Fantasy anime tend to be dominated by shounen, and that often means male leads; however, the fantasy anime with female leads are often the most unique in subject matter, tone, and world. Honey’s Anime didn’t struggle to find fantasy anime with female leads because they happened to be some of the most critically praised fantasy anime out there for their willingness to break the mold.
We found dark fantasy, shounen, romance, and isekai with leads widely varying in age, capability, and personality. While questing to find the Top 10 Female Leads in Fantasy Anime, we wanted to emphasize the differences in these characters and really find a wide variety to show the breadth of possibilities. We’re confident that you’ll find each female lead in our Top 10 has something unique to them that makes them stand out.
10. Clare from Claymore
- Episodes: 26
- Air Date: April 2007 – September 2007
Claymores are half-human, half-youma warriors whose sole purpose is to hunt down full-youma demons. These demons prey on small villages with their shapeshifting ability and thirst for human flesh. Clare, a claymore determined to hunt down a specific youma, turns out to be Raki’s saving grace when he’s ousted from his village after his family is slaughtered at the hands of a youma. Raki remains Clare’s sole ally in her vengeful quest, and Clare remains Raki’s only friend in his lonely life.
You won’t find many female leads in a dark, gritty fantasy anime, so Clare is already a rarity in that regard. Going further down that rabbit hole, you don’t often see brooding, quiet female leads with sole top billing either. Clare is a determined, single-minded, focused individual whose sole quest is centered around revenge. Like many of her male contemporaries, she still has a lot of rage she stifles and sympathy for others that she tries to avoid showing.
9. Violet Evergarden from Violet Evergarden
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: January 2018 – April 2018
Auto Memory Doll is a type of job that sees the employee turn people’s thoughts and feelings into words for recipients. It’s the opposite of an ideal job for Violet Evergarden, a girl who knows little more than how to be a weapon of war, but it’s her sole passion since the end of the war. With the Great War over, Violet has to learn to deal with the feelings she had for a lost loved one from the Great War and how to function in everyday society beyond the trauma of her past life.
It would be all too easy for Violet Evergarden to focus on the titular character’s exploits in war as a human weapon, but instead, Violet Evergarden has to learn to live after the war ends. Violet could have taken many lines of work and been skilled at it, but she chose to work at something she was weak at and would have to work hard to learn. While mundane in the greater context of fantasy, Violet Evergarden’s journey is a more unusual and challenging one than most of the other characters here.
8. Saber from Fate/Zero
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: October 2011 – December 2011
Kiritsugu Emiya has been hired by the Einzbern family to win the Holy Grail War which will gift the victor any wish they can think of. The Holy Grail War is a vicious battle royal that has occurred three times in the past and come away with no victor thus far. With the familiar Saber at his side, Kiritsugu is expected to win the Holy Grail War once and for all and bring supremacy to his new family.
In the Holy Grail War, where most warriors are willing to do anything and everything to win, Saber is an exception with her indomitable honor. Saber is a white knight in every sense of the word. She’s honorable and focused, and she has a strict idea of how a fight should be conducted. With her sense of honor also comes a proud character, and she will not bow to anyone else. It’s that pride and competitiveness that balances out her lawfully good persona in a world where most tend to be selfish.
7. Maka Albarn from Soul Eater
- Episodes: 51
- Air Date: April 2008 – March 2009
Death Scythes are the weapons wielded by Shinigami to combat the evils that haunt our world; however, these weapons are actually transformed humans. These Death Scythes aim to become Demon Weapons; to become a Demon Weapon, a prospect must feast on 99 evil souls, and that’s what many of the students of Death Weapon Meister Academy are determined to do alongside the Shinigami wielding them.
Of all the leads on this list, Maka Albarn most resembles a traditional shounen protagonist. She has a clear goal in mind, to become as capable as her mother once was, and to become the wielder of a Demon Weapon. Considering her father is now the weapon of Death itself, she has a lot to live up to, but she’s deeply motivated due to a hatred for her father’s lecherous past. She’s a flawed main character, but she’s fueled by her friendships and goodwill to become the best Shinigami she can be.
6. Chise Hatori from Mahoutsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus’ Bride)
- Episodes: 24
- Air Date: October 2017 – March 2018
Chise Hatori has suffered from such complete abandonment by those meant to care for her, that she sold herself into slavery in order to find a home. She is fortunate that the person who has chosen to purchase her is Elias Ainsworth, a magus who quickly frees her and makes her both his apprentice and his wife-to-be all at once. Chise now lives in a magical world she could only have ever dreamed of, but there’s darkness lying underneath threatening to ruin her new reality.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride’s main character is perplexing due to the premise: she sells herself off into slavery to find a home. Highlighting the wide variety of characters on this list, Chise isn’t like anyone else we’ve seen so far. Due to her past trauma, she has incredibly low confidence and sense of self-worth. She’s relatable to any of us who’ve had trauma affect our mental state, and it’s great to see her work to mend those past wounds and fulfill her true potential.
