For all their reach and popularity, not all anime series follow lovable, or even likable, characters. Anime thrives by providing viewers with complex, difficult personalities, but even this jaded genre can't help but give the viewers beloved anime characters everyone loves. In a world of annoying kids and truly loathsome villains, the most universally liked anime characters bask in the love of legions of fans, who rarely if ever slander their beloved faves. Their attractive qualities make them excellent candidates for anime characters who deserve spinoff series.
Sometimes villains, sometimes the good guys, each of these well-liked anime characters are developed, nuanced personalities who can't be described with just one or two attributes. Even their flaws stand to make them all the more enjoyable. What truly makes a character great is when they feel like a real person – except, of course, when they're Pikachu. As always, be warned that this list contains SPOILERS.
While most of the characters in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood boast pretty large followings, no one stands out like Maes Hughes and his family. In his professional life, Hughes works as a soldier, but his private life shows him in a much more sympathetic role. Hughes absolutely adores his wife and three-year-old daughter, so much so he happily shows off photos of them to anyone who will look, and spends half his time on screen talking about how happy they make him. The anime community loves any and all amazing dads, especially the ones who risk it all in the line of duty.
Who would Naruto Uzumaki be without his jounin instructor, Kakashi Hatake? He sure as heck wouldn't be the hokage. Kakashi teaches Naruto the basics of being a ninja. While his Ninja Academy teacher, Iruka, is the first person to treat Naruto like a child, Kakashi is the first one to treat him like a professional ninja. Kakashi expects his students to achieve great things and wield their powers with skill – just as he does. The man boasts spectacular command over his electric abilities and his sharingan – something you never expect based on his relaxed character design.
For all his seriousness, Kakashi often comes across as a jokester – the running gag about what's hidden under his face mask is a great example. His stoic personality also works for this deeply tragic character, whose unfortunate childhood would leave most people paralyzed with grief. Kakashi contains multitudes, which is part of why people like him so much.
One of Death Note's major strengths lies in the anime's ability to make even the most loathsome people somewhat likable, or at the very least, enjoyable to watch on-screen. Light Yagami, the protagonist, is an honest-to-god serial killer, but plenty of people, including even readers, still find him charming. Despite his charm, Light still attracts a lot of haters – but L, the hunched over, cake-eating detective trying to bring Light down, is almost universally loved.
People find L awesome for a multitude of reasons. For one thing, his idiosyncratic behavior sets him apart not just from Death Note's other geniuses but other anime series – you'll find few, if any anime characters who look and act like L. Though intellectually brilliant, L never pretends he comes without any flaws. He takes poor physical care of himself (though still gives Light a run for his money at tennis), and his ethics when it comes to solving cases are questionable at best. Still, he comes across as an underdog in pursuit of justice, and what anime fan isn't into that?
Is it possible to watch Cowboy Bebop without thinking about how awesome Spike Spiegel is? Probably not. A spectacularly cool dude whose fighting style evokes that of Bruce Lee, Spiegel takes down his enemies with the same ease as when he exchanges witty banter with the rest of the Bebop crew.
Not only does he Spiegel himself appear cool, he's also extremely well-developed in terms of the plot. His past with the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate impacts his personality and behavior in ways that are sometimes subtle, and sometimes the focus of the episode. While Cowboy Bebop excels great for many reasons, it's Spike who happens to be many of said reasons.