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14 Anime Protagonists Whose Power Levels Are Perfectly Balanced

Updated July 13, 2020 16.0k votes 3.5k voters 146.7k views14 items

Overpowered anime characters can be thrilling, but they can also be kind of exhausting. That's because it can be hard to get invested in the outcome of a conflict when you know that there's no chance that the character will lose.  

With that in mind, let's take a look at some anime characters who are not overpowered. Because most shows feature non-OP side characters, we'll be focusing on the protagonists here. Some, like Spike Spiegel and Thorfinn, come from universes where supernatural powers would be unlikely or impossible, so their fighting prowess remains within the realm of what's possible for a strong but still ordinary human. Others do exist in worlds with supernatural powers, but they aren't impossibly stronger than everyone else around them. These include well known characters like Eren Jaeger of Attack on Titan, and lesser-known characters like Kotoko Iwanaga of In/Spectre.

Which of these lowkey protagonists are your favorites?

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  • Alchemy is a tough skill to master, and anybody who manages to make progress with it should be admired - but only a few characters in the world of FMA have totally OP skills, and neither of them are the protagonist. Edward Elric is a smart kid who learned alchemy on his own, then learned to use it more effectively with help from Izumi Curtis. But no matter how strong he becomes, he's still subject to the rules of his universe: he can't perform alchemy without sacrificing something of equal value, and he never pulls elaborate magic out of nowhere. When he defeats Father, who does have godly OP powers, it's thanks to a whole lot of help from Greed. 

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  • Gon Freecss - 'Hunter X Hunter'
    Photo: Madhouse

    This kid might be one of the strongest characters on this list, but when compared to the other characters in his universe, his powers aren't ridiculous. Unlike some shonen protagonists who have a seemingly endless list of godlike abilities, Gon Freecss manages to be impressive without being ridiculous. At the start of the series, we see him attempting to defeat Hisoka using a fishing rod. Later, he learns to use Nen, but his Nen powers, though formidable, have limits. Even his most dramatic battle, the one where he transforms into an older version of himself and wastes Neferpitou, doesn't put him outside of the range of what other Hunters are capable of. 

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  • Spike Spiegel - 'Cowboy Bebop'
    Photo: Sunrise

    Is Spike Spiegel handy with a gun? Absolutely. Does he have any superhuman defenses against one? Absolutely not. Whether he's fending off deranged clowns or taking on his former colleagues from the Red Dragon Syndicate, Spike is just an exceptionally awesome man. If he had a bunch of outlandish abilities, it would probably ruin the series's cool vibes. 

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  • 4

    Tanjiro Kamado - 'Demon Slayer'

    Tanjiro Kamado - 'Demon Slayer'
    Photo: ufotable

    At the start of the series, Tanjiro Kamado is an ordinary boy who spends his days doing labor to keep his family afloat. When a demon destroys his entire family, excluding his sister Nezuko who has been transformed into a demon, he suddenly has to get comfortable fighting demons if he wants a chance at helping his sister transform back into a human. Through years of grueling training, he eventually qualifies to become a Demon Slayer. Once qualified, he continues his diligent training and gets stronger by increments. His fights often end with him being severely injured, and the end of the first season sees him recovering in the hospital.

    He does have a few special abilities - enhanced smell and the ability to master the Hinokami Dance. But while the Hinokami Dance is incredible powerful, it's not because it's not more powerful than the abilities displayed by various demons and slayers who appear throughout the series. What's more, he has to work his butt off to get anywhere with it.

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