Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to see some exceptional shows. It brightened my day and helped me get back on track, even though the series wasn’t intentionally meant to be supportive.
And it’s not just the anime that can be inspiring, but also the characters.
Check out this list of the most inspiring characters, especially if you want to cheer yourself up (and also have a story to tell and animate).
25. Coiling of stamps
You just know the records here are special because Trigun’s iconic MC starts the list alone. Vash the Stampede is one of the most fascinating characters – anime or not.
His public image suggests that he is benevolent and kind, and there is not even a price on his head.
Trigun then looks back at his past and his moments of loneliness, revealing a suffering and depressed man whose soul needs much healing.
And that’s what makes it so attractive:
Despite decades of suffering, Vash Stampede refuses to despise all of humanity and seek revenge. He prefers to look at humanity from the bright side and strive for peace.
24. Makunuchi Ippo
Anime: Hajime no Ippo
I completely understand your lack of interest in Hajime no Ippo. It’s not as long as One Piece, but the anime has over 100 episodes.
On the other hand, I firmly believe in Makunouchi’s ability to inspire you and look forward to accomplishing the tasks of the day again and again.
Like any great sports anime, Hajime no Ippo is full of challenges, formidable opponents and hard-won moments of triumph.
You don’t need to have any boxing experience to be involved in this action. Before you know it, you’re rushing to see Makunouchi (and his friends) and feeling full of energy during and after the screening.
23. Yu Hirasawa
Yes, it’s strange to see someone as physically intimidating as Makunouchi Ippo defeated by the ultra-handsome Yu Hirasawa from the revolutionary Yamada Animation CGDCT series.
But it’s true:
This cheerful and warm girl made me look at life more positively and not take ordinary things for granted.
K-ON and her group of young girls reminded me not to stress – that there’s nothing wrong with taking a break now and then.
While many series focus on viewers wanting to get it over with as soon as possible, K-ON inspired me to enjoy the journey (and the detours and the people around you) instead of always looking at the destination.
22. Rock Lee
It was hard to keep watching Naruto: Shippuden when it was filled to the brim with putty.
But I didn’t even need to see the sequel to like Rock Lee.
In a world where peers knew both genjutsu and ninjutsu, there was one kid who could do neither.
Had his failure in these two areas destroyed him forever?
No. Instead, he promised to shine as a ninja with Taijutsu, which prompted the one and only gay man to teach him Taijutsu.
You don’t have to watch the whole show to know why Rock Lee deserves this spot on my list. Just look at his first fight with Gaara.
21. Takashi Natsume
Anime: Natsume’s friends book
Natsume Yuujinzhou is one of the best anime (and supernatural) series, and it’s more than guaranteed to charm you in some way.
MC Takashi Natsume, 15 years old, had a difficult childhood to say the least.
At the hands of his grandmother, numerous ghosts disturb the innocent teenager and punish him for his lack of freedom.
If it wasn’t so bad, he wouldn’t have parents. Takashi just has no place to say he belongs.
Instead of giving up on life, he moves on – aiming to free all the Yokai and learn how to escape his traumatic past, and he makes a few friends along the way.
20. Wenge Cong
Anime: Ping Pong for entertainment
I’ve seen this masterpiece by Masaaki Yuasa at least twice, and the various characters never fail to inspire me – and there’s no need to encourage them.
You know, Wenge Kong isn’t even one of the main characters.
Nicknamed China because he is originally from China and moved to Japan as an exchange student, he is easily one of the best players in the country.
But Wenge didn’t always win. And a setback cost him a place on his Chinese team. His trip to Japan was therefore a redemption and a new anchorage in life, even though all hope seemed lost.
19. Kakeru Kurahara
Anime: Walking with the wind
Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru is one of the best new anime released in recent years.
The series, which premiered in the fall of 2018, actually made me rethink regular running (or other intense cardio) and chasing my dreams.
Yeah, Kakeru Kurahara isn’t the cutest MC to begin with:
Often the sense that a person’s social skills are inadequate prevails – and they may be brutal about the accomplishments and abilities of others.
But you can understand why he feels that way, because the anime is so good at giving depth to him (and the rest of the team, honestly).
18. Mutta Nanba
Anime: Space Brothers
Mutta Nanba dreamed of becoming an astronaut, just like her brother. He reached Mars while his younger brother was on his way to the moon.
But as soon as he graduated, Mutta went to work for a car company. On the other hand, Hibito was about to become an astronaut.
Is it too late for him? He doesn’t mean it.
Does he have to make sacrifices and work very, very hard for his dreams (and get a little lucky too)? Yes, and it is an honor to see a man overcome his self-doubt to regain his ambition as a child.
