25 Iconic Black Anime Characters: The Ultimate List

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From Hollywood movies to sitcoms and anime, representation matters now more than ever.

Yet not all works of fiction show an earnestness.

Attempts at representation can instead feel like pandering if planning and execution are flawed. Or worse, it can reinforce negative stereotypes which is arguably one of the biggest problems of poor character representation.

But things are changing a lot these days. And changing for the better.

Thankfully, anime throughout its history has had many memorable, well-designed black characters — so let’s check out some of the memorable ones right here.


25. Jason Ozuma

Jason Ozuma Fighting Spirit anime screenshot

Anime: Fighting Spirit

I’m starting the list with Hajime no Ippo’s Jason, the African-American boxer and former soldier who Ippo faced in the Rookie King Tournament.

Don’t you notice something peculiar about his appearance? Sure, Jason has a muscular physique and can pack a punch that can rival Mamoru Takamura’s hooks.

But as you can probably guess from his eyes, the Jason Ozuma outside the ring is far from brutal. Jason doesn’t fight because he wants to instigate.

In truth, he’s a swell guy who only wants to earn to maintain his gym and help his boxing peers.


24. Cain Blood

Cain Blood from Banana Fish anime

Anime: Banana Fish

His name alone will make you reconsider approaching him, but Cain Blood isn’t a terrible person.

Yes, he’s a gang leader. No, that doesn’t mean he’ll beat anyone just because they looked at him.

Cain starts out as this intimidating guy, what with his tattoos, ripped shirt, and sunglasses.

But Ash Lynx didn’t let Cain’s appearance get the best of him — and it worked.

The boss of Black Sabbath agreed to his request. Moreover, Cain even sided with the Banana Fish MC to take down the horrendous Dino Golzine.

Also, you just have to love his spunky personality. No wonder his gang members respect his leadership.


23. Coffee

Coffee Cowboy Bebop anime screenshot

Anime: Cowboy Bebop

This voluptuous bounty hunter appeared in only one story involving Edward and Domino Walker (and his hallucinogens).

It wasn’t even a delightful experience, with it starting off with the authorities questioning her about why Ed and Ein were in her car trunk.

Yet Coffee didn’t need a lot of time to leave a strong impression:

From her afro hair and tight black attire to her grenade launcher and fittingly sexy convertible car, Coffee had a presence that could’ve netted her a spin-off series — or a cameo in a somewhat similar anime like Lupin the Third.


22. Yoruichi

Yoruichi in Bleach anime

Anime: Bleach

She seems intimidating because of her gaze (and the fact that she’s a former captain and commander), but Yoruichi also knows how to socialize and have fun with her peers.

Furthermore, how can you dislike her when she can literally turn into a black cat?

So when she’s not busy teasing her pals, she can just live like a cat, which basically means sleeping all day.

Her design is one of my personal favorites on Bleach, especially with her golden (or amber) eyes, purple hair, and orange top. And Yoruichi looks great whether she has long or short hair.


21. Karako Koshio

Karako Koshio from Deadman Wonderland

Anime: Deadman Wonderland

Deadman Wonderland has no shortage of interesting characters. And Karako is easily one of the coolest.

I love her short white hair and slender yet seductive figure.

But don’t let her lovely smile and previous nursing career fool you:

Karako is feared for her fighting abilities. She’s exceptional in martial arts and takes full advantage of her Branch of Sin, Fists of Blood.

More than her looks and skills, you have to applaud her leadership skills and moral stance.


20. Nils Nielsen

Nils Nielsen from Gundam Build Fighters

Anime: Gundam Build Fighters

Gundam Build Fighters gave fans Nils Nielsen, a 13-year-old boy who was all about science and research.

Thus, Nils wasn’t interested in the action and excitement inherent in Gunpla Battle. Even though he was America’s representative.

Nils was more focused on the unknown elements and technology behind it. But his disinterest eventually dissipated as he genuinely enjoyed his Gunpla Battle experience with Sei and Reiji.

And don’t forget to check out what happens seven years after — try to guess who he’ll marry and what career he’ll pursue.


