The list of the best anime characters ever includes top favorites in manga of all time. A lot of the most memorable and greatest anime characters, such as L and Kakashi, are not surprisingly the stars of the best anime series. Head over to that list but have in mind that not all of the great characters listed here are “good guys” – some of these anime characters are among the most notorious and worst anime villains.
Best Anime Characters
L (Death Note)
Shaggy hair, a contempt for shoes, and a propensity for crouching on chairs and eating predominantly junk food, meticulous, cunning and secretive, L’s desire to win couples with his intellect to give the reputation of being the world’s best detective. He is not exactly the image reflecting “master detective”, but ordinarily geniuses are quite eccentric. L is certainly a good contrast to the sociopathic personality of Light and the perfection mask he wears. His childish and disheveled exterior masks an analytical and sharp mind, throwing off adversaries. Paranoid and reclusive, L solves difficult cases by communicating with the world outside via a computer with voice scrambler and his assistant Watari. This anime character has a sweet tooth, and is often found crouching instead of normally sitting while snacking on cakes. L is expert in mind games and much like a kid, would do almost anything to win, helped by his calm, mysterious expression and monotonous voice, which make reading impossible for him. L is a little creepy, weird, and badly in need of sun, but he is the good guy, while the pretty boy is the one who’s trying to kill everybody. Because L is as brilliant as Light, the battle of wits between both anime characters creates dramatic tension which keeps fans starving for more. And if it hadn’t been for the supernatural help of Light, in the end L might have won.
Lelouch LAMPEROUGE (Lelouch of the Rebellion)
Among the murderous and maniacal masterminds on the list, Lelouch is one of the best examples of a hero who has gone astray. As it often happens in drama stories, his good intentions paved the road to a dark place. “The ends justify the means” is his mantra, but Lelouch’s desire to right wrongs and make a better world for his sister lead him to become the precise kind of despot he was trying to struggle against. The rise and downfall of Lelouch Lamperouge is almost Shakespearean in nature. His own arrogance and pride cloud his judgment and he thus misses out on what is truly important. However, he at least does it all with a sense of drama. His alter ego named Zero, complete with flowing cape and mysterious helmet, is an iconic tool securing a place in the psyche of his followers and his enemies. But it is not just a costume: gradually Zero becomes persona for Lelouch until the hopeful boy he was begins to fade away. In the end, the plans of the anime character are successful, but not in the way fans ever expected.
Kakashi HATAKE (Naruto)
It is hard to outshine a lead anime character in his own series. However, Kakashi made it and in popularity polls he often outranked Naruto. Kakashi is a complex character, with iconic design and laid back attitude which just exudes cool. He is the kind of teacher everybody wishes they had; chill, smart and utterly devoted to students. Kakashi Hatake saves Naruto’s bacon many times during the journey to maturity. And where Naruto is predictable and formulaic, Kakashi has numerous surprising traits which help him grab the show (including the habit of reading erotic novels). Kakashi has a history full of loss, sadness and revenge. Some of the most touching stories in Naruto lore involve his past. From the story of how he acquired Sharingan and his eye scar to the story of the suicide of his father, Kakashi always has many tales to tell despite the quiet behavior he demonstrates. He’s got enough exciting back story to have his own series, which many fans of Naruto would no doubt enjoy.
Edward ELRIC (Fullmetal Alchemist)
Famous as a prodigy and among the world’s strongest alchemists, Edward Elric lived a sheltered life until his mother’s death as he reached the age of 10. Upon trying to resurrect her both he and his brother, Alphonse have a tragic accident and travel together on a hard search to find a cure. The anime character is incredibly strong individual and capable of fighting to death and withstanding any form of pain. He’s also caring and fiercely loyal to those he loves. Edward is still a kid at heart, and maintains a fresh sense of humour together with boyish height complex. As a truly multidimensional character, he can be comedic and pull off sight gags and wild takes. Edward Elric may also portray the deepest kind of sadness while placed in the most tragic circumstances. He could be a badass, but he could also be the world’s nicest guy. And most of all Edward is able to discover harsh truths about the planet, and learn that he did not know as much as he thought he knew.