5. San from Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke)
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: July 1997
Ashitaka is forced out of his village after he falls under the curse of a demon having protected his fellow villagers from the demon’s wrath. He travels across the country to find the origin of his curse and rid himself of it, but he finds himself in the middle of a war between the forces of nature and humanity. Desperate to end the impending doom that will happen if the war goes on, Ashitaka places himself in between San, leader of the creatures of the forest, and Lady Eboshi, leader of Iron Town.
Having been raised by wolves, San is no ordinary human. Our first sight of San is of her with the iconic blood smear across her mouth as she helped the injured wolf goddess Moro. San is stubborn throughout Princess Mononoke, and deeply caring for the people who raised her. Her struggle to try to understand the other side while also wanting to remain steadfast to the forest helps make her as much of a fully realized character in a singular movie as anyone else here.
4. Riko from Made In Abyss
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: July 2017 – September 2017
Divers are an incredible class of humans who wander the interminable depths of a chasm called the Abyss for unheard of treasure. The best Divers are called White Whistles and go further than anyone else, and Riko’s mother was one of these White Whistles. After Riko’s mother disappeared in the abyss, she made it her mission to rise through the ranks of Divers and find her mother. So far, the only thing she has found is a robot boy she comes to call Reg.
A few of the characters on this list are motivated by past trauma and they adjust to that trauma in different ways. Riko is optimistic about her mother’s survival, so perhaps that helps her keep a positive attitude and be a ray of sunshine to those around her. Even knowing the terror and horrors that await in the Abyss, she doesn’t lose hope or confidence in her quest to find her mother. She’s not even a capable fighter, but that doesn’t come close to deterring her. Riko’s an inspiration for anyone with tough ambitions.
3. Lucy Heartfillia from Fairy Tail
- Episodes: 175
- Air Date: October 2009 – March 2013
Lucy Heartfillia is a young mage who specializes in summoning and is in search of more celestial gate keys to improve her repertoire. In order to achieve her goal of becoming an official mage, she wants to join a guild. Fortunately for her, she just so happens to meet Natsu Dragneel, a dragonslayer, and member of the chaotic guild, Fairy Tail. Although it’s a dream come true when she receives an invitation to join the guild, she may quickly come to feel she made a mistake when she meets its many odd members.
The female lead of Fairy Tail follows a more traditional line of shounen female leads. Although somewhat capable in a fight, her challenge tends to be to manage her more willful and chaotic partner, in this case, its Natsu. Nevertheless, Lucy is the show’s anchor as a mostly ordinary personality having to manage the chaotic characters she meets in Fairy Tail. It’s her more subdued character that helps her stand out in the face of all the weirdness she has to deal with at the guild.
2. Shiro from No Game No Life (No Game, No Life)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: April 2014 – June 2014
Disboard is a fantasy world where all conflicts have to be solved through games, no matter how high stakes the conflict is. For Sora and Shiro, siblings who spend all their time playing games and see life as little more than that, it’s the perfect world to inhabit. Having been transported into Disboard by the god of the world, Sora and Shiro plot to take over the world and defeat Tet, the god, to become the new rulers of Disboard.
Despite being a genius at just 11-years-old, Shiro is a deeply flawed character, full of personality even though it would have been easy for her to become a Mary Sue. It’s clear she still has a lot of growing up to do and it’s those flaws that make her a fun protagonist to support. Her inability to be away from her older brother, her struggle in reading emotions, and the general issues that come from being an unhealthy shut-in all rear their face. Still, Shiro’s incredible intelligence, sarcastic demeanor, and cuteness make it fun to see her work to overcome those flaws.
1. Mikasa Ackerman from Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
- Episodes: 25
- Air Date: April 2013 – September 2013
Monstrous creatures called Titans have once again let humanity feel its wrath. The man-eating monsters broke into the walled cities were humans live, killing countless in the process just like they had centuries in the past. Eren Yeager, a boy who witnessed his mother getting killed during the first renewed attack by the creatures, vows to wipe every single titan from the face of the earth in vengeance.
Mikasa Ackerman resembles many of the women we’ve listed here in different ways. She’s cold-hearted, stubborn, and suffering from past trauma. Her sole goal is to protect Eren Yeager after he saved her life when they were younger. Mikasa’s single-minded effectiveness in this quest is a delight to see. She’s so focused on protecting Eren that she exceeds nearly everyone else in becoming a member of the Survey Corps, including Eren himself.
As we promised, Honey’s Anime found the Top 10 Female Leads in Fantasy Anime, each distinctive but also sharing traits with their fellow leads. We’ve had characters from countless genres with a broad spectrum of goals and ambitions, ages, and personalities. We saw tradition shounen female leads, we saw male archetypes like the brooding fantasy lead or the bratty shounen lead given new life.
We’re only scratching the surface of brilliant fantasy leads in anime, and we’re sure there are many more to come, and many that just couldn’t make the cut. Are there any you think deserved a shout on our list? Let us know in the comments below.