It’s not only the main characters who bring life to anime series. And while anime villains tend to be more memorable than the heroes, it’s not even the villains who bring the most life to anime.
Look at pretty much any modern anime series and you’ll find that the side characters are the ones who round out the cast, fill out the gaps, bring color to scenes, and deepen the overall story in many ways.
And when a side character is done particularly well, they can win over the audience and become fan favorites in no time. How does a side character win the viewers over? Let’s find out!
Here are some of the best anime side characters we’ve ever seen and why they successfully stand out from most characters.
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9. Buggy the Clown (One Piece)
Buggy the Clown gained fame in the series One Piece for his peculiar ability, as well as being one of the legendary members of the great pirate king Gol D. Roger’s crew.
And judging by his jester-inspired looks, he lives up to his appearance as one of the most comical side characters in the anime series.
While Buggy was a villain in the first season of One Piece, his backstory got revealed over time and showed that he was a funny guy even when he was young.
Later, during the Paramount War at Marineford, he unexpectedly helped Luffy—and even became a human shield for him against the great sword of Mihawk. His reaction then is still his best.
8. Maki Zenin (Jujutsu Kaisen)
Due to her inability to see curses, Maki decided to leave the Zenin Clan—but promised to come back to be the next head of the Clan. All of this starts one of the best characters in Jujutsu Kaisen.
She wants to prove her worth, so she hones her skills with her physical strength, quick thinking, and reflexes. She then obtains an eyeglass that’s specialized to see curses.
During one fight with a special grade cursed spirit, Maki shows incredible fighting skills and manages to drive that cursed spirit into a corner with the help of a fellow student.
This kind of drive and proactivity is what makes Maki one of the best side characters in all of anime.
7. Bishamon (Noragami)
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Bishamon was actually the antagonist in the first season of Noragami, but becomes a side character later on.
She’s one of the Seven Gods of Fortune and a master in using her Regalias. There was a time when most of her Regalias were killed due to corrupted thoughts, and that filled her heart with hatred.
Now she’s one of the most powerful Gods on par with Yato, the renowned God of Calamity who defeated plenty of enemies single-handedly. And when she ends up fighting Yato, she nearly defeats him.
Between her beauty, her backstory, and her stormy-but-not-quite-hostile relationship with Yato, Bishamon is one of the best.
6. Boa Hancock (One Piece)
The only female warlord in One Piece, Boa Hancock is an empress who possesses both beauty and strength. She’s the captain of the Kuja Pirates, an all-women pirate crew, and she has the power of the devil fruit Mero Mero no Mi, which turns humans into stone.
During the Paramount War, in order to support Luffy in rescuing his brother Ace, Hancock cleared his path and indiscriminately hits both marine soldiers and pirates along the way.
5. Tatsumaki (One-Punch Man)
An S-class Rank 2 professional hero of the Hero Association, Tatsumaki (also known as “Tornado”) uses psychic abilities to fight against monsters that invade her city in One-Punch Man.
During the large-scale invasion of monsters on Earth, Tatsumaki has limited screen time yet still shows her power by defeating monsters that can’t even be killed by a group of S-class and B-class heroes.
She may be stubborn, but her strength is something that keeps her one of the best heroes in the series—and not just that, but one of the most powerful women in any anime series.
4. Giyu Tomioka (Demon Slayer)
Giyu Tomioka is one of the Hashira of the Demon Slayer Corps. He was trained by the former Hashira (Sakonji Urokodaki) on how to use water-breathing techniques, and his swordsmanship is so impressive that he even made up his own form.
In order to save his fellow Demon Slayer (Tanjiro Kamado) and his sister (Nezuko Kamado) who was on the verge of death, Giyu ended up killing one of the Twelve Demon Moons.
Even though he’s often labeled as a loner and a person who no one likes—especially by his fellow Hashira, Shinobu Kocho—the truth is that he’s beloved by pretty much all fans of Demon Slayer.
3. Guren Ichinose (Seraph of the End)
A man who’s full of mystery, Guren Ichinose is the head of Ichinose Family and the leader of Guren Squad. He possesses a cursed sword in which he sealed his beloved Mahiru when she turned into a demon.
Aside from his fighting skills, Guren is also a scientist and a clever strategist. During the vampire attack that left humans cornered, Guren saved the day with his ace-in-the-sleeve: turning one of his squad members into a one-winged being.
2. Might Guy (Naruto)
Might Guy is one of the high-level ninjas of Konoha Village, being a master of Taijutsu who can also use the Summoning Technique. He was the leader of Team Guy, a squad that specialized in hand-to-hand combat, and life-long rival of fan favorite Kakashi.
He demonstrated his strength many times throughout the series, but proved himself to be one of the strongest ninjas in the world when he went up against the invincible Madara one-on-one.
But Might Guy isn’t beloved by fans for his fighting prowess. It’s the fact that he’s so optimistic, whimsical, and without care for what anyone else thinks of him. He’ll always work hard and do the right thing, even if it means sacrificing himself.
1. Kenpachi Zaraki (Bleach)
The most badass captain of Soul Society, Kenpachi Zaraki is always seeking a stronger opponent to fight and test his skills against. But if there’s one thing that makes him such a fearsome opponent, it’s that he’s seemingly immune to feeling pain.
Despite being a brutal fighter, Kenpachi actually taught Ichigo about his own sword and helped him grow into a more formidable fighter.
Between that, the fact that he’s never outright evil in his motives, the fact that he’s so strong without even owning a zanpakuto (soul reaper sword), and his overwhelming confidence in himself? It’s no wonder why so many fans love him.