19. Philly the Kid

Philly the Kid in Cannon Busters anime

Anime: Cannon Busters

Netflix has no intentions of slowing down with its anime rollout — and one of its recent shows is Cannon Busters from 2019.

Philly the Kid is the MC, an immortal dude who’s understandably full of himself.

I mean, how can you not be arrogant when you can die and… well, not stay dead?

Granted, I didn’t like the series that much even though I have a preference for original anime.

But Philly is far from a forgettable man, even if that’s partly because of his less desirable characteristics.

Plus, he reminds me of all the people who are so confident in their driving skills, but then the results suggest otherwise.


18. Claudia Lasalle

Claudia Lasalle from Super Dimension Fortress Macross

Anime: Super Dimension Fortress Macross

Here’s someone from the 1980s with that vintage character art style. Claudia Lasalle was a supporting character in Macross.

She’s a 26-year-old American serving as a second lieutenant office who knows how it feels to love and be loved.

In fact, Claudia is always eager to help Misa Hayase understand her burgeoning feelings for Hikaru Ichijou.

I’m sure many Macross fans want nothing but for Claudia to get the love she deserves, especially after what happened to her beloved.

Interestingly, her voice actor also did the series narration — and this applies to both the Japanese and English dub versions.


17. Atsuko Jackson

Atsuko Jackson from Michiko to Hatchin anime

Anime: Michiko to Hatchin

Not a lot of anime characters can compete with Atsuko when it comes to the sheer size of her afro hair and how gorgeous it moves, courtesy of Manglobe Studio.

Atsuko Jackson just oozes coolness, from her fashion sense to her demeanor.

She also has a rather interesting relationship with Michiko, dating back to when they were kids in the orphanage. They do help out each other, but Atsuko also wants to arrest Michiko.

Michiko to Hatchin is brimming with thrills and fun character dynamics, and fans should thank Atsuko for helping make them possible.


16. Simon Brezhnev

Simon Brezhnev in Durarara anime

Anime: Durarara!!

Simon is easily one of the most popular characters in Durarara — and he isn’t even a main character.

I’m not the only one who found him intriguing right when he appeared in the opening theme animation.

So what is there to love about him?

Simon works at Russia Sushi, a restaurant that doesn’t exactly serve traditional sushi. It’s his job to get as many customers as possible by giving out pamphlets.

Second, the hardworking Simon exudes this gentle peace-loving aura, despite his large build and insane physical strength.

Last but not least, I love his big smile.

He knows that people immediately judge him for his appearance and don’t dare to go any closer, but he still tries his best.


15. Villetta Nu

Villetta Nu from Code Geass anime

Anime: Code Geass

Villetta Nu has eyes similar to those of Yoruichi and Karako Koshio, although one can argue hers are more yellow than gold or amber.

On a deeper level, Villetta is crucial to highlighting the issue of discrimination. Of how life could be so much better if people weren’t taught to hate others just because they’re different.

I was shocked by the events surrounding her temporary memory loss. And it’s one of the betrayals in anime I still remember to this day.

Things do improve for her in the second season. But I don’t think I can forgive her if Code Geass only had one season.


14. Anthy Himemiya

Anthy Himemiya in Revolutionary Girl Utena

Anime: Revolutionary Girl Utena

As one of Kunihiko Ikuhara’s most acclaimed works, Revolutionary Girl Utena, was made with meaning behind every aspect.

It’s arguably one of the most important works ever, highlighting gender issues in society — and Anthy Himemiya was there to work the magic.

She was one of the two female MCs that subvert gender roles and expectations, evoking an image of a harmless (to her detriment) princess and witch.

But Anthy is no ordinary sweet young lady.

She’s had traumatic experiences of abuse, and Utena has to push her limits to save Anthy, not just from her abusers but also herself.


13. Andrew Gilbert Mills

Andrew Gilbert Mills from Sword Art Online

Anime: Sword Art Online

As the series that hit it big in the early 2010s and paved the way for the long-standing domination of isekai in anime, Sword Art Online continues to bring in new fans with even more material coming your way.

