Other Reference: Tiger and Bunny
Friendship is a pretty common theme in anime, but some male characters share a special kind a friendship that transcends family ties and romantic endeavors. They have a bromance. Even if they aren’t family, and there’s no real romance, they have an unwavering brotherly love that ultimately makes them better people for it.
Why do we, as fans, love watching bromances? You probably have to ask a sociologist for a proper answer, but for us laymen, bromances are heartfelt and life-affirming pieces of storytelling that should never die! Thus, in celebration of the greatness of the bromance, here are the top ten bromance anime.
10. Killua and Gon from Hunter x Hunter (2011)
- Episodes: 148
- Aired: Aired: Oct. 2011 – Sept. 2014
In this shonen fighting anime, Hunters are registered adventurers who fight bad guys and explore new worlds. Gon Freecss and Killua Zoldyck both wish to become Hunters and gain supernatural fighting abilities in order to reconcile with their pasts. Killua is from a family of legendary assassins and was guarded from making friends to maintain a killer’s instinct. His friendship with Gon becomes a crucial stepping stone in leaving behind his dark assassin past. Killua continues to look to Gon as a contrast to the life his family gave him. He once elaborates, “Gon, you are light.”
Gon is an upbeat kid who would believe in platitudes like “Friends are the best!” and “I’ll do anything for a friend.” This attitude got the friendship started, but it’s Killua’s treatment of their relationship that truly makes this a bromance. Gon is Killua’s first real friend, and finding his first friend at the age of twelve carries a certain weight. He treasures Gon and their friendship so much that he would defy prophecy and risk his life to protect both, making this bromance the foundation of the Hunter x Hunter series.
Bro Lesson: A bro never gives up on a bro.
9. Nicolas and Worick from Gangsta.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul. 2015 – Sept. 2015
Nicolas Brown and Worick Arcangelo are the “Handymen,” a neutral duo in a Western city ruled by organized crime. They fight off people who are breaking the rules of the city, do hit jobs for the police, and finish a plethora of other small tasks like deliveries for a local doctor. They are a constant fixation in the city, but they weren’t always.
Worick is an illegimate son of the influential Arcangelo family and lived on his father’s estate as a child with Nicolas as his bodyguard, a deaf boy with mixed Twilight heritage. Twilights are humans with extraordinary physical prowess but are treated with disdain and discrimination. Worick feels connected to Nicolas as both are abused and neglected by their fathers. The two bond as Worick teaches Nicolas to read, and they learn sign language together. After Nicolas’ father abandons him and Worick’s father’s abuse escalates, a bloody and tragic incident has the two on the run and living on the streets together.
Many think Worick was kidnapped by Nicolas, and now Worick depends on him for survival. Others think Nicolas is living under contract, doing Worick’s bidding, but the two see each other as good friends. They share clothes and playfully bicker, and they will do anything to guarantee the survival of their buddy. Despite or because of their tragically haunting past, they remain by each other’s side and share each other’s burden.
Bro Lesson: Bromance knows not of race, class, or status.
8. Mikazuki and Orga from Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans (Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blood Orphans)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct. 2015 – present
In Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blood Orphans, Mikazuki Augus and Orga Itsuka, childhood friends who have been living on their own since a young age. While working at a security company, Mika and Orga’s unit, mostly teenagers and children, is assigned to escort a Martian aristocrat to Earth for negotiations on Martian independence, but a military group that rules the inner Solar System attacks the civilian workforce in order to stop her journey. The adults of the company run away and leave the younger men behind to die. Through Orga’s leadership and Mika’s brutal fighting ability, the young unit is able to defeat their attackers and take over the company from the adults who betrayed them.
Mika admires Orga’s charismatic leadership and always expects Orga to show him new and interesting things. Orga often exceeds his expectations. As the boss of their new company, Orga organizes a new workforce and wins over a powerful ally, a company that rules the outer Solar System. Orga, in turn, admires Mika for always being cool-headed and constantly improving himself. He entrusts Mika to spearhead their battles in his Gundam. This mutual admiration and trust keeps these bros moving forward with incredible resilience.
Bro Lesson: Bros who look forward together, move forward together.
