Gia's List: The 7 Most Hilariously-Narrated Animeby Gia Manry, May 5th 2012
Narrators play a variety of roles: exposition, reading characters' minds, providing a framework for a story...and sometimes they're just there to crack you up. Here are seven of the funniest narrators in the anime world, and the various techniques they use to get you giggling.
Slayers is not particularly famous for its narrations, and that's likely because they mostly ceased after a few episodes of the show. However, protagonist Lina Inverse does a great job of narrating some of the series' happenings when she chooses to, especially if you'd like to see how Lina views herself. (Primarily she seems to imagine herself as a wise and beautiful sorceress of great renown and dignity. Hence the humor.) Lina is also an infamous fourth-wall breaker, which gives her an added boost in the humor department. Of course, if you get sick of flat-chest jokes and Lina blowing things up, you may eventually have to move on to another person on the list.
6. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
One of the few narrators on this list with an actual name, Kyon is also the series' protagonist. His task: to prevent his classmate and tormenter, the titular Haruhi, from subconsciously destroying the world with the god-like powers she holds and is oblivious to. Armed with a variety pop culture, philosophical, historical, and literary references that you wouldn't expect in a Japanese high schooler, Kyon performs this job with something rather less than enthusiasm at most times. His narrations reflect his snarky attitude, and frequently draw attention to the elements of his life that seem inspired by genre fiction (because, of course, they are). He also commentates on how much he likes (and/or desires) most of his companions. Hey, he is just a high school kid.
5. Ōkami-san & Her Seven Companions
If you had to re-establish the basic plot of a story over and over and over again (like, say, at the beginning of an anime), you might get a little tired of it. Thus is the story of Okami-san, whose narrator gets tired of her early-episode exposition and cuts it short. She also likes to cut down the characters whose stories she explains, especially insulting the wolf-like main character Ryoko and her well-intentioned but scheming best friend Ringo for their matching flat chests, although other characters are not immune to a quick jab from the voice-over. At which point the narrator's victims generally break the fourth wall just long enough to issue a sharp glare. You'd think belonging to a club whose goal is to help others would get these characters some slack, but you'd be wrong.
4. Sgt. Frog
The narrator of Sgt. Frog really hates his job. To be fair, would you want to watch a bunch of alien frogs try and fail to take over the world? ...Okay, obviously you would, since the show is popular. But hey, when you get paid to do it, it becomes work! In Funimation's dub particularly, this narrator frequently lets it be known that he only narrates the show to pay off his gambling debts, and he will occasionally interfere in the plot (even appearing on-screen...or messing with captions). The narrator even tried to quit once, replacing himself with a British woman who found herself unenthused by the comedy level of that particular episode, but she didn't stick around....either because the original narrator secretly really likes his job, or (more likely) he found himself in severe gambling debt again.
3. Chibi Maruko-chan
Veteran voice actor Keaton Yamada (who also narrated the anime adaptation of the Naoki Urasawa-drawn manga Master Keaton, among other duties) takes on story-telling duty in the 1990s family anime Chibi Maruko-chan. Generally speaking, Yamada's narrations serve as funny criticism of the titular Maruko-chan and her grandfather as they go through their daily lives and decisions, although he's been known to poke fun at other characters from time to time. He also winds up having to take some of what he dishes out in an episode where he appears as an actual character, providing his usual commentary but actually getting feedback from the show's other characters.
2. Samurai Pizza Cats
Of all the narrators on this list, the English-language version of Samurai Pizza Cats' may be the one who breaks the wall the most. He opens every episode by addressing the audience, engages with the characters as they dissect the tropes that make up their show, has accidentally read lines from the wrong episode, provide information to move the plot along when an episode runs too long, and even has his family kidnapped by the series' antagonist Big Cheese, who attempts to use the narrator to force things to go his way by the power of...you guessed it, narration. (Spoiler alert: it doesn't work out.) Yes, this narrator is a classic from many of the readers' childhoods, but he doesn't quite make the top of the list, because...
1. Hayate the Combat Butler
Let's face it, no one can beat Norio Wakamoto in a narration-off, if there was such a thing. In Combat Butler Hayate, Wakamoto gets to gripe about the wealthy, mostly care-free lives of the characters, but he gets bullied, too...most notably by the sweet, kind maid Maria, who you never want to tick off. Generally speaking, the narrator prefers to destroy the hopes and dreams of the characters when given the opportunity, such as when protagonist Nagi Sanzenin tried to convince herself that her third-place rank in a character popularity survey was just a bad dream (he assures us it wasn't). Or when title butler Hayate gets punched really hard in the stomach, and the narrator lets us know that he was punched really hard in the stomach. All in the dulcet tones of Norio Wakamoto himself.
The new poll: Norio Wakamoto has played a wide variety of roles over the years, but some of the fan favorites have been his narrations. Some are famous, some are obscure— which of these roles is your fave Wakamoto narration? Vote here, share your thoughts in a comment, and check back next time for the results!
The previous poll: It should perhaps come as no surprise that anime fans like nerdy characters best, as Sailor Moon's Sailor Mercury took home more than 21% of the vote in our last poll about your favorite Sailor Scout. It might come as a surprise that the title character herself barely made it into the top five, with sporty Sailor Jupiter in second place, fiery Sailor Mars in third, the mysterious Sailor Saturn in fourth, and Sailor Moon in fifth. Here are the full results:
- Sailor Mercury - 21.13%
- Sailor Jupiter - 17.47%
- Sailor Mars - 12.04%
- Sailor Saturn - 11.55%
- Sailor Moon - 9.58%
- Sailor Venus - 9.48%
- Sailor Uranus - 6.42%
- Sailor Pluto - 5.63%
- Sailor Neptune - 4.24%
- Sailor Chibi-Moon - 2.47%
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