In case some of you didn’t know, Japan has the highest senior population in the world (thanks to a decrease in the country’s birth rate) and the longest lifespan. It’s not uncommon to hear that someone turned 100 in the Land of the Rising Sun, and if in the event someone does, they get some award signed by the Prime Minister. Considering how senior citizens dominate Japan’s population and how younger Japanese nationals are encouraged to respect their elders, it should be a given that they get a good portrayal in anime, too.
Not only should they just be put in anime, but show how they are capable of being of contribution to the story and how it develops along with who they are as characters. In some instances, they can be superheroes, wise masters, and much more. So, who are some of the strongest senior citizens to be portrayed in anime? Read our selections to find out!
10. Ichiro Inuyashiki from Inuyashiki
- Episodes: 11
- Air Dates: October 13, 2017 – December 22, 2017
Ichiro starts out as an ordinary old man trying to provide for his family and receives the unfortunate news that he’s got stomach cancer - and it’s terminal. And if things weren’t already worse, a UFO crashes on him killing him and a young man. Thankfully, the aliens felt bad about it and pretty much turned him and the young man into the Six Million Dollar Man.
Since he’s old and wise enough to know that with great power, there must always come with great responsibility, he uses his new lease on life to make his community a better place. As for the young man, he becomes a villain who frivolously uses his new powers to kill people he doesn’t like. Now, Ichiro must do what he can to make things right with his new rival. The fact that Ichiro looks like any regular Japanese citizen and that the creator makes him into a superhero is what qualifies him as a great way to start this list.
9. Jigoro Inokuma from Yawara
- Episodes: 124
- Air Dates: October 16, 1989 – September 21, 1992
Upon his introduction in this hit series, Jigoro is already in his seventies, 5 feet tall, and probably 100 pounds. Even though he likes to exaggerate how many times he’s a national champion (he’s really a 5-time champion) and his black belt ranking (he’s really a 6th dan, but likes to brag he’s a 7th or 8th dan), in terms of Judo, he’s still no joke, and if you don’t win by Ippon (meaning you throw the opponent flat on their back), it’s not a win to him. His given name is an obvious homage to Jigoro Kano, the founder of modern Judo, while the Inokuma family name is a homage to Isao Inokuma, who won the gold in Judo in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, when men’s Judo was first competed as an Olympic sport.
Try to pick a fight with him, and he’ll likely throw you over your head. He’s very dedicated to his art and can make easy work of younger Judo black belts like they’re rag dolls. When he is introduced to an heiress’ bodyguard who is 250 pounds and has a 4th dan in Judo, Jigoro made him look like a white belt taking his first lesson. So, if you ever want to learn the gentle way (a literal translation of Judo), try to seek his instruction. If he doesn’t take you, he’ll likely give you an autograph copy of his book, “Judo Wasn’t Built in A Day.”
8. Goki Shibukawa from Baki
- Episodes: 26
- Air Dates: June 25, 2018 – December 17, 2018
Shibukawa, the head promoter of Japan’s underground MMA scene, is a lifelong martial artist whose training helped keep him in shape and live a healthy life into his seventies. Despite his age and frail looking size, he is a master of the grappling arts, most notably in Aikido, which he primarily uses is his fighting style, and is always wearing a hakama - or training gi an Aikido practitioner would wear. Try to throw a punch at him, and not only will he throw you using your force against you, but he’ll also dislocate every limb in the process.
In addition to being a black belt in Aikido, he’s also a black belt in Judo, and wears a Judo gi beneath his hakama. When Biscuit Olivia (a bodybuilder who is based on Sergio Oliva, who beat Arnold Schwarzenegger in a bodybuilding contest) challenged him to a Judo match, despite being largely outsized, Shibukawa easily broke Oliva’s hand just by gripping it. Just like Jigoro, try to pick a fight with him, and you’re going to wake up in the ICU.
