Even the smallest mistake can ruin a show. Like when the whole anime community hated Black Clover because Asta was too boring to begin with.
But what about all the anime MCs who deserve praise?
In this list, we are looking for golden examples of the development of main characters in the anime world.
30. Hitagi Senjugahara
Senjougahara is one of my favorite female characters, because the writers finally struck the balance between a character who is so in love that it’s her most important trait and a complete cousin who doesn’t care about anyone.
She is cool and calm and knows when to be good and nice, or when to stick a stapler in your mouth and tell you to shut up.
The show never revolved around Araraga, and his deadpan humor was the highlight of the show.
Take notes, cartoonists. No more Sakuras, please.
29. Izaya Orihara
It drove me crazy because all the main characters are S-level, the coolest being Karma, the most interesting Nagisa, and the cutest Koro-sensei.
I chose Koro-sensei because the story makes it even better.
This guy is just a big dumbass doing his best to prepare his students for life, and murder I guess.
He always has a smile on his face and has created some of the funniest and/or saddest moments in anime history – so I had to include him.
27. Kazuma Satou
Kazuma has one of the highest recognition scores in the entire anime. No part of his personality is idealized.
And it honestly adds to the charm, like you’re in an anime world.
I can’t imagine anyone would want to die to save a wounded demon. But I can definitely understand what it’s like when someone punches you in the face, so he’s a jerk for coming back.
Kazuma is far from perfect.
And that, ironically, makes him a fairly convincing protagonist in my eyes.
26. Osamu Dazai
Anime: Bungo Stray dogs
If you’ve seen Sayonara, Zetsubu-sensei and thought to yourself: hmmm, this Zetsubu should really be the main character of the shounen series…..
Well, you got it.
Dazai is a man who is always looking for a way to die, and is extremely reckless in doing so. What immediately alarms me: this guy must have a good story.
And I personally was not disappointed.
His build is sick, his strength is really cool (and a little broken), and every time he faces his past, I’m extremely excited.
Anime: Magi: The Adventures of Sinbad
There are a million powerful fantasy characters, all so overpowering it feels like a literal god.
In general, however, they have a fairly modest personality.
But Sinbad did not.
While undoubtedly overpowering, his personality has always remained his most important trait, as he knew how to seduce (or frighten) those who opposed him.
He was a faithful follower and sincerely pursued greatness.
He also blew up a mountain to prove his point. That gives him all the bad points.
24. Izuku Midoriya
Anime: My heroic academy
I’ll be honest: Deku is far from the best written character.
I think Todoroki, Uraraka, and even Bakugu beat him conceptually.
But I’ve never been more motivated to support a character than I was for Deku.
Not only is he one of the few extraordinary heroes, but he also has a heart of gold. Arc Overhaul in particular convinced me that Deku was a great main character, because his interactions with Erie always seemed so genuine and touching.
Hyakkimaru’s story is probably one of the greatest underdog stories, as I can think of almost no one in the anime universe who has worse starting points than this guy.
Because his father put his own position and the wealth of the land above his son’s, Hyakkimaru was born without any physical trait that would make a human – except conscious thought.
He couldn’t see, speak, smell or move, and yet he did.
He got lost several times. But the sight of his journey was never dull.
22. Shigeo Kageyama
Anime: Mob Psycho 100
Although the series originally looks like a rip-off of One Punch Man, it takes a leap forward in terms of character writing.
It was extremely entertaining to follow Mafia, as the story was nothing more than a description of an impending event.
In between all the chaotic fighting and epic soundtracks, we watched The Mob try to be a normal kid and have normal problems, just like the rest of us.
He didn’t know how to defend himself, and he carried a lot of guilt about his references on his shoulders.
And that’s why it’s on this list and Saitama isn’t, because I really feel like it needs some substance between all the great gags and bangers.
21. Rudeus Greirat
Anime: Mushokyu Tensei: The reincarnation of the unemployed
Rudeus is very similar to Kazuma, but on a deeper level.
Just like Kazuma, Rudeus also received the ancient Isekai treatment after his death.
But instead of appearing there, he reincarnated. And here’s the thing: Rudeus is a real scumbag.
Very, very much so.
But gradually he begins to understand what it means to be good in the new world, and he even becomes quite sympathetic.
But some scenes are questionable, to say the least. But for some reason, I can’t help but love stories like this. It’s like a TLC anime.
Legosi’s writing is just masterful, and her personal mental struggle is one of the most realistic I’ve seen in years.
