Despite being sources of wisdom both in reality and in anime, the elderly don’t seem to get that much recognition, at least as far as anime is concerned. So we figured we’d put together a list of our favourite old characters – some of the strongest, wisest and most entertaining senior citizens in anime. From Master Roshi to Yubaba, old characters have often taken on interesting and important roles in the lives of some of our favourite protagonists; but enough of that, let’s get to it before they fall asleep! This will contain a few spoilers, so tread carefully!
10. Witch – Sakurada Reset (Sagrada Reset)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2017 – September 2017
The city of Sakurada is a place where the inhabitants are born with unique abilities. Asai Kei is a high schooler living in Sakurada who meets the apathetic Haruki Misora, a girl with the power to reset everything around her up to three days prior. The reset affects even Misora herself; however, Kei’s photographic memory ability makes him the sole individual impervious to Misora’s reset. After they successfully help someone by putting their powers together, they join their school’s Service Club in order to help more people in Sakurada, but they soon get involved with the enigmatic Administration Bureau, soon finding out that there may be some darkness at work in the town.
Witch is an elderly woman with the power to see the future. The Administration Bureau keeps her in custody, using her as a tool and she keeps her real name a secret. Her ability, is not precognition but rather simulation, allowing her to see various different outcomes of events that happen in the town of Sakurada. As a result of this, she is one of the more powerful characters in the show as one who possesses this ability can see many ways in which things either do or don’t work out. Imagine the number of “I told you so”s coming from her!
9. Shijima Sui – Hanasaku Iroha (Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms for Tomorrow)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2011 – September 2011
Matsumae Ohana is an energetic teenager living with her mother in Tokyo but one day, her mother runs off with her boyfriend in order to flee from debt collectors. Ohana is now forced to fend for herself and decides to head over to her grandmother’s inn in the countryside. Ohana must now adapt to life in rural Japan and deal with the challenges of working as a maid as well as making new friends at her new school.
Ohana’s grandmother, Shijima Sui, is the 68-year-old owner of an inn called Kissuiso. She is a fierce and strict woman, especially towards her employees and doesn’t hold back from physical discipline either. Her abusiveness aside, her abilities as an innkeeper are unmatched, with Sui being able to clean the inn’s baths on her own to an exceptionally clean standard within 15 seconds!
8. Inuyashiki Ichiro – Inuyashiki
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: October 2017 – December 2017
Inuyashiki Ichiro is an unlucky 58-year-old man going through a tough time after being diagnosed with stomach cancer and given only three months to live. His family seems indifferent and the only one who seems to value him at all is his dog, Hanako. He heads out on a walk with his dog and the hopelessness of his situation overcomes him, so he weeps. The emotional breakdown lasts until he notices a strange figure standing before him; however, not long after noticing this, a bright light appears and Ichiro is engulfed in a wave of smoke and dust. When he comes to, he realises that he has been reborn as a mechanised weapon in the skin of his former self. Presented with unbelievable power, Ichiro decides to act upon his compassionate nature and save lives. However, the origins of these immense powers remains unknown, as with the identity of the figure who was present at the park during the incident. The questions are numerous, but one haunting question remains suspended: what would happen if Ichiro wasn’t the only one changed by that day?
Inuyashiki Ichiro is the kind old man you wish was your grandpa. He truly cares about the people around him and in that lane, he is the type to become heroic should the need arise. So upon realising that he’s a robotic killing machine, your favourite grandpa took to the hero role faster than dogs take to unattended snack plates. Inuyashiki Ichiro is unassuming and mild-mannered and this is what makes him the kind of person who tends to go unappreciated, as he has been. All that aside, Grandpa Ichiro is really nice and he can heal grave injuries too!
