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The 20 Greatest Seinen Anime Protagonists Of All Time, Ranked

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Vote up the best seinen MCs.

Seinen anime is marketed towards men between the ages of 18 and 40, but it can be enjoyed by people of all ages and genders - with the caveat that some of the content is too mature for young audiences. Because it's marketed to adults, the storylines and characters tend to be complex. That's why seinen features some of the best protagonists in anime

You've probably heard of many of these compelling seinen main characters - few anime fans are unfamiliar with Saitama from One-Punch Man or Ken Kaneki from Tokyo Ghoul. But you may not know Caiman from Dorohedoro or Phosphophyllite from Land of the Lustrous. Whether they're underrated or popular for a reason, these characters are among the very best.

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  • Guts - 'Berserk'
    Photo: Berserk / GEMBA

    Guts may be one of the most iconic characters not just in seinen, but in anime as a whole. This powerful mercenary has led an incredibly challenging life, one that most people would not be able to endure.

    Born from his mother's deceased body, abused by his adoptive father, betrayed by his best friend, and besieged by demonic monsters who are attracted to the brand on his body, he has known great suffering. Still, he finds the strength to continue his mission. 

    • Appears In: Berserk Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey, Berserk Golden Age Arc I: The Egg of the King
  • 2
    291 VOTES

    Thorfinn - 'Vinland Saga'

    Thorfinn - 'Vinland Saga'
    Photo: Vinland Saga / Wit Studio

    When we first meet Thorfinn, he's a cheerful little boy with a taste for adventure. When his peace-loving father is tricked into a surprise attack and passes away, Thorfinn is enraged. He dedicates his life to getting revenge on the man who orchestrated his father's demise.

    While this sounds like a fairly typical storyline, Thorfinn stand out as an especially nuanced character. He faces realistic challenges in pursuit of revenge, starting off with simply being too young for anyone to take him seriously and being forced to depend on his enemies for survival. 

  • 3
    207 VOTES

    Alucard - 'Hellsing'

    Alucard - 'Hellsing'
    Photo: Hellsing Ultimate / Madhouse

    If you're looking for a series with a vampire at the helm, look no further than Hellsing. Alucard is terrifying in the best way possible. He joined Hellsing so that he could freely use his abundant vampiric powers on his own kind. Whether it's manipulating gravity or controlling people's minds, he's nearly unbeatable.

    But he's more than just breathtakingly strong - he's also a deeply melancholy being who envies humans and constantly wrestles with religious ideas. 

  • Saitama - 'One-Punch Man'
    Photo: One-Punch Man / J.C. Staff

    Saitama can destroy anything with a single punch. More impressively, he can do it without creating a boring story. The tension in One-Punch Man isn't about whether Saitama will win - it's obvious that he will - but in how he can find meaning in a life where everything comes too easily.

    His existensial crisis combined with his great sense of humor makes him a wonderful seinen protagonist.

    • Appears In: One-Punch Man
  • Motoko Kusanagi - 'Ghost in the Shell'
    Photo: Ghost in the Shell / Production I.G

    Motoko Kusanagi is the leader of Section 9, a squad dedicated to dealing with cyber crimes. In a world where humans can fully upload their consciousness to machines, these crimes are much more intense than leaked credit card information - they get violent.  

    Motoko is not an outside observer to the cyber world - she digitized her own brain at an early age, and switches between robotic bodies. With help from the rest of her team, Motoko handles hackers like the the Laughing Man and other equally difficult criminals.

    • Appears In: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society, Ghost in the Shell 2.0, Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
    • Powers & Abilities: Invisibility, Telepathy, Superhuman strength
  • 6
    186 VOTES

    Shinichi Izumi - 'Parasyte'

    Shinichi Izumi - 'Parasyte'
    Photo: Parasyte -the maxim- / Madhouse

    When an alien parasite infects Shinichi Izumi's right hand, he's understandably terrified. When other parasites start coming after him, he doesn't know how to fight back, and relies solely on Migi, the parasite in question, to handle things for him.

    However, as he gains more experience and racks up losses, he realizes he has to get strong enough to fight for his own sake. But it's not an easy journey - at some points, he veers too far into violence. He struggles to balance his own need to survive with his desire to uphold his morals, and he realizes that the parasites are no different than he is - they are simply trying to survive. Like the story he inhabits, he's a complex character.