Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lonecow's Top 10 Anime Women - Sheryl Nome

This week will be a little redundant since I covered Miss Nome on a previous Tsundere Tuesday. However she is one of only two on my list that holds the distinct honor of being on the Top 10 and have a Tuesday to herself.

Number 09: Sheryl Nome
Show: Macross Frontier

Idols and transforming robots go together like peanut butter and jelly in the Macross Universe, and as Macross Frontier starts, Sheryl Nome is the idol. She embodies everything we expect to see in a modern idol, if not slightly western. She has glitz and glamour and puts on one hell of a stage show.

Sheryl is the granddaughter of one of the surviving characters from Macross Zero, and as such she may have some Protoculture running through her blood, giving a boost to her natural singing abilities. Letting a certain man she is in love with (Alto) can hear her singing from across the galaxy (without an iPod).

Why she is on the list: Of all the characters on Macross Frontier, Sheryl shows the most maturity. She grows and develops more naturally as her time in the spotlight starts to fade away, when Ranka Lee rises in popularity. When Sheryl first arrives on the scene, she is arrogant, rude, and very full of herself. However, through her interactions with others she becomes much more likable and eventually feels like the most "real" person on the show.

This is mostly achieved by a series of events that humbles her into being a normal every day person. Her problems are easier to relate to from the audience's perspective. While Ranka's problems involve being part of a scientific experiment to control aliens, Sheryl deals with failing health and loss of a career she values more then her own life. The audience, by nature of experience, can relate to her better.

For me, the most memorable scene in the entire show is when Sheryl has hit rock bottom, and Ranka is the savior of the galaxy. Aliens attack the city and Sheryl is forced to seek refuge underground with a bunch of civilians trying to stay alive. While they are all stuck under there and panicked, she starts to sing a calming song in the middle of the chaos. People are astonished that THE Sheryl Nome is down there with them in the thick of it, and can sing despite the terror above. It's a powerful moment and is the first time she uses her gift of song, not for her own personal fulfillment, but to help others.

For that she earns a place on this list.

Seiyuu: Aya Endō
Singing voice: May Nakabayashi (May'N)

I've often said the reason that Darth Vader is viewed as one of the greatest characters of all time, is because (in the original trilogy) it took four actors to portray him. Not one person could make the character. Though Sheryl is nowhere near Darth Vader levels of greatness, it still took two women to portray her and I think that elevates her awesomeness slightly.

Her main Seiyuu is Aya Endo. Endo started her career in 2000. Most fans might recognize her work in Lucky Star as Miyuki. That same year she got the role of a very different character in Sheryl Nome. The fact that Miyuki and Nome and played by the same person, I think, shows she has quite a good range.

May'N, I covered extensively when I was doing the short lived Idol Friday feature. So I don't think I'll go into all that again, other then to say I like her... a lot.

Honorable Mention: Ranka Lee

I intended to add this little blurb at the end last week, but couldn't think of a worthy honorable mention. When I set out to do this list I wanted to include one girl from a show. This means that even though there are some shows where I really like another female protagonist, only the better one got picked. However, some honorable mentions won't be from other girls in the same show, but of characters that are similar in personality, or that might be on the list one day, but they aren't ready yet.

The first of these Honorable Mentions will go to Sheryl's co-star: Ranka Lee. Just because I favor Sheryl, doesn't mean I am a Ranka hater. For most of the show I was all about Ranka, and I'm still slightly more partial to a Alto/Ranka hook up. Though the relationship between Sheryl and Alto seems more "grown-up".

Ranka Lee is a unique kind of female lead character as she doesn't exude the sex appeal that Sheryl does, yet she is unquestionably more of a main character than Sheryl. If you look at Macross Frontier from a more cultural perspective, Ranka embodies the new young Moe culture, and Sheryl embodies the classic beauty and maturity of early anime women. Both parts have their place, but depending on which side of the war you are on, might make you favor one girl over the other.

Ranka plays the underdog in the series, and for half way the viewers really root for her to succeed and make a name for herself. The parts of the show where she sings Minmay songs always pull at my heart strings. (Also as some side trivia, both girls carreers mimic different versions of Minmay. Ranka is TV series Macross Minmay, and Sheryl is "Do You Remember Love?" Minmay).

Ranka gets cuter as the series progresses, however, her personality doesn't really grow in as favorable a direction, and the choice she makes in Episode 18 made her loose a lot of points in a lot of fans eyes. Though, by the end of the series, she is completely over her background drama and can move forward as a character and hopefully in development as well.

So while she isn't on the Top 10, she is close, and with two more Macross Frontier movies yet to be shown here in the states, she has plenty of time to steal Sheryl's spotlight... again.