Behind Every Great Anime Protagonist Is A Great Supporting Cast

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Previously I’ve looked at reasons why being a villain would suck and I’ve certainly looked at various characters on my blog and why they shine, but with the exception of Natsume (see the supporter battle Irina and I worked on), I seldom discuss the supporting cast and their importance in making or breaking a series. Which is something I decided I needed to change because the more I think about it the more I come to realise that great characters don’t occur in isolation.

For every character I’ve connected with or instantly fell in love with and wanted more of, surrounding them is usually a plethora of well written, developed and interesting characters. Each one holding up their end of the story and playing the role they need to play in a way that allows the protagonist to shine.

Obi from Snow White With The Red Hair
Obi is a fantastic supporting cast member in Snow White With The Red Hair. See my top 5 favourite moments with him.

However, this also highlights my general problem with harem anime (whether standard harem, reverse harem, or not a harem but using more or less the same tropes). That is, generally (not always), while there might be good characters in the anime, they aren’t working to complement each other.

Not every supporting cast is made up of a harem in anime… just a lot of them.

The focus is on each of the girls (or guys) standing out from the others with a distinct visual and personality. Their job is to carve out their own niche audience and fan group rather than support a main character or even the cast as a whole. As a direct result, the supporting characters pull attention away from what frequently turns out to be a fairly dull protagonist and because of the shared screen time none of the supporting characters ever really feels fully realised (again, generalising).

Going through some of my favourite characters, or characters I am drawn to, I can see time and again, that a lot of what makes them so amazing comes from those surrounding them.


March Comes in Like a Lion (I promise this isn’t another love letter) has Rei at its centre with the Kawamoto sisters as almost dueteragonists. Particularly in the second season where Akari becomes a major focus for a large arc. All four of these characters are fantastically written and interesting characters and honestly I’d probably happily watch them just stay inside the Kawamoto house and interact at this point.


But, that wasn’t what drew me to the show and to Rei early on before the deep connections were formed and I learned more about these characters. Whether it was Nikaido as a self-proclaimed best friend, Shimada as a mentor character, Kyoko and Goto as potential antagonists, the members of the Science/Shogi club… every single character we encounter (even the one episode rival shogi players) felt like a fully realised character that helped to flesh out the world.

More importantly they gave Rei a wide range of people to respond to and react to bringing out more of Rei’s personality and pain and allowing the audience to feel that he was also a fully realised character rather than just a one note ‘tragic young shogi player’.

Yuri on Ice Episode 6
Yuri and Victor

On a lighter note, Victor and Yuri from Yuri on Ice are amazing. No question I loved watching the two of them interact and grow closer together. I would happily watch more of just the two of them. But again, that wasn’t the immediate draw. What draws you in to Yuri on Ice are all the small touches throughout, including every supporting cast member we meet feeling like they have their own story to tell and just being fun.

Yuri on Ice Episode 7 - Yuri's family - The supporting cast members

Whether it is Yurio running from his fan club, JJ and his over-bearing confidence, Yuri’s family and their support, all of the characters bring something to the mix that helps to elevate the whole shoe and provide a context for Yuri and Victor’s relationship to grow within.


However, even something like Noragami, where I genuinely love Yato, it is again the support cast that manage to bring out his full charm. Hiyori and Yuki stand with him and each brings something relatable and interesting to the story, but the other gods, the regalia, Hiyori’s friends, those who call Yato, even the phantoms, each of them add something to the story and while we may not get a huge amount of time with them, or back story, they are a delight to meet and interact with.

Noragami - supporting cast

Where Noragami manages to go even further is in the portrayal of Nora who remains for most of season one an incredibly enigmatic figure but one who is sufficiently built up that when she takes a more active role in season two it doesn’t feel like she’s come from nowhere. It feels like a natural extension of where her story had been heading from the beginning and it is largely through her interactions with Yato that more of Yato’s past can be revealed to the audience.

