Tuesday, January 24, 2017

My Top 15 Favorite Animated Female Characters

Let's face it: we have a lot of memorable, animated female characters nowadays. Whether it's characters that have only been around for the past couple of years or characters that have been around since the beginning of animation, there's a ton of them to entertain us. They can be smart, funny, dramatic, emotional, goofy, weird, and whatever good character elements you can think of that have gotten us to love them so much. So with that in mind, I'm going to honor them today by declaring who are my favorites. Now keep in mind that this isn't about who I think are the hottest (especially given that not all of them are human) and it's not necessarily about who I think are among the greatest characters in all of animation. This is about my personal favorites that play a strong part in helping me enjoy whatever film/show they're in. With that said, these are my top 15 favorite animated female characters.

#15) Mrs. Brisby from The Secret of NIMH

It's hard explaining what there is to talk about this character without saying a lot of what Doug Walker says about her in his top 10 favorite characters list, because if I am to be honest, I don't think there is a whole lot I can add from what he says in that video. But not everyone has seen the video or even the movie for that matter (which you should), and there is some things that I'll mention that Doug Walker hasn't. The best aspect about this character is how brave she is. Throughout the film, she is going through all these different locations that either amaze or frighten her, or creatures and other things that can kill her with ease. But despite all these obstacles that frighten her, she still keeps on going. She is on a mission to find a way to save her son, and as she said to the Great Owl, she'll do anything to accomplish that. She doesn't fight or anything like that to save the day unlike her late husband, Johnathan, which shows how big the danger is for her, but she faces them regardless. She keeps going, she keeps talking no matter how much she is risking her life. Like Walker, it's hard to know what else for me to say about her when it seems like those reasons are enough. If you haven't seen the movie, go check it out. It's a terrific film that doesn't get quite as much attention, but this character plays a major role in it being so great.

#14) Kim Possible from Kim Possible

The show itself was one of those shows that I kind of wanted to watch as a kid but I never was allowed to, but thankfully got to see it when I got older. In some respects, Kim is kind of a straight forward character to explain like Mrs. Brisby. She's smart, independent, fearless and is a skilled fighter, but she is also kind, caring, cheerful, and is capable of  numerous feats whether it revolves around her missions or not. In fact, it is really surprising (at least from my point of view) how resourceful she is - particularly with how her transportation to her missions is often from people all over the world who owe her favors for helping them. It's a unique resource compared to other heroic characters from kid shows who have cool cars or rockets or can fly. She also lives up to being a "basic average girl" at the same though, as she does go to high school, think about boys, be embarrassed around her parents, and wanting to fit in. But neither of that keeps her from still being likable when she is living her normal life outside of being a secret agent. We still enjoy watching her and root for her with whatever the situation may be whether it's in her real life or her...secret-ish life. What else is there to say? She's Kim Possible: the girl that can do anything.

#13) Anna from Frozen

Yeah it may be hard to believe, but I'm one of those people who actually likes Anna better then Elsa. Why? Because she's nothing short of a ton of fun to watch. She's optimistic, she's energetic, she's funny, she's kind of ditsy, but in a way that makes her likable. She has so much passion into what she does from looking for true love, to fighting wolves or the big snow monster, Marshmallow, or however else she goes out of her way to help her sister. I especially like the moments where she's violent, like when she, Kristoff and Sven are attacked by wolves and she hits one with Kristoff's guitar...thing (I actually am not sure what it is to be honest), or when she throws a snowball at Marshmallow, and finally, when she punches Hans off the ship. All three of these moments are hilarious to watch. But with that said, she's also honest about when she makes mistakes, especially with admitting that she was the one who ousted Elsa's powers. Granted, she's also the one who got engaged with someone in one day, but it also makes a lot of sense. She's been so isolated most of her life, that she would give herself to anyone while she is able to meet new people. In fact, when I think about the two morals that Frozen has, I personally think the moral Anna learns is the best one. Don't get me wrong, Elsa's moral is an important one, but Anna's lesson teaches kids that they should be careful of who they open up to - especially on the internet, and I think that's a great message that I think more people need to learn. I also love that she saves herself in the end by being the one who performs the act of true love. I understand why so many people love Elsa, but given between the two Frozen sisters, I'll pick Anna any day.

