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.