This has been a delayed thing, but now’s as good a time as any to mention a little fact: Iridium Eye has over 45,000 all-time views since its inception in 2017! Wow, that’s pretty cool even though I haven’t been posting as frequently as I used to. Life has gotten in the way, but I like making these Top 7 lists ever since I made them a few years ago. Thank you to everyone who read things from my blog, so let’s celebrate with a fun post.
Most of my character posts have been the most negative ones I’ve written. I had to get out some of that anger, but I want to do something different. Okay, I will get a bit ranty for one of my points (you’ll know it when you get there), but I want to do something a bit more playful.
Have you ever had those moments where you notice something about a certain character that no one else does? That happens to me a LOT! Whether it’s connections between characters played by the same actor/actress, noticing a little quirk that’s understated, or doing my own independent research and realizing a certain thing, I tend to focus on that. As they say…what is seen can’t be unseen. However, there are times when I feel like I’m the only one when I notice these specific things and try not to act like Mugatu from Zoolander especially since I know I’m not taking any crazy pills. This is something I’ve felt even as a child when I see something or notice something after the fact. Now the challenge for me is to find 7 different characters with some unique things that I feel that not many people notice or think about, but once I bring it up, there’s no way you will ignore these little facts. They can be animated or live-action characters. A couple examples involve characters who have been on American mainstream TV, but I’ll mix it up with more obscure characters because this is Iridium Eye, right? Hahaha! I was also recently inspired to use my observant nature for a list like this one because I feel like it’s an aspect of mine that people underestimate. Thank you if you’re ever reading this! Sure, I can be oblivious to certain things, but there are certain situations where I excel in noticing various things even though I keep quiet most of the time in my offline life. Time to change that for this blog!
Here are my rules for this Top 7 list.
-One character per series or movie.
-These facts are things that most people will not notice or realize the implications of when they first see them.
-I have to have seen at least a little bit of a series or movie where the characters are from.
-Fan theories will be at a minimum, but fridge logic will apply to some of my choices (SPOILER: It involves massive fridge horror that I know NO ONE has brought up with one of my picks!).
-Fictional characters only
-This is based on my personal opinion of how impactful the facts are.
-Some examples involve spoilers! You’ve been warned!
Before I begin, I’ll be nice enough to have some honorable mentions that I didn’t have enough room for in this list. Trust me, I had some painful cuts given how interesting some of these un-see-able facts are.
-Charlotte Pickles (Angelica’s mom) from Rugrats’ lips are only positioned to the left or right of her mouth. The only time it’s ever in the middle is when it’s in transition whether she’s on her cell phone or not.
-Eric from The Little Mermaid (yes, the Disney version) and the 90s cartoon version of Spider-Man has three things in common: the same voice actor, red-headed girlfriends, and octopus-themed nemeses.
-Lisbeth Salander from the Millennium AKA Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series is a deconstructive analog of what Pippi Longstocking might be if she grew up according to the creator. Even her apartment door has the name “V. Kulla” on it which is a reference to Pippi’s home Villa Villekulla.
-Loran Cehack from Turn A Gundam is the first leading Black Gundam pilot.
-The Japan Team from King of Fighters (Kyo, Benimaru, and Goro) had a group dynamic modeled after the trio from the Getter Robo series. Also, Kyo himself was partially based on Shotaro Kaneda from Akira which makes the existence of K9999/Krohnen and the Kusanagi clone character even more hilarious in hindsight when you consider that the former is a shameless ripoff of Tetsuo Shima as I noted in THAT list about ripoff characters before altering him to be Krohnen in the newest KOF game and how the latter literally has Kaneda’s voice actor while also having verbatim quotes from that protagonist.
-Dr. Hiss from The Bots Master uses the Krang chips to hack robots to help Sir Lewis Leon Paradim take over the world. That wouldn’t be the first thing with the same name to have that kind of motivation. Yes, I’m obviously referring to the pink tentacle alien villain from the Ninja Turtles series.
Alright, everyone. I’m sure you’ll be focusing on the things I’ve pointed out with these characters. Hahaha! Hopefully, you’ll appreciate my observations.
7: Wallace from the Wallace & Gromit series
Reason: Wallace’s hometown is hidden in plain sight, but his accent is a mismatch with that area.
