The Manly Man of Anime

By Shamus Posted Monday Jun 19, 2006

Filed under: Anime 57 comments

Don finds this post at Riuva which asks, “who is the manliest man in anime?”

A lot of the choices put forth are characters I don’t know, but I can discard a lot of them because they are not men yet – lots of them are boys. In the comments it’s clear that some people can’t tell “manly” from “brooding, silent, and angst-ridden”. Steven observes (in Don’s comments) that some are metrosexuals. Others even look androgynous.

To clear up the confusion, let’s just start with what a manly character is not:

  • A bad temper does not make one manly.
  • Appreciating attractive women is manly. Being lecherous isn’t.
  • Angst is not manly.
  • Being wispy, thin, boyish, or doe-eyed is not manly, no matter what super powers the character has or how much butt they can kick.
  • This should go without saying, but judging from other people’s choices it can’t: You can’t be manly if you dress like a woman. A feminine hairstyle is also not a good idea for manly hopefulls.
  • Being soft-spoken is okay. Having a high-pitched girly voice or the voice of a boy isn’t.
  • Crying for a fallen comrade is okay, but crying because other people “just don’t get it” and “don’t understand how I feel” is not manly.
  • Being dishonest, cruel, hateful, or rude isn’t being manly – that’s just being a jerk.
  • Being a loner or not understanding others is okay, but does not in and of itself make one manly.
  • You don’t have to be Einstein to be manly, but being a moron is a no-no.

Now, a manly character is Alex Louis Armstrong from Full Metal Alchemist:

Alex Armstrong

Being manly means having bravery, courtesy, honor, and gallantry toward women. It means having chivalry, and Alex has chivalry to spare.

Alex Armstrong

Having an excellent physique helps in being manly as well. Alex is huge. Assuming the other men in the series are of normal height, Alex must be at least six and a half feet tall. (Almost exactly two meters.) He’s huge, muscular, and diciplined. He takes his training very seriously.

He’s also a bit of a goof. If you asked him to open a can, he wouldn’t get a can opener. He would open the can with raw, bare-handed strength while telling you, “This technique of opening cans has been passed down in the Armstrong family for generations”. It doesn’t matter how obscure the task – if it involves strength then his family will have a special technique for it and he will have practiced it for just this occasion.

Alex Armstrong

He’s well-mannered. His character profile says he uses “genteel decorum”, which sounds just right.

Alex also has a gift for stripping to the waist and showing off his muscles, which he will do just before a battle, when he’s about to begin work, when he meets someone new, or pretty much anytime he can get away with it. I don’t know how he does it. He can pull of his coat, vest, tie, shirt and undershirt in a single motion. Maybe he uses those tear-away outfits that strippers use. If you mention in passing that you need some firewood, the next time you blink you’ll see him standing there shirtless, flexing his muscles and talking about his family traditions of firewood-chopping.

Alex Armstrong

Alex Armstrong is a manly man.


From The Archives:

57 thoughts on “The Manly Man of Anime

  1. tj han says:

    You obviously are joking right?

    Anyway your definition of “manliness” is quite different from mine. I’ll say, mine is just an abstract quality that gets you loads of respect from both men and women alike. And age is no factor. And you really should watch the shows these characters appear in, because they are mainly good ones.

    1. Kaliam says:

      I think you’re both right and wrong in this situation. You don’t have to have giant abs to be manly, but you do need to be kind and respectful. I’m not saying that a man should go on his knees, whip out a bundle of flowers, and kiss a girl’s hand when they first meet, but I am saying that a man should be able to know when it’s time to fight, and when he should just walk away. I think that a man should be willing to help those in need, but assist those who want. A good example of what I think is worthy of manliness is the two pink shirts. The first pink shirt says, “only real men wear pink”. The other, says “my black shirt was in the wash”. The last phrase makes it seem like the person wearing the shirt doesn’t want to wear the shirt in the first place, and is just wearing it to make someone happy. It’s lightly funny, but it easily shows what kind of person you’re looking at. The other phrase, where the shirt states that “only real men wear pink”, it just shows that this man doesn’t care what people think of him. He doesn’t mind wearing a pink shirt to show people that he doesn’t care what he wears. If it’s pink, even better. I’m not saying that he should be some metrosexual guy that has fake eyelashes and make-up all over his face, but I’m not saying that he should wear a black shirt because it makes him look “cool”. Don’t you agree?

