The role of almost every character in any medium is to become someone you can relate to. Whether by collapsing with uncontrollable laughter at the hilarity a character summons, or by wielding a dignified passion and appreciation for a character who enacts your own ambitions and inspirations, the number of ways you can find interest in a character is incredibly varied. The design of a great character can go down many starkly different paths, some of which never have to intersect, making characters that can be terrific in one person’s eyes, be a complete disinterest in someone else’s.
As I continue my never-ending marathon of watching anime, I have come across dozens upon dozens of unforgettable characters. I knew that when the time came to collect my thoughts and truly reflect on who my favorites were, it wasn’t going to be quite as easy as a big list from the bottom to the top. I love characters for different reasons, and these reasons are so full of their own identity that I can’t possibly say one reason is better than another. Therefore, how I’m doing this countdown is I’m going to be running through several smaller countdowns at the same time. I am grouping my characters by large principles that set them apart, and within each group, I will choose who my favorite is. These characters traits are as follows:
Coolest Characters – This consists of the uncompromising bad-asses, awe-inspiring villains, or characters that just drip with crazy aura juice that just makes them “cool.” These are characters who just simply make me “ooh” and “aah” at all the crazy and awesome things they do. Sometimes they are over the top, and other times they are calm and collected, but either way, anyone that stands out to me primarily for these types of qualities will be grouped here.
Enjoyable Characters – While the cool characters go around stealing the spotlight, there is another type of character with just as much charisma, but they go about entertaining me in a completely different way, by having a personality that I just never get tired of. Bad-asses can be stale, but enjoyable characters to me tend to have dynamic personality and simply garners all the attention just by being on the screen. Whether they are the comic relief, or they just have an endearing feel to them that just makes me want to see them more. I root for these types of characters. They are the ones I want to see win, and the ones I hate to see go.
Intriguing Characters – Sometimes it’s not the personality or actions at all. Sometimes it’s just a character that just stands out because of how different they are from all the others. Characters who have to deal with things I never would have thought of, or characters who have a really complicated mindset. These are the characters that simply lull you into a sense of wanting to know more about them, how they came to be, and how they’d act in other types of scenarios. Anime is particularly great at bringing these types of characters into the mix thanks to this industry’s nonstop focus on creativity.
Sympathetic Characters – This is when the characters start to hit a deep level of connection with me that I start to feel sorry for them. I consider this a rare type of character, but one of my absolute favorite types. Underdogs, backed against the wall, dealt the worst hand of fate, and completely undeserving of all of it, these are the characters that I literally grow to care for more than any other kind. They are the most effective characters of getting me emotionally invested into the story.
Idealistic Characters – These are characters that go a lot deeper than just being cool or fun. These are the characters who’s actions or dialogue literally inspire me. Unlike all the other types of categories above, these are the characters that I’d WANT to be. Characters that have made lasting impressions on my life that actually cause me to change ever so slightly into acting just like they do. I consider these my favorite characters of all, but as I said before, the reasons are just so different that I have to seperate them.
So this is a top 50 correct? And there’s 5 categories up there. That means I’m running this countdown as five consecutive top 10 countdowns, all run concurrently. While certain characters can easily fit more than one character category, I chose to place them in the category that defines them the most. So without anymore complications to what should have been a simple countdown, (it’s too late for that now) let’s get started.
~~~~~Top 10 Coolest Characters~~~~~
Honorable Mention – Toph (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
Avatar isn’t an anime, though it is very much like one. So much so that I feel like their characters deserve a spot on this list, but just to avoid stipulations, I’m having an honorable mention spot reserved for them rather than an actual numbered spot.
Toph is “the real deal,” as she herself boldly states. She is an earthbender, which in this world is a common claim. However, she’s also the undefeated earthbending champion with the alias, “The Blind Bandit,” and she’s only a little girl. What really drives her character’s awesome quality is the fact that she’s literally blind, and has developed an incredible way of fighting because of that. In a literal Matrix like moment, she can pound the ground with her feet and see the entire world below her through the reverberations of the ground. Her biggest contribution to the world of Avatar is that in a desperate moment, she is the first to discover that Earth Benders have the latent ability to bend metal as well. She’s a visionary for a true lack of better words, has a tough and funny attitude, and fights better with her handicap than most without one.
10. Kazuma Ikezawa (Summer Wars)
And now the countdown truly begins! Kazuma Ikezawa is a member of a large family who all have their respective jobs and places in society. Kazuma, being a young boy is anti-social and spends time playing on a computer. In this world, there is a virtual online world called OZ that runs everything. From your personal information to the city’s governmental affairs, every electronic account and system is stored in this virtual world. Every person has an avatar they create for this world, and Kazuma has an avatar that is something of a legend, and a hero. It’s an incredibly bad-ass looking rabbit avatar called King Kazma, who is the best combat avatar in OZ. By being both a virtual legend and the world’s best fighting game player, he rightfully snags this first spot on the countdown.
9. Suzuha Amane (Stein’s Gate)
Suzuha starts off as a simple part-time worker in an eletronic/repair shop. She’s boisterous and full of energy, but doesn’t have much to do with anything. However, that is immediately changed when she is revealed to be a legendary time traveler from the future who has been secretly communicating with the people around her while putting up this working girl facade. She is a trained soldier and has endured her world’s apocalypse, only to go back in time to find a champion to save her future. Once her downright staggering ambitions come into view, her resolve and strength becomes something nobody can scoff at.
8. Mikasa Ackerman (Attack on Titan)
Mikasa or Levi? Levi or Mikasa? In the end, despite Levi being “better” at combat than Mikasa, the way that Mikasa behaves and the reasons for her combat prowess are much more engrossing than Attack on Titan’s favorite house-cleaning bad-ass. Mikasa fights on a primal trigger in her heart that is revealed to be first unlocked in a traumatic situation in which she saved a young boy who had just saved her own life. As the boy screams for her to fight, we see an incredible scene where lightning gets sent ravaging through her body as she decides to act. It’s a very intense scene, and is what turns her into a stoic, versatile fighter who has the endearing notion of only wanting to keep protecting the boy that saved her.
7. Sora and Shiro (No Game No Life)
The first quality I should mention defends the reason why both of them are on one spot in the countdown, and that reason is that these two geniuses have major separation anxiety. Sora is not Sora without Shiro by his side, and vice versa. Sora and Shiro form the username “Blank,” who are undefeated in any game. Many claim that they are a group with a high number of players, but it truly is only these two stay-at-home-and-be-lazy gamers. It is when they are challenged to a game by a god from another world and actually beat that god that they are invited to a world where everything is decided by games, and it is here that “Blank” gets to exercise it’s full repertoire of intellectual tactics and strategy. Sora is the deceiver, and can beat any human who tries to outwit him, while Shiro has the brain of a computer and can outsmart any system. Together they form a duo that can vanquish any intelligence in a game, human or artificial.
6. Lelouch Lamperouge (Code Geass)
It was with a heavy heart that I chose Lelouch over Light for this particular spot, but I just think Lelouch is that much better. He is a super-genius, but at the same time, he is fighting against several more unknown variables, including his own, than Light ever did. You don’t just see him be smart, you seem him make mistakes and grow even smarter because of them. If anything needed to sell me on who I truly like better, one just needs to make it to the last episode of Code Geass where you can’t help but applaud at just how meticulously he planned everything, and just how seriously he takes his own rules.
5. Netero (Hunter X Hunter)
Netero is the chairman of the Hunter Association, which is a group of the most skilled fighters and explorers in the world. We don’t ever see why Netero is the chairman, except for perhaps wisdom and old age until you get to his flashback. In what I would say is the most compelling training scene I’ve ever seen, Netero literally thanks the heavens for his combat ability by standing in one spot for years and throwing punches over and over until he has an epiphany. His level completely transcends his previous plateau and he gain a punching speed that is faster than the human eye can glimpse. Netero isn’t cool just because of his ability. In a fight where he loses his leg, he merely hits it so hard that it shrivels up to stop the bleeding, and he continues the fight with one leg. One of his best lines comes when he also loses his arm in a fight, and the enemy says that he can no longer pray. Netero looks up with burning conviction and says “You think I need two hands to pray?” Netero, ladies and gentlemen.
4. Daiki Aomine (Kuroko’s Basketball)
A basketball player, seriously? That must be going through some of your heads, but you have to understand that a character is only as cool as the anime can portray him as, and in the intense anime about basketball with out-of-this-world abilities, Aomine is a true monster. My jaw literally drops as Aomine unleashes what seems like an unbeatable aura that simply throws him out of the same league as the main characters. And then you learn that’s not even his full potential. He moves like water on the court, contorting himself to extreme measures and even as he’s falling, or looks completely out of comfort zone, he’ll sink his shot from that positon, no matter what. I’ve rarely seen such mastery of a skill demonstrated in such a convincing and intimidating matter as Aomine’s has.
3. Emiya Kiritsugu (Fate/Zero)
Emiya is the arguable main character of Fate/Zero and is introduced as a ruthless hitman who operates with shrewd secrecy and tons of guns. He already gives off a “cool” vibe because of his all-black attire and the sheer heartless mentality he has in the way he fights. Blowing up buildings, planes, or whatever to get to his target. It’s not until one particular moment where he completely deceives a character into thinking he can stay alive, only to have him shot down in cold blood, earning the hate of everyone who witnessed it. It is here that he expresses his true view of the world. He despises the nobility of war, and says that war is a literal hell. Anyone who tries to make heroics out of it is insulting the people who fell victim to it. Emiya hates war and bloodshed so much that he will don the sins of that very hell and fight his way to the holy grail which can grant world peace. He is willing to destroy himself and everything he stands for, if in the very end, it means the world ultimately does become one without war. His ambition is out of this world, and even though it’s impossible to agree with his methods, you just know his heart is truly in the right place.
