Thursday, December 24, 2015

10 Favorite New (to Me) Characters of 2015 (and Fabulous Fanart)

Happy Christmas Eve Everyone! I hope you are all getting some time off/rest or family time :)
I have been working almost nonstop, so I haven't gotten around to those year end posts I wanted to do, but I am trying to squeeze a few in before -- gulp -- next year.


As much as I hate to admit it, 2016 is right around the corner. 2015 was a pretty good year for reading and writing, and I started off the year-end posts last week with my Top 10 Favorite Reads of 2015. Today, I'm back with another list (because I love them).

If you ask me my favorite character (in books, movies, tv, etc), I usually can't answer. Unless it's the original Star Wars (Han Solo is the best. Period). And naturally, I acquire new favorites every year!*

So here is a list of my top 10 *new* favorite characters that I discovered in 2015, along with why I liked them so much, and cool art of each character. 

(All art belongs to the respective copyright holder, and sources are linked. This blog is strictly non-profit, and all known sources are credited.)

1. Ken (Kaneki) - Tokyo Ghoul (Ishida Sui) Manga + Anime


Official art Copyright Ishida Sui
Where do I even start? All that bookish, quiet, adorable college student Ken wanted to to do was go on a date. Instead, he gets turned into a literal monster and the world goes to hell in a hand-basket. That's basically the story of Tokyo Ghoul.

Ken's story is not for the faint of heart - not only is Tokyo Ghoul quite violent - Ken himself has a downward spiral arc that rivals a Victorian melodrama, as he fights to retain his humanity in a brutal, bloody world. Think of anything bad that has happened to a character - and Kaneki has probably had something worse happen to him. Still, his fight to survive (physically, mentally, and spiritually) makes him an incredibly compelling character. And in case you couldn't tell from the cover art, Ishida Sui's art is fantastic. His style is so dreamy and beautiful, it just adds a layer of horror to the story. Tokyo Ghoul has spawned some incredible fanart as well, such as the gif of Ken's transformation below.
Copyright 量産型 source pixiv.net


2. Kaz Brekker (and Inej!) from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo


Official art by Kevin Wada

Six of Crows was one of those books that you read more for the plot than the characters, in my humble opinion, but that didn't stop me from loving Kaz and Inej. Kaz slightly edges Inej out, because I'd rather read a solo novel about him, but they are a pair of characters that are better together. And they really do make a great pair, with her skills and sense of honor, and his schemes and, well, drive to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Sort of like a criminal Batman and Alfred, if the roles were a bit reversed.
Anyhow, this was one with a lot of cool fanart, so I had to post a couple of my favorites.

Love this one! It's so atmospheric and eerie. Art Source -Copyright Waricka @ Metempsychosis
Fantastic depictions of Kaz and Inej by Gillian @ The Art of Young Adult  

3. Yael from Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin


I know, I know, I have been like a song on repeat about this book, but I really loved it! One of the main reasons was definitely the strong heroine, Yael. She's Jewish, a "victim" of Nazi experiments, and absolutely awesome. Here's what I had to say about her earlier this year:
"I loved Yael so much. A little Winter Soldier and all survivor, she was sympathetic, hardcore, and brave. She (understandably) had a hard time trusting others, but she wasn't afraid to love or feel for the people in her past. She wanted to think well of people, and she put her mission ahead of her own interests." 5 star review, Wolf by Wolf
Sadly, I have yet to see any fanart (I'll have to draw some, I suppose). But Ryan Graudin has a cool Pin-spiration board for it here. And did I mention motorcycle racing??

Image: Roland Sand - Source


4. Rey (and Finn) from Star Wars: The Force Awakens



No spoilers here - but it is safe to say that when I first saw Star Wars: A New Hope (I was 7), it rocked my world. Han was my favorite (see above), but if Rey had been in that movie, I might have changed my mind. She is the SW movie character I've been waiting for. Fiery but not stereotypical - tough, relatable, and practical, and with a sense of humor, Rey was just the sort of strong female lead I was wanting to see (and Daisy Ridley's performance was top notch). I will happily follow her adventures in the next few films. (I also loved Finn - he was cheeky and so lovable, but Rey people)


5. Maven from The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Image Credit: wrathful-deity.tumblr.com
I really enjoyed The Red Queen - it was just the right mixture of action, intrigue, and superpowers. Like an X-Men movie, none of it paved new ground, but I was surprised by how much I liked Mare, Maven, and Cal's interactions. Normally I despise love triangles, but this wasn't *really* a love triangle at all. Instead, it's a complex and dangerous relationship between three people, one of whom is an outsider in every way (Mare). Maven and Cal were actually more interesting to me (their brother dynamic, you know), especially Maven. In some ways, he's that character I always love - the neglected younger son who is desperate for his father's approval and overshadowed by his "perfect" brother. However, he was also willing to give up everything and go all the way to get what he wanted. Add that to his considerable brains and sharp wits, and you have a character that I get very invested in.
This fantastic piece is by allarica on deviantart.com
Surprisingly, there is not very much Maven art.** He tends to draw the Loki crowd, so he has plenty of fans, but . . .



