The Best Male Anime Protagonists of All Time | TheReviewGeek Recommends

The world of anime is expansive and offers many unique stories with compelling characters, engaging plots, and epic moments. While some anime come and go, many deliver unique and memorable experiences. Those types of anime typically contain well-written storylines and characters.

For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best anime, we’d like to highlight the best male anime protagonists of all time. Whether they’ve saved countless lives or have done things to motivate viewers to pursue their personal goals, these protagonists deserve to be recognized for their efforts and impact on their respective storylines.

Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll add them when we can!

Goku (Dragon Ball)

It’d be hard to find an anime fan who hasn’t heard of Goku before. His series paved the way for much shonen anime with its colorful world, epic fights, and memorable characters. Goku has incredible character growth, a tireless moral code, and a thirst to improve. Goku’s growth throughout the series is amazing.

From his carefree toddler days in the original Dragon Ball to his later fights in Dragon Ball Z and Super, his development has played a role in keeping fans returning to Dragon Ball. Goku’s strength is another noteworthy feat of his. From his incredible potential to his ability to overcome mighty foes from aliens to god-like deities, there’s no stopping this Saiyan from achieving greater heights.

Goku’s desire to push beyond his limits is another great aspect of his character. He’ll inspire multiple generations of humans with his sheer determination and strength alone. Although many fans would like to see other characters get the spotlight in Dragon Ball, Goku’s worth recognizing as one of anime’s finest protagonists.

Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece)

One Piece is a powerhouse in Japan and in other parts of the world. Many fans love this series for its phenomenal world-building, likable characters, and jaw-dropping confrontations. Monkey D. Luffy is a great protagonist and one many cherish for his optimistic personality and determination. No matter if he’s in danger, Luffy’s not willing to back out of a fight.

His sheer charisma and joy carry infectious energy, which rubs off on many of his crewmates throughout the series. Luffy’s also capable of putting up an incredible fight against his enemies. With the powers of Haki and his devil fruit at his disposal, he makes sure to give his opponents a memorable fight, regardless if he walks away from it victorious.

Luffy’s sense of justice and notion to stand up for people makes him a great protagonist too. He values his friends and anyone else who shows him respect and goodwill. Even if it puts him in a tight bind, Luffy will protect those who deserve his sympathy. While Luffy may act aloof at times, he’s a hero with a huge heart and deserves his spot as one of anime’s best protagonists.

Edogawa Conan (Detective Conan)

Light Yagami (Death Note)

With how evil and corrupt Light Yagami is, you’d think he’d be the series’s antagonist. In actuality, he’s Death Note’s protagonist. While he’s not a character most viewers would root for, he’s done a lot in his series that makes him a character worth highlighting here. Like our previous entry, Light is an intelligent protagonist and is capable of outsmarting most investigators and detectives in Death Note.

On top of being an excellent strategist, Light is a formidable opponent to many people in his series. Light’s sense of justice also makes his a neat character to watch on screen. Despite his horrid methods, Light believes he’s doing his world a favor by murdering every criminal with his Death Note. He views himself as a hero and his line of thinking always puts him at odds with other characters.

Light’s evolution throughout the series is equally enticing. He becomes more arrogant and manipulative over time as he receives more power and control over his situations. His descent into madness and darkness adds great depth to his character and makes him feel somewhat tragic.

Spike Spiegel (Cowboy Bebop)

Cowboy Bebop is a classic sci-fi series with a great rounded cast and an alluring sense of adventure. Spike Spiegel is an intriguing fellow who likes visiting multiple planets and taking on different jobs. Many adore Spike for his casual approach toward life. However, viewers shouldn’t let Spike’s habit of cracking jokes and smoking cigarettes fool them.

Behind his calm exterior, lies a man with deep intelligence and fierce determination. Spike also has excellent physical abilities and combat skills. He uses his physical and mental feats to overwhelm and pull one over on his opponents countless times in Cowboy Bebop. It’s these qualities that make him a fun character to follow, especially during the show’s action-packed segments.

Spike also receives excellent development in Cowboy Bebop. With his tragic past and complicated relationships, you’ll grow attached to Spike and hope for him to overcome his struggles.

