In the anime world you can find different types of relationships that are highlighted. There can be the best friends relationships, or the older/younger siblings. There can also be the sensei and student dynamic that can shine, or the senpai and kouhai. These types of relationships, and seeing how they affect and shape the story, can help someone decide if they want to even read or watch the series. I know I personally tend to focus on characters and how they interact with one another when I decide if I want to continue with the story.
With this list I’ll just focus on the leader and follower relationship. To make it on this list, the leader has to be in a position where one wrong decision can cost the life of their follower, meaning that life and death is very possible for these characters. Or as possible as it can be in the anime world. The follower has to be willing and loyal without being convinced or threatened into their duty. The follower should be the type that would follow their leader to death and would do anything in their power to help them. Why focus on such an extreme relationship? Because if you’re going to do something you have to do it to the maximum, not half-hearted, which is what these characters represent.
- Lord Frieza and Captain Ginyu from Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Martial Arts, Shounen, Super Power
Dragon Ball Z is a pretty well-known anime, to put it lightly. A lot of kids grew up watching it and even those who didn’t care for anime can probably recognize iconic characters like Goku and Vegeta. Now the reason why Frieza is on this list is because even though he is one of the major bad guys, who is ruthless and enjoys causing agony and destruction, among other sweet things, he still has loyal followers. And yes, a guy like him is expected to have followers. He is a ruler who controls others with his sadistic and cold-hearted nature, but he still has at least one follower who is willing to do anything for him. And that is Captain Ginyu.
Captain Ginyu is an interesting one. He can be harsh and ruthless with his subordinates, but he does care for his teammates and has a strong sense of honor in combat. He is one of Frieza’s top fighters and uses his Body Change Ability to best be able to serve Frieza. His loyalty to Frieza is so extreme that even when he accidentally changed bodies with a Namekian frog and was trapped, he still did his best to help Frieza. He tries to steal one of the Dragon Balls so Gohan can’t use it against Frieza, and never lost hope that he would one day be able to return to Frieza’s side to serve him.
This makes Ginyu a great candidate for this list because most of Frieza’s followers would have taken advantage of this to escape from Frieza’s rule. And later in Dragon Ball Super, Ginyu was able to take another character’s body after Frieza was healed and was accepted by Frieza. Which was really sweet since Ginyu got his wish. But unfortunately for him, Ginyu was easily killed by Vegeta. Poor Ginyu.
- Prince Arslan and Daryun from Arslan Senki (TV) and Arslan Senki: Fuujin Ranbu
Genre: Action, Adventure, Historical, Drama, Fantasy, Shounen
Prince Arslan of Pars is the complete opposite of Frieza. While Frieza only cared about his own well-being and ambitions, Arslan is a kind and sympathetic ruler who cares deeply for his companions and enemies. Arslan has shown, on more than one occasion, to prefer to use words and compromise to engaging in battle; but he is also more than willing to do whatever it takes to protect those important to him.
The first time Arslan is shown to be unforgiving towards another prince was when his most faithful companion, Daryun, was put in harm’s way.
In the beginning, his loyalty was because Arslan was the Crown Prince and after the invading Empire of Lusitania attacked them, Daryun’s uncle Vahriz asked Daryun to protect Arslan. While traveling with Arslan, they became close friends and his loyalty now extends beyond his duty to the Crown, but to whom Arslan is as a person.
Daryun has shown his loyalty to Arslan by being extremely protective and being willing to cut down anyone who threatens Arslan, be it friend or foe. Even the fact that Arslan was proven to not be royal by blood does not deter Daryun from helping Arslan ascend to the throne. All this is because Daryun has stated that he recognizes Arslan as his prince and no one else.
One major moment when Daryun proved how strongly he believed in Arslan was after King Andragoras III, who had been taken prisoner by Lusitania, returned and took control of Pars’ forces from Arslan. The king ordered Arslan to leave the company and recruit more soldiers for their forces on his own and ordered Daryun to stay behind, along with the rest of Arslan’s companions. Daryun and the rest didn’t hesitate to disobey the king and follow Arslan, even with the possibility of being considered traitors and being punished.
- Sailor Moon (Usagi Tsukino) and Sailor Venus (Minako Aino) from Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal
Genre: Demons, Magic, Magical Girl, Romance, Shoujo, Fantasy, Friendship
Unlike Frieza and Arslan, Usagi was a crybaby and easily scared at the beginning of the series and, like Arslan, she doesn’t like violence. She tends to be clumsy, not the smartest girl in the class to say it nicely, and a daydreamer. But once she finds out she can transform into Sailor Moon she learns to be brave and risk her life for those she cares about.
