Preparing a top ten protagonists list is a much harder task than a villains list, mostly because most protagonists stand at the centre of their series and, if one is that devoted or excited about a given anime or manga, it can be difficult to remain objective, to choose a hero because of the actions they performed in the year to make them that deserving, rather one’s personal adoration of a character.
And that is what i have tried to do, looking at this list, trying to determine just which character was really the most deserving of the title of top protagonist of 2013, as opposed to most awesome hero.
That being said i will not say that i achieved objectivity with this list, though i did try. Anyway, this is the list of greatest protagonists in anime and manga of 2013, at least as far as I am concerned:
1. HASHIRAMA SENJU (NARUTO MANGA)
Nothing less than a god among shinobi, a key component in Sasuke's supposed transformation, this including his actions alongside the current kage and shinobi to promote peace in the face of a great enemy. Is there a question with regards to who the biggest badass in manga has been this year? Precluding Madara of course.
2. EREN JEAGER (ATTACK ON TITAN ANIME)
While Attack on Titan is home to a cast of dazzling heroes, the anime bringing to life their hopes and struggles in a rather disturbing and violent light, there is something to be said about the odds Eren has contended with to acquire his position of importance in this struggle for survival, from his horrifying death at the hands of a titan to his miraculous and rather violent revival, to the hardships he endured under the hand of Levi and group, each time rising above to kick serious ass.
Eren personifies the typical shonen creed of never giving up like we haven’t seen in a while, the only member of his group to so bravely face the Titan assault on humanity with a glint of hope. Plus that final bout with the female titan was something to behold.
3. ITACHI UCHIHA (NARUTO)
It is difficult to talk about Itachi without fanboying over his awesomeness; this has been the year of the Uchiha if you think about it, and Itachi’s injection into the war turned a fairly average arc into something so much more, from his battle with Naruto, to his long awaited confrontation with Sasuke and final fight against Kabuto.
Anyone notice that every time Itachi opens his mouth, there is nothing but wisdom coming out; and the way he brought the innocence out of sasuke during their brief time together, that final moving episode that saw him finally exit from the world of the living on his own terms…Itachi rules, and that is my completely subjective opinion.
4. RAI (NOBLESSE MANHWA)
Noblesse wouldn’t be the awesome Manhwa it is without the presence of this noble hero; elegant, silent, Rai epitomizes the concept of absolute power, wielding the noblesse strength this year to levels yet to be imagined- tornadoes of blood? seriously?- yet showing a level of kindness and grace not many heroes can boast of.
Rai seems to have chosen 2013 to throw everything on the line for humanity, using an ability fueled by his own life force to unleash untold destruction to those that would harm his friends or any other member of the human race, quick to show his softer side, opening his arms even to those enemies that wished him ill, determined to find normalcy beyond his noble birth.
Also the only character on this list that can match Itachi blow for blow in the area of coolness and swag.
5. NARUTO UZUMAKI (NARUTO ANIME/MANGA)
I know, that’s a lot of Naruto characters on this list. But who can blame me, the series was on fire this year. With the prophecy of the hermit upon his shoulders Naruto has stood to pass the test of time, liberating the bijuu from the infamous tobito, uniting old enemies in the good fight against evil and standing at the front lines of the fourth great shinobi war; basically carrying the hope of humanity, reliving and surpassing his father’s legend and legacy… Uzumaki Naruto the true shinobi hero.
6. COMMANDER ERWIN (ATTACK ON TITAN MANGA)
While known as the man that stakes the lives of hundreds to save hundreds of thousands, seemingly a monster who so easily toys with human life, Erwin fights to see the day when humanity will strike back against the titans, losing an arm to fulfill this dream and really, the walled community's only hope of standing against their deadly foe. "One who cannot sacrifice anything cannot achieve anything"
7. SAITAMA (ONE PUNCH MAN MANGA)
SAITAMA is awesome. Considering that One Punch man is considered by many as the most idiotic manga of the year, it is difficult to understand the appeal of this crazy character unless you have had an opportunity to scroll through the mostly senseless pages of this manga.
Maybe it is Saitama’s…normalness, his lack of flashy persona, bold yet hilarious delivery of lines. I don’t know. Commending him on any heroic acts would be pointless though; after all they call him one punch man because he defeats all opponents with one punch.
8. KURAPIKA (HUNTERXHUNTER ANIME)
Thinking of Hunter X Hunter it is difficult to appreciate just how interesting a duo Gon and Killua have been to watch this year, that along side Hisoka, Kite and a whole host of interesting characters.
Yet it is Kurapika that somehow manages to stand above them all in 2013 and it is sad to learn that he doesn’t appear in the manga ever again, which means the Phantom troupe story line will not be resolved.
Whatever the case Kurapika was awesome this year in his role as crazed avenger, taking on phantom troupe, first singlehandedly and then as part of the Gon/Killua team during that hostage plan, ultimately placing his own life on the line to achieve the sort of impressive powers necessary to bring his arch foes down.
HXH this year saw Kurapika go to some really dark places and it is a shame we will not have the opportunity to bask in his presence again. I really must commend Togashi for his characters.
