Top 10 Anime Heroes
Author: Saad Ansari
We all love and adore anime for its engaging plots, stunning action scenes, beautiful storylines, and of course, an interesting and charismatic hero. A hero makes the anime engaging and provides it a direction to go in. A well-written hero is a reason why we have come to love character-driven plots.
The popularity and significance of anime heroes have become a worldwide phenomenon. You could travel to a faraway country and would still encounter Dragon Ball Z merch with the face of Goku or various manga stalls. These heroes bring otakus from all over the world together and unify them into a fandom.
The world of anime is saturated with powerful, charismatic, and interesting heroes that are loved worldwide. In this blog, we’ll be counting down the top 10 anime heroes from the bunch. As you might have guessed, we had a vast collection to compile our list from. This means that it was impossible to include all your favorite heroes in this top 10 list. However, we will try to be as fair as possible.
So, without further ado, let’s begin our list of top 10 anime heroes.
#1 Saitama - One Punch Man
Let’s start the list by arguably the strongest anime hero ever created or the strongest among the mainstream anime franchises. Our hero Saitama was not born as a hero with superpowers; neither did he have any impressive physical or mental abilities. Instead, he turned into a hero later when he encountered a helpless kid being threatened by a crab monster.
The story begins in City Z and a world with a constant threat of powerful villains and monsters. To battle these monsters, humanity creates a Hero Association consisted of humanity’s strongest heroes that fight these fearsome monsters and save the day. Saitama, who wants to be a hero just like them, one day randomly awakens a unique power within him following his encounter with a crab monster.
This overwhelming power grants Saitama the ability to defeat any opponent with just a single punch, no matter how intense the opponent is. Saitama time to time has taken down enemies way larger than him, such as a giant mutant in episode 1 of One punch man. However, there are some exceptions to that as well, such as Lord Boros in episode 12.
Along with this powerful punch, Saitama also gains near indestructibility, super speed, heightened senses, and superhuman power that makes him nothing less than a God among heroes. Yes, he even loses his hair. The source of Saitama’s strength is still a mystery. While there are competing fan theories on the topic, there’s no official answer.
One punch man has reached a whole new level of popularity due to Saitama. Saitama is a symbol of strength and inspiration for millions of Otakus. His unimpressed altitude, clumsiness, and the quest to find a worthy opponent make the anime/manga a very engaging read.
#2 Ichigo Kurosaki - Bleach
Next on the list is no other than the soul reaper Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach. Ichigo Kurosaki was an average 15-year-old high school student from a fictional city called Karakura Town. He possesses a natural ability to see ghosts. His life takes a drastic turn when another soul reaper, Rukia, fails to do her job as a soul reaper (Shinigami in Japanese) after she is defeated in a battle with a Hollow.
Ichigo Kurosaki then becomes a substitute soul reaper in Rukia’s place and starts eliminating Hollows. Ichigo was a skilled martial artist even before he became a soul reaper. He has trained himself in martial arts since he was a kid. He has shown numerous times expert skill when it comes to fighting hand-to-hand with bullies and his father.
Ichigo Kurosaki is excellent at throwing punches, kicks, and applying joint-locks on his enemies. His strengths and abilities increase enormously after becoming a soul reaper. He has the immense spiritual power to go toe-to-toe against the strongest Bleach characters such as Sosuke Aizen. Ichigo is also seen going through different forms that impact his strength and abilities, such as the Shikai form.
Bleach is considered on par with the classic mainstream anime franchises such as Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, and One Piece. The popularity of Ichigo as an anime hero is undoubtedly one of the main reasons for that. He’s stubborn and outspoken personality makes him one of the most loved anime heroes in anime history.
His popularity as an anime character frequently inspires Ichigo-inspired merchandise such as shirts, toys, and various anime action figures. He often shows up in Manga magazines and fan polls. Any anime list is incomplete without the mention of Ichigo. He’s definitely among the greatest anime heroes.
