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Icons of Inclusivity: The Top Ten Gay Anime Characters You Should Know!

Icons of Inclusivity: The Top Ten Gay Anime Characters You Should Know!

Anime, while broadly encompassing any form of animation created in Japan—whether hand-drawn, computer-rendered, or otherwise—is widely recognized for its distinctive cartoon style, marked by unique character designs and dynamic action. This rich medium also celebrates diversity, including a spectrum of gay anime characters, who add depth and variety to the storytelling, making anime a vibrant showcase of inclusivity and representation in animation.

Many people become fans of the genre due to the lively, engaging, and adventurous characters, as well as the often wide-spanning and otherworldly stories that anime shows and films often tell.

Like all good story-telling mediums and genres, anime is definitely not immune to the worldwide fixation with romance stories, and actually has some of the best, most heart-wrenching tales to tell out of them all. But how does this reflect over onto queer romance? Japan is relatively progressive by Asian standards, and although the country currently has no laws in place allowing same-sex marriage, both queer travelers and residents are bound to find Japan a relatively pleasant environment for self-expression in general.

This fact is quite apparent in anime itself, which frequently features gay anime characters and explores queer themes, despite Western broadcasting companies often being strict about allowing such content on screens and in theaters. This inclusivity is especially significant considering that the majority of anime in the West is distributed through these companies. Through dubbing and localization, these anime series become accessible to those who do not understand Japanese or prefer not to read captions, allowing a wider audience to appreciate the rich diversity of stories and characters that anime offers.

Gay characters in anime when they do appear are largely a lot easier to spot and identify than those in movies from Disney and the like, but there have nevertheless been some cases of ‘hidden’ queer characters through anime’s history. Take Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus from this list for example. It seems that companies making efforts to ensure that their gay storylines only make it through to the eyes of fellow queer audience members is not specific to Hollywood!

So, with that said, let’s turn on the subtitles, connect to these gay VPNs, and take a stroll through the top ten gay anime characters of all time! It’s time to meet and greet with anime’s the best of the best!

Top Ten Gay Anime Characters

#1) Fai and Kurogane from Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle

Hailing from gripping manga and anime series Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, both Fai and Kurogane are mighty characters in their own right, and spend a lot of touching moments together on screen. Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle is in many ways a story about relationships and the bonds we choose to form with one another, and that fact is very apparent in these two characters.

But who are they exactly? Fai Fluorite  – also known as Fay Flowright – is a mysterious and powerful magic user from the world of Ceres, and Kurogane is a ninja warrior who wears all black, which leads to Fai giving him the nickname ‘Mr. Black’.

Although Fai and Kurogane are part of the group of fictional characters that suffer from the unwillingness of their creators to make the step to including a queer character in their show, it goes without saying that the pair share an undeniable connection. The pair have made great sacrifices for one another at many times during the show and the manga, and – without going into spoilers too much – create a bond of blood and bone more literal than truly metaphorical.

Not only that, but the CLAMP anime and manga production team – famous for their work in meta and interlocked fantasy worlds – seem to be just as into shipping the two as the fans are, and have given everything but a direct acknowledgement of the two being a couple across many instances of the two getting closer than just friends. Cross your fingers for confirmation!

Top Ten Gay Anime Characters - #1) Fai and Kurogane from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle

#2) Kaworu Nagisa and Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion

Evangelion is many things – a mecha series to beat them all, a story about compelling characters set in a compelling world, and an epic saga of world-shaking acton. Something else it might be – and certainly is for a lot of fans – is a hotspot for queer romance, and a container for the romance between the angel Kaworu and Shinji, who is Evangelion’s main character. 

The connection between the characters is one of the most fundamental turning points in Evangelion’s story, with the two sharing sentiments such as “I might have been born to meet you’ and even ‘I mean, I love you’. That says about all that needs to be said about their relationship.

The show, celebrated for its portrayal of gay anime characters, encountered controversy with its Netflix rerelease 25 years after the original debut. The English dub of this rerelease toned down romantic language between two characters, igniting fan outrage over what many saw as gay erasure. Where once there might have been direct expressions of love, the revised dialogue now frames their relationship as merely platonic, diluting the originally more intimate connection and sparking a debate on the representation of queer relationships in anime translations.

While it remains to be seen whether the company and the actors or writers behind the new dialogue intended to change the intonation of the characters and the effect that it had upon their perceived relationship, the strength of the consensus from the fanbase that the characters cared for one another was and remains strong both before and after this new development.

Top Ten Gay Anime Characters - #2) Kaworu Nagisa and Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion

#3) Toya Kinomoto & Yukito Tsukihiro from Cardcaptor Sakura

The first couple on this list to have been properly made canon in their title anime, Toya and Yukito are two peas of the same pod, though they come from relatively different backgrounds. 

Toya (or Touya) is one of the main protagonists of the show and the big brother of the titular characer Sakura Kinomoto. He was born with magical abilities that allow him to perceive ghosts, and also be able to sense whenever his little sister comes under threat. 

