Best Anime Mentor Characters: The Ultimate List

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Mentors help others become better versions of themselves. They help you develop your professional career or your personal life — or both.

In anime, mentors are usually remembered the most in shounen anime:

They’re characters who appear early on to guide the protagonist (and make them learn a technique or two).

But mentors in anime come in different forms.

Some are old and peculiar, while others are considered prodigies in their field. Then you have teachers who go above and beyond their job and, one by one, change the lives of their students for the better.

With all this in mind, here are my favorite anime mentor characters of all time.


20. Rin Tohsaka

Rin Tohsaka in Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works anime

Anime: Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works

The all-time anime queen of the ‘absolute territory’ or zettai ryouiki is also a decent mentor to Shirou (and Saber).

Yes, fans have a great reason to ship Shirou and Rin. Especially if they’ve played the steamy visual novel.

But being part of Shirou’s powerful harem doesn’t stop her from also being his teacher in all things Holy Grail War.

Rin might not seem like a mentor due to her tsundere personality, but her genuine willingness to assist Shirou cannot be understated. She went out of her way to stay close to Shirou when he was injured.

Moreover, her true ending in FSN: UBW involves her asking Shirou to remain with her in London as her apprentice.


19. Elias Ainsworth

Elias Ainsworth from The Ancient Magus' Bride

Anime: The Ancient Magus’ Bride

Fans can argue that Chise Hatori is also a mentor to Elias Ainsworth, and they wouldn’t be wrong.

She’s a catalyst to the mysterious mage’s emotional development throughout the series.

Still, Elias has the more official role as a mentor (and the same goes for Chise as the mage’s apprentice).

He’s a strange fellow who has an obvious high curiosity toward humans.

Elias brought the female MC to conduct experiments, but Chise doesn’t mind too much — he’s more accepting of her than her family after all.

Plus, Elias’ intentions aren’t evil.

His research goal, as one might describe it, is to prolong her lifespan.

It’s a conundrum: Chise is a mage’s apprentice, yet Elias advises her not to expend too much magic since this can negatively affect her health.

Regardless, Elias continues to do well as her mentor (and fiancé).

He administers learning exercises and shares his personal wisdom while having the humility to correct himself.


18. Tooru Miyagishi

Tooru Miyagishi Hanasaku Iroha anime screenshot

Anime: Hanasaku Iroha

Hanasaku Iroha is a lovely original series that once again showcases the creativity of PA Works.

As one of the studio’s entries in the “working series trilogy”, it introduces viewers to a charming rural location and characters like Minko Tsurugi and Tooru Miyagishi.

Now, Tooru is only 23 years old.

Yet at that relatively young age he’s already industrious and competent enough in the kitchen.

If one of the main chefs couldn’t be available for the day, he can readily handle their arduous tasks — even if he’s still a junior chef.

How is he so good at his culinary job?

It’s because he’s tough on himself when it comes to professional matters.

And this tenacity to learn is what refines his teaching capacity.

Minko may find his teaching style uncompromising, but Tooru genuinely wants her to succeed.

In the same vein, he may be annoying toward Ohana sometimes, but he’s admittedly like a caring brother to her as well.


17. Victor Nikiforov

Victor Nikiforov from Yuri on Ice anime

Anime: Yuri on Ice

I’m sure that hundreds of thousands of fans around the world are still waiting for the Yuri on Ice movie.

After all, the Ice Adolescence trailer featured a gorgeous long-haired Victor Nikiforov performing to a big crowd — and Yuri Katsuki would not be where he is without him.

On paper, Victor is the best coach you can ever have as an aspiring figure skater.

He’s won European, world, and Grand Prix tournaments.

In fact, he won five consecutive times each in the first two categories.

But as Yuri’s mentor, Victor reveals that even the most accomplished individuals have room to grow, and I appreciate that.

This is a man who doesn’t like being told what to do. And now he’s in a position where he has to give orders.

I love the dynamic between him and Yuri.

Both guys have clear strengths and weaknesses (and such good chemistry, whether romantic or not), and their genuine desire to help one another pushes them forward.

Victor’s achievements at a tender age didn’t prepare him for Yuri’s anxiety on the ice and emotional side. But this doesn’t deter him from trying anyway.


