There are a lot of polarizing subjects when it comes to anime. Let’s be honest, while being one of the most diverse and accepting communities out there, we are also a community that is ready to strangle each other if we don’t 100% agree with other peoples’ opinions. One of these many categories of great controversy is that of a person’s favorite characters, whether it be from a single series or of all time. Luckily for us as anime viewers, there are subreddits, blogs, videos, and other such threads completely saturating the internet just to spark more firefights between people who disagree with each other or to create new, unbreakable bonds between those who agree. Now, while waifus are all fine and dandy and I do love my anime females, that is not what this list will cover.
This is my own personal list of my top 10 favorite male characters from anime. These are characters that I believe to be immensely enjoyable to watch on screen (with the exception of one) while also being more than skin-deep in terms of personality. These are characters that I think are at least decently written and that I believe are integral to the quality of the shows that they are in. Now, as with all lists ever made, I’m pretty sure that almost nobody will agree with me on all of my placements. Some of you may hate the characters I put on here. But this is my personal list and I stand by what I put down. Also, I am only doing one character per series with this list. So if multiple awesome studs from the same series don’t appear on this list, that’s why. Oh. These are only characters from anime shows, too, so no films or short films will be appearing on here either. And so, here are my top 10 male anime characters.
Now, I think all lists should have a column or something resembling an honorable mentions section. Well, here are the guys that I love to watch on screen but didn’t quite make the cut onto the actual list. Although these names are here, I’m not gonna go in depth as to why they didn’t make the list or anything. Just know that I love these anime dudes almost as much as the next 10.
Mugen- Samurai Champloo
Ladd Russo- Baccano!
Shizuo Heiwajima- Durarara!!
Maes Hughes/Alex Louis Armstrong- Fullmetal Alchemist Series
Sousuke Sagara- Full Metal Panic!
Joseph Joestar- JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Hajime Aoyama- Ghost Stories (Gakkou no Kaiden)
10.) Shinji Ikari- Neon Genesis Evangelion
I know I’m going to receive a truck-load of shit for putting Shinji on this list. Since I know I’m going to receive said shit, lets get some of Shinji’s biggest faults out of the way: Yes, he’s a whiny bitch that complains about almost all of the tasks he’s given; yes, he’s stubborn and runs away due to his own inner doubt, fear of failure, and personal feelings of incompetence even if it means letting other people die; yes, he is incompetent and fucks up on the occasion; yes, he masturbates to an unconscious, nude girl in the movie.
Yes, he’s all of these things. Now why did I put a twat-waffle such as him on this list? He’s here because I think he is one of the deepest, richest, most believable, and best-written characters in anime. Since this is a spoiler-free zone, I’ll try not to go too much into detail. Let’s just say that labeling Shinji as simply “having problems” would be an understatement. Shinji has several mental conditions that lead him to make the decisions that he does, most of which are decisions that people wish he didn’t make. But even though some of the actions he takes are arguably stupid, naive, illogical, and downright selfish at some points, they all make sense considering not only his views of himself and other people, but also what he believes other people think of him. He also has one of the more detailed and meticulously written backstories that I’ve seen in an anime character. Now, I know that not matter what anybody says, some of you want Shinji banished to eternal anime Hell forever. However, I think that some of his biggest faults on screen are the product of some of the best characterization and attention to detail that I’ve seen in any anime character to this date.
9.) Satou Tatsuhiro- Welcome to the NHK
Want more fuck-ups? Well, here’s another. While not as astoundingly well-written as shinji or quite as astronomically fucked up in the head, Satou still has his fair share of personal issues that he has to deal with. He has a strained relationship with his parents, he’s a freakin’ hikikomori, and he basically thinks the world is out to get him…literally. What I love about Satou is that he still manages to be lovable while retaining the same qualities of a mentally unstable social outcast. Although the antics that he gets himself caught up in make for some hilarity, I think it’s his social inability and complete lack of shit that he gives that really drives home how great of a character he is. Though he’s pretty unrelatable, he’s unrelatable in a non-stereotypical way. He’s not a cardboard cut-out and he’s not an archetype. It’s easy to grasp that he is a real person, albeit a troubled one. And to round things off, his interactions with the rest of the side cast are fantastic.
8.) Kyon- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Kyon is on this list because he reminds me of…well, myself. Kyon is a little bit more stereotypical than the last two characters on this list and also lacks a backstory. However, that doesn’t mean he’s one-dimensional. He’s actually far from it, coming off as aloof and stubborn, but actually realizing that his world would be nothing without the side cast he’s blessed with. But what really makes Kyon a joy to witness is his internal monologues and narration. He’s cynical, sarcastic, and skeptical to a point and it really shows in his unique dialogue. Kyon is also just very relatable. He’s constantly fed-up with all the shit that happens around him and he chooses to explain it in a snarky and critical manner which I enjoy a lot. He also has some fantastic one-liners to boot.
7.) L – Death Note
How do you even explain L? L is–for lack of a better word–a weirdo. He doesn’t really sit (it’s more of a squat), he holds his phone like a chimpanzee, he has an unnatural craving for sweets, he has constant bags under his eyes, and he looks sort of like a homeless guy. Yet, his intellect is dizzying and his deduction skills are unmatched. This dichotomy between being a complete social outcast while simultaneously being one of the finest minds in the world is what makes L’s character very easy to like. Though he doesn’t have a fantastic backstory or heaps of development over the course of the series, L is so much fun to watch on screen. It’s the tedious cat and mouse game that he plays with Light that makes him intriguing, but it’s his scrappy physical appearance and borderline absurd quirks that make him so likable. He doesn’t need to be some deep, story-rich character to be interesting. What makes L interesting is the fact that there’s no character like him an any other show…period.
