If anime has any great appeal to its fans and possibility mass audiences, it certainly has to be the supporting cast of the series. Though the main character can get the job done, in many cases behind every strong main character is a strong supporting cast. One great example (that is not officially on this list) is certainly in Arslan Senki. Granted, Arslan himself has many great qualities as an individual, most of his accomplishments wouldn’t be possible without the supporting cast as each has their own unique contributions to his cause. So without further ado, let us explore our Top 10 Supporting Characters in Anime.
10. Bishamon from Noragami
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 2014 – Mar 2014
With some anime, some supporting characters are initially introduced as rivals and/or antagonists who later team up with with the main character. One character that fits that description is Bishamonten or Bishamon for short. Initially, she is one of Yato’s rivals and had a strong hatred against him due to a misunderstanding from their past. Once they resolve those issues, they start their road to a rather rocky relationship where they can cooperate.
What makes her a great supporting character is that she cares very much for her Shinki, souls who can be used as servants, and turn into tools/weapons for the god that is under their care. Her longest serving Shinki is Kazuma, who she treats as an equal as opposed to, a servant. Even with her uneasy introduction into the series, her base qualities shows that she is deep down inside a benevolent god and is capable of forgiveness.
9. Kazunari Takao from Kuroko no Basket (Kuroko’s Basketball)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 2012 – Sept 2012
In a good number of cases, a supporting character can be a rival. One notable example is Kazunari from Kuroko’s Basketball, who serves as a rival to Kuroko. Rivalries in sports can be healthy and generate interest such as that of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird back in the 1980s. For Takao, he sees his rivalries as a means of motivation to become a better player and to be acknowledged by his peers. With his position as the point guard, it is only natural that on a foundation, he plays both a leadership and supporting role.
Takao works hard in analyzing the skills of both his opponents and teammates and can change the course of the game in an instant or with the help of a time out. His outgoing personality ultimately does pass onto his peers that the game is all about fun and a quality like that is why he is ultimately a great supporting character.
8. Shuu Tsukiyama from Tokyo Ghoul
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 2015 – Mar 2015
Like other characters listed, Shuu is initially introduced as someone to combat our main character, Kaneki, but in the world of Tokyo Ghoul, he gets close to him because he wanted to eat him! As their time together grew, he began to genuinely care for him. Even after Kaneki was believed to have been gone, Shuu went into a downward spiral and regained his motivation after learning he was alive the whole time. Shuu is a good example of how a main character can be impactful to its supporting cast. Thanks to being a part of Kaneki and his group, he became a nice guy.
Upon recovery from his depression, his development comes full circle and a majority of his narcissist qualities cease from his psyche. After that, he brings himself to apologize and thank his servants for their care and patience during his breakdown as he goes out to resume his place in helping Kaneki and his friends. Shuu’s presence serves as an inspiration that despite what some people’s initial intentions may be, once you get to know someone and spend time with them and see their positive qualities, one can find the inspiration to change for the better.
7. Albedo from Overlord
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jul 2015 – Sept 2015
In the distant future where MMORPGs can be accessed by virtual reality (which is also becoming true in our present timeline), the games still require non-playable characters as a guide and support. For the leading guild, they have Albedo, the Overseer of the Great Tomb of Nazarick. Thanks to being an AI, with the right hacking and modifications, she can be a quality supporting character to your advantage.
Originally designed to be rather promiscuous, thanks to Momonga’s intervention, he was able to get her to fall madly in love with him. Along with her position, which qualifies her as a great supporting character, is that she is devoted to her position as guardian and will never back down from a challenge. Due to the great combination of her domestic and combative qualities, she is someone who any man would love to have. If the old saying goes behind every strong man is a strong woman, then look no further than Albedo.
6. Tatsumaki from One Punch Man
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct 2015 – Dec 2015
With the brawn of Saitama, there have to be heroes who have brains and who better than Tatsumaki, who is the most powerful esper in the series. As her name suggests (with tatsumaki meaning whirlwind), one of her trademark moves is the psychic whirlwind, a defensive technique from other espers. Due to the nature of her powers and her back-story, she tends not to make friends and has a superiority complex the size of Texas. Also, she has a tough time with people wrongly assuming she is a child due to her appearance when she is in fact 28!
In regards to her flaws, what makes her a quality supporting character is that she still finds it within her to use her powers for good rather than evil. Though she may not be the size of your average superhero, she can still take out massive creatures at the speed of thought. The fact that a person with those powers is one of the good guys is enough to call that a blessing.
5. Portgas D. Ace from One Piece
- Episodes: Currently Airing
- Aired: Oct 1999 – Present
With the large cast that One Piece has to offer, the number one supporting character from that series has to go to the handsome Portgas D. Ace. Like Luffy and Sabo, he also ate a special fruit that would give him special abilities, but Ace would gain the power to wield fire. Though Ace belongs to another group of pirates, he still understands the value of family with both Luffy (his adopted brother) and Whitebeard (his captain who he looks up to as his father).
