With heroes popping up everywhere, it’s no wonder anime fans have become infatuated with these defenders of justice. These characters, who come in various shapes and sizes, proved to viewers that they were more than their physical strength — they earned the title of hero. From saving little kids to uniting warring species, we’re looking back on the noble acts our favorite heroes carried out. Here are the five best anime heroes of 2018.
Izuku Midoriya (My Hero Academia)
During the Quirk Training Camp, Izuku Midoriya meets Kota Izumi, a young boy whose parents — Pro Hero team Water Hose — were killed by a villain. Their deaths adversely affect Kota. Believing his parents placed more value on carrying out heroic deeds than raising him, Kota grows to despise heroes and hero society.
Midoriya tries to help Kota, but this only angers him, leading him to run away to his secret hideout. In an ugly twist of fate, villains invade the camp and Muscular — the villain who killed Kota’s parents — catches the young boy alone as he overlooks the chaos below.
Luckily, Midoriya swoops in just in time to save him, but he’s all alone and unable to call for backup. To protect Kota, the young hero-in-training must fight Muscular on his own. Badly beaten and on the brink of collapsing, Midoriya realizes he isn’t a match for the villain whose Quirk allows him to increase the power and speed of his movements. But with some quick thinking and Kota’s help, Midoriya’s able to gain the upper hand and put Muscular down with a 1,000,000% Detroit Smash.
Midoriya’s sacrifice makes Kota remember what his aunt’s words: that he would one day meet someone who would help him understand his parent’s decision. Being a hero isn’t only about saving people, it’s also about inspiring others and helping them move on. Although he breaks his body in the process, Midoriya does precisely this. It’s easy to see why he’s one of the best heroes of 2018.
Asta (Black Clover)
In the world of Black Clover, everyone possesses some magical ability. Well, everyone except Asta. But that doesn’t stop the young man from striving to become the Wizard King, the strongest magician in the Clover Kingdom. His journey leads him to join the Black Bull, a group of Magic Knights.
One of Asta’s tasks sends him to a dungeon to search for magical items. The mysterious dungeon is full of dangers that could kill an inexperienced knight, and to make matters worse, Asta’s old enemy Mars is also there — and he’s itching to face the young magic knight again.
The battle that ensues sees Mars make use of high-speed attacks, but Asta’s able to dodge them. Unfortunately, Mars’s healing spell makes it impossible for Asta to inflict significant damage. Even landing a massive water attack doesn’t neutralize Mars, who manages to stab Asta in the stomach.
Just as Mars prepares to deliver the final blow, a mysterious girl appears beside the villain and knocks him out — and then, of course, the dungeon starts to collapse. The Black Bulls want to leave Mars behind, but Asta begs them to save him because he believes everyone deserves to be protected. Asta, despite his lack of magic, is open, friendly, and, above all, nonjudgmental — even when it comes to villains. Proving that it takes more than strength to be a hero.
Meliodas (The Seven Deadly Sins)
After the Lion’s Sin of Pride, Escanor, interrupts the Great Fight Festival at Vaizel by attacking Drole and Gloxinia, Meliodas takes the opportunity to finish them both off. The other Seven Deadly Sins don’t interfere as they realize their leader is the only one who can defeat the two Commandments. But they’re still in the way, along with the other festivalgoers, and could become collateral damage. Thankfully, one of the players teleports them all away to safety.
Things quickly get worse for the leader of the Sins when the rest of the Commandments arrive. Despite being severely battered, Meliodas doesn’t run away and unleashes Full Counter in hopes of killing his former teammates. But the Commandment Estarossa stops him at the last second and then crushes Meliodas’ chest. It’s painful, but Meliodas forces himself to stay strong in front of his companions, who are watching the whole thing. Unable to endure his friend’s suffering any longer, Ban rushes to Meliodas’ side. But the demon warriors are too strong. They hold Ban back, and he helplessly watches his friend on the brink of death. In the end, Estarossa kills Meliodas by stabbing his seven hearts.
Meliodas knew the Commandments were impossibly strong. But he kept his composure, and even cracked a few jokes while he was getting pummeled. The odds were stacked against him and he never showed any sign of weakness. Meliodas’ bravery makes him a worthy addition to our list.
Android 17 (Dragon Ball Super)
During Goku’s search for fighters to represent Universe 7 in the Tournament of Power, he comes across his former foe Android 17. A lot has changed since they last changed blows. The cyborg has a job at a wildlife reserve, where he spends his days protecting rare animals from poachers (read: not obsessing over fighting like Goku)
Unsurprisingly when Goku tells Android 17 about the tournament, he isn’t interested. It’s only after Goku helps Android 17 save some endangered Minotaurs that the cyborg decides to join the tournament. If he wins, he figures he can use his wish to take his family on a cruise around the world. The once most-feared fighter in Dragon Ball has become a family man. And that’s not all. Android 17’s time on the island has made him stronger, strong enough to bring down Goku if he wanted to.
After eliminating the other fighters from the tournament, Android 17, along with Goku and Frieza, goes up against Universe 11’s Jiren. After an intense battle, Goku and Frieza attack Jiren together, landing several blows before eliminating him from the tournament. But the duo’s assault is so powerful that they end up eliminating themselves also, leaving Android 17 behind as the winner of The Tournament of Power.
When the Grand Minister asks Android 17 for his wish, he surprisingly wishes to restore all the erased universes. Just as Zeno predicted, the winner was someone of a pure heart. We then learn if the winner had made a selfish wish that Zeno would’ve erased everything. Not only did Android 17 show off some powerful moves during the tournament, he also showed benevolence, a heroic quality. And in the end, he does get to take that cruise.
Rimuru Tempest (That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime)
That Time I Got Reincarnated As a Slime is one of the biggest surprises of the fall anime season. Despite the lead being a slime in a fantasy world genre where powerful characters rule, this little dude has some amazing powers.
In Episode 3, our slime protagonist, Rimuru, encounters a village of Goblins — they’re much different from those found in Goblin Slayer — who are at the mercy of a nearby pack of Direwolves. After a bloody battle, the mythical creatures are no longer able to defend themselves. Luckily, Rimuru decides to help the hapless bunch.
Rimuru orders the Goblins to build a giant fence, and the slime, in turn, uses his thread-based skills to set up traps, which manage to later take down several of the Direwolves. Of course, this only angers the Direwolves’ leader, Fanged Wolf Boss, who attempts to attack Rimuru head on but ends up getting caught in the sticky threads. Rimuru gives the wolf a chance to surrender, but the stubborn alpha wolf refuses. So, Rimuru uses Water Blade to decapitate him.
The fearless slime absorbs the wolf’s head, takes on his form, and then forces the pack into submission. Under Rimuru’s rule, the Direwolves and Goblins form an unlikely alliance. The slime also gives everyone a name, which not only puts a smile on their faces but also makes them more powerful.
Rimuru may not look like a typical hero (read: strong and muscular), but this tiny slime helped out others in their time of need and set them on the right path.