  2. hank says:

    Dammit, I wish you hadn’t posted this. Now I’m going to have to sue someone for using my likeness in a cartoon. And how did they find out about my can-opening trick?

  3. Shamus says:

    You obviously are joking right?

    That’s the trouble with the internet, you can never really be sure. It doesn’t help that I veer back and forth between serious and sarcastic without warning.

    I was goofing around at the top of the post, but I actually DO think armstrong is a manly man. He’s a fun character, and he’s unexpectedly funny. Sometimes when he rips off his shirt and flexes the background turns pink and we see little hearts and flowers drifting by. The contrast is hilarious.

    And you really should watch the shows these characters appear in, because they are mainly good ones.

    I believe you. I know I had some fun at their expense, but I recognize these shows as quite popular, and some of them are already on my to-see list. :)

  4. Evil Otto says:

    Not the “big beefy guy” version of manly (and not from a series you like), but Roger Smith from Big O is a manly man in more of a James Bond way. Smooth, a bit sexist, calm during a fight (even when losing), honorable and courteous.

  5. Shamus says:

    Roger Smith. Good one. Following that, I’d add Spike Spiegel, for many of the same reasons.

  6. FSB says:

    Yeah, Armstrong is pretty manly, but I still prefer
    “Onizuka Eikichi, age 22, bachelor!”

    Armstrong is pretty cool, but Onizuka does manly stunts…all in the name of helping his students
    become better people.

  7. Roger Smith of Big O, Jet & Spike (both of Cowboy Bepop), Armstrong, and I know there are several more somewhere in the back of my brain but this head cold is keeping me from gettin at them.

  8. EmeraldTiara says:

    Aargh! You just ruined FMA for me! now instead of having a character to laugh at, I have to actually take him SERIOUSLY? Although I can always laugh at Ed, if I have to..I actually do that quite a lot.
    Armstrong, a manly man? If you think about it…yeah, you’re right.

  9. Dave says:


    I’ve never heard of Armstrong being called a manly man (personality wise) but I understand what you’re saying.

    I have no idea who I’d nominate though…

  10. Benementat says:

    How about Kaneda from Akira? While still a teenager (nominally), running
    a bike gang and holding your own against impossible odds, while being introspective enough to see your own part in the making of a monster seems pretty mature to me. Galant in a rough & tumble, without being Chauvinist. He may not be the center of the story, but he is the emotive heart of the drama in it. Manly man for me!

  11. M says:

    I would like to put forth Walter, from Hellsing. An old-fashioned gentleman with good dress sense and an unbreakable sense of honor.

  12. C says:

    You’ve seen Fist of the North Star right? Not only is the main character the manliest man ever, it’s the manliest anime ever.

  13. Wraithshadow says:

    “You've seen Fist of the North Star right? Not only is the main character the manliest man ever, it's the manliest anime ever.”

    Which just goes to prove that manly anime is not necessarily a good idea.

    Hmm- Martian Successor Nadesico had a few characters who might count. The captain’s father probably counts… although his running joke is..uh.. yeah. Let’s not go there.

    I think L.I.L.Y. Cat (if you’ve seen that- I remember seeing it long ago on cable, back when Heavy Metal was shown near midnight) had a few- although those might more qualify as stereotypical Macho Americans rather than Manly Men.

    1. Boba Fett says:

      “Which just goes to prove that manly anime is not necessarily a good idea.”

      You’re right. It’s a great idea.

      Anyway, the manliest anime character is an American comics character. Lobo, baby. Hell yeah.

  14. Kenny Celican says:

    Yamamoto from Irresponsible Captain Tylor wasn’t bad for a character in what was ostensibly a comedy.

    He’s kinda young, but Soichiro Arima from Kare Kano.

    I saw Fist of the North Star a long time ago, and from what I remember I’m not sure I’d qualify ANY characters there as ‘Manly’. Manly to me implies a certain maturity of mind and body, and FotNS had a bunch of 8 year olds running around with bulked up, super powered 25 year old bodies.