We’ve got an Iridium Eye first! I get to talk about British animation in a Top 7 list, and this is a well-known example! I definitely remember watching the older Wallace & Gromit movies when I was a child and I think one of them was even played on TV back then, too. I haven’t seen anything after A Close Shave, so don’t ask me how I feel about the entire franchise. This fact might be more obvious to my UK readers, but for us Americans and people from other countries, this could be more obscure. In the movies, the setting is vague, but presumably in a small-to-midsize town or city in England. However, Wallace’s address is seen in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene in The Wrong Trousers. Gromit is sorting the mail in the house because he’s looking for a birthday card and there is a letter that can be seen (if one looks really close) as “62 West Wallaby Street, Wigan WG7 7FU”. That’s right! This cheese-addicted tinkerer is a Pie-Eater! For those that haven’t heard of that city, Wigan is in Greater Manchester which is in North West England. Okay, the street name is fictional, but he does live in a real English city. However, there is an odd quirk about the Wallace character with how he talks. It’s implied that he’s lived in Wigan for all, if not most of his life, but he talks with a Yorkshire accent! That’s not even in the same area. If you’re not familiar with that British accent, then check out this video to break down the commonalities of that Northern English regional speech pattern. For any American reader checking this out, it would be like someone from let’s say Odessa, TX who’s lived there all their life naturally talked in a Cajun accent (think Gambit from the X-Men or multiple characters from Princess and the Frog [mainly Ray]) despite not being from Louisiana or being of Cajun lineage. Yeah, that would be VERY bizarre. Wallace’s original voice actor Peter Sallis (RIP) struggled with most Northern English accents and he was originally from Middlesex and London. He opted to emulate a Yorkshire accent which he had more success with compared to other Northern accents or dialects. Specifically, Sallis’s performance involved talking in a Holme Valley dialect in West Yorkshire (near Huddersfield for you geography nerds). Realistically, Wallace’s accent in theory should be closer to a Lancashire or a Manchester one, given the location of that area. No, I’m not saying he would automatically sound like a straight-up Manc, I said it would be more similar to that area, so don’t at me! Regardless, those movies were still funny. This won’t be the only example involving something from a British creator on the list. Now if you excuse me, I’ll go buy some Wensleydale and crackers.
You should also check out Fiddletwix’s review of Curse of the Were-Rabbit while you’re at it!
6: Homey D. Clown from In Living Color
Reason: Homey’s real name is a VERY subtle (intra-promotional?) callback. Also, those puffs on his suit have meaning that flew over most people’s heads.
Before I get into my observations into this famous character played by Damon Wayans, I have a confession to make. I had never seen a full skit much less an episode of In Living Color until this year. Some of you are gasping and looking like Edvard Munch’s iconic Scream painting at this moment. I know. It’s so crazy that I lasted this long before I willingly watched something involving this 90s comedy show that helped kickstart the careers of the then-unknown Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, and Jennifer Lopez to name a few. Now I’m probably going to get cooked online for admitting this. Hahaha! Getting on topic, when I started watching In Living Color when I had a bit of free time, I checked out the Homey D. Clown skits since they were some of the most talked about moments in this show. Not going to lie, I did get some laughs seeing this jaded clown on work release who refuses to do anything self-degrading while also scheming to get back at “The Man” after getting disrespected at the Chez Whitey restaurant (that joke would never fly today). As my curiosity grew about this show, I saw the sketch where Homey falls in love with his new parole officer Sally where she actually calls him by his government name when they meet. What’s Homey’s real name? Herbert Simpson! Pay attention to his last name and his first initial. You see, In Living Color aired on the Fox network and there’s this one show that’s still going on that channel that no one’s ever heard of called The Simpsons! Think about it. Marge sometimes calls Homer “Homey” as a term of affection, so the creators made a low-key reference to that. This also goes both ways because an episode of The Simpsons aired in 1995 called “Homey the Clown”! That reference was totally intentional as a play on Homey’s nom de pierrot. Talk about intertextual jokes! Maybe his son Homey Jr. would be Herbert Simpson Jr., too. Another thing I want to bring up is Homey’s attire. On his outfit, he has three fuzzy clown buttons. They are black, green, and red. This color symbolism refers to the Pan-African colors. That was very clever and I noticed it when I re-watched one of the Homey D. Clown sketches. This could also explain his tirades against systemic racism albeit in a comedic way. It’s interesting how color choices can be a subtle complementary aspect to comedy.
