As a medium, Anime is known for its complex characters, deep conflicts, and amazing character peaks. In this article, we’re going to list down the top 10 most male complex characters in anime of all time!
To keep things balanced, we have limited an anime to a single entry.
10) Shigeo Kageyama (Mob Psycho 100):
Shigeo Kageyama may not be the first name that pops into your head when you think about complex characters, but he’s an important one.
Mob represents a great section of teens, who are going through periods of uncertainty, lack of confidence, and direction. Mob’s explosion meter is a beautiful plot device to indicate his mental health as well.
Overall, Mob is one of the best slice-of-life, realistic characters that represent many people from their demographic.
9) Denji (Chainsaw Man):
Denji is another underrated pick in the anime community. Most people knock his character off by saying horny, even though he is one of the best protagonists in the new-gen.
Denji displays the struggles of a man literally fighting against the world, both mentally and physically. Growing up in extreme poverty, Denji was given everything and then stripped of it.
His constant battle against his traumas makes him even more compelling, as, after everything, he finds himself yet again.
8) Geto Suguru (Jujutsu Kaisen):
Geto Suguru from Jujutsu Kaisen is going to be one of the best antagonists in shonen anime after Gojo’s Flashback Arc airs. His role as Gojo’s moral compass, the Star Vessel incident, and his descent into madness are enough to make him one of the most complex characters in shonen.
However, the reactions of those around him, the impact of his decisions, and the stitch mark on his forehead elevate him to a level that is nearly unmatched. Q
7) Reiner Braun (Attack on Titan):
Reiner Braun showcased some of the most complex conflicts we have ever seen in anime. His constant battle over his role as a warrior and soldier, the guilt of killing his comrades, and understanding that Eldians are not devils were enough for people to love him.
However, certain scenes, like the time he tried to commit suicide but turned back in the end, combined with the amazing voice acting really sells Reiner Braun as one of the best characters in shonen history and anime in general.
6) Lelouch (Code Geass):
As one of the greatest antiheroes in anime, Lelouch became known as a mastermind. Exiled from his own family, Lelouch sought revenge. However, his goals were grander. Through his ability, the Power of Absolute Obedience, he did whatever was necessary.
This is where Lelouch decided to draw a line between right and wrong, a tough moral decision. What really makes him amazing is how he knowingly crosses the line and plans his own death, so that others can live in peace, creating a far more compelling case than other anti-heroes like Stain and Light Yagami.
5) Sasuke Uchiha (Naruto):
Born as a cheerful, happy child, Sasuke lived a happy life. However, his brother’s decision would completely ruin everything as the poor boy was forced to watch his parents die thousands of times.
His quest for revenge led him to the truths about Konoha and the world in general. Knowing how unfair the world was to his idol, Itachi, Sasuke reached a breaking point yet again. Throughout the story, Sasuke has no choice but to react, as whatever he does reveals yet another layer of complexity.
By the end, Sasuke’s character reaches a satisfying conclusion with his best friend, Naruto, in the best way possible.
4) Johan Liebert (Monster):
Monster is an anime that’s known primarily for one thing: Johan. While the anime is consistently entertaining, filled with suspense and intriguing characters, a single frame of Johan is enough to send shivers down the watcher’s spine.
His deadly charisma, combined with only one person ever managing to keep up with him led Johan from wanting to be the last one standing to hoping for a much darker end goal, which was covered in multiple layers of perspective, wishes, and understanding.
3) Guts (Berserk):
Surviving in the world of Berserk would be more than enough for an average person, let alone maintain their sanity after what Guts went through.
Since his birth, Guts was unfortunate, and even if things got better for him, it went south real quick. Still, Guts learned to be more thoughtful and not just swing his big-ass sword as he tries to protect the little good that exists in his world.
2) Thorfinn (Vinland Saga):
Thorfinn Karlsefni, the protagonist of Vinland Saga is one of the most unconventional and emotional protagonists of all time. From watching his father die at the age of 5, the boy turned into a warrior at that same age; working for his father’s killer.
The first part of the series sees him seek revenge and fail, which is only the prologue of his story. We then see him go through depression, have nightmares where the people he killed try to drag him to hell, and a creation of a new resolve: to become a true warrior.
While this is amazing, what makes Thorfinn so compelling is his dedication towards his path of redemption and how he has to face consequences for the smallest decisions he had made in the past.
1) Shinji Ikari (Neon Genesis Evangelion):
Out of all the animes, Neon Genesis Evangelion has the most complex cast, no doubt. If we had not limited ourselves to one character per series, then half of this list would’ve been Nge characters!
Shinji is a look in the mirror. He isn’t the hero we want him to be, Shinji is not who we seek. Shinji is pathetic. And, that’s what makes him so compelling.
This character forces people to look at themselves in the mirror and think what would have they done in this situation when they were 14 years old?
Inspired by the author’s depression, Shinji and Nge itself is a note to oneself about fighting those battles with our demons. It inspires us to not rely on escapism to cope with our issues, but to focus on ourselves and make positive changes in our lives, no matter how difficult things get.
It blurs the line between reality and fantasy, right and wrong, for the watcher to think, understand and use this learning in their own lives and seek the answers they need. Shinji’s legacy as an emotional character is unmatched as he inspires authors to this day, almost two decades since the end of the series.
Who’s your favorite pick? Let us know in the comments below!