Showing posts with label Cartoons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cartoons. Show all posts

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli

There is a part of our brain called the orbitofrontal cortex, a fascinating piece of meat shoved immediately above our eyes, the best seat in the house. Its most predominant function is decisions-making, and as a result, has been credited as the catalyst for obsessive-compulsive disorder. I broke mine when I was about seventeen years old. I turned on my television and found myself surrounded by otherworldly creatures who crawled into my frontal lobe and made themselves at home. Spirited Away was its name, and even though the doctors assured me it was the ants I’d been snorting which had damaged my cortex, I am still convinced that this film is solely to blame for the mess I have become.

Ghibli grew into an obsession, and I felt compelled to watch every single one of the studio’s offerings, often forgetting to eat and sleep in the process. But I persevered despite family interventions, and am proud to announce that I did eventually see them all, and here we are. However, it only seemed appropriate to write this article now, especially due to the recent English release of The Wind Rises coupled with the announcement of Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement. While there is more than one talent behind the company, Miyazaki is unanimously agreed upon as the master of everything, and so it is only fitting that this piece lands at this very moment, mourning his abandonment and honouring the disfigurement he brought onto my mind. Furthermore, The Wind Rises marks the 20th of the Ghibli films (including Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Ocean Waves, excluding The Tale of Princess Kaguya as the English dub is yet to bless our eyeballs), which is such a lovely round number, I’m sure you agree.

However, before I begin my shamelessly over-gushing adoration for the so-called 'Walt Disney of Japan', please note the following:

THIS IS A WARNING: I’ve done my best to avoid spoilers at all costs, and I think you’ll be ok. I’d never give away the endings, and any specific details are kept vague enough as to only make sense once you view the relevant films. That said, there is always a small chance one or two minor details may slip through the reeds, softening some intended surprises or introducing characters you would have rather met yourself. And so if you are tempted to attempt the same mission I did, perhaps tiptoe through these pages a little more cautiously than usual.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 20. Whisper of the Heart

20. Whisper Of The Heart (1995)

Directed by Yoshifumi Kondō
Written by Hayao Miyazaki

When examining how everyone in the whole world adores this sentimental piece surrounding a 14 year old bookworm struggling to balance her writing passion with maintaining her grades (whilst reluctantly falling in love at the same time), it’s difficult to defend this definitive “worst” position. For despite reports that this realistic portrayal of young bittersweet romance was exclusively aimed at a female audience, Whisper of the Heart went on to effortlessly seduce all genders regardless of intent, an impressive feat for the first Ghibli to be directed by someone other than Miyazaki or Takahata (note: this was also Kondō’s only Ghibli, as he died of an aneurysm shortly afterwards). But personally ... it underwhelmed me. The plot never seemed to go anywhere, I felt no incentive to invest in the characters (except, of course, for the Baron, but that’s a different story...), and it lacked the fantasy elements which I have come to depend on the studio for (which should become even more evident as we go on). That said, perhaps its cute storytelling and safe execution will be your taste exactly (many claim this film as their favourite) but unfortunately it left me with nothing but boredom, resulting in my least favourite Ghibli ever. Sorry.

Key Scene: The fantasy sequence where Shizuku flies through floating land with the Baron is a lot of fun.
Trademarks: Strong female lead. Young love. Coming of age.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 19. My Neighbors the Yamadas

19. My Neighbors The Yamadas (1999)

Directed by Isao Takahata
Written by Isao Takahata

Now this is a weird one. For starters, it was Ghibli’s first 100% digitally animated film, yet was rendered to look more hand drawn than anything else in the studio’s catalogue, the purpose to mimic the style of Hisaichi Ishii’s newspaper comic strip (on which it was based). Furthermore, there isn’t really much of a plot here per se, rather a collection of humorous sketches revolving around everyday family situations and domestic affairs, such as losing a child in the department store or wrestling for the remote. In that regard, it is relatable as well as memorable in its differences, Takahata deserving much respect for risking the envelope’s expectations in the way he did so on this film (and others). But in the end, it is so far removed from the usual Ghibli magic that it hardly feels like a Ghibli whatsoever, even the best moments producing nothing more than a chuckle, and the characters (while quirky) falling as two-dimensional as the presentation itself. So my advice is to expect very little and then perhaps you will be entertained enough, but for the most part, it’s for completists only.

Key Scene: The sudden style change when Takashi confronts a motorbike gang is worth the watch alone.
Trademarks: The only Ghibli without any.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 18. Only Yesterday

18. Only Yesterday (1991)

Directed by Isao Takahata
Written by Isao Takahata

Primarily written for adult female audiences, Only Yesterday was a surprise box office success, attracting an even amount of attention from both sexes, and it’s easy to see why. The nostalgic flashbacks detailing the pains of growing up; the melancholy which comes with self realisation; and the desire to escape city life, were enough to warm hearts no matter which part of your age or gender related to these common emotions. It was about the simplicity yet significance of past memories, while discovering the depths of oneself which can only come to blossom within the soil of maturity, all realistically animated into magic without being magical, a technique only Ghibli has perfected so well. But even when taking this admiration on board (as well as appreciating that Disney refused to dub the film due to some menstruation dialogue), I couldn’t escape the feeling that this was nothing more than your typical Ghibli offering. It’s the blueprint of the studio’s coming of age love stories at its bare minimum and most transparent, and even though I genuinely enjoyed it, it refused to stick in my memory, and in that regard, fell far shorter than what I’ve come to expect from the team.

Key Scene: That pineapple bit is a defining moment of Ghibli’s subtle genius.
Trademarks: Strong female lead. Young love. Coming of age.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 17. Pom Poko

17. Pom Poko (1994)

Directed by Isao Takahata
Written by Isao Takahata

On paper, this is everything I love about Ghibli. Based on East Asian folklore, Pom Poko tells the whimsical tale of shapeshifting racoons, who utilise their powers for reasons of mischief whilst stomaching as much food as possible, satisfied to just laze around and have fun. That is, of course, until us humans threaten their land, and they are forced to use their special abilities to fight back. As predicted, it’s a humorous ride with a deep message, tripping you out whilst never settling on an animation style, ultimately resulting in a bizarre yet serious journey with an even more serious conclusion. It’s a traditional Japanese offering, a fairy tale-esque story, and did I mention it has BALLS? Like, seriously. Testicles everywhere, it’s weird. But even these testicles could not save Pom Poko’s dark preachiness from falling somewhat unfocused, as there are far too many characters to develop properly, and the whole thing feels a touch too slow. Of course, we must once again commend Takahata’s fearless attempts at doing something different, completely against Ghibli reputation (much more than Miyazaki would dare, anyway) but without some previous knowledge on the mythology, it’s a jumbled mess made up from eye candy and stretchy genitalia.

Key Scene: The mindblowing ghost parade is an achievement of modern animation.
Trademarks: Ecological/Man vs. Nature.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 16. The Wind Rises

16. The Wind Rises (2013)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki

Telling the fictionalised biography of aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi, this bittersweet tale of triumph and loss echoed the end of Miyazaki himself, as this offering came with the announcement as his directorial finale. And, don’t get me wrong, as such a typical Hayao creation, it concluded his career poetically, presenting detailed imagery in his trademark dreamlike style, keeping the explosions gentle and the surreal humour accessible, all the while conveying the message of chasing one's dreams and keeping faith in love despite the odds. But even if everyone appreciated the sober and historical tragedy for what it was (winning many awards and much acclaim as it did so), I couldn’t escape the dark cloud of Miyazaki’s retirement overshadowing the film, leaving the disappointment of “is that it?” when the credits rolled. The characters are annoyingly thin (Jiro hardly exists), and all the overhyping neglected to mention the slow pace, challenging length, and perhaps the one film where Miyazaki’s aviation obsession went too far. The simpler style may have brought joy and the underlying darkness may have intrigued, but for his final say, I really wish the legendary director had said a little more.

