In anime, the title of senpai is more than just a meme. It’s a title of endearment meant to signify one who came before, and one who strives to take care of those that will one day fill the same roll. Of course, some senpais are better than others when all is said and done, and that’s why we’ve compiled a list of the 10 anime senpais we wish were looking out for us.
Kinjou Shingo (Yowamushi Pedal)
Any one of the third years from Yowamushi Pedal’s first arc could qualify as top-class senpais, but it’s hard not to see Kinjou Shingo as a cut above.
Dedicated to the sport of cycling in mind, body, and soul, every action he takes as a team captain is in pursuit of bettering his team as a whole. He’s constantly on the lookout for ways to improve others and isn’t afraid to lay out harsh truths to make sure those that follow him are prepared for the challenges ahead.
This is to say nothing of how he acts during races. While he’s certainly out to achieve the best results possible for himself, he also maintains a careful consideration for how to best support his teammates in their endeavors.
He’s willing to take the brunt of the wind while his kohai rest, and will motivate them to surpass him if the opportunity arises.
It’s little wonder he has remained the goal for the upper-classmen to strive toward even after his graduation. It’s doubtful any character will topple him as the series’ top senpai anytime soon.
Levi Ackerman (Attack on Titan)
Not all senpais are loving and gentle on the surface. Some are supportive in less direct ways, and practice tough love like a religion.
Levi Ackerman, the squad captain of the survey corps in Attack on Titan, most certainly falls into the latter camp. Surly, strict, and ready to knock sense into soldiers at a moment’s notice, he’s not someone people would immediately think of as a person whose attention would be desirable.
However, it’s also hard to deny that he’s exactly the kind of person someone would want looking out for them.
In both excursions into the field and maneuvers through government bureaucracy, he looks out for his subordinates without hesitation, willing to find a way to keep them out of harm’s way whenever necessary.
In fact, one of the main reasons for his prickly demeanor is his remorse at not being able to help more of his subordinates live happy, peaceful lives. Given this fact, it’s easy to see why the Scouting regiment follows and trusts him with such dedication.
Satoshi Isshiki (Shokugeki no Soma)
Shokugeki no Soma is full of characters that could be considered good senpais, but few are as laudable as Satoshi Isshiki.
The most senior upper-classman of the Totsuki Institute’s Polaris Dormitory, Isshiki looks out for all of the school’s outcasts and unaccepted students.
Where others are eager to dismiss them as oddities doomed to fail out of the prestigious academy, he helps them find new ways to better themselves and their recipes.
This isn’t an attitude he does away with when things get tough either. Even as the series progresses and more skilled opponents come after his kōhai, he faces them down, unleashing skills he doesn’t normally let shine unless absolutely necessary.
Granted, he isn’t without his quirks – the biggest of which being that he prefers to work and cook wearing an apron with nothing on underneath it – but it doesn’t change the fact that he’ll always be there for anyone who he has accepted as being part of his school family.
Chihaya Ayase (Chihayafuru)
It’s a shame more people don’t know about Chihayafuru, and it’s even more of a shame that people don’t know who its protagonist Chihaya is as a result.
After learning about the sport of Karuta, Chihaya devotes herself whole-heartedly to the sport with all she has. She practices non-stop with her friends in middle school, and upon reaching high school, she creates a club for the sport to spread her knowledge and love for it to others.
In the process, she shows a remarkable ability for being an exemplary senpai. Time after time, she helps those who follow in her footsteps to discover their own potential and address their own flaws.
In the process, she helps others to discover the same love for the sport that she has, inspiring them to pursue the sport and pay it forward in turn.
It’s heartwarming to watch no matter how often it occurs, and it goes to show just how amazing it can be when someone has a person looking out for them the way Chihaya does for everyone in her life.
Mirio Togata (My Hero Academia)
In a series full of heroes, it’s saying something when one stands out as the most supportive and inspirational of all the show’s senpais. However, there’s really no other way to describe Mirio Togata, or Lemillion, from My Hero Academia.
Positive, upbeat, and dedicated to heroics to a fault, Mirio is arguably everything a hero should be. Time and again, he proves himself one of the best and brightest U.A. Highschool has to offer, earning his name as one of the school’s big three by saving others and teaching those below him in equal measure.
This includes Izuku Midoriya, the show’s protagonist, and Mirio’s kōhai at the Nighteye hero agency. When Midoriya is unsure of what to do when faced with a powerful villain’s scheme, it’s Mirio who helps him find the best course of action, guiding him toward an outcome where they can save as many people as possible.
Admittedly, he takes a more minor role in the current story arcs of the show, but he remains an example of how to look out for others no matter what it requires of oneself.