9. VIOLE/25TH BAAM (TOWER OF GOD MANHWA)
There is no denying the fact that Tower of God is one of the better manga series of the year, the story making constant leaps and bounds in its intriguing plot. What set Baam apart this year is the revival he perpetrated following previous tragedies as Fuge member Viole, no longer that meek child we met a few years back, but an immensely powerful shadow figure hidden behind a mysterious hood, seemingly taking out friend and foe in an attempt to achieve his dreams, clearly intent on crossing paths with the psychotic Rachel in the hope of resolving what i think he still believes was an accident.
Viole is the most transformative character of the year, undergoing unbelievable changes in order to confront his child hood friend. The way he balances his new duties with saving his old and new friends has made for some intense chapters in 2013.
10. SAJIN KOMAMURA (BLEACH MANGA)
Looking at Bleach in the past two years, it might seem difficult to pinpoint one particular character that has stood head and shoulder over all other combatants that have staked their lives to defeat the quincy invasion army.
But Komamura struck a nerve with me this year, probably the dullest and most uninteresting character in the entire series; yet Kubo has made a pattern out of redeeming his characters in this final arc and none has made a comeback as impressive as this wolf man.
It wasn’t merely the uniqueness of his power up but the heroic heart he displayed to us this year, the sacrifice he made to defend his home; really it would have been better if he had simply perished in battle rather than the fate he suffered.
1. NEJI HYUGA (NARUTO MANGA)
Died protecting the hero of Konoha and the only hope for the survival of the shinobi world. What could be more heroic than that?
2. CAPTAIN LEVI (ATTACK ON TITAN ANIME)
Who didn’t nearly lose their head from excitement over that battle with the female Titan in the SNK anime? Truth be told i would have been happy to swap Eren for Levi if not for the fact that he hasn’t had as much presence, as much to do in the anime as Eren. That doesn’t detract from the force that is Levi.
3. AH GOU (FENG SHEN JI MANHWA)
The fellow's reliving his father's legacy, rising up to fight against the tyranny of the gods, invading the land of these supernatural beings to end humanity's long history of servitude to their kind, basically intent on changing the order of nature.
4. KEI KURONO (GANTZ)
Kei's record against humanity's greatest alien threats this year have set him apart as one of the planet's more impressive saviors.
5. JIN MORI ( THE GOD OF HIGH SCHOOL MANHWA)
Jin mori is strong, immensely powerful, not nearly as smart as he should be and kind at heart; basically the typical shonen hero, yet so much more as he struggles to overcome the supernatural system that governs his country and the world, this year defeating a wannabe god, learning of his heritage and, kind of like Ah Gou, invading the realm of the gods to reclaim his title of Monkey king.
6. MAOU SAMA (HATARAKOU MOU SAMA ANIME)
MAOU SAMAAAAAAA! Yes, this is totally subjective, on account of how much i love this anime. But maybe there is something to be said about a demon lord that has spent centuries killing and maiming and trying to dominate mankind finding himself in the human world and suddenly taking steps to protect its peace and quiet.
7. BLACKSTAR/MAKA/DEATH THE KID (SOUL EATER)
The adaption of Soul eater Not! irks me. Anyway the manga finally came to a close this year and these three heroes do deserve some credit for flyinh to the moon and facing off against the legend that is the Kishin.
As much as she annoys me, Maka gets all the credit here though; basically the weakest of them all, she had no business being on the battle field and even Kishin said so, not when standing besides a god like warrior in Black star and the new death god kid.
Yet she stood her ground and delivered the finishing blow, blackening the moon and bringing the soul eater nightmare to an end.
Whew, that was a long list, and that’s probably because there were that many heroes worth commending this year, even more than actually made it to this list. If this was a top 20 (which it almost was when i first compiled it, before choosing to trim it) i would have mentioned Iori from Gamaran for all the righteous murdering he’s been doing against his former master’s students.
Then there is Phantom Miria from Claymore and the leader ship skills she displayed this year in basically commanding an unwinnable battle against immensely powerful beings, amongst which included the invincible Priscilla and several crazy abyssal ones.
-Unohana finally revealed the beast in her in 2013 and gave her life in an attempt to awaken Zaraki, the second Kenpachi, the true saviour of Soul Society with the way things are going at the moment.
-Ganta in Dead man wonderland showed some mettle in somewhat redeeming his childhood friend and taking considerable punishment in an attempt to bring the red man’s reign of terror to an end.
And then there is Shion from The Breaker: New Waves, 2013 being the year he proved himself worthy of the title Gaju, even in the face of immense tragedies.
-Kite from Hunter X Hunter was a bad ass this year, not the side character i thought he would be but striking an emotional cord in his interactions with the kids, and giving his life to protect them, that and his disturbing revival.
-With regards to the SNK heroes i was primarily interested in what was accomplished by each character this year and Eren’s star really shined in the anime in 2013, especially the way he wrapped things up with the female titan. Eren is basically the cheerleader of the SNK world if you think about, because i don't think anyone else in the series truly believes they can win the war.
I am still kind of pissed off at the internet for spoiling the Neji death for me. That would have been one heck of a shocker for me as a Naruto anime viewer.
Tasha from Witch hunter is also probably worth mentioning.
This year has been quite good to heroes in anime and manga and we can only hope that 2014 proves to be just as epic and explosive.
Well, that is it from me. What heroes/protagonists rocked your world in 2013?