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For decades, anime has offered girls and women around the world with plenty of badass role models. Some of the most popular anime ladies in recent years include the iconic warrior of love and justice Sailor Moon and the talented acrobatic warrior Mikasa Ackerman from Attack on Titan. However, the following ladies in this list are unfortunately not as popular as they should be. There are tons of badass girls and women in anime, and these are just some of the many characters who should be more appreciated in anime fandom.
(It should be noted that this list contains minor spoilers for Nana, Blood+, Attack on Titan, and Sailor Moon Crystal.)
Nana Osaki (Nana, 2006)
Nana is the only character in this list who doesn’t have superhuman abilities or magical weapons. Her special talent is her amazing singing voice. A total punk rocker, dressed in black from head to toe, Nana leads the band Black Stones with her powerful stage presence and emotive performances. Her band goes from a small-town garage act to a nationally-renowned bestseller, in large part thanks to her striking voice and emotional lyrics, and the way she’s able to connect to the audience. When she’s onstage, Nana is confident and expressive. Nana is a badass because she is confident being a feminine and fierce rock star. Aside from her rock star persona, Nana is a complicated character who can often be very selfish and judgmental. She keeps up a shield and holds people at a distance. But these flaws make her a believable and well-rounded character. She’s the most realistic character on this list, and this realism comes mainly from her character flaws. Her friendship with her roommate Nana Komatsu makes her a better person. Over the course of the series, Nana opens up and learns how to be a true friend. The relationship between the two Nana’s is one of the most important female friendships in the history of anime.
Saya Otonashi (Blood+, 2005-2007)
I don’t know about you, but if 16-year-old me had discovered I was actually a superhuman vampire girl, I would have absolutely lost it. Saya doesn’t! This teenage schoolgirl handles her destiny like a superwoman and rises to the challenge. Saya fights all kinds of nasty and demonic vampire monsters on her mission to defeat her evil twin sister Diva. Where Nana is about friendship at its core, Blood+ is about family. At the beginning of the series, Saya is an amnesiac with no memory of her past. She’s very close to her adoptive father and brothers. The four of them have a saying: “Nankurunaisa” (which can be written as “なんくるないさ” in hiragana). This Japanese phrase essentially means “It’ll all work out.” Throughout the show, Saya is reminded of this phrase by her brothers, and it helps her draw strength. When she faces seemingly impossible obstacles, Saya keeps her family in mind and summons inner courage to defeat her enemies. Saya’s bravery and amazing fighting abilities make her a total badass. Saya proves that people shouldn’t underestimate teenage girls.
Hanji Zoe (Attack on Titan, 2013)
Mikasa Ackerman is rightly Attack on Titan‘s most popular female character. But Hanji, a skilled member of the Survey Corps, is arguably the most underappreciated badass character in the story. Hanji Zoe (also written as Hange Zoë) is a scientist who studies living Titans that the Survey Corps has captured. Hanji wants to learn more about the mindless Titans, and she’s brave enough to come face to face with them for her research. Her outlook on the Titans makes her a very unique character in the series. She doesn’t have pure hatred for the Titans, rather she’s curious about their origins and approaches them from a scientific perspective. Hanji gives each of her test subjects a name. She usually becomes attached to them, proving she has compassion even for humanity’s mortal enemies. Hanji also has a brilliant tactical mind, and she invents new tools and methods to help take down the Titans in battle. Hanji has multiple sides to her personality. She can be very threatening and intimidating when she needs to be; she can also be very giddy and hyper when she’s talking about her favorite topic: Titans! Hanji is a badass because of her brilliant mind and her enthusiasm for her research. She’s an invaluable member of the Survey Corps, and her comrades in the Survey Corps would be worse off without her contributions.
Sailor Pluto (Sailor Moon Crystal, 2014-2015)
The Sailor Scout from the lonely dwarf-planet is tasked with an equally lonely responsibility: she has to guard the Door of Time for eternity all by herself. Talk about a lousy job! But Sailor Pluto is a total badass, so she can handle this immense responsibility with poise and composure. She’s the Sailor Scout of time and space, and she’s equipped with the formidable Garnet Rod and the powerful Dead Scream attack, arguably the coolest-looking attributes of any of the Sailor Scouts. Pluto is a quiet, poised, and serious character. But she has a lot of depth. Underneath her hard outer shell, she has a soft and kind heart. Pluto acts like a big sister and best friend towards Chibiusa, Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask’s future daughter. Pluto fondly refers to Chibiusa as Small Lady. When Chibiusa is in danger, Pluto is only concerned about Chibiusa’s well-being, even more than her duty of permanently guarding the Door of Time. Sailor Pluto will do anything, even abandon her post, to protect Small Lady. Did I mention yet that Pluto is able to stop time itself? Pluto is forbidden from using this incredible ability because it could literally kill her! This ability is so intense that it could drain all the life energy out of her. If that doesn’t make Sailor Pluto the most badass Sailor Scout ever, I don’t know what else would. Her awesome-looking appearance, out-of-this-world powers, and heart of gold make Sailor Pluto an epic badass. No one, not even the other awesome ladies on this list, would want to mess with her.