With a number of superhero movies and TV shows now oversaturating the world, it can be easy to place anime heroes by the wayside. But these heroes, who are just as important and inspirational as anyone in the world of live-action, must not be overlooked. For breaking new ground or for livening up an already popular genre, certain anime characters get all the credit. Although there is undoubtedly plenty going for the more famous characters, there are also lots of underrated anime heroes that deserve recognition, too. When anime heroes don’t get enough recognition, it’s typically because the show they’re featured in is not incredibly popular, other occasions in a popular series, the character exists, but despite their heroism, is not regarded as one of the best. With more anime coming out every season, new heroes are still to be found. Here are the top 10 Underrated Anime Heroes who deserve more love with anime increasing in popularity by the decade.
1. Iruka Umino from Naruto
One of the major supporting characters in the Naruto series is Iruka Umino. He is a Konohagakure chūnin-level shinobi who primarily works at the Academy as an instructor. He was appointed principal of the Academy later on. Iruka is described as a man who is big-hearted and soft-hearted. This is mostly made evident in his ways of teaching, often showing his students a watchful eye as they grow. This, though, does not imply that he is a pushover, as when he yells at his students to get them to obey him, he can be stern when the situation calls for it most often seen.
Iruka remained a resolute and strong-willed person with a kind disposition, despite the tragedy of losing his parents at a young age. This is apparent from his lack of aggression towards Naruto Uzumaki, who was always the victim of misplaced resentment at the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox, sealed within Naruto. Iruka is the only one Naruto respected in his youth because of this, as well as the only person who could control the actions of Naruto to some extent. Naruto overlooked all the chūnin and jōnin who criticised him for painting all over the faces of the Hokages and showed fear only when Iruka appeared.
2. Mumen Rider from One Punch Man
Satoru, best known by his hero alias Mumen Ride, is the Hero Association’s C-Class Rank 1 Professional Hero. He is one of the few people aware of the strength of Saitama. Satoru is an extremely loyal, brave, and admirable hero who, no matter how minor or insignificant it may be, refuses to dismiss any crime or back down from any fight, no matter the opponent. And at the risk of his own life, he is incredibly dedicated and never backs down. If it means saving innocent people from evil, he is perfectly willing to offer his own life, even if it is obvious he has almost no chance of success.
He seems to be conscious that relative to other heroes, he is weak and doesn’t believe that because of it he is worthy to move up in class, but he is always more than happy to take on opponents for whom the Hero Association sends out for A-Class heroes or stronger, even if just to buy time to arrive for the stronger heroes. This reveals his selfless notion of self, and how prepared he is to go the extra mile, as he saw when other C-Class heroes fled away from the Deep Sea King.
3. Olivier Mira Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
The primary heir to the illustrious Armstrong family is Olivier Mira Armstrong, also known as Major General Armstrong, the commanding officer in charge of defending the northern border of Amestris at Fort Briggs, and the elder sister of Alex Louis Armstrong. The deceivingly beautiful woman’s schadenfreude has gained her the nickname “Ice Queen” among the Briggs troops.
Olivier is a powerful woman who has a frightening and commanding presence where she is stern with her superiors and subordinates and coldly merciless with her enemies. Olivier, sharp-tongued and highly combative, is no stranger to furious penalties and bursts of violence, particularly towards those who refuse to live up to her high expectations and a clear commitment to the ideology of “survival of the fittest”.
As such, she has no tolerance for vulnerability or lack of willpower at all and advocates strong disdain for the “Equivalent Exchange” concept, which she sees as an attitude that promotes easy handouts and pointless compromise. Major General Armstrong, skilled at reading people and mindful of even her own limitations, knows that in order to succeed, she needs the support of her subordinates and peers and, while she understands that sacrifice is often a key component of her actions, she never forgets the weight and influence that each person has on the world.
4. Sai Saici from Mobile Fighter G Gundam
The grandson of Sai Feilong, the champion of the 4th Gundam Fight tournament, is Sai Saici. His father, Sai Lonbai, decided to revive the Shaolin Temple, compelling him to leave Sai while he was very young. He sent a letter to two of his friends, a pair of Shaolin monks named Zuisen and Keiun, asking them to raise Sai and train him as the Shaolin’s next heir, although Feilong would never realise his dream. Sai Saici, the youngest fighter in Gundam Fight history, acts very stubbornly and is quite immature.
Sai Saici also remains mischievous and bratty, despite mentors Keiun and Zuisen’s attempts to calm him down. After Sai inherits the Shuffle Alliance’s Ace of Clubs crest, he soon realises what it’s like to mature into a man, like finding Cecile Holger as his first love and becoming more determined to fight for the long-lost Shaolin Temple’s revival. Sai is also a highly-skilled chef, in addition to his expertise in Shaolin-style combat. Owing to his tendency to recommend meals at a moment’s notice, he is hardly seen without a frying pan being carried on his back.
5. Yuuki Konno from Sword Art Online II
Konno Yuuki, in the Sword Art Online series, was the deuteragonist of the Mother’s Rosario story arc, and the protagonist of the Sisters’ Prayer story arc. She was Konno Aiko’s sister and was one of the three founding members as well as the 2nd leader of the Sleeping Knights Guild, a group of terminally ill people who met in Serene Garden, a terminally ill virtual hospice, and who, as a form of palliative care, played numerous virtual reality games. Yuuki and her guild eventually arrived at ALfheim Online after two years of visiting a number of virtual worlds, where she became recognised as Absolute Sword as a result of winning sixty-seven successive street duels, including one against Kirito.
