My top 10 male anime characters

For the majority of my years as an anime fan, female characters tend to be my favorites more often than males. Anyone who’s seen my favorite characters list on my MAL profile can see that it’s pretty much just girls and cute animals XD I’m not sure why, but perhaps it has to do with the kind of anime I mostly watch – late-night series aimed at the general male otaku audience – which typically emphasize the personalities and backgrounds of the female characters and de-emphasize the males, since male otaku are more likely to be interested in the females. But while I don’t particularly care for bishonen and yaoi series whose target audience I more closely fit, I do watch a fair share of shonen, action, and even mecha series which offer stronger male characters than the moe/slice-of-life anime I usually watch. So today, I wanted to take a look at my ten favorite male anime characters…

The only criteria I have for the list is that they have to be male obviously, but they also have to be human…or at least mostly human even if there’s something supernatural or other-worldly about them. And I’m not copying and pasting anything from previous posts I wrote about these characters. Everything here is newly written XD

10. Hayate (from Hayate no Gotoku)

With few exceptions, in the many moe/slice-of-life romance comedies I watch, the male characters are either bland, wimpy, or just plain not interesting when compared to the female characters. But I’ve always found Hayate to be one of the most lovable in this type of show. He’s funny, caring, gets mixed up in all kinds of humorous situations, and can do some pretty bad ass things despite his personality being anything but bad ass. Unlike others on my list, he’s not a particularly well developed character, but for the type of show he’s in, he doesn’t have to be. He just needs to be likable and funny, which he is ;)

9. Chad (from Bleach)

As some of you are aware, I was never a big fan of Bleach despite watching most of the episodes of the anime. One of the things that kept me motivated to continue watching the show were the handful of characters I did like, Chad being one of them. While most female anime fans tend to like either the effeminate, charismatic bishonen or the bad ass yakuza-ish guys, I usually like the strong yet gentle guys like Chad. He never got as many starring episodes as other Bleach characters, but I always enjoyed seeing his inner strength come out from behind his gentleness. I also liked the fact that he didn’t talk much, which made his actions speak louder at times.

8. Lelouch (from Code Geass)

Lelouch has been one of the most popular anime characters of the past several years, and while megalomaniac characters like him usually aren’t my thing, I can certainly agree that he’s an unforgettable character. Throughout the two seasons of Code Geass, we see so many sides of his personality and history, and the methods he uses to carry out his agenda won’t soon be forgotten. He’s often been compared to Light Yagami from Death Note, another very popular character among Western fans. But unlike Light, Lelouch is shown to actually care about others and value things like friendship and family to an extent. Lelouch isn’t so much a character I adore as much as admire for the impression he left, and that’s enough for me to give him a spot on the list.

7. Rock Lee (from Naruto)

I’ve gone through a few different favorite Naruto characters during my now ten years of watching the show, Rock Lee being one of my first and still one I really like. What I’ve always liked about him is that, in a world filled with blood-thirsty and foul-tempered ninjas, I feel he’s the nicest and most polite of the bunch, but is still extremely determined to better himself and become a strong fighter. I love the way he’s the only ninja who constantly uses keigo (polite speech) and adds humor to his battles as well as sheer drama, like in his very first battle with Gaara. Like Chad in Bleach, Rock Lee isn’t seen that much in later episodes of Naruto, but I won’t ever forget the lovable guy.

6. Luffy (from One Piece)

There’s a reason One Piece has arguably been the most popular shonen franchise in Japan for over a decade now. And I’d like to think that Luffy’s appeal as a shonen hero has a lot to do with it. Unlike a lot of other shonen heroes, right from the beginning he was never arrogant or foul-mouthed, but has always been happy, optimistic, and lovably dense, instantly making friends and sticking up for others wherever he goes…but if you cross him, or do something unjust or hurt someone he likes, he’ll stop at nothing to have justice served to the bad guys, no matter how much his own life is in danger. These traits of his are what make him so appealing; that mix of a cheerful, lovable air-head who can turn into the most valiant, self-sacrificing fighter when provoked. He’s an excellent hero and overall great character.

5. Ashitaka (from Princess Mononoke)

Princess Mononoke was the very first anime I watched that was not overly kid-friendly, way back in 2000 when I bought the movie on VHS. I instantly loved Ashitaka and he still remains my favorite Ghibli character to this day. Like I said, I tend to like gentle guys who are also strong and noble inside, and Ashitaka is certainly one of them. His position as a sort of mediator in the movie’s conflict and his determination to help both sides in their struggle was very admirable and what I enjoy seeing in heroic characters. He’s a likable character without having to be comedic nor dark – he’s just good.