7. Edward Newgate from One Piece
- Episodes: 861+
- Air Dates: October 20, 1999 - Ongoing
If there is any man to fear in the open seas, it would be Edward Newgate, aka Whitebeard, captain of the Whitebeard Pirates. He’s past 70, and he is still referred to as the Strongest Man in World, and is considered to be one of the best pirates in history. He still has the body of the Ultimate Warrior and also possesses his insane strength. Heck, he could stop a pirate ship with just one hand and take on a crew of pirates all by himself! He may have a strong body, but he also possesses a kind heart. He has taken crew members of various backgrounds onto his ship, and treated them with kindness and respect.
Edward believes a man should be true to his word, which shows now only strength in body, but in terms of morals. He’s someone you would want to have in some kind of parental figure in your life. As a matter of fact, he refers to his crew members as his sons, and they all call him Oyaji, a delinquent way of saying father in Japanese. If you happen to take one of his sons from him, then he’ll be on you like Liam Neeson looking for his kidnapped daughter.
6. Joseph Joestar from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
- Episodes: 119+
- Air Dates: October 6, 2012 - Ongoing
While he is introduced as a 19-year-old in the second story arc, we get to see him become a grandfather in the third one, Stardust Crusaders, where he has an Indiana Jones get up. Putting aside his advanced age, he proves his worthiness throughout the duration of the story by recruiting Abdoul and cleaning Jotaro’s act up upon the beginning of the story. After that, he plays an active role as a supporting character as him, Jotaro, and the rest of the gang head out to Egypt to defeat Dio once and for all. He is capable of using his Stand from long distances to fight enemies, take him from one place from another like Tarzan, and combining it with his old Hamon powers when necessary.
What fans also love about the old Joseph is how he likes to scream “OH NO” and other English expletives in the Japanese version. It adds a unique charm to the character, and a different dimension you don’t see in comparison to the younger version to him (who often enjoyed predicting what an enemy would say, and they would actually say it) For English speakers, just adding that novelty in the Japanese version just adds an enjoyable flavor. Though his presence in the fourth arc is rather small, he is in frail health but he does what he can to be there for his long lost son, Jousuke, and does what can to make a relationship with him. Thanks to his wealth, he can provide the cast all the resources necessary for the cast to carry out their missions.
5. Madara Uchiha from Naruto: Shippuden (Naruto Hurricane Chronicles)
- Episodes: 500
- Air Dates: February 15, 2007 - March 23, 2017
If you thought Tsunade was a master of keeping herself looking 30 years younger, then she’s got nothing on Madara Uchiha. If anything, he’s probably the oldest member to be on this list considering that he’s over 100 years old. In his prime, he had amazing abilities and was a master of all ninjas in both his Uchiha family line, and was a founder of the Konoha village. He was also the first to master the Mangekyo Sharingan, and developer a lot of other powers in relation to his family line’s unique ability.
Though he is old, he cheats death by cloning himself, but still maintains his abilities and his crazy use of chakra. Take for example, if you could put the 1996 abilities of Michael Jordan into the 1984 Jordan, that’s what Kabuto also did for Marada, which makes him over 9000 times more dangerous than he already is. Last, he can pretty much control every element you can think of and whatever he can do, it’s almost limitless. The fact that he’s a centurion that can all these crazy ninja techniques and take on nearly the entire cast is what makes him a great addition to this list.
4. Cologne from Ranma ½
- Episodes: 161
- Air Dates: April 15, 1989 – September 25, 1992
In addition to Marada, Cologne is another centurion of great strength. Yes, she’s the size of Tyrion from Game of Thrones, but in her youth, she was as tall as Shampoo, her granddaughter. If anything, she’s probably the strongest of the cast of Ranma ½, and no one would dare mess with her. While she doesn’t actively take part in a majority of the action, she is there to support Ranma when necessary, or if it’s at her convenience in order to marry him off to Shampoo. When Cologne permanently made Ranma a girl for awhile, she goes out of her way to teach him a technique in order to take the cure from around her neck, and after that, he often used it in his other fights throughout the series.
