Friendship and the power it holds is something incredibly important to a lot of anime plots, and is a reason a lot of people love the characters and the stories they tell. Anime showcases some of the greatest and most moving examples of friendship in all of fiction, with examples of sacrifice, loyalty, devotion, and unequaled support between characters - and all for platonic love. Friends come in all forms, between two people of the same gender, different genders, or even different species! But what matters is that they are always there for each other, and their relationship has withstood the test of time.
So when it comes to best friends, well. That's even more powerful! And of course anime has loads of best friends out there across all genres of stories. It definitely made this list a challenge to compose, but here is Honey's Anime's list of the Top 10 Best Friends in Anime, just in time for Valentine's Day (since platonic love can be just as strong as romantic love!). We tried to have some of the strongest, most impactful, or most famous best friend pairs on our final list, so read on to see who made the final cut!
10. Jinpachi Toudou and Yuusuke Makishima from Yowamushi Pedal
- Episodes: 38
- Air Date: Oct. 2013 – Jul. 2014
No one can deny that sports anime have become a hugely popular genre for a lot of people to watch, so we couldn't have a list of the Top 10 Best Friends in Anime without having one here! Yowamushi Pedal is about a high school cycling team and their rival schools as they compete in long distance races. It focuses a lot on the cycling, of course, even devoting entire seasons just to one race, but also does a good job of giving the characters backstories, relationships, and full-fleshed personalities as well. The main character is an unlikely otaku who gained his cycling skill by biking to Akihabara to buy anime merchandise, but he goes on to be a distance cycling star! With the help of his friends, of course.
However, the best friendship we found in Yowamushi Pedal isn't actually between Onoda and someone - it's between two characters that aren't even on the same team! Yuusuke Makishima and Jinpachi Toudou are very different people with strong personalities and from different schools, but they become best friends all the same. They start out as rivals of course, but after Toudou adds his own number into Makishima's phone they become friends. Both of them have a mutual love for cycling and want others to enjoy it as well, so they care for not only their teammates but also their rivals. Their hilarious antics together and ability to overcome their differences and still be best friends is what lands them on our list.
9. Eri Ayase and Nozomi Toujou from Love Live! School Idol Project
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: Jan. 2013 – Mar. 2013
Otonokizaka High School has the lowest attendance ever in Love Live! School Idol Project, and is set to close at the end of the year. However, a few of its students are determined to save their school! Not sure what else they can do, the girls decide to form a school idol group to try to raise public awareness of the school and hopefully raise the application rate to attend it! It's easier said than done though as they face initial opposition from the student council and struggle to recruit other members to the group. But the famous Love Live completion is fast approaching to determine the best school idol groups in Japan, and the girls refuse to be so easily defeated!
Nozomi and Eri were president and Vice President of the student council at Otonokizaka High School, and thus past of the initial committee that was against the formation of the idol group. Thus they spend a lot of time together and are regularly seen on screen together. While they have very different personalities, their opposites seem to complement one another, and they support each other through difficult decisions. When they decide to help appeal to the principal for the formation of the idol group, they do so together and help keep one another from being discouraged. While the two, of course, become friends with the whole group of girls involved and the story of Love Live! is primarily about friendship, Eri and Nozomi continue to be best friends, and arguably closest to each other through all they go through.
8. Suzaku Kururugi and Lelouch Lamperouge from Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion)
- Episodes: 25
- Air Date: Oct. 2006 – Jul. 2007
The Japan as we know it today is very different from the Japan in Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch. Japan has become nothing more than another territory for the mighty empire of Britannia, and its people suffer under the empire’s iron fist. But a nation oppressed is the perfect breeding ground for a resistance, and one surfaces following a mysterious masked man named Zero. Using their own mech suits to combat against Britannia’s mech fighters, they work to try to overthrow the evil empire and restore independence to their nation. But will they still follow Zero if they ever find out the truth that he is actually Lelouch, a member of the imperial royal family?
Suzaku is the son of Japan’s last prime minister and met Lelouch when they were both children and Lelouch was sent to live in Suzaku’s home as part of a peace treaty. The two grew to become best friends growing up together, but when Britannia officially invaded Japan, they were separated for a long time only to be reunited as high school students. With Suzaku as an honorary member of the Britannia military and Lelouch leading the rebellion, the best friends find themselves on opposite sides of the war and constantly battling one another. Despite their resolve to kill one another for most of the series, in the end it is only through their friendship that they are able to achieve peace and save the country – although in the most tragic way, making their friendship a sad but strong part of our list of the Top 10 Best Friends in Anime.