#12) Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony: Friendship is magic and the Equestria Girls films

This is a hard character to explain, because she is by far the most unusual character on this list. She has this odd view about so many different things that you don't know what to expect from her. It especially doesn't help that she is able to defy the laws of physics, logic and the fourth wall with ease. She could have something like a megaphone or an alarm clock stuffed in her hair, be hanging upside down from the top of the screen, or can turn a scene in a forest into an 80s/90s-ish music video right out of nowhere. Naturally,  if you haven't watched the show, this would leave you wondering how and/or why is she able to do these uncanny things, but the fact is there is no way you're ever going to get a clear answer. Kind of like how you sometimes accept that Batman can do all of the things he does simply because he's Batman, it's best to view the stuff she does as just Pinkie Pie being Pinkie Pie. Many of us just enjoy watching her because, again, you really don't know what you're going to get from her and i's also extremely devoted to being friendly to others and make them smile. I'm sure that sounds really bland - especially given that this is a character from a show that is originally meant for little girls, but it's not quite as simple as it sounds. She is unrealistically passionate about making anyone (or anypony as they say it in Equestria) happy. She'll throw parties out of nowhere - sometimes with her party cannon (yeah that's a thing), and brings it upon herself to know anything and everything about everyone in Ponyville. However, Pinkie Pie is also on of the deepest characters in the show. There's a particular episode where she thinks that her friends don't want to be with her anymore and she becomes...psychotic to say the least. Her hair goes from poofy to straight, she pretends a pile or rocks, a bucket of turnips, a bag of flour, and a collection of lint are her friends, and there is a shot where her eyes move in opposite direction with this twisted smile on her face where you can tell that she is mentally gone. It really shows how in a mentally unstable way how much her friendship with... really anyone means to her, and how afraid she is of one day becoming outcast. Pinkie Pie is so eccentric yet lovable, that I barely do any justice by explaining her to you. She's a character that you have to see to believe. If you have never watched Friendship is Magic, give it a try in part for seeing Pinkie Pie. She is one unique character that shows how there is more to the show then meets the eye.

11) Helga G. Pataki from Hey Arnold!

I've talked about this character a couple time before both in my review for Hey Arnold! The Movie and my top 10 favorite animated couple that aren't Disney Princess couples with her and Arnold as number 5, and if you've read either or both of them, you can can probably figure out that she plays the major role in my interest in the show. I never was allowed to watch the show growing up, but from the few episodes I saw, I was immediately interested in Helga's relationship with Arnold. I didn't get to fully watch the show until it was on Netflix a couple years ago, but when I did I found Helga to be one of the most fun but eccentric characters I've ever seen. Helga is basically a tomboy who is the school bully and has a disregard/dislike for stereotypical female behavior. She gives it everything she has to show that she's the meanest and toughest kid in town and will do anything to keep her reputation. At the same time however, she's madly in love with Arnold. Underneath her mean spirit and cynical behavior is a girl who secretly is crazy for Arnold from writing romantic poetry about him, to building a shrine for Arnold, to always carrying a heart shaped picture of him around. She keeps her feelings private however and goes through many comedic lengths to keep her feelings a secret. There's a couple of friends of mine that are girls who don't like her and say that her obsession for Arnold is too weird for them, and I'd be lying if I said I don't see it. Some of what she does because of her feelings are very creepy and even downright psychotic sometimes to the point that it's a relief that she eventually gets counseling, but for me it never got to that point where she was unlikable. If anything it made me really care for her and want to see her succeed in admitting her feelings for Arnold and getting together with him. In that regard, it makes her a second protagonist in the show that you root for in her own right. On top of that, in the episode called Helga on the Couch, it's revealed why she became so obsessed with Arnold and while I won't spoil it for those of you who haven't watched the show, it makes her feelings very understandable. There's news that the long requested Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie is going to finally come out later this year and when it does, I'll be hoping it leads to Helga finally admitting her feelings and not later claiming them to be false like she did in the first movie. No matter how creepy or how rude she may be, Helga is a lot of fun to watch, and let's hope she's not far away from living happily ever after with her Arnold.