Yukito is also one of the show’s main protagonists, although in more ways than one. His real name –  or rather the name of the spirit inhabiting Yukito’s body – is Yue, and his humanoid representation is only a shade of his angelic alter ego slash occupying being. It’s a bit confusing, we know. Regardless, Yukito as a character is kind, calm, and gentle, taking to situations with great care and compassion – showing unbound passion only for eating, as it is somewhat implied that in his angelic form he is unable to eat in any true way. 

After sharing a close friendship for a long time, Toya eventually confesses his love for Yukito to his little sister, and eventually even sacrifices his powers and becomes a regular human to save Yukito’s life when the young man’s body slowly begins to die due to the weight of Yue’s spirit inside him. It’s a lot, but we trust that it’s worth it to enjoy one of the best gay romances in anime.

Top Ten Gay Anime Characters - #3) Toya Kinomoto & Yukito Tsukihiro from Cardcaptor Sakura

#4) Light Yagami from Death Note

Perhaps the most famous character on this list – or at least the one with the most modern mainstream appeal – Light Yagami is the main protagonist of Death Note, and the man behind ‘Kira’, the bane of criminals and general bad guys the world round. 

But the merit of his deeds and the particularities of his story are not why we’re exploring Light’s character today. Although his personality, motivation, and background changes slightly between the manga, the anime, and the live action movie, in general Death Note seems to be set on sending its fans the impression that Light does not like women. It’s not that he actively is agitated by them or their company, just that he does not seem interested in spending time developing romantic relationships with them – preferring male friendship and close companionship.

This could equally mean that he was asexual, or simply too focused on his studies just as he claims, but the suspicion that Light is gay has been on the minds of the show’s fanbase since it was first release, and if there’s one true thing about anime fanbases, it’s that they cannot be dissuaded from a ship or a character trait once it is believed to have been discovered. 

The series’ protagonist’s sexuality may never be explicitly stated, but – as is often the case with many forms of media from any time earlier than the last few years – that just means that it’s up to us to determine what we feel is the truth.

Top Ten Gay Anime Characters - #4) Light Yagami from Death Note

#5) Guts and Griffith from Beserk

Beserk has been running as a manga since 1989, and came to animated life with a wild 2016 anime series. Guts and Griffith are two of the series’ main characters, and though not quite a case of enemies to lovers but not a relationship devoid of competition and opposition either, the tension between Guts and Griffith is brought to a honed point at many points during both the anime and the original manga, leaving many fans guessing about how far the two’s complicated feelings for one another go.

Griffith, the Supreme Commander of the Midland Regular Army and current leader of the Band of the Falcon, and Guts, a mercenary caught between his own desires and loyalty to those he cherishes, embody a complex dynamic within their series. As confidant and advisor to Griffith during their campaigns, Guts forms a deep bond with him, marked by both fondness and competition. Their relationship, rich with nuances, often oscillates between camaraderie and rivalry. This intricate interplay, reflective of their time spent together, showcases the multifaceted nature of connections between gay anime characters, highlighting a spectrum of emotions and conflicts that transcend simple categorization.

Nothing can last forever, though, and towards the later stages of the show the two fall apart. Guts abandons the army and leaves to pursue his own ends, and things are soured between him and Griffith, leaving the story much sadder for the two of them, but that hasn’t stop fans from continuing to ship the two and hope for a peaceful future for them.

Top Ten Gay Anime Characters - #5) Guts and Griffith from Beserk

#6) Kanji Tatsumi from Persona 4

Persona is one of the most famous JRPGs of all time, incorporating a unique storytelling style into an expansive franchise that includes six games and a range of manga, live action, and anime adjacent. 

But who is Kanji and why did he make it onto this list? Well – Kanji is one of the playable characters of the fourth game in the Persona series, and is a member of the Investigation team despite his younger age. It is widely apparent throughout his appearances that his brash and sometimes abrasive nature is due to the fact that he does not want to be seen as immature due to his fondness for hobbies like cooking, sewing, and art. He tries to hide his invested interest in these things at all costs.

There were plans to incorporate a truly gay romance arc into Persona 4, but apparently those plans were scrapped, and although concrete evidence of it exists and voice lines linked to the arc are present in the game files, there is no way to experience them without the help of mods. With that said, it comes as less than surprising that the game strays away from truly confirming whether Kanji identifies as gay or whether he is just confused exactly who he wants to be with, which has left many fans unsatisfied and agitated that the studio would leave them waiting. This option was not given in the game’s sequel Persona 5 either, which means that fans just have to stick it .

Top Ten Gay Anime Characters - #6) Kanji Tatsumi from Persona 4

#7) Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus from Sailor Moon

While Death Note – mentioned earlier on this list – may have the strongest mainstream appeal today, Sailor Moon takes the cake for the most popular anime on this list by far. Given the fact that the anime was released from 1992 to 1997, and the manga between 1991 and 1997, it may come as somewhat of a surprise that Sailor Moon actually has a confirmed queer couple amongst its ranks of characters – a feat of inclusion that even some of the most popular modern anime franchises have yet to pull off.

