20 Most Popular Characters in Anime History (According to My Anime List) (2022)

It's hard to admit, but judging an anime isn't always about the quality of the writing or animation. More often than not, fans engage in a popularity contest to decide which characters are the best. Intriguing, well-designed characters define anime. Some perfectly personify the best parts of the series, while others are masters of stealing the spotlight.

In the spirit of a popularity contest, MyAnimeList is a great way to gauge which characters fans prefer at any given time. It's a reliable way to cut out all the extra noise and determine which characters are the "coolest of the cool."

Updated May 20th, 2020:Much like any other industry, the anime world has a competitive atmosphere whose landscape is constantly shifting. And while the studios may compete for a share of their audience, anime characters themselves also indirectly compete for attention, with the faces of the industry constantly changing within the fans' eyes. As such, this list will be adding a few more faces that have risen among the anime ranks, as well as adjusting for new rankings and votes within MyAnimeList.

Updated on May 7th, 2022 by Sarah Martin: Since this list was last updated in 2020, we've updated it with new entries and rearranged some of the rankings to reflect the votes on MyAnimeList. While fan favorites like Naruto's Kakashi Hatake and Jujutsu Kaisen's Satoru Gojo came close to cracking the top 20, classic fan favorites have kept their stronghold on the chart.

20 Rem Earned 43,635 Favorites (Re:Zero)

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Rem from Re:Zero is one of the main characters in the series. Rem is one of the most loyal characters in the series and fans truly appreciate it. According to the votes, these qualities make her one of the most popular anime characters of all time.

Overall, Rem is a great sister to Ram and her loyalty to Subaru is admirable. Rem is willing to step up and defend either of them, no matter what it takes. While she isn't the strongest fighter around, there's no denying Rem's mental resilience.

19 Saitama Earned 43,669 Favorites (One-Punch Man)

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Saitama is the beloved protagonist of One-Punch Man. He's the most powerful being to have ever existed in its universe. At first, he just became a hero to have fun. However, Saitama eventually realized he wanted to be recognized and respected as a true hero.

Since Saitama is so overpowered, no enemy truly fazes him. Unfortunately, he's become jaded to heroism because nobody can stand on the same level as he does. Alas, Saitama wanders around, praying for a strong opponent, so he can feel alive again.

18 Ken Kaneki Earned 46,528 Favorites (Tokyo Ghoul)

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One of the most iconic anime characters of all time is none other than Tokyo Ghoul's Ken Kaneki. The one-eyed ghoul's story is truly a tragedy, but fans admire him for several reasons. Many consider Kaneki one of the best anime protagonists of all time.

Ken Kaneki is a man of many layers, and just as many flaws. Kaneki's journey in Tokyo Ghoul is one of suffering, pain, and a gruesome, nightmarish reality. The series depicts a constant tug-of-war between Kaneki's ghoul side fighting against his humanity.

17 Hachiman Hikigaya Earned 49,166 (OreGairu)

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(Video) Most Popular Anime Characters ALL TIME

Hachiman Hikigaya is the protagonist of My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected, often abbreviated as OreGairu. He starts as the average nihilistic loner who doesn't want to associate with others. This behavior results from several bad experiences that left a bad taste in his mouth.

However, OreGairu's edgy teenager eventually proves he has a soft side. Hachiman is a true tsundere who seems to push others away to hide his self-loathing. Fans find him relatable because, unlike other protagonists, it seems like Hachiman can't just use the power of friendship and optimism to force life to go his way.

16 Mikasa Ackerman Earned 51,601 Favorites (Attack On Titan)

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Mikasa Ackerman from Attack on Titan quickly became a fan-favorite character. She's the ultimate badass and has proven her strengths as a fighter several times throughout the series. By the end of the manga, it's safe to say Mikasa was the best soldier in the Survey Corps. ​​​​​

Mikasa's admiration for Eren is genuine and many fans appreciate their relationship. Additionally, Mikasa's backstory is one of the most tragic in the series and many fans respect her mental resilience — despite everything she's endured and suffered through.

15 Itachi Uchiha Earned 58,466 Favorites (Naruto)

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Itachi is one of the best characters in the entire Naruto series. The story of the Uchiha clan is one of the most pivotal in the whole series. Ultimately, Itachi put his life on the line and pretended to be a villain to save Sasuke. In many ways, Itachi was the true definition of a shinobi. Not only that, but he's the ideal antihero. Itachi is one of Naruto's most well-written, complex characters, so it's no question why he's one of the most popular across anime as a whole.