6. Sakurako from Beautiful Bones (Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru) - Anime


This is a gorgeous anime, by the way.
Sakurako (Kujo) is a brilliant but eccentric osteologist who is generally more interested in bones than people. Using her knowledge of bones, her experience as the niece of a forensic scientist, and her own considerable powers of observation, she solves mysteries somewhat on a whim. Aided by a high-school student, Shotaro (the Watson to her Holmes) who incidentally helps Sakurako with normal social interaction, and helps her out of scrapes. Sakurako is hilarious, and the dynamic between her and the empathetic, gentle Shotaro really makes the show.

http://s0mnialuc1d0.deviantart.com/art/Sakurako-san-World-567558188


Hitomi as envisioned by Porotto

7. and 8. - Hitomi and Val from Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani


Sadly, there really isn't ANY fanart for Sunbolt.*** Intisar Khanani has a great Pinterest inspiration board here.

Anyhow, I love both of these characters so much that they get their own numbers :)

It's sort of spoilery to say anything about why I love Val (all you need to know is that he is A. A Breather****, B. An actual threat, and C. Awesome.)

Hitomi, our young heroine, is a racial + cultural outcast with hidden abilities and a lot of spunk. She's flawed and real, but still cool. The one piece of fan art I managed to fine captured her attitude pretty well. The second picture is a stock photo that kind of evokes her description. You'll have to read the book to find out what Val looks like . . .



9. Utsuho from Itsuwaribito by Iinuma Yuuki (manga)

http://saiyuri-taiyou.deviantart.com/art/Azako-Utsuho-467211266
Azako Utsuho by Saiyuri-Taiyou on DeviantArt
Another strangely dark yet comic manga - Itsuwaribito has an extremely sketchy protagonist (Utsuho) who aims to help people by lying. Sound curious? It is. Utsuho is one of the most enigmatic characters I've come across - you really can't trust anything he says!  You don't know where he stands, or if he really stands anywhere (he has a bit in common with Kaz - see #2), and he can be downright scary. Still, Utsuho is hilarious, and his interactions with the uptight Doctor Yakuma are golden.
http://wiiwiipyon.deviantart.com/art/Itsuwaribito-Utsuho-Redraw-2013-536603118
Itsuwaribito Utsuho by WiiWiipyon on DeviantArt.com


10. Vin (and Kelsier) from Mistborn

http://shilesque.deviantart.com/art/Mistborn-Vin-and-Kelsier-531814692
Mistborn: Vin and Kelsier by Shilesque on DeviantArt.com
These two kind of have a master-apprentice meets father-daughter relationship. I loved everything about it, and them. Vin was another strong heroine who was a joy to read about. Feisty, smart, a survivor, and a Mistborn, Vin is the sort of character who could have easily been annoying. Instead, she was nuanced and believable, and I can't wait to read more about her (soon!)

http://sgfw.deviantart.com/art/Mistborn-Vin-519966688
Vin by sgfw on deviantart.com


Honorable Mentions: I was trying to keep this list strictly to characters I was completely unaware of until this year, however, there are a few that deserve a side note. 


1. Levi Ackerman. While I first read some Attack on Titan/SnK last year, I didn't read the spinoff No Regrets series until a few months ago. It centers on Levi pre-AOT, and it made me love (and appreciate) Levi even more.

2. Everyone in Naruto (well, except Madara). Similarly, I was familiar with the very large group of characters that make up Naruto, but I grew much more attached to them all once I read the whole series end to end! Also, the "new Team 7" in Boruto were pretty adorable.

3. Foggy Nelson. I also loved Foggy in the Netflix Daredevil. To be honest, I'd never really cared about him either way (though I like Daredevil [comics!] a lot), but the Netflix series changed that! Matt and Foggy's friendship really pulled my heartstrings, and it was a highlight of the show.

4. Agent Peggy Carter. I always liked Peggy, but she didn't really stand out to me. The tv series Agent Carter made me love her. From her banter with Jarvis, to her determination to live as her own woman in a "man's world," I can't wait to see more of her. Season 2 is soon!

Did you discover any new favorite characters this year? Who were they, and why did you like them? Are you familiar with any of the ones on my list?


Footnotes:
*I even started a board on Pinterest for them. My lists were too long, :P
**Most of the stuff I found . . . did not look like Maven's description. It looked like Justin Bieber (?)
***Maybe that should be my Christmas project?
****Read the book.