Anime has been around for more than half a century in the commercial sense; Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy launched a phenomenon that would go on to become one of the largest and most lucrative industries in the artistic and entertainment departments. Anime series come in all shapes and sizes, some of which are more famous and some of which are less. Among thousands and thousands of titles, there are some anime with characters who are particularly protective of others and in this article, we are going to bring you a list of the 10 best anime with extremely protective characters.
1. Demon Slayer
Original Release: April 6, 2019 – present
Number of Episodes: 34
What it’s about: Demon Slayer is set in Taishō era Japan, Tanjirō is the eldest son of a family of coal merchants whose father has passed away. To meet his needs, he left to sell charcoal in town. Despite the difficulties of life, the family manages to find little happiness in their daily life.
One day, due to rumors circulating about a man-eating demon hanging around after dark, he is unable to return home and ends up spending the night with a Good Samaritan in the city. Only, everything changes on his return when he finds his family massacred by a demon. Nezuko, one of his younger sisters, is the only survivor but she has been transformed into a demon. She initially attacks Tanjirō, but she continues to show signs of human emotions and thoughts, which is when a demon slayer named Giyū Tomioka steps in.
Who protects whom: Protectiveness and the duty to do so are a part of Japanese tradition and folklore and in that aspect, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, seeing how it is set in a period where such values were still moral norms, is a great example of such an anime. Tanjiro’s protectiveness towards his sister, Nezuko, is the best example, but there are also numerous other examples among the Hashira, and even the demons that will satisfy our criteria.
2. Attack on Titan
Original Run: April 7, 2013 – ongoing
Number of Episodes: 70 (+8 OVA episodes and several movies)
What it’s about: The plot of Attack on Titan anime revolves around the young Eren Jäger, his adoptive sister Mikasa Ackermann and his best friend Armin Arlert, who live together with the rest of humanity in cities that are protected by huge walls from the attacks of the so-called Titans, gigantic humanoid beings who devour people for no apparent reason.
The walls that promised peace have existed for 107 years. But one day the Titans break through the outermost Wall Maria and the people are pushed back further. Eren’s mother dies and he and many other people flee behind the second wall, Wall Rose. Eren swears when his mother dies that he will wipe out the Titans.
Who protects whom: Attack on Titan might not be the best example overall, but Mikasa Ackerman’s protectiveness towards Eren is so brilliantly written that we simply had to honor it with a place on this list. This is a rare example where one character actually merited the inclusion of an anime on the list, but Mikasa’s determination to protect Eren was so strong that she was even willing to kill him to save him. And she did.
Original run: October 5, 2004 – March 27, 2012
Number of episodes: 366
What it’s about: BLEACH follows Ichigo Kurosaki. He is a young man gifted with the ability to see spirits. His life undergoes a drastic change when a Shinigami named Rukia Kuchiki crosses his path in search of a Hollow. During the battle with the spirit, Rukia is seriously injured and is forced to transfer part of her powers to Ichigo, who accepts the Shinigami’s proposal in an attempt to protect her family.
However, during the transfer process, something goes wrong and Ichigo absorbs all of Rukia’s powers, becoming a full-fledged shinigami. Having lost her powers, Rukia gets stuck in the world of the living until she regains her strength. Meanwhile, Ichigo replaces Rukia in her duties as Shinigami, battling the Hollows and leading the souls to the realm of the afterlife, known as the Soul Society.
Who protects whom: Everyone cares about everyone in Bleach. Ichigo cares about everyone. Orihime cares about everyone. Rukia cares about everyone. Renji cares about everyone. Byakuya grows to care about everyone, and so on. The Soul Society has a very strict and traditionalist moral code that is based on protection and that translates to the whole series, as everyone in Bleach wants to protect someone or something.
4. My Hero Academia
Original Run: April 3, 2016 – present
Number of Episodes: 113 (+ 5 OVA)
What it’s about: In a world where 80% of the world’s population has superpowers, here called “Quirks”, we follow the adventures of Izuku Midoriya, one of the few humans without Quirks. Despite this, Izuku still dreams of joining the super-heroic branch of the great Yuei academy and one day becoming one of the greatest heroes of his time.
Who protects whom: Well, superheroes are there to protect everyone and their grandmas and that is exactly what the guys from My Hero Academia are going. Built on the traditions of Western superhero comics, My Hero Academia is all about protecting and is thus one of the best examples on this list. The characters aren’t just protecting the world because it is their duty to do so, but because they firmly believe in it and want to do the right thing.
5. Digimon Adventure
Original Run: March 7, 1999 – March 26, 2000 / April 5, 2020 – September 26, 2021
Number of Episodes: 54 / 67
What it’s about: Digimon Adventure initially tells the story of seven protagonists, more precisely Digidestined, named Taichi “Tai” Kamiya, Sora Takenouchi, Yamato “Matt” Ishida, Takeru “T.K.” Takaishi, Koushiro “Izzy” Izumi, Mimi Tachikawa and Joe Kido. As they pass the time in their summer camp, snow accompanied by mysterious small objects falls from the sky.
Each child having respectively acquired his object, they are sucked by surprise into a dimensional portal and subsequently lands in a world composed entirely of digital data, known as the “digital world”, parallel to the “real world”. As soon as they land, the children discover their respective Digimon dedicated to protecting them and dedicated to fighting different and powerful antagonists threatening the Digital World.
Who protects whom: Digimon has always been about protecting one’s friends and the whole world. Since the DigiDestined always have to save the world from evil, it makes sense that we included the first season on our list. You also have individual examples, such as Digimon protecting other characters, and Tai and Matt protecting their siblings Hikari and T.K., respectively.
6. Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World
Original Release: April 4, 2016 – March 24, 2021
Number of Episodes: 50
What it’s about: Catapulted into a fantasy world, the young Subaru hikikomori Natsuki is attacked by a group of shady bandits. Helping him is a silver-haired half-elf named Emilia, whose goal is to become the next queen of their country, Lugunica. Discovering that her savior is on the trail of a young thief who has stolen an object from her, Subaru offers to give her a hand as a sign of gratitude by setting out to search for her as well.
Unfortunately, it is the worst that takes over the two, and so the mission ends with their death. Despite this, Subaru suddenly awakens in the same place where he was summoned at the beginning: he soon realizes that he has received the power to come back to life every time he dies, rewinding time and regaining consciousness at an unspecified moment in the past without losing the memories of previous timelines.
Who protects whom: We also decided to add a popular isekai title for diversity’s sake, but Re:ZERO really does have its fair share of protective characters. Although the plot and the romance are the focus, there are numerous characters who are willing to sacrifice themselves and their well-being for others, which is why this is a great addition to our list.
7. Mirai Nikki
Original Run: October 10, 2011 – April 16, 2012
Number of Episodes: 26 + OVA
What it’s about: Yukiteru Amano is a solitary young boy who takes refuge in his imagination to escape the social void that constitutes his daily life. He considers that he can avoid any annoyance by observing the world from an external point of view, and records all the events happening around him in the form of a diary which he keeps using his mobile phone.
One day, one of the imaginary entities serving as his playmates, Deus ex Machina, god of time and space, and Mumur, Deus’ helper, offers him to participate in a game. Yukiteru realizes that the phone on which he recorded his observations begins to contain entries about the future around him. Initially, he uses this power excessively and is happy to possess it until his diary predicts his own death and a girl from his class, Yuno Gasai, who also has a diary from the future follows him; he then ignores that she wishes to save him.
Who protects whom: Well, Mirai Nikki was added for fun’s sake because it is a bit over the top, but it will make you laugh. Yuno is, like Mikasa, the only reason why we added Mirai Nikki to the list because she takes overprotectiveness to a new level. Yandere characters are usually a bit over the top, but Yuno is something completely different and is a great example for our list.
Original Run: October 3, 2002 – March 23, 2017
Number of Episodes: 720
What it’s about: The story begins during Naruto’s adolescence, around the age of twelve. The orphan dunce and great prankster, he does all possible stupid things to get noticed. His dream: is to become the best Hokage in order to be recognized by the inhabitants of his village. Indeed, the nine-tailed fox demon sealed within him has fueled the fear and contempt of the other villagers, who, over time, no longer differentiate between Kyūbi and Naruto.
Despite this, Naruto works hard to advance to the first level of ninjas, the genin. He ultimately succeeds in getting his Konoha forehead protector after three attempts at the genin exam. Then, along with Sakura Haruno and the gifted Sasuke Uchiha, he is a member of a group of three ninja apprentices who are out to assassinate their brother Itachi Uchiha in order to exact revenge on those who have hurt them.
Who protects whom: One of the “Big Three” shonen titles, Naruto is a series that fans of protective characters will certainly love. Naruto Uzumaki is by far the best example of this, but in Naruto, like in Bleach, most characters want to protect something or someone, that is just a standard, whether it’s another character (like, for example, Naruto wants to protect everyone, or Sakura wants to protect Sasuke) or their village, or something entirely different.
9. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Original Run: April 5, 2009 – July 4, 2010
Number of Episodes: 64 (+ 4 OVA)
What it’s about: The plot of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood happens in the country of Amestris, a country where alchemy is elevated to the rank of universal science, two brothers, (Fullmetal Alchemist) Edward and Alphonse Elric, travel the country in search of the legendary philosopher’s stone. Their father left them and their mother, Trisha Elric, died a few years later of an illness, leaving her two young children behind.
Sometime later, the two brothers try to bring her back thanks to alchemy, defying the law which formally prohibits human transmutation. They will pay a heavy price. Edward, the eldest, will lose his left leg, his little brother his whole body. Ed will sacrifice his right arm by sealing the soul of his little brother Alphonse in armor.
Edward decides to enlist in the army at the age of 12 as a State Alchemist, passes the exam with flying colors, and obtains his alchemist name: Fullmetal. Helped by Edward’s state alchemist status, the two brothers will seek, at the risk of their lives, the stone that will give them back what they have lost, but the secret of the philosopher’s stone is well kept.
Who protects whom: There is no doubt that Fullmetal Alchemist (we opted for Brotherhood here, but the original anime is equally good in this aspect) had to get a place on this list. This shonen classic is all about protection, about sacrifice, and a world where people care for each other. The Elric Brothers are, of course, the best example, but there are numerous others among supporting characters, including the State Alchemists, but also some of the villains, like Scar or some Homunculi.
10. Dragon Ball
Original Run: February 26, 1986 – April 19, 1989
Number of Episodes: 153
What it’s about: Dragon Ball tells the story of Son Goku, a little boy who is very good at martial arts, and who has a mysterious monkey tail. He meets a young woman named Bulma, and the two go together in search of the Dragon Balls (seven magic crystal balls that allow, if they are united, to invoke the dragon Shenron, then offering to grant the wish of the one who pronounces a specific formula in front of him). Meeting many adversaries along the way (most of them being competitors in the quest for the famous balls, often with selfish or even evil intentions). Some of whom later become allies, such as Yamcha or Ten Chin Han.
Who protects whom: Although Son Goku came to destroy Earth, the care he received from Grandpa Gohan turned him into Earth’s protector. Goku is extremely protective of his planet, and all the people he cares about; he has been willing to sacrifice his life for them on many occasions, but other characters were willing to do so too, even those that were initially perceived as villains, such as Piccolo or Vegeta. Dragon Ball characters aren’t always successful in their endeavors to protect others, but things have a way of fixing themselves in this franchise.