In American history, there are Generals who grace the pages of textbooks, folklore, politics and pop culture. Some of their names you (as in you American readers) may know from Washington, Patton, Schwarzkopf, Powell to Mathis. It was their leadership during their times in war that made them not only great leaders but true American heroes. With their experience in the military combined with their wisdom and charisma, they were able to fulfill the duties of their rank.
In Japan, they have their equivalent to the ranking of General, Shogun. Their roles show that individuals of this rank also carry politician duties up to the administrative level. For many years until towards the end of the nineteenth century, the Shogun would be the head of Japan. So what about in the world of anime with numerous military and war-related titles? Who are the Generals who lead their armies to victory? Read this list to find out who we think makes the cut!
10. Kyoushirou Toudou from Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion (Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch)
- Episodes: 26
- Air Dates: Oct 2006 – Jul 2007
Starting off this list is Kyoushirou Toudou, the Miracle of Itsukushima from Code Geass. Some of you readers are probably asking yourselves why we aren’t listing Lelouch. For starters, it’s because we want you guys to know this list is for characters who are recognized as Generals on a more official scale as opposed to unofficial. But those reasons go beyond that. Lelouch (who you can say is a Commander-in-Chief like a President in context to his true title as a prince) knows in order to win the trust of the people of Japan too, he needs not only capable soldiers, but a great leader to do that.
Starting off as a former Lt. Colonel of Japan’s Liberation Front, as his role progresses under the Black Knights, he becomes a General. What makes him a great General is his effective use of guerilla tactics, which would help Japan win its sole victory during the invasion of Britannia. And he did this without the use of a Knightmare! Due to being the only man capable of achieving such a feat, he is regarded as a hero by the Japanese guerillas and his principles are in root with the code of Bushido. And if you thought he was a great soldier without a Knightmare, he is a very capable pilot equal to that of Britannia’s elite. Without his skills and influence, Lelouch would have never succeeded.
9. Nakago from Fushigi Yuugi (Mysterious Play)
- Episodes: 52
- Air Dates: Apr 1995 – Mar 1996
Just like how there are Generals who have been revered as heroes, there are some that are villains, and from anime, we have Nakago from Fushigi Yuugi. As a matter of fact, he also happens to be the favorite character of the creator, Yu Watase. The basis of his rank as General of the Eastern China’s kingdom of Kuto is due to his powers as a celestial warrior of Seiryu, the dragon god of that region. His powers are based on chi manipulation (which he uses for his strength and to make energy projectile attacks), and he is a master swordsman.
In addition to being a capable leader, what makes him a great General is that he prefers to do things himself when all else fails. He also uses his position to manipulate others for his own personal gain. But thanks to his skills in this regard, all of his subordinates are devoutly loyal to him and naturally uses that to his advantage. Due to his tragic youth, he is very distrusting of others and only considers a small number of people to as his true friends. But when he finds someone he can care about, he is willing to look out for them.
8. Johann Abraham Revil from Mobile Suit Gundam
- Episodes: 43
- Air Dates: Apr 1979 – Jan 1980
Our next addition is General Revil, who is the equivalent to a 5-Star General of the Earth Federation’s forces. Prior to the start of the series during the Battle of Loum, his ship fell in battle and he was temporarily a POW under Zeon. With some help within Zeon, he manages to escape and he uses what he sees firsthand to motivate him and his troops with a comeback speech about Zeon being exhausted in resources, money, and troops. He is active in battle and gives first-hand support to his units. It is also thanks to his involvement that the Gundam could enter the prototype phase.
Even after the fiasco at Side 7 at the beginning of the series, he understands the need to use the best of what he has and allows the White Base crew to continue their mission. Adding to his skills as a flexible general, he also has skills in diplomacy which were never fully realized in the series due to Gihren killing him and Degwin Zabin when trying to meet to end the war. Fans and games tend to portray that if Revil never died, situations that happened in Gundam 0083 and Zeta Gundam would have never occurred. Plus, there are other speculations he could have been a Newtype himself. Though those questions were never answered, his legacy lives on with a battleship named after him in Gundam Unicorn.
7. Griffith from Berserk
- Episodes: 25
- Air Dates: Oct 1997 – Apr 1998
All Griffith wanted to do was prove to the world that a commoner such as him could rise above the ranks and become a king. In order to do that, he starts his own mercenary unit called the Band of the Hawk, and is, in essence, a General of his own army. But after winning the war for Midland, a kingdom they were employed by, Griffith was finally knighted and given the title to the official equivalent to a General.
Griffith has it all. He is an amazing swordsman, seductively charismatic, and is willing to do anything to get the job done. In order to get the money for his army, he goes as far as sleeping with other men during his early teen years. But along with those base qualities, he is ultimately a master manipulator. He goes as far as killing kingdom officials who get in his way and this goes as far as killing the queen.
6. Olivier Mira Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Episodes: 64
- Air Dates: Apr 2009 – Jul 2010
Who would have thought that Alex Louis Armstrong would have such an attractive sister? And forget about her looks, who would have thought she would have been a feared and respected General? She is the head commander of the Northern military border, Briggs. Her presence introduces a unique philosophy that contradicts alchemy, survival of the fittest as opposed to the equivalent exchange. Due to her line of thinking, she is a very strict disciplinarian.
In addition to her piercing beauty, she is very strong to the point that she can defeat Alex, who is known for his Mr. Universe physique. In addition to her great strength and her all round combative capabilities with nearly every weapon you can list (most notably her family’s rapier), she is composed and is a great strategist. Overall, her combative skills, silver tongue, and her unorthodox care for those under her command make her a General we’d want to salute.
