The main heroes and villains of an anime always get the most attention, but spare a thought for the fantastic supporting characters who back them up. Even though they don’t have as much screentime or character development as the leads, supporting characters can make a huge impact on the story with just a few actions.
Today, we’re counting down the Top 10 Supporting Characters in Anime. Their roles may be small, but they’re far from forgettable. Let’s get started!
10. Diamond from Houseki no Kuni (Land of the Lustrous)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2017 – December 2017
The only real main character in Land of the Lustrous is our adorkably naïve protagonist, Phosphophyllite, but sometimes the other gems get a chance to shine as well. Diamond is our favorite – Phos sees her as an older sister/senpai who can do no wrong, but Diamond is actually very insecure deep down. She’s a powerful and agile fighter, but her stern partner Bortz is always two steps ahead of her.
Diamond’s best moment is when she freaks out after Phos is absorbed by the sea slug and decides that the smaller version of the slug is Phos in an altered state. It’s heartwarming how she cares so much for her fellow gem, especially since she’s one of the very few who spare Phos any kindness at all. Seeing her desperately try to interpret the slug’s squealing noises as Phos’ dialogue is one of the biggest delights in this anime.
9. Ikumi Mito from Shokugeki no Souma (Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2015 – September 2015
Shokugeki no Souma wastes no time establishing that it’s a raunchy show. The art is lovingly crafted by a well-known hentai artist and delicious food makes people’s clothes fly off. So Ikumi Mito (also known as “Nikumi”), who looks like she just walked off the set of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit calendar photoshoot, fits right in. But there’s more to her than a skimpy outfit and an obsession with thick, juicy meat.
Nikumi starts off as an elitist chef who only uses the highest quality meat, but once Yukihira beats her at her own game and forces her to expand her repertoire, she mellows out significantly. We especially love her role in the karaage arc, where she and Yukihira put their heads together to help a shopping district win back popularity from a new karaage chain. And her silent competition with Yukihira’s childhood friend over who would make a better girlfriend is the perfect accompaniment!
8. Junko Kaname from Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2011 – April 2011
The world of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is a bleak one, but Madoka is lucky to have such an understanding mom as Junko. This cheerful businesswoman has raised her daughter with good morals and offers helpful advice even when she doesn’t know exactly what Madoka is going through. Even if she could never understand the hellish life of a magical girl, Junko always treats her daughter with love and respect.
It must’ve been unbearably difficult for Junko to let Madoka run headfirst into a storm surge (actually the witch Walpurgisnacht), but she trusted Madoka’s serious conviction and knew that whatever her daughter needed to do was important enough to risk her life for. If the other girls had supportive family members like Junko, maybe they would’ve turned out much better.
7. Dino from Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
- Episodes: 203
- Aired: October 2006 – September 2010
The infant hitman Reborn is an expert teacher for up-and-coming mafia lords, and his most recent student is the completely ineffectual Tsuna. But Reborn isn’t worried – he’s been through this before with another hapless loser named Dino, and the transformation couldn’t have been more incredible!
Dino is the 24-year-old boss of the Cavallone mafia family who occasionally stops by to help his honorary younger brother Tsuna when a situation gets hairy enough to require a few more hands on deck. He’s confident with his bullwhip and sky flames, but is still enough of a dork on the inside that Tsuna relates to him. Dino is also the only person who can exchange barbs with Hibari, the terrifying school disciplinary committee leader, and get away with it. Dino, please come riding in on a flaming horse and save us with your awkward charm!
6. Megumi Sakura from Gakkougurashi! (School-Live!)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2015 – September 2015
Four girls are trapped in their high school, surrounded by a horde of zombies that used to be their classmates. Somehow, though, they scrape together a more-or-less happy life by structuring themselves as a club that lives at the school. And it was their teacher, Sakura-sensei (more often called by her nickname “Megu-nee”), who made all of this possible.
Megu-nee mostly appears in flashbacks and as part of our main character Yuki’s delusions, but she has a vital role in the story. She fought through her timid nature to courageously save the girls from a zombie attack, and her calming influence even helps Yuki through her trauma from beyond the grave. Megu-nee’s sacrifice allowed her students to live, and that’s all she ever wanted.
5. Ichi Mezato from Mob Psycho 100
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2016 – September 2016
Mezato, the intrepid reporter for Salt Middle School’s newspaper, sets out to investigate the sketchy LOL cult that recently surfaced in town. She’s a bright girl, but turns out to be no match for the paranormal spirit posing as the cult’s leader. Luckily, Mob is at the same meeting (having been dragged there with the promise of popularity) and exposes his psychic powers to save Mezato and the cult members! After this incident, Mezato takes a keen interest in Mob and roots for him from behind the scenes.