#10) Roxanne from A Goofy Movie

This is another girl that was in the Top 10 favorite animated couples that aren't Disney Princess couples with her and Max ranking number 2, but she is also a much more simple character then the other girls that I've talked about already. In fact she's in a few scenes in the entire movie. But despite that, people who grew up with this film like me still enjoy watching her. Yeah, she was the beautiful and popular girl that guys like Max want to date (well, there was just one other guy who showed interest in her in the film, but given her high school status, I'm sure there were others), but she's also kind, caring, forgiving - and watching the film again, I realized she was also a little shy. I knew she already liked Max, but I don't think it really hit me until having watched it again that I noticed she was as bashful around Max as he is around her. When the two were interacting, she showed how agitated she is from playing with her hair or trying to strike a conversation with Max. She may be more capable of talking to him than he is, but it's clear that that the shyness in their relationship is not one-sided and I like her more after noticing that, because it makes the chemistry between them stronger than I thought it was before. And I know I've talked about this in the top 10 favorite animated couples list, but good gravy do they need to bring her back. After this film, a comic or two, and one cameo in an episode of House of Mouse, this character has never appeared again despite fans wanting her to, and as I also said in the other list, I for one say screw that bimbo that is Max's girlfriend in Mickey's Twice Upon A Christmas. If they ever have Max appear again with a love interest, we need to find a way to make darn sure that it's Roxanne who is his love interest and KEEP her in that role.

#9) Octavia Melody from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and the Equestria Girls films

It's a little hard to talk about this character, because she's actually a background character in both the show and the films, and most of what I like about her somewhat falls into the fan art that Bronies create - myself included. She has only appeared in a few of the over a hundred episode of Friendship is Magic, and in the last three EG films, and yet she has become one of the most beloved characters in the show long before they finally gave her a line. So what is it about this character that has been given so much love without having a whole lot of purpose, much less screen time in the show? Well if there can only be one thing that I think started it all, my best guess (being someone who only became a brony shortly before the third season started) it would be one of the things that draws me into liking her so much: her apparent passion for music. (I say apparent, because this falls in line to how fans like me interpret her rather than what is actually stated in the show.) In her earlier appearances, Octavia would play the cello with a focused look in her face with her eyes closed and no smile. On the one hand, this can be seen as her being a stuck-up, first class musician, seeing as her earlier appearances does involve her performing in very high society events. But for bronies like me, what we really see is a good-natured mare fully devoted to her passion for music.When we see her with her eyes closed and that focused frown, we see someone who gives all that she is to her music which also leads to the mystery of whether or not there is more to it than that. That maybe there's something about her past or something that she really loves that leads her to express all of her emotion in some way or another through her music. Sure, we get our 100th episode that at least makes some things that we interpret about her canon like her upper-class British accent, worrying about not being able to perform, a desire to create songs that are less standard then ordinary classical music, and even having a sort of wild side when creating an "electric cello dub step" musical piece with her best friend and roommate, Vinyl Scratch, a.k.a. DJ-PON-3 (a scene that I have re-watched a hundred more times then I've seen the episode from beginning to end.) But as much as we love all of these elements about her - especially now that they're canon, we still like to believe that there still is more to her than what we officially know. If you haven't seen any of the artwork for this character who is originally there just for covering the background, definitely look up fan art of Octavia on DeviantArt and Pintrest. The former will have some...less appropriate stuff, but the stuff that's not is beautiful to behold, and shows how much people like me adore Octavia Melody.

#8) Maria Robotnik from the Sonic the Hedgehog games and Sonic X

I'm sort of cheating with Maria seeing as she actually is a video game character, but she also is in the animated show, Sonic X where they basically tell us her story just like in the games, so she counts on that technicality. Like Roxanne, Maria is a simple character, and a lot of that falls into the sad fact that from the moment we are introduced to her, she has already been dead for 50 years. Maria only appears in flashbacks, and a video recording, and yet what little we got from her was enough for people like me to like her and be saddened about the tragedy behind this poor girl. The story goes that Maria spent her whole life in the space colony A.R.K., making her curious of what life is like on Earth. But she was diagnosed with a terminally-ill disease that drove her grandfather, Professor Gerald Robotnik, to look desperately for a cure. This resulted in making a deal with an alien named Black Doom, who helped him create the "ultimate life form", Shadow the Hedgehog. Eventually, Maria and Shadow became the best of friends, but then tragedy struck hard when the A.R.K. was attacked by the military law enforcement, G.U.N., who invaded the colony and killed its inhabitants. Maria was shot while trying to escape with Shadow and so while dying, she put him in an escape pod and begged him to protect the world for her sake and give everyone a chance to be happy, before she succumbed to her wound and Shadow was sent down to Earth. Again, what makes her likable, really comes down to what makes her such a tragic character. What little we do know about her apart from her wish to go to Earth is that she was a very kind and innocent soul who would put others before herself. Even though someone from Earth shot her and killed everyone else in the colony, she still asked Shadow to protect the people of Earth right before she died. Now on the one hand, you can easily say that this makes her way too perfect; that she is so simple that it makes her very one-noted, and...yeah, she basically is. But that doesn't mean we can't still be sad about what happened to her and reflect on what an impact her death meant to the people closest to her. A boy from the colony blamed Shadow and the professor for her death before he ironically became the commander of G.U.N.,  Gerald Robotnik was so struck with grief that that he made a plan to destroy the world to avenge her, using the A.R.K, and after eventually regaining his true memory of what she said, Shadow did honor her memory in protecting Earth by stopping the professor's plan and also destroying Black Doom and his army - though he still loathes humans because of her death. It shows how she was such a light in the lives of these other characters and what it meant for her to be heartlessly taken away from them. I think I can speak for a lot of fans when I say that she is one character that we wish they would somehow resurrect  so that she can give hope and comfort Shadow once more.

