Best and Popular Anime Characters of All Time: Levi Ackerman, Tanjiro, Goku, Monkey D Luffy, Astro Boy, and More

Ranking the Best Anime Characters of All Time

Anime has been captivating audiences worldwide for decades, and one of the things that makes this art form so engaging is the incredible characters that populate its stories. From fierce warriors to lovable misfits, anime has given us some of the popular culture’s most memorable and iconic characters. And with the rise of OTT, you no longer have to pay through your nose for a VHS with three episodes of a random show. In this list, we will be exploring the best and most popular anime characters of all time, celebrating the heroes, villains, and everyone in between who have left a lasting impression on audiences worldwide. So whether you’re a die-hard fan or just discovering the world of anime for the first time, join us as we dive into the fascinating and colorful world of anime characters.

30 Best and Popular Anime Characters of All Time

From obscure favourites to classics that shaped anime, the characters are ranked accordingly. Each character has been picked for its impact, its place in anime history, and how much the audience loves them. Here are the top 20 anime characters of all time. 

Astro Boy 

Astro Boy is one of the oldest anime characters, appearing first on TV in 1963. Created by the ‘father of manga’ Osamu Tezuka, the original Astro Boy was an amalgamation of your regular Pinocchio tale with the science and zeitgeist of the post-war Atomic Age. In the story, Astro was created by Dr Tenma to replace his son, who died in a car accident. Astro is a bright-eyed robot boy who uses his X-Ray vision, rocket booster feet, and 100,000-horsepower arms to save humanity from itself. While the anime’s design is childish, it is a character that portrays stories for Japanese kids who have seen war. Astro guided kids through complex morality tales where the characters had complex motivations, people were capable of both good and evil, and social problems didn’t have easy solutions. 

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Vash the Stampede (Trigun)

A character gifted with superhuman fighting abilities but also with a superhuman ability for kindness and compassion, Vash was quite the contradiction. To protect others, he has suffered many scars and wounds to his own body, even saving the villains he was trying to stop. He also vowed never to take a life, and his enemies took full advantage of that.

He is known as the “humanoid typhoon” because he leaves destruction in his wake and has a bounty on his head. In reality, however, he is humanity’s secret guardian angel on the far-off wild planet of Gunsmoke. Few can comprehend his power. He’s the greatest gunman on the planet, and foes don’t stand a chance. However, his true challenge lies in saving the world from Knives, his brother. The story of Vash’s childhood and Rem, his mother figure, is fantastic, as is how Knives and Vsh ended up as opposites. Despite being portrayed as a childish goofball, Vash is a very complex and troubled character doing his best to save people unaware of his contribution to their lives. 

Lelouch Lamperouge (Code Geass)

One of the best examples of a hero gone astray, Lelouch’s noble intentions took him to a dark place. The ends might justify the means, but his desire to right wrongs and make the world a better place for his sister turned him into the despot he was trying to fight. His rise and fall are almost Shakespearean in nature, as his judgment is clouded by arrogance and pride, and he misses out on what is vital. He has an alter ego, Zero, replete with a helmet and flowing cape, which is an iconic tool to secure a place in the psyche of his enemies and followers. Zero slowly but surely becomes personal for Lelouch until the hopeful boy he once begins to fade away. 

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Kakashi Hatake

Kakashi Hatake is a skilled ninja from the village of Konohagakure, also known as the Hidden Leaf Village. Kakashi is known for his exceptional abilities as a ninja, particularly his mastery of the Sharingan eye technique, which allows him to copy other ninja’s techniques and predict their movements. Kakashi is also known for his aloof and laid-back personality, often hiding his emotions behind a mask. He is typically seen wearing a headband covering his left eye, which he lost during a previous mission. Despite his initially cold demeanor, Kakashi is a respected leader and mentor to the young ninja in his village, particularly Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchiha, and Sakura Haruno.

Itachi Uchiha

Itachi Uchiha is a member of the Uchiha clan, a powerful ninja family with exceptional abilities in using chakra and the Sharingan eye technique. Itachi is known for his prodigious skill and intelligence and is considered one of the strongest characters in the Naruto universe. Itachi was initially introduced as a villain in the series, a member of the organization Akatsuki tasked with capturing the Nine-Tailed Fox demon sealed inside the main character, Naruto Uzumaki. However, as the story progressed, Itachi’s true motivations and allegiances were revealed, and he became more complex and sympathetic. Itachi is known for his calm and collected demeanor and his ability to use genjutsu (illusionary techniques) to manipulate his opponents.


