This week’s topic is a freebie, so I’m writing about:
Ten Twelve Fictional Characters of 2012
Though I read and watched so many things this year, what stood out to me among all the books, anime, manga, and television are several incredible characters with whom I couldn’t help but fall in love. Whenever I absolutely love something, to the extent that I can talk about it for months and never get bored (I can’t say the same for my listeners), there’s usually a single character that ran away with my heart. For some reason, this year felt like one roller-coaster of “heart thievery” after another. Now, the year is basically over, and I’m still not over how much I adore them.
12. Cammie Morgan (Out of Sight, Out of Time, Ally Carter)
He was beside me then, his arms wrapped around me, holding me tightly.
“I’m not crazy,” I whispered.
Believe it or not, that’s the most romantic thing Zachary Goode ever told me.
And I kind of loved him for it.
I’ve been a fan of Cammie’s since the first Gallagher Girls book, so I didn’t think anything could make me love her more. Which is why I had to put her on this list. After everything she went through from the period between Only the Good Spy Young and Out of Sight, Out of Time and the additional hardships she faced being back at the Gallagher Academy without a huge chunk of her memory (and with some creepy new skills), I couldn’t help but admire her. I can’t imagine going through what she went through, and part of what made this book mean so much to me (it is currently my favorite in the entire series) is how much I truly felt (terrified) for Cammie Morgan.
11. Cricket Bell (Lola and the Boy Next Door, Stephenie Perkins)
|“…One day, the boy had to move away. He couldn’t bring the girl with him, so he brought the stars. When he’d look out his window at night, he would start with one. One star. And the boy would make a wish on it, and the wish would be her name.
At the sound of her name, a second star would appear. And then he’d wish her name again, and the stars would double into four. And four became eight, and eight became sixteen, and so on, in the greatest mathematical equation the universe had ever seen. And by the time an hour had passed, the sky would be filled with so many stars that it would wake the neighbors. People wondered who’d turned on the floodlights.
The boy did. By thinking about the girl.”
Cricket Bell has to be one of the most adorable fictional characters I’ve ever encountered in YA. He’s just so awkward and flustered, and he doesn’t really know how to express his feelings, even though he’s loved this girl for years. I spent this entire novel cheering for him, hoping he’d make his move, and hoping Lola would get the hint. And when he finally does make a move, wow is it incredible. I love Etienne St. Clair, but Cricket Bell is probably the kind of boy I’d love to fall in love with some day.
10. Kyle Rhodes (About That Night, Julie James)
“Because nine years ago, I walked up to the most beautiful girl in the bar, and tonight she’s still the only person I want to talk to.”
Maybe you’re seeing a pattern here, but I often feel for boys who are (not necessarily the underdog but) at some disadvantage and just can’t get the girl (I call it “James Potter complex” – JPC). My friend Angel @ Mermaid Vision Books recommended this contemporary romance novel (I’ve only read a handful of regency ones before) for me because she thought Kyle would appeal to my JPC, and I fell in love. Hard. Kyle’s this charming, suave, goof of a boy who is both pretty and nerdy (so people see him a certain way that isn’t really him at all). He meets a girl he almost falls in love with on their first encounter, but circumstances keep them apart, and she convinces herself it wasn’t meant to be because a boy like that was probably only playing with her. (He wasn’t.) But a part of him stays with her, and years later, they meet again, and even though it feels like an impossibility because they’re still so different and so much has changed, he falls in love again. Maybe it’s because I’m a hopeless romantic, but I spent this novel cheering for Kyle and hoping the girl he had feelings for would finally realize he was serious (and somewhere along the way, Kyle Rhodes became one of those characters I couldn’t forget).
9.Cinder (Cinder, Marissa Meyer)
|“He was the fantasy of every girl in the country. He was so far out of realm, her world, that she should have stopped thinking about him the second the door had closed. Should stop thinking about him immediately. Should never think about him again, except maybe as a client — and her prince.
And yet, the memory of his fingers against her skin refused to fade.”
I wanted to throw Prince Kai on here (because the more I read about him, the more I wanted him to be happy), but the character that stood out for me most in Cinder (review here) was the heroine. It’s one thing to be a second class citizen, and mistreated by strangers and your “family” on a daily basis, but to deal with the prejudice on top of a plague, a sort-of (friendly) relationship with the Emperor, and a foreign queen (who, for some reason, is out to get you)… is impressive. I also loved that despite the fact that Cinder is playing Cinderella, she wasn’t a weak heroine, by any means. Even knowing the risk, she courageously attempted to do right by the Emperor (and the Commonwealth), even though it could cost her her freedom. I won’t mind following her journey for another three novels, and I hope to see her continue to face her challenges head on. (Seeing her happy
with Kai would be nice, too.)
8. William Darcy (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries)
|“Pray tell, what is it that makes you think well about any of these cretins?”
“I’ve been thinking about the pleasure a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow.”