14 Eren Yeager Earned 69,663 Favorites (Attack On Titan)

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Eren is the protagonist of Attack On Titan. He started as a seemingly average shonen protagonist: short-tempered, impulsive, and always ready for a fight. He had noble ideals of saving humanity from the Titans to avenge those he's lost. However, as Eren learned more about the world, he became a much darker individual.

At this point, it's fair to question if Eren could truly be considered a hero because of his actions. However, fans appreciate that he's a well-written, complex protagonist who strayed from the norms of his counterparts.

13 Kurisu Makise Earned 60,346 Favorites (Steins;Gate)

20 Most Popular Characters in Anime History (According to My Anime List) (8)
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For several reasons, Steins;Gate was one of the most pivotal and influential anime of its time. However, one character stole the spotlight from the rest. As the quintessential tsundere, Kurisu Makise garnered lots of love and attention from fans.

Kurisu reluctantly teamed up with Rintaro and became his partner in crime — for better or worse. Although she comes off as cold, Kurisu's sweet side is endearing, and it sets her apart from the rest of the cast. As the series progressed, fans became more worried about her fate.

12 Guts Earned 63,911 Favorites (Berserk)

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Guts is the protagonist of Berserk. He's the ultimate tragic hero, and he's become the poster boy for dark fantasy anime. Guts is one of the most well-written protagonists of all time and one of the most unique in the medium.

Guts' life was defined by a series of traumatic events, but he's undergone admirable character growth. Guts learned how to move past the pain of betrayal and childhood trauma. Far from a one-dimensional character, Guts fit many tropes associated with both shonen and seinen protagonists.

11 Gintoki Earned 67,672 Favorites (Gintama)

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Sakata Gintoki is one of the most lovable anime characters of all time. As the protagonist of Gintama, Gintoki is the ultimate class clown. He's the king of anime comedy — rightfully earning the crown with his surreal sense of humor and unwavering laziness that's almost admirable.

Known as the "White Demon," Gintoki became a revolutionary during the Edo period. However, when the audience meets him, he takes up any "odd job" he can find to make ends meet. Gintoki is equal parts humble, foolish, and badass.

10 Naruto Uzumaki Earned 76,317 Favorites

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Naruto Uzumaki is one of the original "big-three" shonen heroes. He started at the bottom, but now he's the Hokage. At first, Naruto was a complete outcast who seemed to slack off in his studies. However, Naruto put in the hard work to become the person he is today.

From training with perverted sage Jiraiya to fighting against his childhood frenemy Sasuke, Naruto has experienced it all. The number one Knucklehead Ninja won the hearts of fans everywhere, so it's no question why he's one of the most popular anime characters of all time.

20 Most Popular Characters in Anime History (According to My Anime List) (12)
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Fullmetal Alchemist is widely regarded as one of the best shonen titles of all time. Edward Elric led the show and became memorable for his spunky, passionate attitude about everything. He's a true underdog who never gave up, no matter what life threw at him.

After an experiment went horribly wrong, Edward lost an arm and his brother's soul got trapped in a mecha suit. After that, Edward took the audience on a stunning journey. Edward gave anime fans the adventure they were desperately searching for.

8 Killua Zoldyck Earned 86,322 Favorites (Hunter X Hunter)

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Even though Gon is the protagonist, Killua truly stole the show in Hunter X Hunter and had rich character development. Despite coming from a family of assassins, Killua defied expectations by displaying healthy emotional development — both as a young boy and a shonen character. He had to learn how to understand and appreciate friendship.

Additionally, Killua had to learn the actual value of human life. In the Hunter Exam arc, he had no qualms about killing people. However, by the end of the story, Killua understood the weight of taking someone else's life. Killua has a lovable, memorable personality, and fans adore him for it.

7 Rintaro Okabe Earned 87,347 Favorites (Steins;Gate)

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Rintaro is the eccentric protagonist of Steins;Gate. He's the ultimate mad scientist, and he leads the Future Gadget Research Establishment. His behavior is bizarre and over the top, but fans consider his antics part of his charm.