This is completely unrelated, but his middle initial is D! Maybe he has no fear of death like Monkey D. Luffy, Portgas D. Ace, or other random characters from One Piece. But would this clown try and be the pirate king? I don’t think so! [Bops someone with his trademark weighted sock] Homey don’t play dat! Okay, I had to reference his catchphrase at some point.
5: Belle from Beauty and the Beast (1946)
Reason: A princess who ISN’T thinking about getting hitched right away in a movie from the 40s? Give this woman a medal!
Another Iridium Eye first! This involves an “alternate” version of something Disney adapted officially. If I didn’t say the word “officially”, then I know my loyal readers will ask about certain 60s and 90s anime series I mentioned when it comes to certain previous Top 7 lists, so I had to clarify that since I’m not counting film plagiarism controversies against those respective anime series. Moving on now…
Jean Cocteau was responsible for being the first director to ever adapt Beauty in the Beast in cinematic form. While I didn’t think it was this gigantic masterpiece (although I completely get why a lot of critics would call it phenomenal), I do think this initial take of this fairytale was ahead of its time in ways I don’t think most people realize and a lot of it stems from the main character. This 40s arthouse French variant (Loki has ruined our understanding of different versions of characters) of Belle could be one of the most progressive princesses and the bigger adaptations of fairy tale characters have been catching up for decades now. I’m sure you all know the story, but Belle’s actions and reactions to the situation are a lot different than one expects. For starters, she’s NOT romantically interested in The Beast until after he turns human in the final act. This is brilliant not just because of the plot of trying to get the rose, but I have to repeat this fact from my original review: it averts the NASTY implications of more famous adaptations and I’m not being subtle with what I’m talking about. I got to give shout-outs to EggheadLuna and Delboy from Wresthings during that Jordan Saeed episode for noticing that same implication because I’m glad I’m not crazy for noticing that as an adult! Belle actively takes part in the story instead of waiting for a prince to do everything for her and she’s not in a huge rush to get married. News flash: Elsa wasn’t the first princess to follow the advice of not marrying someone you just met and Frozen came out the century after Cocteau’s film! Keep in mind this movie came out when Walt Disney was still alive and his only princess movie at the time would’ve been Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, for crying out loud! The thing is the dialogue isn’t that self-aware or self-congratulating. Instead, it was understated and surprisingly natural. Yes, I get the irony of using the word “natural” where you have magically opening doors, a beast, and an ensorcelled candelabra, but my point still stands. This was a brilliant aspect of this version of Belle in the cinematic multiverse and I wish more people would pick up on it where she isn’t desperate to have a ring or at the very least be the main squeeze of a man from the jump. Even during my childhood, I didn’t see princesses act like this as the norm. You go, girl! It’s good to see a smart soon-to-be princess not be obsessed with romance unlike so many of her subsequent counterparts including her much more popular 90s version.
Could you imagine if this version of Belle existed today? She’d be lauded to kingdom come by her actions towards The Beast. Some characters are just savvier when it comes to different takes on this tale as old as time. It’s a shame that so many people aren’t familiar with Jean Cocteau’s take on this story. Hopefully, you all appreciate the facts and energies so far.
4: Constance from the Redwall series
Reason: Redwall’s resident badger mother behaved just like one of the specific villains in the same season during the final battle, but nobody says anything about it.
ATTENTION REDWALL FANS!!! THIS ENTRY COULD POTENTIALLY TARNISH YOUR PERCEPTION OF THIS FAN-FAVORITE CHARACTER, SO SKIP TO #3 IF YOU TRULY FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!