(And then he stared directly at Lizzie)
“Oh look, your little crush is coming this way… Are you FAKE texting?”
“…It’s super important!”
I wasn’t sure if I should put Darcy here, since he’s only appeared in… two LBD episodes, but honestly, even without an actual Darcy, I can’t deny how much I looked forward to his presence throughout this entire web series. Even before Daniel Gordh was cast, Darcy has — in some capacity — been appearing in Lizzie’s videos in the form of stories and… her friends and family dressed in costumes. Lizzie’s accounts of the wedding, the most awkward dance ever, conversations she had (and overheard) with Darcy, encounters at Lee residence, and retellings of events by Jane and Charlotte are part of what I really enjoyed about the videos, and something I looked forward to watching each week. By the time the actual Darcy made an appearance, he was already one of my favorite characters (even though I knew, as a Pride and Prejudice fan, that I’d love him anyway), and Daniel Gordh’s flawless (perfectly emotionally repressive but sincere) acting helped. Here’s to more Darcy (and Darcy costume theater) videos in the future!
7. The Bennet Sisters (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries)
If I had to choose a single Bennet, I’d probably put Lydia Bennet here, just because, of all the characters in LBD, she definitely has the most emotional depth. But I’m cheating and placing them all on this list, just because I love them all. Lizzie Bennet, as the title character, is brilliant. She’s intelligent, bookish, forms strong opinions of people fast (and often without all the details), but tries to do right by her family and her friends, even to the point of admitting she was wrong (once she realizes it). She’s everything I love about Elizabeth Bennet, but maybe even a little more prejudiced because the video blogging format allows her to be. The character I relate to most is Jane Bennet. I love how she’s kind and sincere and fair, and she, as the oldest Bennet sister, really looks out for her family, even to the point of making Snickerdoodles for Lydia’s professor to help her out, or tea for Lizzie when she’s not feeling well. (I’m also in love with her hair — I love experimenting on my own hair with elaborate braids and pretty flowers, and I’ve been inspired by a lot of Jane’s hairstyles in various LBD videos.) Lydia Bennet is LBD’s most different character from the source material. I care for her more than I ever did for the original Lydia, partly because in Lizzie’s videos and Lydia’s own vlogs, it’s easy to see how much she cares about her family, and how much they mean to her. She’s still the same person, the relatively neglected (by her parents) youngest daughter who entertains herself by attending out of control parties, drinks, and drugs, but there are scenes where Lydia’s true thoughts and concerns shine through (especially in her own videos). She’s also says the most hilarious things (some of which I can’t even repeat).
6. Taichi Mashima (Chihayafuru)
“Love is when… it isn’t fun even when you’re with that person. You get irritated. Nothing goes the way you want. You’re not having fun. And yet… you still want to be with her.”
Taichi was — hands down — my favorite character in Chihayafuru (review here). He’s quiet, intelligent, logical, a jack of all trades and a master of none. He doesn’t have the passion some of the other characters have for Karuta, but he’s been in love with his friend Chihaya for most of his life, and it makes her happy, so he joins anyway. I love him because he’s the character that changes the most. He starts off not really caring about the game, going through the motions because it would make Chihaya happy. Which was great of him, really (especially since it would also potentially lead her back to their friend Arata, whom Taichi is convinced is the love of Chihaya’s life, next to the game). But what I really enjoyed watching was seeing Taichi use his own skills in Karuta, develop his own way of playing and enjoying it, finding a passion of his own outside of his love of Chihaya. I relate to Taichi on a deeper level, knowing what it feels like to have enormous academic pressures on you, and working hard to obtain good grades but (because you have to manage fantastic scores all around) never letting any interest develop into something more. Throw in a one-sided love triangle with two of your best friends and you have an even bigger mess. But Taichi kept his cool and handled things brilliantly. (And I ended up respecting him more.)
5. Augustus Waters (The Fault in Our Stars, John Green)
“I’m in love with you,” he said quietly.
“Augustus,” I said.
“I am,” he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
I think the last time a male YA character completely swept me away was Etienne St. Clair in Anna and the French Kiss. Augustus is charming, intelligent, and hilarious. He smokes metaphorical cigarettes, he reads, he makes random romantic speeches that make me swoon, he’s all about the “big gestures”. The things he did for Hazel, fulfilling her single wish and sacrificing his own, trying his best to make the time she had left memorable, warmed my heart. I’m not going to talk about him further (because I’d end up revealing everything and I know a lot of people haven’t read it yet), but it wasn’t long before “I fell in love the way you fall asleep – slowly, then all at once.”