Anime: Children of the Wolf
Personally, I’m more of a Summer Wars fan, but Mamoru Hosoda’s amazing book, Children of the Wolf, definitely holds a special place in my heart.
I was expecting a family adventure with a werewolf.
Honestly, it was still about that. But there were also the heartbreakers, the family dramas, the search for identity and the struggles of a single mother.
Hana is one of my favorite mothers in cartoons – and the way she deals with the loss of her husband and what her children want to become is just extraordinary.
She works hard, holds her head high and stands up for her unique family.
16. Akari Kawamoto
Anime: Mars comes like a lion
I could probably name five other characters in 3-hole no Lion – and they would still occupy that spot on my list. That’s how well written they are (and history).
But I’d say even MC Rei Kiriyama would say Akari Kawamoto deserves to be the only one here.
Akari Kawamoto hasn’t been dealt the best cards in life:
Her mother died young and her father abandoned her, leaving her to care for her two younger sisters. She works during the day (to help her grandfather) and at night (as a hostess) to make ends meet.
However, that didn’t stop her from helping someone else (Ray) again. Akari is a selfless mistress and deserves everything the world has to offer.
Anime: Tatami Milky Way
MC Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei is never really mentioned by name in the series – Watashi is just a term used to refer to himself.
What do I love about this nameless hero?
I can certainly understand him (stubbornly) dreaming of a pink life that may not exist.
I love his failures too.
It’s not that I want him to fail. On the contrary, I appreciate that he experiences setbacks and disappointments (as normal people do) because he can ultimately help you realize the truths of life and the steps you need to take next.
14. Kumiko Oumae
Anime: The sound! Euphonium
Hibike Euphonium is packed with great character animations that effortlessly highlight personalities and emotional changes.
Perhaps Kumiko Oumae’s best moment (and the series as a whole) is her iconic race scene in EP 12, which also features a lot of hilarious but exciting screaming from her and Shuichi Tsukamoto.
It is such a simple and powerful message that we all need from time to time:
I want to get better.
I love the way she was upset and how she kept repeating that statement. Life is full of challenges (at least for normal people like me) and people need moments of catharsis.
13. Yuuta Takemoto
Anime: Honey and clover.
More than 15 years have passed since the first of this extremely rare Josiah series – and the wonderful core of five people is still fresh in my mind.
Honey and Clover (not to mention the second season) offers something intriguing and realistic with the main characters, but Yuta Takemoto just talks from the heart, at least when I was in college.
Here is a man who is not sure what he wants in life, but he is aware that time will not wait for him to make a decision.
It will probably be strange to some, but Yuuta’s repeated bouts of uncertainty and all the choices he makes to (maybe and hopefully) reach a point of self-realization are deeply inspiring.
12. Ohana Matsumae
Anime: Hanasaku Iroha: Flowers for tomorrow
This is the first installment of the PA Works trilogy, which focuses on a young girl who (at the beginning of the story) has no choice but to work in her grandmother’s hot spring tavern.
Ohana Matsumae is a good girl:
He is reliable, hardworking and will help anyone who needs him – even if others see him in a less than desirable light.
I also like that she is becoming more independent (partly because her mother was anything but a role model when Ohana was young).
And over the course of the series, she learns that while she can accomplish a lot on her own, there’s nothing wrong with asking others for help.
11. Aoi Miyamori
Yes, Shirabako is the second part of the aforementioned PA Works trilogy. No, it’s just a coincidence that Ohana Matsumae and Aoi Miyamori are next to each other.
Aoi Miyamori reminds me of Yuuta Takemoto. Like him, she has doubts about her career.
But giving up is not in his vocabulary.
The fact that Aoi chose to work in the anime industry, known for its long hours and relatively miserable pay, is a testament to his tenacity.
It has often been said that Shirobako is a love letter to the anime industry. And it wouldn’t have been as exciting and inspiring without Aoi at the helm.
10. Subaru Natsuki
Anime: Compared to zero
You could say that Subaru means suffering, and that’s certainly true.
But Subaru’s grueling journey, seemingly marked by one disaster after another, is an inspiration.
Like Kumiko Oumae, she presents a dramatic scene that gets to the heart of what many people feel in real life when things don’t go the way they would like.
Subaru expresses total self-sacrifice.
He feels shamefully incompetent and largely responsible for the deaths of others in his life. And there are times when you are at the bottom, where you need to be to get back up (after all, you can’t go any lower).
9. Akemi Homura
Anime: Puella Maji Madoka Magica
No, I didn’t mean to put Subaru Natsuki and Homura Akemi together.
And if you’ve seen both, you might prefer Subaru as an inspirational character.
But I have to admit that Homura is one of the most selfless characters in fiction.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica remains a masterpiece in my eyes, and that’s partly due to Homura’s amazing revelation in this episode.