I really have to get this out right away because this is going to be a doozy and I will engage in rant mode for this entry. Okay. Has anyone ever had those moments where you were disturbed by something you watched in your youth, but you couldn’t fully articulate to others why until you got older? I had that moment and it involved something from the cartoon version of the late Liverpudlian author Brian Jacques’s acclaimed fantasy series. Allow me to provide you some context. This involves the final battle in the first season of Redwall where the lead rat antagonist Cluny the Scourge and his crew invade the titular abbey. They have a huge surprise attack and pandemonium is everywhere. Cluny’s forces are able to temporarily immobilize Redwall Abbey’s 2nd-in-command and leading powerhouse badger Constance with a net. She eventually is set free from the net and manages to grab one of the crony rats named Fangburn (I had to look it up) and says in a coldly murderous contralto “You’re mine…” The scene eventually cuts to a close-up of the rat’s face quivering with dread. What does the abbess do next? Smash him up, ragdoll this vermin to the ground, choke him out, or possibly F5 this guy like she was Brock Lesnar (badger wordplay intended)? Either of those options could’ve made sense since she’s beaten the crap out of villains before. Absolutely not! Constance manages to EAT FANGBURN’S BLOODY HEAD OFF! That was one of the most unintentionally nightmarish things I’ve seen when I was a kid in an animated work, but I had a realization years later when I watched that scene back as an adult and remembered certain aspects of the show…the badger woman and that creepy evil adder Asmodeus have literally done the exact thing in the same season. Wait, so the same character who encouraged the main hero Matthias to kill the snake manages to act just like him in the season finale? I know some of you Redwall fans who managed to read this entry are going to argue that it’s okay that Constance does it because she’s one of the good guys. That’s a terrible argument because even Asmodeus eats bad guys as well since he devoured one of them and ate half of Chickenhound the fox’s face (again, I had to look up names). It’s the same logic that a few fringe Batman fans argue that Bruce Wayne should kill criminals to stop crime despite it being MASSIVELY antithetical to the Dark Knight and because The Joker kills other criminals, too! When heroes and villains do the same bad things, but the former gets a pass, that’s textbook Protagonist-Centered Morality which is immensely flawed characterization and storytelling. The fact that it was just another fight scene with no consequences, being called out on it, or at minimum mentioning it after the fact is something I find unsettling. I’m not even getting into the reasons why I consider her a Mary Sue. It is frustrating how she gets a free pass for everything, especially in that episode.
I also have to bring up the fridge horror that I noticed the 2nd time around when it comes to Constance’s actions during that season finale episode of Redwall:
1: No one else in this universe brings this up at all, and she’s probably done this before to other villains in the past scot-free. So…has she eaten any allies if they ticked her off or happen to betray the abbey? What happened to the rest of that rat’s body after the fight? The unseen horror could speak for itself and I’d be terrified if the rest of the inhabitants are cool with making the battlefield her own buffet whenever she feels like it.
2: Apologies for getting National Geographic on you all, but badgers eat rats in real life. They are also predators of mice and even hedgehogs (RUN SONIC!).
3: What the facklamia was going through Constance’s godforsaken mind where the first thing she thought of during the heat of battle would be to eat one of Cluny’s henchmen? That is psychotic! No, strike that because even most psychopaths wouldn’t try that including some of the other villains in this series that I remember. This is straight-up barbaric!
4: [UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTH AHEAD!] Constance is overweight. Make your own speculations about why. Side note: If Redwall came out today and she did the same thing but as a villain, people would scream that she’s fat-shaming fodder.
I swear I feel like I’m the only one who remembers this and realizes how disturbing and hypocritical Constance was as a protagonist getting away with acting just like Asmodeus and without warning. So it’s terrifying when that snake did it, but it’s awesome when she copied him? How fickle. Even TV Tropes didn’t have those observations, so I wonder if the fans didn’t think about the implications or worse…appreciate that mustelid matron even more for devouring Fangburn. [shudders] Okay, I had enough. I swear various fandoms can have some bloodthirsty affiliates, and ironically enough the media they are fans of can be far below an R or TV-MA rating. Time to go to the next entries. Don’t worry, I won’t engage in rant mode for the other ones. I’ll even spare jokes about Tokyo Ghoul and Attack on Titan when it comes to certain characters who do similar actions to her because that would be tasteless. I guess Constance don’t care. She just takes what she wants in this series. Yes, I resorted to using that meme. I don’t get certain fandoms. SMH.
3: Fuusuke from the Ninku series
Reason: This ninja captain is the original master of the Rasengan. You read that right.