16. Satoru Gojo

Satoru Gojo in Jujutsu Kaisen anime

Anime: Jujutsu Kaisen

Even before Jujutsu Kaisen entered Netflix, Gojo was already making waves in Fall 2020 and Winter 2021.

He’s tall, charismatic, funny, and undoubtedly good-looking.

Not to mention, he’s considered one of the most powerful characters in the series.

Gojo is unlike your typical teacher.

Whether he’s teaching Yuji, Megumi, Nobara, or any other student of Tokyo Jujutsu High, he always does his own thing.

Making Itadori watch all those movies was humorous yet highly effective as well.

More importantly, I love his progressive stance, which is in direct contrast to the mindset of the school executives.

Gojo understands that politics plays a significant role in the educational system.

His strategy of enlightening the youth and giving essential critical-thinking skills to challenge the system instead of outright killing the higher-ups (who’ll simply be replaced with similar folks) is outstanding and reminds me of how education has always been key to solving many long-standing social issues in real life.


15. Minamo Kurosawa

Minamo Kurosawa from Azumanga Daioh: The Animation

Anime: Azumanga Daioh: The Animation

This slice-of-life classic from 2002 has eight characters in its all-female main cast — and this includes Minamo Kurosawa.

She’s the teacher of all six student MCs.

Together with Yukari Tanizaki (a fellow teacher who’s also a dear friend and rival), they’re the most important adult characters in the series.

Yukari may always tease her about being a gym teacher and her romantic adventures, but there’s no denying her tenacity as an educator and sincere individual.

Many students look up to Minamo-sensei.

And why wouldn’t they?

She’s a dependable person, and is the kind of person you’d imagine when you think of a responsible adult.

Minami has an apartment, a car, and a stable career.

While young people may feel apprehensive about approaching adults for advice on personal matters, the students here know that Minami can provide valuable help without belittling their troubles.

And if anyone doubts her passion for educating the youth, then they should come to terms with the fact that Minamo once rejected a lucrative job offer because she preferred teaching.


14. Erina Nakiri

Erina Nakiri in Food Wars anime

Anime: Food Wars

Erina Nakiri comes from a rich and prestigious family known throughout the culinary industry.

Even as a teenager, her skills were enough to make veteran chefs tremble.

It’s no wonder why she became part of the Elite Ten student council and was tasked to monitor her school’s entrance exam (where she first met Soma).

Soma and Erina didn’t have an amicable relationship in the beginning – and it seemed that only Soma wanted them to be dear friends.

But here’s the thing:

You couldn’t entirely fault Erina for her intimidating behavior.

She had a traumatic childhood thanks to her despicable father and absentee mother.

And thankfully, she eventually learns to open up to people and becomes a wondrous mentor to Soma and other members of the 92nd Totsuki Generation.

The residents of the Polar Star Dormitory wanted her to feel welcomed, and Erina returned the favor by providing culinary critiques, extensive training, and developing friendships with them all.


13. Lisa Lisa

Lisa Lisa from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure anime

Anime: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

In 2012, David Production graced JoJo fans with the stellar JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken TV series.

And this is where they met Lisa Lisa.

With her dark hair and stunning blue eyes, and the way she always carries herself with grace, Lisa Lisa is arguably one of the most attractive mature women (i.e, not another teen girl) in anime — but she’s not all about appearance.

Lisa Lisa trained both Caesar Zeppeli and Joseph Joestar.

She’s courageous and rightfully knows that she can stand up for herself.

Caesar and Joseph can attest to her rigorous training method, and not even the latter’s silliness goes unpunished.

Her signature combat skill, Snake Muffler, is nothing to scoff at when you witness her mastery of Ripple.

In fact, Caesar and Joseph wouldn’t have taken more time in becoming proficient at Ripple if she wasn’t their mentor (also, her identity reveal is great).


12. Reigen Arataka

Reigen Arataka Mob Psycho 100 anime screenshot

Anime: Mob Psycho 100

Reigen may look like he’s as young as Mob.

But that’s probably why he’s almost always wearing a dark suit (complete with a tie).

As Shigeo Kageyama’s mentor, Reigen is in a league of his own:

This dude has a superior understanding of humans and their different emotional states. Thus, he knows when Mob isn’t in the right headspace even if his disciple looks unbothered.

Reigen doesn’t hesitate to support Mob and pay attention to his worries.