7. Ooba Babasaama – Fairy Tail
- Episodes: 175
- Aired: October 2009 – March 2013
Fiore is a kingdom in which magic is an essential part of everyday life. Magic Guilds are places where like-minded wizards and mages congregate in order to take on job requests and Fairy Tail is one such guild known for its emphasis on camaraderie. Lucy Heartfilia is a 17-year-old Celestial Wizard looking to gather all 12 of the Zodiac Gate Keys and become a member of Fairy Tail. On her journey, she meets Natsu and his partner Happy, who are looking for Natsu’s adoptive parent, the dragon Igneel. Soon after their meeting, Lucy is tricked by a man claiming to be part of Fairy Tail, but she is saved by Natsu – an actual member of the notorious guild! From then on, Lucy becomes a part of Fairy Tail, taking on jobs and combating powerful enemies alongside her new friends!
Ooba Babasaama is the Guild Master of the Lamia Scale guild, sufficiently introduced in the Magic Games arc of the anime. She has small bony hands, grey hair and small eyes and a loud and rash personality – much like some of the old people we’re used to! She has a habit of spinning her arms in a circular fashion and when she berates her guild members for performing badly at the Grand Magic Games, she threatens to make them spin furiously at high speeds, an incredibly comical habit to have. Fun fact: her name is a pun playing on the Japanese “Obaa-sama”, which is an affectionate way of addressing one’s grandmother.
6. Satou – Ajin
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: January 2016 – April 2016
The Ajin are immortal human beings who first made their appearance 17 years ago in Africa. Soon after their discovery, they were labelled a threat to humankind and taken into custody. Nagai Kei is a high schooler who doesn’t know much about Ajin other than the fact that they aren’t treated as human beings, something they are taught at school. When he miraculously survives an accident that surely should have ended his life, Kei finds himself having to run from society as he turns out to be an Ajin himself.
Satou is one of the first Ajin that Kei meets after the incident which exposed his identity. He is an old man who has anti-human sentiments who appears to be calm and cheerful at all times, but also sees nothing wrong with taking people’s lives. He is the main antagonist of the Ajin series and upon first seeing him, that would be very difficult to believe and his demeanour adds to this aspect. The man finds it fun to cause destruction and his Machiavellian nature makes him a cold, calculating old man – not the type of grandpa to visit during vacation, that’s for sure.
5. Yoshimura – Tokyo Ghoul
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2014 – September 2014
Tokyo is a place where vicious human-eating creatures known as Ghouls roam the streets and people live in great fear. The Ghouls’ scariest trait is their ability to masquerade as human beings and blend in with society. Kaneki Ken is a shy and unassuming 18-year-old reader who finds himself drawn to the attractive Kamishiro Rize, a reader like himself. However, Rize is not quite who she seems to be and soon after that fateful meeting, Kaneki is thrown into the brutal world of the Ghouls. After being found by the enigmatic waitress, Kirishima Touka, Kaneki begins to live his new life as a half-Ghoul, half-human hybrid who must find his place in society.
Yoshimura is the manager and owner of Café Anteiku, the establishment where Kaneki’s met Rize, and the same establishment where Touka works. After the incident with Rize, Kaneki is offered work by the kind-hearted Yoshimura, who implores him to understand his role as the only entity capable of understanding the world of the humans and the world of the Ghouls simultaneously. His impact on Kaneki is profound and without Yoshimura, many of the Ghoul characters in the series would be living vastly different, bloodier lives than they currently do… assuming that they still would be alive.
4. Daimido Fumio – Shokugeki no Souma (Food Wars!)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2015 – September 2015
15-year-old Yukihira Souma has helped his father as the sous chef of the restaurant his father runs and owns. Over the years, Souma developed a love for creative and daring cooking and dreams of one day taking on his father’s mantle as head of the Yukihira diner. However, one day he finds the restaurant closed and his father gone on a journey to test his cooking ability abroad, and on top of that, Souma’s father sends him to Toutsuki Culinary Academy. Toutsuki is notorious for its low graduation rate at a measly 10%, and it is even more renowned for its Shokugeki – intense contests where students face off in a clash of cataclysmic culinary proportions. New to the environment of gourmet cooking, Souma finds himself a fish out of water, but this is the perfect chance for Souma to test the skills he learned under his father.
