Most anime stories wouldn't be complete if there were no good guys fighting for what's right, up against villains and their heinous plans.
Often, anime heroes are extraordinary with special abilities—but sometimes the heroes of anime are ordinary cops and detectives, especially in mystery anime series.
In those cases, the protagonist may often be a detective (or a team of detectives) aiming to solve cases and chase down culprits. When done well, such anime series can be as thrilling as any other.
Whether equipped with superhuman strength, unnaturally high IQ, or just pure talent and a solid moral compass, here are my picks for the best cops, police, and detective characters in anime.
17. The Commission of Counter Ghoul (Tokyo Ghoul)
The Commission of Counter Ghoul (CCG) is an organization that investigates ghoul-related crimes in Tokyo Ghoul. They're comprised of the best Doves (CCG Investigators) and are equipped with weapons called quinques and the will to fight their non-human enemies.
Their base is located in the 1st Ward but they operate in almost all places where ghouls are present. In the latter parts of Tokyo Ghoul, their forces grow with the addition of the Quinx Squad—a group of hybrid one-eyed ghouls with Haise Sasaki (i.e. Ken Kaneki) as their leader.
16. Akane Tsunemori (Psycho-Pass)
Akane Tsunemori is an inspector who investigates cases with a group of Enforcers who help her do the hunting in the field.
Known as a law-abiding officer, Akane is polite, courteous, and kind to others. Despite all these traits, she thinks of herself as a cold-hearted person because of her fast recovery after traumatic situations, such as the deaths of her loved ones.
She's professional with her work—like when she chose to remain calm and composed even after the death of her friend in front of her eyes—and tries to arrest criminals instead of killing them out of vengeance.
15. Hajime Kindaichi (The File of Young Kindaichi)
Though he's seen as unmotivated, lazy, and a bit lascivious, Hajime Kindaichi—the grandson of a famous detective in town—is known as one of the most intelligent and proficient detectives in Japan.
With an IQ of 180 and deductive prowess, Kindaichi solves complex murder cases that deal with human psychology.
Cracking leads, finding evidence, and understanding the motives of murderers in each case, he enlightens each mystery and even tackles unsolved crimes as he travels around the country.
14. Daisuke Kambe (The Millionaire Detective - Balance: Unlimited)
In The Millionaire Detective - Balance: Unlimited, Daisuke Kambe was born into a wealthy family and works as a detective for the Metropolitan Police Department.
Daisuke believes that everything can be solved with financial resources and often solves different cases by spending huge amounts of money and using the latest technologies.
He's clever with his own methods of solving cases, all while maintaining his calmness and composure, even when everyone around him is nervous under the pressure of any given situation.
13. Ciel Phantomhive (Black Butler)
Ciel Phantomhive isn't an investigator at first, but ends up becoming one after taking the role of his dead father.
He now solves various cases as the Queen's watchdog, including the mysteries in the Book of Circus series and the Book of Murder movie.
Ciel's involvement in these cases started when he gave up his soul to a demon, Sebastian Michaelis, in exchange for a deal: to help him find and punish all the people involved in his family's death.
12. The Konoha Anbu (Naruto)
The Konoha Anbu is an elite group of highly skilled shinobi that maintain the peace in Konoha Village. Because they're involved in dangerous and secretive black ops, they cover their faces and use code names to hide their identities.
The Anbu operate in groups led by squad leaders, who act directly under the orders of the Hokage. Trained to be emotionless, they're usually given tough tasks like assassinations, reconnaissance, and eliminating threats within the village and even beyond in foreign lands.
11. The Armed Detective Agency (Bungo Stray Dogs)
The Armed Detective Agency is an agency full of eccentric people, who mostly have supernatural abilities. They use their incredible powers in solving complicated cases.
They usually step in to tackle crimes that are difficult for the ordinary police to handle, such as when a particular case is associated with supernatural (or "gifted") people.
They are even allowed to act against the law, such as intervening in the investigations of authorities, falsifying information, or secretly filming facilities or wiretapping phones.
10. The Marines (One Piece)
One of the Three Great Powers of the world, the Marines are the military sea force of the World Government. They're responsible for law enforcement, international securities, and military operations.
The Marines consist of many men scattered all over the world, and their main duty is to bring justice to criminals—particularly pirates.
In order to stay on top of the pirates' whereabouts and actions, Marines may even infiltrate various pirate crews to maintain or stop the recruitment of ordinary people joining pirates.
9. The Hero Association (One Punch Man)
The Hero Association is composed of heroes of different rankings, with S-class as the highest rank and C-class as the lowest. The heroes operate individually, but there are times when they have to work as a group.
As their city is subjugated by monsters, the Hero Association was created to fight against the growing numbers of monsters in the city.
