Anime has been known to lean more towards male leads with the damsel in distress scenario. This isn’t the case for these shows. The anime listed below feature strong, independent gals who need no man to save them. The best thing is they are not limited to only one genre, so I’m sure you will be able to find one that suits your interests. No worries, though, I made sure to explain why you should watch these (spoiler-free)! Enjoy~!
Yona of the Dawn
Badass Female Lead: Princess Yona
Genre: Adventure, Shoujo, Romance
Why You Should Watch this Anime: Yona isn’t your run of the mill princess. After she and her kingdom were betrayed, she runs away and creates her own league of merry men to retake her realm and avenge her family. Yona comes off as a meek girl, but after tragedy strikes, she learns that she has to be strong and assertive in order to regain what she lost. Laurelin did a spoiler-free review on Yona of the Dawn if you want to learn more! If you’re a fan of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Fushigi Yuugi, then this may be the show for you. Yona of the Dawn is like the love child of the two, with the exception that the main character is stronger minded than Fushigi Yuugi‘s female lead.
Badass Female Lead: Balsa
Genre: Action, Adventure, Historical, Fantasy
Why You Should Watch this Anime: Balsa vows to atone for eight deaths in her past by saving an equivalent number of lives. In order to do so, she becomes a for-hire bodyguard, and her final job is to protect a young prince whose father ordered an assassin to kill him. As the show progresses, Balsa’s past begins to come to light, and the young prince proves he is more than meets the eye. If you’re a fan of Legend of Korra and Princess Mononoke, Moribito might be the love letter for you.
Witch Hunter Robin
Badass Female Lead: Robin Sena
Genre: Supernatural, Occult, Action, Thiller, Detective
Why You Should Watch this Anime: Robin is a soft-spoken 15-year-old who has the ability to control/manipulate fire (pyrokinesis). With the help of a special task force team, she captures witches who have lost control of themselves and their minds are deteriorating into homicidal madness. This show is dark and gritty. It may come across as a “Monster of the Week” scenario, but it quickly morphs into more as the main plot starts to unravel. If you’re into Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellsing or the movie, The Craft, I would highly recommend you check this show out if you have the opportunity.
Where to Watch the Show: Unfortunately, it is rather rare for you to watch this show legally since the company that licensed it, Bandai, no longer exists. The only options available currently are finding it at a flea market or thrift store, or through a friend who bought the boxset before the company bellied up.
Ghost In the Shell Franchise (Stand Alone Complex, Arise, Innocence, etc)
Badass Female Lead: Major Motoko Kusanagi
Genre: Action, Military, Sci-Fi, Police, Mecha, Seinen
Why You Should Watch this Anime: If you want to watch a woman kick some major ass, or just want prepare yourself for the live-action version of the movie, then it’s best to give this series a go. Major and her team investigate cyber-crime and terrorism cases in order to track down an elite hacker and a terrorist. She fully became a cyborg at a very young age, although nothing is known about her (origin, age, etc). Depending on the show, her demeanor fluctuates from broody to spunky, but she still has a strong, independent, I-will-kick-your-butt attitude throughout all the installments. Stand Alone Complex‘s music is beautifully composed by the extremely talented Yoko Kanno. If you’re a fan of her music, a fan of Sci-fi shows/movies like the Matrix, or into robots and conspiracy like Patlabor and Appleseed, then you should definitely check out Ghost in the Shell.
Where to Watch the Show: Arise (Funimation, Buy the Blu-ray), Stand Alone Complex (Hulu, Viewster, Buy the Season 1 DVD, Blu-ray Boxset 1, Blu-ray Boxset 2), Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (Blu-ray), Ghost In The Shell: 25th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)
Blood Franchise (Blood-C, Blood+, Blood the Last Vampire)
Badass Female Lead: Saya
Genre: Supernatural, Horror, Fantasy, Action (Mature: violence & profanity)
Why You Should Watch this Anime: While each installment’s storyline from the franchise varies, the main heroine, Saya, is still a rather headstrong young woman. Every portrayal of Saya had a traumatic event happen in her past which destroyed her carefree, innocent perception of life. Each installment is rather dark, but shows that Saya won’t go down easily and is determined to correct her past mistakes. If you’re a fan of the supernatural and/or horror and are comfortable seeing a large amount of blood occasionally, then I would recommend watching any of the Blood franchise, along with another show in this article, Claymore (listed below).
Where to Watch the Show: Blood-C (Hulu, Funimation, Yahoo View, Buy the Blu-ray), Blood+ (DVD Vol 1, DVD Vol 2, DVD Vol. 3, DVD Vol. 4, DVD Vol. 5 [not available]), Blood the Last Vampire (Buy the DVD)
Badass Female Lead: Re-L Mayer
Genre: Sci-Fi, Mystery, Psychological (Mature: violence & profanity)
Why You Should Watch this Anime: If you put Repo: The Genetic Opera, Witch Hunter Robin, and Westworld into a mixer, the resulting combination would be Ergo Proxy. In the world she inhabits, the character of Re-L is probably as badass as you can get. She has to keep a cool, level head while investigating who is behind a massive cover-up involving the humanoid-like robots society uses as servants and a virus that makes them self-aware/go rogue. As she digs further, she unravels the mystery that makes her question society, her companions, her family and the world they live in.
Badass Female Lead: Nana Osaki
Genre: Slice of Life, Drama, Music, Romance, Shoujo (Mature: Contains profanity, adult themes, and mild nudity)
Why You Should Watch this Anime: Nana is about two women sharing the same name who learn, sometimes the hard way, how to be independent and what it means to be an adult surviving in the busy city of Tokyo. If you’re into fashion, then you’ll want to watch this show. If you’re into drama, bring your tissues. If you’re in the awkward period of your life where you don’t know what you want to do and need something or someone to relate to, then this is the show for you. While Nana O. may come off as kind-hearted and goofy at times, she does have a better grounding than the other Nana (Hachiko) and learns the only person she can depend on is herself.
Badass Female Lead: Clare
Genre: Action, Adventure, Demons, Fantasy, Shounen, Super Power, Supernatural (Mature: Contains profanity & graphic violence)
Why You Should Watch this Anime: Clare is part of an unnamed mercenary group of half demon, half human women. Called Claymore by humans, the group is hired to investigate and kill demons that terrorize villages. Despite the mercenaries saving their lives time and time again, the humans despise them and treat them as outsiders. After Clare saves a boy whose family was murdered by a demon and his village turned him away, he becomes her companion and helps her as she struggles to not lose herself to her demon side. If you are a fan of Trinity Blood, Attack on Titan and Hellsing Ultimate, you will probably enjoy this show, since several of its staff (director, key animator, storyboard) had a hand in producing those shows as well.
If I missed one that you think I should have added, please leave a comment below. More than likely, I haven’t seen that show, but I would still love to discuss it/hear suggestions from you. If I have another decent list, I plan on doing a follow-up article! Thank you~!