While many an anime character has inspired me, it is worth noting that a lot of anime characters have super powers, or magic, or destiny, or some other force working for them, which makes their actions a little less applicable to the everyday life that most of us lead. This list is to the heroes (and ordinary people) who have moved me to action or have given me strength when I have needed it. That makes is a fairly personal list so I’d love to know who would end up on your list of inspiring anime characters. While it hurts that I can’t add Maka to the list this time round, the characters below are all exceptional and yet completely human.
Please note, there will be spoilers below.
Honourable Mentions: Akito from Bakuman for standing by his friend from start to finish no matter how rough things got.
Number 5: Nagisa (Assassination Classroom)
One might argue that none of the students in Assassination Classroom are particularly ordinary, but that is their most compelling trait. They are ordinary. They are the ones who are overlooked and cast aside, who have been down so long that they have forgotten that they even have the right to stand up. Watching Nagisa move from someone who accepts this role to someone who has a clear presence about him and is comfortable in his own skin is something that is greatly inspiring. Okay, most of us don’t have a yellow octopus for a teacher who we get to learn to assassinate, but most of the lessons Nagisa takes on board are strictly of the ordinary kind of valuing who you are.
Number 4: Kurumi (Kimi ni Todoke)
Season One of Kimi ni Todoke introduced us to Kurumi and she was a nasty piece of work determined to get Kazehaya to look at her and to get Sawako out of the picture. After being rejected she undergoes an incredible character transformation that reminds us all that just because we don’t get what we want doesn’t mean it is the end of the world. Kurumi becomes a truly great character and by the time the end of season 2 rolls around you really want her to find her own happiness.
Number 3: Kousei (Your Lie in April)
This one might be cheating given the kid is definitely a genius. Yet, much like with Nagisa, the lessons Kousei takes on board during the heart breaking journey that is Your Lie in April are strictly the ordinary everyday ones that we all could learn from. Learning to grieve and mourn, to accept what has happened, to find a purpose, and just to find who you are. These are the things Kousei discovers throughout the course of his journey and they make him incredibly relatable and when he takes the stage in the final episode you cannot help but feel moved by him.
Number 2: Oreki (Hyouka)
While this might seem an odd choice for number 2 on the list, there’s something truly remarkable about how this character lives his life. He has his own ideal of energy conservation and yet at the same time he doesn’t want his ideals to harm the experiences of others. He doesn’t want to let his sister down and later Chitanda and so acts contrary to his own nature on more than one occasion. This is also inspiring because while some people might see that as giving in or compromising, what it really demonstrates is an acceptance of a need for community and that it can’t always be about you. Oreki is inspiring because he finds a balance where he does have moments where he refused to do things or to get involved and other moments where he acts for the benefit of others. While I’m still not sure I like the anime, I quite like Oreki’s character and he reminds me that sometimes it isn’t all about me.
Number 1: Yuri (Yuri on Ice)
Did we really think anyone else was going to take this spot? I almost disqualified him because being a world champion (even if he’s only in the top 6) kind of makes him somewhat extraordinary, but the only superpower he has is persistence and determination and so I let him take the top spot. His journey is fantastic and watching him stand up again and again and try to overcome his weaknesses never ceases to inspire.
And there they all are. Who would you have put on your list?
20 thoughts on “Tuesday’s Top 5: Ordinary Anime Characters Who Inspire”
On such occasions I always remember Natsume. While possessing extraordinary abilities, he always remains as natural as possible, making an impression of being slightly weird at most. Even tossed into unnatural situations, he treats each and every being respectfully, equally and kindly.
Hana from Wolf Children is a similar character – not once was she openly frustrated that life was being too harsh on her – two kids with very special needs on her head and virtually no time to take a break wasn’t enough to break her devotion and endurance.
Natsume is an awesome character. I didn’t include him here because he does have supernatural powers, but the lessons he teaches are definitely very human ones. I may have to do another list of inspiring characters who do have abilities.
Yeah, but out all the people with abilities Natsume seems to be probably the least affected by it. Well, he does see things but apart from that he’s basically a perfectly normal guy.
Another list? Please do make it!
Miyako Miyazaki from Bamboo Blade. She’s the rare character in a sports anime who’s not very good at her sport. But while she often feels discouraged about lagging so far behind her teammates, she doesn’t give up on it; she keeps working and practicing and trying hard to get better, because kendo is something she truly enjoys doing. I played lots of different sports as a kid and was pretty bad at most of them, so I can admire someone like that, who finds something they enjoy doing so much that even if they know they don’t have much talent for it, they’re still determined to make the very most out of whatever amount they do have.
That does sound pretty inspiring and more relatable than someone who is a genius at it.
Mumen. Rider. Class-C hero, Class-S heart.
Agreed. He’s pretty inspirational when compared with some of the other characters.
I’ve only seen Your Lie in April and Kōsei is definitely one that inspires me as well. He reminds me a bit of my brother—as most supremely talented pianists do—and he was my biggest inspiration for ALL aspects of life. So that may be why I love Kōsei so much. Awesome post!
Glad you enjoyed it.
Every character in this list definitely have their strong points. I wouldn’t say any one of them is less remarkable than the others. For me, other than these guys, Hachiken from Silver Spoon is one of my favourites.
He starts as a lost, dejected guy with no dreams to someone who slowly starts taking control of his life and becomes a much brighter person.
I still haven’t watched Silver Spoon. It’s definitely on my list to get to, but that list is very long at this point in time.
Kousei definitely is a very good choice. His journey was amazing, and just reading the segment you wrote about him and looking at the picture almost makes me want to start watching the anime again.
One of the supporting characters who is ordinary and I always though was awesome was Togusa in Ghost in the Shell. Being a normal unaugmented human being, doing his best with his limitations and succeeding and at the same time being a father for his daughter was something that I thought was pretty extraordinary 😊
It is amazing how the ordinary can sometimes be more inspiring than the extraordinary.
This is a pretty perfect list one of the main reason to love anime is finding those ordinary characters that overcome so much. Nagisa is a great example and also a good example of a teacher than can really bring out the talents in everyone no matter how small.
Nagisa progresses so far as a character from the opening episode where he doesn’t value himself at all to the end where we see someone who has confidence in himself and his decisions. I really loved watching his character grow over the course of the series.
Welp, you had me at Kousei.
As crazy as anime can get sometimes, it’s interesting to see how its depiction of regular people can be so inspiring. Great idea for a post, and interesting choices all around!
I would have to take some time to think about this, but some immediate characters that come to mind are Kobayashi from Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid and Hinata from March comes in like a lion.
Kobayashi’s systematic approach to life and her closed off demeanor was personally resonant, so her willingness to open up to others and adapt to the changes in her life was something that really connected for me.
Hinata’s strength of character in the face of an incredibly unjust situation was also very inspiring. It’s so tempting to lash out or give up when times are hard, but she never let her circumstances compromise who she was and I found that beautiful.
Hinata is a beautiful choice for this list. She is such an incredible character and I can really see why Rei ends up declaring that Hina is his hero.