The anime and Dungeons & Dragons fandoms have become more and more interconnected lately, especially with the more modern aesthetics of the 5th edition and the popularity of shows like Critical Role (which consists almost entirely of anime voice actors). So, if you’re one of the growing number of crossover fans and are looking for inspiration for your next D&D character, why not look to some recent anime for ideas? By adapting aspects of preexisting characters to the tabletop world and adding your own twists, you can roll up a fantastic new hero in no time. Let’s get started!
1. Fushi from Fumetsu no Anata e (To Your Eternity)
Fushi starts out as an immortal orb with no knowledge of the world but gradually learns through his experiences with all kinds of people what it truly means to be alive. He can mimic the form of anyone who dies close to him and who had a profound impact on his life, causing him no end of anguish when the only way he can remember a loved one is to take on their appearance. The College of Whispers bard has an ability at 6th level called Mantle of Whispers that maps almost perfectly onto Fushi’s powers and choosing changeling or kenku as a race would bring in the themes of learning from others and lacking one’s own personhood. You may have to drop the immortal aspect of Fushi’s character for balance reasons, but a long-lived character should work just as well.
2. Hiroshi Odokawa from Odd Taxi
Seemingly just a normal taxi driver, Odokawa is actually connected to a number of shady folks around town through circumstance and proves integral to stopping their nefarious plans once he decides to get involved. Any high-charisma class would work well here, but what’s important is that an Odokawa-inspired character should appear as unassuming and harmless as possible—perhaps even to your fellow players. That way, when you bust out your Truesight or talk down the evil king with your +12 to deception, everyone will be floored that a middle-aged small-town barkeep could manage something like that.
3. Golem from Somali to Mori no Kamisama (Somali and the Forest Spirit)
Has your party ever adopted a small goblin child and fallen over themselves to protect the little scamp from all harm? Golem definitely understands how you feel. In Somali and the Forest Spirit, aging mechanical forest guardian Golem slowly develops a father-daughter bond with a human child who he escorts through a harsh and unforgiving world. Warforged is an obvious choice for race, and either druid or ranger (or possibly even artificer) would fit with Golem’s ability set—for accuracy, give him a small number of high-level spells rather than many weaker ones. Somali could be represented by a tagalong NPC or even another player if you want to have a variation where the child learns to protect herself and repays Golem’s kindness. It’s up to you!
4. Midori Asakusa from Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! (Keep your Hands Off Eizouken!)
Asakusa is a passionate artist who imagines such complex worlds in her mind that her pencil can hardly keep up with her thoughts. She brings them to life through the Film Club’s anime projects in Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken, but wouldn’t it be amazing if she could actually breathe life into her creations through magic? You could flavor a College of Creation bard, a Battle Smith artificer, or a School of Invention wizard (the latter hailing from Unearthed Arcana 47) so that their magic/tinkering draws from the wielder’s imagination or other planes of existence. Roleplaying as a socially awkward but endlessly creative gremlin of a person would also be loads of fun!
5. Kobayashi from Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon (Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid)
Despite being just your average tomboy otaku with a desk job, Kobayashi has somehow managed to amass a horde of cute dragon girls who love her to pieces. You can play up the familial nature of their relationships in roleplay, and then use any class with access to familiars for combat. The updated Beastmaster ranger maps well onto the dragons’ attributes (Tohru as a Beast of the Land, Kanna as a Beast of the Sky, Elma as a Beast of the Sea, etc.), but Pact of the Chain warlock or Circle of Wildfire druid would also work. If you can juggle that many characters while still contributing to the campaign’s overall story in a meaningful way, a hero like Kobayashi could be incredibly rewarding to play.
You could also try drawing inspiration from these heroes: Appare from Appare Ranman (who could be an absentminded artificer specializing in vehicles), Phosphophyllite from Land of the Lustrous (a brittle warforged who must repair themselves with materials they find lying around, losing memories in the process), Prince Canute from Vinland Saga (a lawful good paladin who learns a harsh lesson about blind faith), or even Tatsumi Kotaro from Zombieland Saga (a multiclass School of Necromancy wizard/bard who uses their creations to save the world through song). But do you have any other ideas for anime characters who could be translated to the D&D world? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!