A good mentor can be a lot of different things. They can be a teacher, a guide, or someone who serves as an example for others to follow. Anime is littered with great mentors and, as I move closer to their age than that of the heroes they are inspiring, I wanted to pay my respects to my favourite anime mentors.
Top 4 Anime Mentors
Reigan Arataka – Mob Psycho 100
Reigan is a bit different from everyone else on this list because, unlike most anime mentors, he isn’t trying to pass on his skills to his ward. At the beginning of the show, he doesn’t possess even the slightest hint of psychic powers. Mob, his employee/muscle/student, is the one with unfathomable powers, which Reigan uses to pull off jobs as the owner and operator of Spirits and Such Consultation Office.
On the surface, it appears that Reigan is taking advantage of Mob’s compliance and mild nature so he can exploit his powers. And that is fair because, well, he is absolutely doing that. But there is a genuine desire to help Mob grow that saves Reigan from being a simple conman (again, he is that) and makes him one of the best anime mentors out there.
He is the one who tells Mob “Be the main character in your own life” to give him the motivation to make changes to himself. And when Mob is struggling with the guilt of needing to use his powers to save those dear to him, Reigan takes the burden of breaking the “Don’t Use Your Powers Against People” rule from Mob. Yes, he is a conman and a liar, but the way he helps Mob grow and mature throughout the anime makes Reigan one of the best anime mentors out there.
Jiraiya – Naruto
I struggled to decide which of the many great teachers in Naruto to include in this list. Kakashi is the first teacher Team 7 has and arguably imparts the most wisdom onto them, while Tsunade takes a more direct role in trying to make Sakura a relevant character and Might Guy has such a strong bond with Rock Lee that he makes both of them better. But Jiraiya wins out for me because he manages to get the most out of his troublesome student where others had failed.
Jiraiya recognises where Naruto’s strengths are and lets the boy use them. From learning the rasengan to mastering the Nine-Tailed Beast’s power, gives Naruto the freedom to try things his way, to learn at his own pace, and create his own style. Rather than make the boy a second version of himself, Jiraiya wants his student to be himself and, ultimately, to surpass him, earning the Pervy Sage a place among the best anime mentors (though he was unjustly left off our Husbando review).
Lisa Lisa – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
My favourite arc in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is Battle Tendency, partly because it is the best vampire story I have seen in a long time and partly because it gives us Lisa Lisa, Ripple-user and overall badass. Lisa Lisa is considered one of the best users of this strange and powerful energy and the mentor of both Ceasar Zeppeli and Joseph Joestar.
Her training techniques are harsh. The first lesson this JoJo learns from her involves her making him wear a breath-restricting mask and hitting him in the head with an oar. Like Jiraiya above, what makes Lisa Lisa a great anime mentor is her understanding of how to get the most out of her students. She recognizes the competitive nature of Joseph (who is also her son because this manga is just a soap opera with buff men) and sets him off against Ceasar, knowing that he needed that insurmountable obstacle to reach his full potential.
Korosensei – Assassination Classroom
Including Korosensei in this list is almost cheating because he is literally a teacher in a school setting, but its fair to say he goes above and beyond what most teachers would, putting his literal life on the line to get the most out of his students. Korosensei’s methods might be unusual and irreplicable for anyone who isn’t a nigh-immortal super-sonic tentacle monster, but there is no doubt that he helps his students become more than they would otherwise.
What makes Korosensei one of the best anime mentors is the fact that all his students go on to achieve their goals. Nagisa becomes a teacher like his mentor before him. Kaede goes on to even more success as an actor. Karma heads to government to probably become one of the most frightening people on the planet one day. Korosensei didn’t tell them what to become or even how to become it. He nurtured their growth, taught them to ignore anyone who puts limits on what they can achieve, and gives them the support they need to do it without him.
All through the power of tentacles.