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The Most Powerful Anime Characters Ranked

Anime is a vast, complex landscape of genres, tropes, and subject matter. Want to watch space cowboys contemplate their regrets to a killer jazz soundtrack? Say hello to Cowboy Bebop. How about a surrealist critique of fairy tale archetypes? Enter Revolutionary Girl Utena. Perhaps you'd prefer to immerse yourself in the world's most high-octane portrayal of ping pong? Here comes Ping Pong: The Animation.

Indeed, the world of anime is a massively varied one. But at the end of the day, even the most sophisticated anime fan has a character they love for the simple fact of their bananas superpowers. From magical girls to gun-toting assassins to alien warriors, anime certainly offers a whole lot of choices in this department. But which anime characters dwarf all the rest? We're here to answer that eternal question. These are the most powerful anime characters around, ranked from the least formidable to the most massively mighty.

Roberta (Black Lagoon)

Black Lagoon takes place in the fictional Thai city of Roanapur, where life is cheap, booze is plentiful, and crime is the order of every blood-splattered day. As you might guess, it's not an anime lacking for powerful characters. Yet even among Black Lagoon's ranks of world-class snipers, city-controlling mob bosses, and top-tier assassins, Roberta, the "Bloodhound of Florencia," stands out as unstoppably deadly.

Though Roberta has since become a maid in service to the wealthy Lovelace family, she was once a member of FARC, an infamous Colombian guerilla group. Those violent years made her into an implacable killing machine, skilled in the use of pretty much everything that can be used to cause harm. And Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail ups the ante considerably. This series sees the ex-revolutionary bite kukri knives into pieces, dispose of a dozen elite fighters with her bare hands, finagle an antique musket into firing flechette rounds, and single-handedly rig a few acres of jungle into a maze of death. 

Nothing can stop Roberta if she believes herself to be acting in the right — except the disarming smile of her "young master," Garcia Lovelace. Though he's ultimately able to halt her bloody rampage, no one in Roanapur — or anyone who's watched this anime — will soon forget just how entirely screwed a person, cartel, or city is once Roberta decides to take them out.

Izuku Midoriya (My Hero Academia)

Izuku Midoriya starts out as a kid who's anything but powerful. In fact, he's initially defined by his powerlessness. In a world where just about everyone has superpowers, known as Quirks, Izuku is born Quirkless. This is devastating to the young boy, as he idolizes All Might, top dog of the pro hero world. Izuku doesn't love the world-renowned "Symbol of Peace" for his muscles alone, however — he loves All Might for the way he uses his strength to save those in need.

It's this kind heart that transforms Izuku from a no-account fanboy into one of the most powerful heroes on the modern anime scene. As it turns out, All Might's power comes from the unique "One for All" Quirk, which can be passed down. Izuku becomes its ninth holder, and he spends the rest of My Hero Academia proving why he's the right choice. One for All gives Izuku access to gargantuan amounts of versatile energy. He's capable of astonishing speed, strength, and durability. Of course, the Quirk isn't without its caveats — Izuku has to train as hard as he can to use a minute percentage of One for All's power, and he still manages to shatter his own bones pretty much every time he uses it. Still, Izuku is well on his way to surpassing All Might's career, which basically means he's on the road to becoming the most powerful superhero in a world chock-full of them.

Haruhi Suzumiya (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)

Haruhi Suzumiya doesn't know it, but she's friends with a time-traveler, an alien, and a psychic. As she's utterly uninterested in ordinary people, she'd be thrilled to know this is the case. But she can never know the truth — and not because she couldn't handle the sheer weirdness of it. No, Haruhi can't know how interesting her friends are because that would reveal just how terrifyingly interesting she herself is. And that could literally destroy the world.

Haruhi is a reality-warper of such enormous power that she basically amounts to a god. Her friends (with the exception of the actually ordinary Kyon) have been sent by their respective superiors to keep her busy, happy, and above all, invested in the world, lest she inadvertently destroy it. Though they mostly succeed, Haruhi does alter weather, create time loops, and is likely responsible for creating the world she and her friends currently occupy. 

Unlike so many characters on this list, Haruhi has no idea how powerful she is. In many ways, this makes her more dangerous, as well as making her friends' jobs vastly more difficult. Essentially, they have to babysit her, obscure the nature of said babysitting, and continually innovate new games, challenges, and mysteries for her to unravel. Thus, Haruhi is kept from exercising her prodigious abilities, which keeps her relatively low on this list. But her potential is still staggeringly vast — a fact her harried playmates know well.

Lain Iwakura (Serial Experiments Lain)

Serial Experiments Lain is a truly terrifying anime about a middle school girl named Lain, who's living an apparently normal life in the Japan of the near future. Lain's creators foresaw the rise of the internet fairly accurately, all the way back in 1998. Here, it's known as "the Wired," and it's present in basically every aspect of human life. Virtual reality is so robust, in fact, that the border between it and actual reality has blurred. But things get weird when a dead classmate emails Lain, claiming to be alive within the Wired. Then, they get even weirder when Lain doppelgangers begin popping up.

