Top 25 Best Manga Protagonists Of All Time

25. Joseph Joestar

Manga: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures

Joseph Joester is the protagonist of Battle Tendency, the second part of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures. He is a confrontational, impetuous, and hot-headed man. He is also a fairly goofy and humorous guy. The first part of Jojo wasn’t really impressive to me since both the protagonist Jonathan and the story was a bit cliche for my liking.

The true experience of Jojo started in the second part for me and Joseph as the protagonist played a huge part in that. He isn’t a deep philosophical character but he is just enjoyable to watch.

24. Jolyne Cujoh

Manga: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures

Jolyne Joester is the protagonist of Stone Ocean, the sixth part of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures. Jolyne is like a typical young girl who is snappy and a bit rude towards others and has resentment towards her father Jotaro. As the story progresses, she becomes more mature, and even her resentment towards Jotaro lessens. Her greatest talent is her imagination and her use of her stand is just versatile.

In the short period, Jolyne had to mature at a great length due to the circumstance and she delivered on it. It is rare to find a female lead in a mainstream manga and was refreshing to see Jolyne in Jojo.

23. Tenma

Manga: Monster

Tenma is the main character of the series Monster. Though Johan Liebert takes the shine being one of the greatest Manga villains, Tenma is a solid protagonist nevertheless. Tenma is morally upright, a genius in neurosurgery, and a kind person. His life is thrown into chaos after the kid he saved comes back several years later and appears before him.

As I said, Johan steals the show and as a result, Tenma’s character becomes unnoticeable. But Tenma’s struggles because of his conviction of valuing lives equally were really good.

22. Goku

Manga: Dragon Ball

Next on the list is the iconic, probably the most famous character on the list, Son Goku. He is the protagonist of the series, Dragon Ball. Goku is famed even among the nonanime fans and his Super Saiyan transformations are still one of the most famous anime things ever.

Goku as a kid had an energetic, kindhearted, pure-hearted, and caring personality. Kid Goku is one of the funniest characters in anime ever. Goku had a good character growth over the course of the series. Goku is an inspiration to a lot of modern-day Shonen protagonists and he definitely deserves a place on the list.

21. Shin

Manga: Kingdom

Shin is the protagonist of the series, Kingdom. Shin is loyal, headstrong, and courageous but could sometimes be extremely hotheaded. He is also a great leader with charisma, making him a General of the Hi Shin Unit. Shin in a way is like a usual Shonen Protagonist as he tries to become the greatest general in China and constantly grows to reach that place.

For me, it was refreshing to find the main character with a larger-than-life goal in a realistic non-fantasy setting. Also, Shin is constantly tested and has to face the brutal reality of the war yet his goals never waver and he always moves forward. Shin is one of the most underrated protagonists in Manga.

20. Naruto

Manga: Naruto

Naruto is the protagonist of the Anime, Naruto and probably the second most iconic protagonist in anime only next to Goku. Naruto like a typical Shonen Protagonist is an optimistic and ambitious character. He is also funny, headstrong, and had a lot to endure to reach his dreams. He is also one of the strongest characters in the series.

Being the chosen child in the Ninja World, he perfectly embodied the themes the author wanted to tell. He had a Nine-Tailed Fox within him, and this made him an outsider. Despite this, he persevered despite all odds to become the world’s desired savior.

Till the Pain arc in the series, Naruto was just perfect for the story that Kishimoto wanted to tell. The final war arc created a few inconsistencies in his character and stayed away from the original themes but his influence in the anime world is unquestionable so he deserves a place here.

19. Mob

Manga: Mob Psycho 100

Shigeo Kageyama, also known as Mob is the protagonist of the series, Mob Psycho 100. He is socially awkward, and lacks friends, but is very understanding of others even those who’ve hurt him. He is very strong but he doesn’t like those aspects and tries to keep his emotions in check. Mob is one of the best overpowered Main characters I have experienced.

18. Johnny Joestar

Manga: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures: Part 7

Johnny Joester is the protagonist of Steel Ball Run, the seventh part of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures. He is a depressed ex-jockey who hopes that he could regain the use of his legs through the Spin and then the Corpse part throughout Steel Ball Run. He was introduced as a distant paraplegic man whose career is ruined after being he was shot in the spine. Johnny is definitely the best Jojo in the series and also one of the strongest characters in the franchise.

17. Gon

Manga: Hunter X Hunter

Gon is the protagonist of Hunter X Hunter written by Togashi. Gon may initially appear to be a conventional kind-hearted Shonen protagonist, but Togashi subverted the stereotype. In order to meet his father, Ging, Gon wishes to become a Hunter. In Gon, a 12-year-old boy is thrust into a harsh, ethically convoluted world, where he discovers humanity’s shortcomings.