He was born a predator: a big bad wolf with sharp claws and teeth. And yet, its nature is exactly the opposite.
He is ashamed of who he is and is constantly fighting his own instincts to make those around him feel safe.
He gets fantastic character development in this series, and his personality is that of an excessive saint. So I can’t have missed him for this list.
Anime: Dr. Stone.
If you were a smart kid in high school or only occasionally visited Reddit, Senku might be very close to your role model.
The man puts on his best Ben Shapiro suit and spits out the facts while using science to bring society back as we know it.
He doesn’t like to deal with emotional issues and is always looking ahead, thanking God there are no employee rights in the stone age.
All kidding aside, he’s a pretty inspiring guy who even manages to get someone like me, a dirty English major, interested in science and math.
So he must be doing something right.
18. Kakashi Hatake
Anime: Naruto! Shippuden
While the focus is usually on Naruto and Sasuke, I pay more and more attention to Kakashi.
This guy has one of the most tragic backstories in the series (if you don’t believe me, check it out), and yet he never descended into darkness like Sasuke.
He never managed to come out of a fight like Naruto. Instead, he remained an example of a truly skilled ninja.
Plus, when he’s with Guy, the whole bromance overwhelms me.
Anime: The Vinland Saga
Askeladd and Thorfinn managed to do what Sasuke couldn’t: They were consistently and credibly evil benefactors.
Askeladd in particular blew me away, as he was given much more depth than the first few episodes suggested.
I’m not going to give anything away, but his story was a truly brilliant twist. And his performance at the very end of the series was legendary in every way.
So while Thorfinn gave us many other good fights, Askeladd’s complexity was the real highlight of the show.
Anime: Promised Never Land
Writing a character with an IQ of 300 is always a matter of luck. But the lead trio of Promised Neverland impressed everyone in their own way.
I found Norman the most interesting, who always seemed like a big puppeteer pulling the strings of the story.
He was not a blind optimist like Emma, nor a realistic Edgelord like Ray.
He was just rational and believable.
However, this only applies to the first season. Since I mentally erased the second season from my memory forever.
15. Subaru Natsuki
Anime: Re : Zero
This guy is one of the most engaging characters in the anime, simply because he’s not committed yet.
The level of psychological distress he has experienced over the course of the series is downright terrifying. The fact that he still has a glint in his eye and the will to keep trying is both extremely inspiring and a little disconcerting.
He never gave up on his best friend, and he even proved to be a great tactician, giving this seemingly insensitive man many facets.
14. Jutaru Kujo
Anime: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Crossroads of the Stars
If the idea of a villain ever needed a spokesperson, Jutaru would be the most obvious candidate.
This includes how he imagined this person with only two emotions (both of which are rather flattering). At some point, it’s going to be very hard to keep up with this guy.
He dominates every scene by just being there. And his deductive skills make every fight a joy to watch.
Especially since it usually ends with the most glorious displays of muda.
13. Giorno Giovanna
Anime: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind
I didn’t want to forget the JoJo’s in this list, because I love them for very similar reasons.
Jorno’s a different kind of scumbag. He generally looks nice and elegant, but he can still do things that even Jutaru wouldn’t be able to do.
The best example is cold-blooded murder with a banana, and yes, it’s real.
Every time his subject comes up, you know you’re going to get away with it while a guy gets beaten to death.
And I don’t see the franchise producing a better JoJo than Jorno.
Anime: Magi: A labyrinth of magic
Honestly, I’m intrigued that Morgiana hasn’t had its own spin-off yet. I think she can bring as many people as the big bad wolf Sinbad himself.
That’s because she’s halfway between a charming waifu who would want to protect you and a cool waifu who will probably save you.
And since her thundering hips somehow contribute to both categories, as well as her irresistible personality, I had to include my friend Morgiana.
11. Akane Tsunemori
Honestly, if it was just the first season, I would have chosen Shougo or Shinya because they seemed much more interesting and complex.
But by the second season, I’ve come to adore Akane on a fundamental level.
She’s just become an asshole.
Not because she could kill twenty armed men or take someone down like a hound dog. But because his views on law and order were so fascinating.
Again, I love strong, independent female characters!
10. Hon Yeager
Anime: Attack on Titan.
Honestly, it took me a long time to get attached to Eren. I was always more interested in what Levi or Erwin were doing.
But the fourth season just blew me away and allowed Eren to reach celebrity status because the series got so good.
