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30 Most Popular Boy Anime Characters Ranked Worst To Best

Everyone has their childhood idols. Comic book readers grew up worshipping the likes of Batman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, and so on. For anime fans, characters like Goku, Naruto, and Monkey D. Luffy have been a source of inspiration for years. Today, there is so much anime to watch across various online subscription services that it's nearly impossible to catch them all. But, with so many shows to choose from, there are more anime heroes than ever before. The question is, who is the most popular boy character of them all?

For this list, the focus is on anime aimed directly at younger viewers — although older fans can (and do) enjoy these shows, too. So, as tempting as it would be to list Guts from "Berserk" or Spike Spiegel from "Cowboy Bebop," it wouldn't fit the mission objective — we're sticking with shonen, mecha, and all the anime genres designed for the child inside us all. It should also be stated that all the characters we're delving into here are winners, regardless of their placement.

Without further adieu, here are the 30 most popular boy anime characters ranked worst to best.

30. Asta (Black Clover)

As an orphan growing up in the small village of Hage, Asta always dreamed of becoming the Wizard King of the Clover Kingdom. There's just one problem: He's incapable of learning any magic spells. That all changes the day Asta comes into possession of a magic book adorned with a rare image of a five-leaf clover. The book (known as a grimoire in the "Black Clover" world) houses a demon and allows Asta to learn anti-magic spells. With his grimoire, he's finally able to go toe-to-toe with powerful magic users and chase his dream of becoming the Wizard King.

While Asta is always willing to build up his muscles for his anti-magic attacks, the same cannot be said of his intellect. Asta, to put it politely, is a brawn-over-brains type of guy. He has a simplistic view of the world and his careless enthusiasm can, at times, annoy those around him. Regardless of his childish attitude, Asta is still pure of heart and is willing to put his life on the line to protect anyone in need of help, whether they're his closest friend or his deadliest enemy.

29. Kirigaya "Kirito" Kazuto (Sword Art Online)

Kirigaya "Kirito" Kazuto is something of a loner. He gets trapped in a virtual reality massively multiplayer online role-playing game (VRMMORPG) called Sword Art Online after being chosen as one of the beta testers. Yet, despite being able to interact with other players, he still prefers to play on his own rather than joining one of the game's many guilds. Thankfully, Kirito is an epic gamer with incredible skills. Even so, the odds are stacked against him — if he dies in the game, he will die in real life, too.

As life progresses in the virtual world, Kirito learns to befriend other players. He joins them on their quest to complete the game and free everyone from their virtual imprisonment. On top of being a skilled gamer, Kirito is also popular with the ladies. He spends a lot of time helping out various female players with their problems, earning their affection in the process. He only has eyes for Asuna Yuuki, however, and their eventual relationship becomes the backbone of the show.

28. Meliodas (The Seven Deadly Sins)

Everything about Meliodas from "The Seven Deadly Sins" is deceiving at first glance. He may look like a child, but he's actually over 3,000 years old: He got cursed with immortality after going up against the Supreme Deity, fated to lose his emotions a little more every time he comes back to life. While Meliodas is charismatic in person, he can also be an awful womanizer. And despite representing the sin of wrath, Meliodas is a laid-back fellow capable of mercy in battle. However, his peaceful demeanor does change to that of a blood-thirsty killer when he activates his Demon Mark.

The earliest example of Meliodas losing his cool was when he failed to protect the Kingdom of Danafor and was unable to save the love of his life, Liz. Despite his somewhat selfish nature, Meliodas cares deeply for Elizabeth Liones — the princess of the Kingdom of Liones — and will do everything in his power to keep her from harm. He is also attached to his cursed comrades in the Seven Deadly Sins and proves himself a loyal friend despite his many shortcomings.