4. Shikamaru (from Naruto)

Another Naruto character on my list (and not the last one!) I actually didn’t like Shikamaru that much when he first appeared in the early episode. He just seemed like a lazy kid with a bad attitude and nothing noticeably nice about him. But as soon as later episodes revealed his growth as a character, from lazy to intelligent leader determined to do what’s right for his friends, I completely changed my opinion of him. Other things that were revealed about him such as the background of his friendship with Choji and his bond with Asuma further fueled my likeness of him. Unfortunately he hasn’t appeared much in the show recently…so I’ll be especially looking forward to any future episodes that focus on him, whenever that may be.

3. Kyon (from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)

The reasons I like Kyon are different from the reasons I like the other characters on this list. Not only is his function as a protagonist and first-person narrator in the series unique and refreshing, his dialogue is endlessly entertaining with all this sarcasm and philosophical musing. What I also enjoy about him is being able to piece together all of his thoughts and feelings based on his dialogue and actions, since he’s not only an Unreliable Narrator, but because we don’t have access to him through the eyes of the other characters, we have to look at him strictly from his own point of view, which is quite interesting. Kyon’s amusing way of looking at things are a big reason why the Haruhi series has remained my favorite for so long.

2. Gaara (from Naruto)

Like Shikamaru, I didn’t like Gaara when he was first introduced in the show. There wasn’t much to him besides being a creepy, cold-hearted fighter. But I completely changed my feelings towards him when the episodes hit the 70s-80s and we found out all about his past and saw the emotional conclusion of him finally changing for the better thanks to Naruto. Having a tragic past is not uncommon for anime or really any fictional characters in a dramatic story, but none has touched me as much as Gaara’s story, even all these years later. And not only does he have a great backstory, but his character growth since then has also been handled very well. He went from misguided psychopath to an honorable, likable leader and good friend, while still keeping his original calm and kind of stoic personality. He’s an amazing character and one I’ll always respect.

1. Vash (from Trigun)

Those of you who know me know that Vash has been amongst my favorite male characters – and overall favorite characters – for a long time now. I rewatched Trigun several times in high school, but haven’t watched it for many years since. Yet, despite that long passage of time, I can’t forget how much I like Vash, and I believe that timeless quality he has to me is a mark of a true favorite. He’s not only a well written character with greatly blended humorous, sweet, and troubled sides to him, but his morals and values about life and love we see him portray and defend throughout the series strongly touched me when I was younger, and they still hold true today. He has just about every quality I like in a male character and that’s why he’s still my #1 =)

*Side Note* Despite my busy schedule, a few weeks ago I started writing for another anime blog called GoBoiano. They’re a growing anime network that has a nice variety of posts and authors to read and enjoy =) I’ll be reviewing fan works there, such as fan art and AMVs, and occasionally other things. You can see my first post here.

32 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. lucky_strike says:

    Too. Much. Naruto.
    But it’s just that I prefere more diversity.

    • Yumeka says:

      Well, one of the reasons I’ve been watching Naruto for so many years is because I think the characters are great. Can’t help it if three of my favorite male characters happen to be from the series ;)

  2. Vash still has funny hair. ;)

    We’re in sync! I just posted about bad boys in anime. Alas, we disagree on Lelouch but I agree with many of your other choices. I’m not sure I could even do a Top 10 Male Characters post, I couldn’t possibly narrow it down that much (lol).

    Congrats on writing for GoBoiano, I’ll visit and take a look. ^^

    • Yumeka says:

      That’s funny that we made similar posts on the same day XD I’ll check yours out when I have a chance.

      I’d imagine most of your all time favorite characters are male, so making a top ten list would be difficult for you. I would like to see such a list though =)

  3. Frootytooty says:

    Aww, your bit on Vash was just too cute. I’m the opposite of you in terms of favorite characters – most of mine on my Anime-Planet account are males. XD It takes a really awesome female character or animal to win me over, but all a guy character needs to have is some badassery and a pretty face. *Shameless*

    • Yumeka says:

      I remember you saying you’re into bishonen and yaoi, so it’s no surprise most of your favorites are males XD But if we do tend to like characters of one gender, it’s fun to think about who our favorites of the opposing gender would be.