#7) Sonata Dusk from My Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Rainbow Rocks

This is another simple character who, unlike the other MLP characters on this list, only appears in the surprisingly good Equestria Girls sequel, Rainbow Rocks. And like Maria, this is someone that a lot of people straight out adore. Sonata is one of the three sirens from Equestria, known and The Dazzlings, who were banished from Equestria for causing disharmony among ponies and sent to another dimension that just happened to be the human world where the Equestria Girls films take place a thousand years prior. But when Sunset Shimmer brings Equestrian magic to the human world, Sonata and the other two sirens, named Adagio Dazzle and Aria Blaze, take the opportunity to try to harness it and, of coarse, take over the world. Now the Dazzlings themselves have stereotypical characteristics like Adagio as the leader, Aria as the smart mouth and Sonata as the ditsy absent minded one, but the first two aren't as beloved as Sonata is. As cliche as her characteristics are, she does them so well over the course of Rainbow Rocks that a lot of fans want her to come back and become a reformed villain. We know she has the same evil goals as Adagio and Aria, but given how ditsy, absent-minded and adorable she is, so many fans choose to believe that deep down there's a kind, caring, and altogether sweet girl just waiting to emerge and spread cheer to the people around her with her bubbly personality. I'm even a big fan of the idea itself as to express the idea with some of my fanart work on Deviant Art and my own fan fiction story that is partly about her reformation. We don't know if Hasbro has any plans to bring Sonata and the other Dazzlings back, but until that day comes, we'll be wishing for more from this adorable, ditsy girl.

#6) Anna and Marnie from When Marnie Was There

Yeah, I'm cheating by making my number six choice a tie, but a) I've given a couple of ties in past lists so I don't think anyone really cares and b) I can't deny how much these two girls work off each other. I do like both of them individually seeing as they both have very different lives, personalities, and goals, but when you put them together, you realize deep down how much they are alike. Beneath both of them are pre-teen girls who are living very difficult lives but handle them differently. Anna is a foster child who used to be very happy but has become very quiet and keeps her emotions wooden when she discovers that her foster parents receives subsidies from the government for taking care of her and try to hide it from her. She distances herself from everyone at her school and tries to keep her feelings very private. Marnie on the other hand is the daughter of a rich couple who constantly neglects her and is bullied by her nanny and two maids, but she tries to live life with a smile despite that. Part of what makes the animation in this film so wonderful comes from how the most simple expression from both of them tells so much with so little. Behind Anna's wooden face and Marnie's cheery attitude are two girls who are struggling with hard problems to the point that they are jealous of each other. Anna wishes she can be cheery and have real parents like Marnie while Marnie thinks Anna is lucky to be a foster child. I like how open both characters are to each other and how much they want to help the other. Anna wants to help Marnie overcome her fears while Marnie gives Anna a shoulder to cry on and tries to make her more open to other people. Now there are some people who seem to ship these two as a romantic couple, which I admit I thought the movie was going to go that route judging by the trailer for this movie. I want to make it clear however that 1) they do love each other, but they make it clear that they mean it as best friends and 2) thinking that they are romantically interested in each other goes against what the story is truly about, which is backed up with a twist at the end of the movie. I won't dare give away what it is, but it makes their relationship so strange and yet unique at the same time and you find yourself wondering if Marnie knows about the twist throughout the film or maybe there's more to her goals than she lets on. Whatever the case, I love watching these two together because of how much they open to each other, relate to each other and try to help each other that make When Marnie Was There such a deep yet beautiful story as well as one of my all-time favorite films.

#5) Fluttershy from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and the Equestria Girls films.

Now we get to the characters that are not only my favorite animated female characters, but also some of my favorite characters of all time. Fluttershy is one of my favorite characters because I feel like I am her…at least to some extent. For me, it’s not just the kind heart and sweet nature and her adorable looks that makes her my favorite among the main characters like a lot of fans of the show, but the fact that I feel I relate to her in a unique way as someone with Autism. Like Fluttershy, I can be the quiet type at times. I can be nervous around people and sometimes only be talkative when discussing a topic that I'm passionate about like movies, video games, comics and so forth (like I’m doing right now) just like how Fluttershy usually is the most talkative when it comes to discussing animals and magical creatures. Now granted, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other characters in media that I can relate to with my autism. There are others like Raymond from Rain Man, Abed from Community, the T-800 from Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Drax the Destroyer from Guardians of the Galaxy, and even Pinkie Pie. In fact if you ask any of my friends or some of my family members, they would say I’m more like Pinkie Pie of not JUST Pinkie Pie, because over the past decade or so I have overcome my autism when it comes to socializing with people to the point where I am, silly, funny, random and sometimes too talkative like Pinkie Pie. It's gotten to the point where whenever I mention the idea about being shy to someone, they will be confused because they see me be active more often than not, or I may talk to a friend who is also a fan of the show and I tell them that my favorite character from the Mane Six is Fluttershy and they'll look at me dumbfounded and say "Really? Not Pinkie Pie?" But the heck with it. Deep down it's Fluttershy that I root for the most and in some respects see myself when I'm watching her much more often than when I am watching Pinkie Pie. Even though I interact with people more often than not, there are still times where I am quiet and nervous to talk to someone or a group of people. I could be making a joke or using a funny voice at work (I'm a meat wrapper at a supermarket) and the next thing you know I will stutter or mumble because I am unsure of how to answer a customer's question. Socially, I will also go back and forth between being talkative and being the quiet one when I'm interactive with friends. But this isn’t necessarily the only reason why I like Fluttershy. I also enjoy the moments that show there is more to her then meets the eye like her unexpected talent for knitting, giving animals The Stare, how Discord was unable to corrupt her so he had to do it by force or how when she gets angry, she gets pretty angry. Watch episodes like The Grand Galloping Gala and Power Ponies if you want to see some examples. I especially love her passion for singing. To an extent, I also have a small passion for singing, and I admit that there are times that I wish I was as skilled of a singer and songwriter as people like Fluttershy. I've mentioned this before in my Next top 15 Favorite MLP songs, but during the song Welcome to the Show in Rainbow Rocks where Rainbow Dash finally lets The Rainbooms play one of Fluttershy songs in order to face The Dazzlings, I noticed that the song that they use actually might be about Fluttershy’s passion for music. Maybe this wasn't the intention when making the film – heck she barely has any screen time while they perform the song, but given how the song is about letting out the music in the soul no matter what people think, I view it as Fluttershy secretly using The Rainbooms to express her love for music without any direct attention because of her shyness. Either way, that’s how I look at it, and it’s my one of my favorite parts in Rainbow Rocks. What else can I say? Fluttershy is the shy but lovable element of kindness that I see a lot of myself in, even if it's a lot of things with my autism that I've overcome.

