With the world currently being inundated by a variety of superhero movies and TV shows, it can be easy to put anime heroes by the wayside. But we mustn’t forget these heroes, who are just as important and inspiring as anyone from the live-action world! A hero is someone who puts aside their own comfort and well-being to fight for a cause more important than themselves. Whether a shounen hero like Naruto, a magical girl like Sakura Kinomoto, or even a darker hero like Alucard, these characters give us hope and push us to be better versions of ourselves. And with more anime coming out every season, there are always new heroes to discover!
But we’re not here today to talk about the newest of heroes brought forth into the world – we’re here to talk about those unsung heroes of the anime world, the ones that are often overshadowed and overlooked! These characters are just as inspiring in their personal journeys, fighting for people they care about. But since they are not the main hero or heroine, their other traits are often given more emphasis, leaving them as the comedic relief or lesser sidekick in a series. We’d like to put a spotlight on these characters and give them their moment of glory, recognizing them as the true heroes they really are!
10. Leorio Paladiknight from Hunter x Hunter
- Episodes: 148
- Air Date: October 2011 – September 2014
In a world where Hunters go on wild adventures for treasure and face off against dangerous criminals, young Gon Freecss hopes to find his long-lost father by becoming a Hunter himself. As Gon goes through the grueling Hunter Exam, he befriends other exam-takers Leorio, Kurapika and Killua. These four will go through many struggles of their own as they learn what being a Hunter really means.
Leorio is the least popular of the main four characters, being the oldest of the group and sometimes seen as the comedic relief even though he is technically the second strongest character physically. His dream to become a doctor for the poor is also quite noble, and he manages to uphold his morals in battle, being brave, kind, and caring despite how he comes off at first.
9. Krillin from Dragon Ball Z
- Episodes: 291
- Air Date: April 1989 – January 1996
Even as things are settling down for Goku and his friends, new dangers threaten the Earth that they call home, heralded by a mysterious enemy named Raditz, who claims to be Goku’s long-lost brother. As always, the stakes are high and the fate of humanity rides on the outcome of intergalactic combat between these powerful beings. Goku must learn what his purpose truly is – is he a Saiyan sent to destroy the planet or a man fighting to protect it? Only the strongest will survive in this war for the wish-granting dragon balls!
While Krillin is not as impressive as many of the other supernaturally powerful characters of the Dragon Ball series, he is a formidable martial artist among the human race. Krillin is often seen as a joke by fans of the franchise, as he usually doesn’t help much in fights, especially against stronger enemies. Despite this, Krillin’s kind, courageous heart shines through as he stands beside his friends again and again to defend what is right.
8. Shinji Nishiya (Kamui Woods) from Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: April 2016 – June 2016
Though Izuku Midoriya has no superpowers of his own, his existence in a world full of people with these unique “quirks” has made him wish that he could join in the ranks of heroes. Izuku has taken notes on a great many number of professional heroes, but the one that he admires most is All Might. When Izuku happens to encounter his favorite hero on the street one day, All Might tells him that his personal quirk is one that can be passed on – and the hero has chosen Izuku to be his successor!
Shinji Nishiya is one of the most unusual heroes on the professional scene, with most of his personality, and even his physical appearance, built up through his unique Arbor quirk. He used to be more popular, but after he is outdone by other up-and-coming heroes, he seems to diminish into the background, though his professional approach to being a hero does not go unnoticed by us!
7. Lancer (Cu Chulainn) from Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works
- Episodes: 24
- Air Date: January 2006 – June 2006
The Holy Grail War surfaces yet again and the various magi prepare to summon their Servants for the battle. Rin Tohsaka has been prepping for this moment for years, and hopes to win the Holy Grail with her Servant, Archer. But when one of Rin’s classmates, Emiya Shirou, accidentally finds himself a part of the competition, the Holy Grail War will be turned on its head, and everyone will be in for a fight for their lives…
Lancer is one of the Servants from the Holy Grail War, serving under one master for a brief time until the deceitful priest, Kirei Kotomine, becomes his new master. Lancer is a cunning and powerful opponent, using his spear to pierce the heart of his enemies. Though he is working for an evil master, Lancer does have a sense of morality and justice like a true hero, working with Shirou to help him and eventually killing Kotomine when the man orders Lancer to get rid of Rin.
6. Takeo Gouda from Ore Monogatari!! (My Love Story!!)
- Episodes: 26
- Air Date: May 2004 – March 2005
Much larger than your average high school freshman, Takeo Gouda cuts an imposing figure. Yet behind his tough exterior lies a heart ready to help anyone in need, being both courageous and chivalrous in nature. Though he may be admired among the boys of his class, his looks and personality have not done him any favors in the realm of love. And having a best friend like Makoto Sunakawa certainly doesn’t help garner Takeo any attention either! But when Takeo saves Rinko Yamato, he begins to hope, against all odds, that this might be the start to his own love story…
Takeo is just one of those guys that act like a gallant prince right out of a fairy tale! Though he might not have the looks, his great heart for helping others is what gets him recognized as a hero by his peers. He stands up for the weak or defenseless again and again without hesitation. We don’t know exactly what makes Takeo able to stand up for what’s right when others might not be able to, but it makes him stand out. Yet despite being seen as a hero and a star in the anime, Takeo is not widely recognized as a hero in our own world. Perhaps we don’t recognize chivalrous heroes as we did in the past, or perhaps he is overshadowed by flashier anime heroes. Regardless, we see Takeo as just as deserving of his place on our list as any other!