We love the adorably wholesome quips Mezato and Mob throw at each other whenever they meet, with Mezato teasing that she’s going to rope him into an interview one of these days and Mob just being grateful for her friendship. In season 2, she even tries to make him famous so he gets the adoration that he deserves! She’s just a sweetheart through and through.
4. Mio from Dororo
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: January 2019 – currently airing
When Hyakkimaru meets Mio and her gaggle of injured war orphans, he’s struggling with having a sense of hearing for the first time in his life and is reeling from the overwhelming sound of the forest. The only thing that gives him solace is Mio’s gentle singing as she treats his wounds and tends to her meager homestead. She leads a precarious life, prostituting herself to soldiers for food to keep the kids healthy. She worries that her “job” makes her a terrible person, but Hyakkimaru can see that her soul is still pure.
Mio only appears for two episodes, but she becomes one of the most important people in Hyakkimaru’s life. When a group of soldiers slaughters her and the orphans because she dared to service opposing camps at the same time, Hyakkimaru is so heartbroken that he murders the soldiers in cold blood and whimpers the first word he has ever spoken – her name. Mio may be gone, but her song will be forever in his heart.
3. Euphemia li Britannia from Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2006 – July 2007
Lelouch despises the Britannian royal family for abandoning him and his sister, but one princess stays close to his heart - Euphemia. When she hears of the trouble brewing in Japan, she sets out to create her own special zone for Japanese citizens that will render all of Lelouch’s underground resistance efforts useless. Suzaku serves as her knight and quickly falls in love with her gentle and caring nature. Without violence, Euphemia has solved the crisis and everyone is on board. So what could possibly go wrong?
Well, since nobody gets an easy happy ending in this show, an accidental Geass command from Lelouch forces the peaceful princess to commit mass genocide of the very people she was trying to save. Her subsequent death changes Lelouch and Suzaku’s perspectives on the war completely and leaves everyone she has affected with a gaping wound that can never be healed. Euphemia‘s one major contribution to the story altered its course forever.
2. Kaworu Nagisa from Shin Seiki Evangelion (Neon Genesis Evangelion)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 1995 – March 1996
Even though he only appeared in one episode late in the original series, Kaworu Nagisa has a massive impact on Shinji’s psyche. Kaworu is the only character who shows Shinji unconditional love without any ulterior motives or manipulation. After everything the poor kid has been through, Kaworu’s kindness is enough to lift his spirits for a few fleeting moments.
But, since Neon Genesis Evangelion is even more sadistic to its protagonists than Code Geass, those fleeting moments are all Shinji gets to spend with his new friend. Kaworu is actually an Angel who took an interest in our young hero, which means he has to be killed for the world to survive. This crushes Shinji’s soul and sets off the esoteric events of both End of Evangelion and the psychoanalysis in episodes 25 and 26. From unconditional love to unmitigated despair, Kaworu certainly puts Shinji through the ringer.
1. Shouto Todoroki from Boku no Hero Academia 2nd Season (My Hero Academia 2)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2017 – September 2017
In season 1 of Boku no Hero Academia, Todoroki didn’t get to do much. His combination ice and fire powers were obviously strong, but we didn’t know a lot about him other than that he refused to use his fire powers because his aggressive father passed them down to him. And then came season 2 and the sports festival, where Todoroki finally got to show his true potential.
Todoroki is the best supporting character in anime because he brings out amazingly written character moments from everyone he interacts with. His semifinal fight contains a rousing speech from Deku that expresses his convictions about being your own hero instead of being haunted by someone else’s shadow, and Bakugou’s rage at unfairly winning against Todoroki in the final underscores his valiant goal to be the best hero through completely honest means. Endeavor and All Might also weigh in with their own philosophies, all while Todoroki himself isn’t as big of a focus. He’s a great character all on his own, but when he clashes against others, sparks fly!
We also love Commander Erwin’s stalwart leadership and curious mind in Attack on Titan, Reimi’s search for her killer in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, and Nanachi’s heartbreaking backstory in Made in Abyss. And from this current season, we’re curious to see how the new Fruits Basket anime portrays Rin and Kureno’s struggles. Amazing supporting characters are all around us, and we just keep getting more every season!
What did you think of our list? Who are some of your favorite supporting characters in anime? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!
If anime has any great appeal to its fans and possibility mass audiences, it certainly has to be the supporting cast of the series. Though the main character can get the job done, in many cases behind every strong main character is a strong supporting cast. One great example (that is not officially on this list) is certainly in Arslan Senki. Granted, Arslan himself has many great qualities as an individual, most of his accomplishments wouldn’t be possible without the supporting cast as each has their own unique contributions to his cause. So without further ado, let us explore our Top 10 Supporting Characters in Anime.