Key Scene: The earthquake caused me much panic.
Trademarks: Aviation. Young love. War.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 15. From Up On Poppy Hill

15. From Up On Poppy Hill (2011)

Directed by Gorō Miyazaki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa

Standing as the first (and potentially only) true father and son Miyazaki collaboration, this simple yet heartfelt offering is all too often overlooked. But why? Let’s speculate. Perhaps it’s because Poppy Hill isn’t as fancy and mysterious as many of Ghibli’s superior works, maintaining a relaxed pace whilst masking the magic within regular emotions. Or perhaps it’s because it lacks any real conflict, as every (often bland) character is essentially a good person and there is no legitimate enemy for the audience to conspire against. Or perhaps, it’s because the entire storyline is based around incest. That’s right. Incest. And yet somehow, this incest seems okay. It doesn’t ruin the vibe and you find yourself almost rooting for it, which brings up far too many personal questions and once again proves the mastery of this studio’s ability to control you. Yet even when considering said incest; the ability to recognise wonders in mundanity (the whole film is about repairing a clubhouse); the clean atmospheric animation; the sadness; goals; hopes; and dreams ... it is perhaps a little too slow and empty as whole, and probably best enjoyed by true Ghiblis only.

Key Scene: When Umi first enters the haphazard eccentric clubhouse.
Trademarks: Strong female lead. Young love. Coming of age. War.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 14. Kiki's Delivery Service

14. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki

I am a little hesitant to admit that, on many levels, I consider Kiki’s to be the centerpoint of the Ghibli Universe. As a unique premise about a 13 year old witch who uses her skills to deliver baked goods, it ticks every box, from the fantasy elements to the coming of age lessons and all the warm young love squashed between. And despite being intended for a more child orientated audience, it still has enough adult appeal lightly sprinkled over the top to amuse all of us, analysing the hardships of adolescence without shying from the imagination only a fiction world could grant, and (perhaps the most impressive aspect) not relying on Kiki’s powers to mystify or carry the tale alone. But even if the characters are charming, the storyline is cute, and the conservative Christian group boycotted its screening based on witchcraft themes, it fell perhaps a touch too far over the kiddie line for me. The plot felt a bit harmless and safe to be completely memorable in my leaky mind, and as a result, the rare 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes serves only to overrate the thing a little higher than Kiki can carry it. But watch it anyway.

Key Scene: The heroic blimp save.
Trademarks: Aviation. Strong female lead. Young love. Coming of age.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 13. Porco Rosso

13. Porco Rosso (1992)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki

All things considered, Porco Rosso is fairly cheesy. Its lesson-less execution relies heavily on energetic action-packed sequences and in that regard, is impossible to work out just who the target audience is supposed to be. But even when considering these flaws, the thrill is carried by the main character alone, Porco himself. Once an Italian World War fighter ace, now a freelance bounty hunter, Porco lives on a desert island awaiting contract jobs to chase air pirates, all the while having to deal with a pesky curse which has transformed him into an anthropomorphic pig. Surreal enough for you? But even if this spell is never explained, Porco is hardly ashamed of his disfigurement—on the contrary, he works with it, maintaining just enough charisma and smugness to keep the ladies falling head over heels for him, and his reputation badass. It may be an exercise in indulging Miyazaki's obsessions (feminist ideals, anti-fascist undertones, aviation overload) but nothing detracts from the overall sense of humour which rides high right until the very end where questions are left unanswered and talks of a sequel have run wild ever since. When pigs fly though, am I right, guys?

Key Scene: The final duel is fantastic.
Trademarks: Aviation. War.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 12. Ocean Waves

12. Ocean Waves (1993)

Directed by Tomomi Mochizuki
Written by Saeko Himuro

What’s most interesting about this realistic classroom drama is how hardly anyone even knows it exists, Ghibli fanatics included. However, if you are one of the guilty parties, don’t feel too bad, as it was never a large cinema production, but rather a straight to television film created by the studio’s younger staff members, armed solely with the instruction to make something “quickly, cheaply, and with quality”. The fact that it ran well over budget and schedule probably didn’t please the masters, but what I will commend the students on above all else is this: they managed to depict one of the most memorable female leads in a company famous for their female leads. Telling the flashback tale of a love triangle between two buddies and a self entitled young lady named Rikako, it is this girl alone who steals the show, with her arrogant spontaneity and disregard to destroying the boys’ friendship, somehow as likeable as she is unlikeable. Just focus on the complex high school politics she drags behind her, ignore critics who call it ‘aimless’, and then perhaps you’ll understand why this is my favourite coming of age Ghibli above them all.

Key Scene: The spoilt brat manner in which Rikako treats Taku after he slept in the bath all night.
Trademarks: Strong female lead. Young love. Coming of age.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 11. Arrietty

11. Arrietty (2010)

Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Written by Hayao Miyazaki

Ghibli discussions about adapting Mary Norton’s The Borrowers had reportedly existed for around 40 years, so it’s nice that when it finally blessed our screens, it received a standing ovation from critics and fans around the globe, going on to break the all-time Japanese record for theater attendance (7.5 million) for a first time director, Hiromasa Yonebayashi. And even if the classic 'tiny people secretly living under your floorboards and within your walls stealing your food' plot was slightly too childish for my decrepit bones, I still have to appreciate how such an adorable and friendly premise would crawl into a kid’s imagination and show them their own world from this new, sweeter perspective. It flows naturally, it interacts intimately, it shines brightly (arguably the best coloured Ghibli in their catalogue), and it teaches us the importance of loving all creatures, great and small. Like the Borrowers themselves, this film proves you don’t need to be loud to captivate a heart.

Key Scene: When the very memorable (and ugly) house maid Haru captures her first Borrower.
Trademarks: Strong female lead. Ecological/Man vs. Nature.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 10. Ponyo

10. Ponyo (2008)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki

As some weird take on The Little Mermaid, this breathtaking Miyazaki is not without its problems. The focus on eye candy (the film consisting of 170,000 separate drawings, reportedly a Ghibli record) took priority over the plot, and as a result, Ponyo looks much better than it’s paced, leaving the story somewhat vague, blinded by its own spotlight visuals. But, damn, it does look good. The carefree plot is shined until it dazzles, naturally centered around a magical goldfish and her desire to be human, presented in such a precious manner that your inner child will dominate, excited for no real reason and delighted by this glowing tale of friendship against all odds. Not to mention, the characters are superb: the mother is likeable and authentic; Ponyo (whose name is an onomatopoeia for what "squishy softness" sounds like according to Miyazaki, uhm) is borderline creepy with her contorting face and unhealthy love of ham; and the magnificent ocean comes across like a character all by itself. Fill in any gaps with the warmth of love, and here is yet another unreal peculiar Ghibli for you to drown yourself in. And besides, how often do you hear a boy/fish love story anyway?

Key Scene: Driving against the waves with Ponyo running beside the car? Epic.
Trademarks: Strong female lead. Young love. Ecological/Man vs. Nature.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 09. The Cat Returns

09. The Cat Returns (2002)

Directed by Hiroyuki Morita
Written by Reiko Yoshida

Originally conceived as a theme park installment, this underrated film is a spin-off of Whisper of the Heart, and (as a fan of Ghibli’s more delusional personality) is far superior in my opinion. Featuring the ever popular Baron character (as well as the fat Muta cat) from the aforementioned coming of age bore, here we have a vastly different whimsical tale surrounding the loveable Haru and her ability to talk to felines; her adventures into the secret cat kingdom; and her struggle against arranged interspecies marriages. If that loony premise wasn’t already as tempting as catnip, let the action packed execution do the rest, as you ride this vibrant journey through surreal worlds at such a frantic pace that you’ll reach the end in no time, short of breath and ready to go again. Sure, others fairly dismiss The Cat Returns as lacking depth, but that was never the point. And sure, it feels a tad throwaway, but even this is refreshing, as it is an effortless watch, opting to use humour rather than relying on some deep moral message to win your vote. Take Spirited Away, feed it a Ritalin/Prozac cocktail, and here is the result.

