Being in school, I wish I had an upperclassman of sorts which I could draw knowledge from and hang out with.
Having a senpai just makes school life much more fun since there’s someone you can rely on when things get tough and someone you could learn a thing or two from. In anime, we usually see the senpai trope gets played whenever the anime involves a huge cast. Being that there are soo many animes, we decided to rank 15 of the best senpais you could possibly want and provide some insight as to why they are the best and why they may appeal to you.
- QWhat does “senpai” mean?
“Senpai” is a term commonly used in Japanese culture to refer to someone who has seniority over the speaker, typically in a school or work setting. The term is often used in anime and manga to refer to an older person who the speaker admires or has a crush on. The word is often translated as “upperclassman” or “mentor.”
- QWho is the best senpai character?
This is more subjective and dependent on who the kouhai is, some senpai’s work better with others since they help complement and bring out the best in those around them. In this article, we believe Maki Zenin from Jujutsu Kaisen and Daichi Sawamura from Haikyuu!! are two of the best senpai characters, because they both teach their kohais the importance of working hard.
- 1. Maki Zenin/Jujutsu Kaisen
- 2. Daichi Sawamura/Haikyuu!!
- 3. Mirio Togata/Hy Hero Academia
- 4. Levi Ackerman/Attack on Titan
- 5. Mitsukuni Haninozuka(Honey)/Ouran High School Host Club
- 6. Mai Sakurajima/Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
- 7. Taro Kabakura/Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku
- 8. Kyojuro Rengoku/Demon Slayer
- 9. Takenori Akagi/Slam Dunk
- 10. Himeno/Chainsaw Man
- 11. Sempai/Magical Sempai
- 12. Masayuki Hori/Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
- 13. Miyuki Kazuya/Ace of Diamond
- 14. Smoker/One Piece
- 15. Satoshi Isshiki/Food Wars!
1. Maki Zenin/Jujutsu Kaisen
Maki comes from 1 of the 3 big sorcerer families, however, she’s a non-sorcerer herself. Her team is composed of Panda and Toge Inumaki, she also teamed up with Yuta Okkotsu during her early years as a student. During her time within the Zenin clan, she was constantly mistreated by those around her leading her to leave the clan.
From her introduction, we can tell Maki has a strong personality. In her group, she calls the shots and is always looking out for her underclassmen. While having a strong personality, she may come off as a cold individual, but it does not deter her from her leadership position.
In the series, when Maki is tasked with training Nobara and Megumi, she does all she can as their senpai. She also taught Yuta in a similar fashion in hopes of making him stronger. Maki is our strong-willed senpai, just make sure you’re not near her when she gets mad, even better if you’re not a panda.
2. Daichi Sawamura/Haikyuu!!
Daichi is a third-year student and also the captain/starting wing spiker of the boys’ volleyball team. Daichi not only has the qualities of a leader but of a senpai as well. In the future, he became a policeman with the Miyagi Prefectural Police.
Daichi’s personality is what you can expect of a captain/senpai. He always puts his team first and is super mature/independent for his age. When he gets angry he can be terrifying, but he does everything for the team’s benefit! He is a leader who is both respected and feared by his team.
He makes a great senpai for being the upperclassman with heaps of knowledge and patience for dealing with his kouhais. In chapter 149, he would suggest ways to improve the team as well as recruit Kiyoko Shimizu as a manager.
3. Mirio Togata/Hy Hero Academia
When I first saw Mirio I thought he looked like Vault Boy from the Fallout Series. Being a part of the Big 3, he was originally next in line to receive All-Mights power, this changed of course when Deku met him.
This goofy and energetic character has garnered a lot of fans due to his infectious personality. He always has a smile on his face and an optimistic attitude, he’s like your anime Superman personality-wise. He may be a laid-back individual, but he is one brave hero!
Mirio was a small child when he fell into a river and was saved by a Pro Hero. This event led him to become a hero to help others, just as he once had been helped. Mirio chose the hero name “Lemillion” because he aspires to save at least one million people. His goals may be grand, but we believe he can achieve them!
4. Levi Ackerman/Attack on Titan
Captain Levi is the head of the S.O.S squad and survey corps. His iconic scene of thrashing Eren in a courtroom is embedded in the hearts of many anime fans. He also comes from a special bloodline of individuals who were meant to protect the king.
Levi’s personality is quite interesting, to say the least. Some know him as the clean freak who hates dirtiness of any kind, even in battle he can be seen cleaning the blood off his blades. Don’t get it twisted though, he is a strong-willed leader. One of my favourite moments where we got to see his personality glow is when he reunited with Kenny.
