Since its inception, anime fans throughout the ages have been introduced to scores of anime series and the hundreds of characters who populate those series. With such wide diversity, there’s an anime character out there for everyone to get attached to and call a favorite, but some anime characters stand out amongst the crowd and become fan-favorites for the long term.
Characters from long-running series often gain the most fans, but even those from short series have the chance to stand out if they’re memorable enough. Many characters have stood out over the years, but only some manage to keep charming audiences enough to sustain their popularity.
10 Spike Spiegel Quickly Became The Definition Of Cool (Cowboy Bebop)
Many anime fans would be hard-pressed to find an anime character who’s cooler than Cowboy Bebop‘s Spike Spiegel. While some characters might be just as cool as Spike, it’s a rarity for his cool factor to be outdone. Spike’s easygoing and carefree personality can even be inspiring. He does his best to flow like water and adapt to whatever circumstances come his way, which is hard for many people to do. Spike is so well-liked, his fate at the end of Cowboy Bebop is still contested by fans.
9 Monkey D. Luffy Has An Endearing Indomitable Spirit (One Piece)
One Piece has become one of the most popular long-running anime and manga series of all time, and its protagonist plays a large part in that. Monkey D. Luffy is a hard character to dislike. He’s friendly, adventurous, brave, and funny – all endearing qualities that most people can’t help but be attracted to. Audiences are rooting for Luffy to finally become the Pirate King not only because he’s fought so hard for it but also because someone as loveable as Luffy surely deserves the title.
8 Goku Is A Classic Shonen Protagonist Who Still Charms Audiences (Dragon Ball)
The Dragon Ball franchise is a behemoth in the anime industry that has enjoyed enduring popularity since the 1980s, an honor that many anime series can’t claim. Besides its epic battles and wide cast of characters, the Dragon Ball franchise also has a good dose of comedy due to its goofy protagonist.
Goku’s unflappable personality and his naivete toward everything but fighting make him an easy character to like. His good-natured, pure heart also lets audiences know that he’ll never use his strength to cause undue harm.
7 Rintaro Okabe’s Relatability Makes It Easy To Love His Character (Steins;Gate)
Part of Steins;Gate‘s appeal lies in its urban, relatable setting and characters. Rintaro Okabe and the rest of the Future Gadget Lab lab members seem like people anyone could meet out on the street. Okabe is a character who likes to joke around, but, underneath the jokes, he cares deeply about people he considers friends. Audiences can easily connect with Okabe’s feelings of fun and friendship, and they can also easily sympathize with his struggle to save both his friends and the world from a devastating future.
6 Edward Elric Inspires Audiences To Push Through Adversity (Fullmetal Alchemist)
From an early age, Edward Elric suffered a hard life in Fullmetal Alchemist. The desire to bring his mother back is easy to sympathize with, so audiences can’t help but feel pity for his situation. What makes Edward most impressive is his refusal to give up on life. Even though he’s living with the weight of the sacrifice from performing forbidden alchemy, Ed doesn’t let it keep him from moving forward with his life. Ed faces many more challenges after his childhood mistake, but he always pushes through.
5 Naruto Uzumaki’s Determination & Backstory Naturally Elicit Sympathy (Naruto)
When it comes to sympathetic characters, it’s hard for anime fans to turn their eyes away from Naruto‘s Naruto Uzumaki. Living life as an orphan for his entire life up until the start of the series, Naruto naturally craved family and affection from those around him. Unfortunately, the nine-tailed beast residing within him was a source of prejudice, and it prevented others from getting close to him. Audiences can’t help but want to see Naruto succeed in his endeavors to gain the love and respect he always wanted and deserved.
4 Levi Ackerman’s Skills & No-Nonsense Attitude Draws Audiences In (Attack On Titan)
Audiences became attached to Attack on Titan‘s Levi Ackerman because of his ruthlessness instead of being a kind or friendly person. Levi takes a harsh, unforgiving stance against life and refuses to let adversity hold him down.
His skill as a Survey Corps member is also unbelievably cool, which worked in his favor with gaining audience attention. His backstory also paints him as a tragic, sympathetic figure who deserves better than the hand he’s been dealt. His persevering attitude is worth applauding.
3 L Lawliet’s Eccentricities & Quest Against Kira Make Him Easily Likeable (Death Note)
Not only does L start off as a mysterious and eccentric character in Death Note, but he also introduces himself as Kira’s primary enemy. Since audiences watch the series mostly from Light Yagami’s perspective, they’re in the perfect position to understand that Light needs to be stopped before it’s too late. Part of the fun of Death Note is watching Light try to outmaneuver L, who nearly unmasks Light as Kira before he’s eventually defeated. Audiences ultimately became more attached to L as a character than Light.
2 Ash’s Pikachu Has Been A Lovable Character For Decades (Pokémon)
Pokémon wouldn’t be the same without its most popular character, who just so happens to be a Pokémon. While many would consider Ash’s Pikachu as more of a mascot, he’s arguably as much of a character as Ash Ketchum is. Pikachu’s strength often bails Ash out of sticky situations, and he’s always out of his Poké Ball at Ash’s side. The bond between Ash and Pikachu is one of the best parts of the Pokémon anime franchise and one of the reasons Pikachu is the most easily recognized Pokémon.
1 Joseph Joestar Is One Of The Franchise’s Favorite JoJos (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a long-running series with multiple JoJos and a huge cast of characters, but it’s Joseph Joestar who tends to capture the most attention. Not only has Joseph appeared in three different installments of JoJo’s, but he’s also won multiple JoJo’s character popularity contests. Joseph is definitely the flashiest JoJo in terms of his personality and behavior. He’s an incorrigible trickster who thrives on outsmarting his enemies instead of just beating them physically, something that made him stand out from the JoJos who came before and after him, Jonathan and Jotaro respectively.
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About The Author
Brittanie Maldonado (171 Articles Published)
Brittanie Maldonado is a Staff Writer for CBR and a long-time gamer/cartoon-lover based in the US. She studied English and Comparative Literature at the School of General Studies at Columbia University in the City of New York, so she loves evaluating and analyzing different types of media. She’s worked in fast food, retail, and corporate roles, but she is happiest when expressing herself through writing. Brittanie has a deep love and appreciation for the Japanese language and culture, and she brings this cultural perspective to the forefront when assessing various Japanese media. If she’s not researching or writing, she’s probably gaming or catching up on her backlogged anime watchlist. She doesn’t do the social media thing too well, but you can check out her Twitter at @SpikeUesugi or email her at email@example.com.