I feel like it would be sooner or later where I would feature Ninku in a list or possibly review anything from that 90s Shonen Jump series. It does seem like something I would cover on Iridium Eye because I think it’s obscure enough to make sense for a review. This case involves someone who is definitely not part of the Shonen Jump Breakfast Club and is only barely known in Japan.
This example comes from the captain of the 1st Ninku Corps Fuusuke of the Wind! I know some of you are wondering who the heck this froggy-looking ninja boy is or why you should pay attention to him. If you didn’t read my reason or deep this specific screenshot, this is going to blow your mind faster than you can say “Eve and Gwen Stefani”. So Fuusuke is the lead character of Ninku and teams up with his fellow ninja compatriots as well as his flatulent penguin friend as they try to find surviving ninja soldiers known as Etonin as they’re being oppressed by the Imperial Government. Fuusuke has the ability to control the wind, so he can use it in offensive and defensive ways against various opponents. His trademark move is the Fuatsuken (Air Pressure Palm) where he compacts wind energy in his hand into a sphere and uses it as a close-range projectile to attack an enemy by holding it in his palm before shoving that aerokinetic ninjutsu sphere in the opponent’s body. If you disregard that the attack revolves around wind/air energy, does it look familiar? That’s right. The Kuatsuken is literally the original Rasengan technique from Naruto! I know Ninku isn’t exactly the most remembered or best Shonen Jump series, but I’d be putting respect on Fuusuke’s name right now. If you think I’m going to destroy the Naruto franchise, I can assure you I won’t be going resorting to plagiarism accusations. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Masashi Kishimoto considers Fuusuke’s creator Koji Kiriyama to be one of his G.O.A.T.S! When Kishimoto was starting to hone his manga craft, he was a fan of Ninku to the point where he practiced by copying drawings from Kiriyama’s series and he acknowledged his influence in creating everyone’s favorite blonde ninja hero. The level of popularity between these two anime/manga works is chasmic. Ninku was only mildly popular at best in Japan during its heyday. Sure, it got a 55-episode anime series that Studio Pierrot animated with Noriyuki Abe at the director’s seat (Yu Yu Hakusho, Bleach, and even the Naruto sequel series Boruto hilariously enough to name a few) two movies, video games, and a manga sequel that was serialized in SJ’s Seinen “big brother” Ultra Jump, but Naruto’s notoriety is significantly more popular, especially from a worldwide standpoint. Even non-anime fans have at least heard of Naruto Uzumaki and company. Ninku’s only exposure to the West is Anime Works licensing Ninku: The Movie and it got an English dub where Mona Marshall played Fuusuke, but the license expired years ago and it was packaged with Yu Yu Hakusho: The Movie before Funimation had the rights to Yoshihiro Togashi’s premier series. The Kuatsuken was named the Air Stinger in the English dub of the movie. The TV series, the other movie, and the manga have never been licensed even to this day even though other SJ manga got licensed despite not having any anime adaptations such as Psyren, WaqWaq, and Nora. Really let that sink in now.
This isn’t an attack on Naruto despite some of my issues with that series I won’t discuss in this post. I’m happy that Kishimoto gave credit where it’s due, so I wanted to show you the lineage between these two ninja anime series. It’s a bummer how Ninku will be known as “That random 90s anime that inspired Naruto” and the comparisons between the Kuatsuken and the Rasengan will be the most glaringly obvious. Some other similarities include both Fusuke and Naruto wearing orange and both series have that “ninja run” if you look at certain scenes. Oddly enough, talking about Fuusuke and his attack reminds me of a Wresthings episode where Delboy, NK, and Vrsyjnes talk about Japanese wrestling (starting at 39:48 in the video) and bring up specific examples of Samoa Joe and
Gunther Walter being influenced and “copied their flow” from veteran wrestler Kenta Kobashi while explaining the heritage of Japanese Strong Style influencing so many people, yet it gets overlooked unless one actively seeks out that type of pro wrestling. Know your roots, Shonen anime fans. Know where some of your characters got their flow and bars from. Here’s a demonstration of the Kuatsuken on display. Apologies for the GIF being in fast-motion when I found it, but it should still be clear enough with how it’s used.