2. King Bradley (Fullmetal Alchemist)
There are very few characters who’s mere presence can have me on edge. In fact, there are only two. King Bradley, and my next character. King Bradley is one of the most intimidating and ruthless characters I’ve ever seen. Sporting the title of Fuhrer of his country and wearing a black eye-patch with two swords sheathed behind his back, you wouldn’t expect him to be so violent, until you see him fight. Unlike Emiya Kiritsugu, King Bradley gets up close and personal, and on top of that he wields a power in his eye that grants him increased perception that allows him to avoid and see everything. There are a lot of bad-asses in Fullmetal Alchemist, but none of them have such a commanding presence and frightening fighting style as King Bradley.
1. Johan Liebert (Monster)
Psychological terror. Flawless manipulation. Undeniable charisma. What quality of Johan do I even point at to describe why this is one of the coolest characters created in any medium? He nearly makes the world destroy itself in a world just as real as ours, with absolutely no powers or abilities except his mind and body. He has no Death Note, no Geass, and no partner in crime, yet he accomplishes more than any character who does wield a superhuman power has. Johan is the villain of the brilliant Monster anime. He toys with the exact mental instabilities that can take someone over the edge. As long as humans aren’t perfect, Johan can defeat them. He makes children commit suicide by convincing them it’s a game. His charisma is so developed because he was raised as a young kid to be the next Hitler, but then Johan took it even further and became something to what can only be described as parallel to the biblical anti-christ in a realistic setting. He is so persuasive that just by talking with people, they will begin to think he is on the level of a deity, or that he is the manifestation of their dreams and ideals. He even successfully manipulated me into giving him the top spot as the coolest character in anime.
~~~~~Top 10 Enjoyable Characters~~~~~
Honorable Mention – Aang (Avatar: the Last Airbender)
Aang is the titular character, and the Avatar that the name refers to. While he is a pretty-well rounded character who has some cool moments and some sad moments, he is primarily the refreshing character that brings the plot back onto it’s enjoyable course. He is an energetic young boy with strong ideals and a fascination of playing with animals. His constant delight in exploring the world makes the entire journey fun by seeing it through his eyes. That’s the key to making a character fun. The character himself needs to be having fun as well.
10. Mitsukuni Haninozuka (Ouran High School Host Club)
Easily recognized by his host club name, Honey-senpai, Haninozuka starts off as being one of the many archetypes of boys that the girls who visit the host club can fawn over. He is already adorable just because of his demeanor, but he wasn’t anywhere near my favorites, that is, until I found out that he is also a martial artist with such legendary reputation that he was literally labeled by the government as a weapon of mass destruction. Unlike the “cool” characters, this merely serves as a bad-ass comedic moment rather than a serious one, but it’s still so appealing to me because I adore martial artists that he instantly shot up to snag a spot in the countdown.
9. Aladdin (Magi)
Aladdin is a perfect example of the idealistic young boy who has the strong convictions of a man, but the endearing qualities of a child. Aladdin exemplifies both of these and serves as a truly funny character at times as well. He has an utter fascination with breast, which typically is a buzzkill for me, but unlike the other perverted characters who like them, Aladdin seems to like them the same reason one would like pillows. On top of this, he constantly lightens the mood with his optimism and unwavering hope.
8. Shouyou Hinata (Haikyuu)
Shouyou is conviction incarnate. He is a volleyball player who is cursed with short stature, but thanks to his limitless stamina and never losing sight of his dream, he turned his curse into a blessing of explosive agility. He’s the character who will say “one more game!” when the game is over, and get everyone back on their feet again. And when that games over, he’ll say “one more game!” again, until the characters literally have to tell him to wait. He constantly wants to be on the court and loves the swirling emotions that his sport can whip up. The view from the top of the net, the beauty of being a supportive player, and the thrill of victory are all things we get to watch this character learn and enjoy, and we’re right along with him for the ride.
7. Rider (Fate/Zero)
Rider seemed like he would start off as a dull-headed bad-ass. This is why it’s usually such a delight for everyone when he turns out to be a fun-loving kid at heart with naive dreams just like the rest of us. He uses his dominating presence to be a form of admiration and comradery rather than a fearful or intimidating character. He plays a precious big-brother role for his partner that makes me wish I could have had a big brother like him as well. The funniest parts about him or the moments where he’s incredibly smart about war and battle, but very child-like in the real world, since he’s a summoned hero from the past. Never did I think I’d see Alexander the Great ask someone to play video games with him.
6. Tomoko Kuroki (Watamote)
One of my favorite comedy anime will always have a place in my heart for bringing me the delightfully awkward, Tomoko. She’s a shut-in who plays romance simulators and has some seriously intense social anxiety. She’s a character that you feel very bad for, but then you just can’t help but laugh at the multitude of ways she screws up her day to day social interactions. From her ridiculous amounts of stammering to making jokes about pooping in the corner, her foul-mouthed and corrupted mind are delectably relatable in one way, but completely over-the-top in others. From the moment I saw her become a maestro at playing a rhythm game at an arcade, I knew this girl was something else.
5. Maes Hughes (Fullmetal Alchemist)
No one truly appreciates this character until…well, you know when. Maes Hughes is the ultimate father of anime. A guy who will tell you that you will find the perfect girl in the world, except that she won’t be as perfect as his wife. The man who will call you at work at one of the most critical times just to talk to you about his daughter. The crazed father who thinks that all the world’s problems can be solved with what’s in his wallet, and that isn’t money, it’s a picture of his wife and daughter. Maes is such an endearing character who is annoying, but in a who-can-blame-him sort of way. Hats off to Maes Hughes everyone.
4. Rintaro Okabe (Stein’s Gate)
The main character of a dark, dramatic, and intelligent time travel anime definitely doesn’t come across as dark, dramatic, or even intelligent. Okabe seems off his rocker, and completely out of sync with reality. He has an alter ego that he calls Huouoin Kyouma, and has regular conversations with a secret agent on his phone…which is turned off. He gives everyone ridiculous nicknames and constantly gives off a resounding maniac laugh that I just can’t get enough of. His eccentricity is a true delight, and it’s one of those things that serve as the juxtaposition to the dreary second half of the anime. He becomes much more moving once you realize that underneath all of his nonsensical antics, he’s a guy who truly cares about his friends, and that there is a little genius in there somewhere.
3. Mikoto Misaka (A Certain Scientific Railgun)
Behold everyone, my anime crush. Mikoto is the Railgun, one of the strongest espers in the city. That’s cool and all, but it’s when you learn that despite her inflated reputation, she’s a very humble and down-to-earth girl. In fact, she’s even made fun by her closest friends for liking small and cutesy things that everyone else has grown out of. She subconsciously tries to be proper, proven by the fact that she wears shorts under her skirts, and tries to be mature in all situations, but she’s realistic in the fact that she makes mistakes like the rest of us. It also helps a ton that she’s a master manipulator of electricity that adds to her bad-ass level as well.
2. Taiga Aisaka (Toradora)
A ton of angry and endearing personality packed to the exploding point in a petite little body is one way to describe the most enjoyable girl character I’ve come across in an anime. Taiga, also known as the Palm Top Tiger, is a feared student in her school for her wild temper tantrums and violent personality, despite her incredibly small stature. She throws punches, does jumping roundhouse kicks, and… trips down stairs, because, that’s right, she’s also downright clumsy. On top of that, she’s hopelessly in love. She’s the extreme of all emotions that you can’t help but get behind once you find out that she’s an incredibly sweet girl, deep, deep, very deep, down inside.
1. Gon Freecs (Hunter X Hunter)
There are all kinds of characters that fit the same archetype as Gon, which is the young child with unbreakable will. Aladdin, mentioned earlier on this very countdown is one of them. Gon, however, is not just one of those characters, he is the best of them. He is the epitome of a young boy who valiantly struggles against all opposition while keeping a firm grip on that childlike innocence that makes him so captivating and cherishable. He get’s overly frustrated with complicated things like strategy and math, but can still persevere due to his seemingly bottomless pit of energy that burns only for his closest companions. His dearest friend said it best, “You are light. Sometimes you shine so brightly that I must look away.”
~~~~Top 10 Intriguing Characters~~~~~
Honorable Mention – Azula (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
Another Avatar shout out, and this time it goes to the secondary villain of the series, Princess Azula. While she has all sorts of bad-assery to her, the biggest thing that stands out to me is more the complexity of her character rather than her abilities. She is painted so well as a villain, but you steadily see an increasingly noticeable hint of insanity that is clearly driven by something much more personal. She’s a villain that has a motive that’s hard to pinpoint. Is she just being loyal to her father, or is their a deeper form of animosity here. It turns out there is when you find out that Azula actually hated the fact that her mother thought she was a monster, despite acting aloof to it all these years. It’s a very interesting character to see develop, and one of the best from the Avatar series.
10. Eiji Nizuma (Bakuman)
Nizuma is a genius manga author with a personality that’s so seemingly dysfunctional that he seems completely unapproachable. He is introduced as the rival to the main characters of the anime, and he seems like a snob who you’ll never be able to relate to. As you see him more and more, shrieking like a maniac while slashing his pen across his paper, you start to understand more and more about his unique state of mind. He’s in a constant state of inspiration and simply chooses to immerse himself in that inspiration completely. Whether it’s loud music, his own gusto, or the skills of others around him, he finds something inspiring and latches onto it with an iron grip. It’s when you learn that he even idolizes the main characters, who are initially threatened by Nizuma that you start to see how truly passionate he really is.
9. Tetsuya Kuroko (Kuroko’s Basketball)
Tetsuya Kuroko is a character who almost doesn’t exist. He was on a basketball team but no one knows that he was, except the team mates themselves. Whenever he appears, nobody knows where he came from. Kuroko is simply blessed/cursed with one of the lowest amounts of “presence” in the world. Kuroko, has learned to turn this into a weapon in his sport of choice, basketball. By being a literal ninja on the court, he can deftly execute sneak passes and support the team from the shadows. He’s an incredible irony of character design, and is a progressively engrossing character to watch as you see him experiment with the full utilization of his abilities.
