It’s not easy for an anime character to capture the attention and love of the community for longer than a season or two, but when it does happen, that character becomes a superstar. Memes of their most famous reaction faces or quotes, video essays about their story arcs, cosplays of all different skill levels and interpretations, official and homemade merchandise as far as the eye can see... Anime fans go all in when it comes to their favorite characters. Today, we’re here to look at some of the most popular anime characters of the past 5 years (2016 to 2021) and see what made them so beloved in the first place. Let’s get started!
5. Satoru Gojou from Jujutsu Kaisen
The most recent addition to the popularity pantheon is none other than Curse exterminator and human thirst trap Satoru Gojou from 2020’s Jujutsu Kaisen. The anime hasn’t had much opportunity yet to explore his past, but fans adore him anyway for his devil-may-care attitude in the face of danger and surprisingly wholesome father-son dynamic with main protagonist Yuuji. Oh yeah, and his gorgeous clear blue eyes! By removing his ever-present black blindfold, Gojou can both use his game-breaking ability Limitless and also cause fangirls to scream from miles away. He’s far too powerful for any of us to comprehend...
4. Nezuko Kamado from Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba)
Moe girls are difficult to get right, since trying to make a character precious and protectable can just make them annoying or useless if they aren’t given enough nuance. Little sisters are even more of a minefield for worryingly obvious reasons. But Nezuko, moe demon little sister that she is, manages to hit all the right notes and has claimed her rightful place as one of the most beloved cast members of 2019’s Demon Slayer. This is probably because, despite her weapons-grade cuteness, she can also punt enemy demons’ heads right off of their shoulders and combust her own blood in an emergency. She and Tanjiro cover each other’s weak spots in battle, have a heartwarming relationship, and stick together through even the toughest of times. Zenitsu was right – Nezuko is perfect!
3. Shouto Todoroki from Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)
With his unique design, flashy superpowers, and tragic backstory, this troubled teen is essentially the Sasuke Uchiha of the new anime generation. Not that that’s a bad thing! Shouto Todoroki, debuting in My Hero Academia in 2016, has one of the best character arcs in the series during the second season’s Sports Festival. Having lived in his narcissistic father’s shadow for his whole life, Todoroki actively shuns the aspect of his Quirk that he inherited from that man. It takes an impassioned speech by Izuku and some serious self-reflection for Todoroki to realize that his life and powers belong to him alone, and from then on, he begins to truly shine as only a badass anime rival can. At least he never turned evil!
2. Zero Two from Darling in the FranXX
The sheer number of online forums and social media pages dedicated to simping over this pink-haired dinosaur girl are too many to name, but in their defense, Zero Two seems almost genetically engineered to be the perfect sexy waifu. She spends much of her time naked or in a skin-tight catsuit, has cute little devil horns and an oral fixation, pilots her mecha with ease, and never runs out of smug grins to throw at people. Even though 2018’s Darling in the FranXX isn’t perfect, its voluptuous main heroine continues to garner devoted fans to this day.
1. Rem from Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-)
The only thing better than a sexy horned anime waifu who gets her man in the end is one who didn’t, but really should have. Rem, from 2016’s Re:ZERO, is a sweet and polite maid who Subaru meets during his time at the Roswaal mansion. Fans love her for her appealing design, surprisingly intense oni powers, and her heartfelt confession to Subaru that gets rather rudely rejected. Emilia may be the primary love interest, but she’s nowhere near as popular as this unfairly snubbed cutie pie... even five years later.
Some of the other most popular characters of the past five years include Arataka Reigen from Mob Psycho 100, Giorno Giovanna from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind, the adult version of Eren Yeager from Attack on Titan: The Final Season, Mai Sakurajima from Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, and Megumin from KonoSuba. But is there anyone who we forgot to include? Who’s your favorite popular anime character from the past five years? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!