You can’t help but get sucked into a binge-watching session of the very first anime you’ve ever decided to check out.
After a few recommendations come your way from those in the know, you’ll quickly attach yourself to one of your first choices and become enraptured with everything that transpires during said anime. At the heart of every worthwhile anime is a cast that will hopefully get you engaged in anything and everything they do. And when it comes time for those various personalities to get embroiled in a major conflict, the stakes are raised and emotions run high while your favorite characters struggle for their lives. Anime has been around for as long as we can remember and there’s been a ton of iconic individuals featured throughout them that have captured our hearts and imaginations. The characters we’ve listed below adorn our finest T-shirts, inspire plenty of fan art, and have entire cosplay communities dedicated to them.
We can’t help but love each and every one of these iconic anime characters. And we’re sure most of you feel the exact same way.
The Super Saiyan to rule them all is practically recognizable by everyone and their grandmother. Goku’s known for being a dunce that lets simple jokes go over his head most of the time, but he’s still quite beloved due to his constant desire for the types of battles that push him to his very limit. As Dragon Ball Z’s poster boy, Goku stands out as anime’s most iconic character and one of its most powerful warriors. Crazy to think that he might just have a new formation or two waiting in the tuck for future generations of Dragon Ball.
The yang to Goku’s yin is the battle-hardened Saiyan Prince known as Vegeta. Vegeta’s growth has been amazing to watch – he went from a planet-destroying member of the Frieza Force to a proud fighter that always looks to protect his loved ones and the planet he once tried to tear apart. The man is always in a salty mood and hardly smiles, but we can’t help but love it when it breaks the limit of his power and contends with a natural rival in Goku.
Piccolo was once on the opposite end of the World Martial Arts Tournament arena when it came time to exchange fisticuffs and beams with Goku. But after their fight concluded, the formidable Namakian combatant turned to the hero side of things and fought on behalf of the denizens of Earth. Not only is Piccolo a super badass member of the Z-Fighters team, but he’s also an amazing father figure that helped Gohan realize his true combat potential.
Vegeta and Bulma’s son will always be remembered for having one of the dopest intros in an anime ever. Watching him make short work of Mecha Frieza and King Cold with his Super Saiyan toolset and signature blade in tow will forever stay in our memory banks. Trunks exudes so many likable traits and it’s so easy to root for the guy as he deals with the threats that exist in his future timeline. His heroic nature has always painted him as one of DBZ’s bravest warriors.
Frieza’s one of the most conniving, untrustworthy, and megalomaniacal villains to have ever existed within the world of anime. Even still, we simply can’t get enough of the guy. Even after being wiped out by Goku and company on more than one occasion, Freiza has found his way back to the world of the living and gotten back to terrorizing the universe. Frieza always plays dirty and will do anything to make his ultimate wish via the Dragon Balls. You gotta respect the purple and white menace’s tenacity in that regard.
The genius that’s closely associated with the Capsule Corporation owns her role as the greatest female character in Dragon Ball Z history. Bulma’s been around since the OG Dragon Ball days and has been on countless adventures with Goku, his son Gohan, Krillin, etc. She’s got quite the attitude on her, which shockingly makes her super likable since she has every right to be a bit snappy considering what she can invent and develop on a whim. Bulma’s the brains behind the Z-Fighters operation and we hope that position never changes.
Following the growth of Naruto from an overconfident youngster to the level-headed Hokage of the village he calls home (Konohagakure) is incredibly inspiring. Naruto’s the type of series protagonist that saw his goals through to full completion and fully dedicated himself to protecting the friends he regards as family. His ninjitsu mastery is next level and it’s always exciting to watch him save the day with his amazing abilities in tow.
Team 7’s teacher is cool under pressure, incredibly strong, and has a sweet hairdo to boot. Besides passing on his knowledge to Naruto’s most recognizable trio, Kakashi has also showcased his battle-ready skills during the series’ most climactic clashes. The guy just looks so damn cool with his face mask on at all times and we’ve adorned our walls with images of him reading his beloved erotic novels. Kakashi has the right to unwind after doing so much good in the world of Naruto.
Naruto’s biggest rival is none other than Sasuke Uchiha. His thirst for unrelenting power during his earlier story arc painted him as someone that was destined for evil. But as his story wore on, we came to understand Sasuke’s thirst for vengeance and were more than overjoyed when he finally chose to reunite with his original Team 7 squadmates. Sasuke may have originally come off as a cold and ruthless antagonist. But he eventually grew into someone we could admire and respect thanks to his newfound quest for redemption.
Sasuke’s older brother Itachi was forced to bring his entire clan to a demise in an effort to protect his younger sibling. That commendable act quickly made us gain the highest level of respect for Itachi Uchiha. Besides making one of the biggest character sacrifices in Naruto, Itachi also gets tons of credit for being featured in some of the most legendary fights in the series. Itachi has an intriguing backstory and the benefit of being a complete badass, which certainly qualifies him for this list.
Lady Tsunade definitely earned a top spot among Naruto’s pantheon of the manga/anime’s most beloved characters. Her leadership skills regularly inspired us during her time spent as the Fifth Hokage, plus watching her fend off Orochimaru while simultaneously protecting Naruto stands out as one of her finest moments. Tsunade gets top honors from us thanks to her affinity for putting hands on baddies and using those same hands to heal her allies all in one fell swoop.
