If you are someone who can’t say no to hours of binge-watching anime sessions then we know you’ve got your favorites. After all, there can’t be an anime fan without his or her top anime character. But, if you want to know about the iconic personalities that made it big this year then you’ve arrived at the right space.
No.1 Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece)
Monkey D. Luffy represents the dreamer in all of us. Ever since he was a young boy, Luffy (a member of the illustrious D. family) longed to become the next Pirate King. As soon as he was old enough to start his own crew, Luffy took to the water. He is dedicated, motivated, and hungry every minute of the day. However, Luffy is also extremely loyal to his friends and family and will do everything in his power to protect them, even if it means pushing his rubber body to its limits (his stretchy limbs are the result of eating a Devil Fruit).
While Luffy isn’t known for his book smarts, his creativity shines through when he uses his powers, like his trademark Gum-Gum Pistol attack or his various transformations known as Gears. Despite facing seemingly impossible odds at times, he will never stop chasing his dream to find the legendary One Piece treasure and become the next king of the pirates.
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No.2 Goku (Dragon Ball Z)
Goku is the Superman stand-in of the anime world. A young boy from a dying alien race, he was sent to Earth to begin life anew. Just like Superman, Goku is the protector of his new home, defending it from internal and external threats. No matter the danger, Goku will always find a way to prevail. When Frieza took out his best friend, Krillen, Goku unlocked the legendary transformation known as Super Saiyan to defeat him. After Beerus threatened to destroy Earth, Goku unleashed the Super Saiyan God form to stop him.
Regardless of how much Goku grows in age and strength, he still has the heart of a child who loves adventure. That wonder was best captured in the original “Dragon Ball” series, though the version of the character that audiences are most familiar with is “Dragon Ball Z” Goku. There have been several sequel shows since then, and, with the success of the feature film “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” Goku likely has years of adventures ahead of him. He’s the best boy anime character in the history of the medium, and it looks like nobody will take the crown away from him any time soon.
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No.3 Naruto Uzumaki (Naruto)
On the surface, Naruto Uzumaki appears to be nothing more than an annoying kid who acts out whenever he flunks a ninja assignment. On the inside, however, Naruto is a lonely orphan who wonders why everyone in his ninja village has a built-in prejudice against him. The truth of the matter is that they don’t like Naruto because he’s the living embodiment of the nine-tailed demonic beast Kurama, who nearly destroyed their entire village.
Naruto wants nothing more than to win the respect of his people. His arc from the original “Naruto” anime to the follow-up series “Naruto: Shippuden” is one of a class clown becoming a respected leader in the ninja world. He didn’t just win everyone over with his amazing abilities, he won them over with his words of optimism and compassion. Naruto’s journey as a ninja doesn’t stop at being Hokage of his village, however, as he continues to be a loving husband to his childhood crush, Hinata Hyuga, and his children, Boruto and Himawari.
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No.4 Conan Edogawa (Detective Conan)
Conan Edogawa is proof that knowledge is power. “Detective Conan,” also known as “Case Closed” in North America, is one of the longest-running anime out there. The show continues to go strong with over 900 episodes, not to mention all the feature length movies that have come out over the years. It’s the story of a detective named Shinichi Kudo, who was transformed into a child by the deadly Black Organization. He attends high school and solves mysteries under his pint-size alter ego Conan Edogawa, while also trying to find a cure for his predicament.
It’s not just Conan’s brilliant investigations that are fun to watch, it’s his unbelievable gadgets. The things that Dr. Agasa (an inventor who knows the truth about Shinichi) comes up with for the detective are a marvel to behold, from his voice-changing bowtie to his super-powered skateboard. With mystery, plenty of cool toys, and an older, butt-kicking girlfriend, “Detective Conan” is the ultimate fantasy for boys.
No.5 Kamina (Gurren Lagann)
“Don’t believe in the you that believes in me and don’t believe in the me that believes in you. Believe in the you that believes in yourself.” That’s one of the many motivational quotes from Kamina of “Gurren Lagann.” Kamina is a hot-blooded mecha pilot who drilled his way out of mankind’s underground safe haven to explore the uncharted territories above. With the help of his best friend Simon, he’s able to pilot the Lagann, an ancient artifact of war capable of defeating the adversarial forces of the Beastmen.
To the timid Simon (and to viewers at home), Kamina is the epitome of masculinity and heroism. He’s always ready for action, never running from a fight and always knowing what to say to raise everyone’s spirits when the chips are down. Kamina is seemingly the perfect childhood hero, but he’s still just a man who can be killed like any of his comrades. When Kamina leaves, it not only signals the end of childhood for Simon, it triggers his journey to adulthood. Kamina gave him the push he needed to start blazing his own trail.