5. Oscar Francois de Jarjeyes from Rose of Versailles
- Episodes: 40
- Air Dates: Oct 1979 – Sept 1980
From this groundbreaking classic, we have Lady Oscar, who was raised by her father as a male so she could take his place as leader of the Palace Guard upon his retirement. Like all French males of the respective time period, she goes to a military school in her teen years and excels. A lot of people can naturally assume that she is the French version of Mulan. In a lot of ways that statement is true.
Thanks to characters like Oscar, artists could fight the notion of gender roles in our media. Oscar’s role as a knight is the source of her pride to both her kingdom and her father. She shows that anyone who is willing to put in the hard work should be seen as equal. Her unique role allows her to engage in relationships that could compromise her true nature but is not afraid to show her feminine and maternal natures. Oscar’s loyalty and how she could passionately share that with people in addition to her skills are what makes her a great General. In addition, she is also fighting the problems French society is having throughout the Revolution, she vigorously supports.
4. Xin Li from Kingdom
- Episodes: 38
- Air Dates: Jun 2012 – Feb 2013
In this anime based on the true story of China’s Qin Dynasty tells a tale of the kingdom's most elite Generals, Xin Li, who really existed. Coming from a very humble background in this anime (while differing from that of the real Xin Li), he wishes to one day become the world’s greatest General. But before he can become one, he rises through the ranks by befriending great officers within the army and becoming one of its greatest soldiers. He is an elite warrior capable of defeating enemies physically superior to him in both using weapons and bare hand-to-hand.
And Xin has great charisma and knows to gets his men ready for battle. In addition to his numerous achievements, he is able to get his peers to listen to him. While most Generals tend to be master strategists, Xin’s personal combative skills extend to his commanding abilities. He is not one for game plans. He is able to make the right calls based on what he sees in the middle of a battle and operates based on instinct.
3. Narsus from Arslan Senki
- Episodes: 25
- Air Dates: Apr 2015 – Sept 2015
Originally a trusted General under King Andragoras, due to their differences over the slave trade, he was stripped of his title and pursues his in becoming a painter. But due to the value of his skills, Arslan, the Prince, once again seeks his services under the condition he makes him the court painter (even though his art is considered to be terrible). Even when he was out of battle for a certain amount of time, his vacation did not rid him of his other great skills that he is valuable for.
As a General, not only is he a very excellent tactician, he is a very excellent diplomat and a swordsman that is nearly to the same skill level of Daryun, one of Arslan’s most trusted warriors who also advises him. His all-around skills in matters of military affairs, combat, and government affairs are someone anyone would pay to have (just don’t ask him to paint your portrait).
2. Yang Wen-Li from Legend of the Galactic Heroes (Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu)
- Episodes: 110
- Air Dates: Jan 1988 – Mar 1997
At a very, very, very close second, we put in Yang Wen-Li, the young hero of the Free Planets Alliance. Though he is a hero to them, the Galactic Empire sees him as a villainous monster. Regardless of how he is viewed by these sides of the war, he is a pretty mellow and humble individual who only joined the military so he could get into college for free, and the rest of his situation is purely incidental. His career as a capable officer would make him rise through the ranks throughout the twenties.
Thanks to his leadership, though his position is not like that of his Empire counterpart, Reinhardt, the fact that he wins battles where he is the underdog is what makes him a fearsome General. He always finds ways to exploit the holes in the enemy’s strategy and uses it to guarantee an instant victory. Not only does he have to fight the Empire, sometimes he has to fight the bureaucracy of his own government.
In addition to his great strategic mind, when necessary he is a very effective diplomat and his soldiers and companions show him an undying loyalty. Though he doesn’t like politics, he connects excellently with the citizens of the Alliance thanks to his humble background and easy personality. Last, his great mind for battle and simple approach to politics has earned him the respect of Reinhard, his rival, and leader of the Galactic Empire.
1. Oda Nobunaga from Drifters
- Episodes: 12
- Air Dates: Oct 2016 – Dec 2016
People like to say that failure is the key to success. If anybody in anime can embody that, it would sure have to be Oda Nobunaga. Throughout the series, Shimazu, a fellow Warring States warrior, likes to tease Nobunaga over being betrayed. Even when he has been betrayed in life, he is still willing to trust, but he now knows how to verify such as when he enters certain alliances with Saint-Germain.
Along with learning from his failures, he brings his success as the OG of Japanese Shoguns. He knows how to set up traps, use the natural abilities of his subordinates, and the magic of the world to its fullest advantage (such as using the communication orbs of the Octobrist Organization to effectively stay in touch with all units and giving commands). When he meets more races and what they can do, he has them use their skills to their potential.
He also knows that a good leader needs to take care of his men and need a good man to follow. He allows himself to be the brains behind the operation while he lets Shimazu be the heart. He knows how important morale is to the soldiers and that a good General takes care of them. Due to a combination of his unique mind and how he gets along with his army, he is number one.
As stated, being a General requires nearly every skill manageable to obtain this rank in addition to a lifetime of military service. Though some of the people on this list managed to obtain the rank by their twenties, in real life, it takes officers over twenty years to get that far in the military. Regardless, the characters we have shared have shown the capabilities required that they can do the job. You not only have to be a great soldier in body but also have the mind. You also need to have a unique sense of charisma, understand the needs of your military, and be a great communicator.
So what do you guys think? Are there any Generals from anime you think that we may not have mentioned that deserved a shout out? If so, feel free to comment.