A White Knight is a well-worn television trope, even in anime. They are chivalrous above all else, acting first and considering the consequences later, sometimes in spite of their better judgement. Once they’ve successfully rescued a damsel in distress, or defended their honor, they search for the next cause to support, or another wrong to right. And while they don’t have to be literal knights, it definitely helps. Here are the top ten white knight characters in anime.
10. Yōtarō Hanabusa – Lance N’Masques
As the last in a long line of an order of the Knights of the World, dedicated to bringing justice and order, Yōtarō definitely feels the pressure of his station, and the expectation that he uphold their knightly legacy and ideals. Realizing the personal costs associated with his knighthood, he seeks nothing more than to cast it all aside and live the normal life of a wanderer.
Unfortunately for Yōtarō, old habits die hard. His sense of honor and decency is so ingrained in who he is that he rushes into trouble to help those in need, in spite of his better judgement. While he has the martial skills to back up his bold behavior, he also has enough scruples to be embarrassed by his brash behavior, and wears a mask to maintain the illusion of pursuing an average life. A fateful encounter with a damsel in distress, Makio, sets them both on a journey of self-discovery and adventure.
9. Ikki Kurogane – Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry/Chivalry of a Failed Knight
Ikki Kurogane’s life isn’t always easy. In a world where knights are evaluated on their magical abilities, a man devoid of magical ability like Kurogane develops a reputation that belies his noble heart, and his combat prowess. Dubbed “the worst one” by his peers, it’s up to Kurogane to shake up the status quo and prove that a knight is more than raw ability.
Ikki Kurogane has unparalleled abilities in combat, and is able to best even the strongest of knights through careful consideration of his opponent’s abilities and character, before going all out on the offensive. But the most shining quality he displays, besides his refusal to accept the expectations of others, is his willingness to support those close to him, and help them in their times of need. The best example of this is when Kurogane comes to the aid of Ayase, the daughter of a famous swordsman who puts her life at risk, knowing that Kurogane will save her, in the hopes of having a chance to best him in combat. He is a knight who is very honest in his intentions, and always willing to rise to a challenge.
8. Nagate Tanizaka – Sidonia no Kishi/Knights of Sidonia
Nagate Tanizaka and his compatriots live in a bleak space station where their lives are regularly put at risk in a constant war with the mysterious Gauna, monstrous creatures motivated to destroy humanity. Fortunately, Tanizaka is a beacon of hope; a genetically engineered clone of civilization’s greatest hero with the ability to pilot the giant mecha, Garde, with a grace and skill unlike any other.
Tanizaka is willing to put everything on the line in the fight against the Gauna, especially when it comes to aiding his co-pilots. Even when it means rushing into a battle that more sensible pilots would flee, he does so without a second thought. Although he doesn’t always come out on top, and the price of his failures is measured in the blood of those he loves, his refusal to give up and fight for the sake of others proves that even in the darkest future, chivalry refuses to die.
7. Koyomi Araragi – Bakemonogatari
Koyomi Araragi proves that not every white knight is the brightest star in the sky. He’s a run of the mill high school student with very real struggles in almost every subject, who just so happens to have survived a vampire attack that left him imbued with supernatural powers. Which he uses to help a harem of girls with bizarre afflictions.
And help them he does, even at the risk of his own life. He goes above and beyond the call of friendship to help them overcome their problems. Outside of his urgency to assist those in need, he also displays a strong sense of loyalty to those closest to him, especially his love interest Hitagi. He is able to balance his chivalrous desire to help others with the needs of his lady, which proves he is a true knight. While the show subverts the concept of white knights with Oshino’s catchphrase, “it is impossible to save another person,” that doesn’t stop Koyomi from proving the exception to her rule.
6. Daryun – Arslan Senki/The Heroic Legend of Arslan
True knights are able to maintain their sense of morality and justice even in a world of complicated grays, and none demonstrate this better than the black knight of Pars, Daryun. His ability is battle is unparalleled, and is supported by a strong intellect born from natural combat instincts, as well as a strong sense of loyalty.
