We’re inspired by the wit, strength, and humor of these incredible female protagonists.
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If you think all anime’s female characters are nothing more than “bobble-headed eye candy,” think otherwise.
You’ve got to rethink this!
A sea change is underway when it comes to the portrayal of strong, empowered women in anime and animation in general. In order to compile this list, we looked at some of the best female protagonists in various anime and film franchises, and it was difficult to narrow the field down. This list includes a wide range of characters, from warriors and princesses to space aliens and princesses, that we can all look up to. At the very least, their plots and character arcs can pique our interest.
It’s crucial to remember that “best” doesn’t just mean physical strength, intelligence, or winning. On this list, you’ll find the top female protagonists because of their compelling stories, fascinating personalities, and significant character development.
1. Mikasa Ackerman — Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan is a video game based on the popular anime series. There are certain characters who are quiet and introspective like Mikasa, and it’s hard to tell if she’s one of them. As a member of the Survey Corps, she witnessed carnage and observed her parents being brutally murdered by criminals, so it would be tough to emerge unharmed from the trauma she’s endured. One of Mikasa’s most endearing qualities is his ability to persevere under adversity. Despite her tendency to be pessimistic about the world, she never loses sight of the fact that she is a human being. “This world is terrible,” Mikasa herself declared. “Yet… it’s so lovely.”
In her connection with Eren, the usual boy-saves-girl gender roles are completely inverted, which is pleasant to observe, even if her overzealous protectiveness of him can be problematic at times. She’s also extremely ripped on top of everything else.
2. Motoko Kusanagi — Ghost in the Shell
Major Motoko Kusanagi is a well-known character from the Ghost in the Shell manga series, movie, and animated television shows. The Japanese National Public Safety Commission’s Public Security Section 9 is led by cyborg Motoko, who works as a field commander. Known for her strength and brilliance, Motoko is a skilled hacker with lightning reflexes.
Following a plane crash as a child, Motoko was left in a vegetative state. After her condition deteriorated, she was put into a coma “Full body prosthesis, augmented-cybernetic human body. Motoko makes us reevaluate what it is that makes us unique as human beings. She’s a powerful woman who battles for the people she cares about, but she’s trapped in a robotic body.
On two consecutive times in 2009 and 2014, IGN ranked Motoko as one of the greatest anime characters of all time “she may appear to be cool, professional, and a little artificial, but she is undeniably a human being.”
3. Chihiro Ogino — Spirited Away
Spirited Away’s pint-sized protagonist, Chihiro, boasts some of the strongest character development in any anime film or series. Although she begins off as an overly sensitive and immature brat, she grows up to be a strong woman with a strong sense of self-awareness. Many of Hayao Miyazaki’s female protagonists, like Chihiro in this film, undergo character growth, achieve self-confidence, and are part of positive coming-of-age stories for young girls. Chihiro is thrust into a terrifying realm and is tasked with saving her parents when she could be playing with her friends. As a result, she’s forced to examine herself and discover inner strengths that she didn’t know she had until this moment.
Hayao Miyazaki, cited as stating about Chihiro, “I completely agree,” “[I] developed a protagonist who is relatable to the public because she is an everyday girl. In this novel, the characters aren’t forced to grow up, but they are forced to rely on what they already possess, brought to light by the circumstances.”
4. Usagi Tsukino — Sailor Moon
Usagi, the schoolgirl superhero from Sailor Moon, is a must-have on any list of female protagonists. Usagi’s unabashed presentation of conventional femininity without any hint of weakness makes her empowering.. Teenage Usagi is all about friends, food, and cute things, but she’s also a badass heroine eager to rid the world of evil with her bare hands. A crybaby Usagi was shown in the original manga and anime as being unwilling to take on the role of a superhero. Usagi grows into a courageous, reliable, and confident person who loves a great deal about her friends via her character development. without losing her girlishness, she becomes an even better person. It’s a misconception that being girly makes you weak that she deconstructs through her femininity. Usagi, on the other hand, is a great role model for young girls because of her girliness.
5. Asuka Langley Soryu — Neon Genesis Evangelion
On this list of fantastic female protagonists, Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion couldn’t be left out. Fans of the show still adore Asuka, a legendary anime heroine who appears in a slew of their favorite works.