Key Scene: Hundreds of cats flocking to Haru’s house.
Trademarks: Strong female lead. Young love.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 08. Tales from Earthsea

08. Tales From Earthsea (2006)

Directed by Gorō Miyazaki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki (concept)

Maybe the vicious critical backlash drastically lowered my expectations, but I genuinely loved Tales from Earthsea, and am here to vigorously defend the 'worst Ghibli ever'. It's important to note this as Hayao Miyazaki’s son’s debut, and following in such legendary footsteps is obviously impossible—these expectations were unfair. You try adapt four books into one solid storyline with that pressure hanging over your pencil. The unanimous resistance which followed was unwarranted (original author Le Guin publicly expressing her disappointment, and father Miyazaki refusing to speak to his son during its production) even when considering the odd execution and loose ends. Perhaps the plot isn’t very clear, but it’s a concentrated Tolkien-esque fantasy, far too violent for your typical Ghibli audience, yet animated as fantastic as any other. Perhaps it’s a bit messy and confusing, an overly ambitious attempt at imitating his father's style, but it’s still very competent even in comparisons. Personally, I see something deeper here, and I wish Gorō would continue to develop this style until it became his own, but imagining how such a negative reaction probably wrecked his confidence, I doubt he will. Just please remember: we rely on this guy to keep the legacy going, so give him some space.

Key Scene: Cob’s insanity deteriorating his face was well scary.
Trademarks: Ecological/Man vs. Nature.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 07. Howl's Moving Castle

07. Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki

Despite excelling as one of the studio’s most well-known animations (and for good reason), Howl’s Moving Castle has not altogether escaped some rejection. It has been called 'overrated', 'lengthy', and 'incomplete', none of which I disagree with. However, what these critics have failed to worship, is some of the most imaginative Ghibli characters ever created, not to mention the sheer volume of them. Remember: the helpful Turnip Head; Heen the asthmatic dog; the revolting Witch of the Waste; Calcifer the comedic fire; the dynamic steampunk castle itself; and, of course, Howl with his charming flamboyance and eccentric insecurities. Even the 18 year old Sophie is a complicated and memorable addition, changing ages as she confidently leads the delightful adventure, empowering young female viewers in her stride (an obvious intention by her very design). So, naturally, it should come as no surprise that with such a daunting cast, there wasn’t all that much time to develop each character properly, but while the heartfelt journey may be muddled, it’s never boring, and is yet just another perfect movie for kids and adults alike. Watch this one twice.

Key Scene: A tough one (the end destruction is a pinnacle of modern animation, in my opinion), but the struggle up the staircase is the kind of scene only Miyazaki could pull off without being dull; the archetypal Ghibli magic which turns the ordinary to extraordinary.
Trademarks: Strong female lead. Young love.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 06. My Neighbor Totoro

06. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki

For many people, ‘Ghibli’ means ‘Totoro’, as this was not only the film which jump started Miyazaki’s career, but was also a key influence in spreading Japanese animation around the world. And while the gentle pace didn't initially fair very well, it eventually exploded thanks to the release of cuddly Totoro dolls, one of the company’s greatest character achievements (yet still second to Catbus), continuing to stand as Ghibli’s mascot to this very day. But it’s not all about the peaceful, mystical forest animals, but rather the two girls’ curiosity as they are forced to come to terms with the realities of life when their mother falls seriously ill in the hospital and their upbeat dad is left to raise them by himself. And yet even while this aura of death follows the plot around, it also exposes the wonders and warmth of our earthly experiences, revealing mystery and fantasy without conflict or suspense, a different formula-less approach in comparison to some of the studio’s similar projects. As almost any critic with a heart will agree, this is essential viewing whether you know Ghibli or not, encouraging the growth of children vicariously through the hope of these characters, which is pretty profound for something so simple.

Key Scene: The bus stop spectacle is the epitome of trademark Ghibli subtleties, an almost everyday occurrence with nothing significantly spectacular about it, yet somehow delivered with a hyperactivity of magic beneath.
Trademarks: Strong female lead(s). Ecological/Man vs. Nature.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 05. Grave of the Fireflies

05. Grave Of The Fireflies (1988)

Directed by Isao Takahata
Written by Isao Takahata

Released at the same time as Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies was the less successful of the two, but ultimately the more intense and memorable, even if the contrast leaves them utterly incomparable. In a sentence: this is the most depressing film I’ve ever seen. It tells the heartbreaking tale of two siblings’ desperate struggle to survive after World War 2, shattering audiences by building family bonds in the face of grim devastation, all very timeless and unpleasant and ughhh. Even the colouring gives us the sense of poverty and starvation, Takahata opting to use brown outlines rather than the customary black (the first of any anime to do so) which accentuated the misery to the point of making me want to vomit. I mean, it was never supposed to be easy to watch the suffering of little children, and as a result, is not made for children whatsoever unless you want them to cry until their eyes dissolve within the tears. Which is why this is probably the most unusual and distinctive of all the Ghiblis, disregarding the company’s trademarks, shunning all magic and losing all hope, whilst smearing a dark stain on your innocence.

Key Scene: Too many, but when Seita pours water in Setsuko’s fruit drops tin? That stood out as one beautiful and painful moment to me.
Trademarks: Coming of age. War.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 04. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

04. Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind (1984)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki

According to some, this entry shouldn’t even qualify. Its release predates the studio’s conception, so what does it matter if it’s frequently praised as a benchmark in the development of anime? Who cares if its primitive yet futuristic departure from traditional storytelling preaches to us the moral of living in harmony with nature, even if that nature is writhing with aggressive insects the size of houses? What is the point of illustrating the message of how fear breeding violence may mean the ultimate destruction of man, but we can still use pacifism as a weapon to balance spiritual harmony without giving up on hope during the struggle of war? How is it relevant that I consider this to be the teenage version of Princess Mononoke, perhaps less colourful, but just as as perfect? None of this appreciation counts! Because it’s unofficial! It’s not a true Ghibli! How dare I add it in here! But then you learn that the studio doesn’t ignore it either, proudly including the film in their own box sets, this very act making it official, as not only their very first feature, but as one of their bests. Its success also lead to the foundation of Studio Ghibli itself, so show some respect.

Key Scene: Nausicaä’s taming of the mutant insect from the plane wreckage kind of sums the whole film up.
Trademarks: Aviation. Strong female lead. Ecological/Man vs. Nature.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 03. Laputa: Castle In The Sky

03. Laputa: Castle In The Sky (1986)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki

As the first official release from the company, this Gulliver's Travels inspired masterpiece completes every trademark criteria on Ghibli’s report card. Telling the coming of age story about a young boy and girl who are racing against pirates to locate a legendary floating castle, it’s overflowing with action packed sequences and magical crystals without shying away from their signature sense of humour or their classic moral lessons, teaching against greed and power and war and other such bad things that bad people do. Not to mention the steampunk design is probably the most impressively executed from the studio to this very date, the Laputan robots alone standing as one of the greatest character designs in the Ghibli arsenal, easily. It’s no wonder, then, that in an 80,000 strong audience poll, Castle in the Sky was the second highest-ranked animated film ever, and currently holds a 94% 'Fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Key Scene: I know it’s a weird choice, but when all the pirates fall over themselves to help Sheeta clean the kitchen always tickles me (although the destruction of the fortress is probably a more reasonable inclusion).
Trademarks: Aviation. Strong female lead. Young love. Coming of age.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 02. Princess Mononoke

02. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki

I consider this to be the film Miyazaki always intended to make, yet the only time he managed to nail it so perfectly. It’s the pinnacle of the man vs. nature fantasy theme which runs rampant throughout his works, yet his other attempts are not nearly as potent, before or since. For while, say, Totoro or Nausicaä or Arrietty told similar stories about humans coexisting with our ecosystem (all featuring mythical creatures running around for good measure, of course), they still never achieved it quite so ... massively. The complexities of each Mononoke character blurs the line between good and evil; the forest animals are far more earth-based than most other Ghiblis, which gives them an even larger godlike presence (for they are, in fact, gods); the attention to dramatic visuals are as heavy as they are breathtaking (Miyazaki personally oversaw each of the film’s 144,000 cells, redrawing parts of 80,000 of them); and its ambitious length is intimidating, yet sustainable thanks to the inventive violence, action packed pacing, and adult themes of sexuality and disability—all with a heartfelt filling of moral integrity, just in case you were in need of some education. It took a few watches, but eventually, Mononoke became my favourite Ghibli of all time. Well, almost...

Key Scene: The epic Forest Spirit looking for its head.
Trademarks: Strong female lead. Ecological/Man vs. Nature.

