We’re celebrating Autostraddle’s Fifth Birthday all month long by publishing a bunch of Top Fives. This is one of them!
Like a lot of queer people, media was a big part of helping me discover and come to terms with my sexuality. It was The L Word that initially opened the door, and several other shows that helped me realize that I wasn’t just “curious”, but I actually could see myself in a relationship with another girl… including an anime: Sailor Moon. Now that I’m secure in my bisexuality, it makes watching TV a lot more fun: now I have twice the number of fictional crushes! And anime in particular is good for this, since it has plenty of sex appeal among different genders.
Anime gets frequently stereotyped as full of empty “fanservice” girls, with cardboard personalities and unrealistic body proportions. Those stereotypes aren’t entirely unfounded, but in spite of them I’ve found plenty of great female characters in anime who I can relate to…and lust after. Here are five anime girls in particular that leave me wondering “why can’t you be real?”
1. Faye Valentine, Cowboy Bebop
I’ll start off this list with a pretty predictable choice. Cowboy Bebop is something that just about every Western anime fan has seen, and as a result, Faye is an iconic example of the sexy, scantily-clad anime girl… who also doesn’t take anyone’s shit. She’s a sarcastic woman with her own agenda, one that isn’t always in harmony with that of the other crew members of the Bebop. While she comes to value their assistance and companionship as the series goes on, she never sacrifices her independence and snark, and is a master with a gun or a well-placed punch when she wants to be. It’s the fact that she’s so smart, capable and unpredictable that I find Faye sexy – far more than just her looks – and even if a date with her would probably be… ill-advised, it would be too interesting not to try.
2. Misato Katsuragi, Neon Genesis Evangelion
My overall feelings about Evangelion, perhaps one of the most influential and controversial anime of all time, are pretty mixed, but Misato is one of my favorite female anime — or, hell, TV — characters ever. She certainly is one of the “realest” adult characters I’ve seen in a teenage-focused anime, to the point where she feels like she could be a real-life friend or acquaintance in spite of the series’ extraordinary circumstances. She’s brilliant, to prodigious levels – a Major in NERV (Eva‘s paramilitary organization) at age 28! — and excels in the strategic thinking required for her job. But she also has her insecurities and some serious psychological issues (as with everyone on this show), and can be goofy and irresponsible in other areas of her life. The downside of dating Misato would be that the two of us could never live together, since my apartment is almost as messy as hers… and my fridge just as full of snacks and booze instead of “real food”.
3. Juri Arisugawa, Revolutionary Girl Utena
Of course, this list needs at least a few actual queer ladies on it, and they don’t get better than Juri. I’ve written about her before in my review of Utena, so I won’t discuss why she’s a great queer girl character. Instead, I’ll just talk about what makes Juri so charming and date-able. As a champion fencer and one of the Rose duelists on the Ohtori Student Council, Juri is graceful and poised. In fact, she seems to excel at a variety of sports throughout the series… and there’s not much better than a hot athletic girl. Especially when she’s also as intelligent and mysterious as Juri is — though her stoic nature conceals the feelings she’s buried for her former friend and crush, Shiori. Who wouldn’t want to be the one to mend Juri’s broken heart, and prove to her that miracles are real?
4. Anissina von Karbelnikoff, Kyo Kara Maoh
Kyo Kara Maoh is a silly fantasy anime that my sister got me addicted to over Christmas this year. It involves a teenage boy getting sucked into another world where he finds out that he’s the king of a race of magical sexy demons — and a bunch of the male ones in his employ want him. Yeah, it’s a shounen-ai (re: gay-boy romance) series, and as such, the cast is mostly male… and yet in spite of that, it still has some pretty great female characters. One of them is Anissina, a powerful witch who uses her abilities to invent wacky machines with cutesy names, testing them out on the boys and wreaking havoc in the process. She’s also an outspoken feminist; she complains sometimes about how patriarchal their society is, and makes it her goal to improve it, especially by reaching out to poorer women in their kingdom. Other Kyo Kara Maoh fangirls can fight over its many pretty-boys; I’ll take Anissina, please.