I mean, it’s always been good. This was the first time I not only found Eren interesting, but wanted to put a picture of him as an avatar on Twitter. That’s the best review an anime fan can give.
So, because of the first three seasons, I can’t rate it that high ….. But at least the final made it into the top 10 of these rankings.
9. Nana Osaki
If you know me, you know how much I love this series.
This is the most believable and moving drama I’ve ever seen in anime. And I think the older you get, the better.
Of the two Nana’s, I always preferred Queen of Rock because she was just fascinating to watch.
She had a good balance of strong character traits and believable insecurities/doubts that really brought her out.
I can’t say she’s flawless or a perfect person. It’s just the opposite: Her flaws are so believable that I fell in love with her after just a few episodes.
8. Zoro Roronoa
Anime: A detail.
Even though Zoro was always the second in command, he was the first in my heart!
I couldn’t relate to Luffy’s optimistic ideals as much as I could to Zoro’s undeniable evilness.
This guy is just great.
He is a master swordsman and a perfect example of why you should never mess with someone who can wield a sword with his mouth.
His stamina and dedication are also pretty crazy, as the famous scene where nothing happens will likely go down in history as the greatest moment of viewer love that the anime has ever produced.
Anime: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
No character has ever impressed me as quickly and effectively as Kamina.
In just a few episodes, I’ve already searched for his signature glasses on eBay.
And then you know what happens, I was close to becoming an alcoholic.
This guy is just incredibly charismatic. So much so that the audience gets excited when they cheer Simon on.
And I’m not talking about the usual level of inspiration, but taking 100 selfies, writing a book and getting a long term level of inspiration.
6. Gon Friss
Anime: Hunter x Hunter (2011)
I can’t say Gon is that creative when it comes to his art. In fact, he follows most of the tried and true stereotypes of the shounen protagonist…..
But with some minor changes.
For example, he has the same glint in his eye and the same idealistic outlook on life as the other main characters in the show. But if you think about it, it actually kills a lot.
And it’s not like he kills a big bad guy to save the world. Sometimes only a worker ant dares to cross it.
So there are definitely more surprises in store with this little guy.
5. Edward Elrick
Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Like Gon, Edward can pass for a rather boring Shunen hero.
But on closer inspection, it turned out to be nothing of the sort.
The most obvious difference is that this man is not a workhorse, but uses his vast knowledge to ensure victory. He’s also a pacifist who really fears death, something you don’t often see in Shawnee.
He can still be a tough rock star when he needs to be. But he is much more human than many of his colleagues.
4. Light Yagami
Anime: A note from the dead
The light is hypnotic.
This man is brilliant in every way, and his God complex is the central narrative element of the story.
One minute he can be calm and miscalculated, the next he can be laughing maniacally in your grave.
The cat and mouse race with L is one of the best in anime history. And her characters were just as important to her as the great writing.
Light is anything but a hero. But as a lead actor, he has done wonders for the series. And it will certainly be remembered for generations to come.
3. Rintaru Okabe
I wanted to include Okabe in my trio of psychopathic Hall of Fame geniuses – and you’ll see what I mean in the next two articles.
But the man deserves serious respect.
The writing team found the perfect balance between the cutest idiot on earth and a time-traveling mad scientist.
Over the course of the series, we get to see many of his flaws, but we also see how devoted he is to the people he loves, which makes him three-dimensional and curiously idealistic.
Kurisu is also a serious candidate for this spot.
But I prefer my mad scientist.
2. Johan Libert
Johan is perhaps one of the best written antagonists of all time, as he manages to keep the viewer captivated with the perspective of his insight for 74 episodes.
In fact, he doesn’t have as much screentime as one would think. But his influence is felt in every scene, as every word from his mouth becomes the bible of a doomed soul.
Better yet, he doesn’t understand himself and leaves the twists and turns of his psyche to the writers, while we grapple and scream on the sociopathy roller coaster.
1. Lelouch Lamperouge
Anime: Geas Code
To complete my psychotic trio, we have Lelouch, the king of all anti-heroes.
Of all the characters on this list, Lelouch is not only the one that caught my attention the most, but also the one with the most fun character arc.
I think the end of his personal journey and the series itself is one of the best (if not the best) the anime has to offer.
And it would hardly have been possible had it been written differently.
He’s a genius, like Johan and Light, but not as cold and psychotic. Rather, he is a true leader at heart who happened to get the power he needed to bring about change.
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