Worst To Best: Studio Ghibli: 01. Spirited Away

01. Spirited Away (2001)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki

And this is it: not only the best Ghibli ever, but the best movie ever. Intended for a 10 year old female audience, this proved to be the ideal target market for Miyazaki to play with, because while it remains ‘safe for children’, it does not shy away from the darkness, as our loveable Chihiro races through the strange (often terrifying) bathhouse of spirits, trying to break the pig curse placed on her parents and find her way back home. And don’t forget the characters! A giant baby! Bouncing heads! Paper men armies! Adorable dust bunnies! Witches with faces the size of your body! That thing in the elevator! And literally hundreds more! But nothing can beat the disturbing No-Face, a complex lonely spirit who adapts the personalities of whoever he consumes, arguably the greatest character invention of all time. Which is why Spirited Away will always be remembered as Ghibli’s most defining, essential piece, and not only because it’s the most successful film in Japanese history or the studio’s first Oscar winner, but because it’s a modern day classic comparable to Alice in Wonderland, allowing the viewer to go as deep as they want to regardless of age. And that’s simply perfect.

Key Scene: That No-Face chase is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.
Trademarks: Strong female lead. Young love. Coming of age.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever

(according to me)

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever (according to me)
The Rules
This list attempts to avoid some of the bigger more obvious names, opting to rather focus on generally lesser praised characters. This means there is no Mickey Mouse, no Bugs Bunny, no Homer Simpson, no Eric Cartman, no Stewie Griffin, no Beavis, no Butthead, no Snoopy, no Superman, no Spiderman, no Batman, no SpongeBob SquarePants, no Garfield, no Snoopy, no Archie, no Disney princesses, no Popeye, none of them.
Puppets did not qualify. This means there is no Baby Sinclair, no Greg the Bunny, no Sesame Street, no Muppet Show, none of them.
Print/Static characters did not qualify. This means there is no Alfred E Neuman, no Joe Camel, no Kilroy, no Fail Whale, no Dr Seuss, none of them.
Real life actors in costumes did not qualify. This means there is no Alf, no Teletubbies, no Barney, no Honey Monster, no Bananas in Pyjamas, no Ronald McDonald, none of them.
Only one character per title was considered. This means that no matter how many good entries could have come from any given series/movie/game/etc, only the best one was included, the rest were not.

Is this ok with you? If not, fuck right off then. If so, please make yourself at home, homie:

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 50. Where's Wally

50. Wally

“Hi, I’m Wally, and this is my dog, Woof. We’re from the future.”

Created by: Martin Handford
Voiced by: Townsend Coleman
First Appearance: Where's Wally (book, 1987); Where's Wally? season 1 episode 1 "My Left Fang" (series, 1991)
Related Companies: Sei Young Animation Co. Ltd.; The Waldo Film Company; DIC Entertainment; Hit Entertainment

Known as Waldo in the States, Valli in Iceland, Willy in Norway, Charlie in France, and just about a different name wherever you may be, this character's gimmick was that you had to find him first. Hidden within a sea of assorted creatures and red herrings, it's no wonder that kids and adults alike had so much fun with this dude that his company raped his image for as much money as possible, going on to front a (s)hit TV show, a comic strip, and even some video games. I could never find him and gave up years ago.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 49. Cousin Itt

49. Itt

Gibberish Character

Created by: David Levy
Voiced by: John Stephenson; Pat Fraley
First Appearance: The Addams Family Pilot/New Scooby-Doo Movies season 1 episode 3 “Wednesday is Missing/Scooby-Doo Meets The Addams Family” (series, 1972)
Related Companies: Hanna-Barbera; CBS; NBC

Speaking high-pitched nonsense and known only to have “roots” underneath his hair, this Addams Family cousin is said to be highly talented in the areas of acting, singing and marriage counseling. Not only this, but he has an IQ of over 300 which is why he works as a secret agent on occasion, whilst still living the carefree bachelor lifestyle with many many female companions. Rumour has it, he possesses "the eye of an eagle, plus a few of his own,” but hides these under dark sunglasses as to avoid being pestered by eager fans asking for his autograph.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 48. Plank

48. Plank

Silent Character

Created by: Danny Antonucci
First Appearance: Ed, Edd n Eddy season 1 episode 1 “The Ed-Touchables” (series, 1999)
Related Companies: a.k.a. Cartoon; Yeson Animation Studios; Funbag Animation Studios; Cartoon Network

Plank is best known as the imaginary friend of Jonny 2x4... OR IS HE?? This very question breeds heavy debate amongst serious fans, pointing out the ample evidence against it, such as: the occasions Plank has moved by himself; his distinct personality independent of (and with some evil control over) Johnny; and that no other character in the series considers him to be figmental friend. Regardless, he is a piece of wood with a superhero alter-ego named Splinter the Wonderwood, and that’s cool enough for me to leave him right here.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 47. Moomintroll

47. Moomintroll

"One can't be too dangerous if they like to eat pancakes. Especially with jam on it."

Created by: Tove Jansson
Voiced by: Kyôko Kishida; Peter Radise; Rabbe Smedlund (among others)
First Appearance: The Moomins and the Great Flood (novel, 1945); Moomin season 1 episode 1 “The Secret of the Silk Hat” (series, 1969)
Related Companies: Drawn and Quarterly; Tokyo Movie Shinsha; Mushi Productions; Network Fuji TV

Moomintroll is such a loveable and good natured fella, that he is hailed as the perfect fictional role model for any kiddie on our planet. Which is why his résumé of media boasts books, comics, numerous television shows, films, music releases, plane deco, an art museum, an interactive playroom, a theme park, a €10 Finnish commemorative coin, and the asteroid 58345 Moomintroll named in his honour. Bless.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 46. La Linea

46. La Linea

Mostly Gibberish Character

Created by: Osvaldo Cavandoli
Voiced by: Carlo Bonomi
First Appearance: La Linea season 1 episode 1 (shorts, 1971)
Related Companies: B. Del Vita; HDH Film/TV

The real genius behind these 2 minute Italian shorts, was the brilliant use of fourth wall breakage between the simple character and the artist himself. The live action hand creating solutions (and problems) for this little dude using nothing more than a pencil has since been imitated countless times, like in Jamiroquai's video (Don't) Give Hate a Chance, or the British version of Whose Line is it Anyway?. My pictures have never moved by themselves :(

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 45. Mr Bump

45. Mr Bump

“Oh, poopity poop! You'll never learn!”

Created by: Roger Hargreaves
Voiced by: Arthur Lowe
First Appearance: Mr. Bump (novel, 1971); The Mr Men Show season 1 episode 1 “Physical” (series, 2008)
Related Companies: Chorion Renegade Animation; Cartoon Network; 20th Century Fox; 21 Laps Entertainment; Sanrio

With such an accident-prone nature, always falling into holes and knocking into things, Mr Bump has been said to be even more clumsy than Mr. Clumsy himself. This careless behaviour has cost him many a job opportunity over the years, but I am happy to report that he is currently employed in an apple orchard, knocking the fruit off trees freely, and becoming quite good at it too.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 44. Pac-Man

44. Pac-Man

Originally a Silent Character

Created by: Tōru Iwatani
First Appearance: Pac-Man (arcade game, 1980)
Related Companies: Namco; Namco Midway

Based on a pizza and originally called Puck-Man (changed in fear of vandals altering the “P” to an “F”), this character is a global phenomenon, appearing in 30 licensed games; clothing; a television series; as Namco’s mascot; and once as a fully functional Google doodle. In fact, a study has shown that 94% of American consumers recognise him, surpassing Mario and Sonic as the most famous game character of all time. Hell, even Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto claims this character as his favourite. Furthermore, Pacman has been awarded 8 Guinness World Records, while Weird Al Yankovic and Aphex Twin have written songs about him. Fuck the new age incarnations though, they ruin it, it's all about the old school for life, yo.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 43. Him (Powerpuff Girls)

43. Him

“All I did was take over. It was easy!”

