10 Best Foreign Non-Japanese Anime Characters: The Ultimate Gaijin List

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The world is big and so is the world of anime.

There’s an anime that’s set in just about every country.

That means that not every character is Japanese, and that’s ok. Racial equality and all that jazz right?

Whether that’s the odd Asian in a show set in America, or the token black (or white) guy in something set in Japan; it’s always great to see minorities front and centre.

This topic is one that’s quite personal because I’ve been in the position that many of these gaijin have been in – so here’s my list of interesting gaijin characters found in anime.

10. Akko

Akko from Little Witch Academia

Anime: Little Witch Academia

At the bottom of the list is the questionably not gaijin character.

Akko is the only Japanese character in the whole of Little Witch Academia, which taking after Harry Potter, is loosely set in Britain.

I’m putting her here because as an Asian who’s lived in Britain, her ‘gaijin’ (by the exact definition: foreign person) status is written really well.

Occasionally people mention that they’re ‘not familiar with Eastern lineages’, or that they find some of her food weird.

There are even moments of outright racism where they don’t believe the ‘Eastern’ girl could even get into Luna Nova, the magic academy.

But for the most part, it’s just something people get used to. She has friends, she’s normal, but she’s also foreign.

Beautifully realistic writing if I do say so.


9. Central High Vice President

Central High Vice President anime

Anime: Daily Life of High School Boys

And here we were all thinking that token black characters only exist in Hollywood?

This guy only shows up in one episode of the anime, but it’s a pretty lasting impression – for me anyway.

Japan has a lot of black people. But somehow slice of life animes often leave them out.

More exciting anime will sometimes have black characters but play with stereotypes.

Here, the Central High VP is a normal teenage student who doesn’t like being put on the spot.

The president, a very extroverted girl, tells everyone that he was a delinquent before she sorted him out – big if true because after playing along, he tells everyone that she used to be far wilder.

Just a normal student in a ‘normal’ school.


8. Maximillian Pegasus

Maximillian Pegasus from YuGiOh anime

Anime: Yu-Gi-Oh!

Known as Pegasus, J. Crawford in the Japanese version, Pegasus is the cursed illustrator and creator of Duel Monster.

Which, as Japanese as this whole series clearly is, apparently Duel Monsters is an American card game in the anime. Go figure.

When he was 14, Pegasus met the love of his life Cecelia and they vowed to marry each other. Unfortunately, Cecelia died only three years later.

Driven by grief, Pegasus scours the world for ways to bring the dead back to life. Which leads him to Egypt and the ancient Shadow Games played by sorcerers of yore. Spooky, right?

Maybe if he could harness these powers in, I don’t know, a children’s card game, he might get the power to bring her back to life!

It’s just crazy enough to work…


7. Tina Foster

Tina Foster in Ai Yori Aoshi anime

Anime: Ai Yori Aoshi

Tina is an American girl who grew up in Japan but has spent so long there, that she can barely speak English anymore.

A true third culture girl, she feels neither at home in America nor in Japan.

She meets Kaoru, our hero, at University and like many other girls, is quite attracted.

She and her family go on a trip around the world during which Kaoru falls in love with his childhood sweetheart Aoi.

Spoiler alert, Aoi and Kaoru do get together but if fan polls are anything to go by, we need justice for Tina!


6. Asuka Langley Sohryu

Asuka Langley Sohryu Evangelion

Anime: Evangelion

The poster girl for Evagelion, Asuka is one quarter Japanese, one quarter German, and half American.

Truly international, she was raised in Germany but has American citizenship through her Dad, speaks Japanese to communicate with her maternal family, but has trouble reading Kanji.

Weird mix but oh so lovable.

With her Mom Kyoko going insane and committing suicide while Asuka was still young, she had to look after herself.

Luckily she was a child prodigy which allowed her to get a University degree and pilot the Evangelion Unit-2 all before reaching adulthood.


5. Victor Nikiforov

Victor Nikiforov in Yurii On Ice anime

Anime: Yuri!!! On Ice

Victor is one of the main characters from Yuri On Ice, the controversial winner of Anime News Network’s 2016 Best and Worst anime.

The Russian Victor Nikiforov is a legend in the male skating world, having won several world championships before retiring young.

Yuuri, our main boy, has always been infatuated with Victor and in bases his own sets after Victors.

After a crushing defeat at the Grad Prix Finals, Yuuri returns home to Kyuushu and who does he find waiting?

A sexy Russian figure skater asking to be his coach.


4. Alice Cartelet

Alice Cartelet in Golden Mosaic anime

Anime: Golden Mosaic

Alice Cartelet is an exchange student originally from the UK studying in Japan.

Alice spends her whole day clinging to one particular girl at her school – Shinobu, who Alice met many years ago when Shinobu was an exchange student in the UK!

With their roles reversed, Alice is staying with Shino and refuses to let go!


3. Cindy Campbell

Cindy Campbell in Squid Girl anime

Anime: Squid Girl

Cindy Campbell is a character whose foreigness is at the core of her personality.

She’s part of a trio of American researchers with an underground base where they try to capture Squid Girl for all sorts of weird FBI experiments.

Lovingly called the Three Stooges, Cindy and her two lackeys are aggressively American stereotypes – a blond girl, a fat Italian man, and a black man.

They’re Saturday morning cartoon villains with weird contraptions, funny foreign accents, and very large American flags.

Cindy, the leader of the bunch, is more mature and intelligent than her teammates.

But is nonetheless all freedom and eagles all the time.


2. Dino

Dino in Blend S anime

Anime: Blend S

Dino is the Italian owner of Café Stile, the maid café our show is set in.

A chef by training and an otaku by hobby, combining his two passions into a maid café just made sense!

He has a good eye for talent, having created the whole ‘characters’ concept of Stile and scouted every single worker by himself (sometimes with disastrous outcomes!).


1. Count Zap

Count Zap in Megaman anime

Anime: Megaman NT Warriors

Real name Jack Electel, Count Zap is one of Megaman EXE’s original antagonists (of which he wasn’t the only gaijin!).

An eccentric and masochistic aristocrat from the country of ‘Kingland’, him and his NETNAVI Elecman go about causing chaos by messing with everything electric.

In later seasons Count Zap becomes one of the series’ most explored secondary characters.

We’re introduced to more of his family than even our main character’s, and find out a lot about his troubled past.

However, the reason he’s ranked first is because many years ago I was rewatching Megaman NT Warrior(sub of course, I’m not a heathen) and realized he sounded like a foreigner.

I didn’t even speak Japanese yet, so kudos to the voice actor.

Notable Mention:

Tachibana Sylphynford

Anime: Himouto Umaru Chan

I included her in my last article here so I can’t also put her in this one (my own decision)!

But she’s such a well written foreigner character that I couldn’t resist at least giving her an honourable shoutout at the end here.

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Cyril Ma

Cyril is a freelance writer, drama teacher and singer from Hong Kong. Growing up in East Asia, anime is literally everywhere. It’s on the streets, it’s in the malls, it’s always on TV. You’re sort of expected to know your anime stuff. Studying University in the UK, Cyril realized the rest of the world is not like that, so with his background in tow he volunteered with Animeleague’s Anime and Gaming conventions. Cyril wrote for the shortlived Shonen-World anime review site and also writes for Underground Hong Kong, a local music magazine. You can find him and the stuff he does at https://cyrilmass.wixsite.com/cyrildoesthings. Come say Hi!