When we talk about powerful characters in anime, the big names that always get dropped are the likes of Goku, Ichigo, Naruto and Luffy. In other words, it's a boys club. That's no surprise considering, for the best part of the last three decades, the Shonen (boys) category of Japanese comics and animation associated with "power" has been predominantly packed with ripped dudes and athletic teenage boys screaming the names of their final moves and eviscerating enemies with energy blasts. It's all too easy to forget that there are also plenty of equally ripped women that could give the men of Dragon Ball and Naruto a run for their money in the power rankings. That's why this list is devoted exclusively to anime's most powerful women.
From cybernetic police officers, to double-denim androids, to shapeshifting martial artists to straight-up goddesses, some of the genre's heaviest hitters are female. And, it's not just Shonen heroines who pack the most powerful punches. The magical girls of Shojo (girls) anime might look harmless with their doe-eyed smiles and frilly outfits, but some of them are the most powerful magicians of their world, and wield weapons with planet-sized destructive capabilities. For this list, we've pulled female fighters from some of the most popular shows and films in anime and ranked them based purely on raw power. That power can be physical, magical, technological... whatever the gimmick is from their canon. The more damage they've dealt -- or could deal -- the higher they place on the list.
20 MIKASA ACKERMAN
Attack on Titan is really the Eren Jaeger show, and sure -- being able to grow a giant, fleshy exoskeleton is a pretty neat trick. But, his adopted sister Mikasa Ackerman doesn't have that luxury to rely on. No, Mikasa is just really good at her job -- ranked 1st out of all the cadets in the 104th Training Corps.
She's killed 10 Titans all by herself (plus two more with help) and top military brass have stated that her "prowess is equal to that of a hundred ordinary soldiers," basically making her a one-woman army. She certainly proved this when she took on Annie, a Titan who swatted top notch soldiers away like flies, and lived to tell the tale.
19 YUUKI ASUNA
When 10,000 players became trapped in the world's biggest VR MMORPG, "Sword Art Online," their fate seems sealed. For Yuki Asuna, the predicament became her time to shine. By the time we -- and Kirito -- meet her in show's first season, she's already one of the strongest members of the Knights of Blood.
Her adeptness with the rapier earns her the nickname "The Flash."
Desperate to complete the game and escape, Asuna spent three to four days battling non-stop on the Labyrinth's first floor until exhaustion forced her to stop. After partnering with Kirito, the pair levelled up incredibly fast and become the first players to clear the game, achieving levels in the mid-90s by the end. Even as a healer in Alfheim Online, Asuna can't resist a good fight.
Gintama's Kagura would want you to believe she's just a sweet-natured girl, but, just like her signature parasol gun, there's much more to her than meets the eye. As the daughter of a famous alien hunter, she has a natural gift for fighting and enhanced physical abilities. If she were able to loosen up a little, she might even be the strongest of the Yato Tribe.
When she does let go, her true nature is triggered -- usually when her friends' lives are threatened. In Yato Mode, Kagura becomes monstrously scary. She once killed an enemy in this form by impaling his shoulder and forcing him through a wall in one move. Her best party trick, though, is catching bullets with her mouth.
17 SAKURA KINOMOTO
Sakura Kinomoto is a little girl with a big secret: she's a Cardcaptor. This job was entrusted to her by the great magician, Clow Reed, whose cards -- possessing elemental powers -- Sakura must find and seal. Once Sakura captures a card, its power becomes hers to wield. That number totals 52 by the end of the original series, giving her an impressive arsenal.
Without the cards, Sakura can still sense magical presences, has enhanced senses, clairvoyance and dreams that predict the future.
She's also extremely positive and resilient in the face of challenges most pre-teens would run away from. After she converts the Clow Cards to Sakura Cards, Sakura ultimately becomes even more powerful than Clow Reed himself, making her the world's greatest magician.
16 OCHAKO URARAKA
In the world of My Hero Academia, superpowered people greatly outnumber non-superpowered people. "Quirks" come in all kinds of weird and wonderful forms with some being deceptively benign-seeming at first. Ochako Uraraka's Zero Gravity is one such quirk. With just a touch, Uraraka can nullify the effects of gravity on a person or object, rendering them helpless as they float upwards.
She can cancel the effect by touching her fingers and her current weight limit is three tonnes, meaning she can drop very heavy things from very big heights. Her most impressive feat is the Home Run Comet, which showers her enemy with debris. After training with Gunhead, she also has the martial arts chops to drop you without using her quirk.
15 AOI KUNEIDA
In Beelzebub's "hoodlum" school, Ishiyama High, Aoi Kuneida leads the Red Tails gang and is the strongest woman around. At just 17 years-old, she's already a fiercely skilled martial artist, with superior strength, speed and stamina. But, her real skill lies in swords. This is not your ordinary steel katana, though.