Goku is the main protagonist of the popular Japanese manga and anime series Dragon Ball, created by Akira Toriyama. Goku is a Saiyan warrior sent to Earth as a baby and raised by humans. He possesses superhuman strength, speed, agility, and the ability to fly, as well as powerful energy blasts known as ki. Goku is known for his determination, kindness, and love for fighting, and he is constantly striving to become stronger and protect his friends and loved ones.


Saitama is from the anime series One-Punch Man. He is an unassuming and unremarkable-looking individual who becomes a superhero after a rigorous training regimen. Saitama possesses incredible physical abilities and can defeat any opponent with a single punch, hence the name “One-Punch Man.” Despite his immense strength, Saitama struggles to find opponents who can provide him with a challenging fight, and he often feels bored and unfulfilled.

Satoru Gojo

Satoru Gojo is a character from the anime series “Jujutsu Kaisen.” He is a powerful jujutsu sorcerer and a Tokyo Metropolitan Curse Technical College teacher. Gojo is known for his exceptional combat abilities, particularly his use of the Domain Expansion technique, which allows him to manipulate space within a limited area. He is also characterized by his laid-back and carefree personality, often using humor and sarcasm to defuse tense situations.

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Eren Yeager

Eren Yeager is from the manga and anime series “Attack on Titan” created by Hajime Isayama. He is the protagonist of the series and a member of the Scout Regiment, which fights against the Titans, giant humanoid creatures that have nearly wiped out humanity. Eren can transform into a Titan himself, making him a valuable asset to the Scout Regiment. Throughout the series, Eren’s character undergoes significant development as he grapples with the trauma of losing his mother to Titans and seeks revenge against them.

Gintoki Sakata

Gintoki Sakata is seen in the anime series “Gintama,” created by Hideaki Sorachi. He is a skilled samurai and former rebel who runs an odd jobs business in a fictionalized version of Edo-era Japan, where aliens known as Amanto have invaded and taken over society. Gintoki is known for his lazy and carefree personality, but also has a strong sense of justice and loyalty to his friends. He often takes on odd jobs to make ends meet, but also gets involved in more dangerous missions that involve fighting the Amanto and other powerful foes.

Naruto Uzumaki

Naruto Uzumaki is the main protagonist of the anime series, “Naruto.” He is a young ninja from the Hidden Leaf Village in the Land of Fire and a member of Team 7, which includes Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno. Naruto is known for his bright orange jumpsuit, spiky blonde hair, and his signature technique, the Rasengan. Naruto grew up without parents and was ostracized by the villagers due to the Nine-Tailed Fox, a powerful and destructive demon fox that was sealed inside him when he was a baby. Despite this, Naruto is an optimistic and determined individual who dreams of becoming the Hokage, the leader of his village.

Monkey D. Luffy

Monkey D. Luffy is from the anime series, “One Piece.” He is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates, a crew of pirates who journeyed to find the legendary treasure known as the “One Piece” and become the Pirate King. Luffy is known for his trademark straw hat and rubber-like abilities, which he gained after accidentally eating a Devil Fruit called the Gomu Gomu no Mi. This fruit allowed him to stretch his body like rubber, making him nearly invulnerable to direct attacks. Luffy is a cheerful and carefree person who values his friends and is always willing to help those in need. He often puts himself in danger to protect others and has a strong sense of justice. He also loves adventure and is always eager to explore new places and meet new people.

Light Yagami (Death Note)

Light Yagami is diabolical, cunning, and determined to reinvent the world in his image. Extremely clever, Light started as a good kid, doing well in school and on the way to becoming a famous policeman like his father. However, once he gets possession of the Death note, he embarks on a remarkable transformation into a disturbing mastermind who acts as judge, jury, and executioner for the whole world. Light’s character is complex. He wants to make the world happier and safer, a noble but misguided goal. His nobility and idealism shine through when he doesn’t have the Death Note. When he momentarily gives up ownership of the Death Note to throw L off his tail, Light loses all memory of it, returning to his normal personality. His morals return, and he shows compassion for his fellow beings. He is a complex character that is a detestable villain, yet you root for him to emerge a winner. With a mind that would make Machiavelli jealous and the power of Death Note, this character is one to watch. Unfortunately, his ego and arrogance lead to his ultimate downfall. 