His greatest moment in devotion to his family is in his final moments defending his brother from Akainu. Though his physical presence is gone, inspired by his sacrifice, Luffy goes off to train for two years to become a pirate strong enough to protect his crew. Sometimes a supporting character can be there physically, but Ace shows that presence within one’s heart can be enough to qualify that they can still be of irreplaceable contribution.
4. Might Guy from Naruto: Shippuuden
- Episodes: Currently Airing
- Aired: Feb 2007 - Present
From Naruto’s immense roster, we have Guy, the master of Rock Lee, Neji, and Tenten. Though he comes across as a joke to both other cast members and audiences, he really puts the might in his name. Even Itachi, one of the series’ antagonists is aware of his strength. Guy’s story also extends to his pupil, Rock Lee.
In addition to their physical appearances (despite not being related), they shared similar weaknesses in their inabilities to use genjutsu (illusionary techniques) and ninjutsu (ninja techniques) but made up for their inadequacies with taijutsu, or martial arts techniques. Though Guy does develop the ability to use both genjutsu and ninjutsu, he tends to avoid using them out of respect for his father and to prove hard work pays off. Thanks to a hard training regimen and always-forward outlook, Guy grows up to become a respectable ninja.
With his ability to maintain his optimism in the worst case scenario and how he cares so much for his disciples and comrades, he is truly a man to have your back in battle or to cheer you up when you’re down.
3. Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Episodes: 64
- Aired: Apr 2009 – Jul 2010
Even though Roy and Ed tend to have an uneasy relationship throughout the series, in the end, Roy and Ed can still depend on each other when it counts the most. Though he appears rather Machiavellian on the outside, deep down inside, he is a very benevolent leader. He is very supportive of Ed’s efforts in obtaining the Philosopher’s Stone, has feelings for Lt. Hawkeye, his assistant, and will stop at nothing to avenge the assassination of his best friend, Maes Hughes.
Due to his core qualities, the loyalty his subordinates’ show are unquestionable, and due to his impressive fighting prowess and his calm presence in contrast to Ed’s tenseness, they represent a very excellent contrast. Not only does Roy represent a good contrast to Ed, but to King Bradley himself in terms of leadership. While Bradley is willing to sacrifice troops, Roy would never do such a thing. So not only does he qualify as a great supporting character, but a great leader as well.
2. Rem from Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 2016 – Sept 2016
Carrying over from our Top 10 Anime Sidekicks article, we have Rem. Rem, as a character, represents not only that the appearance of someone can be deceiving, but that we shouldn’t judge people based on them. It’s what’s on the inside that counts. Though Rem is a demon, she still exhibits qualities that still make her genuinely human. When her relationship with Subaru begins to blossom (to an unpleasant twist), they share several qualities that many "real" couples enjoy.
If you find yourself in a situation where the real world rejects you and you happen to save the life of a demon girl, you can find happiness and devotion. Subaru and Rem share the actual trials and happiness that any relationship can have (romantic or not) but in the end, they have an unbreakable bond that goes beyond the worlds they belong to.
1. Levi from Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 2013 – Sept 2013
An undeniable addition to this list is Levi from Attack on Titan, and one of humanity’s greatest soldiers on the battlefield. A huge majority of his portrayal tends to exhibit him as someone with a superiority complex. He is an obsessive clean freak, very rarely shows any emotion, and tends to conduct himself in a rather offensive manner. Not only that, he can be excessively abusive such as when he attacked Eren during his court martial (but as a twisted means of helping him). With all these cold qualities, what can redeem him to make it on this list? For starters, he does care very much for his soldiers and when they had to retreat during the 57th Expedition, he actually showed emotion that he cared about the lives that were lost on his watch.
You still might be thinking, what quality makes him an effective supporting character? Though Mikasa is also capable of such combative qualities, Levi just happens to be the greatest warrior the Survey Corps has to offer, to the point that most of his titan kills are done single handedly. He demonstrates little to no fear or hesitation that it can be mistaken as sadistic. He does have a position of leadership, he very rarely gives orders unless it is necessary and trusts his soldiers to make their own decisions. Levi may come across as an “ends justifying the means” kind of warrior, but deep down inside, he is a man who cares about humanity and ultimately, those he considers his friends.
Once again, it is undeniable that lists such as these are difficult and time consuming to put together. With all the anime out there, the choices are almost limitless because numerous titles all have a great supporting cast. Due to these choices, we have decided to make some honorable mentions. Shout outs go to Kuwabara from Yuu Yuu Hakusho, Narsus from Arslan Senki, Yuki from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and CC from Code Geass.
Again, we ultimately leave it up to you guys to offer your own list of great supporting characters in anime. If you have any idea whether it’d be your top 5, 10, or 20, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts. The community will appreciate it.