Often, anime protagonists have something to prove, either about the world or about themselves, and this may define their entire character arc. Underdogs like Naruto Uzumaki and Izuku Midoriya will fight hard and win so they can prove their worth to society and inspire the masses. Other heroes fight for a lofty ideal, like a crusader.
Other anime protagonists or other heroes have much less to prove, either because they’ve already proven themselves in the past or they don’t have much to prove in the first place. Such heroes are either well-established characters whom everyone already respects, or they are heroes who dream small and pursue more tangible goals than being widely admired for their accomplishments.
10 Denji Dreams Very Small
Relatively few Chainsaw Man characters fight to prove their worth to the world or uphold lofty ideals or philosophies of any kind. These grounded, practical, and often bitter characters focus on the here and now, including Denji, an ESTP with chainsaw powers and a love of jam on bread.
Denji wouldn’t complain if he became popular and made a name for himself, but his real goal is to get three meals a day, a real bed to sleep on, and a girlfriend to love. He’s a humble and grounded antihero who is almost the opposite of heroes like Naruto and Izuku.
9 Edward Elric Will Fix His Mistake No Matter What
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood protagonist Edward Elric might prove a few things during his journey across Amestris, but he’s not really trying to impress or inspire anyone that way. He and his younger brother Alphonse broke the alchemy taboo, and they paid a bodily price for it.
Now, Ed and Al must find a way to restore their bodies, and that quest will get them involved in a great conspiracy for the fate of Amestris. And despite his modest fame, Ed doesn’t care about his image or state alchemist privileges; he just wants to do what’s right for its own sake.
8 Guts Doesn’t Care What Anyone Thinks Of Him
Berserk‘s gritty antihero, the “black swordsman” Guts, has almost nothing to prove and no one to prove it to. He is a grounded and pragmatic seinen protagonist who cares nothing for ideals or fame, although he does tend to impress the people who watch him fight.
Guts’ goals are personal in nature, such as his burning desire to slay his old friend Griffith as revenge for the Eclipse. Guts’ quest also involved protecting his lover, Casca, and finding a way to restore her mind and her happiness in an ever-darker world.
7 Kazuma Sato Seeks Money & Glory
Kazuma Sato is a wacky antihero with no lofty ideals or very much self-respect, and he has little to prove to this fantasy world’s inhabitants. He’s the most practical member of his dysfunctional squad and wants to make good money, though he usually suffers serious mishaps and ends up at square one again.
By contrast, Kazuma’s magical girl ally Megumin has plenty to prove, wanting to establish herself as the world’s greatest explosion magic user. Kazuma’s few inspiring scenes involve him helping Megumin do just that, such as carrying her home after she’s worn out casting one spell per day.
6 Tanjiro Kamado Fights For Nezuko’s Sake
Demon Slayer protagonist Tanjiro Kamado has a few things that he could prove, but he chooses not to. He understands that most demons are victims deep down who never fully lost their humanity, and he feels sorry for them as they perish, including Kyogai and the hand demon.
Tanjiro could try and prove that to the world, but it would be an uphill battle, and it’s not the point of his quest. Tanjiro’s real goal is to restore his own demon sister Nezuko’s humanity, and he doesn’t have to prove anything about himself or demon-kind to do that.
5 Jotaro Kujo Proved Nothing To DIO
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
In his own major story arc, Stardust Crusaders, the Stand-wielding hero Jotaro Kujo felt no need to prove anything to anyone, not even to Kakyoin or Avdol. In this arc of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Jotaro simply did what he needed to defeat DIO and his minions, all to save his mother’s life.
Jotaro let Star Platinum’s fists do the talking, and he didn’t concern himself with what anyone, friend or foe, thought of him. Jotaro built a reputation for being smart, tough, and unshakable, and Jotaro often proved that to be true, but not for its own sake.
4 Iruma Suzuki Actually Tries Not To Prove Anything
Welcome To Demon School, Iruma-Kun!
Iruma Suzuki the isekai protagonist needs to convince everyone that he is indeed a demon, like all his classmates. But that’s just for survival’s sake in the Netherworld, and Iruma doesn’t actually have anything to prove about himself or his views of the world.
Instead, Iruma spends the Iruma-Kun!anime trying to lie low, all because he lacks demon powers and would actually be attacked for being human. He’s a humble kid who sees no need to prove his strength, but he keeps doing that anyway with his use of the Ring of Gluttony.
3 Saitama Is Already In Peak Condition
One-Punch Man‘s protagonist, the mighty caped baldy Saitama, started with nothing to prove in the anime. In Episode 1, he was already far stronger than any hero needed to be, and he was often frustrated by winning every fight with a single knuckle sandwich.
Saitama had nothing to prove to even Bang or Lord Boros, though he still has his detractors, like the tsundere Tatsumaki. Saitama could try to appeal to her and show that he’s a likable hero worth befriending, but Saitama doesn’t seem interested in proving that to her — or to anyone.
2 Ichigo Kurosaki Fights For Others, Not His Own Glory
Bleach protagonist Ichigo Kurosaki fought in the Soul Society arc to prove to Byakuya that Rukia’s life was more important than old-fashioned laws, but otherwise, Ichigo has nothing to prove. He certainly has nothing personal to prove, and he doesn’t fight for his own sake.
Ichigo Kurosaki is everyone’s reliable defender, risking life and limb to rescue Rukia and Orihime and later, save the entire world from the Quincy king, Yhwach. Ichigo doesn’t ask for any applause or rewards for what he does; saving the day is its own reward.
1 For Tanya Degurechaff, Fame Is A Bonus
Saga Of Tanya The Evil
The dark isekai anime Saga of Tanya the Evil depicts a selfish Japanese salaryman getting reborn as a young girl in a parallel universe where World War I extended into the 1920s, and had magic as well. Tanya was recruited for her magical potential, then started rising in the ranks.
Tanya fought to survive and make sure she’d never face enemy bullets as a high-ranking commander. Paradoxically, she will gladly fight the enemy up close to reach that rank, all to defy Being X and make sure she never becomes a wartime casualty. She builds a fierce reputation for all this, but that wasn’t her true goal.
NEXT: 10 Anime Protagonists Who Go Against Their Nature