27. Aladdin (Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic)

Not to be mistaken with the Disney version of the character, Aladdin is a young and energetic magician. As a Magi, he has the power to shape the direction of the Old World by picking a potential king worthy to rule over all. Aladdin, however, is still just a boy with little to no knowledge of the real world. His friend and potential pick for king, Alibaba Saluja, has greedy intentions that he often overlooks.

Regardless of his naïve outlook on the world, Aladdin can find strong qualities in flawed heroes like Alibaba and others like him. He is also dedicated to his friends and will expand his magic abilities to aid them in times of need. That being said, he's not totally innocent — Aladdin often lets his fondness for the opposite sex get the better of him. Even those as seemingly pure as Aladdin have their vices.

26. Soul Evans (Soul Eater)

Soul Evans from "Soul Eater" is a slacker at heart, but he's still concerned about his image. If there's one thing he wants everyone in Death City to know about him, it's that he's as cool as a cucumber. Unfortunately for Soul, his chill facade quickly melts away in the company of females. When approached by attractive women, Soul just can't keep up the act, meaning he's somewhat unlucky in love. Still, he has his food.

As the constant streak of drool running from his mouth indicates, Soul has a big appetite. Not just for ordinary foods, but for souls, too. Unlike most other demon weapons (humans who can take on different forms) at Death Weapon Meister Academy, he loves devouring the souls of his enemies, caring more about the texture than the taste. Although Soul's apathetic and impulsive attitude makes him the total opposite of his partner, the level-headed Maka Albarn, the two work well together.

25. Zatch Bell (Zatch Bell!)

Zatch Bell is the cool (if slightly creepy) puppet-like friend you wished you had when you were a child. He's a Mamodo, a humanoid creature capable of casting powerful spells, like firing lightning-based attacks at enemies. Although he remembers nothing about his homeworld, Zatch doesn't let himself get down in the dumps. In fact, he loves his new life in the human world — and everyone in the human world loves him right back.

The anime is about Zatch's relationship with Kiyo Takamine, who almost gave up on having a social life after his "friends" abandoned him for being a genius. Every Mamodo needs a human partner to access their magic, and Kiyo becomes Zatch's new teammate. Through his impulsive but good-natured actions, Zatch helps Kiyo come out of his shell and make new friends, encouraging him to interact with his classmates and fellow challengers participating in the Mamodo tournament. He's fun, fiercely loyal, and an all-around great role model.

24. Ash Ketchum (Pokémon)

The life of a Pokémon trainer is not an easy one. Thankfully, Ash Ketchum is eternally ten years old, so he's bound to catch 'em all one day. Jokes aside, Ash's dedication finally paid off in 2019 when he won the Alola Pokémon League and became a Pokémon Champion for the first time, over two decades after the show premiered. Ash got closer and closer to achieving his goal with every passing series, defeating a surprising amount of formidable gym leaders.

Ash also encountered numerous setbacks during that time. Regardless of the hardships he endured, he never gave up on his dream and continued to become a better Pokémon trainer for his beloved Pokémon. Ash is a great role model for kids: He treats people and Pokémon with respect, and his long-awaited victory is proof that one should never give up on their dreams, no matter how far-fetched they may seem.

23. Yoh Asakura (Shaman King)

"If you run from the heat, you're making it worse! But if you stand up to it, you'll live happily!" That inspirational quote comes from Yoh Asakura, the young star of "Shaman King." The fate of the world rests on his shoulders, but Yoh remains an easy-going guy who cares more about vibing with the afterlife than challenging any deadly apparitions to battle. After all, Yoh believes that anyone capable of seeing a ghost isn't a bad person. Don't mistake his carefree attitude for laziness, however.

Yoh will get deadly serious if the situation demands it, as was demonstrated when Johann Faust VIII put the life of his best friend, Manta Oyamada, on the line. Yoh will always be there to protect mankind and ghosts alike from evil shamans, with the help of his samurai ghost Amidamaru. If Yoh ever slacks off on his shaman duties, he has his fiancée, Anna Kyoyama, to whip him back into shape. The two lovebirds actually go on to get married, proving that (unlike many of the guys on this list) Yoh isn't afraid of commitment.