Light YAGAMI (Death Note)
Light Yagami is calculating, cold and self-righteous to an extreme, believing he alone is able to save the world of evil and corruption. Armed with Ryuk’s Death Note power and precisely-calculated moves, the anime character strategically manipulates friends and enemies alike, no matter who he injures – or kills – along the way. And above all else, Light Yagami’s supreme confidence fuels his obsession with defeating his intellectual rival, L.
Always secretive as to his real identity, Light is well known simply as ‘Kira‘ to the rest of society (including his father who is a detective investigating high profile murders).
The progression of Light Yagami through the anime series is marked by his brilliancy. He’s got the mind that would make even Machiavelli jealous. The power of death note adds a callosity making him free to use others in whatever way in case it’s necessary for accomplishing his goals. It’s very entertaining to see the intricate plans of Light play out. But his ego is as big as his brain, and the arrogance ultimately leads to the tragic downfall of the character.
Levi ACKERMAN (Shingeki No Kyojin /Attack on Titan)
The most powerful soldier of humanity is named Levi. He’s ranked Captain of Scouting Legion division and is also the leader of Special Operations Squad, a team he hand-picked to protect Eren Yeager. And while it’s said that Levi is unapproachable and blunt, it is noted he has a strong respect for discipline. There are some rumors that originally he was part of underground crime prior to becoming a soldier. Though he often seems to be unfriendly, Levi cares for his team a lot and never undervalues human life. He’s also a well-known clean-freak.
Kirito (Sword Art Online)
Kirito is among the 10,000 players who have been trapped in MMORPG, also popular as Sword Art Online. He is recognized as “Beater” to others for his restricted beta access prior to the start of death game, and is often criticized for such an unfair advantage. Kirito is also a skilled swordsman who has condemned himself to a solitary life, and is determined to stay alive at any price in order to reach Floor 100 and clear the game. He refuses joining a guild and makes enemies along the way, but also gains several allies: Klein, a newbie he helped train at the beginning of the game, and Asuna, who he partners with. Unlike the majority of players of Sword Art Online who just look out for themselves, the anime character Kirito lends a hand to the ones in need.
Naruto UZUMAKI (Naruto)
This young ninja has a single dream: that one day he will become the greatest shinobi in his village. When Naruto was young, Fourth Hokage sealed the 9-tailed demon fox within Uzumaki, and as a result holds within him unbelievable power. Though he is not particularly intelligent or naturally talented, Naruto is determined to succeed and works harder than anyone else to achieve his goals. He has a peculiar like for eating ramen as well as using the Sexy technique jutsu upon any unwilling male. However, despite his laid-back attitude Naruto cares deeply and would do anything to protect his friends.
Ken KANEKI (Tokyo Ghoul)
Born as a human, the encounter of Ken Kaneki with the female ghoul Kamishiro Rize forces him to undergo urgent surgery procedures following his assault by her. The manipulative Rize employs her charms and Ken’s attraction towards her as a means of getting the next “meal.” After the attack Kaneki is rushed to hospital in half-dead state, together with Kamishiro. A doctor named Kanou, secretly experimenting with ghouls, half-ghouls and humans, transplants what Ken Kaneki thinks to be a kidney into his body just as a means of saving his life. However, he soon understands that he had part of the kagune of Rize transplanted into him and due to it loses the ability to accept human food, often vomiting or getting sick when ingesting any. Due to his attachment to humanity, Ken Kaneki refuses to receive human beings as a means only to sustain himself, even in case the meat is obtained via non-violent means, rather he accepts large amounts of coffee, and, if absolutely necessary, cannibalizes other ghouls.
Hinata SHOUYOU (Haikyuu)
Hinata boasts an unnaturally high ability to jump and since he was young has trained his legs to compensate for the lack of height. He joins the Volleyball team of Karusuno High School and amazes the players with natural affinity as a spiker. Shouyou has an energetic and cheerful personality. He is a natural schmoozer and is sometimes used by his teammates to win someone like Nishinoya over. Hinata often talks loudly, he is friendly and easily gets excited. Despite having an easy-going personality, he is extremely competitive, particularly when it comes to volleyball. Sugawara states that Hinata has a big fortitude to win and this way does not give up easily during matches. Hinata is able to exhibit an intimidating and scary face whenever people underestimate him. But despite that, he gets scared easily, especially by stronger opponents. However, Hinata recovers quickly and then confidently challenges his opponents.