Due to the dangerous nature of being part of the survey corps, he cares deeply for those under his wing. We see his more human side when he loses all his friends in the S.O.S squad he was once a part of, overcome with grief, he could not talk to Petra’s father after the events with the female titan. Also, he risked his life-saving Eren and Mikasa from being eaten by the female titan showing his will to protect his kouhai.
5. Mitsukuni Haninozuka(Honey)/Ouran High School Host Club
Mitsukuni is…well an interesting senpai. So this small squirt is actually a 3rd-year high school student and a martial arts champion. I know you may be thinking “pfft only in anime, but how is he a senpai?” well we’ll dive right into it.
Being the aloof person he is, Mitsukuni is quite an intelligent individual. He is a mentor figure for the other hosts and is usually sought out for his wisdom. Due to his intrinsic maturity, he has a great eye for reading people’s emotions, this proves well given he’s everyone’s senpai.
I also like when he helped out Reiko in overcoming her socialization issues, it really goes to show his senpai qualities in that compact build of his.
6. Mai Sakurajima/Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
This girl was in her bag when she dropped, fans and non-fans knew who this girl was not because of her personality or anything, but because of her iconic bunny suit and the anime’s ending theme. Not only was she an actress, but she’s a model too! (I don’t blame the fans for simping for her, I would too)
When we’re first introduced to her, she is quite cold and only seeks attention to fit a certain quota. This can be due to her childhood as a child star and because she was always filming commercials/tv shows, she had a hard time making friends. Later on, Mai did start opening up to people and found that she can be kind and warm-hearted.
Her senpai-ness can be seen whenever she helps Sakuta study for school or helps him with his own issues. Also, whenever we see her interact with Kaede, she has this warm aura around her that is common among senpai characters.
7. Taro Kabakura/Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku
Taro is a co-worker of Nifuji’s and is married to Hanako Koyanagi. Compared to other characters, he is not as otaku as them, but he does have a keen interest in the bishoujo (beautiful girls) and heroes. He has a strong work ethic, leading to him being perceived as strict at times, but he is always there to lend his colleagues a hand.
There’s not much information on his personality, so we’ll talk about his relationships with other characters. Taro and Hanoko’s relationship feels soo rooted in realism. They can argue in public and cause a scene, but they always overcome their struggles together. Taro and Nifuji are great to work buddies, and outside of work, they get along pretty well.
Taro and Narumi’s relationship is pretty cool for the fans. He views her as cute since he likes tiny girls (of age). She may be bad at her job, but in Taro’s eyes, her smile is her saving grace.
8. Kyojuro Rengoku/Demon Slayer
Kyojuro is the flame hashira, and a great leader too. Kyojuro’s popularity is off the charts and always ranks in the top 8 favourite characters according to the popularity rankings. His personality is super infectious too, he always lends a hand when needed.
Kyojuro is that guy when it comes to his duties as a hashira. He did his job with pride and enthusiasm, I don’t think I could ever find him sulking in the position he was in. He has a strong duty of protecting the weak and this was given to him by his mother. This is probably why he has such an amicable heart. He is super selfless and you see it during the mugen-train arc!
Kyojuro being the warm-hearted guy he is is a great leader/senpai. In the instance where he had Tanjiro and friends with him abroad on the train, he stood tall as their senpai and aided them in levelling up themselves during that arc. Even after he saw Nezuko helping to save other humans, he viewed her in a brighter light than what other hashiras did when they first saw her.
9. Takenori Akagi/Slam Dunk
Takenori is literally just anime Patrick Ewing, as a basketball fan myself, this pleases me greatly. This dude is built like a unit and owns the court when he steps onto it.
Takenori is the captain of the team so he carries qualities like being strict, respected, and tactile. Even more interesting, according to the fandom wiki, he is quite fond of cleanliness, so he is like Levi, but less anal about being clean. One thing to note is that he was viewed as the number 1 center in Kanagawa and was known for his signature move the “Gorilla Dunk”.
Takenori is a great senpai due to his hard work ethic and inspirational personality that his team members draw from. He can also be arguing with Sakuragi at times, but thanks to him, Sakuragi gained the title of “Rebound King”.
10. Himeno/Chainsaw Man
Man, R.I.P. a real one. Himeno was a Devil Hunter. She worked under Makima the special squad and was introduced quite early into the series. Before Hayakawa was partnered with Denji, He originally worked with Himeno. One thing I love about Himeno is her eye patch, something about it that speaks “Big Boss” to me.
Himeno is pretty much the female chad meme, she is mature and has great experience in the field. She’s seen a lot of stuff in her time as a public safety devil hunter, but she always has an upbeat attitude to her. Her senpai-ness comes from her intolerance of attitudes from new recruits who are just bloodthirsty for hunting devils. She values her team members’ safety leading her to be a well-respected leadership figure in the fandom.
