CartoonsTop 30 Japanese Cartoon Characters That World Loves

Top 30 Japanese Cartoon Characters That World Loves [2023]

These days it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t know about Pikachu or Hello Kitty from Japan. 

There’s just something unique that makes people all over the world love Japanese cartoon characters.

People may have never watched their anime or played their games, but these characters are popping around everywhere!

It’s truly a global phenomenon!

So what are some other famous Japanese characters that have taken over the world? Well, in this list, I’ll list a good number of them, so read to learn more about these lovable cartoon legends from Japan!

Japanese Cartoon Characters Known Worldwide

30. Haro – Gundam Franchise

haro gundam franchise
  • Age:
  • Height:
  • Voice Actor: Kotono Mitsuisi (Japanese SEED), Tabitha Germain (English Dub SEED), Sandy Fox (English Dub SEED), Yo Inoue (Japanese MSG) 

If you’re a long-time fan of the Gundam series, you’ve probably encountered this circular robot a few times. 

Haro is the mascot of the Gundam anime and almost always shows up in the flagship series. The most notable Haros are Amuro’s, Lockon’s, and Lacus’ Haros.

While these machines are not supposed to have emotions, it seems these Haros have some ability to express themselves.

In addition to being absolutely adorable, these machines usually help out as mechanics!

29. Totoro – My Neighbor Totoro


If ever you put on a Ghibli movie, you might notice a bunny-looking creature in the opening sequence. That’s Totoro! He’s been the mascot for Ghibli for a long time now.

No one knows what Totoro is or even if Totoro is his real name, but he seems to be a curious fuzzy forest spirit who takes a liking to Satsuki and Mei. 

Totoro is a popular Japanese cartoon character that has appeared in American toons like Toy Story 2.

28. Astro Boy – Astro Boy

astro boy
  • Age: 19 (biologically)
  • Height: 134 cm – 172.72 cm (after upgrade)
  • Voice Actor: Mari Shimizu ( Japanese 1963 and 1980 series), Makoto Tsumura (Japanse 2003 series), Aya Ueto (Japanese 2009 film)

If the US had Pinocchio, Japan’s got Astro Boy as their first “puppet” with human emotions. Only this puppet happens to be an amazingly powerful robot that becomes a superhero.

Astro Boy had so many adaptations that he eventually built a strong presence in the US and even inspired another cartoon icon, Mega Man.

The character is listed as the 43rd greatest Comic Character in Empire Magazine in 2019 and has become one of the first anime to belong to the Mecha genre.

27. Rilakkuma – Rilakkuma and Kaoru

  • Age: na
  • Height: na
  • Voice Actor: na

This cute brown bear was first seen in a four-panel comic series. In Rilakuma’s origin story, it is revealed that there is a zipper on its back, hinting that the bear is actually a costume. To this day, no one knows what’s underneath the costume.

Regardless, love for this character spread like wildfire, and everyone got to see Rilakuma in a variety of products like stationaries. 

Rilakkuma is also the first “cute” character to be considered lazy.

26. Hatsune Miku – Vocaloid

hatsune miku

Some characters don’t need an anime to be famous, and this android diva is the perfect example. 

Miku is a voicebank created by Crypton Future, and several music producers use her to create many hit songs like Rolling Girl, World is Mine, and The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku.

She won fans’ hearts with her music alone and even has her own concerts outside of Japan with the other Vocaloids.

25. Pikachu – Pokemon

  • Age:
  • Height: 40.6 cm (average height of this Pokemon)
  • Voice Actors: Ikue Otani (Japanese), Kate Bristol (English, Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You), Ryan Reynolds (Detective Pikachu)

Even if people don’t know Pokemon, they still know Pikachu. 

This adorable electric mouse is the franchise’s mascot and has since appeared in several games, shows, and even movies. 

The yellow-furred Pokemon is best known for being Ash Ketchum’s best friend and Pokemon partner from the anime. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Ash’s Pikachu at the end of Pokemon Journeys.