8. Oshino Shinobu (Monogatari)
Oshino Shinobu is a legendary vampire that has since reverted into the form of a little blonde girl. When you first see her, she is an utter mystery, as she just sits in a reclusive state with no expression on her face for episodes on end. It’s only when she regains her “personality” that you start to see this astounding character unfold. Her past is incredibly disturbing. (This is not from the anime, but from further reading online from unadapted works in the series) While already being praised for her royal status and beauty, she wished for the ability to be seen for who she really is, but this turned out to be an even stronger form of beauty. A light so bright and pure that it caused people to give even greater gifts to her which turned into their own lives. Cursed with one of the most horrific backstories I’ve heard of, I almost wanted to place her in the Sympathetic countdown, but I still feel she’s a better fit here because her character is much more dynamic than pitiable. The best parts of Shinobu’s character come in simply observing how she speaks and acts while being the shell of a former legendary vampire.
7. Yuno Gasai (Future Diary)
Yuno is one of the most popular psycho characters in anime. I was curious to see how she’d stack against other characters once I had them all in front of me, and she still managed to stand out amongst all of them. Yuno is a beautiful teenage girl who has fallen into a manic state of love. She is overprotective of him to the point of murdering others around him, including attempts on his own family. She is fascinating to watch because, like the main character, the reason she’s doing this in a well-guarded mystery that you only get little teases as to what her real motivation is. When you do finally learn, it definitely serves to drive her character more into uncharted territory. She’s a well-designed mental maze of a character who’s personality definitely helps her stand out more against other crazy anime characters.
6. Shougo Makishima (Psycho-Pass)
In a world where all crime and even intent of that crime are cybernetically measured by taking readings on your brain, what would a man become if he was immune to this system? That is the foundation of one of the most curious characters I’ve come across in an anime. A villain by conventional means, but more of a catalyst to something bigger in the grand scheme of things, Shougo is a man who can kill someone right in front of a Psycho-Pass evaluation machine, and still get a clean reading. On top of this, he is a philosophical evangelist who follows the ideals of those before him. What really makes him tick is that once you start to realize that the world itself isn’t the pure and just system it’s made out to be, Shougo starts seeming less and less like the villain.
5. Akira Takizawa (Eden of the East)
I love characters who ride the line of good and evil. I love it when I can’t tell what their true motivations are, and I just have to guess based off of their actions out of context of their thoughts. It takes more than that to make this list, however, and Akira does just that by not only riding the line of good and evil, but literally forgetting everything he’s doing in the first place by wiping his own memory. When you first meet Akira Takizawa, he has no clue what he’s doing, but he seems like a good guy. Suffering memory loss, he finds out that he is a high-profile terrorist and that he’s responsible for all sorts of atrocities. His current character hates this, and doesn’t like being the bad guy, but then he finds out that the reason he lost his memory was because his old self willed it. Was it to escape the sins of his past, or was it for something else entirely. That’s what the whole anime is about, and what makes this character earn his spot on the countdown.
4. Ling/Greed (Fullmetal Alchemist)
While on their own, both Ling and Greed were already neat characters, it’s when they become one character with two constantly battling mental identities that Ling/Greed becomes one of the most interesting characters in the anime. It was tough to choose him over Hohenheim but in the end, you get to see a lot more of Ling/Greed’s inner turmoil than Hohenheim’s, and I like it a lot more. Greed is a parasite who takes over the body of others and completely takes over their mind. Ling is the first person to not even put up a fight, but almost pulls Greed into him which causes both of them to be in constant battle over who controls the body. While they start off as enemies, they start to realize how alike the two of them are and develop a unique type of friendship.
3. L (Death Note)
L, for the longest time, was my favorite anime character. He hasn’t dropped very far, and the reasons I like him have still yet to be repeated with any other anime character. He has a genius level mind that typical anime characters like to flaunt around, but L simply hides it underneath his incredibly quirky and offbeat mannerisms. He is bold and daring with absolutely no hint of conceit. He’s the perfect mix of capability and humbleness. All this while, his constant state of loneliness just bleeds of a desire for a friend that you I just wish I could jump into the anime and befriend him.
2. Meruem (Hunter X Hunter)
It’s already a tough challenge to explore the human conscious, but what if you combine a well developed human psyche with that of a tyrannical creature of the animal kingdom? What would ultimately win, or would they meld into a new breed of consciousness? This is the brilliantly written character of Meruem, one of the primary villains of Hunter X Hunter known as the Ant King. Meruem is a constantly evolving villain who starts off as a typical overlord bent on world destruction. He begins as an animal without any other title than King. Then another mental state starts kicking in once he meets a small girl who starts to change his entire perspective. He starts to express desire for a name, to achieve his own individualism and as he progresses, he starts to notice all sorts of aspects of humanity as they seamlessly integrate themselves into his own being. By the end of his arc, he becomes a full human and goes from being a soul-less ruler to a compassionate and beautiful being.