7. Usagi Tsukino and Rei Hino from Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon)
- Episodes: 46
- Air Date: Mar. 1992 – Feb. 1993
Sailor Moon is easily one of the most well-known anime of all time, and one of the most watched. It follows the story of a high school girl named Usagi who may seem like a very unlikely hero with her clumsy and awkward antics. That all changes when she becomes a magical girl tasked with saving the world! It turns out there is a lot more to who Usagi is than she could ever have imagined, and she is far from just another ordinary high schooler. Who she is, and what her fate will be, affect the whole world. And so alongside her Sailor Scout friends each named after a planet, Sailor Moon fights to protect the people and bring justice to those who do evil!
All of the girls in Sailor Moon are friends, and the importance of friendship is stressed throughout the anime. It makes it very difficult to settle on just one relationship for our list of the Top 10 Best Friends in Anime! But in the end we decided to go with Usagi and Rei, otherwise known as Sailor Mars. Rei is the second sailor scout that Usagi discovers, and throughout the series, they form a very strong friendship together. Despite Rei often giving Usagi a hard time or showing jealousy towards her and her position, it is Rei that Usagi confides in with her serious problems. When no one else is able to figure out what is wrong with Usagi, it's Rei that is there for her and supporting her and finding out the truth - and Rei is the one Usagi trusts. So while all of the sailor scouts have a strong friendship, Usagi and Rei really stands out as a best friendship.
6. Ken Kaneki and Hideyoshi Nagachika from Tokyo Ghoul
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: Jul. 2014 – Sep. 2014
Tokyo Ghoul combines a dystopian anime and a zombie anime feeling into one by creating a world where humans live alongside ghouls, creatures that look just like humans but have to eat human flesh to survive. Any other food makes them sick (aside from coffee but that's a whole other plot point). Ken Kaneki is just another university student when he finds himself attacked by a rogue ghoul, and then in a terrible accident. Some of his organs are replaced with the ghoul's to save his life, and it turns Kaneki into a ghoul-human hybrid! He has to come to terms with what that means; he's too human to be accepted by a lot of ghouls, but too ghoul to live as a normal human. Can he find the balance amidst a world slowly falling into a war between the opposing sides?
Before Kaneki becomes partially ghoul, he already had a best friend named Hide Nagachika. When Kaneki has his accident and tries to disappear from society, Hide doesn't let it happen and does everything he can to find his best friend. And while Kaneki tries to keep the truth of what he is, Hide is an incredibly observant person and begins to piece the clues together. But rather than abandon his friend, he sticks by him, eventually joining the CCG presumably to use them to find Kaneki when he once again disappears. Hide will stop at nothing to help his friend and isn't put off by what Kaneki becomes, and Kaneki never loses his bond of friendship with the other boy. All they want to do is protect one another, and nothing can break down that friendship.
5. Spike Spiegel and Jet Black from Cowboy Bebop
- Episodes: 26
- Air Date: Apr. 1998 – Apr. 1999
Cowboy Bebop follows the ragtag bounty hunter crew of the Swordfish on their various adventures through space, taking jobs to try to keep food on the table and have some fun along the way. It's an anime with a uniquely Western feeling to it, which helped make it popular with both anime and non-anime fans alike. The gritty science fiction setting and dark humour set Cowboy Bebop apart from a lot of other anime. And of course, as the story progresses and more is revealed, the more sucked into the show the viewer will find themselves. While the crew grows throughout the show, at the beginning Spike and Jet are the core members.
Spike and Jet have the best friendship that seems very casual. They never have to make any friendship declarations to one another, and they're not into cheesy speeches. But they're loyal to one another, and even when they argue and fight they're always there to help each other and defend each other. The crew goes through a lot of hardships including new crew members, lack of food and money, and dangerous situations. But throughout everything Jet and Spike's relationship remains unshakable. Every friendship has it's hard times and arguments but when the differences can be quickly forgotten in the face of a difficult time, that's how you know it's a friendship built to last. And Spike and Jet don't need to say that to know they've always got each other's backs.
4. Monkey D. Luffy and Usopp from One Piece
- Episodes: 773
- Air Date: Oct. 1999 – Ongoing
When Gol D. Roger, the famous Pirate King, was finally captured and killed, his dying words sparked a new age of piracy in One Piece – that there was a grand treasure out there that would give the person who finds it unlimited riches and glory! Not to mention the title of being the new Pirate King. Monkey D. Luffy and his crew of the Straw Hat Pirates set off on an adventure to find this treasure, sailing along the Grand Line and making a lot of new friends along the way. Whether or not they will ever find the treasure in this incredibly long-running anime is a lot less important that the stories of friendship and the fun that they have on their journey.
Amongst the many friends he makes and his crew, Usopp is arguably Luffy’s best friend in the series. The two goof off quite a lot on the ship, often playing pranks on the other crew members and generally have a lot of fun together. They bonded quickly when they first met, and share the same goal of finding the Red Haired Pirate Crew someday. Despite being a bit cowardly, Usopp was inspired to become a pirate by Luffy saying he admitted his bravery and determination. And Usopp will defend Luffy’s dream of becoming the Pirate King to anyone who dares to challenge it. Even when Usopp left the Straw Hat Pirates for a while after a big disagreement, Luffy was happy to let him join the crew again later despite the wishes of some other crew members and their relationship as best friends continued. Usopp and Luffy act like they are brothers, showing a depth of friendship worthy of being in the Top 10 Best Friends in Anime.
