With the release of the new Ghost in the Shell movie quickly approaching, classic sci-fi anime are coming back into fashion. Break out the old Armitage VHS tapes, those Escaflowne sound tracks, and Evangelion fan theories. We are loving the old-school mecha and futuristic worlds created in these shows. The common theme behind all of these old sci-fi classics is the appearance of a strong female lead. To give tribute to these great stories, we decided to combine our love of sci-fi and mecha to find the top female cyborg characters seen throughout anime.
10. Noel Vermillion from BlazBlue: Alter Memory
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct 9, 2013 to Dec 25, 2013
Based on the long-standing, popular video game series, BlazBlue was translated into an anime in 2013. This anime is set nearly 200 years in the future and the rebel “Grim Reaper” seeks to destroy the government system that runs the country. In an effort to defeat him and collect the impressive bounty placed on his head, a huge bunch of fighters go to the city of Kagutsuchi to compete in this challenge.
With such a huge cast of characters, there are many people and personalities to focus on throughout the show. Noel Vermillion can be seen as just one of many, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Noel works for the NOL corporation and is honored with the permission to use the legendary Nox Nyctores "Arcus Diabolus Bolverk" revolver. Noel gets sucked into the fight against the “Grim Reaper” when she is sent to retrieve her mentor who is after the bounty. We see Noel as strong and capable, but also as a sweet and loving character.
9. Gally from GUNNM (Battle Angel Alita)
- Episodes: 2
- Aired: Jun 21, 1993 to Aug 21, 1993
This is a short OVA series from the 1990s that will probably leave you wanting for more. This story follows a young cyborg girl who is found in a post-apocalyptic garbage dump by the genius Dr. Ido. After falling from the floating city of Zalem, Galley doesn’t remember who she is or where she came from. All she knows, is that life down here is much harder than she expected.
Galley is a sweet girl who, like all cyborg characters, struggles with the division between her humanity and robotic body. Life in gutters with Dr. Ido is not an easy one, and she must fight for all she’s worth to survive. Over time, Galley realizes that what makes her human is her ability to love. While this is not a hugely popular anime, Galley represents what we are looking for in an ideal cyborg character. The internal struggle between her human and cyborg natures, as well as some totally kick-ass abilities.
8. Françoise Arnoul from Cyborg 009: The Cyborg Soldier (Cyborg 009)
- Episodes: 52
- Aired: Oct 14, 2001 to Oct 13, 2002
One of the classic anime, Cyborg 009, helped give birth to the sci-fi anime genre along with such great titles like Astroboy and Space Battleship Yamato. The story follows nine people who have been abducted by the evil organization known as, “Black Ghost”. They have been transformed into cyborgs by the dreadful Dr. Gilmore and gained new abilities. These cyborgs managed to escape and vow to get vengeance upon “Black Ghost” and stop them from gaining control of the whole world.
The main female cyborg in Cyborg 009 is Françoise Arnoul, she is also known as Cyborg 003. She is not often seen fighting in battles, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t capable. This is a classic anime with classic themes. If you love that old-school feel, you are definitely going to enjoy the straightforward but enriched storyline of Cyborg 009.
7. Rune Balot from Mardock Scramble: The First Compression
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Oct 8, 2010
The Mardock Scramble series of movies is an intense combination of horror, ecchi, and psychological angst. These movies are not for the faint of heart. After living on the street as a prostitute, the main antagonist, Shell, offers Rune a new life. But when she pries too far into his past, he has no mercy and tries to kill her. This is a very dark anime that is not afraid to take risks or even cross the line occasionally.
As the main character in several movies, Rune is seen to be a strong female lead, who we can’t help but sympathize for. After going through several horrific traumas, Rune is brought back from the verge of death by a new law called “Scramble 09”. She is given a new body and new abilities as a cyborg. She now has telepathic abilities that allow her to hack and control electronics, as well as her new super human strength. Rune makes this list because of her fortitude and unique cyborg hacking abilities.
6. Nene from Koukaku no Pandora (Pandora in the Crimson Shell)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 8, 2016 to Mar 25, 2016
When two cyborgs, Nene and Clarion, meet on a cruise to Cenacle Island, they immediately become friends. On her way to her aunt Korobase’s house, explosions start in the direction of Nene’s new friend, so she runs to rescue Clarion. What she doesn’t realize is that Clarion is fully capable of taking care of herself using an internal battle setting called the Pandora Device. Using the Pandora, Clarion is able to transform into a powerful fighting machine
Nene is a full-body cyborg that often gets confused for a robot. So, when she meets another cyborg in her same situation she immediately endears herself to her. After becoming a cyborg, Nene realizes that her greatest wish is world peace. To help achieve this goal, Nene also receives the ability to use the Pandora Device. This is a slightly ecchi anime filled with cute, bubbly cyborg girls, but who also have the ability to fight criminals and maybe even save the world.
