If you ever had to read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in high school, you understand the concept of a secondary protagonist. These characters are the ones whose viewpoint we follow throughout most or all of the series, but they aren't necessarily the characters who are most important to the story. That doesn't mean they aren't important - in fact, many of these shows couldn't function without them - but they aren't the heroes whose actions drive the biggest part of the plot.
Some of the best supporting protagonists in anime are characters like Luffy from One Piece and Kirito from Sword Art Online. Though they're both incredibly important in their respective universes, they often move backstage to make room for other characters, sometimes during whole arcs. There are also characters like Yotaro from Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu and Chiyo Sakura from Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun who are usually in the spotlight to help tell someone else's story.
Which character do you think does the best job with their role?
Nanami Momozono - 'Kami-sama Kiss'Photo: TMS Entertainment
Kamisama Kiss is an anime about a girl whose deadbeat dad forces her to take an offer to live with a strange man - a man who turns out to be connected to a shrine... a shrine which she now has to become the goddess of! Her new familiar, Tomoe, is decidedly displeased by this, but the two eventually come to respect and even love one another.
While Nanami is clearly the protagonist and viewpoint, she isn't the person whose story is the true center of the series. That person is Tomoe, whose dark past and character development is usually the focus of the show.A good protagonist?
Simon - 'Tengan Toppa Gurren Lagann'Photo: Trigger
When Gurren Lagann begins, Simon is just an ordinary person who lacks the confidence to take on the responsibilities of a hero. It's actually his best bro Kamina who spearheads their plans to save humanity from a life underground.
Once Kamina passes away, Simon becomes the full-on protagonist, no secondary about it. But it's only because of the lessons he learned through his friendship with Kamina that he's able to reach those heights.A good protagonist?
Nene Yashiro - 'Toiletbound Hanako-kun'Photo: Lerche
Toilet-bound Hanako-kun is primarily about the titular Hanako-kun, one of the Seven Wonders of Kamome Academy. Originally called Yugi Amane, he passed away tragically sometime after destroying his own brother, and ended up haunting the girl's bathroom and keeping the school safe from nefarious supernatural forces. But while Hanako is undoubtedly the most powerful force in the story, we don't see it through his eyes.
Instead, we learn about Hanako and his world through Nene Yashiro, a romance-obsessed girl who ends up becoming his assistant. This helps preserve a sense of mysteries, keeping viewers guessing about Hanako's true intentions and history in a way that wouldn't be possible if the story were told from his perspective.A good protagonist?
Chiyo Sakura - 'Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun'Photo: Doga Kobo
Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun revolves around a romantically clueless shojo author and the relationships he has with his very strange friends. However, the actual protagonist isn't the story's main focus - it's Chiyo Sakura, a girl who tries to confess her feelings to him but ends up becoming his art assistant instead due to a misunderstanding. It'd be a very different story if we saw things from Nozaki's perspective instead, since he has very little insight into what's happening around him, and often gets things wrong.A good protagonist?