  4. Marina says:

    There is indeed more Naruto than I expected, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. We really don’t share many favorites in common, but like you I find that my MAL list comprises almost solely of females.

    Some of my favorite human males include Natume of Natsume Yuujinchou, Vash, Killua of Hunter x Hunter, Akatsuki of ARIA, Sagara Sosuke from FMP, Ginko of Mushihi, and xxxHOLIC’s Watanuki.

    • Yumeka says:

      Sometimes I think I’m the only female anime fan who more often likes the female characters…so I’m glad to know you’re like that too ;) Also glad to know you like Vash! Not familiar with the others you mentioned unfortunately…except for Ginko ^^,,,

  5. Shikon says:

    Like the above posts stated you certainly do have alot of Naruto characters, but that’s not surprising considering that long running series such as Naruto and Bleach tend to have a huge cast of characters. Lelouch has been one of my all-time favorite characters in general since I first watched the series years ago, really Code Geass had a great cast of characters in general.

    But Chad really? I can see why you might like him, I just personally didn’t find him very interesting of course like you said compared to the other characters he didn’t get nearly as many staring episodes so that may be a contributor =P But shows like Bleach and Naruto have large casts of characters that about anyone will find at least one of them to be interesting at the least.

    • Yumeka says:

      Yeah, long-running series tend to have larger casts of characters, but that doesn’t mean they’re good necessarily. I personally never found most of the Bleach characters that interesting or likable – Naruto on the other hand, has very well-written characters overall.

      LOL, yeah, Chad is probably one of the least popular Bleach characters XD Most people like the “flashy” and obviously “cool” characters like Byakuya and Hitsugaya. Chad’s much more humble =P

  6. Myna says:

    Gaara is also my favorite male Naruto character.

    Some of my all time favorite male characters, not in any order whatsoever, include:
    Spike (Cowboy Bebop), Kaworu (Evangelion), Kurogane (Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle), Kimblee (Fullmetal Alchemist), Dio (last Exile), and the main four characters from Yuyu Hakusho.

    • Yumeka says:

      Spike is a great character of course =) I might have liked Kaworu better if he appeared in more than one episode, but for a guy who was just in one episode, he had quite a big affect on the overall series. And you already know how I feel about characters like Kimblee XD

  7. Kal says:

    Hum, that’s a tough one. Like you, I tend to remember the female characters mostly. Sagara Sousuke from full metal panic is pretty funny and cool. But you are right, must be the kind of anime I watch the most. I can name 5-6 remarkable female characters of the top of my head, but not so much for male characters… I should put more attention to them as well.

    I’m surprised you did not include Inuyasha, you like that anime a lot, and have always mentioned him as well as a character you like :)

    • Yumeka says:

      It’s funny that you mentioned Inuyasha because I almost included him on the list…but then I realized that although I think he’s a great character, I like him more as a pairing with Kagome than as a character on his own. But most likely he would have taken a #11 or #12 spot if I had continued the list =P

  8. Amy says:

    All great characters to be sure… and there are so many cool characters in Naruto that it’s easy to fill a list with them. I like Shikamaru and Gaara quite a bit. For me, I’d swap out Rock Lee and replace him with Kakashi sensei.

    I also have not given much consideration to male characters in the past, so it was kind of interesting for me to come up with candidates. Since I’m a romantic, some of my favorites have to include romance leads. (^_^) Here’s what I came up with:

    Ren Tsuruga in Skip Beat!
    Soichiro Arima in Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou
    Koichiro “Coach” Ohta in Top wo Nerae! Gunbuster
    Himura Kenshin in Rurouni Kenshin
    Tamahome in Fushigi Yuugi
    Ginko in Mushishi
    Shinobu Tezuka in Koko wa Greenwood

    And two special category males:

    Shun Kisaragi in Koko wa Greenwood
    Aoi Futaba in Taiho Shichauzo! (You’re Under Arrest)

    • Yumeka says:

      Kakashi was actually my first favorite Naruto character in the very early episodes when he, along with Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke, were basically the only reoccurring characters. Then I liked Rock Lee, then Gaara, then Shikamaru, then back to Gaara, LOL.

      It’s been many years since I watched Kare Kano, but I remember both romance leads being excellent characters. But I liked them more as a couple than as individual characters =P And it’s interesting that you like Tamahome since he seems to be the least popular of the FY cast from what I’ve seen. I’ve always Nuriko myself :3

      • Amy says:

        Nuriko was awesome, of course… probably should be added to my special category list. (^_^) A bit forgettable, though (which is must be why I forgot!); I haven’t thought about Nuriko for a long time. The only reminder I have is on a currently unused backpack – which sports a Nuriko figure from a keychain.