Gon’s experience with Hisoka in the first arc showed how self-centered he is, to the point where he would let someone die in order to achieve his objective. He even got Killua injured to win the Dodge ball game in Greed Island. And Chimera arc is the perfect culmination of all of Gon’s flaws leading to that iconic anime transformation that made him one of the strongest in the series. Gon isn’t enjoyable as other characters in this list throughout the story and hence is ranked low.

16. Edward Elric

Manga: Fullmetal Alchemist

Edward Elric is the protagonist of the series, Fullmetal Alchemist written by Hiroma Arakawa. Elric lost an arm and a leg while his brother lost his physical body as a result of doing what was forbidden in the alchemical world—bringing a dead person back to life. The plot centers on Elric’s ongoing struggle with making morally challenging decisions while seeking to recover his brother’s body.

Edward Elric is bright, well-informed, and without any desire for physical strength. He was forced to make a number of difficult moral decisions, yet he continues forward by upholding his values. I really liked his character conclusion a lot and one of the reasons I rated him this highly.

15. Eren Yeager

Manga: Attack On Titan

Eren Yeager is the protagonist of the series Attack On Titan, written by Hajime Isayama. Eren Yeager lives in a secluded wall outside which is surrounded by Titans and he has to figure out a way by which his friends could forever live in peace. Eren wasn’t particularly unique at first, but as the story developed and the world grew, he emerged as one of the most unique Shonen main characters ever.

Not everyone will get behind his ideals and personally, I was never the biggest fan of his way of thinking anyway. That is one of the reasons I placed him low. But for storytelling purposes, his motives and actions really work well.

14. Phos

Manga: Land of the Lustrous

Phos is the protagonist of the series, Land of the Lustrous, and the youngest Gem when the story began. They are clumsy and fragile and this makes them unfit for combat. Phos has always aspired to serve others. Phos’ initial task was to create an encyclopedia of natural history, but they made very little progress. They pledged to assist Cinnabar in finding employment as well.

The only Gem to date with significant physical and psychological impacts is Phos. Over the course of the series, Phosphophyllite exhibits a personality shift primarily brought on by maturation, trauma, and outside factors.

13. Saitama

Manga: One Punch Man

Saitama is the protagonist of the series One Punch Man, written by One and illustrated by Murata. Saitama is the strongest character in the universe and that actually gives him an existential crisis as he is now too powerful to have any fun in a battle. At face value, Saitama might just look like a parody of the genre in general but that idea is handly brilliantly. Saitama is funny, goofy, and really enjoyable to read but at the same time, he isn’t a simplistic character.

Saitama is one of the best overpowered protagonists I have seen. His character design, dialogues, fights, and the nuances in his character make him a place in this list.

12. Hinata Shoyo

Manga: Haikyuu

Hinata Shoyo is the protagonist of the series, Haikyuu written by Furudate. Hinata Shoyo is a high school student who wants to become a Volleyball player but his short height ends up as a great obstacle to achieving that. The narrative details his struggle in overcoming an impossibly high obstacle to his desire.

Like other Shonen heroes, Hinata is straightforward, enthusiastic, and has a never-say-die attitude, but for me, Hinata stands out for the way the underdog theme was handled. The way the Shonen series handles the Underdog element of a story is one of my problems with them in general. But Haikyuu perfectly handles it and even till the end of the Manga, Hinata’s journey feels quite realistic.

11. Yusuke Urameshi

Manga: Yu Yu Hakusho

Yusuke Urameshi is the protagonist of the classic Yu Yu Hakusho written by Togashi. Yusuke isn’t what I would describe as a deep or complex character, but he is witty, strong, and generally entertaining to watch. Even after all these years, it still surprises me how interesting and engaging Yusuke is as a protagonist.

I place a lot of significance on a character’s conclusion, and Yusuke had a very mature and gratifying conclusion. Gon was arguably the more intricate of the two main characters Togashi wrote, but Yusuke is simply more entertaining to watch throughout the Manga.

10. Okabe Rintaro

Manga: Steins Gate

Okabe is the main character of the series, Steins Gate. He is a self-proclaimed mad scientist. He is melodramatic, eccentric, and a socially inept person. He is a unique character as we don’t get to have a scientist as the main character in a well-received anime often.

9. Mushashi

Manga: Vagabond

Shinmen Takezo also known as Mushashi Miyamoto is the Main character of the series, Vagabond. He was considered a devil’s son from a young age after he killed a challenger at just age 13. He is also one of the strongest characters in the series. He was shown to be a hot-headed young man wanting to become the greatest in the world. But as the series progressed, he realized that the title of “Invincible under the Heavens” is just an empty title and how limited he is as a person.