3. Rintaro Okabe and Mayuri Shiina from Steins;Gate
- Episodes: 24
- Air Date: Apr. 2011 – Sep. 2011
Steins;Gate is a science fiction anime exploring the idea of time travel, and how changing one small thing in the timeline has a butterfly effect on more things than one could ever have imagined. It follows a small group of university scientists and their friends as they attempt to make a time machine in their small flat. Meanwhile, they learn more and more about how a large corporation called SERN, might be more than meets the eye, and as they begin to get messages from a man claiming to be from the future who warns them of what SERN will become, well. Maybe the group of friends has bitten off a lot more than they can chew. So do they save themselves and stop their experiments - or push on through the danger, and save the future?
Rintaro Okabe is the leader and head "mad scientist" at the lab, and the person really pushing for the development of the time machine. While the rest of his companions are other scientists or computer people, his childhood best friend Mayuri is always there as well. Mayuri is a cute girl that may not understand the science of what is going on, but she's always supporting her friends and motivating them with food, praise, and admiration. She's even a good sport when Okabe uses her food as subjects of his experiments.
As the story progresses, Mayuri's future looks bleak - and Okabe is willing to risk everything to save her from a terrible fate. His platonic love for Mayuri and determination to help her drives most of the anime forward and leads him to do anything he can to help her. And she is willing to give up everything to make him happy and save him from himself.
2. Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki from Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: Jan. 2011 – Apr. 2011
Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica is a magical girl anime with a twist from the usual - while it may start out bright and cheerful, it takes a turn for the tragic quite early in and the ride never stops from there. The girls in the story are given the chance to make any wish they have come true in return for a price; they have to fight witches that are appearing in their world by transforming into magical girls. Oh and also they sell their soul for this ability. With Walpurgis Night, the night when the witches will be their strongest, quickly approaching, can this small group of girls overcome their differences to save the world together? They'll have to learn to work as a team if they want to survive and try to change their fate.
Madoka Magica at its core is a story about friendship, and there are plenty of monologues and sentimental scenes about it. The strongest friendship in the series is between Madoka and Sayaka. Sayaka stands beside her childhood friend throughout the series and is quick to make a contract as a magical girl to protect Madoka. And as Sayaka learns the terrible truth of what being a magical girl means, she tries to protect Madoka from succumbing to the same fate no matter how much Madoka wants to transform as well to protect people. Madoka though continues to be constantly worried about the safety of her friend, and eventually, goes against Sayaka's wishes and becomes a magical girl herself. And thus the two of them face the witches, and their own tragic fate, together as friends.
1. Ash Ketchum and Pikachu from Pokémon
- Episodes: 276
- Air Date: Apr. 1997 – Nov. 2002
Pokémon is a truly timeless story. With each game release comes another anime season, and kids and adults across generations love the stories. The anime always follows Ash, a young Pokémon trainer forever on a quest to be a Pokémon master and collect them all - a daunting task considering how many regions there seems to be, each with their own unique types of Pokémon! Ash travels from region to region, making a lot of new friends, catching and training Pokémon, and earning badge after badge on his journey. Will he ever catch them all? Will he ever become the ultimate Pokémon master? Will he ever age? The world may never know as Pokémon seems to have no end in sight.
Throughout every season, every region, and every battle Ash has made a lot of new friends and caught so many new Pokémon. His human companions change nearly every season. But there is someone who is always there, who saves Ash countless times both in and out of battles, and who never leaves his side. And that someone isn't even human! It's Pikachu, the first Pokémon that Ash ever received when he started his quest so long ago.
Pikachu is always with Ash and even when Ash has been an incompetent trainer Pikachu has won him so many battles. And while most trainers keep their Pokémon in Pokeballs when not using them, Pikachu is always out and with Ash. They're equals and best friends, not just a Pokémon and its trainer. And they're willing to risk their lives for each other as is proven time and time again! Their friendship is one of the longest and strongest ones in anime, earning it the coveted top spot on our list of the Top 10 Best Friends in Anime. If only all our friendships could be this persistent and strong!
Almost everyone has at least one best friend in their life. Is your relationship with yours comparable to any of our anime friendships above? Whether it's a friendship that has withstood unthinkable trials, has lasted for years and years, has involved self-sacrifice, or even just has been a lot of fun, friendship is such an important part of being alive. Stories about best friends exist in every genre of anime, and they develop characters and relationships, and push plots forward. And of course, they make for great stories for us as viewers!
So what is your favourite best friend pairing in anime? Do you think a different one should have been featured on our list? Which pair are the most like you and your best friend? We always love to hear your opinion so please let us know in the comment section below!