6.) The Count- Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Christo
Now, if you haven’t seen this series, I suggest that you go do so. Not only for the complex and engaging plot or the unmatched art style, but for the count. The count is an amazing character. He’s unbelievably charming and charismatic and his voice (in both sub and dub) is like butter. However, after unraveling his backstory, it’s revealed just how scheming, intelligent, and relentless this man truly is. What makes him so great to witness is how he manipulates everyone and everything in his favor without seeming suspicious just to realize he had everything pinned down since the first episode. Unfortunately with the count, there’s not a whole lot I can say without spoiling parts of the plot, so just go watch him fuck with everybody on your own time.
5.) Claire Stanfield- Baccano!
Two words describe Claire Stanfield: Fucking nuts. It was between this guy and Ladd for my Baccano! spot on this list and Claire’s psychotic spats trumped Ladd’s. What I love about Claire is his ability to blend in with everybody. Maybe I just think that because nobody really knows who or what he is until the latter portion of the series, but it’s still great. That and the extreme duality between his ‘nice guy’ outward demeanor and his sociopathic killing sprees. I admit it. I like crazy characters and Claire sure fits the bill. He’s not really deep or profound, but his ruthlessness, violent tendencies, and extremely cool persona just make him so entertaining. He really is just a gigantic badass and I love him for that.
4.) Izaya Orihara- Durarara!!
Yes! Another crazy bastard! Izaya is another manipulative man. He is like the count from earlier on this list only he’s less charming and charismatic, and instead of screwing with everybody’s lives in order to accomplish a larger goal, he just fucks with everyone because he wants to. He really likes to see what people will do when put into tight situations and he simply likes watching their reactions. Izaya is sorta like a Japanese version of the Joker only on a smaller level and without the super hero counterpart. What I also like about him is how his personality is hard to grasp. He comes across as almost playful by giving people nicknames and toying with peoples’ mindsets. However, it’s also apparent that he’s a much deeper thinker than he comes across as and has an intellect and observation skills that rival that of the smartest people. Moreover, his interactions with other characters are always engaging in some fashion, whether it be humorous or intellectual. To me, along with his knack for sparking conflict, it’s Izaya’s difficult personality that really makes him fun to watch.
3.) Okabe Rintarou- Steins; Gate
OKARIN! Who doesn’t love Okabe Rintarou? I’m sure there are some of you out there that don’t, but I’m not one of them. Whether it be the broken and nonsensical English phrases, the other things he says that make no sense, his ludicrous ideas, his booming yet dorky laugh, or his silly nicknames for his friends, Okabe is a bunch of fun. It’s his off-color humor, bombastic nature, and fake egotism that make him so fun to watch. The viewer can never quite nail down whether he’s actually intelligent or just insane. However, this is only one side of the coin. Okabe also has some of the better development over the series. The middle of the series causes him to flip from his “mad scientist” persona to being genuinely confused, lost, and distraught which is an interesting development to see occur. He’s one of the few characters that I’ve seen that gets their outer shell completely torn off and it really is a spectacle. Some people may love him for his over-the-top madness while others may love him for his vulnerability. I love him for both.
2.) Spike Spiegel- Cowboy Bebop
Honestly, people shouldn’t question why Spike made it onto this list. He will time and time again. If you look up the word “cool” in the dictionary, you will just see a picture of Spike Spiegel. Spike is just so awesome. He’s a real man’s man and lady’s man. He is dapper and smooth while being quick on his feet. He’s smart and strong while also being just dorky enough to be believable. I mean, there’s not a whole lot I can say about Spike that hasn’t already been said in some way. He may be a bounty hunter, but he’s a lovable one. Spike even gets some substantial character depth considering the type of series he’s in and when he gets serious, he can fuck up whomever he wants. Spike is just the ideal blend of everything that people like in a character while also seeming to be well-written. Plus, Steve Blumm voices him. What more could you want?
1.) Eikichi Onizuka- Great Teacher Onizuka
More Steve Blumm! I somehow almost forgot about this guy until the last second and I don’t know how. Eikichi Onizuka is one of the funniest, off-kilter, and easy-to-love characters I’ve ever witnessed. He’s charming in his own weird way. What I love about him is how he comes across to everyone as being reckless and childish with all of his ridiculous schemes and perverted tendencies. He also seems incredibly stupid when it comes to general knowledge which is warranted and true for the most part. However, what he lacks in book smarts he makes up for in street smarts. That and he genuinely cares about everybody despite coming across as a gruff, cigarette-smoking, criminal. He’s a rough-rider with a heart of gold and it really is his blend of childishness, fuckery, roughness, and genuine kind-heartedness that make Onizuka not only super fun to watch, but relatable to almost everyone in some way or another. And that’s why he takes my top spot.
That’s it for my list of top 10 male anime characters. If you think I missed somebody or think somebody deserves to be higher or lower, I’d love to see your opinions down in the comments. Also, take note that these are only from anime that I’ve finished, so that limits my selection somewhat. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the read. And until next time, keep watching anime!