5. Cana Alberona from Fairy Tail
- Episodes: 175
- Air Date: October 2009 – March 2013
Lucy Heartfilia is a young woman who has set out on her own, chasing her dream of joining the infamous magic guild of Fairy Tail. Though her journey starts off a bit rocky, she soon meets up with the eccentric Natsu Dragneel and his friend Happy, who happen to be a part of the very guild Lucy has been trying to join! Lucy is excited to join the lively Fairy Tail at last, and go on adventures with her new friends that will soon become more like family as they grow stronger together.
Easily one of the most overlooked women in Fairy Tail, Cana Alberona spends most of her time drinking in the guild hall. She is the daughter of Gildarts Clive, one of the most powerful members of Fairy Tail, but she is not often acknowledged as such. However, during the S-Class Mage Promotion Trials, Cana shows her true inner strength, being the only one that year to find Mavis Vermillion’s grave and obtain the ability Fairy Glitter. Even though her choices in the early parts of the exam may not reflect her true heroic nature, in the end Cana stands up for her friends against insurmountable odds.
4. Connie Springer from Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
- Episodes: 25
- Air Date: April 2013 – September 2013
After humanity put up walls to barricade itself from the outside world, they haven’t been plagued by the man-eaters known as Titans for one hundred years. But when a colossal Titan breaks through the furthest wall, there is a breach of Titans running rampant through the city! When Eren Yeager loses his mother during the evacuation, he decides that he will dedicate his life to destroying all Titans. He enlists in the Survey Corps, the most dangerous military scouting unit. As Eren, along with his friends both new and old, join the war against these monstrosities, they have no idea what they will discover. Is there a way to defeat the Titans once and for all?
Connie Springer is part of Eren’s squad during training and follows Eren as they move to the Survey Corps after graduation. Connie is naïve and optimistic at first, gradually growing in physical and emotional strength throughout the course of the series. Though he may not stand out in the series in terms of fighting prowess or intelligence, Connie’s heart is what makes him a great hero in this dark world. He cares about his friends, following them even into the worst situations, and continues on fighting for them. Though we know many may see Connie as a bland side character, we recognize that his caring nature is part of what makes up a true hero!
3. Olivier Mira Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Episodes: 64
- Air Date: April 2009 – July 2010
When brothers Edward and Alphonse lose their mother tragically, the two decide to use the most forbidden form of alchemy, human transmutation, to try to bring her back. They end up paying a terrible price, with Ed losing both an arm and a leg, and Al losing his entire body, left with his soul attached to a suit of nearby armor. The two boys set out on a quest to get their bodies back, delving into a series of events that will change the course of the nation around them…
General Olivier Mira Armstrong is a hardened military leader from the north of Amestris with a serious and commanding personality at first glance. Despite her harsh exterior, Olivier’s fierceness has earned her the unending loyalty of her subordinates, so much so that they would follow her to the bitter end of any battle. She is considerate of all her soldiers, caring for them even though she is able to understand that there will be loss on the battlefield. Olivier has incredible leadership skills, able to redirect and command even enemy soldiers. She is a strong role model for all women, standing up for what’s right in the face of danger, even when it might not go along with what her government says.
2. Rock Lee from Naruto
- Episodes: 220
- Air Date: October 2002 – February 2007
When Naruto was only a child, his village of Konohagakure was attacked by a Nine-Tailed fox demon, forcing the village leader, the Fourth Hokage, to sacrifice his life and seal the beast into the infant Naruto. Now older, Naruto has grown up shunned by everyone in the village because of the deadly beast sealed inside him. The number-one hyperactive, knuckleheaded ninja struggles to gain recognition from those around him. He hopes to become the Hokage himself someday, but must win over each person he meets. Naruto has a long way to go, but his optimism and faith in himself is certainly infectious!
Rock Lee is one of Naruto’s comrades later on in the series, though like many of the side characters he is given only a few episodes of serious spotlight. Lee begins with virtually no ability in this ability-driven world, able to only use taijutsu. Despite this, Lee has big dreams, hoping to prove that with hard work and perseverance anyone can surpass a naturally talented genius. Though he is often seen as the comedic relief of the show, especially given his antics with his mentor Might Guy, Lee proves time and again that he can be powerful and heroic in his own unique way. Even when he is injured during the Chunin Exams and told he will never regain a career as a shinobi, Lee never gives up, striving to work harder every day!
1. Mumen Rider from One Punch Man
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: October 2015 – December 2015
Saitama isn’t out to be the best or brightest hero – in fact, he sees it as a hobby, trying to find someone who will be a worthy for his unimaginable strength. To reach the level of power he has achieved, he worked every day for three years, even losing his hair in the process! However, being so powerful has a definite downside, in that Saitama no longer enjoys battle and actually finds most combat rather boring. But when he begins to attract attention from a young cyborg named Genos, Saitama starts to garner attention from people who recognize his true capabilities. Joining the Hero Association together, the master and his disciple set out to get Saitama the recognition he deserves, and maybe even find an opponent worthy of Saitama’s single-punch technique.
Mumen Rider is a rather average hero among a host of heroes with unusual abilities, though he is ranked first in C-Class when Saitama joins the Hero Association. However, being without a unique gift didn’t stop Mumen Rider from striving to uphold justice. He is a hero that stands up for the people as long as he can, even when it might mean his own disfigurement. Using a simple bicycle to get him around the city’s different sections, Mumen Rider inspires the common person that they, too, can be heroic through small actions every day. During his brief battle with the Deep Sea King, Mumen Rider shows just how much of a hero he really is, saying to his clearly powerful foe that he just needs to stand up and fight to make a difference.
The underrated heroes on our list are among the finest of characters in all of anime, inspiring us with their words and deeds. In the end, a hero is someone to look up to for what they stand for, and these characters do just that! We think that they deserve some more love than they get – and we hope you do as well!
What hero do you believe is underrated? Let us know in the comments section below!