10. Bishamon from Noragami
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 2014 – Mar 2014
With some anime, some supporting characters are initially introduced as rivals and/or antagonists who later team up with with the main character. One character that fits that description is Bishamonten or Bishamon for short. Initially, she is one of Yato’s rivals and had a strong hatred against him due to a misunderstanding from their past. Once they resolve those issues, they start their road to a rather rocky relationship where they can cooperate.
What makes her a great supporting character is that she cares very much for her Shinki, souls who can be used as servants, and turn into tools/weapons for the god that is under their care. Her longest serving Shinki is Kazuma, who she treats as an equal as opposed to, a servant. Even with her uneasy introduction into the series, her base qualities shows that she is deep down inside a benevolent god and is capable of forgiveness.
9. Kazunari Takao from Kuroko no Basket (Kuroko’s Basketball)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 2012 – Sept 2012
In a good number of cases, a supporting character can be a rival. One notable example is Kazunari from Kuroko’s Basketball, who serves as a rival to Kuroko. Rivalries in sports can be healthy and generate interest such as that of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird back in the 1980s. For Takao, he sees his rivalries as a means of motivation to become a better player and to be acknowledged by his peers. With his position as the point guard, it is only natural that on a foundation, he plays both a leadership and supporting role.
Takao works hard in analyzing the skills of both his opponents and teammates and can change the course of the game in an instant or with the help of a time out. His outgoing personality ultimately does pass onto his peers that the game is all about fun and a quality like that is why he is ultimately a great supporting character.
8. Shuu Tsukiyama from Tokyo Ghoul
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 2015 – Mar 2015
Like other characters listed, Shuu is initially introduced as someone to combat our main character, Kaneki, but in the world of Tokyo Ghoul, he gets close to him because he wanted to eat him! As their time together grew, he began to genuinely care for him. Even after Kaneki was believed to have been gone, Shuu went into a downward spiral and regained his motivation after learning he was alive the whole time. Shuu is a good example of how a main character can be impactful to its supporting cast. Thanks to being a part of Kaneki and his group, he became a nice guy.
Upon recovery from his depression, his development comes full circle and a majority of his narcissist qualities cease from his psyche. After that, he brings himself to apologize and thank his servants for their care and patience during his breakdown as he goes out to resume his place in helping Kaneki and his friends. Shuu’s presence serves as an inspiration that despite what some people’s initial intentions may be, once you get to know someone and spend time with them and see their positive qualities, one can find the inspiration to change for the better.
7. Albedo from Overlord
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jul 2015 – Sept 2015
In the distant future where MMORPGs can be accessed by virtual reality (which is also becoming true in our present timeline), the games still require non-playable characters as a guide and support. For the leading guild, they have Albedo, the Overseer of the Great Tomb of Nazarick. Thanks to being an AI, with the right hacking and modifications, she can be a quality supporting character to your advantage.
Originally designed to be rather promiscuous, thanks to Momonga’s intervention, he was able to get her to fall madly in love with him. Along with her position, which qualifies her as a great supporting character, is that she is devoted to her position as guardian and will never back down from a challenge. Due to the great combination of her domestic and combative qualities, she is someone who any man would love to have. If the old saying goes behind every strong man is a strong woman, then look no further than Albedo.
6. Tatsumaki from One Punch Man
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct 2015 – Dec 2015
With the brawn of Saitama, there have to be heroes who have brains and who better than Tatsumaki, who is the most powerful esper in the series. As her name suggests (with tatsumaki meaning whirlwind), one of her trademark moves is the psychic whirlwind, a defensive technique from other espers. Due to the nature of her powers and her back-story, she tends not to make friends and has a superiority complex the size of Texas. Also, she has a tough time with people wrongly assuming she is a child due to her appearance when she is in fact 28!
In regards to her flaws, what makes her a quality supporting character is that she still finds it within her to use her powers for good rather than evil. Though she may not be the size of your average superhero, she can still take out massive creatures at the speed of thought. The fact that a person with those powers is one of the good guys is enough to call that a blessing.
5. Portgas D. Ace from One Piece
- Episodes: Currently Airing
- Aired: Oct 1999 – Present
With the large cast that One Piece has to offer, the number one supporting character from that series has to go to the handsome Portgas D. Ace. Like Luffy and Sabo, he also ate a special fruit that would give him special abilities, but Ace would gain the power to wield fire. Though Ace belongs to another group of pirates, he still understands the value of family with both Luffy (his adopted brother) and Whitebeard (his captain who he looks up to as his father).