5. Haruka Tenoh/Sailor Uranus, Sailor Moon
Michiru Kaioh, Haruka’s girlfriend in the series, was my first anime crush, so she really should be the one on this list. And yet, while both girls have a strong place in my heart – due to their fictional relationship helping me so much with figuring out my own sexuality – in the end, Uranus beats Neptune out. I’ve always been attracted to femmes, but it was Haruka who taught me that that preference wasn’t absolute. She is effortlessly charming and flirtatious – causing even girls with boyfriends (like Sailor Moon herself) to consider switching teams – and it’s no wonder, since it’s hard not to admire her in her suits and boys’ uniforms as she drives racecars and battles with her Space Sword. And yet, in spite of that playfulness, she never wavers in her devotion to Michiru, and her privacy about their relationship. Skilled at seduction, and yet trustworthy and faithful once she has her girl… Haruka is pretty much the ideal girlfriend. It’s hard not to want her to sweep you off your feet.
Honorable mentions: Mikasa Ackerman and Krista Lenz, Attack on Titan; Lust, Fullmetal Alchemist; Olivier Armstrong, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood; Nonon Jakuzure and Satsuki Kiryuin, Kill la Kill; Milly Thompson and Meryl Stryfe, Trigun; Cher Degre, Wolf’s Rain; and various ladies from Utena and Sailor Moon.
Header Image by Rory Midhani
What a fabulous article to wake up to: I squealed as soon as I saw the image of Sailor Uranus! What I’ve learned here: I think I need to finally look into Evangelion, hah.
Fun fact: I may or may not write something an article about Evangelion in the future…
Amane Ohtori, Strawberry Panic (aka. My Guilty Pleasure).
As someone who just finished Cowboy Bebop I definitely have to agree with Faye Valentine being on the list (though truthfully the series left her story a bit high and dry).
Looks like I need to look into Evangelion!
Awww yeah, I forgot to put Amane on the Honorable Mentions! She made me swoon when I watched that show.
Great article and lovely choices!
How about dating Haruhi Suzumiya? That would be interesting, to say the least. Just don’t annoy her…or else! Kyon would probably pity you.
This is so apt as I was just sighing to a friend about the females from various animes I would date if they were real.
My current top 3 choices are; Major Motoko Kusanagi (GITS), Hisa Takei (Saki), Mikasa Ackerman (Shingeki no Kyojin)
Honorable Mentions: Haruhi Fujioka (Ouran High School Host Club) and Integral (Hellsing), San(Princess Mononoke)
What does this say about my life choices though…
It says you’ve got very good taste. Man, I’d forgotten how much I liked Integra.
OH. Naru Narusegawa from Love Hina. *sigh*
I missed out on Sailor moon and feel the need to catch up! I was entrenched in ghost in the Shell for an age.
Sidenote…i was once told I reminded someone of Ed from cowboy bebop.
Fujiko Mine from Lupin the Third!
I’m in love with Fumi *sigh* (aoi hana).
Juri gave me so many feels when I watched Utena cause I can relate.
Almost all Saki characters are gay and fun. And Sakura trick. And Sasameki Koto.
Ahh, Sakura Trick is such a guilty pleasure. It’s so fanservice-y, but hey — I’m a fan, I’m being serviced!
Ahaha.. In dynasty scans, this was tagged under lots of kisses heh
I let out a cry of glee when I saw Haruka on the front page.
I used to love anime, then fell out of love with the medium when I reached high school. However, very recently, I randomly decided to rewatch Sailor Moon and it was the best decision I ever made in my life.
Guys, it’s the best show. And it’s so, soooo gay.
I love Haruka. She’s my Shane, I want to ship her with everyone (but me, ironically). She’s just so damn cool and dapper. But Minako, OOF. I would do so, so many consensual things to her.
Sailor Venus is like my life I don’t think people understand this or how pumped I am for July when the new (!!!) series is released.
ooooooooo Minako oooooooooooo. and i can’t believe it never occurred to me till like, last year, that she & Rei? yyyeeeeeessssssssssssssssssssssssssss. i mean, Mars & Venus, self, come on, it’s so canon it’s classic
but yes. also? Makoto? hee. i bet she gives great hugs~
(uh i’ll see myself out now)
my first foray into fan fiction may or may not have been a self-insert romance one-shot involving Meryl Stryfe
i neither confirm nor deny these speculations
I like you
Rose, you know my feels on Sailor Moon are strong with Haruka! I wish my Anime girlfriend was Michiko of Michiko and Hatchin!! I loved that there was an anime starring a (dark skinned) woman of color with a cool crime/hot mess backdrop and it’s an amazing anime all around!
Michiko and Hatchin is definitely on my to-watch list! Maybe I’ll review it when I get around to that!
I LITERALLY WAS LIKE “HAAARUKAAA” ALOUD WHEN I SAW THE FEATURE IMAGE ON THE FB PAGE & I’M REALLY KIND OF EMBARRASSED AT MYSELF GOODBYE /FLIES INTO THE SUN
aLSO SOMEONE ON FB MENTIONED ICZER-ONE & holy hell was that an awkward thing to watch when i finally saw it but yES THE TITLE CHARACTER YES ..YES. OKAY. YES.
I SHOULD STOP TYPING NOW. AND IN ALL CAPS. BUT. YYYYESS.
Tsukimi from Princess Jellyfish anyone?
Tima, LAIN, Coroner Haraway, Rei Pikwa, Leila Marcus. In that order.
Ok honourable mention to Haruka….just don’t have the heart to leave her out, she’s THAT awesome, even if i only semi-like the setting because I HATE SCHOOL, STILL, 25 YEARS IN.
Dr Ritsuko Akagi from Evangelion. She’s the subject of another woman’s unrequited love in the show and she’s ruthlessly intelligent.
And horribly fucked up, but you also get to see her naked.
Haruko Haruhara from Fooly Cooly anyone? She rides a vespa and uses an electric guitar as a weapon. That’s basically the way straight into my heart.
It’s actually a bass guitar, which makes it even better!
(I’m not biased toward my instruments or anything.)
Sign me up for a date with Motoko Kusanagi (Ghost in the Shell). She’s so freakin’ cool.
Ymir (Attack on Titan) and Lyuze (Casshern Sins) is my entire list. I am literally not cool enough for either of them, though.
Saber in Fate/Zero is my anime girlfriend, but I had a huge gay crush on Riza Hawkeye from Fullmetal Alchemist. Then again, Fullmetal Alchemist (especially the Brotherhood anime) is full of amazing ladies, like her and Olivier Armstrong.
Eh, I overall liked the ladies of the first FMA anime much better. I’ve seen the “Brotherhood has better ladies!” claim before and I’ve never understood where it came from because, even just numbers-wise, they’re pretty even – and the 2003 ladies were far more likely to have their own stories that weren’t about the dudes around them.
Which was something that bothered me a lot about Riza in Brotherhood. She was a way more prominent character there than in 03, so I had high hopes for her – and then her character ended up being all about her relationship with Roy Mustang. It annoyed me because I really wanted to like her character (because you’re right, she’s pretty hot).
Anyway, I really need to watch Fate/Zero. It seems like all my anime-watching friends have been talking it up lately!
I liked Riza Hawkeye better in the ’03 anime, too – but Brotherhood had May Chang and Olivier Armstrong, so my “headcanon” is a bit of a blend between the two stories because I was really disappointed about Hawkeye’s character arc being reduced to her relationship with Roy Mustang.