It’s fascinating seeing where some popular things are influenced by, so good on Kishimoto for giving Kiriyama his props. His series isn’t as awesome as Hikaru no Go is in terms of Shonen Jump projects in my opinion, but I will tip my hat to him for originating the Kuatsuken instead of making another Kamehame-Hadoken. I wish other popular pieces of animation would do the same. Yes, this was a segue. No, this doesn’t involve anyone or anything from a previous Top 7 list before.
2: Woe from Ringing Bell
Reason: This wolf has an animation first. He’s the inaugural dark-furred animal villain with an injured left eye to murder a main character’s parent back in 1978.
This is the second example involving an animated work with no humans in the narrative even though the humans only have an offscreen presence for this one on this list. Ringing Bell is one of the most criminally underrated animated movies and I’d argue that it’s the best one with a storyline involving an animal losing a family member. To all you haters who look at the art design and think it’s a shallow and cutesy movie [makes a sadistic grin] keep telling yourself that. Try not to cry or feel depressed as you watch it. I won’t be going into rant mode, but I will still be dropping truth bombs for this example because I’m shocked that so many people don’t realize how this canine has a unique record or specific fact just by existing in the animated world. This is going to be an oddly specific one, but the Guinness Book of World Records is full of examples of that nature, too.
Woe was such a complex antagonist and definitely more severe than so many other animated villains. Besides killing the main character’s mom early in the movie, this wolf can slaughter wildcats and bears with minimal effort. It’s interesting how he has a cold-hearted view of the world as he sees “strong” animals being tasked to cull the weak to keep the balance of life continuing and he talks in such a deadpan, yet threatening tone while rarely raising his voice. He becomes the unlikely father figure to Chirin, the lamb he just orphaned and his plan of making the “fangs of his heart” grow under his wing is very intriguing while also showing Chirin’s gigantic trauma bonding. Even in the finale, his reaction to the final battle was very unorthodox. I won’t spoil everything, but I can’t think of many animated villains who actually want themselves to be the target of someone’s revenge and he does it in a way where it could’ve been part of Woe’s wishes from the beginning. Dang, if I watched Ringing Bell a few years ago, I would have easily put this wolf on my Underrated Anime Villains list.
If you haven’t read my Ringing Bell review or if this is your first time on this blog, all I can say is that it’s such a disappointment that some characters don’t get the recognition they deserve back then or here and now. I’m sure that no one would care about some animal antagonist with a laceration over his left eye killing someone’s parent unless some big Hollywood company pulled off a character like that. After all… life’s not fair, isn’t it? I wasn’t being subtle about that last sentence and you know exactly where this is going.
Don’t get me wrong, I still stand by my point that Claw from Kimba the White Lion is the most shamelessly ripped-off anime character (or arguably an animated character period) of all time and deserves to be in the conversation of overlooked animated villains, but that particular fiendish lion can’t say that he killed a main character’s parent, unlike his lupine counterpart. Woe could probably rock a pair of hipster glasses and brag about his actions. He did what he did sixteen years before Scar existed and he didn’t need any wildebeest or hyenas to pull that off! That wolf did everything with his own bare paws, unlike that lion. HAHAHAHAHA! Man, a character like Woe is an effective villain in isolation, but he also further proves me right that Jeremy Irons’ most famous acting role is Disney’s most unoriginal “creation” even among most other Lion King characters and to a lesser extent with Atlantis: The Lost Empire. If you argue that Scar is a fully original character, then your talking points will be smashed harder than a Bullet Vehicle from Warren Banks. It’s so funny to me at this point how Disney fans hype up how unique of a screenplay The Lion King is while arguing that no one else is fully original. That “But Bambi!” argument is so tired since Walt didn’t create that story and there was a big copyright dispute with the original book involved. Another argument I hear is that “well, everyone steals from someone” as carte blanche to negate and ignore the obvious similarities. Three words: Argumentum ad Populum. Basically, the only thing I hear with these tantrums bashing these older anime movies and series is that it’s not Disney and anything the House of Mouse does is untouchable no matter what. Let’s be real; if Ringing Bell came out after 1994, people would IMMEDIATELY call Woe a wolfy Dollar Tree Scar. Enough of these fallacies, please. Claw’s character design, taking over the main character’s kingdom, and having hyena underlings is something so painfully apparent that even some Lion King fans have personally admitted to me that Scar is a ripoff (but they still like the character anyway), but the final piece of the puzzle was Woe murdering a parent in one of the saddest death scenes ever in animation history. I’m not saying Woe and Scar are 100% identical, so don’t misconstrue me. I’m just pointing out that this lupine antagonist was the first to do something specifically evil while having a curiously similar physical disfigurement on his face. I was thinking about making some parody lyrics to the tune of Ray J’s “I Hit It First” about Woe slaying a parent first, but I don’t want to be acerbic for this entry.
