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The life of an artist is hard. The competition is fierce, the pay is low, and everyone’s a critic. Making it as an artist is a daunting prospect, and if you do make it, you have to worry about joining the 27 club. All of this hasn’t stopped people from trying, and every year, intrepid would be stars pick up a craft and hone their skills. This doesn’t define the entirety of the creative world though; many people are happy to toil away at their daily jobs while pursuing the arts for private joy.
Creativity isn’t a commodity, and not everyone who sets out to be an artist is any good. On the other hand, some people are freaks of nature whose latent talents explode as soon as they receive attention. This list is more about the latter than the former. There are plenty of characters in anime who are talented, especially because there are a lot of anime about idols and bands. Going beyond talent, we’re going to take a look at characters who think outside the box, using their talents in unusually creative ways.
10. Tonio Trussardi from JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Diamond wa Kudakenai (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable
- Episodes: 39
- Air Date: Apr 2016 - Dec 2016
Tonio Trussardi is a stand user, which means he has powers that manifest themselves as a reflection of his spirit. He is also a classically trained chef who owns the restaurant “Trattoria Trussardi”. One hungry day, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure MCs, Jousuke Higashikata and Okuyasa Nijimura, wander into Tonio’s restaurant on a whim. Tonio is also the chef and waiter of his restaurant, which means that he never seats more than two tables at a time.
When Jousuke and Okuyasa sit down, Tonio greets them and tells them he will determine what meal is best for them based on the health issues he can perceive after examining their bodies. Jousuke declines, but Okuyasa eagerly accepts the offer. What follows is a four course meal that leaves Okuyasa in better spirits after every course, as he sheds the organs that were previously ailing him. Jousuke is suspicious and decides to interrogate Tonio. The results of his interrogation? Tonio Trussardi is an enthusiastic chef, who uses his stand to cook meals that heal his guests’ ailments.
9. Kawakami Bansai - Gintama
- Episodes: 201
- Air Date: Apr 2006 - Mar 2010
As a member of the Kihetai (Army of Demon Soldiers), Kawakami Bansai’s main mission is to bring an end to the world as we know it. Kawakami is a world-class assassin who bears the nickname “deaf man” because he is always wearing a pair of headphones. True to his musical profile, he always carries a shamisen on his back. Although he does play his Shamisen, its true application is as a house for his katana.
What puts Kawakami on a list with creatives? Surely not being an assassin with a Japanese banjo? The deaf man has a second nickname, or more accurately, a pseudonym: Tsunpo. Tsunpo is the name Kawakami uses as the producer for idol Terakado Tsuu. As a producer, Tsunpo has produced several hits which have propelled Terakado to the top of the charts and made her into a famous singer.
8. Azuma Genkaku - Deadman Wonderland
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: Apr 2011 - Jul 2011
Who’s a psycho? Azuma Genkaku is a psycho, that’s who! The sadist and self-proclaimed ultra buddhist priest brings a lot to the table. First up is a lot of childhood traumas. These childhood traumas exhibit themselves in unmitigatable acts of violence. Another table offering? Leadership. Azuma leads the Undertakers, a group of enforcers who run the prison inmates. It’s fair to say that this guy has a few screws loose, which some would argue is a prerequisite to being a musician.
As an inimitable cool guy, Azuma always has a cigarette hanging from his mouth, and a guitar within arm’s reach. When it comes to guitars as weapons, Azuma Genkaku is the Desperado of anime. The Flying V Nirvana is a guitar, and the ultra buddhist priest’s weapon of choice. When Azuma fights, it rocks. Not because innocent people are dying, but because he can literally split his guitar into two guns and shoot air bullets out of it. There’s no way around it, musical equipment makes for cool weapons.
7. Majin Buu - Dragon Ball Z
- Episodes: 291
- Air Date: Apr 1989 - Jan 1996
If you grew up chewing bubblegum, you probably felt bad when you were introduced to the cute, pink, squishy, Majin Buu. But then Majin Buu turned out to be evil, and you felt okay again. But then the evil Buu separated out of the good Buu and they were separate entities, and you had no idea how to feel. Buu was a polarizing character, because you wanted to love him but he turned Krillin into chocolate.
While Tonio Trussardi was always busy making meals to help people, Majin Buu makes people into meals to help himself. When it comes to candy, Buu has to be the world’s most effective chocolatier. He could probably start a wildly successful business if the cost of a piece of candy wasn’t a human life. To run through Buu’s candy-making prowess really quickly, he has the: chocolate beam, chocolate kamehameha, candy beam, and cookie beam.He also has some healing beams, but who cares about that when candy is in the mix.
6. Kazusa Touma - White Album 2
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: Oct 2013 - Dec 2013
It’s always a tragedy when a light music club ends. I know this, because when it happens in anime people are sad and do whatever it takes to keep the music going. And so, in White Album 2, when protagonist Haruki Kitahara’s club is about to end, musical genius Kazusa Touma steps in to save the day. Haruki, an amateur-at-best guitar player, spends his days after school practicing guitar by playing the song “White Album”. When a piano joins in on his practice session one day, a song of love begins to weave.
At Houjou University Attached High School, Kazusa Touma hardly exists. She skips most classes, and sleeps through the classes she doesn’t skip. Despite her lackadaisical attitude toward school, she is granted special permission to use the music room whenever she wants, because her mother is a famous pianist. After playing together for a while, Haruki and Kazusa form a band together with another student. Kazusa is unquestionably the musical backbone of the band, as she plays piano, guitar, bass, saxophone, and teaches Haruki to play the songs she wrote for the culture festival.
