30 Most Popular Anime characters ever created

30 Most Popular Anime Characters Ever Created

These characters are anime icons, no matter how adorable or powerful they may be.

Japan has been home to some of pop culture’s most influential and memorable characters through anime.

Toei / Via Giphy

They have given us mecha pilots of giant size, powerful Pocket Monsters with long-lasting memories, and warriors with massive swords. My list of the 30 most beloved animated characters is sure to please anime fans.


Arsène Lupin III — Lupin III

TMS Entertainment

Lupin III became the greatest thief in the world thanks to his extraordinary intelligence and skills. His manga counterpart has been known for his shady behavior but Lupin III, the gentle thief in anime, managed to charm our hearts and have a lasting impact on pop culture.


Shōtarō Kaneda — Akira

TMS Entertainment

Kaneda leads the Capsules biker gang. His friend Tetsuo is gifted with psychic abilities and he is forced into an epic war in Neo-Tokyo. The shot of him sliding on his bike made him a popular culture icon. But it’s because Akira brought greater attention to anime worldwide, Kaneda has become one of anime’s most recognizable heroes.


Ichigo Kurosaki — Bleach


Although Ichigo could see ghosts and was already able to see them, he was just a normal high school student before becoming a Soul Reaper. Ichigo is the Reaper’s replacement. He fights for others against the evil Hollows and guides good people to the spirit world. Although Ichigo is well-known for his cool design and giant sword, his heroic nature has helped to keep the Reaper alive in the hearts of anime fans.


Kirito — Online Sword Art

A-1 Pictures

The isekai movement was sparked by this swordsman. Kirito, trapped in VR, where game-over literally means death, fought to return home to the real life, eventually becoming the strongest player of SAO. Many people are enamored with Kirito winning over every girl he meets. Kirito’s fascinating backstory, exceptional skills, and likable personality make him an engaging protagonist. You must also love his bizarre outfit and dual knives. Neo, you can now stand aside.


Yugi Muto/Yami Yugi — Yu-Gi-Oh!

Toei Company

If you played Yu-Gi-Oh! Growing up, this duolist and his amazing hairstyle are what you’ll remember. Yugi, who wears the spirit of an Egyptian pharaoh’s necklace, masters Duel Monsters and is the King of Games. Yugi has the Heart of the Cards at his side, no matter if he’s playing alongside Dark Magicians, Kurbiohs, and the Egyptian Gods.


Izuku Midoriya/Deku — My Hero Academia


Although he wasn’t born with a superpower, he aspired to be a superhero like his idol All Might. Deku, a superhero-like child, was a childhood dreamer.


Rem — Re: Zero-Starting a Life in another World

White Fox

Rem is consistently regarded as one of the best waifus in anime, if certainly not the greatest. Due to her sweet and supportive nature, the blue-haired maid was loved by many and it left them heartbroken that Emilia was chosen over her. Rem was Subaru’s best friend during his time of dying, and everyone would be blessed to have their Rem.


Kamina — Gurren Laggan


The legendary hero taught us all about what it means to be a man. Kamina was a source for inspiration for Simon and many others who admired this mecha legend. After eight episodes, Kamina was killed by the series. Although he may be gone, his impact on his friends and his macho spirit will live on forever.


Rei Ayanami — Evangelion

Studio Khara

Since her debut, fans have been fascinated by this mysterious EVA pilot.  Rei is a combination of Shinji’s mother Shinji and Angel Lilith’s DNA. She acts as though her sole purpose in life is to fly the EVA. She rarely speaks or interacts with others. Rei is a person we can all relate too. We all long for companionship and meaning in our lives. It’s so touching to see her discover joy and purpose with new friends.


Akira Fudo/Devilman — Devilman


Akira is able to defeat the demon spirit Amon while still keeping his humanity. Akira uses his evil powers against the demons that rise up all over the globe, but eventually he must face the people he attempted to protect. Akira Devilman, the series that premiered on Netflix recently has made him most popular. However, this dark and tragic hero has been an influence on anime for many decades.


