There are a lot of great characters in anime, but if we had to put four on a Mount Rushmore, these would be my picks.
Even if they aren’t a “Dragon Ball” fan, if a person watches enough anime, they probably know a bit about Son Goku without even realizing it. That’s for good reason as he’s one of the most badass anime characters ever. Silly, simple, pugnacious and hungry, Goku started off as a parody of the Monkey King of “Journey to the West” fame and became an archetype unto himself. Many characters in the genre, from Monkey D Luffy of “One Piece” to Gon of “Hunter X Hunter”, owe their existence to this guy.
Created by the “father of modern manga,” Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy first broke ground in comics and then did so again on the small screen. Essentially a sci-fi anime Pinocchio, the character is probably most widely known in the West because of his 1963 television series. If you think you were the first person in your family to be exposed to anime, ask anyone who was around back then if they know who Astro Boy is. They may surprise you.
The titular character of the series “Monster,” Johan Liebert is a polite and charismatic man who just so happens to be one of the most evil characters in anime history. What makes him so bad–or so good–is despite being a stone cold killer, he much prefers to reduce his victim to a corrupt, imploding mess. To get a grasp of who this man is, just imagine the Joker and then take away all of the convenient warning signs.
Yes, he’s cool. Yes, he has style. Yes, he has green hair. But the reason Spike Spiegel is such a great character is the depth of his story. “Cowboy Bebop” is highly episodic, but what grounds this influential series is the emotional arc of its main character. It literally goes out with a “bang.”