Shonen Jump, a weekly Japanese manga magazine, has seen many characters come to life over the years and win the hearts of many. Being featured in the magazine is an honour by itself, but to be popular among the readers is a whole new level. In a poll by Voice Note Magazine, 1,217 Japanese netizens were asked to choose the best main characters in Shonen Jump comics — the cream of the crop. Strangely enough, Naruto did not make it to the top 10 and landed in the 13th position. Let’s see who made it into the top 10 of the ranking!
10. Light Yagami from Death Note (25 votes, tie)
Also known as Kira, Light is the anti-hero that people will find it hard to forget. His ferocious battle of intellect with genius detective L has also seen multiple adaptations into anime, drama and movies.
10. Kusuo Saiki from The Disastrous Life Of Saiki K. (25 votes, tie)
Quirky as he can be, Kusuo has all kinds of psychic abilities like telepathy, psychokinesis, X-ray vision and teleportation. Instead of regarding them as blessings, he finds his abilities troublesome and desires to lead a normal life. There is also a live-action Japanese movie adaptation starring Kento Yamazaki.
9. Lucky Man from Tottemo Lucky Man (31 votes)
The series was published in the 1990s, which centres on a bizarre superhero with neither strength nor speed but pure luck. Tottemo Lucky Man was later adapted into an anime and even had its own video games!
8. Kenshin Himura from Rurouni Kenshin (40 votes)
With a scar on his face, former assassin Kenshin is the wandering swordsman who protects people. Abiding by his vow to never take another life, he delivers his blows using a reverse-blade katana. Its Japanese live-action film series will see Takeru Satoh reprising his role as Kenshin in the fourth and fifth instalments, to be released in Japan next year.
7. Cobra from Cobra (46 votes)
Originally serialised in 1978, Cobra is one of Shonen Jump’s best-selling manga series of all time. Set in the far future, Cobra is a comedic space adventure likened to Star Wars, with the main character’s attitude compared to James Bond.
6. Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece (62 votes)
One of the most iconic manga, One Piece is a series anyone would know or at least have heard of. The protagonist is none other than Monkey D. Luffy, the founder of the Straw Hat Pirates and a wanted fugitive with an exceptionally high bounty. The well-received manga has been made into a long-running anime, with a total of 933 episodes at the time of writing.
5. Ryotsu Kankichi from KochiKame: Tokyo Beat Cops (84 votes)
Having been serialised in Shonen Jump for a whopping 40 years, the story follows middle-aged cop Ryotsu who devises money-making schemes which always end in failure. Its hilarious element appeals to a wide range of audiences, from adolescent boys to middle-aged salarymen.
4. Kinniku Man from Ultimate Muscle (92 votes)
Kinniku Man, whose name literally means “muscle man”, is a bulky superhero with extraordinarily toned muscles. In order to retain his title as the prince of Planet Kinniku, he must prove his worth and win a wrestling tournament. The series first ran from 1979 to 1987. It resumed publication in 2011, leading to a variety of spin-offs, video games and even merchandise!
3. Arale Norimaki from Dr. Slump (97 votes)
The only female protagonist on this list (atypical of shonen manga) who made it into the top 10, Arale is a little girl robot with a distinctive design — purple hair, bespectacled, donning a cap with wings. Known for her naivety and superhuman strength, Arale is one of the most lovable manga characters.
2. Kenshiro from Fist Of The North Star (181 votes)
Kenshiro is a warrior in a post-nuclear war setting, who has learnt a deadly martial art called Hokuto Shinken. This ability lets him violently assassinate his opponents by striking their pressure points. Even though the manga was published in the 1980s, many of us now would have come across Kenshiro — or at least his voice — in this classic meme “Omae wa mou shindeiru”, which means you are already dead.
1. Son Goku from Dragon Ball (349 votes)
Taking the bulk of the votes and almost double that of Kenshiro is of course, Son Goku! Inspired by the Chinese novel Journey To The West, Dragon Ball follows the story of Goku as he searches for the seven magical orbs. Well-loved by people of all ages, Dragon Ball is one of the most successful and influential manga series of all time.
Ka~me~ha~me~ha! Is Goku your favourite shonen manga/anime character as well? Or do you have other characters in mind who are not listed here? Let us know in the comments.