Anime’s primary demographic tends to be children or young adults. Whether it’s a battle shonen or a shojo romance, these stories aim for younger audiences and are developed with young people in mind. It only makes sense that many of these stories end up featuring a cast of young characters as well.
These characters can range from literal children to college students, but not all kids are treated equally. Anime fans love an intelligent, leader archetype. Even in anime that contain casts of only children, fans will often find characters that act with a level of maturity well beyond their years.
10 The Promised Neverland: Norman Is A Genius Child
The Promised Neverland follows a group of children as they learn their world is infested with demons seeking to consume them. These children are a unique selection of geniuses, each with their own individual specialty or skill set.
The most impressive of which is Norman, who at an incredibly young age managed to lead a rebellion of child soldiers against the demon and nearly disrupt an entire society out to kill him. During the course of the anime, Norman acted with maturity and intellect well beyond his years.
9 Kotaro Lives Alone: Kotaro Is A Mature Toddler
Kotaro Lives Alone is a Netflix Original Anime from 2022 following a young boy named Kotaro as he acclimates to his new life in his own apartment. While the story is comedic at times, Kotaro’s life as a 4-year-old can be utterly tragic.
But no matter how dire the circumstances, Kotaro holds himself to a level of maturity that fans can’t help but admire. Kotaro always tries to be the best version of himself, even to his occasional detriment. While some viewers find Kotaro’s story sad, others adore the boy’s tenacity.
8 Hunter X Hunter: Killua Is An Assassin Prodigy
Hunter X Hunter is a battle shonen following two young children in the dangerous world of Hunting. Killua and Gon were only 12 years old when they became professional Hunters and were exposed to some of society’s greatest threats.
Killua had been trained from birth to be a master assassin, granting him a mind much more adept than a normal 12-year-old. While he can still be immature at times, Killua can often be counted on to act in a rational way, rarely overestimating his skills or getting himself into trouble.
7 My Hero Academia: Deku Is Saving The World As A High Schooler
My Hero Academia presents itself as a fun, quirky anime about high school kids trying to be superheroes. However, fans of the anime know that My Hero Academia can get extremely dark with villains that truly seek to end society in cruel, twisted ways.
Deku may just be a first-year in high school, but he has already gone face-to-face with some of the most devious killers in the world. His ability to compose himself and think quickly in dire situations is a valuable skill not often seen in young children.
6 The Promised Neverland: Phil Kept The Biggest Secret
The Promised Neverland is a thrilling story with twists and turns that keeps fan glued to the edge of their seats. Even when the story was at its worst, fans were still able to find moments here and there that made them shout in awe.
One such moment was the reveal that Phil the toddler was secretly organizing an entire rebellion of children from inside an orphanage. Despite how scary and intense the situation was, Phil acted with a calm strength that saved the main crew in the show’s final episodes
5 Avatar The Last Airbender: Aang Was A Chosen One At 11-Years-Old
While many shonen anime characters are used to saving the world at a young age, very few are so overtly prophesized to do so. At just 11-years-old, Aang was told he was the most important figure in the world and would have to stop an impending world war.
This fact was far too much for the boy, leading him to run away and plummet the world into destruction. But ultimately, Aang came back and despite being just as young, he stepped up to the plate and fought Lord Ozai. That is a level of maturity that has to be respected.
4 Naruto: Shikamaru Led The Sasuke Retrieval Squad
The Sasuke Retrieval arc is one of the greatest arcs in all of Naruto. It’s a unique sequence that follows a small band of Leaf ninja as they track down Sasuke and attempt to bring him back to the Village. When the crew set out for their mission, no adult ninja were around to help them.
In the place of a usual jonin, the Leaf ninja instead looked to a young Shikamaru as their leader. Despite only recently getting his chunin promotion and still being just a teenager, Shikamaru was handed one of the most important missions in Naruto history.
3 Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood: Edward Made The Same Mistake As An Adult
Sometimes being an adult means making very understandable mistakes. Adults are not perfect human beings and are victims of their emotions as much as anyone else. Part of what makes the backstory of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood so tragic is that even adults can empathize with Edward’s decision to try and revive his mom.
While it was clearly the wrong choice, adults make wrong choices all the time. It was an action rooted in a very real, human emotion and that is the most adult thing possible.
2 Naruto: Gaara Became A Kazekage As A Teenager
When Naruto underwent its first major time skip, the entire world had changed before the fan’s very eyes. Suddenly characters had entirely new designs and were using jutsu never before seen. But the biggest shift came from Gaara when it was revealed he became Kazekage at just 15- years-old.
As a young teen, Gaara was handed the highest responsibility in his village, showcasing a level of maturity beyond even the average adult. While Gaara may not have been the perfect leader, he desperately wanted to do right by his people, which is all anyone can really ask for.
1 My Hero Academia: Eri Was Willing To Sacrifice Herself For Others
Eri is one of the youngest characters in the My Hero Academia franchise. As just a toddler, she possesses one of the world’s most dangerous powers and was the subject of experimentation for a villain named Overhaul.
But in one of the saddest moments of the anime, Eri displayed a level of self-sacrifice that showcased just how mature she was. Rather than see Deku and Mirio get into trouble, Eri willingly went back to Overhaul to stop the potential conflict. It was a heartbreaking action that devastated fans.
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