#3 Edward Elric - Full Metal Alchemist
Edward Elric is definitely worthy of being a part of this top 10 anime heroes list. Not only is he a powerful and skilled Alchemist, but he’s also among the best anime brothers in history. The story of the Full Metal Alchemist is set in the fictional city of Amestris. In the Full Metal universe, alchemy rules the world as it is frequently practiced almost like a martial art.
Edward Elric grows up with his parents and his younger brother. His father, Van Hohenheim, leaves them without a reason and his mother soon dies of an illness. The story begins when Edward Elric, along with his brother Alphonse Elric attempts a forbidden transmutation in order to bring back their dead mother.
Unfortunately, their plan goes wrong, and Edward loses his right arm and left leg in the botched experiment. His brother Alphonse also loses a whole body, and his soul is bound to metal armor. Soon Edward and Alphonse become state alchemists, and from here on, their real journey begins as they take on powerful homunculi and other enemies.
Although the plot of Full metal alchemist is incomplete without including Elric’s brother Alphonse, Elric is still a quite loveable hero on his own as well. Full Metal Alchemist frequently features one of the most stunning and epic action sequences between Elric and his foes. Elric’s personality as a stubborn yet caring brother who stands up for justice has massively contributed to his popularity among anime fans.
His character is generally well-received among Otakus and has many awards, such as the Twenty-sixth Annual Animage Readers’ Poll and the Anime Grand Prix. He’s definitely one of the greatest anime heroes ever created.
#4 Natsu Dragneel - Fairy Tail
The next character on our list is the Dragon Slayer, Natsu Dragneel from Fairy Tail. Arguably one of the greatest heroes in the action and fantasy genre. The Fairy Tail universe is habited by unions or guilds of powerful wizards that perform various activities for money. Natsu Dragneel, a dragon-slayer wizard who belongs to the Fairy Tail guild, begins his journey when he decides to search for his foster father in the Kingdom of Fiore.
He meets many wizards like him in his quest, such as Lucy Heartfilia: a celestial wizard, and Erza Scarlet: a magical knight, and Gray fullbuster: an ice wizard. Alongside his team, Natsu goes on to accomplish various missions such as going toe-to-toe against criminals, destroying illegal magic unions, and defeating demons sent towards them by a dark wizard called Zeref.
While Fairy tail is known for all of its notable characters' stories, Natsu’s presence in the anime gives the anime its popularity. Natsu is one of the eponymous wizards, eponymous wizards, among other things, are known in the Kingdom of Fiore for their numerous accounts of causing property damage.
This adds a layer of clumsiness to Natsu’s character. Natsu is always accompanied by his cat-like friend called Happy. Natsu Dragneel, being a dragon slayer, possesses enormous magical power and abilities. Natsu can envelop and consume himself in the fire. Natsu has a bad temper and often likes to resort to violence whenever faced with a difficult situation.
Natsu is very well received both by manga readers and critics. He is definitely one of the best shonen action manga protagonists. Natsu is very popular among otakus all over the world and has generated tons of merchandise and action figures.
#5 Monkey D.Luffy - One Piece
When compared to the other characters on this list, Monkey D.Luffy seldom has any of the physical features that distinguish an action anime protagonist, such as muscles or stature, but this is merely an illusion. Luffy is capable of doing anything an anime hero does, such as taking on baddies way stronger than him or shifting into his more powerful forms.
The anime One Piece is set in a fictional geographic universe. One Piece universe is run by gangs of powerful pirates and various other non-human races such as fishmen, dwarves, minks, and merfolks. Luffy’s dream is to become a pirate king. The way he does that is by looking for a legendary treasure called the One Piece.
Luffy eventually organizes his own crew called the Straw Hat Pirates, comprised of a brutal swordsman Zoro, a stud chef Sanji, Usopp the sniper, and Nami, the thief. Luffy eventually gains his powers when he eats a Devil Fruit, which grants him rubber-like abilities such as stretching his arms to vast distances then using the momentum to attack his enemies.