Created by: Craig McCracken
Voiced by: Tom Kane
First Appearance: The Powerpuff Girls season 1 episode 3 “Octi Evil” (series, 1998)
Related Companies: Cartoon Network Studios; Kids' WB

Inspired by Chief Blue Meanie from the 1968 Beatles film Yellow Submarine, the androgynous Him is shown to feed off the negativity of others in order to grow larger and substantially more powerful. And word on the street is that this character represents Satan himself, but this fact was never explicitly stated in the show because, c'mon, children.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 42. Sheldon

42. Sheldon

“Are you trying to scare me?”

Created by: Jim Davis
Voiced by: Frank Welker
First Appearance: U.S. Acres (comic strip, 1986); Garfield and Friends season 1 episode 1 “Wanted: Wade” (series, 1988)
Related Companies: Film Roman; Paws, Inc.; Hanna-Barbera; CBS

Do not be fooled by the claustrophobic lifestyle this introverted character appears to portray, as this egg works as the perfect living space, complete with a microwave, pinball machine, table tennis table, air conditioning and a cleaning lady who comes once a week. And even when confronted about his reluctance to hatch, Sheldon’s reasons are flawless, stating that wherever he goes he is at home; he doesn’t need haircuts or umbrellas; and nobody can call him a chicken. However, in one episode he did finally hatch, only to reveal another shell underneath. Heh, clever.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 41. Magic Brooms

41. Magic Broom(s)

Silent Character

Created by: Joe Grant; Dick Huemer
First Appearance: Fantasia part 3 “The Sorcerer's Apprentice” (short, 1940)
Related Companies: Walt Disney Productions; RKO Radio Pictures

Ordinary brooms brought to life by magic, and then promptly flooding a building with water was a freaky concept for me in my youth. I mean, the part where the sorcerer’s apprentice (Mickey Mouse) becomes so frustrated that he chops one in half? And then the broken pieces grow into two separate brooms?!? Terrifying!! Others agree with me too, as the popularity of this character earned it a spot in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Darkwing Duck, 4 video games, and in most Disney Parks, scaring little kids all around the world.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 40. Sackboy

40. Sackboy

“I Like to Boogie.”

Created by: David Smith; Mark Healey; Francis Pang; Kareem Ettouney
Voiced by: Kenneth Young
First Appearance: LittleBigPlanet (video game, 2008)
Related Companies: Media Molecule; Sony Computer Entertainment

Running around in five games narrated by Stephen Fry, Sackboy is a Sackperson (of whom Sackgirl and other more gender-neutral alternatives do exist, chill) who solves user-generated puzzles which are all brainy-teasy and stuff. This concept has gone on to win numerous awards, mostly because these guys are said to be stuffed with fluff and ice cream. CUTE OVERLOAD, AM I RIGHT?

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 39. Duffman

39. Duffman

"Duffman can never die, only the actors who play him."

Created by: Matt Groening
Voiced by: Hank Azaria
First Appearance: The Simpsons season 9 episode 1 "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" (series, 1997)
Related Companies: Gracie Films; 20th Century Fox Television; Distributor 20th Television

Based on Budweiser's Bud Man, this criminally underrated Simpsons character works as the mascot for the fictional Duff Beer Corporation (which itself was named after the Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan). But I didn't select him for this, or his over-enthusiasm, or even his suggestive pelvic thrusts, but rather because he is a dyslexic gay Jewish man, which is pretty complex for a Toon. That said, apparently there are more than one Duffmans, but that’s kept a secret in order to not "disillusion children".

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 38. Pepé Le Pew

38. Pepé Le Pew

“I am the broken heart of love. I am the disillusioned. I wish to enlist in the Foreign Legion so I may forget. Take me!”

Created by: Chuck Jones; Michael Maltese
Voiced by: Mel Blanc
First Appearance: Looney Tunes “Odor-able Kitty” (short, 1945)
Related Companies: Warner Bros.; Harman and Ising Pictures; Leon Schlesinger Studios

Falling in love during the Paris springtime is easy, even if just with a cat who wears a deceptive white stripe down her back, ask Pepé. And having appeared in his own shorts, as well as episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures, Histeria, and Animaniacs, I think the popularity of this character stems from that very reason, as many of us know a ladies man exactly like the skunk, assuming their infatuations are requited, not taking no for an answer, and ultimately only loving themselves far too much. That might be me, actually.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 37. The Red Guy

37. The Red Guy

“Plastic surgery isn’t just a sport, it’s a way of life.”

Created by: David Feiss
Voiced by: Charlie Adler
First Appearance: Cow and Chicken pilot (from What A Cartoon! series, 1995)
Related Companies: Hanna-Barbera Cartoons; Cartoon Network Studios

It’s surprising that such a blatant display of buttocks was approved for a children’s show, but it was, as The Red Guy freely used his bum cheeks as a mode of transport like it ain't no thing, donning all sorts of interesting disguises whilst doing so, and all with the sole intent of bringing harm to Cow or Chicken. But why? This has never been established, except for his occasional admittance that it was “something bad that happened to me when I was 9 years old.”

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 36. Betty Boop

36. Betty Boop

"Don't take my Boop-Oop-A-Doop away!"

Created by: Max Fleischer
Voiced by: Margie Hines (original, among 13 others)
First Appearance: Dizzy Dishes (short, 1930)
Related Companies: Fleischer Studios; Paramount Pictures

Perhaps too big of a star to be here, but this list didn't feel complete without the Marilyn Monroe of the Toon world. Originally an anthropomorphic French poodle, Betty's sexual elements made her very popular with adult audiences, and as a result, she struggled against the mid-1930 laws suppressing suggestive content, yet still came out the other side as the sex-symbol of the Depression era. Hence why she appeared in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Popeye. Hence why she was voted the 2nd sexiest cartoon character of all time somewhere I read. And hence why one day I will get a tattoo of her on my ribs. All hail The Queen of the Animated Screen, you better recognize.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 35. Abe Oddworld

35. Abe

“My name is Abe. I was employee of the year. Now I’m dead meat."

Created by: Lorne Lanning
Voiced by: Lorne Lanning
First Appearance: Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee (video game, 1997)
Related Companies: Oddworld Inhabitants; GT Interactive

Named after Abraham from the Old Testament, it’s always refreshing to meet a gentle video game hero who doesn’t rely on weaponry to solve his problems, but rather utilizing telekinesis to complete assorted puzzles without hurting anyone. It’s no wonder then that Abe was highly received by critics upon his release, earning much praise from GameSpot, GameDaily,, and GamesRadar. He eventually went on to become one of PlayStation’s unofficial mascots too, so well done there.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 34. Woodstock

34. Woodstock

Gibberish Character

Created by: Charles M. Schulz
Voiced by: Bill Melendez
First Appearance: Peanuts (comic strip, 1967); Snoopy, Come Home (film, 1972)
Related Companies: United Feature Syndicate; Cinema Center Films; Lee Mendelson Films; National General Pictures

Despite being introduced in 1967, Woodstock wasn't named until the early 70’s, when Schulz was reading Life magazine and came across an article about the hippie festival of the same name, and decided this was the perfect moniker for his little yellow guy. In fact, this species-less bird was originally a girl before the decision, but Snoopy didn't seem to mind the sex change. Woodstock was his BFF, everything else was a minor detail. D'ahw!

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 33. Thirty-Thirty

33. Thirty-Thirty

“You know, if you walked a mile in my horse shoes, maybe you'd understand me better.”

Created by: Arthur Nadel; John Grusd; Bob Forward
Voiced by: Ed Gilbert
First Appearance: BraveStarr season 1 episode 1 "The Disappearance of Thirty-Thirty" (series, 1987)
Related Companies: Filmation; Group W Productions; DreamWorks Classics

The last survivor of the Equestroids ancient civilization, this character works as Marshall BraveStarr’s trusty techno horse partner, armed with a quick temper and a massive energy rifle named “Sara Jane”. Reportedly modeled on David Lee Roth, and roughly as strong as “Strength of the Bear”, is why this law-enforcing hero was such an important factor in carrying this animated Space Western straight to the stars (hilarious pun most definitely intended).

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 32. Ducky

32. Ducky

“Yep Yep Yep!”