Had this not happened as planned, no one would have known the enormous sacrifices she had made. But she kept going because she knew that hope would never cease to exist.
8. Kaori Miyazono
Anime: Your lie in April
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is one of the most successful anime games of 2010 – and it’s amazing how more and more people are getting to know the charming Kaori Miyazono.
Kaori’s life is far from ideal, especially given her health problems.
But she wasn’t going to let her knowledge of what was going on ruin what she had left in her life. Kaori sought the stars and lived the life she wanted.
It doesn’t matter if the jury likes her violin playing, what matters is that she feels free and happy. And her passion for life was so great that Kaori also made a difference in someone else’s life.
7. Moritaka Mashiro
It’s strange that Bakuman ended nearly a decade ago after three exceptional seasons.
This series has never disappointed me in hype mode, each time the lead duo has gotten their priorities right and moved closer to their dreams.
Moritaka Mashiro and his (arguably) best friend Akito Takagi make me feel like even the impossible can become possible – and that’s thanks to an exhausting but rewarding journey through the manga industry.
If you show enough commitment and passion, you can achieve something great. Even if the odds are small, the important thing is that your goal is now within the realm of the possible.
May the Ashirogi Muto continue to be blessed with his efforts.
6. Shuya Ishida
Anime: Calm voice
Wait, am I doing the right thing? Is the one who intimidated the innocent young deaf girl really one of the characters that inspired me the most?
Absolutely. Shuya Ishida deserves that spot.
Yes, he was terrible to Shoko Nishimiya. But he clearly regrets his actions and pays the price by being bullied (and socially isolated by everyone at school).
Moreover, Shouya sincerely wanted to make up with Shouko. And he did what he could to make peace with her, which enabled him to make peace with himself as well.
I know I’m no saint and I’ve done a lot of embarrassing things, especially when I was young. When I see how he challenges himself to become a better person, Shouya is a great inspiration to me.
5. Yugo Hachiken
Anime: Silver spoon
Yugo Hachiken isn’t the only character in the well-received anime series who doesn’t know what he wants to do in life and feels the pressure from society to think that everyone around him has a clear path ahead of them.
But what sets it apart from the competition is the way it can turn things around.
And that is an improvement, not only for you, but also for the (new) community. Even after much intimidation, pressure from his family, and being labeled as a weird but smart kid, Juugo was still eager to come forward.
For many years in college, I didn’t really have a career that I was really interested in. But that’s how life is sometimes, and eventually you find your way.
4. Eikichi Onizuka
Anime: Grandmaster Onizuka.
Great Teacher Onizuka is a 43 episode series about high schools from 1999.
The difference here is that the master of ceremonies is the teacher himself, Eikichi Onizuka.
But it’s not just the interesting thing about the GTO:
Onizuka is not the kind of kid who goes to school at home – far from it. He was a criminal and he’s still a proud pervert.
Yet he manages to keep his class under control.
He doesn’t just punish them for being unpredictable. Instead, Eikichi Onizuka delves into the causes of social and personal problems in a very unorthodox way – and it’s so much fun to watch.
3. Tatsuhiro Satou
Anime: Welcome to NHK
Welcome to NHK may not seem like a typical inspirational series. He has an MC who is content with his sad state of life (i.e. being a hikikomori).
Misaki Nakahara then becomes this tiny glimmer of hope that is enough to make Tatsuhiro Satou question what he is doing with his life that, deep down, means nothing.
It’s hard when life drags you down and forces you to make your own prison.
So when Tatsuhiro rebounds, only to fail and come back for another attempt to change his life, I can’t help but feel proud – and inspired to face my demons, even if I can’t quite exorcise them.
2. Marie Tamaki
Anime: A place beyond the universe
They say the time you like to waste is not time wasted.
But what if you feel like your youth is becoming more and more fleeting?
Marie Tamaki’s life is a bit predictable. But she had become too comfortable with her teenage routine.
She knows it can’t last forever, but she’s having a hard time sticking to her plans. Mary might try something new, but then her fear of failure and disappointment collapses.
But this time she decided to go to Antarctica no matter what.
Suffice to say, A Place Beyond the Universe is a masterpiece of the late 2010s. I believe in Maki’s ability to make you take risks just by watching her journey.
1. Open fireplace
Anime: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
I think you already had Kamina in mind when you read the title of this article.
Because who can beat Kamina when it comes to insane levels of inspiration?
Out comes a drill that will pierce the sky! Believe in me who believes in you!, Kamina is your number one motivation.
In the legendary original Gainax series, the chances of success were often very high. But as if only Kamina’s pep talk could move mountains (and heavenly bodies).
If you’re looking for truly grandiose and outrageous moments that will prepare you for the world, come join the fireside and the TTGL band.
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