In the Evangelion Project, Asuka, a teenage American girl, works as an Eva pilot and pilots the Evangelion Unit-02. Swearing in German is a common language for Asuka, who grew up in Germany. Although she was a child prodigy who earned a college degree at the age of fourteen, she has her share of human failings. When she becomes angry, she loses her cool, and she’s driven by the need to be the greatest at everything. In spite of these imperfections, Asuka has the kind of self-confidence and pride that you rarely see in a young girl. She is humorous in her own way.” She’s confident in her abilities and won’t hesitate to tell you.
It’s easy to empathize with Asuka since she’s headstrong and has a hard time showing her emotions and vulnerabilities to other people. There’s no doubt that she’s a human being, although one who’s been forced to perform a job that no child should be doing at the tender age of 12.
6. San — Princess Mononoke
Like many characters and ideas in Hayao Miyazaki’s work, San’s character represents something more than what we perceive at face value. Sán depicts the rage felt by oppressed people and the ways in which that rage may either lead to meaningful change or destroy you. San has a long history of hostility against humans, and she has good cause to be so. To protect themselves from the wolf Moro, her parents vandalized the woods and hurled their baby San at him.
In order to defend her wolf family and the forest in which they reside, San is willing to go to any lengths. It doesn’t matter how much she matures throughout the film, or how much sympathy she has for human beings, she remains unforgiving toward them and continues to dwell in the woods. San hates humanity, and he will always detest it. Anything less would have been a kind of apologetic integration. A little sympathy can be gained from her acknowledgment that she is human. For her character development and brave fighting attitude, San is included on this list.
7. Tohru Honda — Fruits Basket
to any girl who has grown up reading fruits basket, Tohru demonstrates the virtues of a decent person. despite her being a minor character in the manga. When she starts to feel like a burden to her grandfather, who was housing her, she moves into a tent on the Sohma property where her parents died in a vehicle accident and from a chronic illness, respectively. She is invited to remain in a room at the Sohma estate once she is discovered. As a part-time employee, she is responsible for her own expenses and the cost of her education. Tohru is a generous, kind, and appreciative person. She exemplifies what it means to be a true friend to her new companions, and for that alone, she deserves a place on this list.
For most of her existence, Tohru has been dragged through the mud. As a result, she remains cheerful and brightens the moods of everyone she knows. It’s brave of Tohru to exist, endure, and survive in spite of the sadness she feels, and she deserves to be included on this list.
8. Faye Valentine — Cowboy Bebop
Faye Valentine, a bounty hunter from the iconic Cowboy Bebop anime, is one of the show’s key characters. Her parents were died in a spaceship accident when she was a child, and she was nearly killed as a result. In order to save her, she was cryogenically preserved until medicine had advanced to the point where it could treat her ailments. Her name and records were wiped after the Gate event. Faye, the amnesiac who has been in a coma for fifty-four years, has awoken and been healed, but she is also in enormous debt. She’s a fugitive, running from her debts as a criminal. After meeting Spike and Jet, she joins the Bebop crew.
Faye, the heroine, has some antihero characteristics, but she’s a fantastic character. If you’re looking for one of the funniest and most intriguing female characters in anime history, go no further. It’s Faye’s job to stop Spike from attacking the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate’s headquarters and maybe killing them all. She tells Spike that he is her only family.
9. Sophie Hatter — Howl’s Moving Castle
Howl’s Moving Castle heroine Sophie Hatter is a lot like Chihiro from Spirited Away and many other beloved Studio Ghibli heroines before her.
At the start of the film, Sophie is a shy and insecure young woman. It’s expected that the first-born daughter of a family in the country she lives in will lead a humdrum existence running the household’s company. Despite the fact that the Witch of the Waste has turned her into an elderly lady, she has proven herself to be a strong, level-headed, and knowledgeable character. Throughout the course of her escapades with Howl, she displays a genuine concern for the well-being of everyone around her. A relatable heroine, Sophie is able to unlock her magical powers by venturing out of her comfort zone and into an entirely new universe.
10. Haruko Haruhara — FLCL
FLCL, a 2003 Japanese animation, is a must-see if you’re a fan of sci-fi craziness.
Haruko is a well-known character in the series. She’s a Galactic Space Police Brotherhood private investigator on a mission to track down a space pirate by the name of Atomsk. She is a maid for the home of a young man named Naota.
She runs over Naota with her bright yellow Vespa in the first episode and then hits him with a guitar in the head. When Naota receives a hit to the head, a portal appears in his forehead, letting gigantic robots emerge. When it comes to Haruko, she’s a wonderfully oddball and unpredictable character, and few of her actions make any logic. She’s a bit of an antihero in the way she treats Naota. Her antics, however, are the real stars of the show. It’s rare to come across a character as bizarre and compelling as Haruko, which is why we had to include her on this list.
