We’re inspired by the wit, bravery, and humor of these incredible female protagonists.
Don’t you think that anime’s female protagonists are more than just bobble-headed visual candy?
There is clearly progress being made in the empowerment of female characters in anime and animation in general, but there is still a long way to go! We compiled a list of some of the best female protagonists from various anime series and films, and there were a lot of options. There are a plethora of role models on this list, ranging from fierce warriors to fearless young women, from princesses to some pretty cool aliens. However, at the absolute least, their narrative and character development can pique our interest.
That “best” isn’t just about physical power or intelligence or winning is vital to remember. On this list, you’ll find the top female protagonists because of their compelling stories, fascinating personalities, and significant character development.
Get to know the best female protagonists in anime history by checking out our list of 15.
15. Mikasa Ackerman — Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan is a video game based on the popular anime series. There are some characters who are quiet and introspective like Mikasa, and she is 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. Her cynical views about the world around her don’t detract from the fact that she is still human. There is no escaping the harshness of the world, Mikasa admitted. However, it’s also “amazing” to look at.
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. Additionally, she’s a complete body wreck.
14. Motoko Kusanagi — Ghost in the Shell
In the popular Ghost in the Shell series of comics, movie, and animated series, Major Motoko Kusanagi is one of the main characters. Motoko is a cyborg field commander with the Japanese National Public Safety Commission’s Public Security Section 9. 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 “”augmented-cybernetic human body,” a “full-body prosthesis.” Motoko makes us reevaluate what it is that makes us unique as human beings. Despite the fact that she is an emotional, stoic, and strong lady, she lives inside an artificial body.
On two consecutive occasions in 2009 and 2014, IGN ranked Motoko as one of the greatest anime characters of all time “while she may appear to be cool, professional, and artificial, she is undeniably a real person,” she says.
13. Chihiro Ogino — Spirited Away
The character development of Spirited Away’s Chihiro, the small hero, is among of the best in the medium. From an insecure and fearful child, she grows up to be a very courageous, hard-working individual. 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. However, her current situation forces her to examine her own strengths and draw them to the surface for the first time.
There can be no doubt about it: Hayao Miyazaki was cited as saying about Chihiro, “[I] wanted to create a heroine who the audience could relate to on a human level. 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.”
12. Usagi Tsukino — Sailor Moon
Without mentioning our all-time favorite Sailor Moon superheroine, Usagi, any list of strong female leads would be incomplete. Usagi’s unabashed display of traditional femininity without any suggested vulnerability gives her strength and confidence. A ordinary teen girl who cares about her friends, food and cute things at the same time as a heroic heroine who rids the streets of evil. 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 femininity in the conventional sense of the word. Instead, she uses her femininity to her advantage, destroying the stereotype that being a girl is a sign of weakness. Usagi, on the other hand, is a great role model for young girls because of her girliness.
11. 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.
For the Evangelion Project, Asuka is a teenage American girl who acts as an Eva Pilot and pilots the Evangelion Unit-02. To this day, Asuka still uses her native language when she swears. A child genius with a college degree at the age of fourteen, she has a few human weaknesses, too. Anger and an insatiable need for perfection characterize her. 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.
Her stubbornness and difficulty articulating her feelings and vulnerability to others make Asuka sympathetic. 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.
10. 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. Anger, while justified, may either lead you to tangible change or entirely destroy you. San depicts this dichotomy. San’s hatred of humans goes back a long way, and she has a good reason for it. In order to protect themselves from the wolf Moro, her parents tossed the newborn San at the animal.
In order to defend her wolf family and the forest in which they reside, San is willing to go to any lengths. But even though she grows up a lot throughout the film (particularly towards protagonist Ashitaka), she stays unforgiving towards humanity 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. However, she does accept her humanity, which makes her a little more likable and relatable. As a result of San’s character development and fearless fighting spirit, she has earned a spot here.
9. 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. While living in a tent on the property of her grandfather, she lost both her parents in a car accident and a severe sickness, she began to feel like a burden to him. She is invited to remain in a room at the Sohma estate once she is discovered. Working two jobs, one part-time and one full-time, she struggles to make ends meet and cover her school expenses. Tohru is a generous, kind, and appreciative person. Aside from being an all-around decent person, she demonstrates to her new pals the genuine meaning of friendship.
Since she was a child, Tohru has been subjected to constant humiliation and abuse. Then again, she’s always happy and brightens the moods of everyone she meets. 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 killed in a spaceship accident while she was a child, and she came close to dying herself. In order to save her, she was cryogenically preserved until medicine had advanced to the point where it could treat her ailments. Her identity and records were wiped clean after the incident at the Gate. Faye, an amnesiac, is woken and healed after 54 years, but she is also heavily in debt. In order to pay off her obligations, she lives a criminal lifestyle. As time goes on, she is introduced to the crew of the Bebop, including Spike and Jet.
There are some antihero tendencies in Faye, but she’s still a fantastic heroine. One of the funniest female characters in anime history, she has an intriguing backstory, and she is much more vulnerable than she lets on in her interactions with the reader. Faye does everything she can to stop Spike from launching an attack on the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate’s headquarters, informing him that he is her only family.