If you’re not feeling depressed, then here’s an excerpt from the movie, and the death scene starts at 4:50. Also, watch Chirin’s reaction as he cuddles and nudges his mom’s corpse and tell me no one at Disney saw this movie when they made Simba’s realization to Mufasa getting offed! Also, this scene gets sadder in hindsight because I found out that the voice actress of young Chirin Minori Matsushima died this year. Rest In Peace. You did an excellent job playing this character.
Woe isn’t a wolf anyone can mess with and he needs to be discussed in the same talks of great villains. Whoever thought that the same company responsible for Hello Kitty and Aggretsuko made this tragic revenge story of a lamb going after the wolf who slaughtered his mother. I’m also glad a couple of other people online saw the Woe and Scar comparisons while realizing that the wolf was the first scarred villain to do what he did. If you like The Lion King even in your adult years, then you do you. Just please stop calling that movie franchise an original screenplay when two Japanese animated works used similar concepts years before, yet never get acknowledged (saying nothing about Disney stealing from Solomon Linda’s “Mbube” and La Maison Noir from South Africa or trademarking the phrase “Hakuna Matata” because I will keep mentioning these facts whenever it’s appropriate until they stop this madness). I know I felt like an anime historian with the last two posts, but I’m here to give credit when others won’t. Don’t worry, I won’t make any of you practice any curtsying. I’m only giving information about this overlooked villain and bringing up this inaugural record that people haven’t thought about.
Okay, I think 3 examples are enough when it comes to putting dark-furred foes with scarred left eyes on these lists. Oh, it’s times like these where I seriously think Japan is the home where Hollywood is influenced by their animated works at best or filching their ideas at worst. Here’s a funny observation. Ringing Bell is the 2nd movie I’ve seen and reviewed with a scarred wolf after You Are Cordially Invited which stars Kid Lykos II who has a lupine mask sporting two eye “wounds” but on the right eye, instead. Maybe Woe can be a mascot for Lykos Gym in the near future! Hahahaha! 😛
Edit for clarity: I never said or implied that Woe was the first scarred villain or initial villain to kill a parent ever in fiction. There’s a reason why I specifically worded it to limit it to animated animal villains with dark fur and wounded left eyes. With that said, my point still stands since Sanrio’s wolf antagonist still existed prior to 1994, but no one else pays attention to it because it’s not some popular Hollywood animated film.
1: Kino from the Kino’s Journey series
Reason: A major part of Kino’s character development was lost in translation. The answer is in the “Is” if you will!
We have a Top 7 list record! Wow, this list feels oddly celebratory, right? Kino’s Journey has been in more Top 7 lists than any other series or movie since I started making them. I have mentioned the original 2003 version with my lists involving underrated anime villains (with King Yukio), anime for the arthouse crowd, and theme songs involving titles or character references in the lyrics. Now with this list, that’s 4 of these articles involving this anime! Hooray! Go Kino!
This example does involve major spoilers, but I’m sure that some non-viewers at least heard that the title character is born female despite having an androgynous look and their gender is ambiguous at first until episode 4 in the original series, so I will be addressing them with neutral pronouns for their present state and female pronouns with their past self for this post. I will have to bring up how the author Keiichi Sigsawa never said Kino is non-binary in canon in addition to that gender concept being more Westernized nor does the character ever address themselves as such in the anime, manga, and original light novels (don’t shoot the messenger) unlike Land of the Lustrous where the author intended for most of the main characters to be non-binary from the jump despite having feminine physiology. Sigsawa just wanted Kino to have an ambiguous presentation. Before I go forward, I would like to thank my Japanese teachers during my high school years at a community college because I would’ve never picked up on this nuance when watching the subtitled version of this anime. I’m not as fluent as I was when I was 17 or 18, but I still remember some concepts and I will explain some basic Japanese words to prove a point. I’m surprised not too many people have picked up on this quirk of the Kino character even if they’re sub-purists. This is a hot take, but a good portion of sub-only anime fans aren’t that fluent in Japanese. Let’s be honest with ourselves, please. ADV’s DVD releases (both pre and post-Sentai) didn’t even mention this in liner notes despite mentioning the significance of another character’s name in the re-release, but I won’t spoil that. I’ll do my best to make sure you’re invested in this fact and make this an educational, yet fun moment.
