Many of our favorite anime characters, especially in shounen and superhero shows, earned their lofty reputation by being masters of magic or supernatural martial arts. Goku is a great character on his own, but he wouldn’t be nearly as awesome without his signature Kamehameha or Super Saiyan transformation. That’s what he’s known for and it’s how he defeats any enemy who stands in his way.
Some characters, however, manage to be heroes in their own way without any powers at all. For this list, we’ve chosen characters who come from anime where special abilities are the law of the land. So these guys stand out for being resourceful, powerful, and confident with just the tools a normal human like any of us could have. Let’s take a look at the Top 10 Anime Heroes with No Powers or Abilities!
10. Yui Nanase from Go! Princess Precure
- Episodes: 50
- Air Date: February 2015 – January 2016
In a magical girl show, anyone who can’t transform into a gorgeous princess with mystical friendship powers is inevitably going to be shoved into the background pretty quickly. But this isn’t true for Yui Nanase, close friend of the Princess Precures and all-around normal human. She can’t directly fight the forces of evil like they can, but this bookish girl is still a lot tougher than she looks.
Queen Dyspear sends monsters called Zetsuborgs to steal the power that comes from people’s dreams, and Yui has had the unfortunate luck to be attacked five times for her dream of being a children’s book author. This frequent victimization teaches her how to resist the monsters’ pull on her consciousness, so in the final battle when everyone at her school is captured in dream cages, she manages to break out with her own willpower and save everyone else without the Precures’ help! Good for her!
9. Mumen Rider from One Punch Man
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: October 2015 – December 2015
As you might expect from a show about the world’s strongest superhero, the world of One Punch Man is filled with massive threats and a legion of heroes eager to fight them. Many of the top heroes are egotistical and constantly fight over rank and fame, but the C-ranked hero Mumen Rider is only interested in one thing: protecting people from harm.
He knows full well that he’s just an average person with no hope of defeating the villains attacking his city, but he tries his very best anyway so that he can buy time for stronger heroes to arrive. Even after suffering heavy injuries against the Deep Sea King—a monster so powerful that other heroes were running away from it—Mumen Rider continued to fight until Saitama and Genos arrived to relieve him. He is said to go on patrols during Christmastime and is a favorite among the populace due to his selfless nature.
8. Robert E. O. Speedwagon from JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
- Episodes: 26
- Air Date: October 2012 – April 2013
Just about every important character in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has a special power of some kind, be it hamon, vampiric abilities, stands, or whatever the Pillar Men’s powers are supposed to be. But the greatest contribution to the Joestar family’s wellbeing came from a man who had no powers at all, and his name is Robert E. O. Speedwagon.
Originally just a street thug from London, Speedwagon grew to respect and admire Jonathan Joestar once the English gentleman spared his life after soundly defeating him in battle. He had no talent for hamon, but stuck by Jonathan’s side and helped as best he could to dispatch Dio’s zombies with just a sledgehammer and his own brute strength. After he moved to America and became an oil tycoon, he used his millions to found the Speedwagon Foundation—a team of doctors, researchers, pilots, and anyone else who could assist the Joestar family with their endeavors. All the way through part 6, Speedwagon’s legacy gave our heroes all the tools they needed to conquer evil, and they definitely couldn’t have done it without him.
7. Lucy Ashley from Fairy Tail
- Episodes: 175
- Air Date: October 2009 – March 2013
The world of Fairy Tail is awash with all kinds of magic, from Natsu’s Fire Dragon Slayer powers to Lucy’s Celestial Spirit summoning. Only about 10% of the population is able to use magic within their own bodies, but those who can are the main line of defense against any threat that comes to town. However, in the alternate universe known as Edolas, magic is a much more limited resource.
Lucy Ashley (the Edolas counterpart of Lucy Heartfilia), as well as the rest of the Edolas Fairy Tail guild, is only able to defend herself with limited-use magical items and can’t actually create magic herself. To make up for it, she’s developed 48 different wrestling/torture techniques for use against enemies and just to bully her own friends. The guild just barely scrapes by with the rough hand they’ve been dealt, but they can still kick ass when they need to.
6. Izuku Midoriya from Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: April 2016 – June 2016
Izuku, better known by his disparaging nickname “Deku”, was unfortunately born without superpowers in a world where the vast majority of the population has some kind of Quirk or another. He was bullied growing up and was told that he could never be a great hero like his idol All Might, but Deku held onto his aspirations and spent years researching everything he could about what it means to be a hero.
It was Deku’s selfless courage to fight injustice despite his lack of a Quirk that inspired All Might to pass his “One For All” power on to the kid in the first place. And even after Deku grows physically stronger, it’s his years of hero analysis and plucky attitude that make him a better fighter than the other kids who were lucky enough to be born with superpowers.