Astro Boy — Astro Boy

Tezuka Productions

Astro was created by a scientist as a replacement for his dead son. After being sold to a robot circus, he is adopted by another professor. Astro, a beloved superhero known for his cute appearance and red rocket shoes became the first American anime.


Sailor Moon — Sailor Moon


The magical girl genre was born from this savior dressed in a sailor costume. Although she was born Usagi Tsukino and grew up in Earth, she discovers she is the reincarnation for the Moon Kingdom princess. She is gifted with a brooch which can transform her into Sailor Moon. With her abilities, she forms a team of Guardians and uses them to defend her planet from the evil forces. She is not only one the most popular characters in anime but also one the greatest female superheroes of pop culture.


Totoro — My Neighbor Totoro

Studio Ghibli

This giant fuzzball, which was released in the film, has been the Studio Ghibli mascot since its release. It is one of the most well-known anime characters. This giant cat-like spirit, which is reminiscent of Mickey Mouse or Winnie the Pooh became an animated icon that audiences around the world adored. It captured childhood innocence and broad-eyed imagination in its purest form, and was a favorite animation icon. This cuddly, cat-like spirit would be a great choice for any child.


Saitama — One-Punch Man


This is not your typical Man of Steel. Saitama was able to defeat any foe in one punch after training hard to be a hero. In the end, he lost interest in his work and found it difficult to enjoy what he did. Even so, he still uses his unstoppable power to protect the people of Z City, which all makes him one of the most unconventional shonen heroes out there. 


Eren Yeager — Attack on Titan


After seeing a Titan eat his mother’s flesh, Eren vows revenge and joins in the fight against the colossal invaders. In the end, he becomes a Titan. Although Eren starts as a hero, he becomes more ruthless and murderous as the story progresses. He vows to protect his people and exterminate all other life. Eren, thanks to his complex character as well as the show’s immense popularity, has become one of the most beloved protagonists.  antagonists in anime history.


Lelouch Lamperouge — Code Geass


Lelouch, a former prince of Britannia is gifted with the power Geass. He leads a rebellion against Holy Britannian Empire and becomes the head of Black Knights. His narcissism, extreme methods, and inability to be liked by others make him an unlikable character. However, the bonds he has made with his allies make him an appealing antihero. 


Motoko Kusanagi — Ghost in the Shell


Major Motoko Kusanagi, whose brain is now a cybernetic entity, investigates Japanese crimes in this cyberpunk anime. This purple-haired copman is a formidable force to be reckoned. Her intelligence, strength, and skill have proven that she is a force to be reckoned. However, her curiosity about her humanity and identity as an cyborg has made them one of science fiction’s most intriguing and thought-provoking characters.


L Lawliet — Death Note


Light Yagami’s perfect opponent was this strange, but intelligent detective. L and Light play a game called “cat and mouse” as they try to catch the killer. Alessandro Juliana’s outstanding performance as L’s voice has helped this eccentric genius make his mark on anime fans.


Vegeta — Dragon Ball


Vegeta was an upright hero like Goku, but he had a long and difficult journey to become a father, husband, and hero. Vegeta was driven by Goku’s success, and he was left behind time after time. The Saiyan Prince had to question his purpose in life, and his ego was dominating his existence for years. He accepted his limitations, and began to fight for peace and love rather than just pride.


Light Yagami — Death Note


Light Yagami is a man who gained the power to kill any person he chooses with the Death Note. He wants to become the god and creator of a new world, eliminating all those he feels are worthy to die. Although Light is a cold-hearted and manipulative villain, audiences around the world have been drawn to him because he believes in what’s best for the planet.