  15. XannBlack says:

    Personally, I’m a fan of Kusanagi, Sorata, and Seiichirou from the X series.

    Armstrong is, in many ways, a definitive man. Another great example from FMA is Maes Hughs, who reamins my favorite character from the series.

    As a side note, I would like to put in a vote for Optimus Prime.

  16. Kuro says:

    The main men of Lupin the Third are my examples of manly men. Arsene Lupin III, Daisuke Jigen, Goemon Ishsikawa XIII, and good ol’ Inspector Zenigata.

  17. ninja errant says:

    so….have none of you seen Bleach? ‘Cuz basically Chad from that show is like the manliest character ever by your definitions. Hes a big guy (mexican or part mexican i forget how much) tough as nails but refuses to fight unless its to defend someone else, and though he is quiet hes definitely no idiot. In one of the early episodes he takes a steel girder to the back to protect a bird with a little boys soul in it…yes i realize that sounds silly but its kewl in context… :P and it is a really good show though it suffers a bit from slow pacing later on.
    And Vash the Stampede of Trigun should probably get a mention too…bighearted goofball that he was…one of the best shows ever.

  18. Kuro says:

    I’d also like to add Himura Kenshin and Saito Hajime from Rurouni Kenshin, Fuyuki Shido from Getbackers, Taihaku from Samurai Deeper Kyo, Komamura Sajin and Kaname Tousen from Bleach, and Harada Sanosuke from Peacekeeper Kurogane.

  19. elfsage says:

    Himura Kenshin and Saito Hajime totally fit the bill. Some people may not agree on Kenshin, but I think he uses the “I’m wearing a pink shirt and have long hair so I must be girly” vibe to allow people to underestimate him. And while we’re at it, why did Sanosuke get left off? He’s definitely a goofball and a shameless moocher, but he’s one of the most loyal characters I’ve ever seen.

    And there’s my little rant. ; )

  20. Muppet says:

    I would nominate Guts from Berserk, and Charles from Eureka 7. Guts is anger-manly and Charles is just man-manly.
    Both are made of manliness and win.

  21. Good Otto says:

    I totally agree with Muppet.
    Guts and Charles are extremely manly!
    I also personally like Bunshichi Tawara from Tenjou Tenge, and oh, Nabeshin from Excel saga is definitely one of the manliest characters!

  22. TheJoeSword says:

    I’d have to say that Dante from the Devil May Cry anime would be my definition of manly. He kicks ass, but he doesn’t flaunt it. There are other qualities, but what else could they put in an anime about a game that is about gratuitous violence?

    I guess his worst qualities are A) being constantly in debt, B) eating nothing but pizza and C) taking the “lone wolf” persona way too far.

  23. Spymagician says:

    Kujo Jotaro from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (or JoJo’s Venture).

    Although influenced in design by Ken of Fist of the North Star, he’s somewhat more well-rounded.

    Plus, he seriously kicks dupa.

  24. Retlor says:

    Can I throw a vote behind Kudo Shinichi from Detective Conan? Smart, foward-thinking, rational and logical. He can also be pretty caring, remains calm under pressure and can handle himself in a fight if necessary. He can be a little arrogant at times, but maintains a good sense of his own capabilities.

    I think he qualifies.

  25. Andrea says:

    My boyfriend and I agree on Master Keaton as the manliest man of (the eponymous) anime, and we give a second vote to Nabeshin from Excel Saga. There are a few manly men in King Gainer and Argentosoma (that one includes a manly man of color, no less), and Captain Elizabeth of Mars Daybreak is high on the manliness spectrum, despite being, well, female.

  26. Nyerguds says:

    Haha, Nabeshin… yes… he’s just totally over-the-top manly and heroic. Then again, in Excel Saga, what ISN’T over-the-top? :p

    Armstrong is awesome though. I lived the scene in Conqueror of Shamballa where he ‘fixed’ some poor guy’s shop by turning it into a giant statue of himself :p

  27. The CronoLink says:

    Are you kidding me?!! Alex is a brain-dead sissy; good-hearted but still a wuss nevertheless. Not that I have a grudge against him or something (I did grew some sympathy towards him and in some scenes hoped he wouldn’t die, which thank God didn’t happened) but he’s not what I would call a manly man.