It seems the franchise couldn’t let go of Pikachu altogether because a new Pikachu will appear in the new Pokemon anime!

24. Kenshin Himura – Rurouni Kenshin

kenshin himura

Kenshin Himura, despite not being a cute mascot, gained worldwide popularity. Fans laughed and cried as they followed Kenshin’s journey for redemption from the time he was known as the Hitokiri Battosai.

He is most recognized for his cross-shaped scar and his sakabato blade, which allows him to keep his vow of never killing again. 

The character is once again gaining popularity due to the anime getting a remake this July.

23. Hello Kitty – Sanrio

hello kitty

Hello Kitty may have been created by Japanese people, but did you know she’s a gijinka from London? 

Despite her questionable background, Hello Kitty quickly became a famous cartoon character and the ambassador of Sanrio.

Fans should know that Hello Kitty was a critical character in “Kawaii culture.” Her influence was so strong that her popularity remained one of the most sought-after characters in the international market.

22. Shin-Chan – Crayon Shin-chan

shin chan

The popularity of Shin-Chan is a phenomenon since his show mainly revolves around how he inappropriately uses the Japanese language.

So the funny gags are mostly for people who understand Japanese. It was never created with the idea of being a global hit.

However, it did amass a dedicated following in other countries, mostly among anime fans. 

It seems most Otakus appreciate the series and enjoy watching the dub and Japanese versions of the show.

21. Goku – Dragon Ball


Dragon Ball has been around for decades and is home to one of the most popular Japanese cartoon characters- Son Goku. 

Goku is a Saiyan warrior raised on Earth and uncannily became the world’s mightiest hero. Thanks to his slowed aging, he can continue protecting Earth for ages. 

Just like any Saiyan, he loves fighting and consumes large quantities of food.

20. Agumon – Digimon


Aside from Pokemon, Digimon was another well-loved monster game, and Agumon’s endless appetite had fans swooning over the little reptile even when it was still a Koromon.

This rookie-level Digimon is always hungry, as mentioned by Tai. Agumon is often childlike and goody, but he spouts random words of wisdom whenever his partner needs it. 

When Tai supposedly “died” in Tri, Agumon was the only one who believed his partner was alive.


19. Ash Ketchum/ Satoshi – Pokemon

ash ketchum

Famous Japanese cartoon characters like Ash Ketchum have retained their youth since the 90s. In Pokemon Sun & Moon, it even seems like he got younger! Too bad his fans aged without him.

Ash’s goal is to be the very best Pokemon Master, which means he wants to become an expert in everything Pokemon and not simply be a champion at battling. While Ash and Pikachu have won 3 championship titles, his journey still continues.

Sadly, fans won’t be able to follow him anymore as new protagonists are already announced for the new Pokemon anime.

18. Naruto Uzumaki – Naruto

uzumaki naruto
  • Age: 12 – 33
  • Height: 145 cm (Part 1), 166 cm (Part 2), 180 cm (Part 3)
  • Voice Actors: Junko Takeuchi (Japanese), Maile Flanagan (English)

No one in his village believed Naruto would even amount to someone useful to the village. He was once counted as a “curse” but is now considered the Hero of the Hidden Leaf. He even becomes the Hokage, and everyone accepts him willingly. 

He has always wanted to be the village’s Hokage because he believed the Hokage is someone loved by the entire village, which is something he craved growing up. During his youth, he is also the loudest and most colorful ninja out there.

After proving himself capable of protecting his village, he was finally granted the position.

17. Doraemon – Doraemon 


Everyone is familiar with the blue bot called Doraemon, but did you know his origin story has been retconned throughout the years?

Still, some things will always stay the same. Doraemon is still a blue robot sent to ensure Nobita uses his life well.

This friendly robot made his first appearance as a manga character 40 years ago. It wasn’t long till Doraemon became a cultural icon and one of Japan’s most popular cartoon characters.

Eventually, he was popular enough to own the title of Anime Ambassador!