7. Sophie Hatter — Howl’s Moving Castle
Sophie Hatter, like Chihiro from Spirited Away, is an adorably intriguing, and charming character from Howl’s Moving Castle and other Studio Ghibli films.
Sophie is an introverted and insecure young woman at the start of the movie. 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. A strong, level-headed, and intelligent person, she proves herself after being converted into an elderly woman by the Witch of the Waste. It’s clear that she has a heart of gold, as she does her best to help everyone she comes into contact with. A relatable heroine, Sophie is able to unlock her magical powers by venturing out of her comfort zone and into an entirely new universe.
6. Haruko Haruhara — FLCL
FLCL, a 2003 Japanese animation, is a must-see if you’re a fan of sci-fi craziness.
The show’s protagonist, Haruko, is a central figure. 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 employed as a maid by the family of a young guy 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. Naota’s forehead is opened up by the hit to the head, allowing huge robots to emerge. Haruko is pleasantly out-of-the-ordinary and irrational in her behavior. She has antiheroic impulses and is a little manipulative towards Naota. ” Regardless, she’s the star of the show with her zany antics. Because Haruko is so out-of-control and fascinating, she’s earned a spot on our list of the best characters.
5. 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. Despite her playful demeanor, she’s nevertheless kind and snarky, and her jokes never fail to crack me up. Konata doesn’t fit the mold of a conventional shoujo protagonist. Lazy, video games, falling asleep in class, and being a bit of a freak are just some of the things she enjoys doing in her spare time.
After Konata was born, her mother passed away, and she was reared by her father alone. During the episode where we discover more about what happened to Konata, the show’s generally happy and lighthearted tone shifts to a more somber one. Even though Konata appears to be an ordinary girl, she has a fascinating and complex backstory. Although she can be a little rough with her companions from time to time, she is always there for them. How much more can you ask for in a terrific character?
4. Yuuko Ichihara — xXxHolic
All-female illustrators known as CLAMP produced some of the most well-known manga of the 1990s, including Cardcaptor Sakura and Chobits. They converted xXxHolic, one of their most popular releases, into an anime.
When it comes to xXXHolic events, Yuuko owns the business in Tokyo where the majority of them take place. When Watanuki wishes to be rid of the ghosts that torment him, she grants his request in exchange for a long term of service. Yuuko cares strongly for Watanuki, despite constantly humiliating tasks Yuuko assigns him.
He is asked to look after Watanuki after Yuko’s death, and he accepts her request. While dreaming, she transforms into an enormous swarm of butterflies and flees from Watanuki before she can be captured. After her death in another reality, Watanuki clenches his heart and shows an unending love for her by crying out in pain.
Yuuko was a mysterious, intelligent, witty, and obsessively trendy character. Her inclusion on the list is a no-brainer.
3. Fuu Kasami — Samurai Champloo
Samurai Champloo’s Fuu is one of the show’s main characters. On a quest to track down the enigmatic Sunflower Samurai, fifteen-year-old Fuu fools Mugen and Jin into protecting her. Fuu’s father, the Sunflower Samurai, is eventually revealed to be his estranged father. On their voyage, the three find themselves in a variety of amusing, dramatic, and captivating scenarios. Momo, Fuu’s flying squirrel pet, joins the family.
Her imperfections make her a great character, and she’s a great example of this in the show. She’s prone to strange accidents since she’s prone to tampering with other people’s affairs and being awkward and clumsy. Also, she attempts to appear as worldly as her guardians, which is a far cry from the reality. However, she has faced adversity and the death of her mother, so she is not a fully privileged individual. 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.
2. Hinata Hyuuga – Naruto
Characters from one of the most popular anime shows ever were plentiful in Naruto. Hinata, on the other hand, is one of the most likable characters on the program.
A young Hinata had an innocent crush on the series’ titular hero when she first appeared in the series. When she saw her friends thrive, she realized that she had the ability to do the same, and she tapped into it to become a better person. She grew into a fearsome ninja. A truly good person, Hinata has an intriguing and well-written past. Her generosity was unwavering throughout the series, even as she was thrown into a fierce conflict with her sister. Additionally, she is the second-youngest ninja to invent her own jutsu, as well as the fastest in preparing it for fight.
It’s hard to argue that Hinata doesn’t deserve a spot on this list because of her ninja abilities, lovable demeanor, strong past, and outstanding character development. In addition, her relationship with Naruto is a sweet one that is well-crafted.
1. 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. There is something titillating and fascinating about Nana Osaki, who is unlike Nana Komatsu in many ways.
Nana has seen her fair share of trash. A woman who left Nana with her grandmother when she was a baby is her mother. Forbidding Nana from dressing in a way that would attract men, Nana’s grandmother was a bit of an abuser. Nana developed a taste for punk music as an adolescent rebel. Since her expulsion from school, Nana has become the lead vocalist of 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 friendly, loyal companion with a heart of gold.