These days, you can't swing a mystic Norse hammer without thonking at least four super-heroes. They're everywhere--comics, movies, TV, videogames, Broadway, even anime.
One of the hottest anime shows this season is Tiger and Bunny, currently airing on-line and hopefully on U.S. television in the near future.
Check out T&B for a modern take on super-powered heroes and villians. Until then, here's our list of
Top 5 Anime Super-Heroes
These characters come from all kinds of shows, but they possess the powers, heroics, costume changes, and gadgetry that would make any spandex-clad chum proud.
#5 - Karas
Karas follows the painful path to heroism. Criminal assassin Otoha gets whacked only to be reborn as the savior of mankind (or at least part of Tokyo).
The whole "angel of vengeance" gig works for Ghost Rider and the Crow, and it's pretty standard here in this six-episode OVA.
But what Karas lacks in story originality, it makes up in 2D/3D animation, stunning orchestral score, and weird factor. Just check out the trailer and see if you don't agree . . .
#4 - Roger Smith/Big O
Anime's answer to Batman, rich playboy Roger Smith protects a gloomy gothic city and instead of donning a cowl, dives into the cockpit of a giant robot. (This is anime, after all.)
It doesn't hurt that the same studio for Big O also did earlier work on Batman: The Animated Series. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Roger wisely follows the Bruce Wayne school of heroics--ample gadgetry, huge mansion, sweet wheels, butler, and--instead of annoying teen sidekick--faithful android maid. (This is anime, after all.)
#3 - Sailor Moon
And now for something on the opposite side of the super-hero spectrum.
Sailor Moon is a "magical girls" anime, but it celebrates just as many super-hero tropes--colorful outfits, secret identities, enchanted weapons, sidekicks, and saving planet Earth.
Get ready for a monsoon of nostalgia when this baby gets re-released in the future.
#2 - Goku
How many times have you heard the Goku vs. Superman debate? Who would win?
Both came to Earth as alien babies. Both have super strength and speed, flight, nigh-invulnerability and mad fightin' skillz.
The Man of Steel may have eye beams, freeze breath, and X-ray vision. But DragonBall's hero has martial arts skills, including his Kamehameha energy blast and the all-powerful Spirit Bomb (love that name).
And hey, both can come back from the dead. Not bad.
#1 - Astro Boy
The first and the best super-hero in anime, Astro Boy combines the robot love of Japan with the tragic yet hopeful origins of American heroes.
Built by genius roboticist Dr. Tenma to replace his deceased son, Astro later becomes the champion of future Japan, saving the world from evil robots, aliens, or even robot-hating humans (a la X-Men and their mutant schtick).
Like the greatest heroes, Astro Boy boasts a plethora of powers. In this case, he's got rocket-powered flight, laser-gun finger, super-hearing, and--um--a machine gun gluteus maximus.
If only Spider-Man would be so brave with his web shooters . . .