Some anime characters are so powerful that they had to be nerfed—so in their own little bubble of fiction, their creators made them pacifists. Otherwise, they might have killed their whole fantasy or sci-fi universe already. When it comes to defining the best anime pacifists, we have certain criteria to keep in mind.
These guys and gals aren’t just pacifistic and peaceful because they aren’t capable of violence; no, it’s quite the opposite—some of them are even powerful enough to destroy planets. Still, despite that absolute power, they became absolutely incorruptible and have thus transcended into the coolest anime pacifists.
Kenshin Himura (Rurouni Kenshin)
Kenshin is an anime pacifist and protagonist so iconic he has received several adaptations and a whole anime remake, Rurouni Kenshin.
For the uninitiated, Kenshin was once an Edo Period samurai and assassin who was famed for being one of the most bloodthirsty swordsmen of the period. But after the change of tides and Imperial Japan’s push for modernization in the Meiji Period, Kenshin decided to adopt a more pacifistic outlook on life while still retaining his samurai roots by brandishing a reverse-edged katana.
This way, he has become a technical pacifist and will no longer end lives, fighting only to keep peace and protect the weak despite all his strength and skill for killing and fighting.
He has become one of the most prominent poster boys for pacifists in anime and pop culture, and his existence has since given rise to many other exemplary peace-loving warriors that are common in anti-war media.
Thorfinn Karlsefni (Vinland Saga)
Speaking of peace-loving warriors, Thorfinn from Vinland Saga wasn’t always an anti-war media paragon. His story is even more extreme compared to Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin since he was compelled to become a Viking mercenary while still a child.
But having spent his childhood and teenage years chasing war and revenge has become a launching pad for Thorfinn to become an enlightened pacifist. Once he has become an adult and thanks to certain opportune circumstances ripe for reflection and meditation, Thofrinn has become a mighty advocate for human rights and non-aggression.
And unlike other anime pacifists who just drift by passively on the ebb and flow of their inherently corrupt and violent society, Thorfinn actively sought alternatives and even made it his goal to establish a world where no one needs to be hurt or killed.
Vash the Stampede (Trigun)
We did mention that there are anime pacifists that can blow up planets but choose nothing to do with that kind of power. That guy would be none other than Trigun’s Vash the Stampede. He was born as an experimental weapon intended for death and destruction, but Vash defied his nature and chose a path of peach instead.
Sadly, a lot of villains knew what he was capable of and tried to either sway him to their side or make him break his ideals through killing. Vash never succumbed to such influences though he did manage to redirect his arm cannon to a moon and practically blew off a huge chunk of the non-living object.
Having that kind of power and capability but still choosing to live a nomadic and hermetic life takes all the strength and restraint in the world unless you’re just genuinely kind.
Android 16 (Dragon Ball Z)
Here’s another pacifist character that can blow up entire planets. Android 16 from Dragon Ball Z was supposed to be the Goku-killer model and was designed for this singular purpose. He’s also the strongest among the three rogue androids in the series.
However, Android 16 also defied his nature and intended purpose and chose peaceful coexistence instead. In fact, out of all the three rogue androids in the series, Android 16 was the most laid-back and the most passive despite being the strongest.
Sadly, his life was short-lived as a villain named Cell knew of his capabilities and promptly absorbed him for his powers. Still, he was one of the most sensible and complex characters in Dragon Ball Z.
Alphonse Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist)
You’d expect a teenager whose soul was transferred into a full suit of armor to abuse his practical immortality, but Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist and its Brotherhood variant is one of the shyest pacifists in fiction.
Both he and his brother are capable of weaponizing just about anything with their alchemy skills, and Alphonse is also highly durable since he’s a living armor, yet he still ensures that he doesn’t get in anyone’s way (despite being a seven-feet-tall metal hulk).
Granted, he was just 14 for most of his appearances on the show, but this responsible use of power and stature makes him a commendable character and a cool pacifist.
Orihime Inoue (Bleach)
Most of Ichigo’s friends in Bleach are powerhouses in their own right and can even hold their own in fights against the seasonal big bad evil guy. However, most of them are also pacifists, with Inoue Orihime being the most pronounced one.
She’s no doubt one of the most talented spiritual manipulators in Bleach’s lore, and if she wanted to, Inoue could easily become a force of destruction. However, she chose to heal and protect instead of causing harm with her special talents, making her one of the noblest characters in a series full of power-hungry anomalies.
Akane Tsunemori (Psycho-Pass)
Psycho-Pass is essentially the anime version of Minority Report, where police can now predict who’s going to become a criminal thanks to a specialized system called Sybil. They can then dish out punishment accordingly– sometimes by immediately executing criminals with a high-enough tendency. One of those police officers is Akane Tsunemori.
She has every power in the book to execute those deemed lost and unsalvageable by the Sybil system, and most other officers around her choose to just kill criminals and call it a day. Akane, however, believes in rehabilitation and second change– enough to defy the Sybil system and even save some criminals slated for immediate execution in their dark and twisted world.
Her adamant regard for human rights and potential, even if she has all the capacity and legal permission to kill criminals, makes her a unique police officer and certainly one of the coolest anime pacifists to ever exist.