Some anime have small, manageable casts that allow you to get to know all of the characters on an intimate basis. Other shows have casts so large that they could easily populate a city. While some of these shows let most of their characters fade into the background, the best anime with a large cast manage to use side characters to deepen and develop the larger world that the protagonists inhabit.
Most anime with a lot of characters are shonen series like Naruto, My Hero Academia, Dragon Ball Z, and One Piece. Sports anime like The Prince of Tennis also boast enormous casts consisting of the main team, their rivals, and more.
Which of these series do you think does the best job at juggling its many characters?
My Hero Academia opens with Izuku Midoriya, a young boy who wants to be a hero, and gets the chance when his idol decides to mentor him and pass along his incredible powers. In the first season, it sticks closely to Midoriya - but as the story progresses, you meet his classmates, his teachers, other professional heroes, and a wide network of villains. Soon, it's no longer just Midoriya's story - whole arcs get dedicated to other characters, who you'll grow to love just as much, if not even more than him.
Ever heard of En Oyashiro, Yukimaru, or Sasuke Sarutobi? If you haven't, don't worry - not even the most diehard Naruto fans know the names of every character from the series. It starts with Naruto Uzumaki, his classmates, teachers, and a wide variety of ninja professionals, before opening up to the wider world. The wider world contains multiple nations, scores of villains, civilians, allies, and more. Once you start adding in all the filler characters, the cast size grows exponentially larger.
The best thing about Naruto is that the side characters are often compelling characters with unique personalities and backstories that add to the overall picture, rather than detract from it.
Fairy Tail follows the titular guild as they develop their magical prowess, battle other guilds, and face up to the forces of evil. Not only is the guild itself heavily populated with loveable characters, but there are also characters from other guilds, characters from each of their backstories, and plenty of villains and side characters who add to the story.
Bleach, which follows Ichigo Kurosaki on his journey into Soul Society, is another huge shonen series with an enormous cast of characters. Not only does it depict Ichigo's family and his human friends, but it also shows multiple factions within Soul Society, other groups like Hollows, Arrancar, and more. It's a wide and deep world, which is part of why the series has so many fans.