#4) Serena from Pokemon: X&Y and XY&Z

I recently started to watch the Pokemon Anime again, and the second to latest version of it surprisingly delivers with good animation, an inviting Pokemon region, some interesting story lines and likable characters makes it worth watching again. And the heart of the show becoming likable again for me, and a lot of other fans is Serena from Pokemon X&Y and XY&Z. On the one hand, it seems like an odd choice for me to favor this character out of any of Ash’s other female companions, especially compared to his first one, Misty. Misty was the fun, unique independent tomboy that many original Pokemon fans grew up with and many view it to be ridiculous to like anyone who came after her. This is backed up by the fact that Serena is arguably the most girly of Ash’s female companions because of how much she’s into things like fashion, cooking pastries, grooming her pokemon and was a little bit of a damsel in distress early on in the show. But just because she’s is more girly than girls like Misty doesn’t hide the fact that there is a lot of heart to this character. I think the best way to explain it is that she’s the kind of girly girl that you want to see and root for. There’s a lot of people who think there’s nothing special about her and she doesn’t really change, but nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who says things like that is either thinking of just the earlier episodes out of pettiness or maybe seem to miss that what makes a strong character is how they deal with their flaws, because who she is by the time you’re roughly halfway through X&Y alone is not entirely the same person she was on the first episode. She goes from someone who is weak and unable to finish anything into someone else completely and anyone who really sees it enjoys the crap out of who she becomes. You enjoy watching her grow to become a talented Pokemon performer and a stronger Pokemon trainer because in many ways her arc in the series is a coming of age story. Some of her strongest moments in the show are when she begins to discover what she wants to do with her life – which is rare for the anime…at least with its main characters. Usually when the show introduces a character, they have their goals already figured out such as becoming a Pokemon master, a great water Pokemon trainer, or a famous inventor or what have you. Sometimes their dreams change like Brock going from wanting to become a Pokemon breeder to a doctor, but most characters in the show normally have their own life goals figured out when they are introduced. But Serena doesn’t have any life goals at the beginning of the series. It was something that she slowly had to discover for herself and face a lot of challenges in order to chase her dream once it was discovered. This also leads to one of the most powerful moments in X&Y if not in all of the anime. Serena is disqualified on the first round on her debut as a Pokemon performer and at first, she acts like she’s okay to her friends, but very early the next morning she takes a moment out in the deck and breaks down containing one of the best voice acting performances I’ve ever heard. Shortly after words, she cuts off her hair as a way to start over and moves on with more experience under her belt. Even though I knew something bad was going to happen when she went out on stage, the moment when she is disqualified was executed so well on an emotional level that it still gets to me. But even after she had her breakdown it was always great to see her continue to grow as she pursues her dream. I won’t dare spoil what she does in the end of the series, but I think the choice she makes was something to really admire and be very proud of as a fan. What truly got me attached to Serena however are her feelings for Ash. Since the beginning of X&Y, the show has made it clear that she has had a crush on Ash ever since he helped her back when they were little. Thus it became a running theme of the show that she was very shy about her strong feelings for him, which leads to some of the most memorable comedic facial expressions in the show. But while her feelings were a secret, she’s always by his side motivating him throughout his journey however she can to the point that he has the to thank for half of the Kalos badges he earns. And I think that’s why we root for her the most; because at the end of the day, she represents something that arguably none of Ash’s other female companions do: hope. The odds seem as strong as ever that we will never see Ash become a Pokemon Master. At best, we can hope the anime ends with him considering himself a Pokemon master in spirit or something along those lines given everything that he’s been though and become champion of at least one region… like what SHOULD have happened at the Kalos league instead of the writers forcing his Greninja to faint after getting hit off-screen by a move that’s not powerful against water types! Regardless, we still want to see him find something more meaningful than completing his dream. Not in the sense that he should give up on Pokemon, after all, his love for his Pokemon and his passion for his dreams are part of why Serena admires him so much. Instead, I think he needs someone who can be there regardless of how his story ends: someone who can love and be there for him in a way that completes him and to me, Serena in many respects is all about loving and supporting people especially Ash. Even her voice actress for the English Dub Havan Paschall gives her such a sweetness to her voice that shows she has a lot of love to give. I don’t doubt that there are good arguments as to why Ash should be with other girls like Misty or May or Dawn or any of the Sun and Moon girls, and maybe there’s a good argument for Iris somewhere, but I don’t think either of them compare to the way Serena cares for Ash. The way that shows a deeper form of kindness. The way that looks up to that other person and motivates them in return. The way that can’t stay mad at that other person no matter how hard she tries. The way that she can be that perfect someone to fill a person’s life. I wish I knew what else there is to say about why I want to see her win Ash’s heart without going into specific moments from the show, yet it feels like her caring and support are more than enough. Even with things like the Amourshipping kiss or the support from the XY&Z director, we may still be running on fool’s hope as to whether or not we will ever see her in the anime again much less see her get together with Ash, but it’s a fool’s hope that was, is and will continue to be something worth rooting for because there’s so much value to it coming from this sweet, motivating and growing girl. She’s a wonderful, loving character that I won’t stop rooting for no matter the final outcome of her journey. Whether it’s following her dream or chasing the heart of her childhood crush, Serena is one Pokemon performer that I will keep cheering for.

3) Sunset Shimmer for the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls films. 