16. Domo – NHK

domo nhk
  • Age:
  • Height:
  • Voice Actor:

Domo is affectionately called Domo-kun by fans who love this brown furry monster. He is the official mascot of NHK, and you can usually see him in short stop-motion sketches between regular station programming.

His popularity went overseas because Tokyopop created an original English manga based on the mascot, which was only released in the US and Canada. 

Another thing that made him popular was a meme that was made to look like a public service announcement.

15. Mario – Super Mario


Mario is well known for being the main character of his own game series, but did you know his origins actually start with a game called Donkey Kong? People loved the short plumber, so he eventually became the star of his own game.

His mustache and bright red cap make him instantly recognizable. Even the current movie pokes fun out of it.

Similar to Hello Kitty, Mario’s nationality is not Japanese but Italian! He resides in the Mushroom Kingdom and is usually the person who saves Princess Peach. 

The character is also getting an upcoming 3D animated movie, and fans are having mixed feelings about it.

14. No Face – Spirited Away

no face

Japan is usually known for creating adorable cartoon characters, but No-Face is anything but adorable. The Yokai is actually pretty creepy with its almost translucent body. 

However, this spirit became an iconic character in Ghibli, and almost everyone knows not to accept gold from this yokai. No-Face can mimic personalities, specifically of the people he devours.

It goes without saying that he didn’t eat the best-mannered creatures in the anime film.

13. Kirby – Kirby


Don’t let this cute pink ball fool you with its cuteness; Kirby is a Star Warrior who is destined to save Pop Star from destruction.

This character has a scary ability to inhale objects and creatures and gain their abilities. 

Now, this looks endearing in the game, but the skill actually feels creepily overpowering when you think about it. 

12. Monkey D. Luffy – One Piece

monkey d. luffy

One of the longest-running anime and manga ever introduced us to one of the best Japanese characters- Luffy from One Piece. It almost seemed like his manga was never going to end.

Luffy is the leader and founder of the infamous and powerful Straw Hat Pirates. He searches the ocean for the legendary treasure so he can become the Pirate King which will give him the most freedom in the world.

Luffy is known for his inhuman stretching ability.

11. Gudetama – Sanrio


Gudetama is a Sanrio character that everyone can relate to. He’s the world’s laziest egg and is satisfied just lying down for the whole day.

This egg-like character is relatable because his artist AMY thought of millennials and how they looked tired of everyday life while she was designing Gudetama, which led to Gudetama’s almost lifeless expression.

Despite its lazy appearance, Gudetama is capable of doing a lot. It just chooses not to.

10. Taichi “Tai” Kamiya – Digimon Adventure

taichi tai kamiya

Remember the goggle-wearing trend back in the 90s? Well, Tai is partially to blame for that. He is the leader of DigiDestined and the partner of Agumon. 

Fans have watched the wielder of the Crest of Courage since he was still a boy who got teleported to the Digital World during summer camp. His adventures continued until he was a young adult and eventually had to bid farewell to his partner Digimon.

9. Mametchi – Tamagotchi


Mametchi is the official mascot of the pet simulator game Tamagotchi. 

This particular pet has been around since Generation 1 Tamagotchi games, but fans didn’t know much about him till Story Modes were added to console releases and the anime was released.

His anime personality portrays him as a well-mannered Tamagotchi who enjoys inventing. At one point, his inventions transported a human girl to Tamagotchi Planet.

8. Cloud Strife – Final Fantasy 7

cloud strife

Final Fantasy’s Cloud Strife left a lasting impression on fans.

Before he knew the truth about his past, Cloud used to introduce himself as a former First-Class SOLDIER who is now a mercenary. 

He is often called the definitive Final Fantasy poster child because most gamers and fans recognize his spikey blonde hair and iconic Buster Sword. 

7. Anpanman – Soreike! Anpanman


Before BTS’ hit song Anpanman, a character called Anpanman was a popular Japanese cartoon character, especially among young children in the country.