Daimido Fumio is an incredibly lively elderly woman who is the matron of the Polar Star Dormitory where Souma lives. Being at Toutsuki, even as a staff member, means that Fumio is also adept in the kitchen and oversaw the living arrangements of scores of legendary Toutsuki students. Fumio’s liveliness also translates to a fierceness – entry to her dormitory is regulated by Fumio herself and the only way in is to cook something truly exceptional.
3. Recovery Girl – Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2016 – June 2016
When human beings begin exhibiting “Quirks”, unique superpowers, humanity quickly becomes a superhuman society with 80% of people possessing some form of unique power. Midoriya Izuku is a youngster who is one of the few in society born without a Quirk; however, he desperately wishes to become a hero and follow in the footsteps of his idol, the Number 1 Hero, All Might. His dream comes one step closer to fruition when All Might approaches Izuku and tells him that his own Quirk can be passed on and he wants Izuku to be his successor! After gruelling months of training, Izuku enrols at the top hero school, U.A. High, starting his journey of finding out what it truly takes to be a hero.
Being a hero is naturally a dangerous profession and people tend to get gravely injured while performing their duties. The same can be said of the students at U.A. High where Recovery Girl works as the school nurse. Her ability allows her to rapidly heal injuries with a kiss – which is somewhat unsettling yet completely understandable; it’s almost like having your grandmother kiss a boo-boo away!
2. Walter C. Dornez – Hellsing Ultimate
- Aired: February 2006 – December 2012
In this world, there are creatures of darkness who attack unfortunate human beings. Hellsing is an organisation dedicated to destroying the forces of darkness. Led by Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, the Hellsing organisation boasts large military forces dedicated to the cause. Her ultimate weapon is the vampire Alucard, a powerful being who works against his own kind as Integra’s personal tool of destruction in order to ensure the survival of humankind.
Walter C. Dornez is Sir Integra’s personal butler; however, the elderly gentleman’s genteel nature is a cover-up: he is an experienced fighter and former active duty member of the Hellsing Organisation. In his old age, he is the perfect vision of a butler complete with dry, witty humour. His abilities include crafting of weapons that Alucard wields in battle against the forces of darkness, his incredible dexterity and accuracy and high speed and strength. If you need a butler, you’ll need one just like Walter.
1. Pinako Rockbell – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Episodes: 64
- Aired: April 2009 – July 2010
The Law of Equivalent Exchange states that in order for one thing to be obtained, something of equal value must be lost. The Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse did not take heed of this rule when they attempted the great taboo of alchemy, Human Transmutation, in order to revive their dead mother. As a result, Edward lost his left leg and Alphonse his entire body. Edward also loses his right arm in order to affix Alphonse’s floating soul to a nearby suit of armour. After their ordeal, Edward is given a set of metal limbs which allow him to pursue him and his brother’s goal of returning their bodies to normal. Edward’s new limbs allow him to become a State Alchemist known by the moniker “Fullmetal Alchemist”. The brothers seek the Philosopher’s Stone in order to bypass the Law of Equivalent Exchange; however, their journey leads them into a nationwide conspiracy that exposes their country’s dark history.
Pinako Rockbell is a surgeon and smith who lives in the town of Resembool and is a close friend of the Elric family. It is Pinako who crafted the automail limbs that Edward receives after the failed transmutation incident, albeit with help from her granddaughter, the promising smith, Winry. Her relationship with the Elric goes back beyond the events of the series and it is in the exploration of the past that we see Pinako’s compassion for the family.
Senior citizens in anime come in various shapes and forms and it is good to appreciate the dimensions that such characters bring to the medium. From the strong and burly to the small and unassuming, elderly characters play an important role in many of our favourite characters’ lives and it isn’t a stretch to say many of these characters wouldn’t be quite the same without their input. Are there other elderly characters you would’ve liked to see on this list? Drop a comment below and tell us all about them!