Created by: Judy Freudberg; Tony Geiss
Voiced by: Judith Barsi (original, amongst others)
First Appearance: The Land Before Time (film, 1988)
Related Companies: Sullivan Bluth Studios; Amblin Entertainment; Lucasfilm (uncredited); Universal Pictures

While I could talk about the amicable, optimistic and naive character of Ducky for hours, it’s 10 year-old voice actress Judith Barsi’s story which really hits the heart valves. As her career progressed after this very film, her father József became increasingly abusive, jealous and paranoid, drinking heavily and threatening her life so many times that she began to develop anti-social patterns, such as: weight gain, plucking her eyelashes, and pulling out her cat’s whiskers. When her mother eventually filed for divorce, József murdered his wife, and then shot Judith in the head while she was sleeping. He spent the next two days wandering aimlessly around the house, then burnt the place down, shooting himself in the head immediately afterwards. Such a tragic end to a huge voice talent who had so much more to offer the world. RIP, Judith.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 31. The BFG

31. The BFG

“But human beans is squishing each other all the time. They is shootling guns and going up in aerioplanes to drop their bombs on each other's heads every week. Human beans is always killing other human beans.”

Created by: Roald Dahl
Voiced by: David Jason
First Appearance: The BFG (novel, 1982); The BFG (film, 1989)
Related Companies: Jonathan Cape; Penguin Books; Cosgrove Hall Films

It’s hard to imagine childhood gold any richer than this. Here is a huge sensitive man with ears so large that he can hear and collect dreams, destroying the bad ones and distributing the good ones to deserving children - not to mention also protecting them from the much meaner giants who intend to eat their insides. Add this with the fact that he farts a lot, and we are left with a magical tale which will be remembered fondly by any adult born in the 80’s.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 30. Earthworm Jim

30. Earthworm Jim

"A dream sequence! Guuuuuhroovy! Bring on the dancing girls!"

Created by: Doug TenNapel; David Perry
Voiced by: Doug TenNapel; Dan Castellaneta
First Appearance: Earthworm Jim (video game, 1994)
Related Companies: Shiny Entertainment; Playmates Interactive Entertainment; Sega Mega Drive/Genesis; AKOM; Kids’ WB; Universal Cartoon Studios

It was originally in a 2D sidescrolling platform game that a super-suit fell on this ordinary earthworm, turning him into a superhero on a mission to save Princess What’s-Her-Name and do other stuff as well. Good concept, no? So good, in fact, that the franchise went on to spawn various sequel games, a TV series, a comic book, and toys, whilst winning many awards along the way. Not to mention all the other fantastic characters my list could have easily picked from the story, such as: Evil the Cat, Queen Slug-for-a-Butt, and Professor Monkey-for-a-Head. Gosh, calm down.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 29. Pillsbury Doughboy

29. Pillsbury Doughboy


Created by: Rudy Perz; Martin Nodell
Voiced by: Paul Frees; Jeff Bergman; JoBe Cerny
First Appearance: Pillsbury Company (commercial, 1965)
Related Companies: Pillsbury Company

Starring in over 600 commercials as the Pillsbury Company mascot, Poppin’ Fresh (real name) has been referenced in multiple other universes, including South Park, The Simpsons, The Big Bang Theory, The Golden Girls, Glee, and The Far Side. But I just dig the way he chuckles every time that human finger pokes his stomach. Gives me ideas.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 28. Squidward Quincy Tentacles

28. Squidward Quincy Tentacles

"Why must every 11 minutes of my life be filled with misery?”

Created by: Stephen Hillenburg
Voiced by: Rodger Bumpass
First Appearance: SpongeBob SquarePants season 1 episode 1 "Help Wanted" (series, 1999)
Related Companies: United Plankton Pictures; Nickelodeon Animation Studios; MTV Networks International

A complex character is this one: cynical and grouchy, yearning for a more glamorous lifestyle as a praised painter or clarinet composer; instead working as the Krusty Krab cashier, miserable and self-loathing, blaming everyone for his misfortune other than himself. But all that aside, the most important question still remains: is Squidward a squid, or an octopus? As it turns out, he is actually an octopus, but creator Stephen Hillenburg stated that Octoward failed to "sound catchy" enough. Lol, it's true.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 27. Mr. Skullhead

27. Mr. Skullhead

Silent Character

Created by: Tom Ruegger
First Appearance: Tiny Toon Adventures season 2 episode 13 “Take Elmyra Please” (series, 1992)
Related Companies: Warner Bros. Animation; Amblin Entertainment; Fox Kids

Despite having first appeared in Tiny Toon Adventures, Mr. Skullhead is perhaps better known as the “Good Idea, Bad Idea” guy in Animaniacs. Narrated by Tom Bodett, these segments usually granted the character some enjoyable mundane activity, shortly before falling victim to an unfortunate incident and injuring himself in the process. Such a sacrifice just to teach our kiddies the dangers of the world - it's highly admirable, like Jesus or something.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 26. Baraka

26. Baraka

"They will taste your flesh!"

Created by: John Tobias
Voiced by: Dan Washington; Bob Carter
First Appearance: Mortal Kombat II (arcade game, 1993)
Related Companies: Midway; Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

With a name that ironically means “blessed” (Arabic) or “peace” (Swahili), and a body based on a Nosferatu mask mixed with Marvel’s own Wolverine, the scariest aspect of Baraka is that he is part of the Tarkatan race, in which they all look exactly the same. Meaning: there are thousands of these fucking things! No wonder GameDaily rated him as the 12th Top Badie, as well as the 3rd Ugliest Character Of All Time, dude's freaky.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 25. Chairface Chippendale

25. Chairface Chippendale

“I haven't always had friends like you, because I was born... different.“

Created by: Ben Edlund
Voiced by: Tony Jay
First Appearance: The Tick issue 7 “The Moon Menace” (comic, 1990); The Tick season 1 episode 2 “The Tick vs. Chairface Chippendale" (series, 1994)
Related Companies: New England Comics; Sunbow Entertainment; Graz; Fox Children's Productions

Not too much is known about this cunning criminal, except that he was born with a chair instead of a head, and is very bitter and resentful about this defect. As a result, he turned to crime, rising up the villain chain to become one of The Tick’s most worthy adversaries. But perhaps his greatest achievement came when he attempted to write his name on the moon. He only managed the first 3 letters (CHA), granted, but they stayed there for the remainder of the series, which is still something to be proud of.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 24. Krang

24. Krang

"I shouldn't have joined forces with a ninja. Next time I conquer a planet, I'm using an accountant."

Created by: Ryan Brown; Steve Murphy; Kevin Eastman; Peter Laird
Voiced by: Pat Fraley
First Appearance: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles season 1 episode 2 "Enter the Shredder" (series, 1987)
Related Companies: Archie Comics; Murakami Wolf Swenson; Fred Wolf Films; Mirage Studios; Surge Licensing

Banished from Dimension X and stripped of his body, the genius Krang was lucky enough to meet Shredder, who helped him build a human-shaped exo-suit which could produce weapons and wings at will. Such an unsettling concept is why this character was one of the main Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles supervillains, predominantly featuring in the comics, animated series, video games, and even some collectable figurines. He's kinda cute too, in that exposed brain sorta way (which is a thing).

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 23. John Herbert (Family Guy)

23. John Herbert

"And don't you mouth off to me, or I'm going to slap you right in your penis."

Created by: Mike Henry; Seth MacFarlane
Voiced by: Mike Henry
First Appearance: Family Guy season 3 episode 12 "To Love and Die in Dixie" (series, 2001)
Related Companies: Fuzzy Door Productions; 20th Century Fox Television

The original concept for Herbert came with the voice. First used by Mike Henry to scold Family Guy writers when they couldn’t come up with new ideas, its distinctive high pitched mumbles and whistles were so hilarious to Seth MacFarlane that he adapted the voice into this character. No idea how Herbert evolved into a paedophile with a crippled dog, but I guess that’s show business.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 22. Eeyore

22. Eeyore

"Thanks for noticing me."

Created by: A. A. Milne
Voiced by: Ralph Wright; Peter Cullen; Bud Luckey (amongst others)
First Appearance: Winnie-the-Pooh (novel, 1926); Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (film, 1966)
Related Companies: Publisher Methuen & Co. Ltd.; The Walt Disney Company

As Winnie-the-Pooh’s most gloomy and sarcastic friend, it will always be the Disney adaptation of this onomatopoeically named character which stands out the most in my memory, despite the fact that the Estates of A. A. Milne (including the real Christopher Robin himself) were not always ecstatic about these interpretations. Neither was Eeyore, I'm guessing.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 21. Misty

21. Misty

"Sometimes I look at that Psyduck's face and I get a headache."

