Shonen action anime is geared for boys who love to watch their heroes fight the forces of evil. Most often, these heroic leads are middle school or high school-aged, from Bleach's Ichigo Kurosaki to the teenaged Monkey D. Luffy to the 17-year-old Jotaro Kujo of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. These young men have everything to prove, and they often turn to a mentor or two along the way to unlock their potential.
But sometimes, it is the older generation that saves the day, and once in a while, the young hero takes a step back as a seasoned expert takes center stage. Who are some of the toughest and coolest elders in the anime world?
10 Senzaimon Nakiri (Food Wars!)
He's not a martial artist or ninja, like some of the members of this list are. But old man Nakiri is a kind and smart man, and it takes some serious guts to work as the headmaster of an elite academy like Totsuki. He's a beloved grandfather figure to all the students, and he works tirelessly to unlock everyone's potential, most of all that of his granddaughter, Erina Nakiri. Mr. Nakiri is also a culinary master like no other, having spent many decades studying flavor and cooking. Later on, he also shows impressive humility and trust when he implores Soma to save the academy, and Erina, from the terror of Azami Nakiri's (his son) stranglehold on Totsuki.
9 Daisuke Aramaki (Ghost in the Shell)
Now we get to an action hero. For the most part, Aramaki is an armchair commander, as his fighting days are largely (but not entirely) behind him. Not only does he lead Section Nine with expert skill in the face of terrorists and rampaging robots, but he can take to the front lines if need be. This geezer has a lot of fight left in him, and he once set an elaborate series of non-fatal traps in a building to keep hostile special forces at bay. His circumstantial allies at the time soon learned not to underestimate him.
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8 Kaede (InuYasha)
Pictured on the right. She's one of the first characters to appear in Rumiko Takahashi's InuYasha action fantasy series, and despite her advanced age, she keeps a tight leash (so to speak) on our half-demon hero. She's the younger sister of the deceased priestess-archer Kikyo, and she has largely assumed her sister's duties to fight demons and protect the Shikon Jewel. She also makes for a fine mother figure for Kagome in the feudal era.
7 Joseph Joestar (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure)
He is the second main hero known as "JoJo," and Joseph first appeared as a wily young man in Battle Tendency. Later, in Stardust Crusaders, the now-elderly Joseph Joestar makes for a fine companion during the quest to slay DIO, and the old man has a few new tricks up his sleeve. He can still use Hamon, but now he can also wield his own stand, Hermit Purple, to make magic photographs (and use the vines like Spider-Man). He's still a goofball, but Joseph is a clever and brave man who helps keep Jotaro's crew alive and well.
6 Chiyo (Naruto)
This little old lady hails from the Hidden Sand Village, and she has quite a history there. Appearing in the first major arc of Naruto Shippuden, Chiyo proves herself a vital ally in the battle against the Akatsuki. She's a puppet jutsu master like no other, and she fought well even against a monster like Sasori. Chiyo could use her puppet chakra strings on Sakura to turn her into a super-fighter! As if that weren't enough, this brave woman gave her life to help bring Gaara back from the dead. We all miss you dearly, Chiyo!
5 Hiruzen Sarutobi (Naruto)
Here is another Naruto character, and like Chiyo, he gave his life to fight the forces of evil. In this case, he rose again as a stalwart defender of his Hidden Leaf Village when Orochimaru launched his assault, and only the elderly Hiruzen could truly stand up to Orochimaru. Though the Third Hokage failed to slay Orochimaru, he displayed incredible jutsu mastery, knowing forbidden arts that would make anyone's skin crawl. As a final act, he used a terrifying forbidden jutsu to slice off the arms of Orochimaru's soul. For a time, Orochimaru was incapable of a jutsu, and rendered powerless (to his incredible frustration).
4 Gran Torino (My Hero Academia)
Old man Gran Torino is an analog for Jedi Master Yoda, and My Hero Academia lovingly borrows many character ideas from both Japanese manga and Western comics and movies. In this case, we meet the hero who trained the one and only All Might, and young Izuku Midoriya soon learns that he's not just some doddering senior citizen! His Jet quirk allows him to zoom with incredible speed, and Izuku can't even keep up at first. He fearlessly fought All For One, too, and dealt some damage before he was subdued. And word has it that in his prime, Gran Torino was even more of a powerhouse.
3 Happosai (Ranma 1/2)
Rumiko Takahashi's comedy action series Ranma 1/2 often pokes fun of the action and martial arts genre, but that doesn't mean it lacks thrilling action scenes and cool powers. All of the heroes have stunning martial arts skills, and early on, old man Happosai proves himself as one of the best. Although getting on in years, and preparing to pass on the Tendo Dojo to a new generation, he's a tough enemy in combat. Over the decades, he's learned a dazzling variety of combat moves, making him a flexible and creative fighter. It's a real challenge to try and outmaneuver him in a fight.
2 Silver Fang (One Punch Man)
His real name is Bang, and in fact he prefers it over his hero name (which comes from his gray-silver hair and well-honed skills). Currently, this tough old man ranks third among all pro heroes, making him truly a force to be reckoned with. He can't quite deliver the same god-like punches that Saitama can offer, but his skills are the stuff of legend, and he can pummel nearly any opponent into dust. Silver Fang is also gracious and polite, and he loves to train new students and help them realize their potential. If you want to master the martial arts, Silver Fang/Bang is the grandfather figure you've been looking for.
1 Genryusai Yamamoto (Bleach)
"Old man Yama," as he's sometimes called, is not only the most powerful character on this list, but he's also easily one of the top fighters in all of Bleach. Even Yhwach, the god-like leader of the Wandenreich, recognizes him as an apocalypse made flesh, and knows that only he can hope to contain Yamamoto's Bankai with a medallion. With practically no effort, Yamamoto knocked out three elite Sternritters who tried to ambush him, and with one easy stroke, he slew Sternritter "O" Driscoll Berci. Yamamoto's swordsmanship is on the next level in every way, and his Bankai (Ryukin Jakka) unleashes flames that could burn the entire Soul Society to ashes. In fact, even the traitor Sosuke Aizen had to create a specialized anti-Yamamoto arrancar to deal with this old Soul Reaper's staggering power.