2021 was not as fantastic or as productive a year as I had hoped. I hadn’t read or experienced as many stories as I had wanted to. But, in a strange way, it made the character stories that I did experience far more impactful. I was very dejected this year, struggling to do anything productive or even for fun. Even experiencing stories this year was a bit of a challenge. I wanted to do a write up on my favorite characters this year that really inspired me creatively. But I don’t want to spoil their stories so I’ll describe them as best I can without ruining anything. I feel like these characters deserve to be experienced to the fullest in how they were portrayed. This list is my own experience and I hope that many of you have your own list of truly wonderful characters you’ve experienced this year. This is my top 5 characters of 2021.
In the number 5 spot is someone that was a grand old troupe that I absolutely love in storytelling. Sometimes you just need someone who is an unapologetic hero bustling with energy and charisma that makes you smile. For me, that character is Kyojuro Rengoku from Demon Slayer, but specifically from Kimetsu no Yaiba: Kyōdai no Kizuna (Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie: Mugen Train). The movie is an absolute blast and, even though he’s a supporting character, Rengoku really feels like the star of the movie. He’s got that wholesome, strong, heroic big brother energy that’s impossible not to love.
Number 4 was an honest surprise for me. The premise had a lot of potential that, admittedly, I hadn’t really believed in from the first book. But through out the series, Lester (Apollo) in The Trials of Apollo series proves to really show the potential of character growth and development someone can have throughout a series. He’s not a brave hero that we’re used to with Percy and Jason, no he’s quite the opposite and that’s what makes him endearing. His growth and change throughout the series is slow, gradual and at times rather inspirational. He’s a wonderful character and one of Riordan’s best.
Speaking of Riordan, number 3 is a character that is so well written and so well developed that he felt like the star of the series despite being a side character. Hearthstone from The Magnus Chase series is such a complex and sensitive yet strong and noble character. Despite Hearthstone being deaf, he never feels like a burden to the others and it’s more than just a trait tacked on for diversity. It’s core to his story and his development and I was touched reading the series whenever it focused on him. Without a doubt he is my favorite character in the entire series and all of Riordan’s books.
Number 2 is a late and surprising entry to the year but my god did it leave an impact on me. The game League of Legends has an amazing world crafted around the game but never felt like it was fully explored. That is, until Arcane came out and collectively blew our minds with how amazing it was. The character writing, the worldbuilding, the character-driven plot, everything was so perfect. It’s really hard to pick just one of the phenomenal characters that really left an impact on me, but Viktor is a character that really piqued my interest the very moment I learned his name. Everyone whose played League of Legends knows who Viktor is and seeing who he is in Arcane, it is bound to be a fascinating tale of how he ends up the way he will. But fate aside, Viktor is an intriguing character pushed forward by his ideals to help humanity progress forward. But it’s done in a way that’s still so very human and tender. No grandiose plans of fame or fortune, but rather of helping those who were like him. He’s an inspiring character and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.
And finally, we reach the number 1 spot. This is my favorite character of 2021 and, quite honestly, it came as quite a surprise. But it’s a funny story of how I found out about her and grew to love her story most of all. Like many others, my friends and I started playing a game called Genshin Impact and, like many others, got very bored during the long content draughts. In that time, I thought to try out MiHoYo’s other game, Honkai Impact 3rd. Now this is where the story begins and I was surprised at how a gem of a character comes from somewhere so unexpected. On the surface, Honkai Impact 3rd is a very fan servicey gacha game. Admittedly the only reason I tried it was because of the really cool animations on YouTube that showed really cool action sequences and what seemed like an entertaining story. What I never expected was to witness the amazing and tragic yet surprisingly endearing and inspiring story of Kiana Kaslana.
Kiana’s story is one of constant tragedy and heartbreak tempered with soft tender moments of kindness. She’s a hero through and through and what she has to go through is far more emotional and deeper than I expected. She grows up so much and experiences some of the greatest character development I’ve experienced in any medium. What really inspired me about her is that she’s a strong and courageous character that isn’t invincible and falls so low. No one’s invincible and it’s always great to see characters experience the highs and lows of human emotions. Her growth is so natural and feels so real, it’s hard not to love her story.
That’s my top 5 characters of the year! I hope some of these peaked your interest to explore more characters and stories. Hopefully next year will be filled with even more exciting and wonderful stories!