Here is 10-6.

10.) Lena – Shamanic Princess

I have to say that I thought the title of this obscure anime would leave one to conjure images of a flowery
kiddie anime complete with passive powers and do-nothing characters who find excitement in walking to the mailbox (those titles are out there,  My Neighbor Totoro.) But this title is surprisingly dark. I dub it the Jennifer’s Body of anime, in which we see childhood friends, who all grew up to be hot babes, turned against one another due to occult possession and power rivalries. We see the magical girl genre taken to a butt-kicking extreme with stunning artwork that culminates in amazing battle and transformation sequences. Lena stands out in particular as the flute playing magic user from the Guardian World. She was delicate, but deadly. Her character carries a somber demeanor, which is understandable considering that she has to fight her childhood friend, a rather whinny lead named Tiara. She does this while realizing that she is also in love with Kagetsu, said whinny lead’s love interest. She’s a girl that somehow manages to carry all the grace of a ballet about Jesus Christ while she is powering up to blow you into oblivion. A character that rises above her own feeling for the call of duty is what lands Lena in my number 10 spot.
9.) Minai Ruo – Corpse Princess

This was one of the most sought after anime titles to have on my shelf once I heard about it coming to our salty shores. I was utterly captivated at the idea of an anime series that had a strong female lead and was action oriented. Titles like these are not uncommon, but the execution can be poor. This anime felt like My-Hime with a darker slant. We see the ladies saving the lads in this shout to monster slaying mayhem.  I’ve noticed that there was a small trend in some anime titles that required the women to go out and get in these bloody fights while the men only acted as these dominating battery packs. Still, Corpse Princess or Shikabane Hime (in its more romantic language) stood out as a no-nonsense series that featured ladies in all different shades of pleaded skirts. Although that is never a problem, Minai Ruo stood out as the one who wore practical battle clothing and at least appeared to be  old enough to see an R- rated movie. On a cooler note, her main weapon of choice was her own two fists. While all the other teeny-bopper princesses took to the battlefield with hammers and semi-automatics, she faced twenty-foot tall monstrosities with her bare hands…all while putting up with an abusive man of the cloth.  Much like our number 10 spot and other characters on this list, she too dealt with unrequited love and a desire to stay in an abusive relationship. Still, with a knockout right hook and an even more knockout body, this corpse princess reigns at number 9.

8.) Saya – Blood/Blood+/Blood C 

I’ve only seen the first animated movie, and a few episodes of the Blood C series. It seems as if the Blood+ series is a more fleshed out  look at vampire slaying from the female perspective. With high quality art, multiple character designs, and even collaboration with Clamp, this character is anime royalty. Saya the half-breed human/vampire/school girl (a breed unto their own it seems) is tasked into wiping the world free of blood sucking scum. Although the first animated movie was far too short, and the live action movie was far too stupid, the appeal of this character shows no sign of slowing down. I think the incarnation I like the most is the Blood C rendition where we see Saya as a young Shinto priestess in training. She lives in a small boring town by day. She goes through the slice-of-life after school special situations that plague most wall flowers who don’t realize that they are too cute to be anything else but a lead in their own series. By night her father hands her a Katana sword that she then uses to hack and slash random creatures that live lives that are as boring as the townsfolk. It’s amusing to see her taking the sword like she is being given the keys to her father’s car. With great power comes great responsibility… to parallel park. The stand out battle was in the first episode when she fights this stone creature that levitates above a small pond. This no-nonsense sword-wielding, miko who loves to sing songs that make no sense during walks to school earns her place at number 8.

 7.)  Ukyo Kuonji – Ramna ½
Lightening the list up at number 7 is Ukyo from Ramna ½. This kick-ass, gender bending, pizza chef sweeps into town in season three of Ramna ½ to stir up more trouble for the misogynistic lead. It took Ukyo ten years to find Ramna after he and his father dumped her on the side of the road while strolling away with her father’s food cart. It came as an even more shocking blow when Ramna didn’t even know that she was a girl the whole time they were growing up. In yet another case of unrequited love, although this one is played for comic effect, we see Ukyo challenging Ramna to duels that take place on boxing ring sized grills while simultaneously being swept off her own feet either by his sweeping charms or sweeping sidekicks. In one of the first harem comedies to make it big in the U.S., Ramna is the story of a young martial artist that went on a training mission in China with his father. The two fell into different magic pools that gave them the ability, and curse, to turn into what drowned in the pool. Poor Ramna must face the world as someone who turns into a girl when splashed with cold water. What made me like this character was when she dons the traditional school uniform, opting to let her hair down  while carrying her pizza spatula on her back. Symbolically, I felt like she is a cool character that crosses the threshold of gender. Her spatula is a traditional cooking utensil but also is a battle weapon. Being self-employed, while trying to get an education and chasing down a childhood love makes her a stand out character for the list.

6.) Fuu- Magic Knight Rayearth

Fuu first appeared in Magic Knight Rayearth back in the 90’s. Magical girl shows dominated the hearts and airwaves of viewers on both sides of the globe. The first major breakthrough work by the renowned artist troupe Clamp, M.K.R. offered up a melting pot of genres that included sword and sorcery, Mecca, magic, action/adventure, and romance. With a solid storyline, the series had something for everyone. For me, that something was Fuu Hououji.  Intelligent with a keen eye for archery, this character was a bit insecure, but humble. She was the first of the three to get a love interest in Ferio. Garnering the most spells and the longest sword, she trudged through the high and low lands of Cephiro fighting everything from hot witches to anthropomorphic monsters. Suffering the task of having to kill her love interests sister, Fuu was obviously placed in the situation of most burdens to bear for a middle school student. Still, her calm demeanor and ability to hack a Pterodactyl-like-creature in two, in the middle of the desert, knights her into the number 6 spot.

Next Time on This Peculiar Life...
Animating Women's Month Part 2. Stay tuned for the top five.