  9. chikorita157 says:

    Normally, I don’t really care for male characters as most of the male leads don’t get much attention or that female characters are emphasized heavily. Aside from that, Tomoya from Clannad is probably one of my favorites for obvious reasons.

    • Yumeka says:

      You don’t watch any shonen/mecha/action anime do you? Those series tend to have the stronger male characters rather than the romance/slice-of-life series that seem to be what you mostly watch (and I do too). But every now and then that genre can have a good male character, like Tomoya for instance.

      • chikorita157 says:

        I don’t really watch much action shows as I do have a bias for shows that tend to have more female characters. Probably the only action title I have saw last year that had a lot of male characters is probably Fate/zero and there were quite a few male characters I liked, particularly Rider and Weaver. Besides from that, I think male characters in romantic comedies might be an interesting topic to cover in a future post as I notice this trend quite a lot across all the anime I watch.

  10. Artemis says:

    Nice list! :)

    Ironically, even though I don’t watch a lot of shounen anime in comparison to other genres, I have a lot more favourite male characters than female characters. And although I do watch a lot of yaoi shows, none of the characters in those have made it onto my favourite list. In no particular order: Howl (Howl’s Moving Castle), Yue and Clow Reed (Cardcaptor Sakura), L (Death Note), Ginko (Mushishi), Shizuo and Kida (Durarara!!), Roy Mustang (Fullmetal Alchemist), Taiki (Twelve Kingdoms), and Conrad Weller (Kyou Kara Maou).

    • Yumeka says:

      That’s interesting that you have a lot of favorite male characters that aren’t from yaoi or shonen titles. FMA and Death Note are shonen, but the rest that you mentioned aren’t ;)

      I like L a lot better than Light, LOL. Howl is a pretty cool character with an unusual personality for a Ghibli male lead.

  11. Kai says:

    Wow, so many Naruto characters, lol.

    For One Piece, I would say my favorite character is still Zoro. His loyalty in the crew seems the most genuine, and his three sword style technique is badass :D

    Surprised to see so many shounen characters in here anyhow. The only other shounen character that comes to mind myself is Katsura from Gintama, he’s a funny guy :D

    • Yumeka says:

      All the Straw Hats are great characters, Zoro included. I would probably like him better if he was a bit less bad ass all the time actually…to me, being too much like that makes him a tad unapproachable. I kinda wish he’d loosen up sometimes XD

  12. TWWK says:

    I was guessing you’d put Kyon number one! Vash is a great pick, though – he would be my number one as well. Ashitaka is an unexpected selection and another great one as well. I also like all the Naruto characters you selected.

  13. Nopy says:

    If I were making a list, I would probably take your lower ranked characters and add in a few more. I’ve never really thought about who my favourite would be, but just off the top of my head it would probably be someone like Kenshin (Rurouni Kenshin) or Shaoran (CCS).

    • Yumeka says:

      I probably would have watched and loved Rurouni Kenshin if I had had cable TV back when it was airing on Cartoon Network. By the time I got cable TV, the latter episodes of the series were airing and I was waiting for them to retstart…and then the show was promptly pulled from the schedule XP

      Since CCS was one of my very first favorite anime, I’ve always liked Shaoran. He was never a big favorite of mine though, but I’ve head that he’s a much more interesting character in CCS than in Tsubasa.

  14. Tara says:

    I`m amazed you can manage to list your favourites like that, I`ve never been able to. Heck, I`m not even sure I could name favourites except for maybe favourites from such and such series. Then again, I guess I don`t think about it as much as you do :)

    Anyways, just wanted to say that I`ve missed your blog. I`m off traveling in Venezuela atm and don`t have much internet but now that I`ve gotten on for a bit I realized just how much I missed reading your posts. Thought you should know that. Keep being awesome ^^

    • Yumeka says:

      I hope you’re having a great time on your trip ^_^ As always, I appreciate your compliments and how you’ve been one of my most dedicated readers all these years. You keep being awesome too~

  15. Yuriko says:

    I see many Naruto characters, I got two favorites males from this series (Kakashi, Itachi). Like you mentioned while commenting Chad- people like more badass and charismatic characters in shounens but I see you chosen more muted characters.

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