1. Shiki Ryougi (Kara No Kyoukai)
We’re not done with the split personalities yet because what we have here now is the most sophisticated creation and execution of a multiple personality character I’ve ever seen. Shiki is raised in a family of demon hunters who train their kids to develop a secondary personality. They are always given the same name but written in different Kanji. Shiki’s second personality considers itself a male and is a killer that gives the Shiki body it’s destructive impulses. Shiki’s first personality is a feminine normal personality. When the second personality takes over the consciousness right before an accident to commit a righteous suicide and save the original Shiki from his murderous intent, she becomes utterly lonely, cold and becomes a third, new, personality that attempts to kill in order to feel that secondary personality again. Don’t think you’re off the hook yet. Shiki has ANOTHER personality that isn’t stored in her mind, but in her body, known as the void. As you can tell, Shiki is a profound character study of the progression of multiple personalities colliding and interacting with each other. She’s one of the most intriguing characters I’ve come across, and the only character that I still feel I haven’t quite figured out yet.
~~~~~Top 10 Sympathetic Characters~~~~~
Honorable Mention – Zuko (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
No character in Avatar harbored more of my sorrow for them than Zuko, the Fallen Prince. He starts off as a typical villain that I almost didn’t even like at first, but through the extremely effective use of his character development and back story, Zuko became an emotionally tortured and confused character who’s struggle with right and wrong brought some of the most raw and emotional scenes to the series.
10. Shino Asada (Sword Art Online)
The newest character on this list has already won over my heart with her harrowing past and her current trauma in dealing with it. It made her immensely relatable and is now a character I want to see succeed in Sword Art even more so than the main character. Her past deals with a situation in which she shot a man, and she can not hold a gun in real life, nor even look at one. However, in playing Gun Gale Online where she isn’t affected by it, she hopes to conquer her fear. It’s a very noble goal, and a hell of a better reason to play than anyone else on that game.
9. Kaori Fujimiya (One Week Friends)
Memory loss never sounds too awful until you meet someone who has a serious case of it. I forget things, and it inconveniences me, but a true form of memory loss would just have me at my wit’s end. Kaori has short-term memory loss that triggers roughly once a week, and this particular kind only makes her forget about people she cards about most. The more important the memory, the more likely it’ll fade away, leaving her with nothing but memories of matters that she doesn’t care about. The feelings hit hard when she’s literally writing in her diary a plea of mercy from God to take her condition away. She is a tragic character who still musters a smile and still tries to make memories despite this, which makes her all the undeserving of her situation.
8. Sayaka Miki (Madoka Magica)
Sayaka is a tragedy through and through, never learning the true good nature of the world by the time the anime concludes. She makes a contract to have a wish fulfilled which would heal the hand of the boy she loves, but in the end, she just watched as the boy fell for someone else as she slowly slipped into a destructive mental state. The harsh juxtaposition of her character is like watching an angel fall from grace. Madoka is a tragic anime, but Sayaka’s events definitely stands out as one of the more evocative stories.
7. Meiko Honma (Anohana)
Menma is a ghost. She haunts her old best friend. Before you start thinking of something dark and scary, it’s actually portrayed in a very bright and cheerful atmosphere. However, that doesn’t stop Menma’s situation from being a devastatingly sad story. As childhood friends, Menma died after the group got into a small fight and she ran off into the woods. After she came back as a ghost, she lost many of her memories, but Jinta, the one she haunts thinks he can help her pass on by granting her final wish. While trying to discover what it is, Menma has to deal with seeing how far her friends have drifted apart over the years as well as slowly coming to the realization of what her final wish was. Her character is so selfless, described as only crying for others but never for herself, that it feels like she’s enduring unnecessary pain.
6. Morgiana (Magi)
Morgiana is a very uplifting character for others, but one who constantly brings herself down. Her entire childhood was in forced slave labor, and when Aladdin and Alibaba save her, she joins them. She has a strong inferiority complex due to her conditioned slave mentality that she’s useless to her friends and only wants to be helpful, despite actually being very useful in reality. She almost developed a condition where she even grew to appreciate the master that continually abused her, which would have trapped her for life had not the other main characters saved her. Her current character state is much better off, but I still can’t help but feel considerable grief for her whenever she appears still wearing the anklets from her slave days.
5. Kotomi Ichinose (Clannad)
You wouldn’t think much of a shy smart girl who spends her free time holed up in the library reading an uncountable number of books, but it turns out, she becomes of the many heart-wringers, and my personal favorite, in the entire Clannad series. I already adore Kotomi for being such an awkward and humble girl, and even more so for not falling victim to the Tomoya harem. My heart softened to it’s limit when I found out about the awful loss of her parents, and her resulting panic that almost burned her house down. It was much more admirable that she continued in her studies even after that when she had every emotional allowance to break off from the lifestyle that relates so close to her parents.
4. Kariya Matou (Fate/Zero)
One of the many combatants in the magical battle royale of Fate/Zero, the one who seems to endure the most pain for the smallest reward is definitely Kariya. When his daughter-like family friend is adopted into his family that he abandoned long ago, and she is forced to undergo the excruciatingly painful torture to wield their style of magic, which literally amounts to bugs being forced into her bloodstream, Kariya steps up to offer himself as martyr. He says if he can fight for them instead of her, they must let her go, and this leads to Kariya enduring endless weeks of torture to the point where he looks disheveled and week. Even on the battlefield, he falls victim to the master manipulator, Kirei and is coerced into ruining the love of his life by being tricked into playing the villain. The entire world is out to get this guy who just wants to save his littler girl. What a champ.