Now while, like Prince Arslan, Usagi has many loyal followers willing to risk their lives for her and their cause, one tends to stand out from the rest and that is Sailor Venus, Minako Aino.
Minako was the first Sailor Scout to receive her powers and to fight the Dark Kingdom by becoming Sailor V. As the series progressed she was a well-known hero, someone Usagi looked up to. Minako did her best to encourage and help Usagi from afar.
When she later revealed herself as the Moon Princess to Usagi and the rest of the group, she did so to protect Usagi by acting as a decoy. She was willing to put herself in danger in order to protect the real Moon Princess, who turned out to be Sailor Moon, Usagi. Minako is also the leader of the Inner Sailor Guardians and takes her role very seriously.
Minako shares a lot of the traits that both previous followers, Daryun and Ginyu have, which include being willing to risk their life for their leader and being a great leader themselves. She also shares Sailor Moon’s ability to transform into someone else. After meeting Usagi and the other Sailor Guardians Minako learned to accept others’ help and that she doesn’t have to do everything on her own. She has always been willing to go above and beyond to protect Usagi because of her duty but also because of their friendship.
- Colonel Roy Mustang and Lt. Riza Hawkeye from Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Genre: Action, Military, Adventure, Drama, Magic, Fantasy, Shounen, Comedy
In both anime adaptations of Fullmetal Alchemist, Colonel Roy Mustang is a very complex character. He appears to be a bit lazy with his administrative paperwork, usually delegating his duties to his subordinates. He is also a womanizer and has a tendency to steal other men’s lovers and crushes, which results in others disliking him. He also has a reputation to only do things that will help him gain more recognition in the military.
In reality, Colonel Mustang is a dedicated commander who aims to become the Führer of Amestris. He is a very talented alchemist, military tactician and is very loyal and protective to those he cares about. His own willingness to put himself in danger for his compatriots has earned him the loyalty of his trusted comrades, a trait he shares with both Usagi and Arslan.
Helping him along the way is his bodyguard and personal adjutant, Lt. Riza Hawkeye. Colonel Mustang and Lt. Hawkeye have known each other since they were young, with Colonel Mustang being her father’s apprentice in alchemy. Later they were reunited in the military and her life has been shaped to suit Colonel Mustang’s goals.
She tends to act more of a babysitter with him, scolding him to do his own paperwork and such, but in reality, Colonel Mustang has given authority over his life to her. Trusting her to shoot him in the back if he ever strays from the right path and taking her advice into account.
Like all the other followers in this list, Lt. Hawkeye is willing to die for Colonel Mustang and will follow him no matter the danger. Lt. Hawkeye shares Colonel Mustang’s views for the future, believing he can make a difference as the Führer. She is willing to give up her happiness and shoulder the weight of her actions so the future generations can have a peaceful life.
And like Prince Arslan, Colonel Mustang tends to be impulsive whenever she is in danger, without regards to his own safety.
In this list there were characters like Frieza who only cared for themselves and total opposites who use their position of power to protect and help others. But the one thing they all had in common was their loyal followers.
No matter how selfish or hopeless the ruler appeared to be at any time of the story, their followers were willing to follow them to the end. In return all the leaders, even Frieza, valued their followers to an extent. Frieza was even willing to accept Ginyu back after he was able to get rid of the frog body. The followers are devoted to their leaders and their cause and aren’t afraid to prove it. Ginyu didn’t let being turned into a frog deter him from serving Frieza. Daryun ignored his king’s direct orders in order to follow after Prince Arslan. Sailor Venus was willing to act as a decoy to protect the real Moon Princess and Lt. Hawkeye was just as willing to die for Colonel Mustang as he was for her.
In all honesty, I love series with strong relationships like these. They make you think about how human relationships are outside of the anime world. Who do you know that reminds you of Colonel Mustang, or if you are super lucky, a guy like Frieza? Ha! Have you ever heard about a loyal subordinate willing to do anything for a cause? It’s not something that can be found easily. In the face of real danger, people tend to freeze up and abandon their duties and beliefs, but all these followers would never even think of doing such a thing.
All in all I hope this list will make people focus and appreciate the different types of dynamics that can be found in anime. If you don’t focus on the different dynamics, then what do you even focus on? Without them, all stories would just feel the same. What would make them unique, apart from the genre and rating? I honestly can’t think of something at the moment, can you?
Remember to have fun and go lizard hunting every once in a while.