Rintaro likes playing pretend as a special agent and expresses paranoia about an "Organization" that's out to get him. One of his strange habits is that he likes talking to himself on the phone and seemingly laughs hysterically at nothing. Even though these tendencies are certainly peculiar, fans praise the intrigue surrounding Rintato's character and appreciate his sincerity.

6 Light Yagami Earned 87,595 Favorites (Death Note)

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Light Yagami is the protagonist of Death Note. After appointing himself as the "God of the New World," Light viewed himself as the ultimate arbiter of justice with his notebook and pen. While he started off killing criminals, Light fell into madness and eventually started killing off anybody who got in his way.

Light took on the identity "Kira," and became a mass murderer in the name of saving the world. He wanted to create a world that perfectly matched his ideals. Light isn't meant to be likable, but he's fascinating to analyze and is an undeniably well-written character.

5 Zoro Earned 91,457 Favorites (One Piece)

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Zoro from One Piece is one of the most beloved characters in the series. He proves supporting characters and second-in-commands can become fan favorites. Zoro was the first crewmate in the Straw Hats. Initially, he came off as the average loudmouth who believed a show of strength was everything. However, Zoro quickly learned he wasn't the best because he had the most swords.

Zoro's journey to becoming a master swordsman is admirable. In his path, he's annihilated plenty of antagonists, infrastructure, and robots. Zoro is no longer the hotheaded brute fans met at the beginning. Now, he's levelheaded and proved himself a trustworthy comrade.

4 Luffy Earned 117,166 Favorites (One Piece)

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Luffy is widely regarded as the leader of Shonen Jump's "big three." He's the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and the beloved protagonist of One Piece. He came from humble beginnings and eventually sought to become the Pirate King.

Luffy has a memorable personality and plenty of charisma to go around. He's made fans laugh, cry, and stare in awe as he achieves these unfathomable feats. It's just hard to dislike Luffy, and even harder to disregard any of his achievements throughout the series.

3 L Lawliet Earned 117,735 Favorites (Death Note)

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L Lawliet is one of the most recognizable anime characters of all time. He has plenty of likable qualities that set him apart from the rest of the Death Note cast. L is brilliant, but he certainly has his share of odd tendencies such as his sweet tooth and infamous sitting posture.

L is surrounded by intrigue, so there's no question why he's one of the most popular anime characters of all time. Death Note is enthralling enough, but the addition of L to its cast truly cemented it as a classic. L's social ineptitude and mysterious aura allowed him to see directly through Light's facade. With his deductive reasoning, L proved himself an outstanding investigator.

2 Levi Ackerman Earned 129, 382 Favorites (Attack On Titan)

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Levi Ackerman is widely considered one of the best shonen heroes of all time. He's humanity's strongest soldier, as well as the Captain of the Scouting Legion and the Special Operations Squad. Ever since his debut, Levi has won the hearts of fans across the globe with his dry sense of humor, clean-freak behavior, and overall badassery.

Aside from being an incredible leader, Levi's fighting skills are obviously nothing to scoff at. Some of Attack On Titan's most pivotal moments involve Levi fighting off Titans and enemy soldiers.

1 Lelouch Lamperouge Earned 153,744 Favorites (Code Geass)

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Lelouch Lamperouge is the protagonist of Code Geass. He's one of the most complex characters in the medium, and his story is equally compelling. Lelouch was a prince and in line for the throne. However, Lelouch renounced his status after his mother was assassinated and his sister severely injured. He swore to avenge his family members after discovering C.C. and gaining the power of the Geass.

Lelouch became the leader of the Order of the Black Knights and eventually went mad with power. He betrayed his friends and killed thousands of innocents on his journey for revenge. At some point, Lelouch lost sight of his initial goal.

FAQs

Who is the most popular anime character ever? ›

Top 15 Most Popular Anime Characters of 2021
  • No. 1 Goku (Dragon Ball Z)
  • No. 2 Naruto Uzumaki (Naruto)
  • No. 3 Itachi Uchiha (Naruto)
  • No. 4 Kakashi Hatake (Naruto)
  • No. 5 Saitama (One Punch Man)
  • No. 6 Isaac Netero (Hunter X Hunter)
  • No. 7 Ichigo Kurosaki (Bleach)
  • No. 8 Ken Kaneki (Tokyo Ghoul)

Who is #1 anime character? ›

Who is the big 4 of anime? ›

Dragon Ball, One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach are known as the “Big Four.” In some fans' eyes, Dragon Ball is seen as the grandfather of Shonen while One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach are known as the “Big Three”. You can find inspiration from each of the “Big Four” in almost all Shonen anime.