3. Homura Akemi (Madoka Magica)
Tragedies happen once, or they can happen over and over again. Homura is my absolute favorite character from Madoka Magica and it is only because of her enduring ambition despite repeating the same tragedy hundreds of times by going back in time. It’s all very Stein’s Gate, and Okabe could just have easily been here, but Homura seems to fall more victim to this cruel turn of fate than Okabe did. All she wants to do is keep her best friend from making the mistake that would cost her life, but no matter what she does, it still happens, and she watches her die, only to rewind and repeat it again. The repetition is so destructive that her once shy and polite demeanor is replaces with a cold and ruthless substitute that has long since forgotten everything that mattered except her friend’s life.
2. Alphonse Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist)
It speaks wonders about this anime when I say that the Elric brothers are that characters that I grew to love faster than any other anime character. Their story is cruel, understandable, and pitiful. They commited a sin. They performed a type of magic to bring their recently deceased mother back from the dead. A notion that almost anyone can support. And instead they are rewarded with a mutant creature, Edward loses his arm and leg, and Alphonse almost loses his entire body had not his brother acted instinctively and attached his soul to an empty piece of armor. It’s like if a little boy stole something in order to save his mother, but was punished by a merciless full court of law. Alphonse is reduced to a being that can’t sleep, eat, feel, or resemble anything of his former self anymore. He lost his mother, and in trying to get her back, was punished even further, and his father has seemingly abandoned them. His situation is the very definition of heart-breaking.
1. Killua Zoldyck (Hunter X Hunter)
Killua, to me, is one of the most beautiful personalities in anime. A wondrous mixture of inferiority, and pure love, he is the boy who considers his own life worthless compared to his friends. He has been tortured since birth mentally and physically to become conditioned to kill, and any who would try to befriend him was threatened by his family to forget about him. Gon is his first friend, and the one who shows Killua that there is a light in this world. Killua grows beside Gon, and when it’s Gon’s turn to need Killua, he feels overwhelmingly useless, despite his conviction to help him no matter what. Later, Killua attempts to rescue his sister from his family’s clutches and he brings himself to tears as he admits he should have saved her sooner, and has been the worst big brother. While he’s not immediately the most tragic character, he continually evolves, and with each step comes a distressing and moving scene where Killua has to acknowledge that he is a better person than he thinks.
~~~~~ Top 10 Inspirational Characters~~~~~
Honorable Mention – Uncle Iroh (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
I have spoken before on how much of an inspiration Uncle Iroh is to me. It was a very personal blog, so I’ll just say now to those casually reading, Uncle Iroh helped me in a time of need. He was an entirely fictional character who gave me real hope. His constant words of advice and his outlook on what’s important in life ring true in my ears to this day.
10. Teppei Kiyoshi (Kuroko’s Basketball)
A player that’s revealed much later in the anime series turned out to be my favorite one. Even though this is just basketball, Teppei’s train of thought and support for his friends hits me on an incredibly real level. He is willing to endure any pain, even if that means dealing with injuries on court if it means it’s helping his friends. He never loses sight of the “fun” in things no matter how serious they are becoming, and he always seems to be planning something to assure his friends victory. He doesn’t seem like much, but those are the types of people who inspire me, and Teppei does this to the paramount.
9. Kallen Stadtfeld (Code Geass)
Kallen has a level of pride and loyalty that I wish I could even come close to having. No matter what she has to do, or what she has to endure, if it’s for the sake of Japan’s freedom, she’ll do it in a heartbeat. It’s rare to see such a true sense of pride in one’s country in any medium. Many times it just feels like they are just soldiers doing this because they have nothing else to do, but Kallen literally feels like she’s fighting for a loved one. She’s a true patriot who’s determination for something that doesn’t necessarily love her back is a very different quality that I love seeing.
8. Chihaya Ayase (Chihayafuru)
To dedicate one’s life to something is a nearly impossible task, but Chihaya does it, and of all things, it’s too a card game called Karuta. There’s much more to it than that. Karuta was her childhood, and most importantly, when her best friend moved away, they promised to keep playing so that they could see each other as competitors in a tournament. Years later, and Chihaya has non let up a single percentage of effort in her attempt to become the best Karuta player. Her unshakeable determination is her shining character trait, and the fact that it’s only to see her childhood friend again is something that inspires me. A promise that can affect your actions for years to come is a very noble thing to me.
7. Sakae Jinnouchi (Summer Wars)
Sakae is an old grandmother who, throughout the duration of Summer Wars, turned into my favorite grandma in anime. When the world was on the brink of destruction, she used her massive family size and influence to call each relative associated with emergency services and gave them words of encouragement. She literally saved hundreds of people just by making a few phone calls. She is a stern grandmother who sees past the fickle things, and stares straight into what truly matters, your heart. Not to mention, she knows how to wield a bladed spear. Now you don’t see that every day, even in anime.
