Each year, the inventory of anime series grows. Many of which sprout from Japan’s copious manga graphic novels, depicting Japan’s many cultural traditions and practices.
From heartbreaking backstories to epic anime fight scenes, the world of anime is a melting pot of struggle, strife, and friendship held together by vivid storytelling and skillful fictional character design and development. Whether it’s a sulking anti-hero or a self-assured warrior, an anime series never fails to gift its watchers with dynamic personalities. Inspiring anime characters have been at the heart of pop culture, featured in anime box subscriptions and unique fan apparel.
But what are the ingredients to some of the best anime characters of all time? Sacrifice, loyalty, righteousness, and bravery—just to name a few.
Follow along as Culturefly uncovers the traits that make up the best anime characters. Here’s our coveted list of the best anime characters in history.
- Itachi Uchiha of Naruto
- Gohan of Dragon Ball Z
- Genos of One-Punch Man
- Tanjiro Kamado of Demon Slayer
- Izuku Midoriya of My Hero Academia
- Monkey D. Luffy of One Piece
- Eren Jaeger of Attack on Titan
- Mikasa Ackerman of Attack on Titan
1. Itachi Uchiha of Naruto
The Japanese manga series tells the story of an ambitious—and sometimes arrogant—young ninja named Naruto. His goal? To become the village Hokage—the leader of the village.
As much as it may pain Naruto to hear, we believe the gleaming star of the series is actually Itachi Uchiha—a general do-gooder and ninja prodigy from the renowned Uchiha clan.
Itachi is the classic tragic hero and central to the Uchiha clan plotline: Quiet, keen, and dedicated to moral do-goodery, Itachi is manipulated by higher ranks to turn against his clan in order to save his younger brother. Following the Uchiha clan’s massacre, Itachi’s reputation is permanently tarnished, but his heart—filled with self-sacrifice, wisdom, and understanding—remains unstained.
Why Itachi Uchiha is one of the best anime characters of all time:
- A brooding anti-villain with a swoon-worthy aesthetic
- His undying (re: Itachi’s death and reanimation) allegiance to his brother
- His remarkable talent for combat, physical strength, and ninja-like prowess
- His power to call forth a murder of crows and conjure shadow clones to distract opponents to strike against his enemies
2. Gohan of Dragon Ball Z
Dragon Ball Z, a Japanese television series, follows the adventures of Son Goku as he and his band of heroes defend the earth from a slew of otherworldly foes. Goku’s son, Gohan, is a force to be reckoned with.
As a scholar first and foremost, Gohan believes strongly in the ideals of pacifism. Though, that doesn’t stop him from stepping up to save his family and friends with force when the time comes. Armed with fierce loyalty and muscles rivaling the size of the Cell Games arena itself, Gohan eventually emerges victorious as Earth’s prime protector. His all-mightly Saiyan heritage—gifting him with the strength of the powerful space warrior race—grants him a bit of extra help, too.
Why Gohan is one of the best anime characters of all time:
- His gentle heart and humble disposition
- His superhuman strength (and loyalty)
- Reintroduces the idea of ki to Earth, rekindling an interest in martial arts
3. Genos of One-Punch Man
The Japanese superhero adaptation follows Saitama, a powerful fighter who can defeat any rival with a single punch. Genos, the disciple of Saitama and cyborg combatant, is a somber fighter for justice. He mightily propels the One-Punch storyline across supercontinent Earth.
Enhanced in full-body cyborg modifications, Genos holds the power of extreme strength and uncanny speed. Although arrogance and impulsivity have cost him a few battles, his expertise in hand-to-hand combat makes him one of the most proficient fighters in the series, defeating the likes of Speed-o’-Sound Sonic and the Deep Sea King.
He’s unyielding in his pursuit of justice and power, dedicated to learning his master’s techniques and superhuman strength for the greater good. He’s also a fierce defender of Saitama, for whom he gives wholehearted respect.
Why Genos is one of the best anime characters of all time:
- His legendary cyborg capabilities, from an incineration cannon to the high-voltage fist
- His edgy appearance—yellow eyes, spiked hair, and pierced ears
- His meticulous, and at times humorous, collection of training dairies
- Who doesn’t love a protective cyborg apprentice?
4. Tanjiro Kamado of Demon Slayer
After his family is slaughtered and his sister is turned into a demon, Tanjiro Kamado, a young dragon slayer embarks on a journey to find a cure. Along the way, they’re snared into a secret society called the Demon Slayer Corps.
The secret society wages war against the demon population—former humans who sold their souls in exchange for power. Each demon possesses powers of strength, magic, and regeneration. Tanjiro soon becomes a demon slayer himself.
The young boy is a quintessential everyday hero—sensitive and wise. His great character exhibits a relentless determination to remedy his sister and avenge his massacred family. He’s turned off by disrespect and insolence. Although, underneath his kind facade is a boiling cauldron of rage that eventually leads to his hellish demise.
Why Tanjiro Kamado is one of the best anime characters of all time:
- His ability to empathize with anyone—including demons
- His allegiance to his sister, despite her demonic transformation
- A strong-willed character that encompasses honesty and helpfulness
- His humor and naivete, even in the face of love
5. Izuku Midoriya of My Hero Academia
Dependable and amiable, Izuku Midoriya, the main protagonist of My Hero Academia is a jovial, messy-haired student with a life-long dream of becoming a hero.
