Anime fans love to argue about tropes and their value to the genre, including self-insert characters. What is a self-insert character in anime? As the name suggests, a self-insert character is one designed with few distinguishable characteristics so that audiences will be able to “self-insert” or imagine themselves in the character’s place.


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Self-insert characters are often the main protagonist of an anime. While many fans dislike self-insert characters, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t good, entertaining examples. We gathered the best self-insert characters in anime to prove that not all vanilla characters are created equal!

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8 Kirito – Sword Art Online

Love him or (more likely) hate him, no discussion about self-insert characters would be complete without good old Kirito. Even though many anime fans despise Kirito’s boring personality, much of what makes him so bland also makes him the perfect self-insert. At the start of Sword Art Online, he’s a pretty normal high schooler and acts as such when discrimination against beaters (beta-testers) begins.

He lives a fairly normal life: getting involved with his community (joining a guild), finding a girlfriend, getting married, and tackling new dungeon raids; totally normal and relatable! Almost anyone could self-insert themselves in Kirito’s shoes, for better or worse.

7 Subaru Natsuki – Re: Zero

It’s truly challenging to find anything unique to say about Subaru…yet he manages to engage audiences while dying over and over again. Why? His heart! He’s got that anime character determination that pushes him through hardships. Most anime fans can relate to having a daily grind that sucks but promises a sweet payoff, which is Subaru’s entire existence. Will he ever win? We can all hope so because aren’t we after our own victories?

Even his outfits scream “self-insert”. An oddly familiar but nondescript tracksuit and a fancy tux being his usual digs? Join the club; it includes two-thirds of the planet. There’s nothing very special about Subaru, which is exactly why he’s a good self-insert character. Like many viewers, what Subaru does best is persevere through challenges and support those he loves. And darn it, if that isn’t enough for self-insert fans then what is?

6 Diablo/Takuma Sakamoto – How Not To Summon A Demon Lord

While Diablo from How Not To Summon A Demon Lord is a classic OP protagonist, his reactions to his new world are what make this character so very relatable. The show loves to play with isekai and harem tropes through satire, and Diablo is integral to this humor. His “average guy” take on almost everything is so on point and at times so natural it seems off the cuff.

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Diablo also manages to avoid the pitfall of letting his newly found prestige affect his decisions. Well into the second season, he’s still making choices the same way he did when “Cross Reverie” was just a game, which is more realistic than typical isekai protagonists. Throughout the series, How Not To Summon A Demon Lord uses Diablo as a grounding element in a way that makes it nearly impossible for fans to not visualize themselves in his place.

5 Kyouya Hashiba – Remake Our Life

Kyouya Hashiba could be anyone really. His life isn’t even that screwed up, but it just hasn’t gone his way, so when he gets a chance to do better, of course, he takes it! The fact that Kyouya has pretty good evidence that enrolling in art school rather than business school will lead him to success makes this self-insert character unique. We’ve all had to make prudent career choices and wonder “what if” all the time, but this series removes that question, giving Kyouya the confidence that so often makes the difference.

Aside from this, Kyouya doesn’t have any memorable qualities, and he doesn’t need any. The show is a fun romp precisely because viewers can live vicariously through Kyouya’s second chance. Sometimes people can do everything right and still things won’t work out. That fear doesn’t exist with this anime; we know everything will work out if Kyouya just puts in the work, and it’s nice to experience the fantasy of guaranteed success through him.

4 Demon Lord Satan – The Devil Is A Part-Timer!

Yeah, he’s the devil; so what? That doesn’t stop Demon Lord Satan from being an average fast food worker just like millions of others. While he also has supernatural abilities, what he has in power he lacks in personality. Satan’s actions are almost entirely based on those around him, which is fine because that’s exactly what the viewers are reacting to as well! It’s easy to imagine the other characters as average people found in anyone’s life, like a fussy roommate or a PC-addicted kid brother.

Related: The Devil Is A Part-Timer: Every Major Character’s Age, Height, And Birthday

What makes Satan such a great self-insert is how he interacts with and supports these characters. He has moments where he shows some personality, but in his day-to-day he’s just trying to survive and maybe keep the AC on a little longer. Between dealing with other characters and managing bills, audiences can connect to this devil more than with other minimum wage self-inserts.

3 Moriko Morioka – Recovery Of An MMO Junkie

A typical NEET, Moriko Morioka doesn’t really do much besides play games and eat takeout. She becomes a protagonist by quitting her job to play video games as much as possible while figuring out how to enjoy life rather than just going through the motions, inspiring those of us who wish we could just walk into the woods with our PC and router.

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Most anime fans can identify with gamer characters, but it’s worth noting that Moriko is one of the few female representations of a shut-in, and her main love interest is the highly coveted “golden retriever gamer boyfriend” archetype. The things that form the core part of her personality are the same things that many gamer girls and feminine anime fans consider important. This MMO junkie might not have a special trait or secret ability, but that just makes her much more real and much easier for gamers of all genders to place themselves in her shoes.

2 Ainz Ooal Gown – Overlord

Ainz is an average lonely gamer trapped in a game he loves. Ainz does his best to hold onto his ideals in his new world, but as a side-effect of being undead, he doesn’t have much personality. This leaves plenty of room for viewers to see themselves in his place, finally putting their years of game knowledge to good use!

More than that, Ainz exudes “fake it till you make it” energy. His capabilities allow him to be commanding, but his internal self-doubt resonates with viewers who find themselves in similar, if less fantastic, situations. He’s not a great self-insert just because he’s so relatable, but because he pushes past his insecurities to better utilize the skills he developed on his own. He can inspire anyone who’s ever felt like they aren’t good enough, without imposing on anime fans who see themselves in his moments of doubt.

1 Miss Kobayashi – Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

A tale as old as time: an office worker leaves work, goes to a bar, gets drunk…and finds a dragon maid? Well, up until that point Miss Kobayashi was a perfectly average, introverted woman. Miss Kobayashi is as plain as can be, dressing just well enough to get through the day as a professional adult like most people, which is why it’s so easy to relate to her!

Even though we don’t get a lot of details regarding her personality, she gets plenty of small, endearing moments. When she gets home from work and gives a sigh of relief before taking off her shoes, there’s no need for dialogue; we all know what that’s like. When she reaches for a beer or complains to her work bestie, it just feels so natural and so normal that identifying with her almost can’t be helped. Miss Kobayashi’s unassuming demeanor has such a payoff for audiences wishing they had their own dragon maid to lift their spirits and through her, it’s easy to imagine they do.

NEXT: Anime Protagonists Who Are Well Written (But Not Necessarily Likable)



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