Who is #1 strongest anime character? ›

1. Zeno – Dragon Ball Super – The most powerful and strongest anime character of all time. Zeno is the ruler of each of the realities in Dragon Ball Super. He has the ability to create and destroy all existence across multiple universes in a single instance.

Who is stronger in all anime? ›

Saitama from One Punch Man is the strongest character in anime. Even with new anime launching all the time, no one holds a candle to him yet. One Punch Man is different from most other combat anime, in that the protagonist is already the strongest person around, rather than striving to reach that goal.

Who is the strongest god in anime? ›

Yep, Osamu Tezuka is frequently referred to as "the god of manga," so in a way, he's the most powerful "anime god" of them all. If you're not familiar with Tezuka by name, you might still know his creations.

Who can defeat Goku? ›

Saitama from One Punch Man

No enemy was able to survive a single punch from him (an earnest punch). Saitama's abilities surpass human limits, and he can even defeat artificial beings which might suggest that he can beat Goku.

Who is the most fan favorite anime? ›

The 7 Most Popular Anime Series
  • Naruto Shippuden. Masashi Kishimoto/Shippuden/NMP. ...
  • One Piece. Funimation Productions. ...
  • Fairy Tail. Hiro Mashima/Funimation Productions. ...
  • Pokemon. The Pokemon Company. ...
  • Dragon Ball Z. Shueisha, Inc./Funimation Productions. ...
  • Sailor Moon Crystal. Toei Animation/PNP. ...
  • of 07. Bleach.
14 Apr 2019

Who is the strongest anime person 2022? ›

1. Saitama. What is this? The strongest martial artist on this list can be likened to a massive karate god, making Saitama from One Punch Man the strongest anime character in the entire universe.

Who is anime king? ›

Natsu Dragneel, Monkey D. Luffy, Naruto Uzumaki, Ichigo Kurosaki and Son Goku are considered the five kings of anime!

Who are the big 5 of anime? ›

The Big 3 is Naruto , Bleach and One Piece. But The Big 5 with the addition of Katekyo Hitman Reborn and Fairy Tail .

What is the father of all anime? ›

The second generation of animators in the late 1910s included Ōten Shimokawa, Jun'ichi Kōuchi and Seitaro Kitayama, commonly referred to as the "fathers" of anime.

How many anime are in the world? ›

In other languages, the word ”Anime” is defined as animation from Japan or as style of animation imported from Japan, often characterized by fantastic themes, dynamic characters and colorful graphics. According to the survey, more than 6,000 anime are produced, and more than 3,200 anime are aired on television.

What is the strongest ability in anime? ›

The ability to stop time is one of the rarest and strongest powers in the anime world. Anyone with this power can control their battles. Time manipulation can allow a character to wriggle out of any troublesome situation with ease.

Who is the god in Naruto? ›

The God of Shinobi (忍の神, Shinobi no Kami, English TV: The Supreme Shinobi) is an epithet that may refer to the following characters: Hashirama Senju. Hiruzen Sarutobi.

Who invented anime? ›

That man is Osamu Tezuka, frequently nicknamed the "god of manga," the "godfather of anime," and the "Walt Disney of Japan." At long last, a new biography of Tezuka has arrived in the US — 14 years after its Japanese debut.

Who is the strongest kid in anime? ›

8 Strongest Anime Children, Ranked
  • 8/8 Gon (Hunter X Hunter)
  • 7/8 Boruto (Boruto: Naruto Next Generation)
  • 6/8 Killua (Hunter X Hunter)
  • 5/8 Pride (Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood)
  • 4/8 Eri (My Hero Academia)
  • 3/8 Sugar (One Piece)
  • 2/8 Child Emperor (One Punch Man)
  • 1/8 Shigeo Kageyama (Mob Psycho)
28 Apr 2022

Who can 100% beat Goku? ›

1. TORI-BOT (DRAGON BALL) can beat goku with his pen. It's as surprising as it may be to listen to, there's an individual far stronger that Zeno from the Dragon Ball universe.

