Many anime shows focus on two or three characters, often tackling their journey in a single storyline. However, there are other anime that do the opposite and give each supporting role a share of the spotlight. These shows juggle multiple storylines and viewpoints, and, as a result, some fail to tell even one satisfying story. Fortunately, a few anime have successfully overcome the challenges of exploring multiple characters in a single show. Here are five anime shows that expertly handle their large cast.
When The Flying Pussyfoot leaves for its transcontinental voyage, no one thinks it will cause several supernatural phenomena to occur. (Just what did they think would happen when gangsters and immortality elixirs mixed?) But the story isn’t just limited to the occupants of the Pussyfoot. Beyond the train, viewers will be treated to other adventures, such as Isaac and Miria‘s search for gold in California and a turf war that breaks out between two mafia families. Every character is seemingly the star of their own story, but what happens when everything and everyone collides? Well, you get a massively intricate tale that will make you wish you were there to experience it.
Baccano! starts off by giving the audience small snippets of each character’s story. Initially, they appear to be unrelated to each other, but they ultimately come together in the end. Eventually, we learn that everyone is connected — thanks to a decision made by a bunch of alchemists in the past (don’t ask). This shared link acted as a guidepost which helped the creators successfully develop each character despite the anime’s large cast, multiple points of view, and fast-paced story. The result is an epic show where each character is part of an intriguing story that is larger than themselves.
Durarara!! (DRRR!!) follows Mikado Ryuugamine, a boy who moves to Ikebukuro from a small town. His first day in the city, he witnesses one of Ikebukuro’s regulars, the headless Black Rider. But that isn’t his only encounter with the supernatural. Ikebukuro is a city with countless colorful characters who, one way or another, get mixed up with gangs and wild and crazy experiments. But hey, that’s a typical day in Ikebukuro.
But the setting isn’t the only thing that’s weird — the characters are standout. In fact, if someone asked us to create a show comprised of multiple characters, each representing a different anime genre, we’d tell them that show already exists, and it’s called Durarara!! The headless Black Rider brings the supernatural drama, young Ryuugamine brings the “heroics,” and the skilled and powerful Izaya brings the psychological aspect with his behind-the-scenes manipulation of others. There’s also a plethora of other characters who bring a bit of craziness and fun to the series. With so many characters, the show may initially come off as too complicated or difficult to follow, but, trust us, it’s worth it to stick with it.
Each episode discreetly gives viewers a snippet of each character — insight into who they are and how they fit into the main story and cast. By the show’s end, you’ll have connected all the dots, and will come to deeply understand each character. We see this in how the show portrays Izaya. Initially, we think Izaya only cares about his own needs, but we eventually learn he also has a soft spot for his twin sisters, Kururi and Mairu, when he sends people to protect them from a group of thugs. These kinds of reveals are what make DRRR!! a must-watch.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes
In the distant future, two powerful groups are in a constant state of battle: the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance. Within the Galactic Empire, an ambitious aristocrat, Reinhard von Lohengramm, rises to power. Similarly, an aspiring historian, Yang Wen-li, rises through the military ranks of the Alliance. Lohengramm fights for reforms that will grant freedom to its citizens, and Wen-li fights for the opposite.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes has received critical acclaim for its take on the political drama, and it’s all thanks to the show’s ensemble cast — which contains over 600 characters. It might seem impossible to give so many characters a share of the spotlight to offer their perspective on the different events in the show, but it works.
It isn’t just the “important” characters who get their time in the sun, but also the fleet-commanding admirals, humble farmers, and noble infantrymen — who put their lives on the line to protect and defend the ideologies of the aristocracy. We even hear from those who want the humans to return to Earth,
With such a large cast, you might worry that you’ll start forgetting names. Luckily, the show fixes this by displaying each character’s name when they appear onscreen. While having such a huge cast can be confusing, Legend of the Galactic Heroes definitely pulls it off — especially when it comes to portraying a realistic account of the countless people involved in a war.
One night, the moon’s shape permanently changed from round to crescent-moon. The cause? Korosensei, a creature that plans to destroy the Earth in March of the following year if his students don’t kill him first. But can the misfit students of Class 3-E kill a creature can move at Mach 20? They have until their graduation day to find out.
Like the title suggests, Assassination Classroom follows the characters in Kunugigaoka Junior High School‘s Class 3-E, which includes 28 students; their homeroom teacher, Korosensei; a government agent, Karasuma; and a professional assassin named Irina.
While the series has several main characters that it focuses on, it also gives screen time to the other students. Each minor character brings a unique ability to the table, such as Tomohito Sugino’s pro-level pitching when paired baseballs filled with Anti-Sensei BB Pellets, which supports the leads in their quest to bring Korosensei down. They also provide some much-needed comic relief whenever things get too sad or serious.
Studio Lerche ensured every single character in Assassination Classroom had their own distinct personality and features, and it really paid off. In fact, you might even forget that you’re not watching a story about a real classroom.
A Certain Magical Index
Academy City is one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world. More than half of its citizen are students developing their esper abilities. Kamijou Touma, however, isn’t one of them. He has no power to speak of unless you count his right hand, which possesses the power “Imagine Breaker,” an ability that negates any other powers.
One day, a girl named Index shows up at his apartment and changes everything. An organization is hunting her because she memorized 103,000 forbidden magical books, and it looks like Touma is just the guy to help her out.
But it takes more than a single character or two to fully build a fantasy world, especially one full of espers, magicians, and everything in between. That’s why the creators decided to fill A Certain Magical Index with a massive number of characters, with classes ranging from magic users to normal humans. Each character brings their own views to the strange supernatural realm — which keeps things fresh and exciting up until the final episode.