22. Natsu Dragneel (Fairy Tail)

To Natsu Dragneel, the protagonist of "Fairy Tail," nothing is stronger than family. Sure, Natsu will bicker with his comrades in Fairy Tail (the wizard guild the series is named after) and may even challenge them to impulsive battles to prove his might from time to time. But at the end of the day, all the guild members love and respect one another. Without a moment of hesitation, Natsu and his friends will sacrifice their lives for each other, and it's a beautiful thing.

Natsu's goodwill also extends to his enemies: He's happy to show mercy if they are genuinely remorseful. He would sooner create a new bond with someone rather than write them off, another great trait for a role model. As much as Natsu relies on his strength to win the day, he believes in the power of friendship over everything else. The strongest bond Natsu has is with the mage Lucy Heartfilia, and their heavily shipped relationship has even transcended the series — fans have spotted them in the background of several "Edens Zero" scenes.

21. Sena Kobayakawa (Eyeshield 21)

Sena Kobayakawa is not the ideal image of an American football player. He's shy, small, weak, and easily intimidated. These qualities, sadly, make him the perfect target for bullies. However, thanks to constantly running errands for others all his life, Sena has developed a lightning speed that makes him perfect for the running back position. Youichi Hiruma, captain of the Deimon Devil Bats football team, saw potential in Sena and dragged him into the game.

Throughout the series, Sena slowly overcomes his timidness and matures into a strong and courageous player for his team. Initially, Sena hid his identity with a green eyeshield that covered his face while wearing his jersey with the number 21 on it, giving him the nickname "Eyeshield 21." Almost a Clark Kent/Superman situation. Sena eventually becomes confident enough in his skills that he gives up on his superhero-like disguise and embraces his own personality, an important lesson for young viewers.

20. Inuyasha (Inuyasha)

Poor Inuyasha (meaning "Dog Demon") never really belonged in the world of the humans or the demon world. Born as a half-human/half-demon, he got shunned by the humans of the Sengoku period for his demonic appearance. Meanwhile, the demons mocked Inuyasha for his human side, which comes from his mother. It's a no-win situation. The only one who truly understood Inuyasha was the kind-hearted shrine maiden Kikyo, who was taken from him by a cruel and deceitful trap set by the evil Naraku.

With the help of Kagome Higurashi, the modern-day reincarnation of Kikyo, Inuyasha gets a new lease on life and sets about avenging those harmed by Naraku. With his flowing locks and glowing eyes, Inuyasha is a handsome guy. He's brash, stubborn, and rather childish at times, but he has a good heart. His relationship with Kagome — no matter how comically heated it can be — is always uplifting to watch. Who says a human and a half-demon can't fall in love?

19. Senku Ishigami (Dr. Stone)

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Thankfully, Senku Ishigami kept his galaxy brain intact when humanity was turned to stone by a mysterious blinding green light. Now, he's determined to find a cure for mankind's petrified status. He's not the strongest guy (his brawny friend Taiju Ooki does all the heavy lifting), but he's passionate about his work. Senkuu's usually calm composure vanishes whenever he comes upon a new discovery or invention, and he can become quite arrogant when expressing his vast knowledge to others.

Senkuu, however, isn't a jerk. He doesn't belittle anyone who doesn't understand the advanced information he shares. He prefers encouraging them to learn and do better. While there is some ego at play during his critical thinking, Senkuu doesn't let it get in the way of his logical conclusions. Although, he is willing to be manipulative and bend the rules here and there when it comes to helping out those in need. His dedication to his purpose means that (unlike many male anime protagonists) he cares little about love.