Who can beat Luffy? ›

Finally, there even exists a character within the One Piece world who could easily defeat protagonist Monkey D. Luffy. Gol D. Roger is widely agreed upon as the strongest character to ever live in the series thus far, being the only one to attain the title of Pirate King.

Who is the hottest anime man? ›

Top 50 Hottest Anime Guys That Are Ridiculously Good-Looking
  1. Haruka Nanase from 'Free! '
  2. Izumi Miyamura from 'Horimiya' ...
  3. Daisuke Kambe from 'Millionaire Detective' ...
  4. Satoru Gojo from 'Jujutsu Kaisen' ...
  5. Howl from 'Howl's Moving Castle' ...
  6. Kakashi Hatake from 'Naruto' ...
  7. Eren Jaeger from 'Attack On Titan' ...
  8. Tetsuro Kuro from 'Haikyuu' ...
30 Jul 2022

What is BTS favorite anime? ›

Since all the members seem to be fans of the all famous Volleyball anime, Haikyuu; it seems like Jungkook and Taehyung are the major Haikyuu fans among the band. They both absolutely love Haikyuu and adore Shoyo Hinata by heart. They even said that they particularly like watching sports anime.

What is the Big 3 anime? ›

What are the Big Three Anime? The Big Three was a term used to describe the three most popular running series during their golden age in Jump - One Piece, Naruto and Bleach. All three series got their common title due to their worldwide popularity and length.

What is everyone favorite anime? ›

Naruto was everybody's favorite childhood anime, so it's not really a surprise to see it on this list. For those who haven't watched it, the anime is about the life and struggles of Naruto Uzumaki.

What is a cool anime name? ›

What is a cool anime name?
  • Hiroshi. This name means “generous” and is borne by renowned voice actor Hiroshi Kamiya.
  • Michiko. A name for a “beautiful wise child,” Michiko Malandro is one of the powerful protagonists from Michiko & Hatchin.
  • Sakura. ...
  • Takashi. ...
  • Yuri.
26 Sept 2022

Who has the most fan in anime? ›

One Piece has the biggest fanbase currently in the world. Its fandom is constantly growing due to the fact that the series is ongoing and that the anime runs very closely behind the latest manga chapter.

Who is the most fan favorite anime? ›

The 7 Most Popular Anime Series
  • Naruto Shippuden. Masashi Kishimoto/Shippuden/NMP. ...
  • One Piece. Funimation Productions. ...
  • Fairy Tail. Hiro Mashima/Funimation Productions. ...
  • Pokemon. The Pokemon Company. ...
  • Dragon Ball Z. Shueisha, Inc./Funimation Productions. ...
  • Sailor Moon Crystal. Toei Animation/PNP. ...
  • of 07. Bleach.
14 Apr 2019

Who is the most Simped for anime character? ›

1) Kaname Kuran. Kaname Kuran is a charming character from the Vampire Knight anime who has all the ladies swooning. He comes from a prestigious clan of vampires who suck on the blood of the living.

What is the No 1 anime in Japan? ›

Top 100 Most Popular
#titlerating
1Fullmetal Alchemist (TV)8.72
2Death Note (TV)8.86
3Cowboy Bebop (TV)8.93
98 more rows

What is a best anime name? ›

Here are some excellent best male anime names.
  • Haruki: One who shines brightly. ...
  • Elric: means king and is derived from Elric Brothers.
  • Daisuke: Means the great one. ...
  • Chouko. ...
  • Chiyoko. ...
  • Arata: Fresh or new, from the series known as Arata: The Legend.
  • Akatsuki: Red moon. ...
  • Akatsuki: Japanese for the red moon.
20 Jun 2022

What is BTS favorite anime? ›

Since all the members seem to be fans of the all famous Volleyball anime, Haikyuu; it seems like Jungkook and Taehyung are the major Haikyuu fans among the band. They both absolutely love Haikyuu and adore Shoyo Hinata by heart. They even said that they particularly like watching sports anime.

What is the Big 3 anime? ›

What are the Big Three Anime? The Big Three was a term used to describe the three most popular running series during their golden age in Jump - One Piece, Naruto and Bleach. All three series got their common title due to their worldwide popularity and length.

What is everyone favorite anime? ›

Naruto was everybody's favorite childhood anime, so it's not really a surprise to see it on this list. For those who haven't watched it, the anime is about the life and struggles of Naruto Uzumaki.

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