    Now Harima Kenji from School Rumble? Hoo boy, now THAT’s what I call a Man. XD

  28. Sorana says:

    Beyond the Grave and Brandon Heat from Gungrave. Despite his occupation, (mob hitman) Brandon is definately a manly man. he is respected and even loved by his men, the boss regards him much like a son, the reason he has the job he has is through loyalty to his friend and his boss. he kicks ass and isnt all angsty, quiet yes, angsty no. there are more as well but i cant really explain them right now. Beyond the Grave is as well, for many of the same reasons.

    I might not have explained my reasons right, so watch the series,(if you havent already) it is only 26 episodes and it is deep, showing what loyalty and honor really are while showing how a person matures and that his decisions have consequences and how he deals with them.

    i cant believe you have convinced me that Armstrong, is a manly man to some degree. *shudders*

  29. Spider Dave says:

    I think Sanji of One Piece is evidence that cooking can indeed be a manly occupation.
    The other name that came to mind when I read this post was Jin of Samurai Champloo.

  30. Shinkada says:

    Wow, the comments here are surprisingly smart. I was expecting a lot more for Sephiroth.

    Personally I think “the majority of the anime’s fanbase being 14 year old girls and emo boys” should be added into the ‘What manly is not’ section. I admit, as far as Bleach goes Chad is pretty manly, but seriously, it’s Bleach, so you can’t take him seriously.

    Also, I put my vote in for Slayer from Guilty Gear, with a side-vote to Maes Hughes.

  31. Katrani Merack says:

    Here’s my votes:

    Jin and Mugen from Samurai Champloo. Jin’s an adult, and obviously so, and definitely has the ‘I’ll be polite but I can still kick your ass and I know you know it’ vibe, and Mugen is sort of like the man that never grew up. Sort of.

    I’d say Edward from the FMA manga’s later chapters (reason I love FMA: the cahracters change and GROW UP!) Roy Mustang, Maes Hughes, and Armstrong (as said) are good from the start though, even if Mustang comes off as a prick and Armstrong is a bit over-the-top at times.

    Spike Speigel and Jet of Cowboy Bebop, both already named.

    Kenshin, Sano, and Saito from Rurouni, again as already named. Yahiko by the end of the series too, I think, even if most still think he’s just a kid.

    And why can’t you take Bleach seriously? I do, except for the episodes are just there for filler. The Karakura Rangers episodes or whatever they’re called, for one. But besides Chad, I’d like to nominate Toshiro. Yes, he’s tiny. Yes, he’s white-haired. But he still acts like a man. I would also say Byakuya, but some consider him too much of a bishounen, so I don’t expect that to go far. Same for Squad 13’s captain… Forgot his name, sorry.

    For the ruthless ones, I’d like to point out Alucard from Hellsing. And for the ‘most boyish boy’ award, can anyone else agree with me on Schro?

    One video game example: Auron from FFX. That is all.

    One from Western animation, too, surprise! Samurai Jack. That is all. Again.

    Now, none of these are the ‘Manliest’, I’ll admit that. I’m just saying, they ARE men, and they act like it without being angsty teens.

    And, for the record, I’m a fifteen-year-old fangirl who does go ‘squee!’ at cool stuff. Like, say, Walter’s dental floss of doom, or Spike’s and Mugen’s loose, dance-battling, or Kenshin when he finally gets all kickass into battosai mode.

    And I have no clue whether or not to be scared I could turn my reasonings behind all of these into a proper rant and make my own blog with this topic from them, adn these are all FROM THE TOP OF MY HEAD. No deep-thinking. BTW, I’m scared that this’s the longest comment, and without the screenies, I believe longer than the blog post. Sorries!

  32. Bai Shen says:

    Okay, so I’m replying to a year old post. Sue me, I jus’ stumbled across it.

    My question is how could you leave out Bean from Riding Bean? :)

  33. Kyton says:

    Ok, I like a lot of the people mentioned here, and Trigun has already been cited for Vash, who has some manly qualities.

