Anime are a huge part of the global popular culture. Here’s a countdown of the world’s most popular 10 male anime characters based on my knowledge and research. Some of these characters have made such an impact that even people who never watch anime know them. These characters are an essential knowledge for the anime enthusiast and otaku of the modern world.
10. Gon Freecss
He is the protagonist of Hunter × Hunter series. He is an athletic, rustic, and friendly boy who grew up in a distant island full of woods. This makes him good with animals. He has an extraordinary sense of smell and sight. He is level-headed and always puts his friends before himself.
Once, Gon put his own life in danger when he released an extraordinary amount of power to defeat his foe. Along with his best friend Killua and others like Leorio and Kurapika, he participated in the Hunter exam and succeeded in his first try. Gon longed to meet his father who is apparently a great hunter.
Talking about the peculiarities of the Hunter × Hunter world, Gon’s ren type is Enhancer and his hatsu is called Jajanken.
Details: He was created by Yoshihiro Togashi as a manga character in 1998 and was introduced as an anime character in 1999. Voiced by Junko Takeuchi (Japanese 1999-2001), Megumi Han (Japanese 2011 onwards), and Elinor Holt (English 1999-2001).
9. Kirigaya Kazuto (Kirito)
The main character from the Sword Art Online series, he is a gamer who plays the character of a swordsman in virtual reality games. He likes to wear black clothes which match with his hair and eye color. He was one of the lucky (or unlucky, as we’d soon come to know in the anime) players who got the chance to play in the first ever virtual reality massively multiplayer online role-playing game (VRMMORPG) called the “Sword Art Online”. The game later turned out to be a twisted and horrific madness where in-game death kills the real person, and the only way out is by clearing the game.
Kirito cleared the game with his exceptional swordsmanship and the unique dual wielding skill he earned. He falls in love with Asuna, another player who is stuck in the game, and later enters another VRMMORPG called Alfheim Online to save her. Kirito becomes serious and unbeatable when the whole virtual world is at stake.
Details: Created by Reki Kawahara in 2009 as a light novel character, Kirito’s anime version came out in 2012. Japanese voice by Matsuoka Yoshitsugu and English voice by Bryce Papenbrook.
8. Edward Elric (Ed)
The protagonist of Fullmetal Alchemist series, and the older one of the Elric brothers — Edward is a prodigy among alchemists. He mistakenly destroyed his brother Alphonse’s body and his own right hand while performing human transmutation.
His hand was replaced by automail while he succeeded in saving his brother’s soul by placing it in an empty armor. He became the youngest state alchemist and received the title “Fullmetal” due to his metal arm.
Ed’s character is nicely balanced between a clever kid and a stubborn kid and is a model older brother character who greatly cares for his younger sibling. His comic moments can be considered as some of the greatest moments in the series.
Details: Ed spans Fullmetal Alchemist and its sequel, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Edward is the creation of Hiromu Arakawa in 2001 as a manga character, debuted in anime in 2003 while voiced by Romi Park and Vic Mignogna in Japanese and English respectively.
7. Light Yagami
He is the protagonist (or rather the antagonist or as some prefer, anti-hero) of Death Note. He is a bored young, handsome genius with brown hair and eyes. He finds the Death Note dropped by Shinigami Ryuk by pure chance, and decides to get rid of all the crime in the world by killing the criminals with its power.
He is soon feared by the criminals by the name of “Kira”. He holds his own against the greatest detective of the world, L, as they predict and counter-predict each other’s moves constantly in a battle of wits and cunning.
Light was frustrated by the lack of justice in the world, and his goal was to transform the world into a utopia full of honest and kind people with no injustice and to become the God of his New World.
Details: Voiced by Mamoru Miyano in Japanese and Brad Swaile in English, he was created by Tsugumi Ouba and Takeshi Obata in 2003 as a manga character. He debuted in anime in 2006.
6. Ichigo Kurosaki
The protagonist of the anime Bleach, he is a human with Shinigami and Quincy powers. Ichigo is a substitute Shinigami, who is assigned as the Soul Reaper to patrol his city. He works as Rukia Kuchiki’s stand-in and protects people from evil spirits called Hollows while also sending good spirits (Wholes) to the Soul Society.
He is a fairly tall young man with brown eyes and spiky orange hair. His greatest strength and weakness is his considerate and thoughtful nature.
Details: Voiced by Masakazu Morita in Japanese and Johnny Yong Bosch in English. Created by Tite Kubo in 2001 in manga, and appeared in anime in 2004.