7. Mashiro Moritaka and Takagi Akito from Bakuman.
- Episodes: 75
- Aired: Oct. 2010 – Mar. 2013
Mashiro Moritaka and Takagi Akito are a protagonist duo in Bakuman. Takagi sets up a fateful meeting between Mashiro and his crush Azuki Miho, where they promise to get married after achieving their dreams. The promise? Mashiro will create a manga that gets adapted into an anime, in which Azuki would voice the main female character. Thus, the duo start on their first manga creation written by Takagi and illustrated by Mashiro. They set their sights on the biggest goal for a shonen manga artist: to make a manga that is the pillar of Weekly Shonen Jack.
As they finally start getting published, they become one under the pen name Ashirogi Muto, and their individual talents grow immensely while overcoming talented rivals, failed manga titles, and health issues. Working together isn’t always smooth sailing. Mashiro and Takagi could break up and easily work with other writers or illustrators and probably still be successful, but that’s simply out of the question. They are determined to accomplish their goals as Ashirogi Muto, a symbol of their unbreakable bond as bros.
Bro Lesson: A good bro believes in his bro’s dreams.
6. Gakuto and Kiyoshi from Prison School
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul. 2015 – Sept. 2015
In the ecchi comedy Prison School, five high school boys find themselves serving out a cruel and unusual prison sentence for peeping. The prison facility is owned and operated by the Underground Student Council, who are looking to make these boys the first and the last five boys to ever attend their high school.
Enduring hard labor, unspeakable violence, and a possible expulsion, the boys grit their teeth. Yet despite having a healthy amount of male camaraderie, seeds of distrust start to appear, especially focused on our main man Kiyoshi. His best bro Gakuto always gives Kiyoshi the benefit of the doubt, helps him get away from the prison for a date with his crush, and does even more amazing, self-sacrificing feats that would easily earn Gakuto the “Bro of the Year” Award. Together they instill hope and faith in humanity in each other even in their dire situation.
Bro Lesson: A bro in need is a bro indeed.
5. Kuroko and Kagami from Kuroko no Basket (Kuroko’s Basketball)
- Episodes: 75
- Aired: Apr. 2012 – Jun. 2015
This shonen sports anime explores all the stages of the bromance. Broken bromances, budding bromances, fully functioning bromances—Kuroko’s Basketball should be called Kuroko’s Bromance. The main bromance of the story is between Kuroko Tetsuya and Kagami Taiga.
Kuroko loves basketball and loved playing with his best friends in junior high school, a group of incredible basketball players called the Generation of Miracles. Being the best comes with its consequences. They only cared about winning. Friendship and sportsmanship were pushed to the sidelines, and the six regular players eventually had a falling out. After graduation, each player went to a different high school, becoming rivals for the Number 1 spot in the nation.
Devastated by how things turned out in junior high, Kuroko is determined to prove victory-centric thinking is no way to treat basketball by defeating his former teammates. He joins Seirin High School, where he meets Kagami, a freshman with miracle-level talent. After seeing Kagami’s skill up close, Kuroko vows to become the shadow to Kagami’s light. Kagami is impressed by Kuroko’s love of basketball, and the two agree that no friendship should be lost over basketball. They work together to claim the championship and reclaim lost friendships.
Bro Lesson: Bros who work together can create miracles.
4. Takeo and Suna from Ore Monogatari!! (My Love Story!!)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Apr. 2015 – Sept. 2015
Ore Monogatari!! is not your everyday shoujo anime. It’s a romantic comedy featuring an intimidating-looking man’s man Gouda Takeo and the super cute and mousey Yamato Rinko. When it comes to Takeo’s best bud Sunakawa Makoto, he’s also not your everyday bro. He’s an extraordinary bro. Following the nearly impossible “golden rule” of bros, Suna refuses to date a girl who has talked bad about Takeo, even though Suna is very popular for his good looks and kind demeanor. Some people think the bearish Takeo cramps his style, but the thought doesn’t even enter Suna’s mind.
Likewise, Takeo is no slouch when it comes to his BFF since kindergarten. Takeo is always considering Suna before himself. When Rinko first shows interest in Takeo, he is certain the lovely girl is interested in Suna. He’s willing to give her up for Suna and Rinko’s happiness. Lucky for him, that wasn’t the case. Toss in their mutual admiration for each other’s coolness, and this is easily a high school bromance of legend.
Bro Lesson: A true bro roots for true love.
