As someone who’s seen a lot of anime, I get asked pretty frequently about my favorites. While I’ve got a whole stash of favorite anime–including my favorite anime to recommend to new viewers–I sometimes get asked about the best anime and even the best characters.
While it’s nearly impossible to pick a single best character, there are a lot of characters who are the best at something very particular, and I’ve included thirty of them below.
Are we missing any Bests from our list? Let us know in the comments.
Best Hero: Midoriya “Deku” Izuku (My Hero Academia)
When viewers meet Izuku at the beginning of My Hero Academia, he doesn’t even have a superpower–making him part of a minority in a world populated by people with powers called Quirks. But as he explains, the anime is the story of his journey to becoming the world’s greatest hero.
Best Puncher: Saitama (One-Punch Man)
After three years of training, Saitama is utterly bored with fighting because he can defeat anybody with just one punch. (First world problems?) Despite the efforts of his opponents, Saitama can’t find anyone who can really give him a run for his money, despite the many powerful beings that come to challenge him.
Best Shot: Riza Hawkeye (Fullmetal Alchemist)
Riza is the most important member of Roy Mustang’s squadron, the person he trusts most, and specializes in sniper rifles. In the anime, she’s able to hit almost any target, and it’s easy to see why she’s an asset to Central’s military.
Best Soldier: Mikasa Ackerman (Attack on Titan)
The commanders of the talented 104th Training Corps acknowledge Mikasa as “worth a thousand soldiers.” In a class full of standouts–including key characters like Eren Jaeger and Krista Lenz–that’s really saying something.
Best Alien-Fighting Samurai: Sakata Gintoki (Gintama)
Gintoki might not look like a great samurai–what with the whole mostly-unemployed thing and his sugar obsession–but before the start of Gintama, his skill with a sword made him famous amongst comrades and infamous amongst enemies.
Best Strategist: Nara Shikamaru (Naruto)
He might be naturally lazy, but he’s one of the most intelligent shinobi in the series. Though he would really prefer not to do it, Shikamaru’s intellect–and his love for his friends–makes him a force to be reckoned with.
Best Student Council President: Kiryuuin Satsuki (Kill la Kill)
Any good elected official watches out for the best interests of their constituents, and Satsuki takes that to the absolute extreme in Kill la Kill by working to protect not just the students of Honnouji Academy, but everyone on Earth.
Best Employee: Maou Sadao (The Devil is a Part-Timer!)
There are worse ways for a demon lord transported into our world to use his time, so it’s probably good for everyone involved that Maou Sadao threw himself into taking over the world via rising through the ranks at fast food chain MgRonald’s.
Best Bureaucrat: Maou (Maoyu)
The Hero comes to slay the demon king–only to discover the demon king, Maou, mostly just wants his help spreading the good word of advanced farming techniques and economics.
Best Mode of Transportation: Catbus (My Neighbor Totoro)
The living bus from My Neighbor Totoro is the Cheshire Cat of Studio Ghibli and loved worldwide. The Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan has a Catbus large enough for children to enter as part of an interactive exhibit.
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Best Grandma: Cologne (Ranma ½)
An Amazon and a martial arts master, Cologne is around 300 years old in the anime and somehow still has the energy to keep up with her great-granddaughter Shampoo and her antics.
Best Grandpa: Mutou Sugoroku (Yu-Gi-Oh!)
This former archaeologist-adventurer is the grandfather of Yu-Gi-Oh! protagonist Mutou Yugi. Sugoroku is the one who gave Yugi the Millenium Puzzle, meaning he’s mostly how the series exists in the first place.
Best Mom: Hana (Wolf Children)
It’s not easy raising two kids on your own–and it’s even harder when your two kids are part-werewolf. But Hana from Wolf Children overcomes the difficulties and helps her children realize who they want to become.
Best Dad: Maes Hughes (Fullmetal Alchemist)
Maes Hughes spends more time bragging to literally everyone who’ll listen about his daughter, Elicia, than he does on his actual job in the military. While perhaps not the best career man, he’s definitely anime’s most doting dad.