5. Arataka Reigen from Mob Psycho 100
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: July 2016 – September 2016
Reigen is the “Greatest Psychic of the 21st Century”... according to himself. In reality, he has no psychic powers at all and just uses his proficiency in conversation, massage techniques, and Photoshop to solve the spiritual problems that clients of his Spirits and Such Consultation Office ask him to help them with. He’s something of a con artist but still prides himself in being able to relax and comfort the people who patronize his business.
His greatest strength, however, lies in his unflinching confidence. He talks such a good game that he rarely needs to actually fight, and his mentorship towards the emotionally fragile Mob is invaluable to the poor kid’s wellbeing. Reigen even gets to kick some ass for real when Mob lends him 1000% of his own psychic energy to take out the 7th Division members who have them cornered. By working together, a scared teen with godlike powers and his powerless but dangerously charismatic boss can defeat anything that comes their way.
4. Shiage Hamazura from Toaru Majutsu no Index (A Certain Magical Index)
- Episodes: 24
- Air Date: October 2008 – March 2009
Shiage is classified as an Esper, but he doesn’t have any magical powers to show for it. He initially beats himself up for being powerless and even joins a violent group that fights against the magic users who hate them. But after he leaves that life behind, Shiage falls in love with a powerful Esper named Rikou and resolves to protect her in any way he can.
He uses his wits and skills with machinery and firearms to survive countless situations that should’ve killed him, making him a dangerous anomaly that interferes with Aleister’s plans over and over again. Shiage’s street smarts and fiery determination keep him going, even though he’s often severely outmatched.
3. Arthur Pendragon from Nanatsu no Taizai (The Seven Deadly Sins)
- Episodes: 24
- Air Date: October 2014 – March 2015
Just like the hero of legend, Arthur is the king of Camelot and wielder of the holy sword Excalibur. The sword contains the souls of everyone who used it before him, granting Arthur knowledge of many different styles of swordsmanship (at the cost of exhausting him). That sounds great, but this king had the poor luck to be in an anime where the main character is a several millennia old demon who can punch him into next week.
Interestingly, the author has said that Arthur actually has some of the strongest latent magical power of anyone in the series. Unfortunately, he has no idea how to tap into it. He relies on his swordsmanship and guile to take on his enemies, even trying to fight four of the most powerful demons in the world on his own. He isn’t anywhere near powerful enough to be a match for them, but Arthur’s courage and devotion to Camelot still make him an admirable hero.
2. L from Death Note
- Episodes: 37
- Air Date: October 2006 – June 2007
The Death Note is a demonic notebook that has the power to kill anyone whose name is written in its pages. How could anyone hope to defeat that power, especially when its user is completely unknown and people are dropping dead at an alarming rate? Well, if there’s anyone who can crack the case, it’s the master detective known only as L.
L has no supernatural powers or death gods on his side, and yet he’s still the greatest threat standing in Light’s way. He never makes a move until he’s 100% sure that his hypothesis is correct, so he never confronts Light directly, but L’s perceptiveness and amazing deductive skills keep Light on his toes to the very end. Like Reigen, L shows us that confidence is the greatest weapon to psyche out your opponent without even having to move a finger.
1. Olivier Mira Armstrong from Hagane no Renkinjutsushi (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
- Episodes: 64
- Air Date: April 2009 – July 2010
Many of the characters on this list aren’t physically powerful, but make up for it with craftiness or an iron will. General Armstrong, on the other hand, doesn’t have to make up for anything. She’s so powerful on her own that she doesn’t need alchemy or homunculus invulnerability to be the most stone-cold badass character in the entire Fullmetal Alchemist series.
As the commander of the impenetrable Briggs fortress, Armstrong is a strict but kind leader to her troops of hardened northern soldiers. They call her “Sir”. She helps defeat the homunculus Sloth not once, but twice, and easily convinces Central soldiers who’ve come to kill her to follow her orders instead. Even Edward Elric, who lashes out at anyone who calls him short, reacted with petrified fear when Armstrong called him a red-cloaked runt. Don’t get on this General’s bad side, or she’ll stab you with her saber before you can blink.
It’s tough to live in a world where others get magical powers and you don’t. It was hard enough for us as kids to realize that we couldn’t transform into Sailor Scouts, but it would’ve been even worse if we knew other people could! Nevertheless, these characters don’t let their status as ordinary humans stop them from kicking ass and helping their friends. It’s something we should all aspire to!
Did you like our list? Who are your favorite characters with no powers? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!