Anime is filled with heroes. From Goku to Luffy to the entire cast of My Hero Academia (except you, Mineta), the medium is filled with them. But no hero’s journey is complete without someone backing them up, getting them out of trouble when they get in over their head, and generally being someone the audience can relate to more easily.
Every hero needs a sidekick and our anime heroes are no different. So today I’m going to give you my top anime sidekicks and why you should be respecting them way more than you do. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it, right?
My Top Anime Sidekicks
Krillin – Dragon Ball
After spending years being the butt of all jokes in the Dragon Ball fandom, it’s easy to forget just how great a character Krillin really is. This is a guy who has been outmatched by everyone since the second Raditz tail-slapped him into Kame-House, yet he is always the first one to step into the fray for his friends.
Through much of the series, Krillin served a vital (and increasingly difficult) role in Dragon Ball, which was to provide a frame of reference for the power levels of everyone else. When Raditz performed said tail-slap, it gave us something to compare his strength to. If this newcomer could take down Goku’s best friend, he must pose a serious threat. Later, as the cast left him behind in strength and skill, Krillin became the emotional centre of Dragon Ball, with his death at the hands of Frieza triggering one of Goku’s most important moments.
Krillin is one of the best anime sidekicks not because of his strength or bravery (though he does have both in spades), but because his humanity highlights so much of what is different about the rest of the cast. His role is largely that as a foil for the ridiculous places the series goes. Plus, with a wife like Android 18, he kind of wins Dragon Ball.
Kazuma Kuwabara – Yu Yu Hakusho
Much like Krillin, Kuwabara is the sidekick to protagonist Yusuke Urameshi throughout much of Yu Yu Hakusho. Kuwabara begins the story as rival and minor irritant to Yusuke but swiftly shifts comfortably into the role of one of the best anime sidekicks we’ve seen. His skills and strength are a frequent asset to Yusuke’s duties as Spirit Detective while he also brings levity to some of the more tense moments in the show.
Kuwabara’s rivalry with the hero is what propels both through the many dangers of the Spirit World. This is never more apparent than when the pair are storming Tarukane’s stronghold, working together until they seemingly best the legendary Toguro Brothers. As with any good sidekick, he not only highlights the strengths of the hero, but he also shows where he is weak. His ability to sense ghosts and spirits proves vital to many of their adventures together, proving why he is one of the best anime sidekicks.
Nicholas D. Wolfwood – Trigun
Some heroes don’t need help when it comes to strength. As I’ve said before, Vash the Stampede is already one of the strongest characters in Trigun, so Wolfwood isn’t generally there to help in a fight (though he can certainly hold his own if he needs to). He’s there to provide perspective to Vash, to connect him to humanity. Wolfwood is the flawed hero that Vash tries desperately to not be. He is willing to cross lines Vash won’t cross but is still a good person, providing a foil to the main character’s rigid moral code.
Wolfwood’s death, coming on the heels of his betrayal and redemption, is often cited as one of the best deaths in anime history and it has such weight to it because of his importance to the hero, making him one of the best anime sidekicks we’ve ever seen.
Who would you like to see on this list? Which anime sidekick is your favourite? Join our Discord and argue about fictional characters with us!