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 the strongest female anime characters who outshine their male counterparts and represent powerful women in anime.
15. 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.
14. Konan (Naruto Shippuden)
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.
13. 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.
12. 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.
11. Kale (Dragon Ball Super)
You'll see a few of Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball characters on this list, mainly because when you're fighting against the likes of Goku or Vegeta, you need to be at your physical peak.
In the Dragon Ball multiverse, there's one female character who can go toe-to-toe with Goku and have a real chance of coming out on top—and that's Kale from Universe 6.
First introduced in the run-up to the Tournament of Power arc, Kale is a Saiyan from an alternate universe who possesses the lethal combination of a gentle heart and overwhelming power.
Kale's ability to tap into a berserker rage allows her to eliminate several powerful opponents, but also makes her a danger to her allies. The only one who can reliably bring her back under control is her best friend and mentor, Caulifla.
It's her lack of control and fighting experience that keeps her from reaching a higher spot on this list, but no one else here can touch Kale when it comes to sheer force of power.
10. 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.
9. 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.
8. 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.
7. 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.
6. Erza Scarlet (Fairy Tail)
The world of Fairy Tail is full of strange powers and big characters. Among all that, Erza Scarlet manages to play the straight man to the unbridled chaos that takes place in the Fairy Tail Guild, keeping others in check as they carry out their missions.
It's a difficult task, but she's helped by the fact that her Equip magic is one of the most powerful in the Guild, allowing her to adjust her abilities on the fly in the heat of battle.
You could easily view Erza as a stick in the mud while everyone else is out having fun, but her strictness comes from a place of love.
As the series unfolds, we learn about the deep trauma inflicted on her when she was young. Losing her friends and family at a young age is what makes her want to help her new family to grow strong enough that they can protect themselves.
Plus, she's always ready to jump in if they ever need a hand, which has gotten the group out of many tight spots over the years.
5. Motoko Kusanagi (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex)
The world of Ghost in the Shell is a dangerous one to navigate. The fact that Motoko Kusanagi can do it so deftly is just one reason why she belongs on any list of strong female characters in anime.
She's smart enough to unravel the multiple mysteries of the series, but her real strength is her adaptability. No matter what situation she finds herself in, the Major can make it work to her advantage.
Ghost in the Shell covers multiple anime series and films, so Motoko's actual powers and abilities have changed over time. In each one, she's a highly advanced cyborg with a full-body prosthesis that gives her incredible physical strength, speed, and endurance.
But solving the strange array of cybercrimes in her life requires a keen mind and strong will, which are two things innate to Motoko, not her artificial body. Even as a pure flesh-and-blood human, she would have been a force to be reckoned with.
4. Mikasa Ackerman (Attack on Titan)
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. Boa Hancock (One Piece)
You could be forgiven for forgetting about the incredible power of Boa Hancock. She often gets overshadowed by the male members of the Straw Hat Pirates, but that's mainly because her abilities make her too powerful to include in most fights.
Her strength is shown when she casually defeats multiple Pacifistas by herself, something no other character could do at the time.
Boa's power comes from two different sources: she's mastered the mystical power of Haki, but she also consumed the Mero Mero no Mi Devil Fruit, which gives her the ability to use people's feelings of desire to turn them into stone.
Fun fact: Combined with her title of Snake Princess, you can see that her initial concept was inspired by Medusa!
It's a shame that Boa Hancock doesn't get more time to shine throughout One Piece, even though her presence would certainly make every fight end entirely too quickly.
2. 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.
1. Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon)
When people debate who the most powerful anime characters are, they often overlook one of the most obvious answers: Sailor Moon.
With her ability to tap into the power of the Silver Crystal, she has the power to not only destroy entire planets but also to bring them back from utter destruction.
As leader of the Sailor Guardians, Usagi Tsukino is tasked with protecting the world from the forces of evil—a big task for a high school student.
Don't write off Sailor Moon as too cute to be powerful. Behind her adorable exterior is one of the most determined fighters in all of anime.
Sailor Moon isn't just one of the most powerful female anime characters of all time; she's a solid contender for strongest anime character, period. She's certainly not one you should be casually disrespecting.