Fate/Zero is really good, and Saber’s chivalry comes across as pretty gay with Irisviel. They’re my first real girl/girl anime pairing, so maybe I’m biased.
If anime-adapted-from-video-games counts, Oogami Sakura from Dangan Ronpa has gotta be up there for me. She’s pretty much the perfect balance of takes-no-shit and completely adorable.
After her it’s probably a polygamous relationship with Ymir and Krista from AoT. Hanji can come too (included because they’re fairly feminine, although their gender isn’t outright stated. Hurrah for gender ambiguity/possible non-binary characters!) …Actually, all the girls from AoT are pretty dateable.
Oh man, I have a massive crush on Sakura too. She’s so precious and tough.
How could I forget Hanji Zoe!!! Mikasa vs Hanji Zoe in Snk…. This would be a hellish decision if you could only have one…
Sakura’s the best. So honorable.
Sailor Uranus was always one of my favorite characters and inspired my fashion sense
I’m pretty much always a top but ohmygod Olivier Armstrong.
I’ve always wanted to date Kagome from Inu-Yasha.
Ah, Inu-Yasha. I always preferred Sango myself and never figured out what she saw in Miroku. Plus, my Balinese cat is named Kilala. :)
Kagome was actually my first ever girl crush ^_^
Heya, would “Lady Oscar” count? Now, there’s a character that puts the swag into swagger.
Ymir from Attack on Titan and definitely Hot a What Amane from Strawberry Panic are very high up on my “would date” list in the anime realm.
Also included, but not technically anime, Vivaldi from HNKNA. I don’t even care that she’s from an otome meant for heterosexual females. Whenever she’s in sight, I am screaming.
I love Haruka, but another favorite of mine is Shizuru Fujino from My-HiME. She’s beautiful and femme, but strong, charming, and protective. She’s a graceful leader. Basically she’s a BOSS. It’s an irresistible combination.
Nico Robin – one piece, Tsunade aka Fifth Hokage – Naruto? *mmmm
I need only one character for this list. That character is Homura.
I don’t actually anime, really, which is sad and I should. The only show I actually watched was “Ouran High School Host Club” which is super good/bad/marvelous. Anyway I watched it because the main character, Haruhi, is thought by everyone to be a boy for quite a while and she’s like, “fuck it, alright, I don’t care about gender, so let’s let them think that” and there were other things that made it super queer. So. Don’t know if I’d date her, I need to rewatch it, I seem to remember the ending of the season being pretty dumb… But if you are an anime fan and are looking for something that entertains mainly through meta ridiculousness… check it out!
Oh my yes, so much love for Haruka.
My anime lady that I’d totally go for is Kaoru from Oniisama e. Such a great, melodramatic, and super queer show! She was so virtuous, had that androgynous swagger that made the girls swoon in school, and always came in at the right time to chime in with some wisdom when someone was acting out. She was also the school’s basketball star, so that also earned points because hey, queer girl and basketball…
Nice to see some love for Kaoru. Out of all the girls in Oniisama E she was the one I’d most want to be friends with. Her relationship with Rei was great too (and not just in a “queer as hell” way).
Oh geez, Haruka is such a beautiful dapper babe.
Great list, and virtually every one of my anime girlcrushes is here, either on the list or in the comments. I’ll add Utena and Anthy from Revolutionary Girl Utena (really every girl from Utena is crushworthy as hell), Kallen from Code Geass, and Noriko from Gunbuster.
Always admired Haruka. Her portraits in the manga artbooks are also especially stunning. (Like this one: http://chibi-hotaru.bravepages.com/images/Uranus/HarukaSwordCar.jpg )
How can you leave out the dashing Lady Oscar? She’s so kind and gentle with Rosalie and instead of pitying her, she assists her directly and tries to reunite her with her birth mother. She teaches her swordsmanship too as a way to channel her anger and desire for vengeance. She doesn’t swoop in to save her, she uplifts Rosalie to become strong in her own right.