Beyond fighting off monsters, they exist to give citizens peace of mind and a nice place to live by protecting them, even from small-fry monsters. Their headquarters can also act as an evacuation center in case of wide-scale invasions and catastrophes.
8. The Pro Heroes (My Hero Academia)
Like the Hero Association in One Punch Man, the Pro Heroes in My Hero Academia use their Quirks to maintain peace and justice.
But not all individuals who have awakened their Quirks can become Pro Heroes right away. They have to undergo training, academy lessons, and licensure exams to become bona fide heroes whom people can trust.
Notable Pro Heroes of My Hero Academia include Endeavor, Nighteye, Gran Torino (retired), Eraserhead, and the all-time favorite All Might. They all devote themselves to protecting society from villains who use their Quirks to kill, destroy, and spread terror.
7. Sherlock Holmes (Moriarty the Patriot)
The Moriarty the Patriot anime series is based on the famous Sherlock Holmes novels of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In this anime, however, Sherlock Holmes isn't the focal character of the story.
Sherlock Holmes, though not enlisted in the country's police force, helps to solve problems and cases as a consulting detective—and he always ends up encountering William Moriarty's schemes.
William Moriarty is a smart and talented individual, and that's why he plans to include Holmes in the stage he's setting to fight the corrupt and dirty aristocrats through his crimes and murders.
6. The Konoha Military Police Force (Naruto Shippuden)
While the military forces of every village in Naruto mainly consist of ninjas and Anbu, the Hidden Leaf Village has their own Konoha Military Police Force.
Though it wasn't fully explored in the anime series, it's a given that this organization is pretty badass, especially when you consider that its pioneering members were all from the Uchiha Clan.
However, the Konoha Military Police Force was a source of controversy because the headquarters were built near a prison. For the Uchiha Clan, it seemed as if the head of the village was trying to suppress their clan and even cut them off from the affairs of the government.
5. Rin Asogi (RIN: Daughters of Mnemosyne)
Rin Asogi runs a detective agency along with her friend named Mimi. They take cases of all kinds, from finding a missing cat to infiltrating a company that has an inhumane agenda.
The thing is, Rin and Mimi aren't your ordinary detectives. They were granted immortality by the Time Fruit of the Tree of Yggdrasil. In the field, Rin utilizes her regeneration ability to accomplish her missions even though she still feels every pain of injury.
4. Kohachi Inugami (Kemono Jihen)
Kohachi Inugami is a tanuki, a character based on the Japanese yokai called bake-danuki. He runs the Inugami Detective Agency and takes on cases of strange occurrences, which most of the time involve kemono (the in-series name for different types of yokai).
That means Kohachi is a Kemonoist who specializes in cases that disrupt the balance in the coexistence of humans and kemono. To aid in this, he has several supernatural abilities, like creating guns out of his hands or hardening his skin for protection.
And as cool as he is, he doesn't work alone. His detective agency crew includes different kinds of yokai, like the hybrid, half-ghoul Kabane.
3. Shinichi Kudo (Case Closed)
Shinichi Kudo was a famous high school detective in Tokyo who was turned into a child by the Black Organization. Although he physically looks like a child, his analytical and deductive skills remain—he's essentially a boy with an impressively advanced mind.
What makes it difficult for him to solve cases is that no one believes him... because who would believe what a kid says in grown-up affairs?
With the help of Professor Agasa, he now has a tranquilizer watch and a voice-changing bow tie, which help him in solving different cases (though the credit always goes to the "Sleeping Kogoro").
2. L (Death Note)
L is a world-renowned detective who becomes interested in the Kira case—particularly how Kira manages to kill and commit violent crimes without ever appearing to be at the crime scene.
He's also the type of guy who will do anything to solve complex cases, even to the point of becoming an obsessive insomniac. He'll use all available resources, technology, and even risk human lives.
With the singular goal of bringing down Kira—who he suspects is Light Yagami—L designs a plan to apprehend Kira. It eventually works, but it costs him his life, resulting in a bittersweet end for the genius.
1. Direct Attack (Lycoris Recoil)
Direct Attack tops our list of the best cops and police officers because this wonderful group has a very unique style of maintaining peace and order in their community.
Technically, Direct Attack (or DA) isn't a police force because they're a clandestine organzation that operates independently. However, their mission is practically the same, so we think they count!
Their main field operators are the Lycoris, who are young girls trained to become efficient gunners and close-combat fighters and then enlisted as special agents. Their main objective is to prevent crime, terrorism, and other kinds of threats before they happen.
From tracking to surveillance, from reconnaissance to dispatching targets, the actions of DA make the citizens believe that they're now living in a peaceful world with nothing to be afraid of.