5 Anime Series With Badass Female Leads

I looooooooooooooooove anime! I don’t know what it is, but the concepts, art, and storylines are all amazing. And, of course, as a kid, I enjoyed watching various anime shows on Toonami such as Rurouni Kenshin, Yu Yu Hakusho, and the infamous Dragonball Z.

But now that I’m older, I began discovering different anime for myself. So many animes that we are exposed to in the states are mainly male based and the female animes are somewhat girlie like Sailor Moon or centered in a high school like Card Captors. So I decided to share with some of you my favorite animes with strong female leads that are not only action-packed, but have awesome storylines. Let me know what you think!

1. Canaan

If you’re looking for a story centered around a woman who is not only a badass assassin, but looks in depth at how war and relationships impact people on an individual basis, then this is the anime for you.

A 13-episode series, Canaan is named after its protagonist, a young white haired Middle Eastern girl whose village was attacked and the center of a chemical experiment where some of the residents gained super natural powers. Canaan has a synesthetic factor, and all 5 of her sense are tangled together, making her one hell of an assassin. Every person has a color and her eyes change when examining her surroundings.

Canaan and her best friend Maria, a Japanese reporter, are seen in this anime at odds with Alphard, the antagonist. Canaan and Alphard were trained by the same man, Siam, and after Alphard kills him, Canaan not only seeks to stop the terrorist organization Snake led by Alphard, but avenge his death all while stopping Snake’s attempt at spreading the Ua virus, a form of chemical warfare.

2. Noir

Canaan may have one female assassin, but Noir has two, and a killer storyline to match.

Noir takes a different approach from other animes because it not only tackles political corruption, but religious fraud as well. Japanese amnesiac Kirika and Corsican woman Mireille are the two protagonists of this 26 episode series. Both are assassins, with Mireille being from a crime family, but are also unknowingly at the center of a centuries long religious and criminal conspiracy. Noir is the name for two maidens who govern death and Kirika and Mireille are two of the candidates, along with a tomboyish redhead named Chloe. First partners, then friends, Kirika and Mireille make a living being assassins until they learn the truth about Noir and their pasts. And it’s not pretty.

3. Claymore

Maybe assassins aren’t your thing. But if you’re still looking for action that doesn’t involve guns, but has an amazing story and awesome art, Claymore might be a good fit for you.

Claymore is pretty straightforward. It follows a woman named Clare, a Claymore (a half-human, half-yoma) and an orphaned boy named Rocky as she not only fights for survival in a world filled with purebred yoma’s, but also with the reality that she will never be accepted by humans. Yoma’s are shapeshifting demons who feed on humans and disguise themselves as such to get close to the human population. Claymores, like Clare, were created to fight yomas as humans are too weak and vulnerable.

All Claymores are blonde women with grey eyes, often called silver eyed witches by mankind. They are hired to kill yomas and travel from town to town to do so. But if a Claymore uses too much of her yoma strength in battle, she will turn into a yoma herself and is thus euthanized once she reaches her full potential. Pretty awesome, right?

It get better. All 26 episodes are currently available on Hulu in English (dubbed). You’re welcome.

4. Madlax

Okay, so we’re back to the assassins again. If you watch Noir and like it, then you’ll like Madlax even better.

Directed by the same person as Noir, Madlax is a freelance mercenary in the war torn country of Gazth-Sonika and cannot remember her past. Her earliest memory is when she is 12 years old, searching for her father.

The other protagonist of the story is Margaret, a girl who lost her memory as well when the plane she and her mother were traveling on crashed in Gazth-Sonika. All the passengers, including her father, have been missing since then. Margaret somehow makes it back to her home of Nafrece with her memory in pieces. She only remembers one word from the day: “Madlax”, which creates the link between the girls. This link is the reason the two women, who initially don’t know that the other one exists, look into the criminal organization of Enfant.

Now, I’ll admit, while both Noir and Madlax are slow to start, it takes until about 5th or 6th episode for Madlax to begin making sense. But if you stick it out to the end, you’ll really be glad you did.

5. Elfen Lied

Last but not least is probably the most well-known on the list. It exams the ethical corruption behind human specimen experiments and the treatment of people who different while simultaneously exploring horrors that many young girls must endure during their lifetime. Identity, revenge, social prejudice, regret, and the value of each individual person are all major themes in this bloody anime.

