Have you ever had a crush on an anime character? Be honest now, because if you’ve ever watched anime, there is no way you’ve never had it bad for a 2D person.
Like their female counterparts, male anime characters are practically designed to appeal to both the so-called male and female fantasy. They’re cool, collected badasses with slender yet toned builds and some of the best hair you’ve seen on a male character in any media. It certainly helps that they’re also often depicted with an air of mystery, adding to the appeal their looks already have.
美少年 or bishounen are a common trope in anime and a lot of East Asian media. Meaning “beautiful boy,” the bishounen is a character trope that describes male anime characters with androgynous, even slightly feminine, physical characteristics.
This elegant, fresh-faced ideal of male beauty has influenced industries like K-Pop and stretches back to the first novel in recorded history, Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji where the dashing Prince Genji is described as “so beautiful that pairing him with the very finest of the ladies at the court would fail to do him justice.”
With that said, can you really blame someone if they still have a tiny crush on these male anime characters?
1. Seto Kaiba From Yu-Gi-Oh! (1998)
Is Seto Kaiba an arrogant bastard? Absolutely. But arrogance is just a step up from confidence and that never fails to be sexy in a man.
Seto Kaiba is one of the villains in the hit anime series Yu-Gi-Oh! and is known for being a little overdramatic when it comes to competing with protagonist Yugi Muto. Kaiba is basically what you’d get if you took Tony Stark and Adam Lambert and created a genetically engineered artificial baby using their best traits: being rich and having dramatic eyeliner.
This white coat-wearing bishounen was once an orphan who later got adopted by the rich and powerful Kaiba family who owns KaibaCorp, an international game company. Kaiba’s intellect has helped him become one of the best duelists in the world of Yu-Gi-Oh!
The genius eccentric is also responsible for a corporate takeover where he took the role of CEO from his stepfather. As you can tell, he’s a cutthroat businessman with a massive ego which leads him to an obsession with beating Yugi Muto.
Personality-wise, Seto Kaiba doesn’t have much going for him which means his status as a crush-worthy anime guy largely boils down to how stylish and extra he is. He’s so camp it’s actually attractive and if you don’t agree, you’re just a third-rate simp with a fourth-rate taste in 2D men.
2. Levi Ackerman From Attack on Titan (2013)
Levi Ackerman is a more recent crush among anime viewers. As one of the protagonists of Attack on Titan, Levi serves as a soldier in the Survey Corps. He’s often seen wearing his military uniform — an outfit that’s always a hit with thirsty fans. He also had a classic anime badass upbringing.
Levi is an orphan adopted by a man who taught him how to fight, something that later allowed him to be dubbed “Humanity’s Strongest Soldier.” Aside from being an extremely skilled fighter, Levi is smart and has a charming clean freak streak that has him scrubbing down his surroundings at every opportunity. His personality hits all the right notes for a cool male anime character making it no surprise that he consistently polls as one of the most popular characters in the show among fans.
Canonically standing at a modest 5’2, Levi is the definition of a short king. Short kings are men with a lot of confidence, style, and talent packed into a body under 5’9. Yes, despite the overwhelming popularity of tall men in both real life and in anime, there’s room in every anime fan’s heart for a man with a personality as big as Levi’s.
3. Roy Mustang From Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009)
It’s everybody’s favorite Flame Alchemist, Roy Mustang. At 5’6, Roy is another anime short king that’s left fans in awe of both how cool and hot he is. His brand of cool fits into the same category as Levi as the two share the badass army guy trope. But Roy manages to be even more attractive largely because of the fact that he has a lot less baggage.
While Roy Mustang is serious on the field, his persona is a lot more like Tony Stark. He comes off as somewhat self-absorbed and a shameless flirt. These traits are mostly played for laughs though because Roy Mustang is anything but a slacker. As a dutiful colonel, he’s dedicated to making sure each mission goes smoothly and none of his subordinates get hurt.
Though he definitely doesn’t show any favoritism to any of the people who work under him, we get a sense that there might be something else going on between him and Riza Hawkeye. If there is, well, we love that for her.
4. Lelouch Lamperouge From Code Geass (2006)
Don’t even try to deny it. You either had a crush on this guy or Suzaku Kururugi or, better yet, both.
Lelouch vi Britannia or Lelouch Lamperouge, depending on what get-up he’s in when you meet him, is one of the lead male characters of Code Geass. Throughout the mid-2000s to early 2010s, this guy had anime fangirls and fan guys mentally fixated on him to the point that he was the most popular male character for three years in a row during 2006, 2007, and 2008 at Animage magazine’s annual Anime Grand Prix.
