Drum roll please... We are now down to the top three women in anime that I find to be the creme de la creme of anime heroines. These three have withstood the test of time and although they may rearrange in order from 1-3, it will take an act of God (or Haruhi) to move them from these lofty places.
So without further ado, I give you number three....
Number 03: C.C.
Show: Code Geass
Background: C.C. is rescued by Lelouch in the first episode from some sort of capsule. From there the two form an uneasy partnership each with their own set of goals, not fully disclosed to the other party.
C.C. is centuries old, and in the end is just looking for a way to die, though for an immortal, that is a tall order.
Why She is On My List: I think of my list so far, C.C. is the most elegant. Her design, both physical and internal, renders a remarkable fictional female heroine, that could really stand up to some of the great female protagonists in literature. I feel this is true for all three of the ladies in my Top 3, but there is something about C.C. that makes her seem she would be right at home standing next to the likes of Hester Prynne, Scarlett O'Hara, and Lady McBeth.
While she might not favor any of those three women in an obvious manor, she is subtly like all three. Like Prynne she faced persecution in her own time, but rose above it and later wore it as a badge to shape who she became as a result, her strong independence and self assurances could be rivaled with O'Hara, and her ambition and ability to manipulate a powerful man to reach her own goals would be the envy of Lady McBeth.
The way she looks and holds herself hails back to the golden age of anime. She looks like she comes straight from a Leiji Matsumoto anime, with long features and sensual, seducing eyes.
Her mannerisms are endearing, and I'm sure otaku the world over, hearts all skipped a beat when she tried to put a gun together and it fell apart in her hands. Or when she orders pizza at the most inopportune time.
For all these reasons she holds a coveted number three spot on my list. Sunrise plans to turn Code Geass into a multimedia franchise, so there may very well be more C.C. in the near future. My only hope is she is handled with the same care and consideration that we have seen used so far.
I'm going to be lazy here and point you in the direction of Koji's article on CC: here.
Honorable mention: Horo (Holo)
It might seem like I should choose Kallen or any of the other amazing women from Code Geass as an honorable mention, but I chose Horo from Spice and Wolf for a very specific reason.
Major Code Geass Spoilers ahead (but you should have watched it by now anyway)!
There is much speculation of the last scene of Code Geass. Is Lelouch alive or dead? All we see is CC being carted along in a horse drawn cart, talking to some mysterious driver. Is it Lelouch?
Personally, I like to think it is. Or even if it isn't the idea of CC and Lelouch traveling the world in a horse drawn cart for the rest of eternity seems like an appealing idea to me, and I imagine if that is what they were doing it would happen much the same way that Spice and Wolf does.
Lelouch would be trying to scam trade deals and CC would give him advice she has accumulated over the years, much in the same way Lawrence and Horo function.
While I wouldn't go so far to say Horo and CC have the same personality (they don't) they still represent the same strong female protagonist who doesn't need to rely on anyone but themselves to stay one step ahead of everyone else. These character archetypes are becoming more popular in Japan, and I couldn't be happier as they stray from the concept of the meek woman who's only need is to serve her husband. A lot of these types end up being tsunderes, and some might say Horo falls into that category (she doesn't, as she is clearly flirty and affectionate towards Lawrence from the very beginning), and CC certainly doesn't, and that might be their most important trait. Strong women in anime that aren't tsunderes (though I still love tsunderes).