18. Yugi Muto (Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters)

"Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters" is the second anime adaptation of the hit manga series from Kazuki Takahashi. It's the story of a game-obsessed high school student named Yugi Muto, whose life gets turned upside down after solving an ancient Egyptian puzzle. After successfully reassembling the Millennium Pendant, Yugi finds himself playing host to the soul of a Pharoah named Atem, an avid gambler. Whenever he's threatened, his alter-ego comes to the surface and challenges those looking to harm him to games, usually with dire consequences for the loser.

Yugi's alter-ego is everything he wishes he could be — brave, daring, and intimidating. However, little Yugi has the innocence and compassion Pharaoh Yugi needs to keep his head in check when engaging in battle with the toughest card-playing duelists. While complete opposites of each other, the two Yugis are harmonious in their dueling strategies, leading them to unbelievable victories. This makes the final duel in the series all the more emotional, as they go up against each other to see who is the real King of Games.

17. Ichigo Kurosaki (Bleach)

Ichigo Kurosaki is a teenage punk with a heart of gold. After the mysterious death of his mother, he becomes jaded and cynical. But, despite his rebellious attitude, Ichigo can't help but want to protect others. His journey as a Soul Reaper (guardians and guides for lost human souls) began because he was eager to save his younger sisters from an evil spirit that zeroed in on him and his family. He also took on the role to save the life of a Soul Reaper named Rukia Kuchiki, who transferred her spiritual powers to Ichigo.

Becoming a Soul Reaper brings real meaning to Ichigo's life. It allows him to repair broken friendships and develop new ones with his classmates and the loveable weirdos he encounters in his line of work. Most importantly, it gives him responsibility — he's tasked with saving others from the monstrous Hollows and any other foes that invade the human world. Ichigo never lets go of his rebellious attitude, however. He's willing to take on the entire Soul Society to save the life of his friend Rukia from wrongful execution.

16. Hanamichi Sakuragi (Slam Dunk)

Hanamichi Sakuragi from "Slam Dunk" is not your typical anime hero. He's arrogant, aggressive, egotistical, immature, and plain rude. And, despite possessing an athletic body that seems ready-made for basketball, he's actually a terrible player. While Sakuragi originally joined the Shohoku basketball team simply to impress the lovely Haruko Akagi, he ends up dedicating himself to the sport entirely, hoping to improve his skills and keep up with his more talented teammates.

After suffering numerous setbacks, Sakuragi's skills as a basketball player progress to the point that he earns the nickname "Rebound King" at Shohoku High School. It's a big moment for a character who is somewhat hard to root for in the beginning. Rarely do we see an anime protagonist presented in such an unflattering light. It's refreshing to witness Sakuragi mature and work towards mastering something he previously had no interest in: Anime heroes are usually naturally gifted in their craft from the start. This show teaches young viewers to be humble and hardworking.

15. Gon Freecss (Hunter x Hunter)

Gon Freecss from "Hunter x Hunter" shares a lot of appealing qualities with other heroic anime characters aimed at young boys. He's cute, charming, caring, friendly, highly skilled, and forgiving towards friends and foes alike. What sets him apart from the rest is that he's not trying to be the greatest licensed hunter in the world. He wants to become a hunter to figure out what happened to his missing father and understand why he left him behind to pursue his career as a legendary hunter.

The trouble with Gon is that he can be his own worst enemy. His temper and ego are the sources of several humorous moments in the series, but they also act as serious handicaps, causing setbacks for him and his friends. As inspiring as Gon can be, he can also have his morals corrupted depending on his mindset: He's forgiving one minute and merciless the next. It's why his friendship with the calm and collected Killua Zoldyck is so important, as the two keep each other in check.

14. Taichi "Tai" Kamiya (Digimon Adventure)

Taichi "Tai" Kamiya is forced to take on the heavy responsibility of leadership when he and his friends are mysteriously transported to the Digital World in the original "Digimon Adventure." Given the sudden circumstances, Tai handles himself well as the head of the group and helps his friends prevail against any digital threats they face. But it's not just Tai's accomplishments as a leader or his skills as a Digimon trainer that make him worth talking about, it's his ability to learn from his mistakes that makes him a fascinating character.