5. Natsu Dragneel
This dragon slayer from the mage guild Fairy Tail is the main character of the Fairy Tail series, although the series meant to introduce Lucy Heartfilia as the main one. He is characterized by his pink hair and a white scarf and his friend Happy who is a blue-colored flying cat (Exceed).
Natsu, along with his friends from his guild, goes on different adventures to fulfill the job requests made to his guild. Natsu is extremely powerful when fighting for his friends. He uses dragon slayer fire magic and can consume any other fire to add up to his power. His weakness is his motion sickness.
Details: He appears in Fairy Tail and its sequel, Fairy Tail (Series 2) or Fairy Tail (2014). His Japanese voice is given by Tetsuya Kakihara and English voice by Todd Haberkorn. He was created by Hiro Mashima in 2006 as a manga character, and came in an anime in 2009.
4. Monkey D. Luffy
The protagonist of the One Piece series, he aims to become the Pirate King. Renowned for his trademark straw hat, with blue trousers, cuffs, sandals and a sleeveless red vest — he is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates. He once ate the Gomu Gomu no mi, a devil fruit, which gave his body rubber-like properties. He is in most cases reckless, and in others insane.
He is infamous for attacking three most important government facilities and escaping from them alive. He has a bounty of 500,000,000 belly on his head.
Details: With more than 770 episodes, One Piece featuring Luffy is among the longest running anime of all time. He was voiced in Japanese by Mayumi Tanaka, but in English various voice actors voiced him. He was created by Eiichirou Oda in 1997, debuted in anime in 1999.
3. Ash Ketchum (Satoshi)
This 10-year-old protagonist from the Pokémon series is well known throughout the world from children to grown-ups. He travels around the different regions of the Pokémon world with his Pikachu and his other Pokémon friends and aims to become the Pokémon Master.
He is accompanied by many different characters in different regions. He made his debut in the anime industry in 1997 and is one of the most popular anime characters ever.
Details: Ash is based on the game character Red in the early (first generation) Pokémon games. There are a total of 15 game series (a total of 27 individual titles) but Red only appears in the Red/Green/Blue and their updated editions. He spans a total of 20 anime (seasons of Pokémon). His creator is Satoshi Tajiri. He was originally voiced by Rika Matsumoto, but his voice was dubbed in English previously by Veronica Taylor till 2006, and currently he’s being voiced by Sarah Natochenny.
2. Naruto Uzumaki
He is the protagonist of the Naruto series and his aim is to become the best Hokage ever. Naruto is recognizable by his blonde spiky hair, blue eyes, and an orange jumpsuit. This somewhat idiotic and highly energetic character is loved by all viewers due to his never-give-up spirit, unwavering courage, and the cute foolish side.
He was initially a failed ninja in the shinobi village of Konohagakure (Hidden Leaf Village) and everyone in the village avoided him as the kyuubi (the nine-tailed fox) is sealed inside him. But Naruto didn’t give up and practiced harder than anyone else and gained many trustworthy friends, tamed the beast sealed inside him, and became a hero of his village by saving it many times. His ability to make friends even out of enemies and his vast power can be compared to the mightiest of shinobis.
Details: Naruto spans two anime, Naruto and its second season called Naruto Shippuden. He was introduced in the anime industry in 2002 by his creator Masashi Kishimoto, though he was originally known since 1997 from the 42-volume manga. His original Japanese voice is given by Junko Takeuchi and English dubs were by Maile Flanagan.
1. Son Goku
Popularly known as just Goku, and the main protagonist of the Dragon Ball series, he has a huge number of fans throughout the world. This mighty warrior belongs to a space warrior race called Saiyans with extraordinary powers but was raised by humans. Goku, initially introduced as a kid, grows to be the strongest warrior who protects the earth from different invaders who come to destroy the earth.
Goku is generally carefree and cheerful, but when he is fighting, he is an excellent tactician and serious fighter. People in the Dragon Ball universe often die and are resurrected by the chief power the franchise is all about — the Dragon Balls. Goku’s signature move, Kamehameha Wave technique (often shortened to Kamehameha only), is well known.
Details: Goku spans three anime (five if we include the non-canon Dragon Ball GT and the alternate trimmed-up retelling of Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball Kai) — Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball Super. If you add up non-canon sources like movies and games then this is perhaps one of the biggest Japanese entertainment franchises. He was created by Akira Toriyama, first in his manga in 1984, and his anime version was released in 1986. He was voiced in Japanese by Masako Nozawa in all series, while his English voice actors changed many times.
Special mention: Saitama
The OPM cannot be forgotten! The number of fans he made over a very quick period of time makes him priceless and incomparable to others.