Naruto, Bleach and One Piece Have Introduced Fans to Iconic Female Characters
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Naruto, Bleach and One Piece Have Introduced Fans to Iconic Female Characters

The Big Three of shonen manga and anime are Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece and Tite Kubo’s Bleach. All are long-running series with plenty of female characters who play major roles, despite the genre’s reputation for sidelining female characters. A few ladies in particular manage to stand out among the crowd, contributing greatly to the story.

These female characters are mostly headstrong and can hold their own against powerful opponents. Here’s a look at some of the best girls in shonen anime’s Big Three in terms of strength, character design, intellect, and their contribution to the narrative and the single best one of them all.

One Piece’s depiction of women is rather controversial. While some believe the women here have important roles to play, others claim these characters are objectified and/or defenseless. Nami is the Straw Hat Pirates’ navigator, having joined the crew early in the sprawling story. Although she is usually scared of powerful opponents and is money-minded, she comes through for her crew when needed. In the past, she has defeated powerful opponents such as Kalifa from CP-9, Miss Doublefinger from Crocodile’s crew, and Ulti from the Beast Pirates. One Piece also has yet to introduce a more talented navigator.

Nami’s role is crucial to Luffy becoming the King of the Pirates since the entire crew relies on her to travel from one island to another. The only other female member of the crew is Robin, the only known person to read the Poneglyphs. As fans are aware by now, Poneglyphs are the key to finding the last island “Laughtale,” where the One Piece is hidden. Without Robin, the chances of Luffy becoming the Pirate King are pretty slim.

There’s also the former Warlord Boa Hancock; although she doesn’t appear in the story often, she has an important role in the protagonist’s life. Furthermore, she is one of the few characters capable of standing against a powerful opponent like Blackbeard. All these women have tragic pasts, adding more depth to their characters. One Piece also has Pudding, Reiju, Carrot and Yamato, all of whom are important allies of the Straw Hats.

Compared to One Piece, Naruto is miles behind in showcasing female characters in a good light. The major female protagonist, Sakura Haruno, is controversial among fans; some believe her role in the story is redundant and that Hinata Hyuga is more important, while others point out that she saved her co-protagonists’ lives multiple times. Despite fans’ disapproval, Sakura’s character does develop throughout the series. Even during her childhood, she was better at controlling Chakra than Naruto and Sasuke. As she grew up, Sakura learned medical Ninjutsu and fighting techniques from the Fifth Hokage. She also saved multiple lives during the war and gained her reputation as the best medical ninja.

After Naruto Shippuden, Sakura further excelled in her skills and is training her daughter to be like her. There’s also Hinata, who is more popular among fans despite her minimal contribution to the story. Hinata’s feelings for Naruto were reciprocated in the movie that takes place not long after the war ends. Before that, she does have some role to play in the “Pain Invasion” arc and the Fourth Great Shinobi War. Tsunade Senju, meanwhile, is the first female Hokage who excels in both fighting skills and medical Ninjutsu.

After Hashirama Senju, Tsunade is known to be the best medical ninja in the world. She was a major victim of the war, having lost her entire family and lover because of it. Despite that, she went back to the Hidden Leaf once they needed her. Lastly, Kushina Uzumaki is one of the series’ fan-favorite characters despite only appearing in flashbacks and Naruto’s subconscious. Naruto takes after her eccentric personality of being brave yet stubborn and quick-tempered.

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