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The 19 Best Anime With Female Protagonists

Updated January 21, 2020 18.3k votes 5.8k voters 239.8k views19 items

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It can be difficult to find good anime with female protagonists. Maybe it's because the otaku stereotype is still decidedly male, or maybe it's because women are sorely underrepresented in nearly every form of media on the planet. Whatever the reason, there aren't nearly as many female protagonists as there are male ones. For people of all genders who prefer a realistic representation of humanity, this can be pretty annoying. 

Fortunately, there are some excellent anime that focus on women. In some cases, the protagonist is a strong female anime character that any feminist would be proud of. Sometimes, what's great about the character isn't her physical or emotional strength, but her weaknesses and shortcomings. Sometimes, the story is informed by their gender, and sometimes gender is besides the point.

Which shows will you be watching next?

  • Violet Evergarden
    Photo: Kyoto Animation, Netflix

    Anytime Kyoto Animation is involved, you know you're in for a visual treat. And Violet Evergarden doesn't disappoint with its breathtaking animation. But this anime has more than just beautiful art, it has a deeply moving story as well. Once a child soldier in the war, Violet Evergarden must learn to reintegrate herself into society and find her purpose in life after the war ends. The series follows her journey to become an Auto Memory Doll, people who ghostwrite letters for others, and to discover the true meaning of "I love you," the last words her Major told her. Violet's growth from an emotionless killer to a compassionate human being will have you in tears at the end of each episode. 

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  • The Promised Neverland
    Photo: CloverWorks

    It's not everyday you see a popular shonen series with a female protagonist at the helm. Emma is one of the smartest children at the Grace Field House, and it's because of her unrelenting optimism and quick-thinking that helps all the children escape from the horrors that await them at the house. She has all the best qualities needed of a shonen protagonist, and you can't help but love her bright personality and deep empathy for others. 

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  • Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit is one of the best series in the fantasy genre. Balsa Yonsa, the protagonist, is a 30-year-old bodyguard tasked with saving a prince from being sacrificed to the gods to save the nation from a drought.

    Not only is this an excellent premise, but Balsa is a fabulous character. She's a powerful mercenary who wields a spear with great skill. As with all good characters, there's more to her than just how well she can fight. She's also trying to save lives to repay someone who once saved hers.

    Balsa is pragmatic, intelligent, and decisive. Typically, this type of heroic role would be assigned to a male character so it's great to see a female character in such a position. 

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  • Ghost in the Shell is a highly-rated series that focuses on Major Motoko Kusanagi, an augmented cybernetic-human tasked with solving cyber crimes. The major is a hacker with unparalleled skills and the the squad leader of Public Security Section 9, a fictional division of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission. Her personality varies depending on which iteration of the Ghost in the Shell universe is being discussed. In the manga, for example, she's vivacious and sexy but in the movie, she's quite serious.

    All versions of Ghost in the Shell depict a nuanced character engaged in a high-stakes cyber battle; it's a classic for a reason.

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