Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lonecow's Top 10 Anime Women - Tohsaka Rin

It is no secret that Tsundere's are what makes my heart go a flutter (among other things). They used to only be side characters, that while interesting, would never win in the end. For a long time, the ideal woman that Japanese men sought after, were the quiet soft spoken shy girls. This was reflected as such in anime and films from Japan.

However, in the last decade or so, as women gain more power, and shed their meek stereotypes roles from the past, the Tsundere ideal has become the predominate label for an ideal Japanese spouse/girlfriend. Tsundere's are an important character archetype because they also represent women's changing role in society. Men are weak minded individuals, and creatures of habit, who need a good strong women to help guide them in the right path.

The type of woman needed for that job is a Tsundere (according to anime), and there is no character more synonymous with that word then the queen of Tsunderes herself, Tohsaka Rin.

Number 06: Tohsaka Rin
Show: Fate/Stay Night


Background: Tohsaka Rin is an excellent Mage in the world of Fate/Stay Night, and among all the "chosen" mages to participate in the Holy Grail War, she is easily the best. She is young, but that doesn't stop her from making short work of all the elder Magus. Even after she gives up her "thump card" early in the fight to save poor helpless Emiya Shirou, she is still a formidable force.

Even after her belligerent Servant, Archer, gets taken out early in the game, she could still win the whole war by herself if she really wanted to.

Why she is on my list: Honestly, I've been putting off doing this "Anime Woman of the Week" because I've said so much about Tohsaka in past blog entries, I know I will just end up repeating myself.

In fact, Tohsaka would probably be higher on my list if there wasn't one critical point holding her back: The Fate/Stay Night anime. Perhaps her being on this list at all is a bit of a cheat, because my love for Tohsaka springs forth from the Visual Novel, Fate/Stay Night and not the anime. I've made it quite clear in the past that I really don't like the anime at all.

Over the years I've softened on my stance towards the anime, but compared to the Visual Novel there is no contest. The only saving grace is that the characters in the anime are pretty faithful adaptations of the book. The story is the only thing that makes the anime not as good as the work it is based on.

On top of that, earlier this year a Fate/Stay Night movie was released, based solely on Tohsaka's route from the VN. Admittedly I have not seen the movie yet, but I've heard good things so far, and am still eagerly awaiting it to come stateside.

So that is why I feel justified including Tohsaka on this list, even if her anime adaptation isn't my favorite version of her.

Now, why I think she is such a great character?

In many ways, Tohsaka is the Asuka I always secretly wanted. Don't get me wrong, Asuka Soryu trumps Tohsaka every time, but a part of me wanted to see more of the Asuka depicted in the last episode of Evangelion. The super full on Tsundere version of Asuka is what I wanted to see more of (and don't you dare say Angelic Days in my presence or you will be hurt).

Tohsaka is the full realization of that version of Asuka. She is strong and independent, and does everything on her own without reliance from anyone. But nothing about her could be considered "bitchy". She is proud, and ambitious, but kind and thoughtful. Even though the rules to the Holy Grail War state you should kill a rival Master if given the opportunity, she doesn't think twice to save Shirou, who is clearly bewildered by the whole War. It isn't even a question in her mind to help him. She doesn't sit and brood saying to herself, "If I help him my chances to win might be over, or should I take pity on him."

She is frustrated by having to help him, sure, but she does what she knows is right.

As a viewer/reader of Fate/Stay Night, Tohsaka serves as your lifeline. She is one of the few characters that knows what is going on at all times, and whenever you feel confused, you can count on Tohsaka to tell you whats happening. You come to rely on her and trust her. If she wasn't there, you'd be just as lost and dumbfounded as Shirou.

As I stated earlier, Tohsaka is the poster-child for the Tsundere ideal. In Lucky Star, Konata's description of a Tsundere, is pretty much word for word Tohsaka Rin. In that same OVA, Kagami (the Tsundere of Lucky Star according to Konata) turns into Tohsaka during a dream sequence. So make no doubt that Tohsaka and Tsundere are synonymous names.

Seiyuu: Kana Ueda

Kana Ueda has had quite the career in voice acting. She is 30 years old, and starting working as a Seiyuu in 2001, and has since voiced hundreds and hundreds of different characters in anime, games and movies.

The Fate/Stay Night anime came out in 2006, and she has voiced Tohsaka in every incarnation, which makes me happy. As I said earlier, even though I'm not a huge fan of the anime, I love her interpretation of the character, so I'm glad she has played Tohsaka in all the games, and spin off F/SN media.

She has had major roles in a lot of popular series such as Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Tenga Toppa Gurren Lagann, and BlazBlue to name a few. Seriously check out her Wikipedia page to see all the voice work she has done.

She is also as cute as Tohsaka.

Honorable mention: Saber

This honorable mention might seem obvious, but I have to give Saber some love.

I have no shame in admitting that the sole reason I read Fate/Stay Night was because I saw some sexy poster of Tohsaka and wanted to check it out. So from the beginning, the cards were stacked in Tohsaka's favor. Saber, I was of course familiar with because she graces just as many figures and posters as Tohsaka, but everything about Saber goes against the concept of Moe. She is usually dressed as conservatively as they come, head-to-toe in armor. Also I'm not a huge fan of blonds, or that stoic quiet demeanor.

I even considered skipping her storyline and go straight to Tohsaka's.

However, what happened went against everything I expected. I fell madly in love with Saber. She is a great character, and I'll humbly admit, that she might, from a character development standpoint, be the greatest character in Fate/Stay Night. She has clear convictions and morals, and would rather die than betray them, almost to a fault. She has minor flaws in her personality and ideals, and that makes her more real than any other character in the story.

She is also, an absolutely radiant beauty that makes all those moments when she rarely shows her feminine side that much sweeter.

In reality, on my list, Saber and Tohsaka are almost interchangeable. But I had to pick only one girl from a series, and Tohsaka won out... this time.