Tai has painful memories connected to his younger sister, and he let their relationship become strained as a result. His rivalry with Yamato "Matt" Ishida can get the better of him at times. And, despite his strong bond with his Digimon partner Agumon, he's been known to push him too far, leading to instances of Dark Evolution. As horrible as these mistakes are, Tai owned up to them and learned important lessons, which is always a sign of a great leader.

13. Izuku "Deku" Midoriya (My Hero Academia)

In a world populated by superheroes, Izuku "Deku" Midoriya was unlucky enough to be born as a helpless civilian. Lacking a super-powered ability known as a Quirk, Deku could never stand side-by-side with his idol All Might and the other great superheroes that fight for justice. At least, that's what he thought growing up. When All Might witnessed Deku nearly sacrificing himself to save the life of a former friend from a deadly sludge monster, he was so impressed by his heroism that he decided to make Deku his apprentice and transfer all his power to him.

Possessing the incredible strength and endurance of All Might helps Deku fight alongside his superheroic classmates at U.A. High School, but it's his willingness to save others that makes him a real hero. Throughout the series, Deku sheds his insecurities and develops a spirit as strong as All Might himself. There are so many superheroes for kids to look up to nowadays, but Deku is perhaps the most selfless of them all.

12. Shigeo "Mob" Kageyama (Mob Psycho 100)

When looking at Shigeo Kageyama, who also goes by the nickname "Mob," it doesn't seem like anyone is home. He's a socially awkward middle school student who has trouble making friends because he is terrible at "reading the atmosphere." The reason for his introverted personality is that his emotions are connected to his wild psychic powers. Having strong negative emotions, for example, could cause Mob to hurt others, and the last thing he wants to do is harm anyone.

Behind that dry expression is a compassionate soul. Mob doesn't believe his incredible psychic powers make him better than anyone, and he would rather not use them against others. It's why Mob will always try to reason with his enemies when confronting them, only unleashing his psychic powers as a last resort. He also doesn't believe psychic powers are necessary for living a good life, a controversial opinion that has gotten Mob into hot water with those close to him, but it's one that he continues to live by.

11. Shoyo Hinata (Haikyuu!!)

There's only one thing in the world that Shoyo Hinata wants to be, and that's the next prodigy volleyball player. There are just two obstacles standing in his way — his lack of experience as an athlete and his short stature. To accommodate for the latter, Hinata has trained his legs to the point that he can perform almost superhuman leaps. Regarding the former, Hinata's first time playing competitive volleyball was anything but a joy ride.

In his first game, Hinata's middle school volleyball club was humiliated by Tobio Kageyama, also known as "King of the Upper Court." As traumatizing as that match was, Hinata didn't give up and joined the high school volleyball club at Karasuno High, where Kageyama became his teammate and friend. The fun of "Haikyuu!!" is watching Hinata grow from a nervous wreck of a player into a pro. Charting his progress is immensely satisfying, a viewing experience that will inspire sports fans everywhere.

10. Tanjiro Kamado (Demon Slayer)

If you're an anime fan, you've probably already heard of Tanjiro Kamado, the protagonist of the hit "Demon Slayer" franchise. Tanjiro joins the Demon Slayer Corps after most of his family gets brutally murdered by a demon. His sister managed to survive the attack, but she was turned into a demon herself. The series follows his efforts to restore his sister's humanity and rid the world of the demonic threat plaguing it.

The loss of his father and the tragedy that befell his family forced Tanjiro to grow up at the young age of 13. Despite the heavy burden, he still holds on to his courage and his optimistic belief that everyone deserves respect and justice. Even when it comes to demons, Tanjiro is willing to sympathize with those that are pitiful, a mindset most likely developed from his poor sister's predicament. The only thing Tanjiro cares about is being a good provider and caregiver, something fans of all ages can take on board.

