One of the most common criticisms of anime is that there aren’t enough well-written female characters. While some serve only as love interests of the protagonists, others are only used as convenient plot devices to show off the enhanced strengths of the male characters. However, there are plenty of well-written female characters in anime who deserve as much, if not more, praise than their male counterparts.
Whether they’re protagonists or not, these female characters have grown by leaps and bounds over their respective series. Some of them have complex backstories, while others completely ignore the “damsel in distress” trope and blaze their own trail.
ten Motoko Kusanagi is one of the most iconic anime protagonists of all time (Ghost In The Shell)
Motoko Kusanagi is the field leader of Section 9 in ghost in the shell. It is a police unit tasked with dealing with the surge in cyber-related crime. Motoko quickly became one of the most beloved anime protagonists of all time.
As a cyborg, Motoko is extremely strong and highly intellectual. However, her character is one that raises a lot of questions from the audience, mostly regarding the meaning of emotions and what human experience actually means. Even though her body is artificial, Motoko still understands and experiences emotions. On top of that, she’s a badass fighter.
9 Isabella was forced to make a choice that put her in a morally compromising position (The Promised Neverland)
Initially, Isabella looks like the average caretaker at an orphanage in The promised never-never land. The children trust her, and she would never do anything to hurt them. However, the Grace Field House raises children as livestock for man-eating demons. Once the audience finds out about this, she looks like a cold-hearted monster.
However, she was forced to choose which put her in a morally compromising position. Isabella had to be sold to demons at the age of twelve – like all the other orphans in the series – or become a caretaker at the Grace Field House. She chose the latter because at least she would still live. However, she is now responsible for selling children to demons.
8 Kagura looks like comic relief at first, but is actually a multi-layered character (Gintama)
In many ways, Kagura presents herself as Gintoki’s female counterpart. She is lazy, rude, and has several habits not usually associated with female characters in anime. At first, she looks like a cartoon character. However, she is one of the most complex characters in the series.
Kagura’s antics are enough to set her apart from the rest, but her backstory is one of the most interesting in the series. She came from the Yato tribe, an oppressive and bloodthirsty regime in search of power. Kagura had more expectations placed on her than anyone could bear, so she rebelled and left her home planet to find true happiness.
7 Nobara Kugisaki is always true to herself (Jujutsu Kaisen)
Nobara Kugisaki is one of the best written female characters in shonen anime. She always stays true to herself and refuses to abide by other people’s rules. Nobara isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and she’ll do whatever it takes to win.
Nobara has proven time and time again that she has what it takes to thrive in the dangerous world of jujutsu sorcery. She is shameless herself and never backs down from a fight. As one of the show’s most badass women, she’s upstaged other characters on multiple occasions.
6 Nana Osaki has endured a lot in her life, but never gave up on becoming a musician (Nana)
Nana Osaki is one of the most recognizable anime protagonists of all time. Not only does she have a distinct appearance, but her rebellious attitude has made fans fall in love with her. Nana has endured many horrible things throughout her life. Her mother abandoned her, so Nana grew up with her grandmother.
Nana’s grandmother was violent and authoritarian. She would not allow Nana to express herself through fashion as she wished. Nana was suspended from school for a false allegation of prostitution and entered into a complicated relationship. However, she never let these things interfere with her dream of becoming a musician.
5 Erza Scarlet has some pretty impressive accomplishments under her belt (Fairy Tail)
Erza is one of the most powerful members of the Fairy Tail guild. She’s been through hell and back, but she’s come out stronger each time on the other side. Erza escaped from the abusive Sky Tower as a child. She’s been on many adventures throughout the series and has some pretty impressive accomplishments under her belt.
If this is a competition of sheer willpower, it’s hard to beat Erza. Pair that with her objective strength and combat skills, and most people are sure to lose to her. Erza’s story is one of overcoming hardship, and some fans admire her because of it.
4 Hinata Hyuga proved everyone wrong and beat the odds (Naruto)
naruto receives a lot of criticism for its handling of female characters. While Hinata certainly has her flaws, there’s no denying that her character growth was one of the most engaging and relevant in the series.
She started out as a shy and gloomy person who was considered useless by her clan, but Hinata developed a lot of self-confidence throughout the series. Hinata developed a crush on Naruto because she saw him as a model of strength, and this encouraged her to prove everyone wrong. She has become one of the strongest ninjas in anime and it’s hard not to love her.
3 Mikasa Ackerman set the standard for top notch anime heroines (Attack On Titan)
Mikasa Ackerman is one of the most badass women in anime. She endured unfathomable amounts of trauma, but she never crumbled under the weight of it or let it consume her. Mikasa’s mental resilience and stamina are admirable, and he’s another character that many fans look up to.
While the “damsel in distress” trope is far too common in fiction, Mikasa reverses the tables. She often watches over Eren and their relationship has reinvented the wheel. Overall, Mikasa sets the standard for top notch women in anime.
2 Maki Zenin is unstoppable (Jujutsu Kaisen)
Jujutsu Kaisen is praised for its well-written female characters, and Maki is certainly at the forefront of such admiration. The history of the Zenin clan is enough to put even the traditions of the Uchiha clan to shame. Despite her inability to see cursed energy, Maki overcame all odds and became a powerful jujutsu witch.
She suffered terrible abuse and mistreatment in the clan, so she rebelled and started studying at Jujutsu High to really hone her skills as a witch. In later manga arcs, she gets the ultimate retribution from her clan. Overall, Maki is unstoppable. Anyone who dares to underestimate her has just made the worst mistake of their life.
1 Jolyne Cujoh has unwavering resolve (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean)
As the very first woman Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure protagonist, Jolyne made her mark on the series with a lively personality, stylish fashion, and badass fighting skills. Due to the way Jolyne grew up, she looked like the typical rebellious teenager. However, she learned the importance of standing on her own two feet. She realized that the only person she could rely on was herself. Especially after being convicted of a murder she didn’t commit, Jolyne realizes that her only true ally is herself.
Jolyne shares several traits with her predecessors that define the Joestar line. She has an unwavering will and isn’t afraid to put people in their place. She does not forgive or forget anyone’s misdeeds. Jolyne is definitely one of the best female anime characters of all time.
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