5. Masami Iwasawa - Angel Beats
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: Apr 2010 - Jun 2010
Some artists are famous for their dedication to and obsession with their craft. It may not be on her calling card, but Masami Iwasawa is that kind of artist. Masami fronts the band “Girls Dead Monster”. If that seems like a strange name for a band, that’s because it is, but Girls Dead Monster is part of the Shinda Sekai Sensen (SSS), or World of the Dead War Front. The goal of the SSS is to get revenge on God because of all the suffering he has caused in the world (not my idea, don’t lambast me for it!).
Being a girl of few words doesn’t mean you don’t have to communicate. Masami pours herself into her music and tries to create songs that convey her emotions. As the leader of Girls Dead Monster, she takes up chief songwriting duties for the band including writing the lyrics, composing the songs, singing, and rhythm guitar. There is no questioning Masami’s commitment to music.
4. Souichi Negishi - Detroit Metal City
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: Aug 2008 - Oct 2008
Johannes Krauser II is the frontman of the ‘blackened’ death metal band “Detroit Metal City”. Souichi Negishi is a pleasant young man who likes low-key pop music. Johannes Krauser II is a demonic, wild, and crazy guitarist. Souichi is a mild mannered, calm, and peaceful guitarist. Johannes Krauser II is rumored to be a terrorist who killed and raped his parents. Souichi Negishi dreams of fronting a boy band. The problem is that dreams don’t put wheat thins on the table.
When the mild-mannered Souichi Negishi puts on his makeup and channels his inner devil, he becomes Johannes Krauser II, who has a menacing giant death penis. Despite hating his membership in Death Metal City, Souichi is too talented to deny. In addition to being talented, Souichi has serious rage issues, and can’t help slipping into the Krauser-San role whenever he gets upset. You could say Souichi only puts the role on because it’s available to him, but while he’s on stage playing guitar with his teeth and prompting his fans to murder their families, he seems to be pretty comfortable.
3. Nonon Jakuzure - Kill La Kill
- Episodes: 24
- Air Date: Oct 2013 - Mar 2014
The Elite Four (who you may know as The Four Heavenly Kings!), are the top students of Honnouji Academy. At the academy, the students wear special uniforms which imbue them with abilities, and The Elite Four have the strongest uniforms. Each of the Elite Four are very gifted at what they do, but only one of them is an artist. Can you guess which one? That’s right, Nonon Jakuzure (I know you only guessed that because it’s the header of this paragraph).
Nonon is the music conductor and leader of the school marching band. You can identify her musical roots before even hearing her speak, because Nonon always wears a marching band drummer’s uniform. She has a thorough love for music and will often start performing, even while fighting. Nonon’s powers all revolve around music, with names like “Symphony Regalia Grave”, and “Nonon Sound Negation”. Her ability materializes in the form of an airship that attacks with giant on-board subwoofers, and incorporates pieces of her marching band. There’s no denying her musical ferocity.
2. Brook - One Piece
- Episodes: 783+
- Air Date: Oct 1999 - Ongoing
One Piece is a loooong running series about the exploits of a group of pirates known as the “Straw Hat Pirates”. Brook is the ninth and (so far) final member of the crew. Brook, a man of many nicknames, is a skeleton. Having died fifty years before meeting up with the Straw Hat Pirates, Brook has had a lot of time to hone his skills. In addition to being a master swordsman, Brook is also a superb musician.
Before Brooks introduction to the crew, Luffy, leader of the Straw Hats, made a point of mentioning that he wanted a musician in the crew. Brook filled that role handily. Brook is a multi-instrumentalist whose musical ability is so great, that his songs can impact people’s actions. Under the alias “Soul King”, Brook gains world fame, composing and playing songs to sold-out arenas.
1. Kaori Miyazono - Shigatsu Wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie In April)
- Episodes: 22
- Air Date: Oct 2014 - Mar 2015
The second violinist on our list is Kaori Miyazono. From a young age, Your Lie In April protagonist Kousei Arima was trained to play by his mother, an ex-pianist of the highest caliber. Due to his diligent training, Kousei became a child prodigy and excellent pianist in his own right, bearing the moniker “the human metronome” because of his ability to play pieces perfectly according to the sheet music. A young Kaori Miyazono attends one of his performances and is so moved by his work, that she picks up music herself, and stays with it for life.
Far from a human metronome, Kaori plays with passion and exudes a free-spirited style that is not appreciated by critics of classical music. As a teenager, Kousei Arima can no longer play music. Haunted by the death of his mother, whenever he hears music, the notes seem to be submerged in water. This changes when he hears Kaori Miyazono play for the first time. Her gleeful style and displeasure for the rules of classical music disgust him at first, but he quickly becomes intrigued by her natural talent for violin. Whether in competition, on the playground, or during practice, Kaori plays in a style all her own, determined to forge her own identity in the music world and show Kousei what it means to align your heart with the music.
An academic type could make the argument that all art is rooted in mathematics. There are measurements to the strokes in a painting, the ingredients in a dish, and the rhythm of music. What an academic can’t account for is the way true talent, passion, and a deft understanding of your instrument can go beyond math and affect the soul. Not to mention, some of the people on this list have supernatural abilities. While anime is a medium filled with artists and talents, the people on this list all have something that goes beyond talent - they have soul power.