Luffy’s journey follows the usual path of a shonen protagonist seeking to prove himself to the world. Luffy embarks on various sea adventures with his friends and grows and learns in the process. One Piece is one of the longest anime series in history, with over 931 episodes as of writing this. Throughout the anime, Luffy gained enormous popularity as a shonen anime protagonist.
Today, Luffy is among the most recognizable characters in the anime fandom. His perseverance, comedic persona, and inspiring journey puts him alongside the best anime heroes ever.
#6 Naruto Uzumaki - Naruto
Let’s continue our list by talking about another underdog in the anime universe. Naruto Uzumaki’s journey of becoming a world-class martial artist and eventual Hokage is one of the most inspiring examples for other shonen protagonists to follow. Unlike others, Naruto had a relatively humble beginning. He grew up without his parents and lacked the skills a shinobi needs to succeed.
The Naruto universe is centered around a hidden leaf village called Konoha in the land of fire. A world where different clans use powerful martial artists called shinobis to protect their lands from external threats. Naruto Uzumaki, a boy with lower than average shinobi skills and with a dream to become a Hokage, begins his journey when he meets his competitor and eventual friend Sasuke Uchiha, and Sakura Haruno.
Naruto, being cursed with the nine-tailed fox’s power, has enormous chakra in his body that he uses time, and time again, to perform various chakra-demanding Jutsus such as the shadow clone jutsu and, of course, the gender-bend version as well (fans, you know what we’re talking about). Naruto's character had been a significant inspiration for many other shonen protagonists, such as Deku from My Hero Academia.
Naruto’s stubborn attitude and tendency to never give up, earned him the number 1 hyperactive knucklehead ninja’s nickname. Naruto is definitely among the greatest anime heroes in history, with immense popularity among the fan base. While his legacy is now being carried forward by his son Boruto, Naruto will always be remembered as the pinnacle of hard work and dedication.
#7 Spike Spiegel - Cowboy Bebop
We continue our top 10 list by talking about one of the coolest anime heroes to show up on the screen, and this is no other than the space cowboy, Spike Spiegel. From the western noir aesthetic to the science fiction anime genre, Spike does it all. Along with that, Spike is also a skilled martial artist that practices Jeet Kune Do and a devout follower of Bruce lee’s philosophy.
The anime Cowboy Bebop revolves around the spaceship Bebop crew, which initially includes Spike Spiegel, a former hitman, and Jet Black, a former ISSP officer. However, they are later joined by more crew members such as Faye Valentine. Spike Spiegel embarks on various bounty hunting adventures along with his crew members, which include subduing and capturing space criminals.
What sets Spike Spiegel apart from the rest of the anime heroes on the list is not his exceptional strength or superhuman powers, rather his unique personality and often deep theatrical focal points such as existentialism, having to deal with a dark past, and loneliness. Thus, Spike’s character is something an adult can relate to on an emotional level.
Spike Spiegel has shown to be a very skilled martial artist, gunslinger, and cunning bounty hunter despite not possessing any superhuman abilities. Spike's personality is described again and again as aesthetic and stylish, thus owing to the anime Cowboy Bebop’s neo-noir genre. Spike’s attitude is one of defiance against authority, as expressed by his smoking habit even in places where it’s forbidden to smoke.
Critics cite spike Spiegel as one of the greatest anime characters ever created. Spike’s popularity extends not only to Japan but also to international audiences. Spike Spiegel is definitely among the most legendary anime characters.
#8 Guts - Berserk
This list couldn’t have been complete without the man who dared to go toe-to-toe against God himself. His name is Guts, the black swordsman. Guts is no doubt a legendary character in the seinen anime genre. A Byronic hero whose path reeks of tragedy and a never-ending struggle against his own fate.
Guts was born from the corpse of his mother, left to die and rot. He is then rescued by some mercenaries that happened to pass by his mother’s corpse. Guts then began his training as a swordsman under the guidance of his mentor Gambino. Guts’ tragic life does not end there. He is subjected to various forms of abuse and even has to take Gambino’s life at one point.