9. Heero Yuy (Mobile Suit Gundam Wing)

At first glance, Heero Yuy from the classic anime series "Mobile Suit Gundam Wing" seems more like a seasoned war veteran than a teenager. That's because Heero (one of five Gundam Pilots, people who operate the advanced mobile suits the series is named after) knows how to rein in his emotions so he doesn't get distracted in battle. His mentor, the engineer Doctor J, enhanced his genes, giving him the edge over others. It's why many refer to him as "The Perfect Soldier." Deep down, however, Heero is actually a kind-hearted young man.

The only person capable of interfering with Heero's reined-in personality and bringing out his true self is Relena "Peacecraft" Darlian, the spoiled adoptive daughter of an Earth Alliance minister. Heero's complicated feelings for Relena often come to the forefront, but he never lets them get in the way of his duty. He's dedicated to his cause and loyal to his comrades, even if he prefers to conduct his missions alone.

8. Gintoki Sakata (Gintama)

There's no one in the world of anime like Gintoki Sakata from "Gintama," a show about an alien invasion that takes place during Japan's Edo period. In Gintoki's own words, he is a "child in a man's body," as demonstrated by his incredibly lazy nature and his insatiable appetite for sweets. Given the comedic tones of "Gintama," Gintoki will often have a sarcastic comeback to toss out or cowardly leave his friends behind when danger arises for laughs. However, when the series enters serious mode, Gintoki can be quite a tragic character.

His failure to protect his friends in the Joui War as a samurai soldier still haunts him. To Gintoki, the perfect life is to just hang out with his friends and have a loving family to come home to. For now, he is content with blowing all his moolah on gambling games until he's stripped of everything except his pink, strawberry-pattern underwear. And slaying the odd alien, of course.

7. Naruto Uzumaki (Naruto, Naruto: Shippuden)

On the surface, Naruto Uzumaki appears to be nothing more than an annoying kid who acts out whenever he flunks a ninja assignment. On the inside, however, Naruto is a lonely orphan who wonders why everyone in his ninja village has a built-in prejudice against him. The truth of the matter is that they don't like Naruto because he's the living embodiment of the nine-tailed demonic beast Kurama, who nearly destroyed their entire village.

Naruto wants nothing more than to win the respect of his people. His arc from the original "Naruto" anime to the follow-up series "Naruto: Shippuden" is one of a class clown becoming a respected leader in the ninja world. He didn't just win everyone over with his amazing abilities, he won them over with his words of optimism and compassion. Naruto's journey as a ninja doesn't stop at being Hokage of his village, however, as he continues to be a loving husband to his childhood crush, Hinata Hyuga, and his children, Boruto and Himawari.

6. Kamina (Gurren Lagann)

"Don't believe in the you that believes in me and don't believe in the me that believes in you. Believe in the you that believes in yourself." That's one of the many motivational quotes from Kamina of "Gurren Lagann." Kamina is a hot-blooded mecha pilot who drilled his way out of mankind's underground safe haven to explore the uncharted territories above. With the help of his best friend Simon, he's able to pilot the Lagann, an ancient artifact of war capable of defeating the adversarial forces of the Beastmen.

To the timid Simon (and to viewers at home), Kamina is the epitome of masculinity and heroism. He's always ready for action, never running from a fight and always knowing what to say to raise everyone's spirits when the chips are down. Kamina is seemingly the perfect childhood hero, but he's still just a man who can be killed like any of his comrades. When Kamina leaves, it not only signals the end of childhood for Simon, it triggers his journey to adulthood. Kamina gave him the push he needed to start blazing his own trail.

5. Conan Edogawa (Detective Conan)

Conan Edogawa is proof that knowledge is power. "Detective Conan," also known as "Case Closed" in North America, is one of the longest-running anime out there. The show continues to go strong with over 900 episodes, not to mention all the feature length movies that have come out over the years. It's the story of a detective named Shinichi Kudo, who was transformed into a child by the deadly Black Organization. He attends high school and solves mysteries under his pint-size alter ego Conan Edogawa, while also trying to find a cure for his predicament.