In the world he lives in, superheroes are commonplace. Unfortunately, Izuku is not one of them.
As it comes to be, Japan’s greatest superhero, All Might, chooses Izuku as his successor and enrolls him in a high school dedicated to training superheroes.
Izuku Midoriya is a lovable champion armed with limitless optimism and a knack for transformation. He quickly overcomes his nervous ways to become a self-determined and selfless hero who’ll save his friends at the drop of a hat. He never loses sight of his goal to become one of Japan’s greatest heroes—and it shows.
Why Tanjiro Kamado is one of the best anime characters of all time:
- His heroic spirit rarely falters in the face of danger or adversity
- His ingenuity when navigating personal relationships
- His sympathy towards the villains he encounters and his willingness to understand them
- His classic rags-to-riches storyline
6. Monkey D. Luffy of One Piece
The Japanese anime series follows the exploits of Monkey D. Luffy—a boy who curiously acquires the properties of rubber after eating a Devil Fruit. In addition to his mastery of rubbery, Monkey D. Luffy also masters the title of one of the best anime character names.
He also strives to become the Pirate King. There’s just one catch—his rubbery disposition would lead to a watery death if he somehow falls into the ocean.
Monkey D. Luffy is an endearing popular anime character with very human faults—he’s utterly fearless and entirely naive. He’s entranced by the magic of the world and loves to avoid thinking altogether. Those qualities are what make Monkey D. Luffy a truly endearing and amusing main character within the anime universe.
Why Monkey D. Luffy is one of the best anime characters of all time:
- His child-like wonder for all things magical and strange
- His dynamic nature, oscillating between greed and selflessness, makes him an approachable hero
- His recklessness is fun to watch and feeds viewers’ sense of adventure
- His charisma, loyalty, ingenuity, and leadership abilities
7. Eren Jaeger of Attack on Titan
In a world where humanity lives within a network of walls, large man-eating humanoids called Titans wander the outside world. After a Titan destroys his hometown and kills his mother, Eren Jaeger vows to seek revenge.
After enlisting in a military brigade called the Survey Corps and eventually amassing the power of the Titans, Eren Jaeger proves victorious. His characterization ebbs and flows throughout the series, influenced by internal and external forces alike. As such, Eren offers dynamics not often seen in anime protagonists.
With a mysterious appearance just as perplexing as his disposition, Eren Jaeger is a protagonist-in-progress.
Absent of the sure-mindedness imbued in many anime protagonists, Eren instead comprises a passionate and impulsive determination to protect humanity from evil forces. He’s a bit scornful and hot-headed—but for good reason. Despite his gravitation toward frenzied violence, Eren Jaeger also possesses selflessness and perseverance that help him protect human life. A hero, indeed.
Why Eren Jaeger is one of the best anime characters of all time:
- Unconventional, veiled in darkness, and driven by justice
- His charismatic and impassioned speeches that ricochet off the screen
- He’s the moody, sad boy of modern anime
- His unrelenting courage and physical strength defeats a barrage of terrible Titans
8. Mikasa Ackerman of Attack on Titan
Of the same Titan-teeming world of Eren Jaeger, Mikasa Ackerman is perhaps one of the best female anime characters of all time. As a child, Eren Jaegar rescues her following the murder of her parents. It’s when she joins the Survey Corps that she truly begins to shine, becoming a top-ranking graduate of her class.
She’s level-headed, incredibly perceptive, and morally guided. These traits allow her to navigate difficult situations with ease. She’s an epic hero, continually saving Eren’s life—whether she’s standing up to his childhood bullies or distracting the War Hammer Titan. However, her greatest victory is perhaps the deep friendships she shares with her fellow warriors.
Why Mikasa Ackerman is one of the best anime characters of all time:
- A strong-willed female character guided by morality
- Her adept combat skills that rival other soldiers of the Survey Corps
- Her inextinguishable loyalty to Eren
- Her kindness and brutal honesty—she wears her heart on her sleeve
Revel in Your Favorite Anime Characters with CultureFly
There’s no doubt that anime series teems with complex, endearing, and memorable characters driven by justice, power, and love. It’s hard not to find a few favorites within manga’s superfluous stacks of stories.
If you’re looking to bring a bit of courage, loyalty, and sacrifice into your own life, CultureFly has the best anime subscription and gifts for anime lovers: our awe-inspiring anime box, complete with vinyl figures, awesome geek apparel, and pop culture collectibles—from notebooks to wall decor.
CBR. Naruto: The 10 Toughest Decisions the Main Characters Have to Make. https://www.cbr.com/naruto-toughest-decisions-hinata-minato/
Dragon Ball Wiki. Gohan. https://dragonball.fandom.com/wiki/Gohan
One-Punch Man Wiki. Genos. https://onepunchman.fandom.com/wiki/Genos
Attack on Titan Wiki. Eren Jaeger. https://attackontitan.fandom.com/wiki/Eren_Jaeger_(Anime)
Attack on Titan Wiki. Mikasa Ackerman. https://attackontitan.fandom.com/wiki/Mikasa_Ackerman