Aoi prefers wood, and she can slice through glass and concrete with it.
In fact, she can apply this to just about anything -- rulers, umbrellas, even her bare hands. Thanks to the Shingetsu Style passed down from her grandfather, she can break rocks with a mere punch. Aoi's flashier moves include the Second Ceremony 100 Flower Storming Sakura, which transforms her body into glowing cherry blossom petals, slashing through foes in deadly waves of pink.
14 SAILOR MOON
Usagi Tsukino is an average high school student, but as Sailor Moon, her alter ego, she's the leader of the Sailor Senshi, a band of superheroes with similarly cosmic names and powers who are tasked with guarding Earth from evil. As her name suggests, Sailor Moon's attacks are lunar-powered, as well as drawing strength from sound, healing and love -- the strongest force in Sailor Moon.
Arguably, Sailor Saturn has the most destructive power of the Senshi with her planet-busting Silence Glaive, but she can only use this once. Sailor Moon's royal identity means she's the only person able to use the Silver Crystal -- a source of immeasurable power that can revive entire worlds. She's also the only Solar System Senshi immune to turning evil.
13 HOMURA AKEMI
Puella Magi Madoka Magica puts a dark spin on the Magical Girl subgenre. It also features some of its most powerful spell-casters, like Homura Akemi. Akemi is a small and unassuming teenager with an incredible gift. She possesses a shield -- small enough fit around her wrist like a big watch -- that acts as a time manipulation device.
This allows her to pause and reverse the flow of time.
Additionally, she can make people immune to the effect by touching them. The shield also doubles up as a pocket dimension weapons cache, hiding countless guns, rocket launchers and ammunition. After Madoka resets the universe, Akemi's power over time becomes power over people's memories instead, and her shield a black bow.
12 MAJOR MOTOKO KUSANAGI
The lead protagonist of the iconic Ghost in the Shell franchise is one of the most capable cyborgs in pop culture. She's the most mechanized of all Section 9's members, with her brain and spinal cord being all that's left of her organic form. As a technological organic-synthetic, she's a top of the line model, with artificial skin that behaves and reacts as close to the real thing as possible.
Chief Aramaki claimed her expertise as a cyberbrain specialist and fighter were "rarer than ESP." She can hack into cyberbrains, control external humanoids like drones and swap her consciousness into different hosts if needs be. Physically, she's fast enough to intercept bullets, powerful enough to jump between buildings and advanced enough to turn herself invisible.
One Punch Man is about a superhero who can take out anyone with a single punch, meaning the side characters have a lot to compete with. Tatsumaki is definitely a contender. Nicknamed the "Tornado of Terror," she's one of the most powerful of the S-Class Rank Two heroes in the Hero Association's roster.
In fact, the Association would be in dire trouble if she ever turned villain...
As an esper, Tatsumaki can create psychic barriers, psychokinetically pick up and throw things around and control people's Chi energy to paralyze or inflict horrible pain without ever touching them. Her nickname likely comes from her ability to also whip up powerful psychic whirlwinds to blow away several targets in one fail swoop.
10 BIG MOM
Her real name is Charlotte Linlin but you can call her Big Mom: Captain of the Big Mom Pirates, Queen of Totto Land and one of One Piece's legendary four Emperors. (That's a lot of titles...) Big Mom wants Totto Land to be a paradise, but she exacts a heavy tax on her subjects.
She uses the Soru Soru no Mi Devil Fruit to manipulate any living or inanimate thing by transferring a human soul into it to grant it life as a "Homie." The human loses some or all of their life force, a power she uses to control her underlings. Prometheus the sun, Zeus the thundercloud and Napoleon the bicorne are her best creations, which she uses to also manipulate the weather.
9 RAYGO KIRUIN
In Kill La Kill, Rayo Kiruin is the CEO of the Revocs Corporation, Chair of Honnoji Academy and the secret evil mastermind behind everything. She was the first human to ever be infused with Life Fibers, and her alpha matriarchal status makes her able to easily overpower others armoured with Life Fiber uniforms (known as Kamui.)
Her most sinister skill is "Mind Stitching."
Her superhuman abilities make her strong enough to break her daughter Satsuki's Bakuzan, while her regeneration power is snappier than Wolverine's. (She once recovered from losing her head in no time at all.) Her most sinister skill is "Mind Stitching," which lets her sew Life Fibers into a person's brain so she can work them like a puppet. Oh, and she can fly, so -- watch out from above!
8 SHIHOUIN YORUICHI
Bleach is bursting with stupidly powerful people, but if we had to pick one female character, it's got to be Shihouin Yoruichi. When we first meet this shinigami, she's been living as a cat in the human world for a century. Eventually, it's revealed that she was something of a big deal in Soul Society.
