This is Valentine’s Day, which means that everyone is thinking about anime. Right?
Specifically, we’re thinking of the anime series we enjoy, and the characters from those series we enjoy even more. Anime characters, of course, are a close second. Anime’s greatest male protagonists. It turns out there are a lot of Best Boys in the world. We were so overwhelmed by the number of Best Boys that we had to re-evaluate our definition of a Best Boy.
We couldn’t come up with a single answer to the query. There are moments when the series’s universally recognized Best Boy just isn’t your Best Boy, and that’s fine. Indeed, defining what a Best Boy is is a difficult task, as it differs widely from fan to fan. If you have a favorite character, it’s someone whose personality traits make you care deeply about them, not just because they’re a good actor or actress. Alternatively, it could just be someone you’re attracted to.
For Valentine’s Day, three Polygon employees sat down to discuss their definitions of “Best Boy” and single out specific anime characters that have influenced them.
“The Boyz of Petrana Radulovic”
Best Boy, as I see it, is:
Best Boy characters fascinate me. It’s not clear why, but I’m drawn to characters who are either lovable little shitheads with a secret heart of gold — or great guys with an edgy or naughty streak. While there are a few exceptions, my preference is for boys who are more complex than they appear to be. My picks are as follows:
1. Sugawara from Haikyuu!!
Although Suga may be the most archetypal “Best Boy” on my list, I cannot stress enough how much he is also an adorable little shit. His niceness had to be explored before I finally settled on him as my favorite character, but the moment he revealed his complexity, I knew he was the one. AKA Karasuno High School Volleyball’s “Team Mom,” he gives his teammates emotional support and encouragement while also taunting them and making awkward cheerleading routines for them when they’re down. As an athlete, Sugawara’s story resonates with me because it mirrors my own personal experiences on the team.
2. Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle
Howl was my favorite anime boy before any other. My introduction to Ghibli and anime was Howl’s Moving Castle, therefore it’s safe to say that for me, it all began with Howl. He’s slick, slick, and immensely powerful, but he’s also cowardly, egotistical, and obsessed with his image. In the end, he finds the strength to stand up for those he loves. I’m in love with that heart of gold! I’m in awe of that hair! So, what’s new? The voice of Christian Bale! After seeing him defend Sophie from some aggressive troops and then fly across the city with her, the scene has stayed with me forever.
3. Shigure Sohma from Fruits Basket (2019)
Manga readers, I’m aware that Shigure is a suspect, but I’m not sure why. I still have feelings for him, and he still has mine. He’s a perfect match for the “total little shit” feel. Despite the fact that he doesn’t appear to have the warmest of hearts, he conceals a dark side and knows more than he lets on. When it comes to Ayame and Hatori, his best friends, I couldn’t leave them out of the picture. The trio dynamic of flamboyant costume designer, flirting scheming author and serious doctor is just… [chef kiss].
4. Miyuki Shirogane from Love is War
I love Shirogane’s design because of the thick creases beneath his eyes, which make him look exhausted. Despite his restrained demeanor, the class president is an absolute sweetheart on the inside. He’s a huge fan of space exploration! He obsessively scrutinizes every social encounter he has with Kaguya’s vice president! He puts in so much effort all the time that he deserves a break! Nothing but positive things can come his way.
5. Mikoto Mikoshiba from Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
Mikoto is one of those guys who, after saying anything flirtatious to a girl, quickly regrets it because he realizes how ridiculous he actually sounded. That’s something I admire. Behind his obnoxious playboy persona, he’s a shy young man. I have the impression that Mikoto and I would get along just fine if we ever met in the real world.
6. Kurapika from Hunter x Hunter
When I first started this list, I put Hunter x Hunter’s loudmouth jerk-with-a-secret-heart-of-gold Leorio on it, so I’m not really sure where to begin with this one. So far, Kurapika’s stoic and honorable desire for justice in the name of his slain comrades has struck a chord with me. Initially, I dismissed him because he seemed too reserved and cool, but when I found he was somewhat sarcastic, he won me over. His desperate methods to achieve his aim, spiraling deeper and deeper, make him my favorite character now. For me, it’s all about the tragic backstory.
Males from the crew of Ana Diaz
Best Boy, as I see it, is:
A majority of the boys on my list are “aggressively earnest.” It’s the kind of character that shows his emotions without holding back that appeals to me the most. It’s possible that there are a few “flawed, erratic mentor” examples in this list. They’re all net excellent, and I could see myself being friends with any of them in the end, no matter which one I ended up choosing.
7. Tanjiro Kamado from Demon Slayer
Not only does Demon Slayer’s Tanjiro Kamado rank as my favorite anime character, he is the best anime character I’ve ever seen. This is the kind of boy you want to bring home to meet your parents, and Tanjiro is the personification of it. He’s sincere, kind, and kind, and his relentless dedication to rescue his younger sister motivates all around him to do their best work. It’s even more admirable that he achieves this despite bearing the weight of his mother’s and siblings’ deaths. Regardless of his true power, he is truly a key figure worthy of the moniker “hero.”
8. Shoyo Hinata from Haikyuu!!
It’s hard not to be impressed with Hinata Shoyo from Haikyuu!! He’s the star of the show when he jumps up and spikes the ball, and for good reason. In spite of his diminutive stature, he’s a volleyball prodigy. I love him because he’s so sincere that it makes me uncomfortable. Just when his team’s hopes of winning the match are fading, Hinata’s genuine enthusiasm and passion for the sport brings them back to their feet.