No.6 Ash Ketchum (Pokémon)
The life of a Pokémon trainer is not an easy one. Thankfully, Ash Ketchum is eternally ten years old, so he’s bound to catch ’em all one day. Jokes aside, Ash’s dedication finally paid off in 2019 when he won the Alola Pokémon League and became a Pokémon Champion for the first time, over two decades after the show premiered. Ash got closer and closer to achieving his goal with every passing series, defeating a surprising amount of formidable gym leaders.
Ash also encountered numerous setbacks during that time. Regardless of the hardships he endured, he never gave up on his dream and continued to become a better Pokémon trainer for his beloved Pokémon. Ash is a great role model for kids: He treats people and Pokémon with respect, and his long-awaited victory is proof that one should never give up on their dreams, no matter how far-fetched they may seem.
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No.7 Izuku Deku Midoriya (My Hero Academia)
In a world populated by superheroes, Izuku “Deku” Midoriya was unlucky enough to be born as a helpless civilian. Lacking a super-powered ability known as a Quirk, Deku could never stand side-by-side with his idol All Might and the other great superheroes that fight for justice. At least, that’s what he thought growing up. When All Might witnessed Deku nearly sacrificing himself to save the life of a former friend from a deadly sludge monster, he was so impressed by his heroism that he decided to make Deku his apprentice and transfer all his power to him.
Possessing the incredible strength and endurance of All Might helps Deku fight alongside his superheroic classmates at U.A. High School, but it’s his willingness to save others that makes him a real hero. Throughout the series, Deku sheds his insecurities and develops a spirit as strong as All Might himself. There are so many superheroes for kids to look up to nowadays, but Deku is perhaps the most selfless of them all.
No.8 Tanjiro Kamado (Demon Slayer)
If you’re an anime fan, you’ve probably already heard of Tanjiro Kamado, the protagonist of the hit “Demon Slayer” franchise. Tanjiro joins the Demon Slayer Corps after most of his family gets brutally murdered by a demon. His sister managed to survive the attack, but she was turned into a demon herself. The series follows his efforts to restore his sister’s humanity and rid the world of the demonic threat plaguing it.
The loss of his father and the tragedy that befell his family forced Tanjiro to grow up at the young age of 13. Despite the heavy burden, he still holds on to his courage and his optimistic belief that everyone deserves respect and justice. Even when it comes to demons, Tanjiro is willing to sympathize with those that are pitiful, a mindset most likely developed from his poor sister’s predicament. The only thing Tanjiro cares about is being a good provider and caregiver, something fans of all ages can take on board.
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No.9 Gintoki Sakata (Gintama)
There’s no one in the world of anime like Gintoki Sakata from “Gintama,” a show about an alien invasion that takes place during Japan’s Edo period. In Gintoki’s own words, he is a “child in a man’s body,” as demonstrated by his incredibly lazy nature and his insatiable appetite for sweets. Given the comedic tones of “Gintama,” Gintoki will often have a sarcastic comeback to toss out or cowardly leave his friends behind when danger arises for laughs. However, when the series enters serious mode, Gintoki can be quite a tragic character.
His failure to protect his friends in the Joui War as a samurai soldier still haunts him. To Gintoki, the perfect life is to just hang out with his friends and have a loving family to come home to. For now, he is content with blowing all his moolah on gambling games until he’s stripped of everything except his pink, strawberry-pattern underwear. And slaying the odd alien, of course.
No.10 Kirigaya Kirito Kazuto (Sword Art Online)
Kirigaya “Kirito” Kazuto is something of a loner. He gets trapped in a virtual reality massively multiplayer online role-playing game (VRMMORPG) called Sword Art Online after being chosen as one of the beta testers. Yet, despite being able to interact with other players, he still prefers to play on his own rather than joining one of the game’s many guilds. Thankfully, Kirito is an epic gamer with incredible skills. Even so, the odds are stacked against him — if he dies in the game, he will die in real life, too.
As life progresses in the virtual world, Kirito learns to befriend other players. He joins them on their quest to complete the game and free everyone from their virtual imprisonment. On top of being a skilled gamer, Kirito is also popular with the ladies. He spends a lot of time helping out various female players with their problems, earning their affection in the process. He only has eyes for Asuna Yuuki, however, and their eventual relationship becomes the backbone of the show.