She was also famed in the game for creating the 11-hit Original Sword Skill called Mother’s Rosario. She spent her last precious moments in Asuna’s arms while logged in to ALO, accompanied by her friends and over a thousand other players. Even in her critical condition, when she died peacefully in happiness, Yuuki was the kind of person eager to live life to the fullest. She felt that some things had to be handled in forceful ways for the other party to understand.
6. Cana Alberona from Fairy Tail
Cana Alberona is a Fairy Tail Guild member and is a potential Mage of the S-Class. She is a heavy drinker, however, no matter how much she drinks, she hardly ever gets drunk. She is also the daughter of Clive Gildarts, one of Fairy Tail’s most powerful members. Cana is one of the more serious members of the guild, despite her drinking and relatively laid-back attitude: she hardly ever goofs off, unlike most of the other members. She is very focused on the present situations.
In the guild itself, Cana frequently assumes leadership in desperate situations, as during the fight against the Phantom Lord, and logically analyses situations. Regardless of how new they are or what their background might be, she is extremely loyal to the guild and its members. Moreover, Cana always stands up for her aspirations and is quite tenacious, as seen when she attacked Freed, despite being unable to beat him in the past, during their S-Class Mage Promotion Trial battle without hesitation. She did not have much interest in drinking as a child, and she was much more mature than the other young guild members, appearing to them like an older sister figure.
7. Shinpachi Shimura from Gintama
Shimura Shinpachi is a Yorozuya member, a training samurai, and one of Gintama’s three main protagonists. He is among the series’ more normal characters, providing the necessary reality-checks or punchlines against the antics of other characters. Shinpachi is better known for his Tsukkomi, when other people are saying or doing idiotic things, particularly Gintoki or Kagura, which happens very often. Due to his attachment to his sister, he is often teased by Sakata Gintoki, his alleged employer, and eventually by Yagyuu Kyuubei for having a sister-complex.
He is often bullied by Kagura because he doesn’t have as much physical strength as her, who often tends to essentially give him a thrashing. Because of his inclination to care for other people, he takes charge of all the domestic chores in Yorozuya. He also likes saving leftovers, bringing Tupperware to store the food, and because of that, he is called domestic. Shinpachi is also a devoted fan of the pop idol Terakado Tsuu and seems to be so moved by her songs that he begins to cry listening to them. He is the strict leader of the Imperial Guards of Terakado Tsuu, a fan club of deep loyalty and respect to her.
8. Tsubaki Sawabe from Your Lie in April
One of the main characters in Your Lie In April, Tsubaki Sawabe. At Sumiya Junior High School, she is in her third year. Tsubaki is a very kind, supportive, outgoing girl who, in her troubles, is always willing to support her friends. She can also be seen defending her girl friends, as she was upset when one of them was dumped by Ryota Watari. She is adventurous as well, to the point of doing dangerous things sometimes. Tsubaki is easily angered, despite her cool and kind nature.
She would often do things for Kousei in her childhood, when he was learning to play the piano and could never go out to play with her, and reassured him when his mother got rid of the cat he had found. She is seen as not very girly, as she has short hair and is a sports enthusiast. Owing to her personality and appearance, many of her classmates called her creepy, causing her to start thinking about herself that way. And though it upsets her, she is possessive of people who matter a lot to her and will support whatever decision they want to make.
9. Relena Darlian from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
The Mobile Suit Gundam Wing’s female lead is Relena Darlian. She meets the Gundam pilot Heero Yuy by chance, Relena is the only surviving female heir to the throne of the Sanc Kingdom, and she becomes intimately involved in the conflict between the colonies and Earth. Throughout the series, Relena, once a rich, wistful girl, becomes more mature as she discovers the truth about her past and takes an active role in restoring the future. Finally, she dedicates her life to the pacifism her family preaches but admits in the OVA Endless Waltz that peace can not be achieved simply by handing it over to the people and that there is a need for some fighting.
She is still incredibly kind as she remained a very close ally and companion of the grief-stricken Gundam pilot even after Heero first tried to kill her once she found out his secret mission and drastically changed her life. She seems to be able to quite quickly deduce things. For starters, when Mariemaia Khushrenada had hardly given Relena any hints as to why she was captured, she was able to find out that she was being used by Mariemaia and her coup to manipulate the people of the Earth.
10. Avdol JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
In Stardust Crusaders, Muhammad Avdol is a key ally. Introduced as Joseph Joestar’s Egyptian friend, he joins the group on their mission to beat DIO, offering knowledge and direction along the way about enemy Stand Users and local cultures. Avdol is a Stand User and wields the Stand, Magician’s Red, manipulating fire. In general, Avdol portrays himself as a serious, responsible and generally righteous person. He is also very concerned with the maintenance of his image as a responsible and mature individual. Avdol seems to have a strong sense of duty and loyalty. He is extremely committed to stopping DIO as one of the first two members of the party; remarkably so because, for personal reasons, he is the only one not to fight him.
A strategic thinker and seasoned stand user, Avdol always tries to serve as the voice of reason to the rest of the team, although he is not always suited towards this role by his self-described emotional temperament. Avdol is regularly seen reflecting on the next move of the party. Acting as the second in command of Joseph, and being the Joestar Group’s second-oldest man, Avdol is conscious of the danger they encounter, and throughout their journey, he often advocates caution.