Although yes, he does many things to benefit himself.

His agency known as the Spirits and Such Consultation Office isn’t the most honest business organization in the world — and his emotional intelligence and social skills make him an effective manipulator of both customers and enemies.

But Reigen remains a top-tier mentor, and in general, a fascinating individual.

He’s not completely faultless, especially to Mob.

But he can be honorable when he has to.

Mob learned not to immediately resort to violence to solve problems, and Reigen has always advocated for people to treat one another equally no matter their status (and supernatural gifts).


11. Master Roshi

Master Roshi in Dragon Ball anime

Anime: Dragon Ball

One of the most iconic old folks in anime and manga history may be a pervert hermit, but Master Roshi is still a laudable mentor.

Otherwise known as Turtle Hermit, Master Roshi manages the Turtle School. He’s shared his invaluable martial arts expertise with not only Goku but also Gohan and Yamcha.

And who doesn’t like eccentricity?

Sure, his love of certain magazines may be off-putting – especially when you remember that he doesn’t like his pupils practicing the Kamehameha wave because it can damage his publications.

But Master Roshi knows when to forgo his dirty, humorous side for a more serious and stern demeanor.

On one occasion, he disguised himself and participated in a fighting tournament they were in.

Why did he do this?

Simple: He didn’t want his pupils to fall out of love with martial arts because no one could seriously compete against them.


10. Kakashi Hatake

Kakashi Hatake from Naruto anime

Anime: Naruto

Well, what hasn’t been said about Kakashi Hatake?

If the youngest bunch of Generation Z will now think of Sato Gojo when asked about a male character in a shounen anime who covers a part of his face and has three teenagers to mentor, Generation Y will still likely think of Kakashi first.

Like Gojo, he’s an interesting MC who’s quickly established as one of the most powerful individuals in the entire show.

Similarly, menacing characters like Pain and Itachi Uchiha had a tough time against Kakashi.

Yet I’ll remember him most as a teacher to Team 7:

Just as Hagoromo Otsutsuki remarked, Kakashi shines most as a mentor and reliable figure of authority.

Viewers know how Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura grew into powerful and remarkable adults.

And all three’s younger years were significantly shaped by Kakashi.

Kakashi instilled the value of working together (Obito taught him this lesson), and his occasionally aloof demeanor disappears when allies require his incredible perception and critical-thinking skills in battles.


9. Silvers Rayleigh

Silvers Rayleigh in One Piece anime

Anime: One Piece

It’s not impossible to learn from someone who doesn’t have the sheer experience to complement their knowledge.

However, Luffy would’ve arguably needed a few more years to master the Haki if he wasn’t mentored by a decorated and legendary man like Silvers Rayleigh.

Otherwise called the Dark King, he was part of the Roger Pirates and was crucial to Luffy’s development.

Any living entity could grasp Haki.

However, the majority never realize their potential or just fail at Haki.

In contrast, Silvers Rayleigh was proficient in all Haki categories: Kenbunshoku Haki, Busoshoku Haki, and Haoshoku Haki.

And since his wisdom in combat has foundations in actual fighting, he managed to introduce the basics of Haki using an actual massive and aggressive wild elephant.

Luffy quickly understood the differences among the three Haki types because of this simple demonstration.

Looks like the Right Hand of the Pirate King has a bright future as a Haki educator.


8. Biscuit Krueger

Biscuit Krueger in Hunter x Hunter (2011)

Anime: Hunter x Hunter (2011)

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Biscuit’s true form.

Yet even if she understandably prefers to stay as a small and blonde-haired girl with a cute dress, she’ll never be someone you underestimate in a fight — or even in social situations.

Biscuit knows that her seemingly harmless appearance can fool enemies:

She adjusts her personality depending on the situation. In other words, she can gather information and items using an adorable face, or through brute force.

And Biscuit is tremendously strong and takes pride in helping her students grow.

It’s no wonder why her training method for Gon and Killua was so brutal.

It could’ve killed people with much less endurance and fighting capabilities, but she wanted the two kids to reap the benefits of hard work.

Hunter x Hunter will mostly be remembered for its Chimera Ant Arc, but the Greed Island Arc was much more fun because of Biscuit.


7. Yakumo Yurakutei

Yakumo Yurakutei from Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Anime: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Yakumo Yuraketei isn’t the real or original name of a person.