Here’s the quick Japanese 101 lesson and it involves first-person pronouns. There are multiple ways to say “I” and “I am” in Japanese. The most common way that some of you might have heard of is “Watashi [wa]” which is a formal and gender-neutral way to say “I [am]” in that language. Example: Watashi wa sakka desu.=I am a writer. There are lots of other ways, but I’m going to specifically bring up “Atashi [wa]” and “Boku [wa]” because they are also common and play an important role in how Kino talks in different parts of the series. Atashi is a strictly feminine and formal way to say “I” in Japanese, so you see characters and real-life women who are girly or ladylike addressing themselves as such. One anime example that doesn’t involve a cisgender woman would be the drag queen character Hana from Tokyo Godfathers when it comes to characters who use that pronoun in the Japanese version. Boku is a more casual way to say “I”, but there’s more of a masculine connotation to that word in that language. Just look at several Shonen Jump heroes using that word all the time or seeing that word in original Japanese titles such as Boku no Hero Academia AKA My Hero Academia. When you hear female characters use “Boku” in anime, they are typically tomboys such as Haruka Tenoh/Sailor Uranus from Sailor Moon as one notable example. Hopefully, this is clear and we’re on the same page now.
Here’s how this pertains to Kino in regards to their genderfluid state and backstory as I’ve seen the description of the character in various articles where I’ve seen Kino described as both she and/or they depending on the context. I hope this all makes sense and I’m going to do my best to address the character in an ambiguous way while still acknowledging how Kino is biologically female. I don’t want to get into arguments about the pronoun issue or bring up the inconsistencies from other posts on the net. Kino never says “Watashi [wa]” throughout the duration of the series and movies. In their current state, they always use “Boku” whenever they talk about themselves (EX: Boku wa Kino=I am Kino). Obviously, they wear masculine and gender-neutral clothing wherever they go. In their backstory, Kino acts girlish. Her hair was much longer, she wore dresses, feminine accessories like a ribbon in her hair and she said “Atashi wa Kino desu” when introducing herself in the past. Kino’s mindset changes when she saw a male traveler who was a major influence on their life (spoilers minimized) to the point where they emulate his attire and manner of speech by using the word “Boku” while also talking in a lower octave. That switch between “Atashi wa Kino” to “Boku wa Kino” is a gigantic change of character as they switch from this worrisome girl in the past to this stoic tomboyish androgyne in the present to reflect their worldview and character development. Sure, both sentences still mean “I am Kino” if you translate them into English, but the gender and formality nuances are obscured unless you have basic knowledge of the Japanese tongue. This change in dialogue is obvious to a Japanese person or at least someone who has some fluency in the language. As someone who has an interest in learning other languages, accents, and dialects, I have definitely noticed that there are some words, nuances, and connotations that you can’t directly translate into English. It’s also why we have loanwords from other languages if something is purely unique to another culture such as samurai, ubuntu, or hygge among several other words and there will be more examples in the future. Kino’s Journey shows that you can’t always be over-reliant on whatever subtitles you see on the screen because there are undertones or overtones that won’t be familiar to someone who doesn’t know Japanese with the specific words that are spoken.
Just so you know, I’m still not interested in seeing the 2017 remake after hearing negative things about it. I’ll stick to rewatching the original.
I’m also going to big up Moyatori and you should check out her episode reviews of the original Kino’s Journey series!
So what do you think? Which facts were the most interesting to you? Do you know any random facts or observations about specific characters that you’ve noticed that no one else has or at least feel like you didn’t notice things at first?
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Wallace and Gromit is property of Aardman Animations. The picture is from Polygon and is property of Aardman Animations.
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