It's not just Conan's brilliant investigations that are fun to watch, it's his unbelievable gadgets. The things that Dr. Agasa (an inventor who knows the truth about Shinichi) comes up with for the detective are a marvel to behold, from his voice-changing bowtie to his super-powered skateboard. With mystery, plenty of cool toys, and an older, butt-kicking girlfriend, "Detective Conan" is the ultimate fantasy for boys.

4. Yusuke Urameshi (YuYu Hakusho)

If there's one takeaway from watching "YuYu Hakusho," it's that you should never underestimate Yusuke Urameshi. The literal higher-ups of the spirit world never believed that a rude and reckless kid like Yusuke would sacrifice his life for a young boy playing in the street. When Yusuke did just that, he was given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be reborn as a Spirit Detective, helping the spirit world catch demonic criminals that infest the living world.

As a Spirit Detective, Yusuke continues to surprise his friends and foes with devilishly clever maneuvers. He routinely risks his life for others, like the time he sacrificed himself to the Forlorn Hope mirror so Kurama could save his mother. Even Yusuke underestimated how much he could grow in power: When he goes up against the seemingly unstoppable Toguro at the Dark Tournament, he reaches new heights to defeat his greatest enemy.

3. Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece)

Monkey D. Luffy represents the dreamer in all of us. Ever since he was a young boy, Luffy (a member of the illustrious D. family) longed to become the next Pirate King. As soon as he was old enough to start his own crew, Luffy took to the water. He is dedicated, motivated, and hungry every minute of the day. However, Luffy is also extremely loyal to his friends and family and will do everything in his power to protect them, even if it means pushing his rubber body to its limits (his stretchy limbs are the result of eating a Devil Fruit).

While Luffy isn't known for his book smarts, his creativity shines through when he uses his powers, like his trademark Gum-Gum Pistol attack or his various transformations known as Gears. Despite facing seemingly impossible odds at times, he will never stop chasing his dream to find the legendary One Piece treasure and become the next king of the pirates.

2. Astro (Astro Boy)

"Astro Boy" is an outlier. While so many TV anime series aimed at young boys are all about action (there's nothing wrong with that, of course), the "Astro Boy" franchise has always been about the pacifism of its young robotic star. Astro (originally known as Atom in the Japanese version) is like a sci-fi Pinocchio. He's a robotic boy learning how to become human in a futuristic world that's eager to exploit and discriminate against beings of artificial intelligence rather than embrace them. He's far from defenseless, however.

Astro has super strength, endurance, intelligence, and the ability to fly with his rocket-powered boots. However, he is as emotionally fragile as any human child. He suffered greatly when he couldn't be the robot replacement for the deceased son of his creator, Dr. Tenma. That said, it's Astro's vulnerability that allows him to connect with those who have endured similar pain, whether they are men or machines.

1. Goku (Dragon Ball Z)

Goku is the Superman stand-in of the anime world. A young boy from a dying alien race, he was sent to Earth to begin life anew. Just like Superman, Goku is the protector of his new home, defending it from internal and external threats. No matter the danger, Goku will always find a way to prevail. When Frieza took out his best friend, Krillen, Goku unlocked the legendary transformation known as Super Saiyan to defeat him. After Beerus threatened to destroy Earth, Goku unleashed the Super Saiyan God form to stop him.

Regardless of how much Goku grows in age and strength, he still has the heart of a child who loves adventure. That wonder was best captured in the original "Dragon Ball" series, though the version of the character that audiences are most familiar with is "Dragon Ball Z" Goku. There have been several sequel shows since then, and, with the success of the feature film "Dragon Ball Super: Broly," Goku likely has years of adventures ahead of him. He's the best boy anime character in the history of the medium, and it looks like nobody will take the crown away from him any time soon.