3. Kamina and Simon from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
- Episodes: 27
- Aired: Apr. 2007 – Sept. 2007
In a strange world where human beings live underground, Kamina dreams of going to the surface, but he can’t imagine what awaits him there, giant mechanized robots piloted by beast-men who are trying to cleanse the world of all humanity.
A self-proclaimed epitome of manliness, Kamina makes it to the surface with the help of a younger friend Simon who finds a robot head that drills them out of ground. Simon is rather introverted but always sticks by Kamina and gladly follows him in his displays of machismo. Kamina believes in Simon strength and latent manly spirit. When Kamina steals a robot from a beast-man, the two combine their robots and together have immeasurable fighting power. Although Simon depends on Kamina, Kamina always pushes Simon to have more self-confidence and always believe in himself and believe in his bro.
Bro Lesson: If you love your bro, let everyone know!
2. Smile and Peco from Ping Pong: The Animation
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: Apr. 2014 – Jun. 2014
Ping Pong: The Animation is a seinen anime about ping pong; but more importantly, it’s a coming-of-age tale of two high school boys looking for direction in life. Peco and Smile are both exceptionally talented in ping pong. Upon entering high school, however, the competition is tougher than they imagined. Peco, originally a prodigy and undefeated champion of his age group, defects from the team and quits the sport. Smile, who is usually apathetic about being the best, sticks with the team and gets thumbed for personal coaching, resulting in amazing growth in both his talent and his thirst for winning.
Up to this point, it would seem this is a sad but very normal occurrence between childhood friends who grow apart in adolescence, but Smile isn’t just improving his skills for personal gain. A young man of few words, Smile’s actions speak for him. As Smile poises to dominate the national championships, he’s calling Peco back to the sport to reclaim all that he gave up. Peco, watching Smile become a legend in his own right, just can’t leave him alone. Smile and Peco have a bromance that contains little dialog but is overflowing with redemption and self-sacrifice. It’s the type of bromance that makes even the most cynical of us believe in people again.
Bro Lesson: A bro paves the way for his bro’s greatness.
1. Sen and Bon from Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr. 2012 – Jun. 2012
Male friendship is Watanabe Shinichiro’s specialty. In his works, he is able to show us dynamically different types of male bonding, but Kids on the Slope is by far his most bromantic.
Kids on the Slope is a josei drama that follows “Bon” Nishimi Kaoru, a brainy and privileged young man who has moved from place to place throughout his childhood. Bon enjoys playing the piano as a lone connection with his often-absent father. He is introduced to jazz by “Sen” Kawabuchi Sentaro, a loner who likes getting into fights and playing jazz on the drums. As Bon becomes more intrigued by jazz, the two end up spending all their free time together.
As time goes on, they learn more about each other’s unfortunate family circumstances but continue to face each other on equal terms, while gradually maturing into adults. Even as their hearts are being torn apart by lost loves, Bon and Sen show a strong desire to protect the other’s feelings. Life eventually pulls the two apart, but their bromance is best described by advice they received from a friendly university student: “Unlike love affairs, friendship lasts forever.”
Honorable Mention: Spike and Jet from Cowboy Bebop
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr. 1998 – Apr. 1999
The space cowboy and the black dog are the iconic duo from Cowboy Bebop, an anime about bounty hunters in space. Spike, formerly a rising youngster in a criminal syndicate, and Jet, formerly a straight-lace police officer, make an odd pair, but their parallel pasts form a strong mutual understanding between the two. Namely, both were betrayed by former bros. Can they ever bro-love again?
Cowboy Bebop was released well before bromance became a “thing,” but the bromance is alive on the Bebop. Throughout the series, the friendship they share is filled with little inside jokes and subtle jabs that make their relationship entertaining and believable. When push comes to shove, they show certain reluctance to the idea of the other leaving the Bebop behind; however, as Spike’s past starts to catch up to him, Jet faces the stark reality that Spike can’t stay.
Bro Lesson: Sometimes the best thing for a bro to do is to let a bro face his demons.
Can you feel the bro love?
In so many different genres, bromance is gaining a lot of traction in anime lately, and it’s a trend we absolutely adore! Male friendships come in so many shapes and sizes, so it’s good to see the bromance breaking through all the semi-friendly rivalries, wingmen, and “male friend B” relationships we often see in anime. Way to go bros!
If you’re looking for some bromances in the making, keep your eyes on Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, and Haikyu!! for more bromantic developments!