Lain is a purposefully abstract series, so the specifics of its central character's powers are a bit vague. What's made clear by the end of the series, however, is that Lain is a sapient computer program capable of fully dissolving the line between virtual and material reality. When she finally embraces this truth, she promptly erases her own existence. No memory of the girl she was remains, even within the mind of Alice, her dearest friend. Though she was created to unify the planet in a radical way, to the point of eliminating individuality itself, she refuses to do so. Lain seems to be content to edit herself out of the picture and observe the goings-on of the people she loves. If she ever changed her mind, however, she'd be able to do a whole lot more than that.

Koro-sensei (Assassination Classroom)

Koro-sensei arrives on Earth having blown up 70% of the moon. He declares he'll do the same to the Earth ... but not until a year has passed. During that time, he'll train a classroom full of teenagers in assassination, among other, more typical subjects. Though everyone on this list is powerful, there's truly something to be said for being so enormously mighty that he has to personally train those looking to kill him.

Then again, this is only so much of a leg up. Koro-sensei is ludicrously strong, with a vast array of unique skills at his disposal. His odd, octopus-esque form can shoot lasers, withstand a nuclear warhead, harmlessly absorb poisons, regenerate itself, and slide into even the narrowest spaces. Perhaps even more impressive is his speed, which maxes out at a jaw-dropping Mach 20. He's basically a living blob of deadly possibility wearing a cap and gown. That cap and gown aren't even just for show. Koro-sensei possesses a brilliant mind capable of processing gargantuan amounts of information in the blink of an eye. His students might be learning with the threat of doomsday hanging over them, but darn it if they're not also getting a world-class education from their terrifying genius of a teacher.

Edward Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist)

You don't get to be the youngest State Alchemist in history without being an out-and-out genius. Even among his enormously skilled friends and colleagues, Edward Elric's talent stands out as especially dazzling. His alchemy is innovative, flexible, and backed up by encyclopedic knowledge. Moreover, Izumi Curtis' training shaped him into a brilliant martial artist with an unquenchable interest in new techniques, ideas, and approaches.

But what sets Ed truly apart is the fact that he's bested God. In the world of Fullmetal Alchemist, those who attempt human transmutation are punished by Truth, a supreme metaphysical entity who sits beside the Gate, from which all alchemical knowledge springs. In Ed's first encounter with this being, after the Elric brothers' attempt to resurrect their deceased mother goes awry, Ed regains Al's soul from Truth through some insanely quick thinking. This is impressive enough on its own, especially given the fact that Ed is a child when he pulls this off. But beyond that, in witnessing Truth, Ed gains the extraordinary ability to perform alchemy without a transmutation circle. 

Then, at the series' end, Ed manages to surprise and impress Truth by sacrificing his alchemy in exchange for his brother's body. Granted, all of this happens because Ed plays by Truth's rules. But still, he manages to catch the supreme deity of his universe off guard. That doesn't just take power — it takes skill, finesse, and unimpeachable confidence.

Ragyo Kiryuin (Kill la Kill)

Ragyo's place on this list can be justified by her death alone. She rips her own heart out of her chest, delivers her final lines, then crushes the organ in her fist. But, of course, that's not all there is to know about Ragyo. Kill la Kill's ultimate bad guy is also CEO of the massive Revocs Corporation, director of Honnouji Academy, and a human being utterly riddled with Life Fibers, the alien organisms responsible for evolution. That last part means she can control others' minds, fly unaided, and survive beheading. Also, her hair produces its own light.

Now, Kill la Kill is an anime that exists because director Hiroyuki Imaishi noticed that "fashion" kind of sounds like "fascism." More is most definitely more in this world, and Ragyo sits atop its ludicrous heap. There's no aspect of life she doesn't have power over. What the public wears, thinks, learns, and does is all subject to her own desires. Ryuko, our scrappy heroine and Ragyo's erstwhile daughter, beats her in the end, but even she is one of Ragyo's creations and thus a manifestation of her inescapable will. In the end, Ragyo could only ever go out by her own hand — no one else could even fray the flawless fabric of her existence.

Saitama (One-Punch Man)

It's all right there in the title, really. Saitama just needs one punch to get anything done. He's so powerful, in fact, that he's defined by his boredom. Baddies come and go from his life, but no matter how legendarily formidable they are, they all fall to him in the end. Ho-hum. At least that gives him more time for grocery shopping.

It's easy to lose sight of how stupidly powerful Saitama is, given his lackadaisical attitude, so let's take a moment to reacquaint ourselves with the details of his dominance. Over the course of One-Punch Man, Saitama shatters a katana with his teeth, jumps from the moon to the Earth in a single bound, and punches through a meteor. When asked if Saitama is capable of blowing up the Earth, series illustrator Yusuke Murata answered, "I guess he can if he wanted to, but I don't think he will do it." 

This hilariously chill answer reveals the heart of Saitama's power. His series is a comedic one, where the central joke is the utterly bonkers nature of his skill. Thus, his true superpower is his ability to calmly defy reason. The only limit on his power is how likely it is to make fans' laugh, and given the fact of One-Punch Man's enduring popularity, that basically means he's an unstoppable god — albeit one who can't regrow his hair.