Best Daughter: Chihiro (Spirited Away)
All I’m saying is that if my parents wouldn’t leave a haunted restaurant, I probably wouldn’t stick around to save them.
Best Son: Son Gohan (Dragonball Z)
“Son” is Gohan’s family name–his father being Son Goku from Dragon Ball–but Gohan is a good kid: he’s motivated in many ways by his desire to protect his family.
Best Cat: Sohma Kyo (Fruits Basket)
Like any cat, Kyo — part of the Sohma household, whose members are under an enchantment that makes them turn into animals when under stress— is standoffish, short-tempered, and weirdly endearing. He also has a secret soft side that he pretends not to have, and he’s very protective of the people he cares about. (Again: like any cat.)
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Best Dancer: Ahiru (Princess Tutu)
As Princess Tutu, Ahiru uses ballet to solve conflicts in her ballet-driven fairy tale universe. Through her art, she’s able to foster acceptance and understanding between people–and isn’t that why we create art in the first place?
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Best Seamstress: Daidouji Tomoyo (Cardcaptor Sakura & Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Arc)
The protagonist of Cardcaptor Sakura wears a different costume every episode, and Tomoyo made all of them. The sheer number of costumes she makes implies Tomoyo has a type of superpower every cosplayer wishes they had.
Best Bacon Burner: Calcifer (Howl’s Moving Castle)
He came from a falling star, drives the Moving Castle, and contains incredible magic power—and his greatest curse is “May all your bacon burn.” Calcifer is the funniest character in Howl’s Moving Castle and the most delightful bacon burner in anime.
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Best Patient Character: Akemi Homura (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
The reason why is the series’ biggest spoiler, but if you’ve seen Madoka Magica, you know.
Best King: Saber (Fate series)
Summoned to be the servant of Fate/stay night’s protagonist, Saber is an outstanding warrior and one of history’s most well-known kings. She chooses to participate in the battle on behalf of the people she rules.
Best Queen: Neo-Queen Serenity (Sailor Moon)
Neo-Queen Serenity rules Crystal Tokyo, a magical city in the 30th century, with the help of the Silver Crystal. She’s so powerful that her subjects are essentially immortal. That’s … pretty good for a queen, probably.
Best Prince: Ashitaka (Princess Mononoke)
Ashitaka is the last prince of the Emishi who comes to the aid of the film’s eponymous princess to protect the forest from humans. Ashitaka stands out as a prince because he participates not only in the battle, but in the rebuilding as well.
Best Princess: Yona, Princess of Kouka (Yona of the Dawn)
Her father was killed in front of her–but Yona didn’t abandon her country, instead going on a journey to prepare to retake her kingdom. Her journey in the anime takes her around Kouka, where she learns how the people of her nation really live as well as what’s needed to improve their lives.
Best Dragon: Kobayashi Tohru (Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid)
Tohru is the most devoted anime dragon: after Kobayashi saved her life, Tohru devoted herself to Kobayashi’s protection and care, handling everything from cleaning and groceries to diverting robbers.
Best Wizard: Gildarts Clive (Fairy Tail)
The wizard guild Fairy Tail has many incredibly powerful members, but Gildarts is the most powerful in the current generation. (And he’s rewarded with the younger members of the guild trying to jump him.)
Best Witch: Diana Cavendish (Little Witch Academia)
Diana is a prodigy descending from a long line of incredible witches, and at 16, she’s not only ready but able to take over as the head of the family. She’s an indispensable part of the academy and important to protagonist Akko’s mission.
Best Zombie: Sid Barrett (Soul Eater)
Sid is a zombie who teaches at Shibusen Academy, where the protagonists of Soul Eater train to battle supernatural creatures. While Sid is American, his name is written using the kanji for “dead” and “person,” making him more or less the ultimate undead.
Best Vampire: Alucard (Hellsing)
A member of the supernatural-battling Hellsing Organization, Alucard is one of Hellsing’s most important fighters and hinted to be one of the most powerful vampires of all time.
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Featured photo: Studio Gibli