When Ranma temporarily loses his strength because of a pressure point technique from Happousai, Cologne once again teaches Ranma a technique where he can still defeat any enemy by using their energy against them. While she tends to see Ranma as the fiancée to her granddaughter, her occasional assistance shows that she cares about him. The fact she teaches Ranma his two most powerful techniques demonstrates why she is very strong.
3. Genkai from Yu Yu Hakusho
- Episodes: 112
- Air Dates: October 10, 1992 – January 7, 1995
If anyone is the top spirit detective in the world of Yuu Yuu Hakusho, it is without a doubt, Genkai. Thanks to her spiritual and physical training, she is still a capable fighter and trains Yusuke to the limits in the same manner that Mick would train Rocky Balboa. In addition to being an amazing fighter, she also has healing abilities and has used them on Kuwabara. Though she is introduced as senile and sarcastic, she starts to grow on Yusuke and his gang.
Like Madara, she is capable of reverting back to her younger form to be in top shape for a fight, or in this case, a tournament against the likes of Toguro. Though she is strong in body, she shows she is strong in heart when she helps Yusuke and his crew, and sees the good in them despite presenting themselves as a gang of underachieving delinquents.
2. Muten Roshi from Dragon Ball Super
- Episodes: 131
- Air Dates: July 5, 2015 – March 25, 2018
When Roshi (or Kamesennin) was introduced in the original Dragon Ball series, we got to see him in action throughout a good duration of it. He’s your typical old and wise martial arts master, but with the hormones of Beavis and Butt-Head. He taught Goku the Kamehameha (with Roshi’s version, he would enhance his muscles to do it) and further contributed to his training, and was active in a couple of tournaments. He competed in the tournaments as Jacky Chun, and audiences had an opportunity to see how good he actually is as a combatant. While he was largely not involved in the action of the Dragon Ball Z series, he gets to represent Universe 7 as an active combatant in the Tournament of Power in the recent Super series.
During Dragon Ball Super, we get to see that he can still hang with his teammates and go toe-to-toe with the multiverse’s best. He eliminated a few combatants and brought out some old tricks that fans of the original Dragon Ball series could appreciate, such as the old sealing in the jar technique. He admits that his perverted ways (which he trained to eliminate before the tournament) throughout Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z hindered his abilities throughout the years, but he was happy to be of contribution and earned the praises of Beerus.
1. Gran Torino from Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)
- Episodes: 63+
- Air Dates: April 3, 2016 – Ongoing
If anime could have its version to Yoda from Star Wars, it would certainly be Gran Torino from Boku no Hero Academia. He may be old and small, but he packs a punch. Putting aside the fact that he’s past his prime, he can still defeat any common thug, or go toe-to-toe with higher class super villains more than some heroes that are presently in their prime! Along with great control of his abilities, his experience as a hero also helps him in guiding the next generation. While he doesn’t possess the almighty One For All quirk, Gran Torino’s Jet, is amazing enough to rival it (he could hang with All Might in his younger years), and still teach Izuku how to use One For All considering that much of Jet’s capabilities can apply to One For All.
Although Gran Torino’s quirk mostly enhances his speed, he helps Izuku develop his use by applying the principles of Jet into One For All to compliment his body type. As opposed to using his arms, he teaches Izuku how to concentrate his quirk throughout his body, most especially his legs. Thanks to Gran Torino’s instructions, Izuku finds a new way to apply One For All without sacrificing his arms, which would probably put insurance companies out of business. Considering Gran Torino has a great mix of wisdom and strength, it puts him number one on this list.
Considering that anime is obviously Eastern in origin, much of the strong old types we get to see in anime tend to come from a martial arts, or combative background, and this is also common in martial arts cinema. Through their training and experience, they have limitless wisdom and have an answer to most problems. However, what anime also shares when it comes to our elders is that we should at times listen to their advice because they are our senpai in life. Unfortunately, age can make some senile and sarcastic, and we do see that through the likes of Ichiro, Jigoro, and Gran Torino. But at the end of the day, they’re old folks that can kick our butts.