4. Campbell Saunders (Degrassi: the Next Generation)
Degrassi is one of those shows I sometimes think I’ll quit, but then a new character is introduced that I need to know more about, and before I know it, it’s season 12, the show is still going on, and I’m still following it week by week. This season’s character is Campbell Saunders, a transfer student to the school, who is probably the youngest and most talented on the traveling hockey team, guaranteed a future spot in the NHL. Despite his athletic prowess, he doesn’t fit in well with his hockey teammates, too shy, too young, too homesick, and too awkward to be comfortable around them in any capacity. He doesn’t know how to make friends, and he always ends up saying the wrong thing around strangers, and though he used to love hockey, nothing makes happy anymore (especially the sport). He’s not even sure he knows how to be happy, and everything he tries — leaving the hockey team, hanging out with a girl who almost makes him smile, throwing himself in his schoolwork instead — fails to help. Cam Saunders is a complicated, so innocent that he’s the kind of character that completely grabs you. You don’t want to see him suffer. And so, you put on Teennick every Friday, hoping he’ll make it through the year in one piece.
3. Nikita (Nikita)
“Don’t get me wrong. I want to stop running. I’ve been running my whole life. I want a home. I just want to live with my self when I get there.”
Nikita is probably one of my favorite female characters of all time. She’s kickass, she knows how to hurt people three times her size, and she’s not afraid of fighting for the things she believes in no matter the consequences. What I love about this character is the way she deals with everything life hands her. Nikita didn’t exist as a super-extraordinary woman with the capabilities of “dying” a thousand times and still somehow managing to come out the victor. She was abandoned, in an abusive foster family, a drug addict, and a runaway, and she endured everything Division put her through to face those demons, and encounter new ones. She’s killed, she’s felt remorse for those killings, she’s lost people of her own. Countless times. She’s strong in a way few characters are, and even though she doesn’t always win or make the right choice, she’s the kind of person you believe in, the heroine you want to succeed. (Nikita review here.)
2. Kyoko Mogami (Skip Beat, Yoshiki Nakamura)
|“Even in the past when I thought I was disliked by Tsuruga-san, he still made me feel proud and cherished, like a treasure. I know that if I succumb even a little to my feelings, I am sure I will become even more of a fool than that time [with Sho].”|
Like Nikita, Kyoko is a girl on the warpath, out to seek revenge. Only instead of an organization that completely took advantage of her, her target is a boy she’s loved for years, her “childhood friend”, who took her for granted, became famous, and then discarded her like she was nothing. Instead of crying for lost love, Kyoko snaps, vowing vengeance upon Sho Fuwa, whatever it takes. Which, because of a challenge Sho thoughtlessly throws at her, ends up being by becoming a stronger presence in the entertainment industry. Though Kyoko has no talents she can think of, or even any show business ambitions, she tries her best to get an agency, eventually impressing LME (Sho’s agency’s major rival) president enough for him to take her on as a sort-of talent. Working for LME, Kyoko eventually discovers a passion for acting, still wanting to bring Sho to his knees, but now attempting to create dreams of her own (since her whole life has been about making others happy instead). Her perseverance, the fact that she can still find good in people after the hard life she’s endured (her mom abandoned her, Sho abandoned her, she has no good memories about love at all) are admirable. I can’t help but support her.
1. Ren Tsuruga (Skip Beat, Yoshiki Nakamura)
“‘Just by gazing upon her face, no matter how weary you are, you will feel happy. Deep inside your heart, you will feel a warmth. This is a ‘piece of joy’. This is all the happiness you need. We call this love.’ That is what the chicken said. To tell the truth, it’s rather irritating for a chicken to tell me what love is…
No, I shouldn’t feel this way, since I was the one who asked first. But to be told in such a manner… It makes me feel inferior to the chicken somehow. It’s a little hard to accept.”
Since I watched the Skip Beat anime this summer, the only person I’ve constantly talked about has been Tsuruga Ren, probably one of my favorite anime/manga male leads since… Chiba Mamoru in Sailor Moon. I fell in love with Ren since the beginning, when he was merely an actor who didn’t want to see a newbie actress taint a profession that he loves with her impure motivations. Though I thought he was extreme at the time (which, it turns out, is understandable, given his history), I enjoyed watching his relationship with Kyoko turn from utter disdain to respect, eventually to the point where he admires her so much that he somehow, without his even realizing, falls in love. Ren’s an interesting character because he’s Japan’s top actor, but his entire existence, his very being, is also a guise. He hides his irritation or anger under a “gentlemanly smile”, always maintaining a professional air (at least until he met Kyoko) because of past experiences in the acting industry that had completely overwhelmed him (to the point where he’d have to create a professional personality for himself, so that he’d never fall into that kind of despair again). A great part of Skip Beat is about his secret past, the things that he experienced that brought him to Japan and formed the very essence of Tsuruga Ren (there’s still so much we don’t know), but then there is a lighter aspect, his day to day encounters with Kyoko, how he deals with being in love (for the first time ever) with a girl who has sworn off love forever. I like complicated characters with complicated back stories as much as the next person, but when you have a boy who uses a girl’s love of fairytales to make her happy (to the extent of convincing her that you’re a fairy prince when you’re ten-years-old to keep her from crying), how can you not fall in love with him? (Anime reviews of Skip Beat! here and here.)
What were some of your favorite fictional characters this year?