Daichi Sawamura (Haikyuu!!)
Willingly committing oneself to something even when they know they might never experience the fruits of their labor is never easy, but it’s something that defines the character arc of Haikyuu’s Daichi Sawamura.
Harboring an intense love for the sport of volleyball, he joined Karasuno Highschool in order to play for their once-great team. However, he found that it had become a shadow of what it once was, and was forced to try and build it back up from scratch with the help of his classmates.
As a result, though, he turns into the exact kind of person one would want to find leading their sports team. He’s always eager to cultivate new talent, welcoming anyone who has a passion for volleyball and the drive to get better at it. He gives 100 percent to every game he plays and makes sure everyone around him has the spirit necessary to do the same.
As a result, he inspires his underclassmen to achieve what he never could and take Karasuno to the very top. Ever the good senpai, he isn’t even upset he couldn’t reach this point with them, he’s just happy that the goal was achieved, and that others could experience the same love he has for the sport.
Takamura Mamoru (Hajime no Ippo)
To be frank, Takamura isn’t the best human being on Earth.
He’s crude, constantly picking on others, and always looking for a fight. He doesn’t intend to become a better person, and he constantly creates enemies with his less than noble behavior.
As a boxer, though, it’s hard not to see him as the type of person one would want to have among their senpais. Gifted with a natural talent and understanding of the sport, he’s able to force out the potential in anyone, no matter their skill level.
As a result, a majority of the show’s main characters, from Ippo and Miyata to Kimura and Aoki, owe their growth and improvement to him. Though the training may have been hellish, they could trust him to help them achieve their wildest dreams and know he’ll continue to look out for them until the day he dies.
It doesn’t make some of his worst traits forgivable – in fact, his kōhai make sure he never gets off the hook for them – but it still serves to make him someone any aspiring athlete would wish to have watching out for them as they grow.
Bruno Bucciarati (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure)
One wouldn’t expect to find many exemplary senpais in a criminal organization, what with them being full of individuals looking out for themselves first and foremost. However, Passione’s Bruno Bucciarati stands as a remarkable exception.
Whereas others are willing to throw their men at problems like cannon fodder, Bucciarati aims to get his men out of each conflict alive. He strategizes to ensure they aren’t put in harm’s way whenever possible and will throw himself at the enemy if it means everyone else can get away safely.
Not only that, but he cares about the growth and well-being of his subordinates as people. If they have something they need to learn how to do, or are struggling to come to terms with something, he helps them along, making sure they aren’t held back from becoming better versions of themselves.
It’s for this reason he is able to accrue some of the most talented individuals in the organization under his banner, and why even the series’ fifth protagonist can’t help but want to follow him to the ends of the earth.
Aoi Todo (Jujutsu Kaisen)
At first glance, Jujutsu Taisen‘s Todo doesn’t seem like the type of person people would follow or would want watching out for them as one of their senpais.
Violent and temperamental, he’s just as likely to sock a person in the face as he is to ask them a strange question about preferences. He makes an enemy of almost everyone he meets, and most people account for him the same way they would a freak natural disaster or the show’s other eccentric genius, Satoru Gojo.
For those who can look past these faults though, and earn his seal of approval, they find a boon of support and instruction in the way of using cursed energy.
A savant at channeling the dark forces contained within people, he is able to draw out the innate strength in those he instructs. He trusts them instinctively no matter how little they’ve battled together and is willing to go to hell and back to see them through sticky situations.
Granted, he’ll still be letting his freak flag fly in the form of all his worst habits, but it’s still hard to deny that having him around would ensure success and betterment for almost anyone.
Kyojuro Rengoku (Demon Slayer: Kimestu No Yaiba)
So good, so pure and so short-lived it hurts, Kyojuro Rengoku is everything people look for in a senpai condensed into a single precious himbo.
Dedicated to protecting those around him to a fault, Rengoku takes on every challenge he encounters with gusto. He’ll face down even the most powerful demons with a smile, and doesn’t flinch thanks to the knowledge that his passion will be carried on by those he protects.
This is a big reason why he leaves such an impact on series protagonists Tanjiro, Zenitsu and Inosuke. Even though their time together is brief, he finally imparts on them that the Hashira are dedicated not only to furthering the Demon Slayer Corps.’ goals, but also to protecting and nurturing those who will follow in their footsteps. They in turn are inspired to do the same, promising to make the most of the lives he saved.
Toss in the fact that even the other Hashira reference similar experiences in later seasons, and it’s hard to deny that Rengoku stands as the pinnacle of Demon Slayer’s senpais.