5. Mylene Hoffman from 009-1
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct 6, 2006 to Dec 22, 2006
What if the Cold War never ended? That is the world seen in 009-1. About 140 years after the war should have ended, it is still going on. The world is thusly divided in two; the East and West block. 009-1 is a crime story that follows the beautiful cyborg Mylene Hoffman as she and her fellow detectives unravel a web of deception and mystery surrounding this war.
Mylene is the ultimate spy. After her body is refitted to house a number of essential tools for her spy work, mostly various forms of guns, she is assigned to the all-female unit called, "Nine Number Group". She works for the West Faction during this cold war, laying waste to her enemies. With her physical and cybernetic abilities, she is known as the number one spy in her organization. Mylene makes this list because of how many ways she could probably kill us all.
4. Henrietta from Gunslinger Girl
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Oct 9, 2003 to Feb 19, 2004
Gunslinger Girl follows the story of several young girls as they are transformed and work as secret assassins. These are preteen girls who are trained and disciplined in the ways of being an assassin, some of which have their inadequate human body parts replaced with android substitutes. Each girl is paired with a caretaker to watch and guide them during their missions. These children are killers but also just little girls looking for confirmation and love.
One of the main characters in the show is the young Italian girl, Henrietta. Henrietta can be seen carrying around a violin case when on a mission. But instead of a musical prodigy, Henrietta is talented in more deadly skills. Henrietta was adopted by the secret agency after the rest of her family was killed. They were forced to replace some of her body parts with substitutes as they being to train her as a killer. Her handler is a man name Jose who recognizes some of the terrible things that are forced upon these children. As a result, he treats Henrietta with care and affection. Henrietta is on this list because of her ability to be a killer in plain sight.
3. Chise from Saishuu Heiki Kanojo (She, The Ultimate Weapon)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jul 2, 2002 to Sep 24, 2002
From the outside, Chise is a sweet normal high school girl who loves her boyfriend, but she hides a terrible secret. Japan is at war and to win this war they need the ultimate weapon. Who knew that this weapon would be an adorable high school girl? This is a sad story that follows the doomed romance between these two young people in love. This story started as a manga and was turned into an anime, OVA, and live action movie.
Chise is a below average student but with a strong desire to make her relationship with her boyfriend, Shuji, work. When she was young child she was turned into a powerful cyborg without her permission. Her powers include massive guns, wings, and bombs to constantly battle against the enemy. While fighting against Japan’s enemies, Chise is also fighting an internal battle against herself. She must try to remember her humanity while also being the greatest weapon in Japan.
2. Naomi Armitage from Armitage III
- Episodes: 4
- Aired: Feb 25, 1995 to Nov 25, 1995
This is another story from the 1990s that includes an OVA and a couple movies. Humans have colonized Mars and thus need to police it as well. Naomi Armitage and Ross Sylibus are partnered together to solve the violent murder of a famous android. Androids in this future are so advanced that they look and feel exactly like humans. Naomi and Ross work together to solve this crime, and we learn that there is more to Armitage than it seems.
Armitage was created to be a fighting machine and works for the police. The reason that Armitage makes the cyborg list instead of a robot list is because of what we learn in the movie Armitage III Dual Matrix. Armitage and her husband were able to give birth to a human daughter, baffling scientists and beating impossible odds. Because of this ability, Armitage makes the cyborg list, as she must have at least her own kind of DNA to pass on to her children. Despite being an amazing and caring mother, Armitage is also a kick-ass police detective.
1. Major Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Nov 18, 1995
The many iterations of Ghost in the Shell started with the original 1995 animated movie. We were introduced to Major Motoko Kusanagi and the top-secret organization called Section 9, that she worked for. We follow her and her teammates as they solve crime and catch criminals in this futuristic version of Tokyo. This world is so advanced that everyone has become, at least in some small part, a cyborg. There are cyber brains and everyone is connected online easily. Since that movie, this concept has continued to become several successful series and more movies. With the live-action version of the original coming out soon, everyone’s love of the Major has been rejuvenated.
Major Kusanagi is the leader of her squad of specialized detectives, and takes the lead in solving many of their violent cases. She has no mercy for criminals and is not afraid to get her hands dirty or of putting herself on the line. Major Kusanagi is a human, who as a child, had to change to a completely cyberized body, leaving only her human brain. This is not an uncommon occurrence in this future, and gives her superhuman abilities. Major Motoko Kusanagi is number one on this list because of her completely unstoppable abilities as a detective and fighter. She sets the bar high for all other cyborg characters.
This list includes some of the most fearsome and fearless lead female cyborgs in anime to-date. These women are assassins, weapons, or detectives but they are also human beings trying to maintain their humanity. From a mother protecting her child to a young girl trying to be with the one she loves. There is a broad spectrum of cyborgs seen throughout anime with all different qualities.
Please tell us what you think about the choices we made for the list. Are we missing any main characters that must be included? What robot characters do you think could compete with these cyborg ones? We know that you shouldn’t take any of these top cyborg females lightly.