6. Tanyu (Mushishi)
Tanyu is a great example of a character trait that I wish I had myself, which is the ability to endure any length of pain without losing sight of what I’m doing it for. Tanyu is cursed with a supernatural disease that renders her legs black and paralyzed. She has a magical method of slowly exterminating the disease, which causes her immense physical pain. On top of that, this method involved writing murderous stories, the act of which also murders the curse in her leg, driving her mental tolerance to it’s breaking point. Despite that, and the fact that even with all of this, she may still die before she even successfully gets to take her first step, she still continues every day in hopes that one day she’ll be able to travel the world on her own.
5. Hana (Wolf Children)
The supermom of all supermoms, Hana is a tribute to mothers everywhere that shows just how much a woman can go through for the sake of her children. Faced with the dilemma of having kids that turn into wolfs whenever they want, she is forced to live a harsh reality. She can’t trust doctors or vets. The complications continually stack as she’s doing this while being a single mom, falling asleep while standing, working part-time jobs, and dealing with child services checking on her because of her odd behavior. She moves to a rural area where she has to manage a farm and fix a collapsing house all by herself, just to have a safe home for her kids to be wolves whenever they want. She does all of this, despite the severity of many scenarios, while never letting her smile falter. She is the ultimate mother.
4 Edward Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist)
While Alphonse is definitely inspirational, and Elric in turn is definitely pitiable, I think they each fulfill these respective categories appropriately. Edward Elric serves as more of the drive in the anime than anyone else and his determination trumps even Alphonse’s. From the heart-shattering moment where he loses his limbs, his chance of seeing his mother, and his brother’s body in one horrifying flash, the fact that Edward has any motivation at all is a true wonder. On top of that, his conviction is futher intensified by hard-to-stomach acts such as burning their house down so that they can never retreat from their journey. Edward is a force of nature when it comes to his goal, and it’s all for the sake of his brother.
3. Roy Mustang (Fullmetal Alchemist)
It is pure coincidence that two Fullmetal characters are back to back. Generally I can only find one character per anime, but in this case, there are two undeniably inspirational people to talk about here. Roy Mustang is the other side of the coin. While Edward seeks to rid him and his brother of their nightmare in the purest way possible, Roy Mustang will do anything it takes, even paint himself the villain to get to the top position and finally rid the country of it’s focus on war. Tired of seeing his friends used as killing machines, Roy vows to become the fuhrer president of his country and every single step he takes is one step closer to that goal. The sheer fortitude of thought and action he puts into this goal is bewildering and incredibly inspiring.
2. Moritaka Mashiro (Bakuman)
If you haven’t read many of my blog posts, you might not know that Bakuman is the very reason this blog exists. That anime’s has the strongest expression of inspiration that I’ve ever seen. I can’t even finish an episode without wanting to get out there and create something. Mashiro is a flame that never goes out. Even as a loser, he only seeks the one path that makes him a winner. He seeks triumph for the sake of his love, whom he promised to marry after becoming successful, and his deceased uncle who believed in his dreams. Mashiro shoulders the weight of both of these promises and despite failing many times, continues to reach for that pinnacle he desires so much. The way that he steers his entire life to collide headlong with his dreams is something that even caused me to take action. And that is VERY rare for any medium.
1. Tomoya Okazaki (Clannad)
While Mashiro accurately represents my idealization of what true inspiration really is, Tomoya Okazaki is a picture-perfect definition of who I aspire to become. Tomoya is a character who starts off as selfish and relatable as any of us and grows into the character I respect more than any other. As he interacts with the girl who will eventually become the love of his life, he starts changing, slowly, but surely, and sometimes he even catches himself off guard by how much he’s evolving. In one small moment, he casually states that the money he’s been saving to move out of his pitiful living condition can instead be used to help a friend in her moment of depression. This speaks of his altruistic character. This side of him grows ever more stronger as he ends up making the reason he does everyone equate to the happiness of others, especially his lover. It doesn’t matter that he has a shitty job because it’s providing for the girl of his dreams. It doesn’t matter that he has no other fortune in this world as long as he has her. And as long as he’s doing something for both of them, nothing is too difficult or inconvenient. He is eventually able to accept everything, even the father he hated his whole life and have no regrets about anything at all because of who he’s with.
And that pretty much sums up the countdown. I can’t begin to express how hard it was to eliminate some of the characters that didn’t make the countdown. The potential for turning this into a hundred-strong is very high. Perhaps next year! Did I name any of your personal favorite characters, or leave any out. Maybe there’s a character you think I’d like based on the favorites I already have? Please feel free to discuss in the comments below! As always, thank you for taking the time out of your day to read my blog. I always appreciate every view, like, and comment I receive. I do this for fun, but it’s an involved process, so my appreciation goes a long ways. The countdowns don’t end here. There are still a couple more before this all leads into the biggest one, my top 50 anime of all time! See ya then!