My Hero Academia Support Cast

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it in terms of whether a great support cast can make or break a show and a protagonist. Look at My Hero Academia. I like Midoriya, I really do, but he isn’t a particularly memorable character on his own. It is the zany cast that surrounds him early on that fills the anime with so much energy and enthusiasm and allows Midoriya the chance to grow into his role as both protagonist and hero. There’s almost as much fan art around plenty of his classmates as there is of him (and of some characters I’d bet there’s even more).

When creating something it is important to remember that while the protagonist will probably be the character people remember, a great protagonist on their own doesn’t normally carry the story alone (unless they are Tom Hanks in Cast Away in which case I still give the award for best supporting cast member to the Volleyball). It is the support cast that create the space and opportunities for the protagonist to be who they need to be and draw out the best of the main character.

Cast Away - Tom Hanks and Wilson

So remember, behind every great protagonist is a great supporting cast. Or a really emotive volleyball.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Top 5 Isekai Anime With A Female Lead – 2021 Has Seen More Titles But Are There Enough?

Top 5 Isekai Anime with Female Main Character

Long time readers will not be surprised when I say that I really kind of love the isekai genre. Even when faced with pretty ordinary to terrible series, I still kind of find the basic premise of isekai intriguing enough to keep on trying. What I have found though is that it is a field saturated by male protagonists and so it is really great when I come across an isekai anime with a female lead.

Even better when that lead turns out to be a fun character.

I will point out that having spent quite a bit of 2020 on apps reading manga and light novels, I’ve found that there are actually a lot of female main characters out there that have just never made it into anime form. Hopefully a few more of them do and 2021 has so far been a great year for brining female leads to isekai anime.

And given how many isekai anime there are it would be great to see a wider range of protagonists taking centre stage (not just females but just a wider range of personality types with different objectives).

As always, I’d love to know who you would have picked so be sure to give some shout outs to your favourite isekai anime with a female lead in the comments below.

Though I have deliberately left out anime like Spirited Away because it is a movie and not a series and I’ve also left out choices such as Shiro from No Game, No Life as she’s sharing the lead with Sora, when he isn’t overshadowing her.

Isekai Anime With A Female Lead No. 5: Ascendance of A Bookworm

I didn't love Main from the beginning - but she grew on me.
Ascendance of a Bookworm - an example of an isekai anime with a female lead.

Those who have followed my blog for a long time will know that Ascendance of a Bookworm didn’t click with me immediately. Largely because out female lead, ‘Main’, just didn’t work for me. I found her whiney and a little bit selfish and it was really kind of hard to get behind her.

Fortunately, she goes through quite a bit of growth and the support cast are pretty solid. By the end of the first season I was pretty much sold on this and it is definitely an isekai anime with a female lead worth watching, not just because they are hard to come by but because it offers a slightly different take on the isekai genre.

One thing I particularly loved was that they didn’t race through Main’s childhood and while she has the memories of an adult, she very much faces the limitations of a child throughout the series and while Jobless Reincarnation takes a similar path, Main and her journey do offer something a little unique.

Isekai Anime With A Female Lead No. 4: I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level

Azusa is rocking that hat.
Slime 300 - An example of an isekai anime with a female lead.

A recently finished anime, I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years is not only an isekai anime with a female lead, but it is an isekai anime with a pretty much exclusively female cast. The very few males who appear in the story at all are very much bit characters who largely don’t even get names and the cute female cast definitely dominate the screen.

While the plot of I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years isn’t exactly a strength with the anime choosing a more slice-of-life approach, there are magical fights strewn throughout the series and even an episode with a fighting tournament so while it isn’t quite the same kind of power fantasy usually thrown up by isekai stories there’s still plenty to enjoy.

Azusa, as a female protagonist, starts out in an interesting manner and it is great that her past life continues to exert influence on her choices. While it would have been nice to see a little more development from her, she’s still a pretty awesome example of a female lead in an isekai anime.

Isekai Anime With A Female Lead No. 3: The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent.