Instead, it’s a name that you receive when you become a master of rakugo.

The man known as Bon or Kikuhiko is the eight Yakumo Yurakutei, and I’ll refer to him as Bon from here on out.

Bon is the rakugo teacher of Yotaro: a former prisoner who otherwise showed much promise as an artist.

Yotaro may say it more than his teacher, but the two have an established social bond that’s so rewarding to see flourish.

I greatly admire Bon for not allowing his terrible past to completely shape the rest of his life.

Yes, he was filled with regrets.

But this didn’t stop him from welcoming an ex-convict into the world of rakugo.

Even if his own path was filled with thorns (and he even broke up with a geisha so he could focus more on rakugo), Bon still became someone else’s guiding light — and he made amends with both the geisha and Sukeroku, a man who was both his rival and brotherly friend.

To add, I love how he didn’t give up when Sukeroku was doing better.

Instead, he looked for alternatives, and he eventually discovered that he was exceptionally skilled in embodying more feminine individuals.

Thus, he’s a mentor who’ll tell you to never give up, that your failure in one path doesn’t mean you’ll fail in others.


6. All Might

All Might in My Hero Academia anime

Anime: My Hero Academia

By design, Toshinori Yagi’s hero form is similar to Superman and other big-name Western superheroes.

From his name to his signature big smile, All Might gives hope and inspiration to the general public and his students at UA High School.

His fellow teachers (and he himself) know that he’s not that good at teaching.

Which is why he had a script during his first class.

Also, his incredible popularity and strength affect his ability to accurately gauge the potential of his students.

But All Might remains a notable mentor because of who he is.

Even if he’s not always present in class, his charismatic personality can quickly encourage students to pay attention in class and become eager to hear all that he has to say.

He’ll give heaps of praise, but also push his students to do better.

Lastly, All Might balances idealism and realistic expectations.

This is a good thing because it spells the difference between life and death — or constant motivation and lifelong disappointment.

When a quirkless Izuku said he wanted to be a hero, All Might said that it’s admirable to have a goal, but that he should aspire to help others even if he can’t be a hero.

As someone whose presence can make others think that the impossible is always possible, it’s wonderful that he wants folks to remain grounded while remaining on the side of justice.

After all, he knows all too well about the self-sacrifice required to be the world’s symbol of peace.


5. Izumi Curtis

Izumi Curtis from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Izumi Curtis is both a mentor and motherly figure to Edward and Alphonse Eric.

She dislikes being called old — even though she looks much younger than her age would suggest.

As a teacher, she’s one of the best in shounen history.

If someone needs to achieve something, Izumi won’t give it to them. Instead she’ll provide guidance and help them develop the necessary skills and resources to realize their goal.

It’s amazing how great Izumi is as a mentor to the brothers – considering that she learned alchemy on her own.

And despite her proficiency in alchemy, she also taught them about martial arts and the importance of hard work.

Izumi doesn’t want Edward and Alphonse to look like sitting ducks if their alchemical powers fail them.

In a way, she’s reminding them not to discard the ‘normal’ and human ways of dealing with the troubles of combat and everyday life.


4. Genkai

Genkai in Yu Yu Hakusho anime

Anime: Yu Yu Hakusho

Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files aired way back in 1992.

Which means many younger anime fans today are probably unaware of this classic anime (or this mentor).

Genkai’s history reminds me of that old couple in Basilisk who come from rival clans.

Essentially, she has a score to settle first before she steps back from fighting and spends her remaining years playing games at her own personal arcade (yes, she has an arcade).

Thanks to Yusuke, she gains a second opportunity at victory.

Yusuke suffered a lot during his training under Genkai. But she just wanted him to be the best.

Plus, she slowly but surely came to love Yusuke as if he was her own grandchild.

This was a surprise because she appeared unwelcoming and already tired of life (perhaps because of the betrayal and her own extreme training).

As it turns out, she just needed to see the perseverance and growth of someone who wouldn’t betray her this time.

Also, Genkai was an absolute beauty in her younger years, and her power actually allows her to briefly return to this form.


3. Koro-sensei

Koro-sensei Assassination Classroom anime screenshot

Anime: Assassination Classroom

It’s completely by accident that the top three mentors on my list are a bit (or very) pervy.