Guts is then eventually joined by the band of the hawks. Under Griffith’s leadership, Guts finds a new purpose in life and becomes the top swordsman of the crew. Guts is eventually betrayed by his own best friend Griffith, and from here on, his true fate begins. Berserk manga is definitely one of the darkest in the seinen demographic.
Guts’ sheer unwillingness to accept his fate and courage to face even God makes the manga one of the most legendary pieces of work. Guts is among the darkest anime heroes of all time, having an anti-social, scornful, and vengeful personality.
#9 Goku - Dragon Ball Z
You saw this coming, didn’t you? Goku is the anime hero that has acted as a role model for action anime heroes, his personality, aesthetics, and of course, his powers easily earn him his place among one of the greatest anime characters of all time. Goku is also one of the strongest anime characters in existence. This is the reason why strong anime characters are often compared to Goku to determine their power.
Goku has become the standard of strength among anime fans. But that’s not the only reason why Goku is famous, or better yet, a loved anime character. Goku’s journey began following the destruction of his home planet, Vegeta. His story has many parallels to DC’s Superman’s story. Both the original Dragon Ball series and Dragon Ball Z showcases one of the most intense and memorable action sequences in all of anime history.
Goku’s desire to be the strongest surprisingly isn’t motivated by some sort of revenge or trauma as it was the case with other shonen anime characters, rather, Goku just wants to be strong. This alone leads him to develop the strength to rival even the Gods in the Dragon Ball universe such as Beerus. Goku’s iconic transformations during fights have completely changed the action genre of anime.
The Dragon Ball series follows the adventures of Goku and his friends and his son Gohan. Goku has almost become a cultural icon following the success of the anime series. With positive critical response and millions of fans worldwide, Goku is nothing less than a legend.
#10 Kenshiro - Fist Of The Northstar
Kenshiro is definitely among the most legendary anime protagonists of all time. Kenshiro’s fighting style and character make the Fist of the Northstar manga among the greatest mangas to come from the 1980s. The Northstar’s Fist had everything that made the 80s film genre cool and badass due to Kenshiro’s personality.
Fist of the Northstar follows Kenshiro’s story in a post-apocalyptic world where humans compete against each other for resources. The series owes its inspiration to Mad Max for the most part. Kenshiro’s quest begins when a rival, Shin, injures him. Shin, also jealous of Kenshiro’s relationship with his fiancee, Yuria, captures her after injuring Kenshiro.
Kenshiro then embarks on a journey in search of his fiancee Yuria and Shin. On his way, he encounters various thugs and skilled martial artists in which he takes on to rescue innocents. In his journey, Kenshiro meets a boy thief named Bat and a little girl named Rin. Along with his new friends, Kenshiro battles his rivals in order to rescue Yuria and defeat Shin.
Kenshiro’s design was inspired by Bruce Lee and the 1980’s muscular men trope. Often called the manliest anime character of all time, Kenshiro has the most intense fighting sequences. Kenshiro has the ability to kill an opponent with a single strike before they even realize that they are dead. This is then often followed by the iconic phrase, “You are already dead.” (Omae Wa Mou Shindeiru in Japanese).
Kenshiro’s overpowered persona is not the only reason why he is a legend among anime protagonists. He is motivated by love in his quest to take back Yuria. Kenshiro also has a compassionate personality and he is kind to those in need. In fact, Kenshiro is one of the first instances of anime heroes that broke the “men don’t cry” stigma.
Today, everyone knows Kenshiro from the “Omae Wa Mou Shindeiru” internet meme. Kenshiro has left behind an enormous legacy. His depiction in the manga and anime continues to influence many mangakas, such as Hirohiko Araki, when he created Jonathan Joestar for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures.
So, that was the list of Top 10 Anime Heroes. Comment below if you agree with our list, and do you have any anime heroes you think we might have missed? Did we make any mistakes? Let us know about them.