It’s tough to find female protagonists in superpower anime, particularly within the testosterone-fueled shounen genre. But these wonderful women do exist, and we’re here today to talk about ten of our very favorites. They’re confident, capable, and can kick your ass into next week with their supernatural powers. Let’s check them out!
10. Hitomi Uzaki from Killing Bites
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: January 2018 – March 2018
It’s rare that an anime (or any media for that matter) will let a female character get just as wounded and wild as a man in a fight. But Hitomi, aka Brute Ratel, aka a human/honey badger hybrid who only gets stronger the farther she gets backed into a corner, isn’t about to let a little thing like gender inequality get in the way of her rampage.
Killing Bites isn’t the most intelligent show you’ll ever watch, but it hardly matters when you get to see Hitomi use her own severed arm to rip a hole through the main villain while screaming with primal rage. She’s pure id, and we’re glad that this anime lets her unleash that berserker passion without anything holding her back.
9. Panty and Stocking from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: October 2010 – December 2010
Panty and Stocking are supposedly angels, but you certainly wouldn’t know that by looking at them. Instead of protecting the Earth, Panty is more interested in sleeping with anything that moves and Stocking is too busy stuffing her face with sweets to care. But when danger comes their way, they transform their lingerie into weapons and show off how badass they truly are.
Like Hitomi, these “heroines” aren’t very heroic. But they’re definitely memorable, and we love how brashly they live their best lives without shame. Panty even gets a few moments of character growth near the end of the anime when she forms a closer bond with Brief. We wish we could’ve seen more of these gals, but season 2 is looking more and more unlikely with every passing year.
8. Hiyori Iki from Noragami (Noragami: Stray God)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: January 2014 – March 2014
Delivery god Yato and his fighting companion Yukine would be nothing without their human friend Hiyori. They’re devastating when they work together as a team, but it wasn’t until Hiyori helped these two stubborn spirits understand each other that they could fight effectively in the first place.
Even though she’s just an ordinary high school student with a few supernatural powers and some self-taught wrestling moves, Hiyori is vitally important to the plot of Noragami. Her compassion, empathy, and occasional tough love for Yato and Yukine brings all three of them closer together and prevents Yukine from accidentally killing Yato with a curse caused by his own wrongdoings. That’s what one person’s love can accomplish.
7. Clare from Claymore
- Episodes: 26
- Air Date: April 2007 – September 2007
Clare is ranked dead last out of the 47 Claymore demon hunters, but that doesn’t stop her from getting the job done. She’s a master strategist who can find a clever solution to any seemingly impossible situation, and she uses the powers of her fellow Claymores to boost her own skills. She stoically exterminates demons, clawing her way up to become one of the most powerful warriors ever!
She isn’t just an emotionless killing machine, though. Her growing relationship with Raki is adorable to watch—he defrosts her ice queen exterior bit by bit and accepts her just the way she is. They’re a perfect fit for each other!
6. Mai Tokiha from Mai HiME
- Episodes: 26
- Air Date: September 2004 – March 2005
Female protagonists are often characterized as kind and self-sacrificing, but Mai HiME shows us that that kind of attitude can wear away at a person’s soul. Mai is stretched between work, school, saving the world, and taking care of her sick younger brother, so it’s no wonder that she doesn’t value her own well-being.
In battle, this poor girl saves everyone she possibly can, no matter friend or foe, and endures the emotional pain because she convinces herself that it’s for the greater good. It’s unusual for an anime to take the stance that self-sacrifice is harmful, but we’re glad that this oft-unexplored issue came to light through Mai’s character.
5. Lucy Heartfilia from Fairy Tail
- Episodes: 175
- Air Date: October 2009 – March 2013
Like Hiyori, Lucy is more of the point-of-view character rather than the one who has the most screentime. But even though Natsu fights in more battles, Lucy is the true protagonist because she grows and changes over time, coming out of her shell and becoming a full-fledged member of the Fairy Tail guild.
Our favorite Lucy moment is when she defends Loke against the Celestial Spirit King. Her dear friend has been haunted by his dark past for many years, but she still believes in him and risks her life to summon all of her other spirits at once to prove her point. Loke is so moved by her speech that he vows to finally leave his past behind and join her as her guardian spirit. Since Lucy felt trapped by her own situation before joining Fairy Tail, this moment feels especially poignant for us.
4. Ryuko Matoi from Kill la Kill
- Episodes: 24
- Air Date: October 2013 – March 2014
At first glance, Ryuko seems like a female character designed for fanservice and not much else. But if you look deeper, you can see that she’s a determined girl who will stop at nothing to avenge her murdered father, even if it means fighting in an embarrassingly skimpy outfit and putting up with legions of obnoxious allies.
We love Ryuko’s complex rivalry with Satsuki, her showdown against Nui, and her love-hate relationship with her own outfit, Senketsu. She’s the perfect off-the-wall protagonist for Studio Trigger’s first full anime series, since she brings together the insanity of her predecessors from Gurren Lagann and the new vision that Trigger wants to bring to the anime landscape.
3. Maka Albarn from Soul Eater
- Episodes: 51
- Air Date: April 2008 – March 2009
If you’re looking for a realistic teenage main character, Maka is your girl. She’s lanky and bookish, has a strained relationship with her playboy dad, and wants to prove that she’s capable of greatness on her own merits. She may be a supernaturally gifted meister who wields the transforming scythe/human hybrid Soul Evans against evil spirits, but anyone can relate to her emotional struggles.
The best moment for Maka’s character development comes when she willingly lets herself be taken over by madness in order to defeat and save Crona. Maka values her own level-headedness above all else, since it’s something that ties her to her lost mother, so to see her throw that away for just a moment to help a friend is more powerful than any kind of passionate speech she could’ve made. It’s subtle, but this scene cements Maka as a strong and nuanced hero.
2. Utena Tenjou from Shoujo Kakumei Utena (Revolutionary Girl Utena)
- Episodes: 39
- Air Date: April 1997 – December 1997
“Revolutionary” is a fitting title for Utena Tenjou—her bold and stylish rejection of what it means to be a female anime hero has influenced hundreds of others after her, from Nanoha Takamichi to Ryuko to Clare and many others. She serves as a prince to her beloved princess Anthy and uses the power of Dios to strike down any who oppose her.
We love how Utena forges her own path through life, unhindered by societal expectations or anyone else’s opinions. She and Anthy deserve to be together, and surprisingly enough for a ‘90s anime, they are actually confirmed as a couple by the end. We couldn’t have asked for anyone better to spearhead the charge of LGBT representation in modern anime!
1. Mikoto Misaka from Toaru Kagaku no Railgun (A Certain Scientific Railgun)
- Episodes: 24
- Air Date: October 2009 – March 2010
Devilishly intelligent and short-tempered under her ladylike façade, Mikoto is one of the most powerful psychics in the city. While others might just use electricity powers to shock people, she has calculated how to create impromptu railguns that launch coins as high-velocity projectiles. It makes you wonder what she could come up with if she was given even more powers!
Her rival/crush Touma is the actual main character of the Raildex franchise, but Mikoto proved to be such a standout presence that she got her own spinoff of equal or greater popularity to the original series. Her strength, ingenuity, and magnetic personality took her from humble beginnings to our favorite female lead in any superpower anime ever!
Even though female leads are difficult to find in this genre, the list includes some of the best characters anime has ever created. Who could ever forget Panty and Stocking, Utena, or Mikoto? These girls have stood the test of time and have influenced many others after them. Let’s hope to see even more great female characters in the future!
What did you think of our list? Who are your favorite female leads in superpower anime? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!