Anyway, taking the third spot is the yellow tentacled teacher of Assassination Classroom.

Koro-sensei had one of the worst childhoods in recent shounen history.

He had to learn to kill to survive because he lived in a violent and extremely impoverished community.

As an assassin, Koro-sensei trained someone for the first time when a kid (whose parents he murdered) requested to learn the art of killing. Unsurprisingly, the boy who he treated more as a tool than a pupil betrayed him.

Fast forward a bit, and he became the subject of experimentation.

This resulted in him becoming the tentacled homeroom teacher of Nagisa and his classmates — and they have to kill him unless they want the Earth destroyed.

Of course, things aren’t as they seem – although it’s true that their sensei was extremely formidable and had lots of abilities.

So while his class attempted to kill him, Koro-sensei barely had issues thwarting them.

This allowed him to build positive relationships with everyone in the class, ensuring they weren’t in any physical danger and were in the right headspace.

He cared so much about his students that he’d even get mad when they put each other in harm’s way.

Furthermore, he also learned a lot from his class:

Thanks to Class 3-E, he became more empathetic and finally completely disregarded punishment and rewards as his main teaching tools.

In the end, Koro-sensei was respected and loved by his class. And he inspired Nagisa to be a teacher as well.

Not bad for a deadly tentacled entity who supposedly destroyed the moon and is out to annihilate Earth.


2. Eikichi Onizuka

Eikichi Onizuka in Great Teacher Onizuka

Anime: Great Teacher Onizuka

Given that the show has “great teacher” in its title, Eikichi landing this high on my list seems like fate.

Like Koro-sensei, Eikichi Onizuka is far from your standard teacher.

He had trouble finding a decent job because he was considered unintelligent — and it didn’t help that the university he graduated from was far from prestigious.

Also, he initially let his sexual urges get the best of him.

But his teaching stint at public school proved he may be the key to controlling the most violent and problematic kids in class.

He’s sent to a private school because he failed to take the civil service exam. In particular, Eikichi was tasked to handle the notorious Class 3-4 of Holy Forest Academy.

Throughout the 43-episode series, he becomes the mentor to teenagers who badly needed a supportive adult – even though he’s not that much older.

Eikichi withstands the bullying of his class and fights back by being the better person.

He deals with their personal problems and solves them in the most ridiculous (and often hilarious) ways.

Any ordinary person would’ve died doing what he does. But Eikichi’s physical prowess is just out of this world.

As he develops friendships with his students, he also learns from them.

Eikichi’s place may be a mess and filled with some quirky magazines – but you can’t disregard his value as a teacher.

This is a man who chose not to give up on the students that others before him have already deemed hopeless — and he’s even saved one of his students from killing himself twice.


1. Jiraiya

Jiraiya from Naruto anime

Anime: Naruto

Jiraiya’s story resonated with a lot of Naruto fans and anime fans in general.

Like Kakashi and Dragon Ball’s Master Roshi, he’s a funny mentor who’s also got quite a pervy side.

Wait, let me correct that:

Jiraiya is a massive pervert. In fact, he made a fortune writing lewd novels that were inspired by his own experiences, which includes peeping at his teammate (and the Fifth Hokage) Tsunade when she became well-endowed.

But once you put his antics aside, you can’t help but love this man.

This hermit was powerful.

He began his shinobi journey alongside not only Tsunade, but also Orochimaru. And their mentor was Hiruzen Sarutobi, the Third Hokage.

Then he mentored both Minato (Naruto’s dad and the Fourth Hokage) and Nagato, believing that one of them was the Child of the Prophecy.

Minato loved reading Jiraiya’s first book The Gutsy Shinobi and decided to name his son after the book’s MC.

Thus, it’s rewarding in so many ways when Naruto becomes his final student and is revealed to be one of the Children of the Prophecy.

Minato learned from Jiraiya and sacrificed his life for his son, and then Jiraiya took the responsibility of helping Naruto control the tailed beast within him.

He believed he was a bad teacher.

But no decent Naruto fan would agree to that.

Jiraiya was a superb mentor, and a funny and caring individual.

A man who forced his heart to beat once more just so he could send one last message to Naruto and Konoha.

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R. Romero

Millennial introvert on the lookout for slice-of-life anime, world cinema, and European music. Follow on Twitter @notspencer08