10 Best Bishounen Anime Heroes (2024)

With dozens of examples to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow down the best bishounen anime heroes. In a typical anime ensemble cast, chances are there is at least one bishounen, though anyone unfamiliar with the term may not even realize it. This is a well-known Eastern character type that quite literally translates to "beautiful youth." The Western equivalent is a prettyboy, though a noteworthy distinction is that a bishounen's beauty is more androgynous and often otherworldly. This type makes for a fun way to analyze gender-nonconforming characters, and besides which, are just plain nice to look at.

There are plenty of villainous and morally-gray bishounen in anime -- examples include Sesshomaru from Inuyasha, Griffith from Berserk, and the sh*tennou from Sailor Moon. As a matter of fact, white hair on a bishounen is often shorthand for dubious ethics. However, just as interesting are the bishounen heroes, an underrated subgroup in anime. Although they have less consistent defining characteristics, some good indicators include cuteness and sincerity. Though the bishounen hero gained popularity in shoujo manga, bishounen heroes also make appearances in shounen works.

10 Richard Ranashinha de Vulpian (The Case Files of Jeweler Richard)

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Mouthful of a name aside, Richard is a handsome and seemingly unflappable jewelry appraiser who traveled from England to set up shop in Japan. Though he can be as cool and glittering as the gems he evaluates, deep down he has a warmth to him (not to mention a bit of tragedy in his past). Richard's relationship with his apprentice, Seigi, and his journey to be more open with loved ones, is heartbreaking emotional catharsis at its best. Fans of the anime are encouraged to give Nanako Tsujimura's light novels a try, as her Richard is far less placid and even a little flamboyant at times.

9 Yue (Cardcaptor Sakura)

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Though he doesn't appear for the first two-thirds of the series, Yue is a favorite among fans of CLAMP's Cardcaptor Sakura. He resides in the temporary form of the human Yukito Tsukishiro, appearing when Sakura needs help capturing a particularly elusive card. He has an initially chilly exterior, but Yue secretly has a good heart and is unwaveringly loyal to those he loves, including his creator, Clow Reed, and Sakura herself. Yue also makes an entertaining foil to his companion Kero-chan, who teases him mercilessly and insists that he wears his heart on his sleeve without even realizing it.

8 Fai D. Flourite (Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle)

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CLAMP has made something of a name for itself in the long-limbed bishounen department, and that was never more evident than with Tsubasa's Fai. Though he lost his twin brother at a young age and had an arguably-abusive father figure, others would hardly know it, as Fai usually has a big smile plastered across his face. It's only through some tough love from his pal Kurogane that Fai begins to open up more about what he went through. For those who like their characters with a bit of lore, look no further, as there are hidden depths to Fai that could fill several books.

7 Kaoru Sakurayashiki (Sk8 the Infinity)

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Also known by his skateboarding alias Cherry Blossom, Kaoru is many things -- fiery, neurotic, and a geek in the best sense of the word. He even created his own AI, named Carla, to help him develop a more logical skating technique. Kaoru is so beautiful that fangirls often proclaim their love to him when he appears at the secret underground skateboarding ring, S. Even his childhood friend Kojiro couldn't help but ogle him during the series' beach episode. When season 2 of Sk8 the Infinity was officially confirmed, fans were overjoyed that there would be more Cherry Blossom content to look forward to.

6 Makoto Tachibana (Free!)

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Kindhearted, soft-spoken, and perpetually sleepy-looking, Makoto is one of the four main swimmers at Iwatobi High School. A backstroke swimmer and the mom friend of the group, Makoto is impossible not to love. He is nearly the opposite of his stubborn and detached best friend, Haru, but that makes their friendship one of Free!'s more heartwarming. If this bishounen has any fault, it's that he's so accommodating to others that it doesn't occur to him to ask for what he needs. Watching Makoto grow emotionally and bond with his team is as wholesome an experience as one would expect.

5 Ash Lynx (Banana Fish)

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By virtue of being the leader of a street gang, Banana Fish's Ash is a bishounen with a bit more grit to him, but he still qualifies for the title. He uses his looks similarly to a femme fatale in order to con his enemies and gain the upper hand over those who threaten him and his companion, Eiji Okumura. Ash subverts the trope of the empty-headed prettyboy by having an IQ of 180 and always being several steps ahead of his target. He has a complex relationship with his appearance, however, as it has been the source of unspeakable trauma for him all throughout his life.

4 Viktor Nikiforov (Yuri on Ice)

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Former figure skating champion and current mentor to Yuri Katsuki, Viktor's otherworldly beauty was well-remembered in his heyday. He played up his androgynous look for his routines, wearing his hair long and sporting a flower crown. Even after he chopped his hair off and retired from skating, it was undeniable among fans that Viktor was still easy on the eyes. Is it any surprise that Yuri has had a crush on him for so long? Now Viktor and Yuri reign as one of the greatest LGBTQ couples in anime. Not much is known about his past yet, but hopefully, that will change with the release of the prequel Ice Adolescence.

3 Yuki Sohma (Fruits Basket)

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Yuki is one of three main protagonists in the immensely popular Fruits Basket. He is such a bishounen poster child that his classmates have dubbed him the "prince" of the school, though it's revealed later on that he feels anything but. Yuki spends a large portion of the series grappling with how he is perceived, as well as unpacking the trauma that has haunted him since childhood. In terms of emotional growth in anime, this bishounen has made incredible strides. He is also a source of comic relief, as fellow protagonist Kyo knows just how to get under his skin and cause hysterically funny fights.

2 Arataka Reigen (Mob Psycho 100)

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Equally foolish and charismatic, Reigen is the owner of the Spirits and Such Consultation Office despite not actually having any psychic abilities. An internet favorite, Reigen's appearance in the Mob Psycho 100 anime caters much more to bishounen fans than it did in ONE's manga. Though there is no apparent reason for the change, fans of Mob's mentor are more than happy with the choice. Looks aside, Reigen's lively personality and exaggerated expressions make him quite the entertaining screen presence. Although the third and final season of the anime wrapped in late 2022, the obsession with Reigen is here to stay.

1 Tamaki Suoh (Ouran High School Host Club)

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No list of the best bishounen heroes would be complete without the funny and flamboyant Tamaki, the self-proclaimed "king" of the Ouran host club. A golden retriever in human form, his intensity often drives his fellow hosts up the wall, but deep down they love him dearly. Often surrounded by roses or sparkles, he isn't exactly known for being subtle, but that's what makes him so charming. Like many other bishounen, he has far more depth to him than first impressions would suggest, including being ranked second in his class academically just after Kyoya. Pour out a cup of instant coffee in honor of this iconic prettyboy.

Bishounen can serve many purposes in anime. Frequently, they are comic relief -- so blinded by their own good looks that they don't realize how absurd they're being. Just as often, their physical beauty makes audiences wonder just what is going on beneath that otherworldly exterior. Sometimes, this beautiful archetype serves as simply a good old piece of eye candy in a visually-rich and unique medium. It's undeniable that the best bishounen anime heroes have solidified bishounen as an important character archetype, and that's unlikely to change anytime soon.

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