Lelouch just barely makes it out of short king territory with a height of 5’10, but the extra inch doesn’t mean he isn’t every bit the bishounen. Code Geass art style, which favors tall, slender physical frames, only serves to make him look even more androgynous. His dark hair and bright, purple eyes make for a nice color contrast and it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s often seen in sleek uniforms.
As a civilian, Lelouch has a charming, boy-next-door persona with a delinquent streak. But as Zero, he’s a highly intelligent tactician with no qualms about being inhumanely utilitarian. His charm and good looks are no accident. Apparently, when CLAMP character designers started making him, they intentionally set out to create a veritable “beauty” of a man, a trait that’s typical of CLAMP’s male characters.
5. Daisuke Kambe From Millionaire Detective Balance: Unlimited (2020)
After the release of Millionaire Detective Balance: Unlimited, it would be a crime not to include a male anime character that’s essentially Batman if he did his crime-fighting as Bruce Wayne.
The short kings just keep winning because Daisuke Kambe is 5’6. As a scion of the Kambe family, a clan so rich that they seem to be involved in every industry there is, Daisuke Kambe has access to a seemingly unlimited pool of funds. In fact, that’s half of the entire concept of the show: a millionaire crime-fighter with an endless amount of money. Let’s be real though: there’s no way Daisuke is just a millionaire.
Despite the constant action that’s going on around him, Daisuke is always sporting a spotless three-piece suit. His personality also plays into hot anime character tropes due to his calm and collected way of dealing with events around him.
But as perfect as he and his bank account look, Daisuke doesn’t quite have the same charm as characters like Roy Mustang. Unlike Lelouch who is always aware of how amoral his actions can be, Daisuke is largely oblivious to the damage he causes around him. So uh, Batman with a weaker moral compass?
6. Usui Takumi From Kaichou Wa Maid-Sama! (2010)
Usui Takumi is the lead male character from Kaicou wa Maid-Sama! This tall blond is a high school student who’s extremely popular with the ladies thanks to his extremely good looks.
There’s not a lot going for him in terms of uniqueness. Usui is the high school heartthrob trope down to the last detail though he does have a sad backstory as the illegitimate son of an English noblewoman and a Japanese butler. Usui is talented and smart despite not being a diligent student. His self-absorbed and flirty persona, which hides a heart of gold, makes him even more of a typical anime hottie.
7. Miyuki Shirogane From Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is a romantic comedy centered around the “totally not romantic” relationship between Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya. He’s a unique guy in this list mainly because the show doesn’t portray him as this completely amazing and always confident male heartthrob.
Part of Shirogane’s charm is the fact that while he seems perfect on the outside, we get to listen to his internal dialogue where he swings wildly between propping his self-image up and being afraid of people, especially Kaguya, seeing him as anything but perfect.
Miyuki Shirogane is one of the few working-class students in a school full of political and business scions, yet he manages to become the top student at his school and maintain an image as a respected student council president. The anime doesn’t let him be a complete Gary Stu in the skills department as it pointedly depicts him as useless at anything other than academics.
That said, his background makes him hardworking, humble, and incredibly selfless towards the people around him. In all honesty, he may not be as flashy as the other guys on the list but if you had to actually marry one of them, Miyuki Shirogane is the sanest and most functional an anime man can get.
8. Osamu Dazai From Bungo Stray Dogs (2016)
Anyway, back to the problematic male anime characters.
Osamu Dazai is a character from Bungo Stray Dogs, an anime about literary figures solving supernatural mysteries. For example, the original Osamu Dazai was a Japanese author best known for the novel “No Longer Human.” Other literature-inspired characters include, and I kid you not, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
The real-life Osamy Dazai was the son of a wealthy landowner, a background detail the writers spun to make anime Dazai the youngest executive in Mafia history. He’s depicted as another mysterious yet chill guy with a flirty streak. Don’t be fooled by the relaxed smile: Dazai shares a penchant for violence and cruelty with Lelouch.
Still, he’s a stylish, trenchcoat-wearing bishounen so you bet fans still found him hot. This is notwithstanding that he openly admits he dreams of committing suicide with a hot girl.
9. Sesshomaru From Inuyasha (2000)
You know an anime guy is going to be a hit with fans when his name literally means “Destruction of Life.” Cue the thirsty tweets about how Sesshomaru can destroy them.
If you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past two decades, Sesshomaru is one of the male anime characters in Inuyasha, an early isekai anime.
Sesshomaru is clearly supposed to be a bishounen, but his androgynous good looks don’t hide how powerful he is physically, especially since he’s a shapeshifting demon dog. His stoic personality and barely-hinted-at softer tendencies make him a more alluring character than the lead male love interest, Inuyasha. Besides, can you really blame fans when the animators go out of their way to make this male anime character look like a sexy badass?