9. Toru Oikawa from Haikyuu!!
It’s possible that Toru Oikawa supporters are scratching their heads, and if that’s the case, I can only respond, “You don’t get it.” Oikawa, a brooding good-looking boy, is a far cry from my previous two selections. Though Oikawa is known to bully others, I have this to say about him: As a result, he has a special place in my heart as one of Haikyuu!more !’s sympathetic and nuanced characters. As a setter, he’s known more for his ability to bring out the best in his colleagues than for his own abilities. He’s one of the best-developed characters in the series, and he’s also my favorite. …I’m sorry, Hinata.
10. Killua Zoldyck from Hunter x Hunter
Hunter x Hunter doesn’t have Killua Zoldyck as the main protagonist. I’d much rather watch the show if he were the showrunner. In spite of Killua’s efforts to show the public how awesome Gon is, his adoration for Gon only makes me love him more. There are hundreds of canonically dead characters that he has presumably slain by now, but we catch him just as he is about to turn away from all of that. Killua is freeing himself from the chains of his family’s history of abuse and creating his own route forward. He’s powerful, yet I just want to protect him.
11. Tamaki Suoh from Ouran Host Club
To hear Tamaki Suoh’s name brings back memories of how he refers to himself as “Daddy” because he founded his school’s club. Tamaki is a complete and utter child, and he’s a nuisance to deal with at every turn. Tamaki, on the other hand, is capable of progressing. The admiration he has for Haruhi Fujioka, his love interest, and his willingness to follow her and let her lead are admirable qualities, to say the least. He cares more about Haruhi and his friends than he does about superficial things like appearance or money.
12. Satoru Gojo from Jujutsu Kaisen
Satoru Gojo has quickly become a fan favorite among viewers of Jujutsu Kasien. He’s a nutcase! That the most powerful characters are also the most down-to-earth connects with me. I’m not sure what it is. It doesn’t matter how many times he gets it wrong—a he’s great role model for the kids, and he cares about them. He’s the kind of person I’d turn to if I ever found myself in a terrible situation.
13. Kisuke Urahara from Bleach
The first e-boy was Kisuke Urahara. I’ve said it now. As Miyuki Shirogane mentioned above, he wears an ill-fitting bucket hat and keeps his hair long. He’s sleazy and a jerk, but he’s also not scared to do the right thing and cut through the bullshit. Is it really worth it to go to all of this trouble? It’s safe to assume Urahara would say yes. And despite the fact that he puts Ichigo Kurosaki through a lot of hell, he is the one who sets him on his path. He could care less about others, yet his plans always come to fruition.
Boys of Julia Lee
Best Boy, as I see it, is:
These are only young men. What a great idea! There are some decent lads in here. They’re good guys I’d be happy to introduce to my friends. However, there are some of these males who are not upstanding members of society. Even yet, I’d like to grasp their hands as they presumably try to rip my arm off while I’m still alive.
14. Steven Stone from Pokémon
Since I was a kid, I’ve been a fan of all the Steven Stones that have appeared in various Pokémon media, but I’d like to focus on the manga version from Pokémon Adventures. This guy’s got crimson eyes and steel-type’mons, and he’s mighty. His “champion’s cape” shows that he’s the best in the Hoenn region and that he’s willing to die for it.
15. Legoshi from Beastars
Furry, I’m your man. Go ahead and do it. I’m no longer bothered about it. You and I both know that Legoshi the wolf is a good lad. I’d give my life for him. To his pals and to his rabbit crush Haru, he gives everything he’s got. Just to keep her safe, he goes to great lengths, even if it means protecting her from himself. I adore him since he’s such a devoted canine companion.
16. Trafalgar Law from One Piece
My pulse pounded when Law appeared in the One Piece manga and flipped off the reader. But Eiichiro Oda has done a wonderful job of transforming him from some sort of bad boy to a goof. Straw Pirates make fun of him and make him an enjoyable character, making him more than a cool allies. One of his other talents is being an orthopedic surgeon who is also a bear-talking friend. What could possibly be bad about this?
17. Jin from Samurai Champloo
In Samurai Champloo, the three major characters are well-developed and likable. Because of the fantastic animation, I can’t help but develop a strange crush on Mugen and Jin. When Jin helps Shino flee away from her fate, however, was that episode? What a tragedy it is to recall how low I had sunk.
18. Kotetsu Kaburagi from Tiger & Bunny
I’m not going to get into too much detail here. As a father, Kotetsu is doing everything he can to impress his daughter and keep up with the other young heroes. He’s also a very attractive father.
19. Tatsu from The Way of the House Husband
Tatsu is an ideal man in every sense of the word. As an adult, he’s expected to be able to do things like keep a house immaculate, prepare delectable meals, and shop for the best deals. In addition, he is adept at using his position to intimidate others. In addition to being a wonderful house husband, the former yakuza has captured my heart with his ride-or-die loyalty to his lucky wife, and that’s yakuza loyalty.
20. Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez from Bleach
As a teen, I didn’t go through a “Bleach” phase. I was familiar with most of the characters and could tell you which ones I thought were hot, but I never bothered to read it because of the differing opinions on the finale. Bleach was my escape during my coronavirus quarantine. So it was no surprise when Grimmjow swept me off my feet. His jawbone? Good. Is this his unending love for Ichigo? Good. When will he wear that tiny outfit he receives at the end? Good. The fact that he’s voiced by Junichi Suwabe didn’t help. Grimmjow is better than Bleach, despite the latter’s unfortunate conclusion.