In hindsight, it's kind of hard to believe that Sunset Shimmer is on this list given how originally she was one of my least favorite characters in My Little Pony. That doesn't mean I hated her with a passion or anything (unlike some characters in the show), but one of the biggest problems with the first Equestria Girls movie is that because of its short running time, the makers were not able to give some elements the right amount of attention and so Sunset Shimmer turned out to be a very bland villain with an incredibly flawed evil plan despite the potential she had given her briefly explained backstory. But things thankfully turned around for the better with the sequel, Rainbow Rocks where Sunset became the reformed villain that I and so many other fans straight out adore. Now as to why…it’s kind of tricky to explain. I guess the best way to start is to explain how much she changed once she was reformed. She started off as a power hungry, manipulative and self-absorbed bully that ruled the school with an iron fist while planning to become an all-powerful ruler of Equestria. After she was defeated however, she became much more kind and humble and constantly repentant of her actions. But she was also feeling insecure about herself because of how much she didn’t understand about friendship and how most people didn’t believe that she changed. In the end however, she overcomes her fears and becomes the hero that helps The Rainbooms defeat The Dazzlings. In the third and fourth films, she’s practically the leader of the Human Mane Six with a strong determination to help while still going through harsh challenges of understanding friendship and the magic flowing in the human world that she knows is there because of her past. What might be the best quality of Sunset Shimmer however, is how much she values what it means to change for the better. The rest of the main characters value the importance of friendship naturally, and other reformed My Little Pony villains have come to appreciate it, but no one treasures it the way Sunset Shimmer does. The best way I think I can explain it comes from the Equestria Girls Holiday Special which is one of my favorite MLP comics. During the holidays, Sunset Shimmer is framed for making disparaging posts and comments about other students in social media. It gets so bad that the rest of the Human Mane Six abandon her leaving her in tears. Overtime, the posts get worse and more and more people begin to turn on her to the point where she breaks down hugging her legs in the middle of the school hall. Now some people in the fandom say that this contradicts the ending of Rainbow Rocks where she already overcame her insecurities and that the Human Mane Six where too quick to turn on her, and…yeah I would be lying if I said I didn’t see that, but at the same time I like it because it shows how much her friendship with the other characters means to her. She has been on her own path for so long reaping nothing but self-absorption and a lust for power, and then to see how wonderful it is to be with her friends who helped her become a better person only for all of that to be taken away is devastating for her. It proves how she is still deeply ashamed of the harm she caused, is willing to do anything to make up for them, is truly happy with her new path and will do anything to keep it and to learn more about it. As I see more of her whether from the comics or the films, she only gets better and better. I enjoy watching her in all three sequels, and I hope to see her in many more things in the future. 

#2) Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle

Coming from another one of my all-time favorite films and taking the number one spot of my top 10 favorite animated couples with Howl, one of the strongest and most memorable aspects in Howl's Moving Castle is Sophie. In a way, I see her as a more character developed version of Belle from Beauty and the Beast. What do I mean by that? Well when you get down to the main story of both films, Belle and Sophie are kind of the same. They’re both outcasts that get mixed up in this magical conflict that they don’t fully understand which mostly takes place in a magical castle. They both end up being the light of the lives of the people in those respective castles whether they realize it or not and in the end they save day by rescuing the lives of the men they love. But I say that Sophie is technically better than Belle because Sophie is a much more growing character. Belle is considered to be too perfect because she doesn’t really learn anything or have a lot of flaws which I will go more into later. Sophie by comparison has plenty of flawed and the journey she goes through helps her overcome them. She’s an outcast because she doesn’t like to interact with many people and is down about herself because she doesn’t consider herself to be pretty or capable of helping anyone apart from cleaning or looking after her father’s shop after he passed away, but overtime as an old lady she becomes more headstrong and thus more capable of helping herself and others – sometimes to the point where you think that the young and old Sophie are completely separate people. Through her kindness and support, she also finds a way to help people for the better like Howl or the Witch of the Waste resulting in her finding a real family in this group of wizards and demons and so forth. And unlike Belle where she kind of saves the man she loves out of luck, Sophie is tasked early into the film with finding a way to break the spell that both Howl and Calcifer are under despite being completely out of her element, but in the end figures out how to save their lives. She even technically breaks her own spell without even acknowledging it. Now as to why she keeps going back and forth in being a young girl and an old lady is a mystery that’s left into interpretation. My theory is it’s a mixture of confidence, expression, courage and love. Whenever she gets emotional in a good or bad way, she usually gets a little younger in big or small ways or when she’s completely happy or is full of confidence, but if she has no hope or confidence in herself, she turns back into an old lady. But I think the main cure for her spell appears to be love about all else. Not just her feelings for Howl, but her relationship with the other characters as well. When she’s first cursed by the Witch of the Waste, she’s so old that she’s fat and hunches badly, but as she interacts with people like Howl, Turnip Head, Markl, Calcifer and so on, she slowly becomes younger and more active despite still being old physically. On top of that, Hayao Miyazaki has an act for using short hair as a symbolism for women who are strong and independent. This is significant because when she gives Calcifer her hair, it means that she’s giving up her young innocent side in order to become a strong-willed woman determined to save the day. As I watch Howl's Moving Castle more and more, it seems to get better and better and there’s no one else I truly root for every time I watch it than the young gentle girl who grows up to bravely save the man she loves.