Levi Ackerman — Attack on Titan


Levi, considered to be the world’s most powerful soldier, leads an elite squad of the Survey Corps soldiers in the war against the Titans. The series’ most beloved character has been repeatedly ranked this stone-faced fighter, and I can understand why. Levi was cool and calm, capable of some great moves on the battlefield and won our hearts with his heroic battles, dry humor, and heartbreaking origins.


Asuka Langley — Evangelion

Studio Khara

This EVA pilot represents the classic tsundere archetype. Although she can be a bit sexist towards Shinji and almost everyone else around her, she developed a respect for him and their shared fight against the Angels. Asuka also faces her own problems as she falls into despair. After dedicating her entire life to the EVA, Asuka loses her will to live. She is too weak to fight and becomes unable to fly the EVA, which forces her to confront her past trauma. Asuka is a complex and beloved character in anime history.


Guts — Berserk

OLM, Inc.

It would be an understatement to say that this mercenary has had a difficult life. This dark fantasy anime shows Guts struggling through his life. But, after being forced to fight alongside the Band of the Hawk he starts to rise from this darkness to become the anti-hero the fans love.


Edward Elric — Fullmetal Alchemist

Bones Inc.

Alphonse and Edward, in an effort to revive their mother’s health, are subjected to alchemic dismemberment. This failed ritual literally costs Edward an arm, and a leg. Alphonse and Edward travel the globe in prosthetic limbs to recover their bodies and find the Philosopher’s Stone. Edward, a brilliant alchemist, walks a fine line between stubborn and smart. He and his friends take on the Homunculi.


Naruto Uzumaki — Naruto


Although he was disowned by his village for having the Nine-Tailed Fox in his body and he wanted to be their leader, Naruto still aspired to do so. The ninja hero is known for his energy, remarkable development and unique style of running. You should at least have tried it once in your lifetime.


Monkey D Luffy — One Piece


It’s difficult to find an anime fan that doesn’t know something about this hero. Luffy can stretch his body after consuming the Gum Gum Fruit. Luffy sets sail with the Straw Hat Pirates to cross the Grand Line. He seeks the legendary One Piece in order to become King of the Pirates. As with many shonen characters, this happy-go lucky pirate is not always the sharpest of knives. But he is a skilled fighter and a true hero. He has sacrificed his life numerous times to save his crew and, after nearly two decades, still triumphs.


Ash & Pikachu — Pokémon


Because they are best friends, I chose them both for this one. Aspiring to become a Pokémon Master, Ash Ketchum ends up getting Pikachu as his first partner, and the two have been inseparable ever since, fighting countless Trainers and collecting Gym Badges to become a champion. Though Ash has caught and trained many strong Pokémon in the last 20 years, Pikachu will always be his number one partner.


Shinji Ikari — Evangelion

Studio Khara

He might not have been as courageous, optimistic, or morally upright as audiences expected, but that is what made him such great characters. The struggle of Shinji, the Evangelion creator, with depression is portrayed as he struggles with acceptance and overcomes his self-loathing against the backdrop of the Angels’ war. Shinji allowed audiences to see into the darkest parts of human psychology as he questioned his purpose in life. He was the hero audiences wanted, but not the one that they deserved.


Spike Spiegel — Cowboy Bebop


Spike is a bounty hunter who travels across the Solar System on the Bebop. He enjoys many cosmic adventures along with his crew of galactic misfits. Spike appears to be a calm guy but he is haunted still by his past as a Red Dragon Syndicate member and his long-lost lover, Julia. Spike was always considered one of the best anime characters, and even though he had to die, he still knew how to leave with a bang.


Goku — Dragon Ball


This Saiyan warrior is the ultimate shonen hero. He inspired many of the most iconic anime characters that have followed him. Goku is sent to Earth as a baby to kill humanity. However, he ends up being the planet’s greatest protector. Goku is a muscular-headed alien who may not always do the right or logical thing. However, he will protect all those around him from evil. Goku is one of the most beloved heroes in anime, with his numerous transformations and powerful pipes.

Who would you like to add to this list?

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