Sei from The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent.
An example of an isekai anime with a female lead from spring 2021.

I’ll be reviewing The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent in its entirety very soon and I’ve already posted my first impressions of the series. For an isekai anime with a female lead they’ve really given us an interesting female lead. Sei is inquisitive, smart, and on finding herself in another world and not being picked to be the saint (initially at least) she sets out to find something to do to feel useful.

All the way through the series Sei works hard and even on being declared the saint remains hard working and dedicated to improving herself, not so that people will be amazed by her, but to give herself a sense of self-worth.

When you throw in a romance story that is very much straight out of a fairy tale, you have an isekai anime with a female lead that manages to provide a solid female character but doesn’t feel the need to have her forego a beautiful romance just to prove she can stand on her own.

I’d definitely love to see another season of this anime.

Isekai Anime With A Female Lead No. 2: Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average in My Next Life

Didn't I Say To Make My Abilities Average in my Next Life - An example of an isekai anime with a female lead worth watching.

Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average in My Next Life was an anime that had the advantage of my going into it having already read some of the light novels and thoroughly enjoyed them. While the anime itself is fairly mediocre, as an example of an isekai anime with a female lead, Average really does what it needs to do.

Mile is a really fun character to spend time with and she’s really stupidly overpowered and could probably give most male isekai protagonists a run for their money in terms of who has the most cheat abilities. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t work for her success, but it does mean that a lot of her work is around playing down her extraordinary abilities.

Throw in a cast of adorable female characters who support Mile and really you have a very female friendly isekai anime that still manages to have adventure and fight sequences that are pretty fun to watch.

Isekai Anime With a Female Lead No. 1: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead To Doom

My Next Life as a Villainess - An example of an isekai anime with a female lead.

A style of isekai story that I’ve found a lot in light novels and manga is for female characters to be reincarnated within video games or romance novels they were reading. And quite frequently appearing as the villain or antagonist of the story, if not a minor character who is killed off, leading to a central conflict of finding a way to change the story and survive.

My Next Life as a Villainess is one such story and I will admit, the anime was a great deal of fun. More fun than it really should have been, and largely this was thanks to the brilliant female lead, Catarina (Katarina), who is just such a fun character to spend time with.

For an isekai anime with a female lead, Villainess manages to actually provide a nice balance of male and female characters, provides some tension and conflict, has a focus on fun and romance, and never takes itself too seriously. It’s kind of the perfect binge watch experience and hopefully season 2 lives up to the same standard.

That’s my top 5 isekai Anime with A female lead – What are yours?

Top 5 Isekai Anime with Female Main Character

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Why Do We Criticise Main Characters For Being Overpowered?

Overpowered Feature

I know right from the start of writing this article that I’m going to step on some toes but the argument about main characters being over powered and whether that makes them less interesting comes up time and time again and I decided I wanted to discuss this.

Why are overpowered main characters considered a bad thing?

Admittedly, I do like anime where the underdog comes forward and finally overcomes the seemingly unbeatable peril, but that doesn’t mean every main character has to be a wimp or a developing hero. It’s nice sometimes to have someone competent, in control, and at times even confident to follow along on their quest. In those instances, it isn’t tension that you are wanting to experience but rather the satisfaction of seeing someone overcome a challenge in a fairly capable manner. So, different emotional payoff but still entertaining, right?

Only it seems there is a very vocal group on the internet that seem to think that an overpowered MC exists only as a plot device and can’t possibly be an interesting character. While they are entitled to their opinion, and if an anime that features a strong main character isn’t for them, so be it, why do they feel the need to berate anyone who feels differently or to tear down these anime?

The king of overpowered main characters - superman

Before we get into anime characters that seem overpowered, I would like to point out the most overpowered character of all time, Superman. Seriously, there is only one thing in the entire world that can even slow him down and its ridiculously hard to come across (unless you are a B Grade villain living in Metropolis in which case it seems you will find it every time you sneeze). And with nothing that can actually harm him, let’s be honest there is very little reason to ever feel concerned about the outcome of a battle. His girlfriend died and he turned back time to save her (didn’t worry about all the other victims though).