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Dio Brando (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)

The arch-enemy of the Joestar family, Dio Brando, is delectably detestable. He has a dark past-he; he was raised by an abusive father and dedicated himself to destroying the Joestar family after they took him in as an orphan at a young age. Tormenting the family and torturing their pets, Dio only gets eviler once he finds the Stone Mask- a relic that turns those who wear it into vampires – something that happens to Dio later. Dio even used the mask to create an undead army of followers, including evil figures like Jack the Ripper, proving just how evil he was. He also became a Stand user, adding to his scary and horrific powerset. 

Gon Freecss (Hunter x Hunter)

Gon is a character over whom a father figure has loomed large. His father’s absence defines this young boy’s life, inspiring him to become a hunter and sending him on an epic quest when he realizes his father, whom he presumed dead, is alive. Gon was raised in the forest by his aunt and is finely attuned to nature and animals and, thus, a skilled hunter. Despite his skill set, he’s a child who can act impatient, ill-tempered, and impetuous. However, that does not get into his ambition of becoming the best hunter. This coming-of-age and fantasy story makes this anime fun, and the protagonist is one of the most relatable to watch. 

Motoko Kusanagi (Ghost in the Shell)

Major Motoko Kusanagi is the major driving force behind the franchise Ghost in the Shell. The show might morph into a long dialogue loaded with political drama, yet Motoko keeps things fun. She’s a master at political intrigue, proving that she’s not just a pretty face behind a gun. She’s a stellar detective, often rooting out the truth behind the cases she is working on. All this while surrounded by a majorly male supporting cast. Just because of who she was, everyone respected her. She is great at speaking on the nature of humanity in a technological age. She is a human mind trapped in an artificial body since childhood, and her life brings out the old question – “What does it mean to be human”?

Levi Ackerman (Attack on Titan)

People within the walled world of Attack on Titan see Levi as a hero. His brutality is not only directed at the giant monsters he pursues. He is a complex character, fashioned on one of the most infamous and violent anti-heroes of pop culture, Rorschach from Watchmen. He is a strategic superpower, one of the smartest and most clinical thinkers in the history of anime. The anime itself is a cultural phenomenon. Levi’s powerset, determination to serve his folks, and his complex yet morally influenced heroism make him an important addition to the anime character list. 

Kakashi (Naruto)

Kakashi has managed to outrank Naruto in popularity polls. A complex character, he has an iconic design and a relaxed attitude that spells cool. Everyone wishes they had a teacher like Kakashi-intelligent, relatable, relaxed, and highly devoted to his pupils. Kakashi saved Naruto’s bacon several times on his journey to maturity when Naruto himself was predictable. Kakashi, on the other hand, had many traits up his sleeve that made him steal the limelight. Kakashi’s history is full of loss, retribution, and sadness. His father committed suicide. Yet there are some other stories, like how he got the Sharingan and his eye scar. There’s enough on Kakashi to have a series on his own. 

Guts (Berserk)

Berserk is a horror/fantasy/action anime set in a cruel fantasy world. A brutal place needs a brutal hero, and Guts was that man. Birthed from a corpse left hanging from a tree, Guts faced a lot of trials and tribulations, seeing his loved ones and friends brutalized or murdered and himself losing an arm and an eye. However, that doesn’t stop him from swinging his huge sword around. He implements a lot of tactical thinking in fights, and in those moments between battles, Guts listens and talks a lot, giving us an insight into a man who has every right to hate the world but is still battling to safeguard the good in it. Characters like Cloud Strife and Ichigo Kurosaki inspire Gus’s sword. 

Arsene Lupin III (Lupin III)

Lupin got adult comedy anime into the forefront. His lecherous antics and smooth handling of epic heists brought adults into anime. From Rome to Rio and Paris, Lupin travelled far and wide in search of booty. His love for women and his dirty mind was a source of much comedy in the series. Lupin was known as the world’s greatest thief, and with his gang, he went around stealing the world’s most valuable things. However, it was the actual stealing that he enjoyed more than the keeping; he often just gave away the things he stole. He wasn’t just a thief for the sake of thieving – he would help people in trouble and correct injustices. Lupin is more like a modern Robin Hood but with more style and oomph. 

Jotaro Kujo (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusader)

Koju is quite a notable character as he is the first of his valiant family line to be introduced with a Stand. His superpowers would play a vital role in the greater lore of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures. At the same time, Jotaro Kujo’s Star Platinum Stand would make him an important character. Like the rest of the Joestar family, Jotaro Kujo is a very stylish figure who has become a fan favourite and is also the most easily recognizable member of the cast of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures. 