Edward Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist)

Fullmetal Alchemist is an incredible anime series and one that’s hailed as the being the best shonen, according to certain fans. It’s known for its fun and complex storytelling, thrilling adventure, and epic action scenes. Edward Elric, one of the series’ protagonists, is a multifaceted character with many relatable and admirable aspects.

He’s incredibly intelligent with a deep passion for knowledge and discovery. He strives to improve his understanding of the alchemic arts and the world around him. He’s loyal to people he cares about even though he’s willing to mock people occasionally. Many viewers will admire Edward’s intention to show his vulnerable side as he suffered numerous traumas in his life.

Furthermore, Edward undergoes wonderful growth throughout the series. He evolved from his brash and hot-headed person and becomes more mature and responsible. He learns to value teamwork, comes to terms with his traumatic past, and makes sacrifices for the greater good.

Reinhard von Lohengramm (Legend of the Galactic Heroes)

Legend of the Galactic Heroes is regarded as one of the most intricate tales to grace the anime industry. While many love it for its delve into politics and mind-numbing warfare, others adore it for its characters like Reinhard von Lohengramm.

Reinhard is a brilliant strategist and tactician who possesses exceptional leadership skills. He’s a confident and charismatic individual with an unwavering conviction in his cause to save the galaxy from authoritarianism and unite it under his rule. He’s able to inspire loyalty and others to follow his lead as a testament to his remarkable character.

Reinhard also has great depth and a rich backstory that shaped into the person he is in the show. From his tragic backstory to his deep sense of justice, many viewers will enjoy following his character throughout this large space opera.

Guts (Berserk)

Berserk is an incredible anime with deep storytelling, epic battles, and saddening themes. Guts is the series’s protagonist and is widely recognized as a compelling and iconic character in anime and manga. He’s a multi-layered person with a turbulent past that has shaped him into the menacing swordsman he is in the source material.

He’s survived numerous traumas like losing his lover and being betrayed by someone he looked up to. Furthermore, Guts is a skilled warrior with incredible strength and endurance, making him a formidable opponent to whoever stands in his way. His skill is demonstrated in his proficiency with his weapon, Dragon Slayer, a large sword he uses to end his enemies’ lives.

Viewers will be thrilled to know Guts gradually evolves over the course of the series. He’s initially depicted as a lone wolf but develops meaningful bonds with other characters throughout his adventures.

Himura Kenshin (Rurouni Kenshin)

Himura Kenshin hails from the legendary series Rurouni Kenshin. Despite the controversy surrounding its author, the story captivated audiences with its attention to detail and love for classic samurai stories. Kenshin is a skilled swordsman with remarkable speed, agility, and precision with his sword. Despite being a former killer, Kenshin swears to stop killing, allowing him to stand out from others.

Furthermore, Kenshin has a gripping backstory. Despite killing numerous people over the years, he seeks redemption for his past actions. The pain and regret he feels are noticeable, making him an emotionally resonant character that audiences can’t help but root for. Kenshin also values friendship and loyalty. He forms tight bonds with folks like Kaoru and Yahiko.

Like most Shonen protagonists, his sense of justice and desire to protect those he cares about will gravitate people toward his character the most. Through countless physical and emotional challenges, Kenshin will become a more honorable person, making him an inspiring and admirable protagonist.

Naruto (Naruto)

Naruto is an iconic anime series filled with valuable life lessons, great action, and compelling characters. Naruto is one of the most recognizable anime characters out there. He’s easy to connect with because he’s an underdog hero who must face numerous obstacles throughout his life.

Naruto has incredible resilience and an unconquerable spirit. He never gives up, no matter how many odds are stacked against him. His belief in himself and the people around him is unwavering, even when everyone else has given up on him, he never gives up on himself. This never-give-up attitude will inspire folks to pursue their obstacles with great integrity.

Naruto’s tight moral compass will also resonate with folks and his desire to do good things will inspire others to do the same. Naruto’s character development is phenomenal and evolves throughout the series. He starts off the anime inexperienced but develops into a skilled ninja and mature young man by its conclusion.

So, there we have it, our picks for the best male anime protagonists of all time!

What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!

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