Character : Youko Nakajima (中嶋陽子)
Source : Twelve Kingdoms (十二国記)
First seen : In an AMV set to Groove Coverage’s The Last Unicorn, the scene where she kills the Youma, the mask emerges and she calls herself a monster.
Initial Impression : My initial impression was that she just was a good character who was flawed but sympathetic enough to carry the story. She was an interesting and more realistic take on the old fantasy concept of thrusting a teenager into a mythical world, and I have a fondness for people struggling with identity crisis (“I’m a monster”) and being given responsibilities they’re unprepared for. At one point she did get too wangsty for my taste, but that was over very quickly. Nevertheless, she didn’t strike me a la “yes, this one goes on my list right now”.
In Retrospect : A retrospect came when reading the books. While the anime is largely faithful, Youko and the anime had two fellow humans who externalized internal traits. In the novels, Youko had to harden up a lot quicker (which Sugimoto represented in the anime) and had to resort to inventiveness to get around where in the anime, things were a little more convenient. She came across less as whiny and insecure, though in the end the result was the same in how she came out stronger.
That wasn’t quite what put her on my list of favorite character, but rather what had me realize she had been on there for a while already. Youko kept popping up in my memory, and I was occasionally inclined to look up fanart, and then there was the disappointment that as I became more aware of the fantasy genre in how I didn’t find much similarly complex female characters.
Final Opinion : The first arc sets her into the world and beats her to the brink of insanity and death, the second arc has her build up her character and make a place around her, I think I’d like to see a third arc some time far into the future to see how she is dealing with immortality and the constant pressure.