Gia's List: The 7 Coolest Little Old People

by Gia Manry,

Anime is full of the elderly, usually their to provide wisdom and/or humor. But there's a weird yet common theme among older characters: apparently once you hit 60 or 70, you begin to shrink. A lot. These are the coolest of the miniature elderly in anime.

7. Grandma Hina (Love Hina)
Hinata "Hina" Urashima, the owner of the Hinata Inn as well as the person it was named for, Sure, she looks like a standard little old lady, wearing a kimono and carrying a bag as she travels the world. She's retired, having left her inn/dormitory in the less-than-capable hands of her great-grandson Keitaro. But don't be fooled...something about this woman is enough to keep all of the ridiculous personalities of the Hinata Inn in line. Even when she sics a collection of manic, violent girls on her (supposedly perverted) great-grandson, everyone reluctantly agrees to the set-up when it's revealed that it was Grandma Hina's design. Even Keitaro's smart, sassy aunt Haruka defers to Grandma Hina...and it probably has something to do with whatever mysterious reason she's known as "The Demon of Hinata."

6. Pinako (Fullmetal Alchemist)

Known throughout the nation of Amestris as the "Pantheress of Resembool," Pinako is an automail mechanic with enough skill to create flawlessly functional mechancal limbs and attach them to her patients. Considering how intricate the human body is, this is no small feat. The biological knowledge required serves her well as she seems to act as something of a doctor and midwife, since it's said that she delivered series protagonists Ed and Al when they were born, not to mention a matchmaker since she introduced their parents. Pinako also a tiny little old woman with thick spectacles, a lengthy pipe, and a history as drinking buddy to Ed and Al's father, Hohenheim. As a bonus: you don't even have to see Pinako herself to know she's awesome; her sturdy stock is evident in her granddaughter Winry.

5. Cologne (Ranma 1/2)
She's probably only a foot tall, but Cologne's reputation as a Grand Master of various and sundry martial arts in China preceeds her. She has white hair, a wicked staff, and more than enough wits to keep her great-granddaughter Shampoo and all the rest of the Ranma 1/2 cast on their toes...including her chronological and martial equal, the elderly but easily-distracted Happosai. Not to mention she's supposedly managed to live for 300 years AND she somehow runs a Chinese restaurant in Japan despite knowing the most destructive bunch of martial artists in the known universe. She was apparently a looker in her youth, too. If it wasn't for her creepy, nagging referral to Ranma as her "future son-in-law" (and her occasional plots to force his hand), anyone might want Cologne to be their great-grandmother.

4. Onoki (Naruto)
With a bad back, Onoki may not do quite as much fighting as he once did, but when he does he fights smart. He spends time figuring out his opponent before really going all out, and all out is exactly how he goes. One ability he's known for— he's actually one of only two people in the Naruto universe who can do it —is "Dust Release," in which he uses three different elements of nature (fire, wind, earth, etc.) and turn his enemies in to dust. Word is that he can do this so well he could destroy an island in one shot. He can also fly, create rock clones to fight for (or defend) him, and he can even use super-strength some of the time...but it puts a lot of strain on that back of his, and he also frequently complains of hip problems. Onoki is also the third tsuchikage of Iwagakure, the "Hidden Stone Village."

3. Genkai (Yu Yu Hakusho)
This pragmatic woman is the master of a variety of spiritual techniques that prove absolutely vital to protagonist Yusuke Urameshi. These powers include healing (not often seen on this list), paralysis, blasting people with spirit energies, and turning into her most powerful self (i.e. her 20-year-old self). Not bad for a 74-year-old! She also manages to train teen delinquent Yusuke with a variety of pretty harsh techniques, like balancing on one finger...on a needle. For twelve hours. (Ouch.) That's a super-power in and of itself; imagine being 74 years old and still having the patience to deal with a teenager. Or several, since she winds up teaching certain of her skills to a variety of characters. Genkai even made the top five in an Oricon list of the best anime "masters" in history, earning up 6 of the vote. And hey, aren't the Japanese always right (about anime)?

2. Master Roshi (Dragon Ball Z)
Yes, it may seem odd to have Master Roshi slip into the #2 spot instead of #1, but there's a perfectly good reason: his status as a "little" old person is a bit questionable. Sometimes he looks on the short side, especially in Akira Toriyama's signature style, but he's also been seen as a big, buff martial arts master. That doesn't mean he isn't plenty cool, though. Like Ranma 1/2's Happosai (left off this list in favor of Cologne), Roshi has a bit of a problem being distracted by pretty girls, underwear, dirty magazines, etc. But he's also an expert fighter and a master of the manipulation of ki, and his ability to determine other fighters' power levels is super helpful for the rest of the Dragon Ball Z cast...and audience. Besides: let's give it up for the inventor of the "kamehameha."

1. Master Makorov (Fairy Tail)
How can you not love a crazy old dude who's no more than two feet tall and wears a jester hat to work? Master Makarov Dreyar is the leader of the infamous Fairy Tail guild of Fiore, and he's also not to be trifled with, as one of the Ten Wizard know, the most powerful mages in the world, as designated by the Magic Council? Not only that, but he's also a member of the Council...and he doesn't even like them. He feels the Council is overly restrictive to his guild members, who he adores like children. (Children who he must occasionally beat— magically —in order to keep them from, you know, destroying an entire city while having a squabble.) Makarov's magic is powerful and destructive, and contrary to his usual tiny stature, one of his better spells turns him into an enormous titan. As in, bigger than an island. That's awesome no matter how old you are.

The new poll: The toughest part of this survey was deciding which of Ranma 1/2 and InuYasha creator Rumiko Takahashi's awesome little old people to we wanted to give you a chance to pick your favorite. Vote here, then check back next time for the results!

The previous poll: The results are in on your favorite silly tournaments, and Ranma 1/2 takes home the gold even against newer, shinier counterparts! Granted, it might have won for sheer volume of tournaments (doesn't everyone have a favorite)? Ranma took about 32% of the vote, with bread-baking bonanza Yakitate!! Japan in second with about 21% and Combat Butler Hayate's fighting butlers in third with 16%. Here are the full results:

  • Nearly any episode of Ranma 1/2 - 31.74
  • Yakitate!! Japan's bread-baking tournament - 20.98
  • Combat Butler Hayate's Battle Butler tournament - 16.33
  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo's short-lived tournament - 11.82
  • Dragon Half's tournament to meet Dick Saucer - 11.29
  • Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple's Desperate Fight of the Disciples tournament - 7.84

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