The main character, Lucy, is a Diclonius, a mutant human species with two horns and “vectors”, invisible telekinetic arms that can block bullets, slice through objects, break bones, and are several meters long. Diclonius kill humans for seemingly no reason, including their own parents, and if found are either killed or captured by governmental science organizations. These traits are only native to female Diclonius while male Diclonius only have the horns. If you want action and gore, this is the anime for you as not only are bones broken, but heads ripped off and organs snatched from their host bodies.

However, there is extreme nudity, and that includes an episode of a girl who was sexually abused by her step father, a scene where a young boy bashes in the head of a young puppy, a Diclonius having all her limbs torn off, and the opening titles themselves, which is why it’s the only anime on this list whose opening pictures and episode scenes I didn't include, but the song above is the opening theme. However, you can view it on YouTube as well as some of the more violent scenes. But if that doesn’t bother you, then by all means, enjoy.

I’m sure there are more female led animes out there, but these happen to be my personal favorites. What’re yours?

Elarra is a GirlsAskGuys Editor
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Most Helpful Guy

  • I love Elven Lied <3
    Claymore is the only other one on this list I ever heard of.


Most Helpful Girl

  • Thanks, I'll have to check these out sometime! Good idea for a Take.
    For each one, would you recommend the sub or dub?


Join the discussion

What Guys Said 26

  • How could you not add in Revy from Black Lagoon?


    • Is Black Lagoon worth it?

    • Show All
    • Plus being badass is pretty much killing people.

    • Pretty asinine of you to assume I never watched the series.

      Also, have you watched all the series on this list and read all of their mangas? Probably not because you'd know the difference between them and Revy and why she isn't qualified for this list. The only thing she has in commonis like Canaan and Noir, she has a gun, but it pretty much just ends there.

      And badass isn't killing people. Nana from Elfen Lied is pretty badass herself, but she's never killed anyone. Same with Hakko from Canaan. Her power makes her badass, yet you don't see her going around killing people for the hell of it or to even fight with it.

      Quit talking out your ass. Revy isn't badass, she just has an attitude.

  • No Ghost in the Shell?

  • Even though the lead in "Attack on Titan" is male, the most badass character of the main cast is definitely Mikasa.

    • 100% agree. I honestly don't think the show would be as much of a hit if Mikasa wasn't in it.

  • Demon Hunter Yoko
    Dirty Pair (possibly the most badass female leads ever...)
    Bubblegum Crisis (... if not this bunch)

  • I really liked Canaan, Noir and Elfenlied... haven't seen the other two.

    To throw another one in the ring... check out Kill la Kill. It's a bit of a parody to the anime genre and it needs a bit to get used to the style, but I liked it.

    • also, one of my favourites... Ghost in the Shell. More of a mixed cast but the mc is a girl

  • Interesting Anime, female leads are usually my favorite, very good Take :)

  • She's not "badass" at all, but I love Sakura from Cardcaptors. I had a pretty big crush on her at her age. lmao

  • All really great anime , my favorite is one piece

  • Claymore a pretty good I liked it. Elfen lied was ok. Super violent though.

  • Anime with female characters who have bizzare hair colors that align with their personalities are very hard to take seriously. Why can't they have normal colours?

    • I don't know what you mean. The women on here who specific hair colors at due to a chemical change in their body, not their personality, which actually is a real thing. Hair is like eye color and can change on it's own, including lose its pigment like in Canaan or just a specific color native to certain races like in Elfen Lied and Claymore.

      If you're referring to Canaan, her hair is white not because of her power, but because of the experiments done on here. In fact, it happens to a woman named Liang Qi in the same series when she forcibly tries to gain Canaan's power. It was a chemical reaction, not a personality change. So which anime are you referring to?


    • Show All
    • I don't see much point in this argument so have a n

  • I've only seen Claymore!! And yeah Clare was badass.

  • I like the look of Elfen Lied
    of the ones i can think of
    i would have said Revy from Black Lagoon as well but thats taken
    so probly
    Elsa from fairy tail lucy was the central character at the start at least of fairy tail though i think natu got more attention later on but Elsa was my favorite from fairy tail.
    I can think of others like
    there's also sailor moon from sailor moon
    and maka Albarn from soul academy
    but i think Elsa

  • Where is Akame ga Kill? :(

  • What about mirai nikki? The most badass female lead is in there.

  • What about:
    Akame from Akame ga kill
    Maka from Soul Eater
    Sears Victoria from Hellsing

  • And I can only think of Korra...

  • HighSchool dxd and dxd born


  • Towa , the main antagonist of dragon ball xenoverse ; p

  • masane amaha is my fav lead female anime character

    Erza scarlett is my fav female character of all time.

    Diva- blood+ is my fav female villian

  • More from Guys

What Girls Said 9