10. Rei Ayanami First Appearance: Evangelion Episode 1, “Angel Attack,” 1995
Rei is a hugely influential character concept. Since Eva made the big splash back in 1995, we’ve seen dozens, if not hundreds, of anime heroines written almost exactly like her – pliable, passive, emotionless objects, perfectly suited to a timid geek’s favorite fantasies. Rei has about as much personality as a Real Doll, and possibly that is not a coincidence.
9. Sailor Moon First Appearance: Sailor Moon Episode 1, “A Moon Star is Born,” 1992
There were plenty of magical girls before Sailor Moon, and there have been plenty of magical girls since her. Miss Moon, though, struck a balance that few shows before or since have matched. Earlier heroines like Minky Momo were childish and chaste. Her successors have grown ever more cheesy and lurid, appealing to the aging pervert market that she accidentally tapped for the first time.
8. Pikachu First Appearance: Pokemon Episode 1, “Pokemon! I Choose You!” 1997
Love him or hate him, he’s recognized around the world. At his peak he was probably the best-known, best-loved, and most-often-bootlegged anime character since the heyday of Goku and Dragon Ball Z.
7. Edward Elric First Appearance: Fullmetal Alchemist Episode 1, “To Challenge the Sun,” 2003
Ed, let us say, has his failings. He is arrogant, he is hot-headed, he has the classic small-man’s syndrome. He has a chip on his shoulder that you could send to the sawmill and use to build a decent-sized garden shed.
6. Naruto Uzumaki First Appearance: Naruto Episode 1, “Enter: Naruto Uzumaki,” 2002
If you follow Shonen Jump’s fan-favorite character polls, Naruto actually isn’t the most popular character in his own series most of the time. Kakashi and Sasuke walk away with it as often as not, and he’s even been squeezed out by a villain or two on occasion.