Profiles in likable characters: Kanuka Clancy and Noa Izumi

I delve into some amazingly trashy television. Some of it is childish, such as Dominion Tank Police. Some of it is forgettable and bland (and I would cite an example of something forgettable, but such stories are all so bland that I have forgotten their titles). But sometimes amid the trash, one finds real treasures.

Patlabor is remarkable in that it presents amazingly likable characters in a humanized fashion.

These characters have human flaws, some of which are played for childish laughs; for the most part, these flaws are humanizing, not grotesque.

For example, when you are sleeping with a lot of men on the floor of a room, it’s just grotesque when one of them sticks his foot in your face.

However, if you are so inexperienced with women that you start dreaming that stinky foot is a woman, that’s kind of childish but also kind of humanizing.

 

 

 

One of the male characters is macho in a childish but believable way: he is obsessed with combat, and even dreams about shooting bad guys. It’s very believable: if you know a lot of men in the real world, you have probably met at least one foolish manchild who is competent enough to get a job as a cop or a soldier, but who really doesn’t have the maturity that his position should require.

Apparently only the men have to suffer overcrowding.

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Izumi Noa apparently gets to sleep in a comfortable room all by herself.

I was initially scared that Noa would turn out to be very obnoxious. She could be an unrealistic pseudo-lesbian (like Major Kusanagi), or she could be obnoxiously tomboyish (like Leona from Dominion Tank Police).

Initially, she appears to be a standard anime tomboy protagonist: she has a bizarre and unhealthy love for giant robots, bordering on the erotic, like Leona.

Izumi Noa joined the police voluntarily just so that she could pilot giant robots. Both Izumi Noa and Leona are tomboys who love their giant robots more than any boyfriend. However, whereas Leona was a badly written character, Izumi Noa is believable. She is obsessed with giant robots, but that’s her only flaw. Later episodes of the OVA give her a believable backstory, believable human relationships, and believable romantic interactions with human beings. She is not unbelievably competent, and she is not grotesquely klutzy.  She’s not particularly feminist by modern standards, although in the 1980s she was probably perceived as highly feminist. (One might speculate that the producers wanted a highly feminist character, and the writers fooled them by presenting concept art for a tomboy heroine with scant love for boys, but then delivered a well-rounded character.) Izumi Noa is very likable, but not extremely feminist.

The OVA does have one extremely feminist character, and I am amazed to say that she is likable.

 

Kanuka Clancy initially appears as a ridiculously overcompetent superheroine among the ordinary slobs:

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