After their defeat at the hands of Lusitania, Daryun fights tooth and claw to ensure the safety of the crown prince, Arslan, to whom he swore an oath of loyalty on his sword, and honor as a knight. He is able to restrain his more barbaric instincts in the service of his prince, and demonstrates his value as a truly loyal friend by saving his life time and again.
5. Milliardo Peacecraft – Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
Occasionally the rode to nobility is riddled with bumps and detours, and no knightly character represents this better than ace gundam pilot Milliardo Peacecraft. The would-be king of the oppressed Sanc Kingdom, he joins a militaristic organization in the hopes of achieving independence and peace for his people, even at the expense of his morality.
Such is his loyalty to his people, and especially his sister, Relena. He uses every ounce of his considerable ability on the battlefield the forward his ideals, working tirelessly behind the scenes to end the political and military strife plaguing the Earth sphere alliance and the colonies, all the while butting heads with the series’ protagonists and painting himself the bad guy. He is proof that sometimes a knight must force themselves to be viewed as a villain in order to be truly heroic.
4. Saito Hiraga – Zero no Tsukaima/The Familiar of Zero
A young man from Earth summoned to a strange world by a witch, Louise, Saito is not your typical knight. Through bonding with Louise as her familiar, he obtains a special power that allows him to immediately understand any object that was made as a weapon, and to wield it with the valor of an expert knight. He also has a magical talking sword to guide him, and help in times of need.
With his gift, he proves himself in battle time and again, even going so far as to defeat an entire army single-handedly. Although he is a bit of womanizer, as any young man who is a stranger in a strange land would be, he has a fierce loyalty to Louise, and will defend her honor on and off the battlefield. Unfortunately, due to the nature of their relationship, he’s often forced to defend himself against her physical assaults and verbal insults.
3. Goku – Dragon Ball Z
Not all white knight characters need to wield a sword or wear a suit of armor, and no character proves this better than the saiyan with a heart of gold, Goku. Although his adventures started at a young age, it’s once he has grown into adulthood and started a family of his own that he truly begins to understand the responsibility associated with his strength, and the duty he has to defend the people important to him, and occasionally, the entire world.
Goku leaps fearlessly into battle, relying on his intuitive, genetic understanding of combat to assess his opponents and best them, even in the face of defeat. He’s not afraid to put it all on the line when it comes to acting as the shield for those he cares for, and often sacrifices his own well-being for his brothers-in-arms. He can always be counted on for support in time of greatest need, and has proven himself time and again as one of the most pure-hearted defenders of mankind.
2. Kirito – Sword Art Online
Speaking of wielding swords, Kirito is an unparalleled swordsman in the videogame world of SAO, where he works tirelessly as a solo player to survive the game and conquer any challenges presented therein. After the defeat of his guild, his self-confidence is shaken, but he continues to press forward in his quest to clear the game and be able to return to the real world.
Being trapped in a literal game of life and death isn’t entirely bad, as proved by the blossoming relationship Kirito has with Asuna. While Kirito has his own goals in the game, his will is strongest when pointed towards an objective related to the well-being of Asuna. She proves to be an atypical damsel in distress, as she’s quite capable in battle as well, and the two of them together prove to be an unstoppable force for good in the distressing world of the game.
1. Tuxedo Mask – Bishōjo Senshi Sailor Moon/Sailor Moon Series
Tuxedo Mask, aka Mamoru Chiba, aka Moonlight Knight, aka Prince Endymion is a man who wears many hats (and masks!). He’s a mild-mannered high school student with a memory problem and a crush on a girl who just so happens to be the leader of a squad of ass-kicking girls on a mission to defend Earth from evil, and will do anything in his power to ensure their safety and success.
While the Sailors are more than capable on their own, Tuxedo Mask is always there to turn the tide in their favor when the chips are on the table and the cards could go either way. He is a watchful presence who provides sage advice and insight, as well as assistance in battle whenever they need it most. He’s the epitome of white knights, offering anything and everything he’s capable of for the greater good, and in doing so discovers the truth about his identity, and his royal legacy.
There they are, ten heroic white knights of varying stripes. What do you think? Are there any chivalrous souls that should be on the list, who epitomize the virtues of strength and justice? Sound off in the comments below and let us know!