Usagi Tsukino (Sailor Moon)

Anime characters can be powerful in many different ways. Some wield political might. Some control devastating superpowers. Some are literally divine. Sailor Moon is all three. Usagi Tsukino might start out as a 14-year-old crybaby, but she ends up becoming the immortal ruler of the solar system, boasting such immense magical might she essentially serves as a galactic goddess.

Let's break that down a little further. First off, at some point in the future, Usagi becomes Neo-Queen Serenity and proceeds to rule our galaxy from Crystal Tokyo, the seat of her utopia. Secondly, as Sailor Moon, she takes down intergalactic conquerors, overrules the apocalypse, and ultimately bests the primordial force of chaos itself with the power of her Silver Crystal (and, of course, love). Thirdly, she seems very likely to be immortal, given that Neo-Queen Serenity's reign is portrayed as happening in the 30th century and is not implied to have anything resembling an end. Moreover, the end of the Sailor Moon story introduces Sailor Cosmos, who's implied to be Usagi from an even more distant future, where she seems likely to become powerful on a literally universal scale. 

There is, apparently, no upper limit to Usagi Tsukino's talents, even if she never does manage to get her homework in on time. But hey, who needs to memorize square roots when they're capable of literally reversing the end of the world?

Simon (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann)

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann's true antagonist is the force of negativity itself, personified by the Anti-Spiral. "Spiral Power" is the foundation of life in Gurren Lagann. It's the energy that drives sentient creatures to constantly evolve, innovate, and achieve. But long ago, an alien race foresaw the uncontrolled use of Spiral Power leading to disaster. Thus, they froze themselves in suspended animation and became the Anti-Spiral, a reality-warping force of cosmic stagnation.

How does Simon, once a humble digger, defeat the Anti-Spiral? Like any true shonen protagonist, he hits it really, really hard. Specifically, as portrayed in the Lagann-hen movie, Simon brutally fist-fights the Anti-Spiral, creates a drill out of his own blood and willpower, and carves a hole straight through its chest. He literally, physically shatters the concept of hopelessness. Also, this comes after a battle in which he pilots a giant robot so large that it throws spiral galaxies like shuriken. 

Gurren Lagann leans as hard as it can into giant robot anime's most absurd excesses — "Spiral Power" basically means "shonen vibes," after all — and Simon's ultimate victory serves as the series' mission statement. When bad guys tell him his blazing willpower will bring about the end of everything, he tells them he'll prevent that from happening with his blazing willpower. And he does. Simon curb-stomps the apocalypse by embracing everything that makes his genre of anime unique. No wonder Gurren Lagann became an instant classic of the form.

Madoka Kaname (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)

There are many godlike characters in anime. Quite a few of them (including some on this list) are capable of world-ending destruction. But only Madoka Kaname can calmly, rationally, and unflinchingly rewrite the fundamental rules of existence itself.

Over the course of Puella Magi Madoka Magica's 12 episodes, Madoka learns that magical girls are real, but they're created for the purposes of an alien race (represented by the sinister Kyubey) that uses their unique emotional energy to counteract cosmic entropy. Eventually, magical girls all decay into monstrous witches, who must be taken down by a fresh crop of heroines. Madoka isn't destroyed by this terrible knowledge — in fact, she's emboldened. When she finally agrees to make the wish that will transform her into a magical girl, as Kyubey has long sought, she wishes to erase all witches. This wish is so vast in its scope, it transforms her into a foundational force of the universe who exists far beyond the comparatively paltry reaches of space and time. 

Admittedly, the physics are a bit fuzzy, but emotions are energy in Madoka Magica, and those of teen girls' are literally capable of staving off the heat death of the universe. In changing how magical girls' misery escalates and decays, she rewrites the laws of thermodynamics. Turns out, the best weapon in the fight against entropy really is a middle school girl's emotions ... just not in the way Kyubey thought.

Goku (Dragon Ball Z)

Does Goku even need an introduction, really? The Dragon Ball franchise is so internationally influential that series creator Akira Toriyama has been knighted by the French government. The property is worth billions upon billions of dollars. Goku is a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. So yeah, you probably know about Goku — but let's stop to really consider the depth of his power. This most super of Saiyans is a warrior of unparalleled skill. Enemies capable of regeneration, teleportation, and literal miracles all fall to his might in the end. Just look at how many different planes of Super Saiyan-dom he's ascended to as the years have gone by. Odds are, there are at least two more than you last remember there being. 

But Goku's power goes beyond this. Like Superman, to whom he's frequently compared, his cultural stature makes him powerful in a uniquely transcendent way. Goku will always win because millions of fans around the world love him for being the guy who always wins. Within his own universe, he's unbeatable, but that goes for a lot of characters on this list. What puts Goku over the top is the fact that within our universe, he's so popular that he literally creates international incidents because people want to watch him save the day so badly. Goku might be a cartoon character, but the scope of his power is three-dimensional.