Of course from her line of work, she has seen people die, but her inner strength to move past it makes her worthy as a senpai and in my own words, a don. An old teaching that Himeno internalized was “Devil Hunters who have a screw loose, are ultimately the successful ones due to their unpredictability”. This could explain why she got along so well with Denji and others. Her kissing scene after Denji completed his mission is still stuck in my head to this day, it has been memed a lot and you should check it out.
11. Sempai/Magical Sempai
Tejina Sempai (Sempai) is 1 of 2 main protagonists in this series. She took the internet by storm when the series first dropped and has many memes about her and her magic shenanigans.
Her main interest is magic tricks, the ironic part is that she has stage fright and this leads to her messing up her tricks. One interesting part about her is that she started her own magic club to coincide with her interest, and even recruited an assistant to help her. Despite being unable to perform in front of others, she turns all David Blaine when she’s on her own.
Sempai really is a treat to watch because her character is someone we can all relate to. Sometimes we may be scared to showcase our passions in front of others, but over time with some courage, we can beat that stage fright! Also, if you’re a fan of fanservice, Sempai is the character for you, haha.
12. Masayuki Hori/Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
Masayuki is our short king, quite literally. Not only is he skilled at drawing backgrounds, but he is also skilled at acting too. Despite being good at acting, his niche is working behind the scenes.
Masayuki is quite to mature individual, he also is diligent when it comes to his club activities. He never shirks his work and even has a temper, this was shown when Kashima would skip club meetings. Despite his leadership attitude, he can also be childish when he wants to be.
When he makes plays, he does not do it with the intention of spreading a deep message, but rather he makes them for pure enjoyment. His plays usually consist of a romantic plotline and a prince added to them. As a viewer, you can really feel his passion for plays. He is quite short so he doesn’t act as a main cast member, but he does his best to help out Nozaki behind the scenes.
13. Miyuki Kazuya/Ace of Diamond
Miyuki plays the position of a regular catcher in the series. This guy’s catching skills are soo good that he is nationally known! His determination to win is off the charts!
His character can rub some people the wrong way. He can be arrogant at times, and even laughs when he gets under the skin of others. Despite this, Miyuki is well-received among his teammates and fulfills that senpai role well.
Miyuki’s leadership skills complement the overall story of the series and he makes a great senpai for the protagonist. One thing to note watching Miyuki is his growth as a character, it’s really inspiring to watch him open himself up more and
14. Smoker/One Piece
*Ahem* CAPTAIN SMOKER IS A DON LIKE ME FOR REAL!! I may be biased but I love Smoker’s role in the One Piece world. Captain Smoker has the powers of a logia-type devil fruit which already sets himself above other marines. He also was able to best Luffy on multiple occasions, but never managed to capture him due to interruptions from others.
Captain Smoker has the personality of a warrior and a wise man. During the Arabasta arc, Smoker was able to identify the corruption the marines were involved in and made a decision not to involve himself any further with their selfish agenda. This was great because it helped those under him see a side of him he does not show very often, and they took examples from it to better themselves as marines.
Captain Smoker is that don, I will die on this hill if need be, but his being paired with Tashigi helped compliment her shy nature, his rowdiness and outgoing personality helped her grow as a marine, thus later helping her build the qualities of a marine captain. Fun fact, he was nicknamed the White Hunter, due to being incredible at tracking down his targets.
15. Satoshi Isshiki/Food Wars!
Satoshi comes from a famous family known for their Japanese-style restaurant. Later on, he was sent to the Kinokuni family to harness his culinary skills. When he entered the Polar Star Dormitory, he became great friends with Gin Dojima and was the holder of the 7th seat on the student council.
His personality is very senpai-esque, being the oldest member in the dormitory he cares for his kouhais a lot. In some scenarios, other residents got looked down upon by other students/faculty members, but he had that dog in him to bite back and defend them. He can also be seen as quirky and a laid-back individual, but don’t let that deter you from his amazing skills as a cook.
During shoukugekis (Food Wars), my man can cook up a storm. According to the fandom wiki, his cooking style is ferociously aggressive Japanese cuisine, and his specialty is eel preparation.
Senpai can make or break an experience whether it be in school, at work, or out at sea. Senpai play important roles in our lives since they provide that mentorship without the big gap between you and them. They also help you understand yourself more since they were probably just like you at one point. In the west, we don’t have this grandeur look on upperclassmen, but we do have life mentors in the form of family members, friends, or even professors/teachers.
We hope you found a senpai you would like to be the kouhai of!
Be sure to keep checking back on our site for more great anime/character recommendations!!