When it comes to siblings in anime, there are a fair amount of relationships where the older sibling is the one who “dictates” the relationship as they should. Often they are the icebreakers, the ones who first learned how to do a certain type of action, or use a certain ability, and serve as an inspiration for the younger sibling to emulate; good or bad. In these relationships, the younger sibling is usually regulated to a role where they serve as a reason or the main reason for the older brother to do what they do in order to help others or stop the bad guy. While this isn’t always bad if done correctly, there are plenty more roles that the younger sibling can offer to the overall story.
Unlike the older brother, the younger brother in most cases serves as the innocent one and can usually be the character the audience can identify with as both the audience and the younger brother learn about the new world or adventure they’re encountering. The younger brother can also have their own unique “pressure” if the older brother has failed in some sort of way and the younger brother’s success can either provide redemption or earn respect in some way. With a fair representation of all these examples on this list, here are the Top 10 Anime Younger Brothers.
10. Son Goten, Dragonball Z
The younger brother of Gohan and Goku’s second son, Goten’s childhood was completely different from Gohan’s. Unlike Gohan, who by age 7 had lived in the wilderness by himself, watched his dad’s friends die in combat, traveled to a completely different planet, and watched more people die by at the hands of Frieza, Goten spends the first 7 years of his life living carefree with his mom and spending time with his best friend. It wouldn’t be surprising to the audience if Gohan somehow felt cheated out of a normal childhood and hated Goten for having one, but rather the opposite happens. Because of Goten’s almost identical appearance to Goku as well as acting exactly like him, he ends up being a source of inspiration for Gohan for reminding him about his dad, and even surprises him later on with his achievement of becoming the youngest ever to go Super Saiyan. There may only be a few moments that the audience sees where they get to spend time together, but it’s pretty obvious that Goten’s identical mannerisms to Goku makes Gohan feel happy.
9. Haru Glory, Rave Master
The main protagonist, Haru begins the series as the younger brother of Cattleya Glory. Cattleya ends up being an important figure in Haru’s life early on before the events of Ravemaster begin; after the death of their father, Cattleya was the only family Haru has left, resulting in her having to step up to be the one to raise him. However, Haru ended up developing what would become his passion for justice through the need to protect her as he got older; this is best seen when Shiba is led to Garage Island and Feber attacks the group. Even though the interaction between Haru and Cattleya is short-lived and only really takes place at the beginning of the story, their relationship serves as a solid base for Haru to begin his worldwide adventure.
8. Hibito Nanba, Space Brothers
The younger Nanba brother born on the day Japan achieved victory in Major League Baseball, Hibito was chosen to be the first Japanese astronaut to go to the Moon. Even though his older brother Mutta is competitive and always trying to stay one step ahead in school, Hibito respects his younger brother a lot, even recommending that he join the astronaut recruitment tests since they shared the same dream of becoming an astronaut. Hibito’s relationship with Mutta shows that even though there’s a competitive aspect, they ultimately respect each other having pushed each other to reach further and further.
7. Inuyasha, Inuyasha
The second son of Inu no Taisho, Inuyasha’s relationship with his older half-brother Sesshomaru is…complicated. Sesshomaru hated Inuyasha due to their father dying to protect Inuyasha’s human mother and Inuyasha himself as well as not giving his best 2 swords to Sesshomaru for not having anyone to protect them with. Ultimately, because Inuyasha was given Tessaiga, Sesshomaru hated him, resulting in Inuyasha not only hating him back, but also cutting off Sesshomaru’s left arm in combat as they fought. However, Inuyasha refrained from using his full power to kill him, and over time their relationship develops from being rivals to ultimately being brothers who respect each other…even if they refuse to admit it.
6. Shinpachi Shimura, Gintama
The younger brother of Shimura Tae and one of the 3 main protagonists of the series. Shinpachi begins his adventures learning how to be a samurai from Gintoki through his initial encounter with him as he and Shimura struggle with running their father’s dojo after his passing. As things take a turn for the crazy, we soon learn that despite Shinpachi’s appearance and his need for improvement in the way of the samurai, he’s willing to risk his life in order to save his sister due to everything they went through together. However, his commitment to her results in Gin constantly joking at Shinpachi’s expense that he has a sister complex. Nonetheless, Shinpachi certainly plays the family role of younger brother rather well in regards to his relationship with his older sister.