Monkey D. Luffy just doesn’t know the word quit. The “Straw Hat” pirate always fights valiantly in the name of his fellow pirates and makes sure to do so to his very last breath. His fun-loving personality and the fact that he tends to speak at an incredibly high volume endeared us to him from the very start of One Piece. The many transformations he’s adopted throughout the sea-faring anime paint him as the sort of hero that can always be counted on to raise his game to all-new levels of power.
Zoro’s skills as a master swordsmen always have us in awe. Some of the best fights in the entire One Piece series come straight from whomever Zoro chose to do battle with. Once a month, we spend some time raising our hype levels during our scheduled viewings of Zoro’s epic clashes with Ryuma, Daz Bones, and Bartholomew Kuma. Zoro is most definitely one of our favorite anime blade-wielding heroes.
Sanji isn’t just a classy chef with a strong sense of adoration for One Piece’s female population, but he’s also a menace when it comes to delivering kicks. As long as we’ve been watching him in action, we’ve found ourselves in awe of the specialty kicks he dishes out. Add in his impeccable sense of fashion and you have an anime icon that dons the flyest suits and wears them while putting in work with his vicious kick-based arsenal.
In both the Human and Demon Worlds within Yu Yu Hakusho, Yusuke always did his best to fight on the side of good and utilize his immense power to uphold his duty as protector. Yusuke’s growth into a respectable young man happened in front of our very eyes, which is why we champion him as Yu Yu Hakusho’s best character. We can’t help but relate to a kid that always felt like no one could see him when it came time to engage in some fisticuffs. SPIRIT GUN VIBES, FOR THE WIN!
This man Kurama has an immense amount of drip. And that’s because the combination of a fox demon’s spirit and a graceful human body resulted in nothing but pure excellence. Kurama’s combat mastery usually resulted in some of Yu Yu Hakusho’s most exciting battles – watching him put in work with that rose whip of his is always monumental. Kurama’s far from a pretty boy – he’s a cunning fighter with both brawn and brains in equal measure.
Another memorable member from Yusuke’s four-man unit is the man referred to as “Hiei of the Evil Eye.” Hiei’s height has and always will be a non-factor since he makes up for it with an amazing skill set. Extreme heat and severe cold conditions have no effect on him, plus his insane sense of speed always made his adept swordsmanship look that much cooler in action. Hiei’s third eye and the terrifying transformation that places even more eyes across his body give him a whole bunch of extra cool points that afford him a worthy spot on this list.
The frontrunner for Attack on Titan has been through hell and back. Ever since he witnessed the demise of his mother at the hands of the Titans, Eren Yeager decided to stop cowering in fear and fight back against the enormous menace that threatens his world. Finding out that he has the ability to transform into a Titan himself was a mind-blowing moment that made us applaud Eren’s great strength and determination even more.
Mikasa Ackerman’s upbringing was quite harsh. Thanks to the assistance of Eren, she grew into a formidable member of the Survey Corps and eventually received a well-deserved promotion to an officer. Mikasa’s a headstrong fighter that does everything in her power to keep her loved ones safe from harm. She’s earned a special place in our hearts due to her constant feats of heroism alongside Eren and the rest of the Survey Corps.
The Ackerman siblings are quite the badasses, aren’t they? The brotherly half of the duo comes in the form of Levi Ackerman, who holds top rank as one of the strongest members of the Survey Corps. His facial expression always clues you into one thing and one thing only – he’s fully prepared to hand out justice by any means necessary. We also gotta give props to him for being one of the cleanest characters on Attack on Titan – Levi’s “clean freak” nature deserves all the praise in the world.
She’s quirky, she’s awkward, and she’s also a bit lazy. But above all else, Usagi Tsuniko is a purveyor of love and justice. And when she gets into transformation mode, you can’t help but look on in amazement during her transition into Sailor Moon. The leader of the Sailor Scouts is a lovable heroine that’s had a legendary run that you definitely need to check out if you haven’t already.
Rei Hino is the incredibly fiery (pun definitely intended), highly disciplined, and most musically inclined member of the Sailor Scouts. Her affinity for flame-based attacks and her humorous rivalry with Usagi has made Rei another one of our favorite characters from Sailor Moon. And once she goes into Sailor Mars mode, the excitement level tied to the series’ combat encounters increases dramatically.
Young Midoriya is already slated to be the strongest hero of them all at some point. Getting to watch him make his way through a series of overwhelming trials and tribulations as he tries to get his grip on his superhero abilities is pretty damned inspiring. Izuku wields One for All and is doing everything in his power to use it for good. We adore the young tyke and am always overjoyed whenever he nabs himself a major victory.
Even without his powers, All Might still commands our attention. He makes for a great teacher and role model to Young Midoriya and the rest of Class 1-A. When he was at his peak of superhero strength, All Might managed to always save the day in the most epic fashion. Witnessing his vicious punch-based moveset in action is always a great time. All Might is power personified and the type of character that everyone should strive to be in their real lives.
Shoto Todoroki’s Quirk is straight-up Icy Hot to the extreme. And that’s why we love the guy so much. His toolset is already immensely powerful – we can already imagine him being even more of a force to be reckoned with once he grows into his adult years. His tough upbringing presents one of the more interesting backstories in My Hero Academia – seeing him come to grips with what his mother did to him and the treatment he received from his father puts his continued growth on full display.