Roronoa Zoro (One Piece)

There’s hardly a character that is cooler than Roronoa. A samurai pirate with green hair, epic scars, and his signature three swords, he is one of the most formidable fighters of the Straw Hat Pirates and a loyal advisor to Luffy. His quiet nature hides a sincere and serious soul that will always back up his leader. However, he may not always be happy about it. His trademark over-the-top temper is the only time he lets loose, apart from when he is fighting. He also has a sweet side that comes to the forefront when helping even strangers in need. 

Tanjiro (Demon Slayer)

Tanjiro’s story starts with a tremendous tragedy-his life as a young boy was destroyed when the King of Demons murdered his whole family and turned his sister into a half-demon. That’s when Tanjiro vowed to become a Demon Slayer, cure his sister, and defeat the Demon King. Known for being compassionate and sweet, his heroism is driven by love and vengeance. His empathetic nature gives him an advantage as he can find connections with the monsters he slays. Demon Slayer is relatively new yet has almost become a smash hit because of the kind, dynamic and heroic Tanjiro at the center of its story. 

L (Death Note)

L is the kind of opposition that Death Note needed to amaze fans. An oddball with unkempt hair, a likeness for crouching on chairs, a disdain for shoes, and a love for junk food, L is not what you think of when you say “master detective’. However, he is an eccentric genius and a good contrast to the sociopathic personality of Light and his mask of perfection. A little weird, creepy, and in desperate need of some sun, he’s the good guy and every bit as smart as Light. The battle of wits between them creates a dramatic tension that keeps fans wanting more. 

Himura Kenshin (Rurouni Kenshin)

Kenshin brought a unique characteristic to the anime scene. A killer who won’t kill anymore, he makes a vow never to kill after years of being a hired sword, felling countless enemies. However, his vow is constantly tested as less virtuous people endanger the country’s peace. Kenshin would often be mistaken for a woman by viewers who did not know. He is also very polite, putting others before himself and talking only with utmost respect and patience. Upfront, he is a nice model guy, someone you’d expect to be a teacher or a florist. However, he keeps pushing his buttons, and he can go to a dark place and fall back into the habits that made him famous far and wide as a feared swordsman. Kenshin’s momentary lapses turn him into a complete badass, setting the stage for some epic animated sword battles; he always returns to his sweet nature once the danger has passed. However, in his quieter moments, fear grips him that he will permanently return to his former self and become a manslayer again. 

Shinji Ikari (Evangelion)

Heroes are usually powerful, beautiful, selfless, capable, and confident and have a few carefully added flaws to make them relatable. Shinji, however, was different. Hated for being a wuss, he’s a character that gives audiences a superficial fantasy like other anime. He is pathetic but a genuine work of art. Shinji, the boy, is tasked with defeating giant demons and is a mirror of all things depression teaches a person to detest about themselves. However, he isn’t an exit door to a fantasy land. Escapist fantasy isn’t wrong, but it isn’t all anime is used for, and Shinji’s legacy is that he is emotionally one of the most true-to-life characters in the history of anime. 

Sailor Moon (Usagi)

Sailor Moon was one of the first anime characters we all met. Whether it is her unforgettable catchphrase, “In the name of the Moon, I’ll punish you!” or her instantly recognizable costume, Sailor Moon has grown to be one of the most beloved anime characters of all time. Funny and powerful, she is extremely relatable. The reluctant teen can be seen napping and snacking as often as she’s kicking cosmic ass, and that’s one of the reasons she’s got such a long-lasting fandom. She is one of the coolest and most dynamic characters in animation history. 

Vegeta (Dragon Ball Z)

Vegeta is the unspoken leader of the Saiyans but is forced to play second fiddle to Goku, ever since he found out via Google Glass that Goku’s power was over 9000. His road has a lot of twists and turns. He began as a typical bad guy, but over the course of time, switched sides to become a hesitant ally than a frenemy and a loving father. However, he just couldn’t quit going bad, and sometimes, he did revert to his old ways. However, at the heart of his evil deeds was a deep-rooted inferiority complex; despite being the prince of the Saiyans, he was overshadowed by Goku at every turn. His ego was bruised for years until he finally matured and realized he didn’t have to define his life one way. 

That does it for the top 30 anime characters. So which one is your favourite?