The story follows the adventures of a superhero named Anpanman, named after his “Anpan” head, which is a red bead-filled bun. This character even overtook Hello Kitty as Japan’s favorite character in 2002.

BTS’ song Anpanman is inspired by the very character, and so is the series One Punch Man. If you have the chance to visit Japan, there are five museums dedicated to the superhero alone.

6. Usagi Tsukino– Sailor Moon

usagi tsukino
  • Age: 14-16
  • Height:
  • Voice Actors: Kotono Mitsuishi (Japanese), Tracey Moore (DiC English Dub), Terri Hawkes (DiC English Dub), Linda Ballantyne (CWi English Dub), Stephanie Sheh (Viz Media English Dub)

When Sailor Moon was released around the world, everyone wanted to become a magical girl. The transformation sequences shown in the anime became iconic and were mimicked by other mahou shoujo anime.

Of course, we can’t forget the most recognized Sailor Scout of them all, Usagi Tsukino, Sailor Moon herself. This clumsy high school girl gains power and becomes a Sailor Guardian of Love and Justice.

Fans widely copy her poses after her transformation and on promotional posters. 

5. Izuku Midoriya – My Hero Academia

izuku midoriya

He gained popularity as a new-gen anime protagonist. Instead of your usual loud main characters like Naruto or happy-go-lucky characters like Goku, MHA gives us the nervous and analytical Izuku Midoriya.

Thanks to a chance encounter with All Might, Izuku receives a “Quirk” and can attend U.A., a school specializing in creating young heroes. 

However, he didn’t know his Quirk would make him the target of the world’s most feared villains. 

4. Link – The Legend of Zelda

  • Age: Assumed to be 16+ in most games
  • Height: 170.18 cm
  • Voice Actors: Nobuyuki Hiyama (Ocarina of Time), Sachi Matsumoto (The Wind Waker), Akira Sasanuma (Twilight Princess), Yuki Kodaira (Spirit Tracks), Takashi Ohara (Skyward Sword)

His name is often confused with Zelda due to the game title, but Link is more recognized as the playable character. 

Link’s story changes across the various games under the Legend of Zelda games, but he is always destined to meet Zelda and become Hyrule’s Legendary Hero.

People loved this silent protagonist (in most of his versions), and he became an integral part of several gamers’ childhood, especially those owning Nintendo consoles.

3. Saber/ Artoria Pendragon – Fate/Stay Franchise


Saber is THE face of the Fate franchise and is one of the most popular characters in Fate-related anime and games such as Fate: Grand Order.

Artoria is a female version of King Arthur from the book King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table.

She is easily among the more popular girls in the franchise because fans consider her the best waifu material among servants. 

2. Lupin III – Lupin

lupin iii
  • Age: 20s -30s
  • Height: 167 cm – 178.99 cm
  • Voice Actor: Kanichi Kurita (Japanese 1995), Yasuo Yamada (Japanese 1971 -1995), Tony Oliver (English Dub 2003), Keith Silverstein (Bang Zoom! English Dub)

Lupin III was one of the first anime characters that truly made an impact outside of Japan. He even had cameos in other shows like Ducktales and Persona 5.

According to his description, the character is a gentleman thief who seems incompetent but is a master in his craft.

He became a thief to continue his grandfather’s legacy. For the most part, Lupin enjoys the thrill of stealing instead of the actual treasure.

1. Saitama


Even if this character looks extremely plain, he is one of the most dedicated and strongest heroes in One Punch Man. The character became a legend outside of Japan because people were amused with the training regiment that caused all his hair to fall out.

But it’s thanks to his routine that he garnered enough power to knock down opponents with only a single punch. Even if he is incredibly powerful, he continues his training without fail!


Japan has started so many trends and developed unique characters to spearhead them, intentionally or not. And it’s amazing how popular these Japanese cartoon characters are outside of their home country. 

Other countries have since adapted anime designs into their own cartoons to make their contribution to global culture.

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