    However, Vash is really just a 200 year old little kid with a nice gun, some awesome moves, and a very idealistic world view. Before that point, the true man of the series was Wolfwood! He was a darker, more mature mirror of Vash’s childish ideals.

    I’d talk about it more, but despite the age of this post, and the age and popularity of Trigun, I would HATE to spoil the ending few episodes for anyone who hasn’t seen them.

  34. Akameji says:

    Retlor, I love Detective Conan to pieces, but Shinichi is masquerading as a seven-year-old most of the time. And while his logical mind is quite mature, emotionally, he’s a mess. I think that in time, he would qualify, but Aoyama isn’t letting him be mature yet.

    My vote? Hatake Kakashi. I haven’t watched Naruto in years, but I still think he’s a great example of manliness. Armstrong makes me cringe every time he appears

  35. Colin says:

    Pip Bernodette from Hellsing (Ultimate) is manly in many ways. Even being a mercenary, he still has a huge sense of honor about him.

    I would say Walter, but…not so much. On the surface he looks better than Pip, but he is a backstabbing old prick.

  36. curefordeath says:

    armstrong is so big….and so………strong but he dosen’t have hair.maybe just a little………..but anyway is a retard but stil funny

  37. Emma says:

    AMEN! Alex is definitly the manliest man of anime.

  38. Alex says:

    I am shocked and appalled that the name of Kamina (Gurren Lagann) has not been mentioned here. Easily the manliest man to ever have been portrayed in any form of media.

  39. FreeFall says:

    I agree with Alex, Kamina is definitely the winner. Some might try and argue that he is not manly due to some of the outrageous comments he makes to Simon, but it becomes evident that these only exist for the purpose of boosting Simon’s morale.

  40. Kajeet says:

    I have to agree its Kamina, when the technicians said his heart stopped beating he still snapped Simon out of his depression, faught a whole army, and did a badass move and gave a badass speech before he died. Not only that but he still gave advice to Simon even AFTER he died.

    Then Simon himself. At first he wasn’t manly AT ALL but at the end he faught basically ‘God’, fired lasers that hit every point in time and space at the same time, and did an uppercut that destroyed the space time continuum.

    Hell its a prerequisit to be manly to even be apart of the Dai-Gurren Brigade.

  41. katrani merack says:

    Just rereading all the old posts. I just watched Gurren Lagann and finished it about two weeks ago- took forever to find it- and now…

    I totally agree with Kamina.
    “Believe in the me that believes in you!”
    “Let’s see you grit those teeth!”

    Kamina is the manliest man in anime. Simon and Kittan are second and third.

  42. Drue says:

    I would also agree with Kamina, but remember, this post was from before that series even existed!

  43. hoLy says:

    Someone give me ONE reason why Kamina is NOT here? I thought so. None. this post needs some serious updates. WOW. Kamina is too fucking manly.

  44. miKey. says:

    Kamina PUNCHED a little boy out of depression. If that’s not manly i don’t know what is.

  45. brad says:

    duke togo of golgo 13

  46. WyrdDarcnyzz says:

    Someone said Kakashi, from Naruto, and while he has a few moments from time to time, I’d hardly consider him “manly.” Maito Gai, FTW! He’s a manly goofball, and while he doesn’t have the same bulk as Alex Louis Armstrong, he’s still super strong in his own right, and his build lies more on the “lean muscle”-side, rather than “body builder.” I suppose it has to do with their differing occupations.

    Compassionate, caring of his students, responsible (as noted by his reluctance to enter his students in the Chunin Exams until they already had a year under their belts), strong, smart, athletic, you name it, he’s got it.

    Some might argue that he doesn’t take life seriously, what with his talks about “youth” and such, but you have to remember, he lived through a war. He earned his manlitude on the battlefield, right next to his comrades. Kakashi whined and moaned about following the rules, and didn’t actually go to help his comrades until it was too late.

