There is no more time-honored tradition among anime fans than debating which character is better than others. It’s not always a matter of strength (although we do enjoy the endless debates over which characters could kick each other’s ass) but overall importance, and that includes their importance to both the fandom and pop culture as a whole. We decided to go with someone whose pop culture importance is way “over 9,000,” and we’re putting the crown for best anime character on the spiky head of Goku.
Goku’s popularity is one reason for his ranking at the top, but it’s certainly not the only reason.
Before you say anything, we get it: Goku isn’t a super surprising choice for the best anime character simply because he is one of the most popular characters in the world. In fact, Goku’s popularity is likely the primary reason that we’re going to be getting a brand new show next year in the form of Dragon Ball Daima. When it comes to our choice, Goku’s popularity is one reason for his ranking at the top, but it’s certainly not the only reason.
Goku Is Inspiring
A very big part of why Goku is the best anime character in our eyes is the fact (and please don’t laugh while we say this) that he is so inspirational. Across multiple series, we have basically watched him attain the power of a minor god through sheer tenacity.
Watching Goku improve himself over the years simply because he believes he can be better tomorrow than he is today has inspired everything from a few extra trips to the gym (just call it our own Hyperbolic Time Chamber) to returning to school to chase our biggest dreams.
Interestingly, the great power Goku has attained is another part of why he’s the best anime character, but not in the way you might think. We don’t love Goku because he is crazy strong…instead, we love Goku because despite having the power to literally destroy worlds, he has instead devoted (and even given) his life in order to protect others.
Outsider critics sometimes think Dragon Ball fans just enjoy the power fantasy, but Goku embodies the most positive version of that fantasy: like Superman before him, this character never abuses his power but instead uses it to protect those who are weaker.
On top of that, Goku is our choice for the best anime character because he turns encounters with enemies into a chance to become stronger. This is why he originally had Krillin spare Vegeta’s life, and it’s something you just don’t see from other anime protagonists. For example, fan-favorite Attack on Titan character Levi Ackerman is great at felling the titular foes, but he is basically a static character who never experiences any real character growth from his battles.
Fans have often labeled Goku as goofy, and while the bighearted lout has his silly moments, another reason he is the best anime character is that he knows how to get serious in the wake of serious threats. For example, whenever he squares off against Frieza, Goku dispenses with the jokes and things get deadly serious.
Goku embodies the most positive version of that fantasy: like Superman before him, this character never abuses his power but instead uses it to protect those who are weaker.
This may piss off Straw Hats around the world, but Goku’s ability to put on a real game face when the time comes always made him seem more captivating than Luffy from One Piece (who basically has the personality of a comedic sidekick in the body of a leading character).
We know that not every fan will agree with our pick for best anime character, but like Goku when he fights Broly, we’re not backing down. Goku has been a kickass, inspirational character that has been enthralling television audiences since 1986. With the recent announcement of Dragon Ball Daima, we can only hope Goku continues inspiring us for many more decades to come.