In or out of feline form, Yoruichi is a master of Hoho, Shunpo, Kido and of fighting techniques she made up herself. She's so proficient in hand-to-hand combat, in fact, she doesn't even need her Zanpakuto. Apart from her use of lightning, she's best known for her speed. She can move fast enough to leave an after-image behind and defeat multiple foes instantaneously, earning her the nickname: "Flash Goddess."
7 BOA HANCOCK
Known as the Snake Princess of Amazon Lily, and with the Love Love Devil Fruit's power to use people's feelings of desire to turn them to stone, the beautiful Boa Hancock is clearly One Piece's answer to Medusa. She's also one of the show's Seven Warlords and Captain of the Kuja Pirates.
In One Piece, reputations are measured in bounties, and her's stands at 80,000,000.
That's hardly surprising, considering that she casually knocked out scores of Pacifistas by herself, while the entire Straw Hat crew had to spend two years training to defeat just one. Boa Hancock is also proficient in two types of the strange spiritual power, Haki, one of which only one in a million are able to master.
6 ERZA SCARLET
In Fairy Tail, Natsu Dragneel might be the lord of the flame, but Erza Scarlet is just as fiery. She's in the top percentage of S-Class Mages, even becoming Master of the Fairy Tail Guild while Master Makarov was gone. Erza is a weapons specialist, with over 200 swords, staffs, axes and more at her disposal thanks to her "Requip: The Knight" spatial magic.
Her command of telekinetic Sword Magic also enables her to perform a range of multi-piercing, blade-based moves. Erza has over 100 types of amor packed away too, the strongest of these -- according to her Edolas counterpart -- is the Armadura Fairy armor, which was powerful enough to not only destroy a sacred lance, but shatter itself in the process.
5 ANDROID 18
It's hard to measure up to a Saiyan, but Dragon Ball's Android 18 has shown her metal mettle time and time again. Like many of the franchise's characters, the robotic fighter began as an adversary and morphed into one of the family -- Krillin's family, to be precise. Her brute strength can bust handcuffs, lift and throw big vehicles, smash Future Trunks' sword and break Vegeta's arm with one kick.
Like a Saiyan, she can fly and perform a large array of energy-based attacks.
One of Android 18's biggest advantages is that she has an endless supply of energy that never needs replenishing; a limitless stamina she put to good use when she took down Goten and Trunks simultaneously during the Buu Saga.
Characters like Master Roshi prove that the elderly are not to be trifled with in anime, and Toriko's Setsuno proves the same is true for both genders. And, when we say "elderly," we're talking over 500 years-old in her case. That experience makes Setsuno one of the Gourmet Living Legends, a chef ranked in the world's top five.
She's also a savvy businesswoman, serving as the head of an enterprise with over 1 million employees, but that doesn't stop her from getting her hands dirty hunting high level beasts. Her most impressive feat is being able to microwave her opponents by heating up the air around them. Unsurprisingly, Setsuno inspires paralyzing fear with her mere presence.
3 CAULIFLA & KALE
Dragon Ball rankings can be tough to call, so it's a two-for-one Saiyan special for this entry. Caulifla and Kale are from Universe 6, and the franchise's first ever female Saiyans. Though Caulifla is considered the strongest of the pair (and of her universe) Kale, her BFF and protege, becomes immensely -- and uncontrollably -- powerful once she goes Super Saiyan.
Her scream alone can create craters, and she's survived Goku's point-blank Super Saiyan Blue Kamehameha.
Working with Caulifla, she also plowed Goku through solid rock. Once fused to become Kefla, he could only defeat them with Super Saiyan God, making Kefla one of mightiest beings in the Dragon Ball canon.
Elfen Lied is the controversial anime that inspired Eleven's character in Stranger Things. Both Eleven and Lucy, Elfen Lied's main female character, broke out of scientific facilities and have psychokinetic abilities. Lucy, however, is far from human. She's the Queen of the Diclonius -- an evolved, humanoid species.
Diclonius also have have fast healing, telepathy and can create psychic "Vectors" to attack and defend. Contact with them can infect human males with a mysterious virus, making them capable of only producing Diclonius offspring -- an effort by the Diclonius to eradicate humans. Eventually, Lucy's Vectors grow long and powerful enough to cause explosions and sink country-sized land masses, potentially making her humanity's biggest threat.
1 KAGUYA OTSUTSUKI
The only thing that can top Super Saiyans and psychic mutants is an actual goddess. Or, as close to one as Naruto gets. Kaguya Otsutsuki is a celestial being who existed before the hidden villages. She sought to bring an end to constant war by eating the God Tree's fruit and uniting people in fear of her -- and it worked.
Even before the Rabbit Goddess became the first Chakra user on Earth and merged with the God Tree, she could travel through space, hypnotize people, wipe memories, emit deadly beams of energy from her eyes, read thoughts and emotions and control the natural environment. Post-fruit, she became able to absorb any technique, and if she does get hit, she can self-heal. Bow down!