Women in anime don’t get enough credit—they’re often reduced to ditzy eye-candy and get cast aside as minor characters.
However, some anime shows have lifted this stereotype, creating a female protagonist or side character that’s more than good looks.
When an anime director creates an authentic portrayal of women, you’ll find that their female characters don’t just have physical strength, but they’re also capable of outsmarting other characters.
Here are some of the most powerful women in anime who outshine their male counterparts.
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1. Bulma (Dragon Ball Z)
Bulma comes off as an airhead throughout the Dragon Ball series, which doesn’t do any justice to her inventive skills.
She really is a genius, but this fact often goes unnoticed thanks to the frequent cut-ins that show Bulma complaining, or the cringe-worthy moments when Master Roshi hits on her.
Bulma picks up her handiness from her scientist father—she knows how to tinker with gadgets and invent new ones. Bulma’s resourcefulness plays a huge role in helping Goku and his friends win battles and find Dragon Balls.
One of Bulma’s most important inventions is the Dragon Radar. This handheld device detects nearby Dragon Balls.
2. Mikasa Ackerman (Attack on Titan)
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Mikasa’s natural deftness and collected personality make her an essential asset on the Survey Corps.
As a child, human traffickers murdered her parents and attempted to kidnap her. Luckily, Eren Yaeger came to the rescue, and she became a part of his family ever since.
This traumatizing event changed her whole outlook, molding her into a coolheaded soldier with a killer instinct. Her motivation to protect her friends drives her to kill several titans on her own. Who needs an entire army when you just have Mikasa?
3. Clare (Claymore)
Claymore is an anime with no shortage of gore and brutality. The main character, Clare, took the blood of Claymore warrior in order to become one herself.
Claymores are half-human half-Yoma soldiers that possess unnatural speed and can even regrow missing body parts.
Unlike other Claymores, Clare is only one-quarter Yoma. Because of this, other Claymores look down upon her, viewing her as weak. Over time, Clare becomes one of the most fearsome sword-wielding warriors in all of anime.
4. Tatsumaki (One Punch Man)
At first glance, Tatsumaki looks like a middle school girl—her small frame conceals her true power. She may not have a height advantage, but she doesn’t need it.
Tatsumaki, also known as the Tornado of Terror can unleash devastating psychic attacks on her challengers.
Saitama is lucky that Tatsumaki is on his side, otherwise, he’d be wracked with attacks that even the world’s strongest puncher might not be able to handle.
Her psychokinetic abilities allow her to lift incredibly heavy objects, such as giant missiles and boulders. In addition, Tatsumaki can even block incoming attacks using a psychic barrier.
5. Android 18 (Dragon Ball Z)
It’s rare to find an enemy that a Saiyan can’t defeat. When Android 18 jumps into the ring, she surprises everyone with her superhuman strength.
It only makes sense that she’s stronger than a human (she is a robot after all), but what makes her even more unbelievable is that her strength can overpower a Super Saiyan.
Android 18 defeats Super Saiyan Vegeta and Super Saiyan Trunks with ease. Even Tenshinhan and Piccolo are no match for her. She becomes an essential addition to the Z Fighters once she decides to stop beating up the good guys.
6. Kurumi Tokisaki (Date A Live)
Date A Live follows the story of Shido Itsuko and his quest to stop the devastating spirit-caused spacequakes. Unfortunately for Shido, Kurumi is obsessed with him and wants to absorb the power that he’s collected from other spirits.
Kurumi, also called the Worst Spirit, has the power to turn back time. 10,000 people have died at her hand—she pulls them into her shadows and devours them to increase her own lifespan.
With her unique combination of shadow and time abilities, she can create a clone of herself that shares her powers and memories.
7. Ryuko Matoi (Kill la Kill)
Kill la Kill is the only anime I know where nakedness makes a character more powerful. Ryuko wears minimal clothing during battles, but at least it’s for a reason.
Her typical sailor-style school uniform suddenly shrinks when she’s in a fight—the uniform, called Senketsu, is a living being that’s fueled by Ryuko’s blood. As Senketsu gets more powerful, so does Ryuko. A symbiotic relationship.
As Ryuko works to find out the identity of her father’s killer, she finds herself at Honnouji Academy. The students of this unique school wear Goku uniforms, which grant them special abilities.
Ryuko fiercely fights her way to the top of the class, using the Scissor Blade to destroy her opponents’ uniforms.
8. Shiro (Deadman Wonderland)
Shiro has the personality of a child. Although she only eats sweets and has a naive mindset, she’s the best bodyguard that anyone could ever ask for. She becomes particularly attached to the main protagonist Ganta, and risks her own life to protect him.
The director of Deadman Wonderland used Shiro as his own scientific guinea pig. As a result, Shiro ended up with the power to regenerate limbs and use her own blood as a whip. When Shiro transforms into her alter-ego, the Wretched Egg, things can get even more deadly.
9. Konan (Naruto)
If you tried watching Naruto without fillers, hopefully you didn’t skip over any episodes starring Konan. Konan makes death by 1,000 papercuts become reality—her powerful paper ninjutsu allows her to slice through enemies like a loaf of bread.
With her Dance of the Shikigami Technique, she can transform her entire body into thousands of sheets of paper (and you can’t crumple her up).
Paper only makes her stronger—Konan can whip paper shuriken, arrows, and spears that have the strength of steel. If that doesn’t do the trick, she can restrain and suffocate her opponent by covering them in paper.
When Konan is ready to move on to her next fight, she can transform her body into airborne paper butterflies and planes.
10. Faye Valentine (Cowboy Bebop)
Faye is one of anime’s most beloved women due to her quick thinking and witty personality. After incurring severe injuries in a spaceship accident that killed her parents, doctors chose to cryogenically freeze her.
She wakes up 54 years later, not remember anything—needless to say, Faye has been through a lot.
To make matters worse, she quickly realizes that she’s drowning in debt. What better way to earn extra cash than by crime?
She may not have supernatural abilities or a blood-sucking school uniform, but she earns every viewers’ respect with her wise words and clever scams.
More Strong Women in Anime!
As new anime and manga get created, we can only hope for another kick-butt female character to have a leading role. I’m looking forward to seeing more strong, intelligent, and independent anime women in the future.
Recently I’ve been watching My Hero Academia, which has plenty of strong female characters as well: