So I realized that I did my last list slightly incorrectly. I was supposed to write my favorite male LEAD not my favorite any type of guy. Whoops. I have a feeling some of the other posts for this challenge will be slightly truncated due to yesterday’s enthusiasm. So for this version (favorite female lead) I’m going to make sure the woman is actually the lead, not some noisy pesky second character. However, like yesterday, I refuse to just pick one (cos I’m a brat, leave me alone). This will be a compilation of my favorite female leads.
So without further ado! My Favorite Female Characters
Nakama Yukie as Yankumi in Gokusen (all seasons)
I’ve written about Yankumi before, but she’s just all kinds of perfect for me. If ever there was a best teacher award, she would totally win it with flying colors. Equal parts badass, cute, and ridiculously earnest, she comes together into one little bucket of tracksuit-wearing awesome. I love her insanely romantic fantasies, her accidental slips into gangster language, her long over-drawn speeches, and the way that she would sacrifice herself for her students in a heartbeat. If I had met a teacher like her in high school, I’d probably be a much more mature, happier person now, who at least understood myself better. One of the great things about Japanese dramas is that they don’t constantly go on about needing to succeed financially in order to be happy. Yankumi always maintains that no matter what her students do, she’ll be happy, and she really means it. She’s not trying to push them into uber-elite colleges just for the statistcs. She really wants her kids to find out their dreams and live a fulfilling life they can be happy and proud of. Yankumi made me realize sometimes it is better to fight something out as long as you do it fairly. I love her very dearly and in a back part of my brain she will always be fighting in one school or another, kicking her students’ asses into gear.
Inoue Mao as Makino Tsukushi in HYD
*sigh*. I have such mixed feelings about this drama, probably because I saw the Korean version first, and that was an epic but also energy-draining hot mess with beautiful men and horrible acting, from the main female lead in particular. However, Inoue Mao did a really great job with Tsukushi. The character easily turns into a whiny, bratty girl who complains about her poverty and lack of hot guys. However, Inoue Mao was able to turn this highly annoying character into a much better, more sympathetic person, that you actually really felt bad for. I think the biggest thing is that I believed the romance between her and Matsumoto Jun’s character Doumyoji Tsukasa. If I don’t feel the romance, I won’t care about whether the leads will end up together. However the two of them just bleed chemistry. Thanks for making this Tsukushi so much better than the Korean one!
Karina as Aizawa Airu in Love Shuffle
Oh, I really love this girl. So much. Instead of the typical female lead who is constantly complaining about needing a man, and who has no agency or independence, Airu (or Ai-Ai as she’s affectionately called) is a lot more masculine than most Japanese female leads depicted. She’s tough, she drinks beer, she has a high-powered job, she’s independent, and she has a penchant for picking up guys who are needy and she feels bad for. She’s literally the antithesis to the needy princess character. She has a sharp tongue, she’s sarcastic and impulsive, and she goes after what she wants. Her later romance is wonderful because she falls for her best male friend, after spending loads of time adorably bickering with him. She’s by far the character I hope to be like the most in my own life: independent, confident, and not a needy crybaby in romance.
Oomasa Aya as Nakahara Sunako in Yamato Nadeshiko Henge.
I’m a fan of Sunako, just because she’s so cute, in a completely bizarre, counter-intuitive way. She used to be obsessed with what people thought of her, and then when a guy called her ugly, she went kind of crazy. I wish that she went crazy for a better, more mature reason, but I’ll take what I can get, because they way she turns out is absolutely awesome. She’s creepy, obsessed with skulls and horror films, afraid of “bright creatures,” and if you get her angry, she emits such a powerful aura she can break ropes and knock people out. She isn’t afraid of being who she is, but in order to appeal to others, she’s willing to try to change. However, as the show goes on, she realizes that the people who count won’t care whether she dresses up like a princess or in a black cloak, because it’s what’s inside that counts. It’s a good lesson for all of us.
Amami Yuki as Oosawa Eriko in Boss
Yet another powerful, badass, insanely intelligent, and sassy woman who makes me very happy inside. I love that she makes no excuses for being a goal-oriented career woman. She loves her job, she’s good at it, and that’s what makes her happy. While yes, she likes romance, and would love a boyfriend, that takes second place to her real love: her job. I love how great of a leader she is, as well. She really brings her band of misfit underlings together, and turns them into a first rate crime-fighting detective unit. She is understanding when she needs to be, and also a hard-ass when she has to be. She’s really the perfect boss anyone could have. Also how hilarious is it that whenever she drinks she turns into an imbecilic public nuisance?
Toda Erika as Touma Saya in SPEC
So, I haven’t exactly finished this show yet, for some reason I keep forgetting to finish it around episode 6, but Toda Erika does a great job playing the “I don’t give a shit, I’ll eat my garlicky gyoza and not brush my hair if I want to “ main female lead. She’s another brilliant genius: basically Sherlock Holmes if he was a grumpy girl with special powers. I really need to finish it, but no matter what, it’s obvious the character is awesome. I really love the fact that she has no problems giving off a “go screw yourself” vibe, because so few people, females especially, ever really are that confident.
Kitigawa Keiko as Shirakwa Riko in Buzzer Beat
I really like violin players. I know that’s probably a crappy reason to like someone, but the fact that she plays my instrument of choice automatically boosts her up in the ranking. I also really love how she acts around Yamapi’s character. Buzzer Beat by far has my favorite first episode in any romantic comedy drama ever. It’s lovely, fantastical, and the music and sports vibe connects in a way I never would have thought possible. The show goes downhill from there in my opinion (not in a huge way, but it’s not my favorite), but Keiko’s character is really winning, and I find her struggle realistic and heartfelt.
Ayase Haruka as Hotaru in Hotaru No Hikari
She’s just hilarious, really isn’t she? She’s a career woman by day, but a messy slobby beer-obsessed sloth at home. Such a realistic transformation. She’s not my favorite character, because I find her personality at work a bit too meek. I wish she was more rambunctious at her job, even though I realize the polarity between her two personalities was a purposeful decision by the director. However, I think of all the characters on this list, she’s probably one of the more realistic (in a slightly exaggerated way). I for certain look completely different with no makeup in my sweatpants giggling over Asian TV, compared to my day time professional (ok university student professional) outfits and personality!
Ok, so this list is a lot shorter, and a lot less funny than my last one, but that’s because I was only focusing on the leads. I need to keep some characters for my future “second lead female” list! Anyways tell me what you think! If I absolutely HAD to pick a favorite from this list, I have to admit it would be Yankumi. Sorry girls, but she’s just awesome! Anyways, what’s your opinion? Agreement? Disagreement? Anyone I really missed or should look into? Comments are loved! ^.^