    Aside from Maito Gai, I’d have to say Freddie, from Cromartie Highschool. Quiet, studious, loyal, strong, goofy but serious sometimes, and most of all, he has a manly ‘stache and a great big chest of hair. Granted, he was modeled off of Freddie Mercury, who was exceedingly gay, Freddie does not exhibit any such tendencies. And besides, Freddie Mercury was manly in his own right, so it’s all good.

  47. Dominic Sinclaire says:

    Bato from Ghost in the Shell. You don’t need eyes to see your next victim for a manly ass whooping.

  48. Chopperman says:

    No list of manly characters can go without Roronoa Zoro from One Piece. If he isn’t the manliest anime character ever (which he is), he’s tied for first. If any evidence for this is needed, refer to his fight on Thriller Bark with Barthomoew Kuma. He out-mans everyone, ever.

  49. rayen says:

    i noticed spike from cowboy bebop up at the top but how bout a bit of love for Jet. I would put forth Jet as the most under-rated character in any anime ever. This guy is just as tough strong and skilled as spike (although in different ways), the difference being that jet has a higher code of morals and isn’t as cocksure as spike.

    Ghost in the shell’s Bato is a couple of posts up. This is another one of those shows where everyone is the extreme. Everyteam member in that show is a manly man, with the exception of the cheif and Motoko. and i can’t even completely vouch for Motoko because it is hinted a couple of times that she is a man in a female android body.

    and finally just to throw my own in there, Sesshomaru of Inuyasha is a manly man. long hair aside, he meet the criteria. People think he’s angsty but i never bought into that becaue i never seen him angst about anything. Daddy issues, creepy mom, half brother who he wants to murder, he actually takes most of this in stride. it’s not angst, he’s just quiet, calculating. and the hair thing can be explained away by time and place (feudal japan wasn’t onto the scissors thing yet).

  50. Hamsworth says:

    Regarding the cast of Gurren Lagann, there are definitely many prime examples of manliness – but according to that list at the top of the page, which I agree with to an extent, Kamina is right out. He is at times rude, idiotic, bad-tempered and perverted, and his deeds, while noteworthy, pale in comparison to some of those later in the show; he is by and large considered ‘manly’ for his memetic catchphrases (which are undeniably inspiring). I’d say he’s a great character, even a badass, but far from ‘manliest ever’.

    Simon takes the cake here – he manages to go from a stuttering, fearful little wimp to a titan capable of deicide, utter defiance of elementary physics on a whim and even, by the very end, an implied mastery over the forces of life and death themselves. All this while being, much like Amstrong, kind, courteous, loving and even levelheaded to a fault. Not forgetting the epicness and gravitas of his speeches, which perfectly summarize the show’s core philosophies.

    Other members of the cast easily come close, however, from the honorable antagonist Viral whose presence screams sheer attitude and fearlessness to the seemingly coarse, but at heart humble and self-sacrificing Kittan. Another quite underrated character is Dayakka, who is polite, responsible, very brawny and able to do some damn impressive fighting by the end.

  51. Lien says:

    @rayen Agreed with your synopsis of Seeshomaru. He was NEVER angsty, nor loud or whiny like his half brother. He was a loner but genuinely enjoyed the handful of companions he did have(2 or 3). A good example of being manly man who speaks few words.

    @Hamsworth, great post. Kamina often overshadows other characters who in own right are just as great if not greater than him without spewing inspirational speeches.

  52. Phantom says:

    Metaknight, the only good thing about the kirby anime.

    Yes he lacks the pshyique, its not his fault hes basically Kirby’s brother

  53. DraigoDragon says:

    The manly man is obviously The guy in needless

  54. BODs says:

    Dan Eagleman from Guilty Crown.

    he is singularly the manliest of anime men. To the very last he is the good badguy.

  55. Lady Raane says:

    I think Sesshomaru from Inuyasha is a very Manly-Man. He hates humans but he doesn’t take it out on innocent children or actually at all really. In fact he he has a habit of saving them… Anyway he is strong and mature but I think harassing his little brother for the family sword is a little silly :) He is strong and persistent, I mean goodness he only has one arm left lol. He can be a little scary especially towards Jaken, his humble servant when he is being a little too ridiculous heehee. And he is bent on making sure he is nobodies puppet. All in all he really is a good guy.

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