Sailor Neptune – also known as Michiru Kaio – and Sailor Uranus – also known as Haruka Tenou – are both members of the legendary Sailor Scouts, and main characters in the franchise alongside Sailor Moon herself and the rest of the supporting cast. 

Michiru is a world-renowned violinist, while Hakura is a famous racecar driver thought to be a man, and the two warriors are almost by one another’s side even when taking up their civilian identities.

Their recognition as one of the few confirmed queer couples in anime has elevated them to fan-favorite status, making them a cornerstone of LGBT representation within the genre. However, the English dub of the series by Cloverway Inc. significantly altered their dynamic, transforming their romantic bond into a platonic relationship between cousins. This change sparked considerable backlash, becoming a glaring instance of queer erasure and highlighting the challenges faced by gay anime characters in preserving their authentic relationships through localization processes. This controversy underscores the ongoing struggle for accurate and respectful representation of queer relationships in media.

Top Ten Gay Anime Characters - #7) Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus from Sailor Moon

#8) Ryo Asuka from Devilman

If you’re not familiar with Devilman as a show, the concept of Ryo’s character might be a little confusing. You see, the person that is in the manga and the anime is not the same person that the name was given to. 

Not much is known about the original Ryo Asuka, except that he died in a car crash at around the age of 17, when his body became the instrument of Satan. After this point, he met and became both best friends and worst enemies with Akira Fudo – the protagonist of the series, also known as the titular Devilman.

But what does any of this have to do with Ryo being gay, and Devilman having a queer streak? Some of it can be boiled down to a classic enemies to lovers progression between Ryo and Akira, though it might be more accurately labelled as a friends to enemies to lovers progression, but Ryo’s character is also quite queer as a whole. Not only that, but Satan’s true fallen angel form is intersex, meaning that although Ryo’s body is male, the spirit inhabiting him is not strictly bound to that gender. 

Ryo is the only antagonist on this list, but one can certainly see a new level of tragedy to the show and his character when looking at the story through a romantic lens. What if he fell for Akira, but is forced to keep fighting him again and again for the greater success of his plan despite his feelings?

Top Ten Gay Anime Characters - #8) Ryo Asuka from Devilman

#9) Yoshino Takatsuki & Shuichi Nitori fom Wandering Son

Wandering Son is influential, heartfelt, and deeply respectful. Characterized as a well-rounded and touching slice of life story with a more realistic tone than the other anime franchises mentioned on this list, Wandering Son is tender and wonderful in a lot of good ways – one of them being in its exploration of transgender characters and the relationship between Yoshino and Shuichi. 

Despite their undeniable synergy, Shuichi and Yoshino come from opposite worlds. Shuichi wants the world to see her as the caring, feminine girl that she is, and Yoshino wants the respect of his fellow boys rather than their bullying, mocking, and discrimination. 

Eventually, as the story goes on, the two becomes more bold and begin to openly express their two genders, drawing closer to one another and their true identities as they learn to overcome and ignore the negativity of people around them while remaining true to their own feelings. 

The dialogue and writing of the manga uses assigned at birth pronouns when referring to the characters for the vast majority of its story, given that most other characters in the series do not know of the two’s true gender identities or choose to bully and chide the pair. It deserves to be mentioned, however, that the manga refers to the two using the correct pronouns, and makes does a tasteful job of making sure that the readers come to respect their conflict and struggles with making their way through school with peer pressure and judgement all around them. 

Top Ten Gay Anime Characters - #9) Yoshino Takatsuki & Shuichi Nitori fom Wandering Son

#10) Yuri Katsuki & Viktor Nikiforov from Yuri!!! On Ice

As the name might suggest, Yuri!!! On Ice is an anime about ice skating, featuring protagonist Yuri Katsuki. Yuri is a budding professional skater, but also a doubtful soul with ‘the world’s biggest glass heart’. He often takes failure and setbacks quite hard, and making mistakes can drive him to depression quite easily. 

Viktor, however, is an already world famous skater who quits his own career to train Yuri – leaving Russia and travelling to Japan with little more than his passion and dedication to the art in tow. And that’s where the fireworks begin. From the very beginning of their time together training and getting to know each other, when Viktor begins to work on making Yuri more confident and well rounded as a skater, it’s very obvious that the pair are in love with one another, and the sheer tension between the two marks them as more than friends at the very least. 

The romantic scenes in the show have such a frequency and intensity that some have gone as far as dubbing the entire show as a work of queerbaiting, keeping its viewers guessing and wanting over the two characters to finally confess their affections for one another. While that might be the words of those who just want to see their favorite ship come to fruition, it remains true that we can all hope for confirmation between the two in the future. It’s already everything but said, and surely after all this time the pair deserves closure!

Top Ten Gay Anime Characters - #10) Yuri Katsuki & Viktor Nikiforov from Yuri!!! On Ice
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