One of the most familiar supporting characters is Andrew Gilbert Mills, the amiable African-American merchant and ax wielder.

But despite his profession, he didn’t care about high-profit margins.

Money didn’t matter as much as helping other players, especially those in the lower levels.

Plus, Andrew in the real world is just as wonderful: He and his wife have a coffee shop and bar called Dicey Cafe.


12. Afro Samurai

Afro Samurai in Afro Samurai anime

Anime: Afro Samurai

Yes, he’s called Afro Samurai.

The anime had voice actors ranging from Samuel L. Jackson to Phil Lamarr, and its creation was surprising. But also much welcomed.

You don’t really have to know a lot about Afro Samurai to be hooked.

The series (and the Resurrection movie) does provide more background about him, but his main appeal is his insane sword fighting skills. It’s an absolute delight to see him swing his blade in a show unafraid to show all the blood and gore.

This is a man whose happy childhood was ripped away as he saw his dad get beheaded by Justice, a man hungry for the Number One headband.


11. Alex Benedetto

Alex Benedetto from Gangsta anime

Anime: Gangsta.

It’s still a shame that Manglobe had financial issues when they were adapting Gangsta. The first episodes and the teaser impressed and intrigued many anime fans with adult characters and refreshing music.

Even though the series dipped in quality, it doesn’t ruin the amazing character design of the three MCs, one of whom is Alex Benedetto.

Alex is an unbelievably attractive woman, even though she’s not drawn to have anything special — no flashy accessories whatsoever. She’s just an effortlessly alluring woman with long black hair, blue eyes, and a curvy figure.

Likewise, she can be quiet but she will stand up for you if it’s the right thing to do.


10. Bob Makihara

Bob Makihara in Tenjou Tenge anime

Anime: Tenjou Tenge

Tenjou Tenge is a series infamous for its ecchi scenes and outrageous school battles.

It’s been 16 years, but I’m sure those in their 30s and late 20s still remember this well, if only because Madhouse handled the adaptation.

The 15-year-old South African Bob Makihara is one of the five MCs.

Judging by his looks alone, you’ll get an idea that he’s one of the strongest students in Toudou Academy, which is rife with powerful individuals.

However, he’s not all about brawn — his strength is complemented by his passion for fighting and ability to gauge the power level of others. Also, he genuinely loves his girlfriend Chiaki Konoike.


9. Canary

Canary Hunter x Hunter anime screenshot

Anime: Hunter x Hunter

Hunter x Hunter has two amazing anime adaptations.

The Nippon Animation version was already good, but the 2011 Madhouse adaptation took things to another level — and both featured Canary.

Canary is one of the first black characters I ever saw in anime.

She’s only a butler of Killua’s family (and she’s very loyal to Killua), but her getting that position is already indicative of her deadly skills.

Furthermore, I love her design. She looks so formal but this is a teenager who can take down a hundred men by herself.


8. Zapp Renfro

Zapp Renfro from Blood Blockade Battlefront

Anime: Blood Blockade Battlefront

Kekkai Sensen is one of the most unique anime shows of the 2010s. It had eccentric characters, detailed urban settings, and a pretty good soundtrack.

Zapp Renfro is one of the MCs.

He’s a 24-year-old man with a slender physique, white hair, white suit, and a look that makes the ladies go wild.

Aside from his character design, Zapp got my attention because of his blood manipulation skill, making him a good fit for Deadman Wonderland.

He may be a quick-tempered troublemaker, but I’d rather have him on my side than face him and his ignited blood.


7. April

April in Darker than Black anime

Anime: Darker than Black

April was one of the first black women I saw in anime — and I still think she’s one of the coolest female characters ever.

Just look at her:

Short light blue hair, pink lips, attention-grabbing pink coat with a fur collar, choker, and boots, and gold eyes (just like a few entries on my list).

Then you consider her ability which is to create rain, heavy clouds, and strong winds. If that’s not cool enough, her remuneration is to drink alcohol.

She fought Hei, but no one wanted her to perish either. Her team with July and November was perfect, like Team Rocket from Pokémon.


