First it was scarcity, then it was overabundance, and now it’s… nuance. I mean, there is certainly no shortage of characters in anime who are “not human.” But if we want some diversity, then how rigid are the lines of division?
Vampires aren’t human anymore, but they were human, and they still have a human appearance a lot of the time.
Elves aren’t human at all, but strongly resemble humans, indeed, they are widely portrayed as the most beautiful people humans ever see.
Much the same can be said of gods and goddesses.
There are characters galore whose species are basically humans with something bestial or elemental added in.
Even ghosts are still the same humans that they were in real life, just without a physical body to work with.
Heck, there are so many monstrous characters who actually are, or were, human that one could scarcely count them.
For a comparison: the mutants of the Marvel universe are all absolutely human… but many don’t exactly look it.
So, when picking non-human characters, the real question is how nuanced and diverse we can be here. As such, I wanted to pick characters who display some of the range of inhumanity to be found among anime.
So, without further ado, I present my picks for five non-human anime characters! 🙂
Delilah is something of a strange favorite of mine. She’s not a major character at all in Gate, at least not thus far in the anime, but she gets the spotlight a couple of times. In particular, she is a sassy, cute character in the background who the soldiers consider a friend. Then she becomes an unwitting pawn in a scheme originating with one of her most hated enemies, quite nearly doing something terrible, and certainly harming a friend, because she was deceived.
In regards to what she nearly did, she almost took an innocent life, and the moment of interaction she has with her intended victim was riveting, and displayed the core of both characters. And as for who she hurt… well, he takes full advantage of her responsibility and has her nurse him back to health, with obvious undertones. You really have to respect a man with enough balls to court the woman who nearly killed him, ya know? 😉
I’m really hoping for another season of Gate, or at least a movie or something, because I love all the characters, and I look forward to seeing Delilah again. 🙂
2) Zaryusu Shasha
Now we shed the outer visage of humanity completely with Zaryusu, a lizardman, that is, an upright, bipedal lizard. (hmm, I wonder if humans would ever be described as upright, bipedal monkeys with no tails…)
I particularly like Zaryusu for two reasons.
Firstly, he shows that all the usual tropes of heroism are not limited to heroism. He’s smart, strong, something of an outsider, though not aggressively so, he’s journeyed and learned, and he helps his people. Not only does he fight for them, with everything he has, but he shares his knowledge to improve their lives through innovation. When all the clans of his people need to unite, it is he who proves himself worthy and rallies them together, though he has no notion of taking power and authority for himself. He is strong, but humble.
Secondly, and I will mention this again quite soon, I just love his whole relationship with Crusch! It is just so adorable! Even when I was laughing, I couldn’t help but nod in approval like, “good man, good man,” when the first coherent words out of his mouth the first time he saw her were, “Marry me.” 😛
More on that later! 😉
3) Tiger of the Wind
Tiger is swift and strong, able to shoot lightning and roar wind. His is a noble soul, filled with honor, and he is on a quest to maintain his freedom, gain justice for his fallen comrades, and free his brother from the influence of a terrible evil. In short, he is awesome.
’Nuff said! 🙂
My Roommate is a Cat
Easily the most recently-produced of this lot, Haru is an adorable stray cat. She stumbles onto a human who adopts her and the two of them together undergo a slow transformation wherein they become a family. She is clever, but, being a cat, does not understand human ways, because she does not think of things in human terms. Result: many hilarious misunderstandings.
Haru is lovable partially because of how she misunderstands things, partially because of her reactions to most everything, partially because she is just an adorable feline, and partially because her story reflects that of her human in some ways. She has known loss, as he has, and she is very uneasy around others, as he is. Yet, she grows close to him, and the two of them soon find that the emptiness of their loss has been filled with warmth.
You just gotta love that, ya know?
Gargantia on the Verduerous Planet
And now the time has come, where we step so far from humanity that we shed physical form completely, in the person of Chamber, an artificial intelligence.
Chamber is a constant presence for most of the series. As a pilot assisting program, he (and I am going with “he” instead of “it”) does very well supporting the lead character in a variety of ways. His perspective, being outside humanity, provides for some interesting insights as well. And a little bit of the humans’ influence on him is shown in subtle ways throughout the show, but especially in the climactic finale. There are few things more epic than when a machine, without emotions, is able to not only reject the offer of another machine, but do so in a way which invokes emotion.
After being distant, separated from humanity by the simple fact that he isn’t one, Chamber goes out with a display of how close he is to them, how strong his connection to them is. In essence, he sides with the feeling, so-called “illogical” part of humanity, against that cold, ruthless supposed practicality which leaves nothing truly “human” in its wake.
And that’s it. My five picks for non-human characters, those who show us what humanity is really all about.
How about you? You got any favorite non-human characters?