Top 5 Anime Underdogs

I’m not the biggest fan of the underdog character arc, mostly because it has been done to death. Yet every now and then a character catches my attention who seems ill suited for their dream or has a lot of baggage standing in their way and for whatever reason I’m drawn into their story. These are my 5 favourite underdog characters in anime, but I’d love to know who your favourites are.Yes, there will be spoilers in the list below.

Number 5: Hinata from Haikyuu

The short guy with the big dream. He just wants to stand on the court where his hero stood and play volleyball. He wants to be the best. Through all the training and learning, through conflicts with teammates and other teams, through gruelling matches, Hinata is the endless bundle of energy who almost always has a positive outlook and a smile. He’s got a dream and he’s going for it and you cannot help but admire him as he goes from being quick and determined to gaining some skills, to learning and refining more skills. He’s got a whatever it takes attitude and hopefully he’ll keep heading toward where he wants to be.

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Number 4: Midoriya from My Hero Academia

Another do or die character, Midoriya just wanted to be a hero like his hero, All Might. Then he got the devastating news that he had no quirk and essentially no chance of being a hero. Despite that, he didn’t give up and continued to study and admire heroes, knowledge which he ends up putting to good use. While it might have been chance that he encountered All Might that day, being chosen to inherit One For All was due to his own bravery and desire to be a hero. Seeing him learn to use his quirk and grow as a hero has been incredibly rewarding.

Number 3: Bell from DanMachi

Here’s the small, white haired boy who couldn’t find a familia that would take him in. Raised on stories of heroes and legends by his grandfather, Bell travelled to the city specifically to join a family and become an adventurer and a hero. Fortunately for Bell he encountered Hestia and with her blessing became one of the fastest growing heroes ever. Bell’s dreams hasn’t been achieved yet but he goes from strength to strength and even though others still look down on the little rookie, he’s not letting that stand in his way.

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Number 2: Yato from Noragami

A god who is looked down upon for being poor? For having no worshippers? No shrine? Who would have thought that even the divine had a class struggle going on? Yato has very big dreams about one day having a large shrine and many who worship him but basically he just needs anyone to remember him so that he doesn’t cease to exist. His absolute happiness when he was given his own (very small) shrine was so incredibly touching and while it isn’t exactly what he’s been dreaming of, it was exactly what he needed.

Number 1: Haruhiro from Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash

Summoned to another world, or something like that, but given no particular skills or powers has to suck. Particularly when you have to earn money for everything, including a spare pair of underwear, and your party can’t even handle taking down a goblin. As Haruhiro laments, they are ordinary people. They aren’t special. Still, Haruhiro and his group find ways to survive and as they begin to earn money they can buy training in new skills opening up yet more possibilities. Now if they could only live long enough to use them.

There’s plenty out there so let me know who your favourite underdog characters are in anime.


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Karandi James



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20 thoughts on “Top 5 Anime Underdogs

  1. That’s an interesting question. So many fictional underdogs are really only in the “underdog” position because of outside circumstances (like lack of opportunity or lack of recognition), not because they’re legitimately weaker than their opponents. You see it a lot with those light novel protagonists who are shoehorned into an underdog role at the beginning of the story when it’s clear that in reality they’re already so OP that it won’t be long before they’re rich and famous and getting all the girls. That doesn’t mean a character like that can’t still be good, but it takes a good writer to execute that setup well. Deku and Bell are both well-written in that way, with origin stories that give them instant underdog credibility and justify starting them lower on the power curve, even if we know they’ll both inevitably reach a point where they’re kicking ass someday.

    Anyway, I’d say my current favorite underdog character is The Promised Neverland’s Emma. Now that’s a girl who’s clearly at a significant disadvantage both physically and politically vs. what she’s fighting against.

    1. Emma is an excellent choice and now I wonder if I should add her to my list but I wouldn’t know where to place her. Thanks for a sharing a great character.

    1. I thought about Yuri but even though he lacked confidence he was always actually kind of able to perform. I think I’d be more likely to put him on a list of characters who emotionally self-sabotage. Still, he certainly bounces back from 6th place in his next year with the help of Victor.

  2. I haven’t seen any of those anime series, but I somehow knew Midoriya would be there. Some of my favorite anime underdogs would be Isumi from Hikaru no Go and Sho from Whistle (although the manga is better than the anime).

  3. I haven’t seen most of the ones on this list, but I recognise Yato! I loved him to bits. I’m very curious about the rest though. Haikyuu is on my watchlist as is MHA.

    1. I certainly enjoyed Haikyu and given I watched that grudgingly after finally giving a couple of sporting anime a go, it really won me over. Very fun

    1. He really does get overlooked a lot but he’s such a great character to get to know. I loved watching him get stronger in the anime but reading the books has been fantastic seeing how he manages to keep going.

        1. When you finally get to see it, hopefully you love it. It is one of those rare cases where season two keeps what worked in season one and gets even better in how it deals with its characters.

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