6. Sister Krone

Sister Krone from The Promised Neverland anime

Anime: The Promised Neverland

Do you remember the first time you watched (or read) The Promised Neverland?

I thought it was cute when I saw the first few pages — then the series showed its true colors.

I know people were first freaked out by Isabella, but Sister Krone had her own unnerving ways, especially with how agile she turned out to be.

She’s this 26-year-old woman with afro hair, gorgeous lips, and a huge, muscular body. Sister Krone’s smiles seem more like a death threat than an actual evocation of happiness.

In the end, however, Krone was someone who knew what was bad and was simply trying to save herself from the dreadful system.


5. Kuzan

Kuzan from One Piece anime

Anime: One Piece

Many of you expected Kuzan (or my next pick) to take the top spot — but this is already a laudable position.

So what makes him my second most favorite black character in a shounen anime?

Well, Kuzan was the first Marine admiral revealed to viewers. That rank meant Kuzan was one of the strongest individuals in all of One Piece.

Likewise, he had the capacity to change.

Sure, he was loyal to the World Government for a long time. But he eventually realized he couldn’t stay with a brutal corrupt organization, so he stepped down after suffering defeat at the hands of Sakazuki.

Lastly, I liked how he seemed lazy but also had a clear sense of duty.


4. Killer Bee

Killer Bee in Naruto: Shippuden anime

Anime: Naruto: Shippuden

Naruto is a very different take on ninjas, especially with the character design (yes, the orange tracksuit) and digital technology employed.

Then the Eight-Tails jinchuuriki Killer Bee debuted.

Is he a ninja? Yes.

Does he rap? Yes.

Is he a good rapper? No, but that won’t stop him from pursuing his rap career.

In a world where some ultra-powerful characters are primarily driven by their desire to save or destroy humanity, here was Killer Bee, a loud yet considerate, rap-loving man.


3. Carole Stanley

Carole Stanley in Carole & Tuesday

Anime: Carole & Tuesday

Did I expect Shinichiro Watanabe’s next anime series after Zankyou no Terror to involve two girls singing against AI on Mars?

No. But I’m happy he took the risk and created characters like Carole Stanley.

The 17-year-old resident of Alba City wants to succeed in the music industry, but she’s an orphan who has to take on several jobs at a time to make ends meet first — and who can’t relate to her struggle?

Despite having the short end of the stick, Carole remains a positive individual. She’s smart, friendly, and while she does need money to survive, she won’t tolerate bad behavior.

Lastly, I love her simple yet dashing style of a ponytail, overalls, earrings, and brown boots.


2. Dutch

Dutch from Black Lagoon anime

Anime: Black Lagoon

Black Lagoon is one of the Madhouse treasures of the 2000s — and it’s high time Revy rests for a bit to give Dutch his much-deserved spotlight.

Dutch is 6’4” tall and weighs over 220 pounds.

He likes wearing sunglasses and military items of clothing like jungle boots, fatigues, and flak jackets.

According to him, he was part of the US Navy before he established The Lagoon Company.

But the best thing about Dutch is that he’s a great negotiator who just wants to get the job done with as few civilian casualties as possible.

He can fight, but he’s better when he’s the one choosing and planning the mercenary missions for Revy and the rest.


1. Michiko Malandro

Michiko Malandro from Michiko to Hatchin anime

Anime: Michiko to Hatchin

Atsuko Jackson’s longtime friend (and enemy) takes the crown as my favorite black character in anime.

Michiko Malandro is this free-spirited, attractive woman who’s been in prison more than a few times.

She’s well aware that she’s sexy and likes to flaunt her good physique, choosing to wear clothes that reveal her midriff and such.

Despite her recklessness and boisterous ways, she’s not selfish.

Her plan to give presents to the kids in the orphanage proved dangerous for Atsuko, and she would even steal to help a friend. But the point is she has good intentions underneath her bad (and criminal) actions.

It’s a pleasure to witness her wild journey featuring Hatchin, Atsuko, Pepe, and Hiroshi, among others.

I also love how Michiko to Hatchin ends.

If you’re looking for a great anime series with several well-designed black characters, check this one out.

Browse: Anime

R. Romero

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