One of my favourite characters in anime is Sebastian from Black Butler, but by every definition he is overpowered. At no point in the series do you feel he is actually in any danger, and by association there is little that will actually endanger the protagonist of the series, Ciel.


Does that take any fun out of the series? Does it mean it is pointless to watch because you know Sebastian is going to win the fight and finish with s smug smile, usually while polishing something, and then give a cheesy line about being “one hell of a butler”? I didn’t think so. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the series and the fact that not every conflict could be solved simply through pointing Sebastian at it and saying ‘defeat’. Sure, the outcome of any conflicts were inevitable, but the process of getting to that victory was usually quite amusing to watch and it made for a very satisfying experience.

And Sebastian never complains. Or cries. Or pleas for more power. There are no training montages, no wise advisers showing up, or even friendly rivals (at least not in the first season). All of these clichés that occur in anime where the protagonist is still developing and not overpowered can be removed because what on earth will our character learn from them? They are already strong so most of their learning comes about themselves or other people rather than combat.

Another character who seems to take hits for being overpowered all the time is Kirito from Sword Art Online. Firstly, why is he considered overpowered? He nearly dies in every single battle and fails fairly regularly to protect those he is trying to save, which takes a fairly heavy emotional toll on him. The fact that he manages in most instances to save his own life doesn’t make him overpowered.


While some haters argue that knowing Kirito will win a fight makes it pointless to watch. Unless you seriously haven’t ever watched or read any kind of story before, of course the main character is going to win. They only ever lose if it serves a greater purpose in the plot. So knowing he’s going to win doesn’t make him overpowered either.

Kirito isn’t always confident of victory, and he doesn’t walk needlessly into danger or expose himself to harm. He trains hard and he works with other characters – who admittedly get sidelined in critical battles to show off how amazing Kirito is but that’s a whole other discussion – and lastly, he continues to grow and develop as a character (which is another key criticism of him that he doesn’t develop). While his growth is subtle, it most certainly is occurring.


Remember back in the very first episode of SAO when Kirito realised that the game was real and that he could die. The fear he felt and the way it nearly overwhelmed him. And that emotion led him to the conclusion that he had to get strong and had to survive. Then as the series progressed he realises that mere survival won’t be enough. He has to find a way to live. And then he helps other characters realise that they can find a way to live as well. Kirito may become an exceptionally strong character, but he doesn’t just blink and get that way. And I personally found his journey very interesting even knowing he wouldn’t die.

Then again, if you really hate Kirito you can watch SAO abridged and that is pretty funny regardless.

Lastly, I’d like to bring up Tatsuya Shiba from The Irregular at Magic High School. He is totally overpowered in almost every conflict he is involved in. And even though that is blatantly apparent to the audience the rest of the cast that inhabit his world are a little slower on the uptake. Does that make him boring to watch? Not at all. Tatsuya is fantastic to see in action.


Here is a character who exudes calm and confidence in every situation. I would say the issues come more from his lack of personality than from him being overpowered. And once again, it isn’t as though he is never in any danger or never injured. And it isn’t that the people around him aren’t put in danger or injured. The fact that he is going to win a fight doesn’t make it any less exhilarating to watch.

So, while I will admit that an overpowered main character can cause some plot problems (for instance the increasingly ridiculous ways they will try to make villains or situations that do challenge them), having an overpowered MC is not an instant sign that an anime is flawed, terrible, or without a story.

I guess it all comes down to why you are watching the story and what you are after. If you want nail biting tension and uncertainty in a battle’s outcome, certainly these overpowered main characters won’t be for you. But if you are after something else, there may be quite a bit of enjoyment to be found.

Share your thoughts. Do you like or hate overpowered characters? Who are your favourite/most hated overpowered characters?

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James