8. Light Yagami

Manga: Death Note

Light Yagami is the protagonist of the series, Death Note. He discovers a notebook that gives him the ability to kill anyone whose name is written in it. In this story, Light Yagami attempts to use the notebook to purge the world of criminals but instead becomes corrupted by the power it provided. Light Yagami’s battle of wits with L is one of the best rivalry in Anime ever.

At first, his actions might appear to be the morally just thing to do, but as the story goes on the actions become questionable and even the readers can’t get behind them. Light becomes ruthless and his utilitarian ideals make his decisions questionable. That is honestly the beauty of Light Yagami’s character.

7. Kaneki

Manga: Tokyo Ghoul

Kaneki is the protagonist of the series, Tokyo Ghoul. He is a half-ghoul and a half-human but was just an ordinary boy once. As the series, progresses he slowly began to accept his fate and moves forward in life. Kaneki’s character development is one of the best in Manga. Kaneki is a complex, flawed, and layered character and he deserves a spot here.

6. Thorfinn

Manga: Vinland Saga

Thorfinn is the main protagonist of the series, Vinland Saga. He was an innocent, friendly boy who looked up to his father greatly. But he becomes cold and violent when he was under Askellad’s band with a single aim to avenge his father. Later as the series progressed, he began to grow to become a better person and realize the mistake of his past.

Thorfinn’s journey is one of the best character development I have seen for a character in Manga.

5. Sindbad

Manga: Magi: Adventures of Sindbad

Sindbad is the main character of the series, Adventures of Sindbad and one of the side characters in the original series, Magi. I have considered both stories in ranking him. Sindbad is a laidback, fun-loving person but also an honorable person.

Initially, he is a very idealistic person but as the series progressed, he learns that it is inevitable to make some questionable decisions for a bigger purpose. Sindbad is one of the most enjoyable characters ever and hence he finds a place here.

4. Lelouch

Manga: Code Geass

Lelouch is the protagonist of the series, Code Geass. Lelouch is calm, highly intelligent, sophisticated, and arrogant but in school, he acts sociable and likable. His charisma and belief in justice gained him the trust of several soldiers and leaders. As the series progresses, Lelouch suffers traumas and losses that tighten his resolve.

Code Geass is a political-themed anime and Lelouch was a perfect protagonist to explore the themes the author wanted to tell. The climax is one of the greatest in anime history and Lelouch’s actions there make him one of the greatest Main characters of all time.

3. Gintoki

Manga: Gintama

Sakata Gintoki is the protagonist of Gintama, written by Hideaki Sorachi. In this list, Gintoki stands out because, unlike the other characters, Gintama has no actual plot. Gintoki lacks ambition, is passive, lacks initiative, has no dream, isn’t prideful, etc. Strangely enough, Gintoki is ideal for the tale Gintama is trying to tell.

Gintoki doesn’t try to be heroic but he will save those within his sword’s reach. His life journey is quite simple and relatable and one that everyone can get behind. Also, his father-daughter dynamic with Kagura is probably one of the best dynamics in anime for me. Gintoki is one of those rare characters that touch you emotionally.

2. Guts

Manga: Berserk

Next on the list is Guts, who is the protagonist of the series. Guts known as the Black Swordsman, is a former mercenary, a former member of the Band of the Hawks, and a branded struggler. He is also without doubt the strongest human character in the series. Guts’ journey from his childhood to the current period is a fascinating tale. In a world filled with demons, monsters, magicians, and Gods, he still remains the most humane character there.

The way he moves forward regardless of the struggles and the obstacles he faces is one of the most inspirational things ever. Everything from the design, character development, fights, thematic messages, the dynamics with the main antagonist, emotional moments, etc are just perfect. He can easily be at the top spot but I just like one character more so he is taking the second spot.

1. Luffy

Manga: One Piece

Luffy is the protagonist of the series One Piece, written by Eiichiro Oda. Luffy sets on a journey to find One Piece and become the Pirate King. Luffy may come across as a typical Shonen protagonist—enthusiastic, simple-minded, and with a never-say-die mentality. The difference is that Luffy serves as a reminder of why these traits are truly so common. He is just so damn enjoyable in those aspects.

Having said that Luffy isn’t shallow either, the entire theme of One Piece is built around him. I really like that Luffy has a very positive yet genuine outlook on the theme of freedom. Most series tend to tackle the idea of freedom in a darker and negative route. Also, Luffy isn’t a morally justified hero either so he has the freedom to do morally questionable things too. His fights, comedy, emotional moments, and his flaws are much more enjoyable than any protagonist I have read.

Luffy is a force of nature who changes the world around him and he is so unpredictable even after 1000 chapters. One could argue other Seinen characters have more depth and growth, but for me, Luffy is the most enjoyable character in fiction ever and I have to give him the top spot.


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