Created by: Satoshi Tajiri
Voiced by: Rachael Lillis; Michele Knotz; Mayumi Iizuka
First Appearance: Pokémon Red (video game, 1996); Pokémon season 1 episode 1 “Pokémon - I Choose You!” (anime, 1997)
Related Companies: Nintendo; OLM, Inc

Originally a much different design in the video games, it was the anime version of this girl which captured most of our attention - especially the younger female audience, who viewed Misty as a positive role model, neither "butch" nor "dizzily feminine" like most other characters in her genre. Personally, I am in love with her, and one of my biggest dreams is to date a Misty cosplay girl who never breaks character.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 20. Turnip-Head

20. Turnip-Head

“I had been turned into turnip head.”

Created by: Diana Wynne Jones
Voiced by: Crispin Freeman (as the Prince)
First Appearance: Howl's Moving Castle (as the scarecrow; novel, 1986); Howl's Moving Castle (film, 2004)
Related Companies: Studio Ghibli; Greenwillow Books; Methuen; Toho; Walt Disney Pictures

Initially a silent character, this scarecrow-type creature may have been creepily fixated on our hero Sophie, but justified it by being such a helpful bloke, like when he found her that cane, or lending her a hand with the washing, or even breaking himself whilst trying to prevent the group from sliding off a cliff. However, he had ulterior motives, only being so nice in hopes for a kiss, which would break his curse, turning him back into a Prince and allowing him to save his kingdom from the war. Off you go then.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 19. GIR

19. GIR

“Can I be a mongoose dog?”

Created by: Jhonen Vasquez
Voiced by: Rosearik Rikki Simons
First Appearance: Invader Zim season 1 episode 1 “The Nightmare Begins” (series, 2001)
Related Companies: Nickelodeon; Nicktoons

This dimwitted robot made entirely from trash items is best known as Invader Zim’s side-kick, standing in great contrast to his alien master's distate for human culture, living a much more upbeat and friendly existence, and winning an Emmy in the process. But when his dysfunctional eyes turn from green to red, know that he means business. And when he poorly disguises himself as a dog, know he means something else entirely. Did I mention he is a great dancer?

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 18. Lobo

18. Lobo

“I killed every living thing on Czarnia fer fun. I killed Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny an' things that don't even exist.”

Created by: Roger Slifer; Keith Giffen
Voiced by: Brad Garrett
First Appearance: Omega Men issue #3 (comic, 1983); Superman: The Animated Series season 1 episode 9 "The Main Man, Part 1" (series, 1996)
Related Companies: DC Comics

Originally intended as an over-the-top parody of Marvel Comics’ Wolverine, nobody expected this highly violent, womanizing alcoholic to become as popular as he did. But he did. So much so, that the biggest comic book writer of all time, Stan Lee, called Lobo his favourite DC character ever, which is a pretty big fucking deal. This is why Lobo's influence to the comic book universe has been massive since his creation, already having fictional encounters with Superman, Batman, Wolverine, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Superboy, The Mask and Judge Dredd... to name a few.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 17. Hatsune Miku

17. Hatsune Miku

“Now, drink it! You like it, don't you? Vegetable juice, I've decided. I've decided just now.”

Created by: Kei Garō; Crypton Future Media
Voiced by: Saki Fujita (sampled)
First Appearance: Vocaloid 2 Package (program, 2007)
Related Companies: Crypton Future Media

A very interest entry this one, as 16 year old Hatsune is 100% fan controlled and personality free. She is a singing synthesizer application, allowing musicians to sample her voice and force her to say whatever they want within their own musical creations. Such an original concept proved very popular indeed, as the program sold over 57,500,000 yen worth in 2007, making it the most bought software of the time, and resulting in over 100,000 songs to her name. She has had number one hits, performed sold-out live 3D shows, and has starred in various other unofficial anime and games, pushing her into full-fledged real-life superstardom, above what most fictional characters could ever boast to their name.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 16. Katie (Horton Hears a Who)

16. Katie

"In my world, everyone's pony, and they all eat rainbows and poop out butterflies."

Created by: Cinco Paul; Ken Daurio
Voiced by: Joey King
First Appearance: Horton Hears a Who! (film, 2008)
Related Companies: 20th Century Fox Animation; Blue Sky Studios

While this movie was based on the Dr. Seuss’ book of the same name, Katie unfortunately did not appear in that original version of the story. However, as an abnormally yellow yak with a row of small sharp teeth, I’m sure even the Doctor would approve.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 15. Mr. Garrison

15. Mr. Herbert Garrison

“Well, I’m sorry, Wendy. But I just don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die.”

Created by: Trey Parker; Matt Stone
Voiced by: Trey Parker
First Appearance: South Park season 1 episode 1 “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe” (series, 1997)
Related Companies: Comedy Central

Mr. Garrison is a complex individual, having gone from a vicious homophobe; to a closet homosexual; to a pedophile; to a proud homosexual; to having a sex change to become a woman; to turning lesbian; and then back into a homosexual male once again. But with all his sexual identity crises, racist tendencies, and multiple personality disorders, it is interesting to note that the core of all his mental problems stem from childhood molestation issues dealing with his father. That is to say, his dad never molested him, and therefore couldn't have loved him all that much. Oh man, I relate.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 14. Spawn

14. Spawn

“You sent me to Hell, Jason. I'm here to return the favor.”

Created by: Todd McFarlane
Voiced by: Keith David
First Appearance: Malibu Sun #13 (comic, 1992); Todd McFarlane's Spawn season 1 episode 1 “Burning Visions” (series, 1997)
Related Companies: Image Comics; HBO

Popularity for this character has waned, but back in the day the concept of a dead CIA agent making a deal with the Devil to see his wife one last time (now equipped with a ridiculous list of ever-fluctuating powers and tortured by heartache), was enough to win countless awards and sell millions of comics, as well as going on to become a terrible feature film, an animated series, and a bunch of highly acclaimed toys with quality unchallenged in the industry. In fact, the character was so popular, you may even find him in other unlikely universes, such as with Archie and Sonic The Hedgehog. Hail Satan.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 13. Catbus

13. Catbus

Silent Character

Created by: Hayao Miyazaki
First Appearance: My Neighbor Totoro (film, 1988)
Related Companies: Studio Ghibli; Toho

With its multiple caterpillar-like legs and Cheshire Cat smile, this is one mode of transport I wouldn’t entirely trust, yet would definitely appreciate it getting me there on time. Leaping over forests and lakes with mininimal effort is just the type of magic only a Ghibli character could achieve, which is why Catbus went on to become a popular plush toy as well as starring in his very own short film Mei and the Kittenbus. More obsessive fans have even modified their cars to look like him, so there’s that too.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 12. Hello Kitty

12. Hello Kitty

"Happiness comes in all colours of the rainbow!"

Created by: Yuko Shimizu
Voiced by: Tara Charandoff
First Appearance: Vinyl coin purse (1974); Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater season 1 episode 1 “The Wizard Of Paws” (series, 1987)
Related Companies: Saniro; CBS; DIC Entertainment; MGM/UA Television

Such a huge staple of global culture, Hello Kitty products are said to fetch $5 billion a year, which isn’t surprising as the phenomenon is featured on school supplies, fashion accessories, dolls, stickers, greeting cards, clothes, toasters, massagers, wines, Visa debit cards, computer equipment, and jets. She even has two Japanese theme parks, a restaurant, and a maternity hospital completely devoted to her, and leads countless animes, TV shows, musical releases and video games. But any doubt to her popularity should be swayed by two interesting events: (1) when Hello Kitty was named the ambassador of Japanese tourism, marking the first time the ministry had appointed a fictional character to the role; and (2) when, in 1999 Hong Kong, the brutal Hello Kitty murder took place, where the killer inserted his victim's head into a Hello Kitty doll after decapitating her. WHERE'S YOUR CHILDHOOD NOW?

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 11. Jessica Rabbit

11. Jessica Rabbit

"I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way."

Created by: Gary K. Wolf
Voiced by: Kathleen Turner (speaking); Amy Irving (singing)
First Appearance: Who Censored Roger Rabbit? (novel, 1981); Who Framed Roger Rabbit (film, 1988)
Related Companies: St. Martin’s Press; Walt Disney Productions; Touchstone Pictures; Amblin Entertainment

As Roger’s human-toon wife in the only animated/live action film to win four Academy Awards, this is probably the biggest cartoon sex-symbol of all time. Based on Veronica Lake, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Julie London, and Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood; her sultry mannerisms, impossibly exaggerated figure and seductive voice is why Jessica was selected as one of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time by Empire Magazine; why Jessica was voted in a 1000 person poll as the Sexiest Cartoon Character of All Time; and why people continue to get plastic surgery just to look remotely like her to this day.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 10. Emmitt Nervend

10. Emmitt Nervend

Silent Character

Created by: Bruce Timm; Paul Dini
First Appearance: Freakazoid! season 1 episode 1 “Five Day Forecast/The Dance of Doom/Handman” (series, 1995)
Related Companies: Amblin Entertainment; Warner Bros. Animation

An elusive and generally unknown character, Emmitt is featured in every single episode of Freakazoid!, but only for a few frames at a time, playing no important role other than to smile silently at the camera. The end credits of each show reveal how many times Nervend can be spotted during said episode, which grants bored fans something else to do for the rest of their lonely day. It's kinda like Where's Wally, except cooler.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 9. Frieza

9. Frieza

“I am Frieza, the most powerful being in the Universe. And you are nothing but a monkey.”

Created by: Akira Toriyama
Voiced by: Ryūsei Nakao; Eddie Frierson; Pauline Newstone; Linda Young; Christopher Ayres; Maureen Jones
First Appearance: Dragon Ball Z volume 5 “Planet Namek, Cold and Dark” (manga, 1990); Dragon Ball Z season 2 episode 5 “Brood of Evil” (anime, 1990)
Related Companies: Shueisha; Cartoon Network (Toonami)

It is said that Frieza’s fourth and most powerful form is actually his most basic state, the others merely a result of suppressing the full beast. But even by looking at this character's original structure, all menacing and androgynous and shit, it's no surprise to find out that Toriyama designed Frieza as an amalgamation of what he thought monsters looked like in his youth.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 8. The Black Rabbit of Inlè

8. The Black Rabbit of Inlè

“You've been feeling tired, haven't you? If you're ready, we might go along now.”

Created by: Richard Adams
Voiced by: Joss Ackland
First Appearance: Watership Down (novel, 1972); Watership Down (film, 1978)
Related Companies: Rex Collings; Studio Nepenthe Productions

As the bunny equivalent of the Grim Reaper, the Moon (Inlé) Rabbit’s sole purpose is to take other rabbits away at their predestined time of death. Folklore has it that he lives in a warren of stone on earth, inhabited by dead bunnies and filled with disease and sadness beyond imagination. Hence why this so-called “kiddies” movie should not be viewed by kiddies at all, because it fucked me up, man. It fucked me up badly.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 7. Baby Face, Toy Story

7. Baby Face

Silent Character

Created by: John Lasseter; Andrew Stanton; Joel Cohen; Alec Sokolow; Joss Whedon
First Appearance: Toy Story (film, 1995)
Related Companies: Walt Disney Pictures; Pixar

Constructed from a baby doll head and an erector set, this character (also known as Spider Baby) is the leader of Sid's mutant toys. But do not be fooled by his terrifying nightmarish qualities, as he is a good guy deep down, fixing other toys and aiding Woody on his quest. He even made a cameo in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, so don't feel you need to sleep at night with one eye open anymore. Because Baby Face is already doing that.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 6. Apocalypse, X-Men

6. Apocalypse

“I am the rocks of the eternal shore. Crash against me and be broken!”

Created by: Louise Simonson; Walter Simonson
Voiced by: John Colicos; James Blendick; David Kaye
First Appearance: X-Factor #5 “Tapped Out” (comic, 1986); X-Men season 1 episode 8 “The Cure” (series, 1993)
Related Companies: Marvel Studios; Saban Entertainment, Inc.

The list of powers from this ferociously intelligent and intensely dangerous supervillain is exhausting, but includes some shit like: total control over his molecules; changing his body shape and size freely (even turning his arms into weapons or growing wings if he so feels like it); the ability to project and absorb energy; not relying on any sustenance to live; telepathy; telekinesis; and not to mention immortality and immunity to aging. All of this is why he was rated as one of the highest X-Men’s adversaries by Marvel themselves, and why I hate being human.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 5. Hubert Cumberdale

5. Hubert Cumberdale

Silent Character

Created by: David Firth
First Appearance: Salad Fingers episode 2 “Friends” (flash short, 2004)
Related Companies: Fat-Pie

Not too much is known about Salad Fingers’ finger puppet, except that he might be an immigrant; he enjoys getting his hair dried; he is sometimes known as Barbara Logan-Price; and he tastes like soot and poo. Moving along then.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 4. Uncle Grandfather

4. Uncle Grandfather

“Get your meat face out of my apartment, you balding baldy.”

Created by: Mike Lazzo; Matt Harrigan; Matt Maiellaro
Voiced by: Matt Maiellaro
First Appearance: Perfect Hair Forever season 1 episode 1 “Pilot” (series, 2004)
Related Companies: Adult Swim

In a unique plot revolving around a young boy on a quest to remedy his premature baldness (coming into contact with a flying hot dog, a fat man in a catsuit, and a tornado suffering from dissociative identity disorder as he does so), it is Uncle Grandfather who really makes me happy. Filling his pot-belly with fast food, sexually harassing his assistant Brenda, and reading pornography whilst sporting a stereotypical Asian speech impediment, are just some of the reasons why this dirty old man changed my life and made me who I am today (I am an old overweight Japanese man).

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 3. Feathers McGraw

3. Feathers McGraw

Silent Character

Created by: Nick Park; Bob Baker
First Appearance: Wallace and Gromit in The Wrong Trousers (film, 1993)
Related Companies: Aardman Animations; BBC (UK); Universal Pictures (USA)

You can’t really beat a claymation penguin diamond thief who disguises himself as a chicken by placing a rubber glove on his head, which is why this character has appeared or been mentioned in at least 4 other Wallace and Gromit features since his introduction, as well as in the unrelated Canadian series ReBoot. Never a trust a penguin that can afford rent, man, that's the first thing they teach you.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 2. Nyan Cat

2. Nyan Cat

Silent Character

Created by: Christopher Torres
First Appearance: LOL-Comics (animated gif, 2011); Nyan Cat (YouTube video, 2011)
Related Companies: LOL-Comics

The 9th biggest viral video of 2011 (according to Business Insider) presented itself as a combination between Torres’ animated Pop Tart Cat (based on his dead pet Marty) and video site Nico Nico Douga user Daniwell, with his "Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!" song (created using the aforementioned Hatsune Miku vocaliod; “nyā” being the Japanese version of “meow”) which was then remixed by another user, Momomomo. The brilliant connection of it all was made by YouTube's Sara saraj00n, and BOOM, history was made, going on to rack up roughly 97,000,000 views since its birth. I don't care what you say, it means the world to me.

The Top 50 Animated Characters Ever: 1. No-Face

1. No-Face

“Try this. It's delicious. Want some gold? I'm not giving it to anybody else.”

Created by: Hayao Miyazaki
Voiced by: Akio Nakamura (Japanese); Bob Bergen (English)
First Appearance: Spirited Away (film, 2001)
Related Companies: Studio Ghibli; Walt Disney Pictures

Officially known as Kaonashi (“faceless”), it is theorized that No-Face encompasses all the negative traits from those who he swallows, working as a symbol of excess and greed within the context of the film. But underneath it all, he is a lonely spirit, craving attention from Chihiro, desperate to impress her with his ability to create gold from thin air, or to eat gluttonous amounts of food without ever satisfying his hunger. Overwhelming, scary, and heartbreaking, all results in arguably the best character ever made, from the best movie ever made, by the best studio ever made, ever ever ever.