5. Mokuba Kaiba, Yu-Gi-Oh
The younger brother of Seto who luckily has a personality completely opposite of his. Mokuba often acts as Seto’s moral compass whenever Yugi and his friends need Seto’s help, as he’s more likely to listen to reason and not be blinded by revenge or grudges. Having said that, however, Mokuba very much looks up to Seto and firmly believes that his older brother is the best duelist throughout most of the series. Even though it’s easy to joke about how it seems like the relationship is often one-sided, some of the bigger moments in the series involve Seto risking everything in order to rescue Mokuba, such as what happens to him in his duels with Pegasus and Noah (although the number of times Mokuba gets himself kidnapped is somewhat excessive). Nevertheless, Seto’s promise to Mokuba at the orphanage that they’ll always stick together is something that can’t be ignored, and Mokuba’s innocence is certainly something that helps Seto strive to do what he does best: kick ass at a children’s card game.
4. Rin Okumura, Blue Exorcist
The son of Satan and the elder, fraternal twin brother of Yukio Okumura. However, you would never know that Rin is actually the older brother between him and Yukio due to how often Rin is immature and headstrong, both in contrast to Yukio’s personality. It also doesn’t help that Yukio becomes a teacher at True Cross Academy and ends up having to teach Rin, something that Rin doesn’t take too kindly to at first. That being said, their connection to Satan as well as looking out for one another has resulted in a tight brotherly bond between the two, and with Yukio’s help, Rin will be more than ready to face whatever comes his way.
3. T.K., Digimon
The younger brother of Matt and one of the original Digi-Destined. T.K’s relationship with Matt was his defining characteristic in the 1st season of the series as he constantly wanted to spend time with Matt due to their limited contact after their parents’ divorce. As a result, T.K. was the stereotypical younger brother that really idolized their older brother who couldn’t see any fault in them whatsoever. Plenty of scenes involved Matt trying to protect and/or rescue T.K. from danger, enough to where T.K. began to mature enough to where he had to start fighting his own battles. This is definitely best seen in the 2nd season where he’s actually leading the 2nd Digi-Destined group from time to time and coming further into his own. A very good example of seeing the younger brother at a very early age mature over time.
2. Monkey D. Luffy, One Piece
The younger half-brother of Portgas D. Ace, Monkey D. Luffy spent his childhood idolizing and getting into all kinds of shenanigans with Ace and their best friend Sabo. It’s very clear from their adventures together as kids that those were some of the best moments of Luffy’s life. It’s also very clear to Luffy’s pirate crew when they first meet Ace that Luffy holds him in a high regard, something they were not expecting to see. All the more reason why Ace dying at the hands of Akainu in order to protect Luffy was so devastating to him. For one of the biggest anime series ever to have a moment between brothers like that just goes to show how important the younger brother/older brother dynamic can be. In this case, it certainly made things more real for Luffy, and even though we’ve seen him go back to being the usual goofball that fears absolutely nothing, we’ve also seen a fundamental change in Luffy as well, as he has to live with the fact that his older brother had to die in order for him to live. A great example of seeing a younger brother taking a major step in maturity.
1. Alphonse Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist
The perfect combination of innocence and naivety and maturing over time when it comes to younger brothers is best exemplified by Alphonse Elric. At the heart of the series is the goal for Alphonse to get his body back after losing it in his and Ed’s attempt to bring back their mom. Yet despite everything that’s happened to him, Al serves as the calm and approachable of the 2 brothers as they travel the countryside despite his initial appearance as a giant suit of armor skilled in alchemy. Al usually serves as the voice of reason as he (and Ed) help other people with their problems as well as to calm Ed down in both humorous and serious situations. Some of Al’s key moments, however, are when he reverts to being a normal young boy scared of the unknown as opposed to being wiser than his years, reminding Ed (and the audience) that he is just a kid after all. In the end, Al displays in multiple ways throughout the series why he’s the go-to younger brother most anime fans think of.
Younger brothers in anime play off really well off the roles of their older siblings, especially if the older sibling actually has a developed interaction with them as opposed to being one sided. Ultimately, the important thing that determines a good “younger brother” character type is how much growth they go through. The best younger brothers are the ones who are innocent at first, but by the end of the series have matured in some way or another.
What do you guys think? Was the list too predictable? Is there an obvious choice missing? Should someone else have been #1? Post your thoughts in the comments!