomination currently pushed back. With around 50 anime series a season coming out, and as someone who watches an average of 15 anime a season, I can, very unfortunately, count on my fingers the number of disabled protagonists that exist in anime. Bojji is one of those.

However, what makes his story and his journey so riveting is that the story doesn’t allow his deafness to define him — while simultaneously not brushing his disability aside. His inability to hear does result in people who underestimate him, coddle him, and laugh at him. However, despite his disability, Bojji proves himself capable and skilled. He learns a fighting ability tailored just for him, but he’s not magically immune to other people’s views of him either. He cries and feels pain when other people look down on him, but he also laughs and cheers with people who love him for and despite his deafness. He’s a boy with a dream, and he’s the hero on a journey to become the best king there is. And really, what more does he need?

Gracie: Najimi Osana (Komi Can’t Communicate)

Image Source: Netflix

In an anime of purposeful character tropes, Najimi Osana was the character that stole my and many audience members’ hearts. They’re a non-binary character who asserts themselves by wearing the jacket and shirt of the boy’s uniform while donning the skirt of the girl’s uniform all the while confidently proclaiming, “Najimi is Najimi” without feeling a need to justify their identity. But really, what makes Najimi stand out so much in a chaotic series like Komi Can’t Communicate is how unapologetic they are about themselves and how popular they are regardless of how they act.

They’re friends with practically everyone in the entire school, they’re an excellent businessperson who made money from their successful class event during the school festival (much to the chagrin of the disciplinary committee), and they’re, surprisingly, the voice of reason. Yes, the non-binary character is not the gag character who makes a fool of themselves, but the realist character despite their bombastic attitude and penchant for silliness. At the end of the day, Najimi is the bridge that brings all the other crazy characters together. They want, more than anything else, for Komi to gain confidence and make as many friends as possible, so that she may also experience the joy they feel every day.

Gracie: Vladilena Milize (86 EIGHTY-SIX)

Image Source: Crunchyroll

Discussing Girl of the Year this year is difficult in the best way possible — there were a number of incredible female characters with distinct personalities, powerful agencies, and stunning character development. Just from the nominees list alone, I can easily count five characters that I would be happy to see with the crown. As a result, after looking through the list of my coworkers’ picks, they’ve helped me whittle down to the character that hasn’t yet been mentioned: Lena from 86 EIGHTY-SIX.

Lena is a character that spoke out to me personally because she starts off as a reflection of my past self — she believes  she’s unique for acting kind towards discriminated people. She’s set up to be a white savior — in the most literal sense as not only her skin is pale, but her eyes and hair are purposefully silvery white. However, where Lena differs in usual stories is that the discriminated characters force her to confront one of the hardest facts that anyone would have to face: just because you’re nice doesn’t mean you’re good or right. 

This turning point allows Lena to shine in her strength and determination. Rather than acting in defense, Lena instead turns her perspective inwards and takes the criticisms to heart. She apologizes, she changes her actions, and she starts making a difference. From sending fireworks to those discriminated against to amassing a team of people who work against her country’s rules, Lena is proof that even if you’ve made terrible mistakes in the past, listening will give you the opportunity to grow into a stronger, kinder, and better person.

James: Vivy (Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song)

Image Source: Funimation

She can sing, she can dance, and she can kick your ass. What more could you possibly want?

There’s something about Vivy that really checks all the boxes for me. It could be her earnest nature, her angelic singing voice, her dynamic fight scenes, or just the fact that she can really pull off a suit and glasses. Regardless, Vivy’s journey and development between episode 1 and 13 evoke the philosophical musings of old science fiction that I loved as a child. Despite being a robot, she struggles  to find what it means to “sing with all your heart” and that could make her more human than any of us.

Lucas: Eris Boreas Greyrat (Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation)

Source: Funimation

Eris is first introduced to us as all talk and no game. She projects a strong sense of confidence and arrogance, despite relying entirely on her familial status to bully those who challenge her to be better with little to no consequences. Contrary to her perception of being self-reliant, under her harsh exterior is a young girl who struggles with communicating and acting out her needs and desires. 

Over the series, through accepting the help of others and overcoming many trials, she grows to become genuinely confident and self-sufficient. Rather than using her familial status as a crutch, Eris comes to rely on the skills she built through hard work and newfound trust and reliance on others. With a bit of added humility, she becomes the kind of person she envisioned herself to be when we first meet her.

Melvyn: Chisato Arashi (Love Live! Superstar!!)

Image Source: Funimation

She raps, she dances, she choreographs, she makes Takoyaki as a part-time job, and she says, “Wiisu!” Chisato Arashi is a lovable fusion of cool and cute, and I’m all for her.

William: Fushi (To Your Eternity)

Image Source: Crunchyroll

To Your Eternity has a great leading man and his name is Fushi. The shapeshifting immortal journey from being a blank slate to a fully realized human makes for a compelling anime to follow. He’s my Best Boy because he’s had to experience and deal with many of the emotions that make up humans like love, hatred, sadness, anger, and longing. He watched one of his first friends get killed before his eyes and witnessed others fall to their demise in similar ways. He confronted one of his friend’s killers and genuinely displayed high levels of hatred and disgust at them. 

His character development and personality shine brightest when he faces adversity. His jadedness makes him more human because we can sympathize with what he’s had to deal with as an immortal who’s lived for so long. As such, he’s forced to adapt to the realization that he’ll outlive everyone he knows and loves. Like so many of us, Fushi is still growing and learning to live out his best life. I’m hoping more happiness will come his way in season two. 

William: Hayase Nagatoro (Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro)

Image Source: Crunchyroll

The most memorable anime characters are the ones you recognize by a single name. That’s why I’m not ashamed to admit that Nagatoro — yes, THE Hayase Nagatoro — is my Best Girl of the Year. For all my casual masochists in the anime fandom, having an anime girl constantly teasing you for everything you do is just about as good as it gets. 

Sure, she may be a chaotic evil devil spawn with a dangerous attraction for her senpai, but deep down, she’s kind of adorable, even if she doesn’t know how to show it. Her unique, domineering personality makes her a tyrannical anime waifu that stands above the rest of her rivals. At this point, I’m just waiting for her own Nendoroid to come out and empty my wallet for the month. 

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