11. Konata Izumi — Lucky Star
Konata, the protagonist of the Lucky Star anime series, is a strong contender for inclusion on this list.
The Lucky Star companions’ implicit leader is Konata. She has a snarky sense of humor and is always up for a good time. I don’t think Konata is your average shoujo protagonist. She is a proud freak who isn’t ashamed of her laziness, loves video games, and falls asleep in class.
After Konata was born, her mother passed away, and she was raised by her father on her own. In contrast to Konata’s usual bright and lighthearted demeanor, the episode in which we learn more about what happened to her is terribly heartbreaking. The mystery surrounding Konata’s origins proves that she is far more deep and nuanced than first appears. Although she can be a little rough with her companions from time to time, she is always there for them. How much more could you ask for in a terrific character?
12. Yuuko Ichihara — xXxHolic
Cardcaptor Sakura and Chobits were two of the most popular manga of the 1990s, produced by an all-female collective of illustrators known as CLAMP. They converted xXxHolic, one of their most popular releases, into an anime.
As the shop owner in Tokyo, Yuuko is responsible for organizing most of the activities of xXxHolic. In exchange for a lengthy term of service, she grants Watanuki’s yearning to be free of the ghosts that trouble him. Yuuko cares strongly for Watanuki, despite constantly humiliating responsibilities.
He is asked to look after Watanuki after Yuko’s death, and he accepts her request. Watanuki never gets to see her again since she transforms into an enormous horde of butterflies in the final episode’s dream sequence. He holds his heart tight after she dies while in another reality, signifying an unbreakable bond.
Yuuko was an enigmatic, intelligent, witty, and fashion-forward character. She has earned her place on this list without a doubt.
13. Fuu Kasami — Samurai Champloo
Samurai Champloo’s Fuu is one of the show’s main characters. Fuu, a fifteen-year-old girl, charms Mugen and Jin into guarding her on her quest to track down the enigmatic figure known as the Sunflower Samura. The Sunflower Samurai turns out to be Fuu’s long-lost father. On their voyage, the three find themselves in a variety of amusing and tragic situations, and they end up becoming close friends. Momo, Fuu’s flying squirrel pet, is also a member of the family.
Fuu is a fascinating figure in part because of her many flaws. In addition to interfering in other people’s affairs, she is also prone to stumbling and other unforeseen mishaps. Even yet, she tries to make it seem like she’s more cosmopolitan than she is. However, she has faced poverty and the death of her mother, so she is not an altogether fortunate person. In spite of her lack of realism, Fuu is an endearing and unforgettable lead lady because she is a kind, trusting, and bright young woman.
14. Hinata Hyuuga – Naruto
No matter how many times you watched, there were always new and interesting characters to meet in Naruto. Hinata, on the other hand, is a standout character.
A shy and self-conscious young girl, Hinata had an innocent crush on the titular hero when she first appeared in the series. When she saw her friends succeed, she realized that she had the ability to do the same, and she used it to her advantage. She grew into a fearsome ninja, despite her small stature. The backstory of Hinata is fascinating and well-written, and she is a genuinely nice person. Her generosity was unwavering throughout the series, even as she was thrown into a fierce conflict with her sister. Second in terms of age among ninjas who have created their own jutsu, she was also the fastest at using it in battle.
Hinata is deserving of a spot on this list because of her impressive ninja skills, appealing demeanor, compelling past, and overall development as a character. In addition, her relationship with Naruto is a sweet one that is well-crafted.
15. Nana Osaki – Nana
There are two young women named Nana who meet by coincidence and decide to live together as roommates in Nana, a manga and anime series. Nana Osaki has a titillating and captivating quality that Nana Komatsu does not have.
Nana has seen her fair share of trash. As a toddler, she was left in the care of her grandmother as the illegitimate daughter of a lady who had abandoned Nana. Nana’s grandmother was a controlling figure, barring her from dressing in a way that may attract the attention of her mother’s male friends. Nana developed a taste for punk music as an adolescent rebel. Expelled from school for a fake prostitution charge, Nana became the lead vocalist of the band Black Stones and gained a large fan base. She refused to give up her music profession for a man, despite relationship difficulties. The forbidding exterior of Nana disguises a warm and caring personality.