His greatest moment in devotion to his family is in his final moments defending his brother from Akainu. Though his physical presence is gone, inspired by his sacrifice, Luffy goes off to train for two years to become a pirate strong enough to protect his crew. Sometimes a supporting character can be there physically, but Ace shows that presence within one’s heart can be enough to qualify that they can still be of irreplaceable contribution.
4. Might Guy from Naruto: Shippuuden
- Episodes: Currently Airing
- Aired: Feb 2007 - Present
From Naruto’s immense roster, we have Guy, the master of Rock Lee, Neji, and Tenten. Though he comes across as a joke to both other cast members and audiences, he really puts the might in his name. Even Itachi, one of the series’ antagonists is aware of his strength. Guy’s story also extends to his pupil, Rock Lee.
In addition to their physical appearances (despite not being related), they shared similar weaknesses in their inabilities to use genjutsu (illusionary techniques) and ninjutsu (ninja techniques) but made up for their inadequacies with taijutsu, or martial arts techniques. Though Guy does develop the ability to use both genjutsu and ninjutsu, he tends to avoid using them out of respect for his father and to prove hard work pays off. Thanks to a hard training regimen and always-forward outlook, Guy grows up to become a respectable ninja.
With his ability to maintain his optimism in the worst case scenario and how he cares so much for his disciples and comrades, he is truly a man to have your back in battle or to cheer you up when you’re down.
3. Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Episodes: 64
- Aired: Apr 2009 – Jul 2010
Even though Roy and Ed tend to have an uneasy relationship throughout the series, in the end, Roy and Ed can still depend on each other when it counts the most. Though he appears rather Machiavellian on the outside, deep down inside, he is a very benevolent leader. He is very supportive of Ed’s efforts in obtaining the Philosopher’s Stone, has feelings for Lt. Hawkeye, his assistant, and will stop at nothing to avenge the assassination of his best friend, Maes Hughes.
Due to his core qualities, the loyalty his subordinates’ show are unquestionable, and due to his impressive fighting prowess and his calm presence in contrast to Ed’s tenseness, they represent a very excellent contrast. Not only does Roy represent a good contrast to Ed, but to King Bradley himself in terms of leadership. While Bradley is willing to sacrifice troops, Roy would never do such a thing. So not only does he qualify as a great supporting character, but a great leader as well.
2. Rem from Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 2016 – Sept 2016
Carrying over from our Top 10 Anime Sidekicks article, we have Rem. Rem, as a character, represents not only that the appearance of someone can be deceiving, but that we shouldn’t judge people based on them. It’s what’s on the inside that counts. Though Rem is a demon, she still exhibits qualities that still make her genuinely human. When her relationship with Subaru begins to blossom (to an unpleasant twist), they share several qualities that many "real" couples enjoy.
If you find yourself in a situation where the real world rejects you and you happen to save the life of a demon girl, you can find happiness and devotion. Subaru and Rem share the actual trials and happiness that any relationship can have (romantic or not) but in the end, they have an unbreakable bond that goes beyond the worlds they belong to.
1. Levi from Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 2013 – Sept 2013
An undeniable addition to this list is Levi from Attack on Titan, and one of humanity’s greatest soldiers on the battlefield. A huge majority of his portrayal tends to exhibit him as someone with a superiority complex. He is an obsessive clean freak, very rarely shows any emotion, and tends to conduct himself in a rather offensive manner. Not only that, he can be excessively abusive such as when he attacked Eren during his court martial (but as a twisted means of helping him). With all these cold qualities, what can redeem him to make it on this list? For starters, he does care very much for his soldiers and when they had to retreat during the 57th Expedition, he actually showed emotion that he cared about the lives that were lost on his watch.
You still might be thinking, what quality makes him an effective supporting character? Though Mikasa is also capable of such combative qualities, Levi just happens to be the greatest warrior the Survey Corps has to offer, to the point that most of his titan kills are done single handedly. He demonstrates little to no fear or hesitation that it can be mistaken as sadistic. He does have a position of leadership, he very rarely gives orders unless it is necessary and trusts his soldiers to make their own decisions. Levi may come across as an “ends justifying the means” kind of warrior, but deep down inside, he is a man who cares about humanity and ultimately, those he considers his friends.
Once again, it is undeniable that lists such as these are difficult and time consuming to put together. With all the anime out there, the choices are almost limitless because numerous titles all have a great supporting cast. Due to these choices, we have decided to make some honorable mentions. Shout outs go to Kuwabara from Yuu Yuu Hakusho, Narsus from Arslan Senki, Yuki from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and CC from Code Geass.
Again, we ultimately leave it up to you guys to offer your own list of great supporting characters in anime. If you have any idea whether it’d be your top 5, 10, or 20, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts. The community will appreciate it.