Top 14 Best Female Protagonists in Anime History
Think all women in anime are just bobble-headed eye candy? Think again!
While some anime and animations in general have a long way to go in empowering female representation through characters, things are definitely changing!
We put together some of the most badass, smart, funny, and unique female protagonists from different anime series and films for this list, and there was quite a lot to choose from.
It is important to note that “best” does not exclusively imply physical strength, intelligence, or victory. The ladies on this list are the best because of their engaging stories, interesting personalities, powerful character development, and overall theft of our hearts.
Now let’s check out 14 Of The Best Female Protagonists In Anime History.
14. Mikasa Ackerman — Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan‘s Mikasa is one of those reserved, stoic characters who doesn’t speak very often and seems to be stuck in her own head.
After all the trauma she’s experienced living under the looming terror of Titans and the carnage she witnessed while part of the Survey Corps, not to mention the brutal murder of her biological parents by criminals, it would be difficult to come out unscathed. Perhaps it is endurance that is one of Mikasa’s most relatable traits.
Despite her often cynical comments about the world around her, she manages to retain her humanity. Mikasa herself said, “This world is cruel. And yet… so beautiful.”
The stereotypical boy-saves-girl gender roles that play out in media are also very much reversed when it comes to her relationship with Eren, which is very refreshing to see, though her protectiveness of him seems a little unhealthy at times.
On top of everything mentioned, she’s also totally ripped.
13. Motoko Kusanagi — Ghost in the Shell
Major Motoko Kusanagi is one of the primary protagonists of the popular Ghost in the Shell franchise of manga, films, and animated series.
Motoko is a cyborg who works as a field commander for Public Security Section 9 on the Japanese National Public Safety Commission. Motoko is a very physically strong and incredibly intellectual who that is quick-witted and an excellent hacker.
As a child, Motoko was comatose following an airplane accident. After her health began to steadily decline, her consciousness was put into a “full-body prosthesis,” an augmented-cybernetic human body. Motoko causes us to question exactly what makes us human. She is an emotional, stoic, strong woman who fights for the citizens she protects, yet she lives inside an artificial body.
IGN has rated Motoko as one of the greatest anime characters of all time on two separate occasions, in 2009 and 2014, stating, “though she may be cool, professional, and mostly artificial, she’s unquestionably human.”
12. Usagi Tsuino — Sailor Moon
You really can’t have a list of awesome female protagonists without including our favorite schoolgirl superhero: Usagi from Sailor Moon.
Usagi is empowering in her fearless display of conventional femininity without any implied weakness. Usagi is your typical teenage girl who is all about her friends, food, and cute things, while simultaneously being a badass heroine who cleanses the streets of evil.
In the original manga and anime, Usagi was portrayed as reluctant to be a superhero and would often run away from fights and be a crybaby. Through her character development, Usagi becomes a brave, reliable, and confident person who cares deeply for her friends.
She becomes a better version of herself without stereotypically “shedding” her girliness. Instead, her femininity becomes a defining feature of hers, desconstructing the idea that being girly makes you weak. On the contrary, Usagi’s girliness makes her funny, relatable, and a good role model for young girls.
11. Asuka Langley Soryu — Neon Genesis Evangelion
We couldn’t leave out Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Asuka from this list of awesome female protagonists. Asuka is a classic anime heroine and remains beloved by fans of the show to this day.
Asuka is an American teenage girl who serves as an Eva pilot for the Evangelion Project and pilots the Evangelion Unit-02. Asuka was raised in Germany and often swears in German. She was a child prodigy with a college degree at only fourteen years old, but definitely has her human flaws. She has a temper and is obsessed with being the best at everything she does.
Despite these flaws, Asuka is hilarious in her own way and has the kind of confidence and pride you rarely see in a young girl. She knows she can do her job well and isn’t afraid to tell you about it.
Asuka is relatable in that she is stubborn and often has a hard time properly expressing her feelings and vulnerability to others. Her eventual nervous breakdown shines a light on her humanity– she is not a perfect person and she is still a child forced to do a job that no child should do.