And my favorite animated female character is...

#1) Belle from Beauty and the Beast

Now I'll admit, it was really hard to choose between Belle and Sophie. In fact for the longest time, I considered giving both of them the number one spot given that they're so alike despite being very different at the same time, but while I do see her with the flaws that I mentioned, I can’t stop loving her as not only my favorite Disney princess or my favorite animated female character, but one of my favorite characters of all time. The reasons why I like this character are relatively straight forward. She’s beautiful, but she doesn’t flaunt it, she’s kind but she has her limits, she ignores how people make fun of her and her love for books, she doesn’t have magical powers like Elsa or is a born fighter like Kida, but will try to defend herself and others to the best of her ability, and like I said before, she’s the hero who – like Sophie, breaks the spell and thus saves the man that she loves. On top of that, what has become one of my favorite moments in the movie as I get older is the song Belle (reprise) where she runs into the field and expresses that she is looking for something bigger then herself. As Doug Walker puts it in his Disneycember review for the film, she’s looking for something grand, something spectacular, something she can’t quite comprehend which is a little deep for a Disney princess which also works because she finds her adventure in the place that she would least expect. Now like I said when I was talking about Sophie, there is an argument that Belle might be too perfect and she doesn’t have a lot of flaws that she overcomes unlike Sophie - an argument that even her voice actress, Paige O'Hara believes to be the case. But while I do see that, at the same time I agree with Walker that there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with liking her because she’s basically that belief in the best of humanity. There is however another argument that what she and The Beast have is actually Stockholm syndrome instead of love. In other words, it’s not really love; it’s just her head tricking herself into believing that she loves her captive. Now that does seem to be a very convincing argument, until you realize that falling in love with your captor is only a fraction of what legitamately, psycologically counts as Stockholm syndrome . First of all, Stockholm syndrome is a defense mechanism: an unconscious way the brain reacts in order to protect itself from any potentially harmful feelings or situations. In other words it is a survival mechanism. In order for it to work, the subject has to feel threatened enough to where the mind’s only interest is that of protection and survival and all rational thought is put in the back of the brain. So it’s basically an irrational mental condition that tries to befriend their captor at a desperate attempt for survival. Belle by comparison has her wits about her the whole time. Befriending the Beast was the last thing on her mind, and even though the Beast continues to be rude and unkind to her, Belle doesn’t budge when he demands something like joining him for dinner. Plus, hostages with Stockholm syndrome develop psychological characteristics pleasing to their captor such as dependency, lack of initiative and an inability to act, decide or think. Belle is never shown to lack any emotional or psychological independence. In fact, where people with Stockholm syndrome are psychologically unable to leave, Belle runs away not once but twice. The first time she leaves, she almost abandons the Beast to die after he fights off the wolves. Instinct dictates that she flees, but it was a conscious decision to help the Beast who just saved her life. Stockholm syndrome would have made sense if he stayed cruel and unkind while she started caring for him after that, but instead he becomes a kind and compassionate creature with Belle's help. The movie is also very smart by not saying how long the two of them are together before the climax. It could have been just three days like most Disney couples, it could have been a matter of weeks or even months, so that way you know that they took their time for their relationship to bloom from friendship to love. I can go on and on discrediting the Stockholm Syndrome argument, so just read this article that goes into more details: ( http://ladybastet92.livejournal.com/59348.html ) Second of all, calling it Stockholm Syndrome ignores how the movie is partly about how decent people get excluded by society. Howard Ashman, who was both a lyricist and executive producer for Beauty and the Beast had a big influence on the movie's story and themes. He was a gay man who sadly died of AIDS shortly after the film was completed, but if you watch the movie with that in mind, the message is clear; Gaston demonstrates that bullies are rewarded and beloved by society as long as they possess a certain set of characteristics which nice people who don’t are ostracized. When the townsfolk come for him, The Beast isn’t angry, he’s sad. He gives up because he has nothing to live for and doesn't stand up for himself when Gaston attacks until Belle comes back for him, thus lifting his spirits and giving him hope. The question to the story is who could learn to love a beast, and in the end the answer is this smart, kind, independent woman. And who knows what Emma Watson will add to the character to make her even more strong and independent. There's so many female characters to love whether they come from Disney or not, but I think I can say that in some way my absolute favorite was always meant to be Belle. 

Honorable Mentions: Bonnie from Pokemon X&Y and XY&Z, Sweetie Belle and Princess Luna from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Leela from Futurama and Star from Star vs. The Force of Evil.