Black characters are rare in anime, and it's even rarer for them to be main characters. Oftentimes, black characters are only used to depict diversity of a certain group or location in a series.
Fortunately, we're starting to see more black characters in both anime series and anime movies—and not just as supporting characters but also as main protagonists leading large rosters.
Black characters in anime offer all kinds of potential storylines and character developments that are often overlooked or brushed aside, resulting in stories that feel fresh and insightful.
Whether they're heroes, villains, or anti-heroes, here are my picks for the best black anime characters who are just plain awesome.
10. Kaname Tōsen (Bleach)
Kaname Tōsen is one of Sōsuke Aizen's followers and the former Gotei 13 captain of the 9th Division. Despite being blind, he honed his other senses and became a formidable fighter against anyone.
His Zanpakuto, Suzumushi, is a unique weapon with abilities that complement his lack of sight.
Most notable is his Bankai power, which creates a dome that deprives the primary senses (except touch) of anyone caught inside of it. This gives him an incredible advantage over his opponents because he's accustomed to darkness.
9. Bob Makihara (Tenjho Tenge)
Bob Makihara is a friend of Souichiro Nagi and one of the main characters in Tenjho Tenge. Aside from being a huge guy with a well-built body, he's also known for his unique fighting style.
Bob uses capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial arts style that incorporates breakdancing-like movements. Combined with his dreads, Bob Makihara brings an interesting touch of culture to Tenjho Tenge.
8. Afro (Afro Samurai)
Afro Samurai is a dark and bloody anime series that centers on Afro, a samurai who vows to kill the one who killed his own father.
Fueled by revenge, Afro fights his way through Japan while defending his Number Two headband against everyone who dares to challenge him. He needs the Number Two headband in order to challenge Number One, who happens to be his father's killer.
Unlike most samurai characters in anime, Afro has a Westernized look and design that gives Afro Samurai an East-meets-West feel.
7. Chad (Bleach)
Sado Yasutora, also known as Chad, is of Mexican descent so he's technically more representative of "people of color" than "black people"—but he's great so we're including him.
Chad is a Fullbringer in Bleach, which gives him the Hollow-like ability to power up his punches. At first, he can only use the Brazo Derecha de Gigante, which manifests in his right arm as black with red patterns.
Upon entering Hueco Mundo, his Fullbringer ability is further enhanced and he gains the Brazo Izquierda del Diablo, which manifests in his left arm as white with red patterns.
6. Yoruichi Shihoin (Bleach)
First introduced as a talking black cat, Yoruichi Shihoin was once the Gotei 13 captain of the 2nd Division as well as the commander of a special unit (called Onmitsukido) before she left Soul Society.
Although she's been out of action for a hundred years, she still has the strength and prowess to surpass many high-ranking Soul Reapers in Soul Society and deserves her nickname "Flash Goddess."
There's some debate as to whether Yoruichi is black or dark-skinned Japanese, but Bleach's 23rd anime ending shows Yoruichi with an afro, which suggests non-Japanese ethnicity in anime canon.
5. Aokiji (One Piece)
Aokiji, also known as Kuzan, is a former Marine Admiral in One Piece. He has the power of the Logia-type Devil Fruit called Hie Hie no Mi.
He's a powerful character who's able to control half an entire island's climate and environment, making it a freezing hell.
Now that Aokiji is affiliated with the Blackbeard Pirates, there's mystery surrounding his motives and what he's doing with them despite his history and all kinds of mistrust thrown his way.
4. Killer B (Naruto Shippuden)
Apart from being the Jinchuriki of the Eight-Tails, Killer B is best known for his rap songs—especially his freestyles, which he busts out as his adapted way of talking to people.
But while this might've started as a comic relief gag, Killer B is far more than just a silly character. He's one of the most powerful characters in Naruto even without his Tailed Beast chakra, and he's even more badass when he taps into his full power.
3. Suletta Mercury (Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury)
Eri, now known as Suletta Mercury, is a survivor of the massacre in Folkvangr that happened when she was young. She's the pilot of the main mobile suit in the series: the XVX-016 Gundam Aerial.
What makes her character so cool and interesting is that she's the first female main protagonist of the Gundam franchise! And her involvement gave rise to more promising twists in the Gundam stories.
2. Yasuke (Yasuke)
Yasuke is a samurai who left his former blood-filled life to live quietly as a boatman residing by the river. However, his past won't let him live peacefully in this warring world of swords, magic, and machines.
While Yasuke is set in an alternate reality that blends feudal Japan with fantastical magic and futuristic mechs, several characters in the anime are based on real-life people—including Yasuke himself, who was inspired by a real historical figure known as the "black samurai."
1. Daiki Aomine (Kuroko's Basketball)
Along with the rest of the Generation of Miracles, Daiki Aomine is one of the top basketball players in Kuroko's Basketball.
In fact, he's an unstoppable force on the court who has "formless shots" that are basically unblockable and able to score important baskets.
With his speed, agility, accuracy, stamina, and aggressiveness, he's a beast in the game. And when he's in the Zone, his already high-level skills become even more terrifying. But most of all, he's deeper than and goes beyond black stereotypes in basketball.