19+ Anime With A Weak Female Lead Who Progresses Later (Or Not)

sakura haruno thinking face
Written by Theo J Ellis

Anime with a WEAK female lead? 

How dare I point out that women can be weak instead of strong, independent, and empowered!

Sarcasm aside, I thought I’d focus on something a little different since “strong female characters” is the usual narrative.

Weak female characters, whether they’re a lead or not tend to be:

  • Damsels in distress (less likely).
  • Incompetent.
  • It’s part of their progression (shonen style).
  • They’re genuinely weak because of a backstory.
  • The writer does a half-assed job.

And other reasons like being relatively weak to the male characters (or dual leads) in the story.

Either way, let’s talk about it.

I’ll do a separate one about WEAK male characters at some point to balance it out.

 

1. Sana Kashimura (Alice & Zouroku)

Sana Kashimura cute moments

Sana is a little girl from Alice & Zouroku. She’s not ordinary though. She can create anything she imagines and bring it into reality.

  • A car.
  • a house.
  • a world with its own laws.

Or anything she wants. She’s forced into a laboratory where they experiment on her, but she manages to escape.

A man name Zouroku takes her in. He’s a florist and a guy that doesn’t take no sh*t from anyone.

Skipping some details (you can watch to see it) Sana becomes stronger in character and inner-strength as the series progresses.

She starts to experience what it looks like to have a loving family, in spite of her obvious differences (not being human).

A 2nd season would work for this anime.

 

2. Atsuko Kagari (Little Witch Academia)

Atsuko Kagari one eye closed one eye open

Atsuko Kagari is a girl who wants to be a witch, and so she joins a witch school. The problem is 100% of people who come to this school have the talent for it.

Atsuko has no talent to speak of, but her reasoning comes from the time she was inspired to be a witch by a woman called Red Chariot. A famous witch.

With this goal in mind she does whatever it takes to become part of the witch academy and progress. Even in spite of being bullied and teased for her lack of talent.

Atsuko’s journey is similar to DEKU from My Hero Academia. It’s like the female version if you wanna call it that.

It’s an underrated series with underrated characters that deserves more attention.

 

3. Kaname Chidori (Full Metal Panic)

Atsuko Kagari smiling blue hair

Kaname is a normal high school student, or at least she appears to be. She’s being targeted and her life is in danger.

A man named Sosuke Sagara is stationed to protect her. He works for an independent anti-terrorist group called Mythril.

Sosuke joins Kaname’s school to fulfil his secret mission, and this is how they both naturally become involved in each others lives.

Kaname becomes a stronger person as the series progresses. Even though she’s no damsel in a literal sense, the progress is clear.

She’s also the eventual romantic interest for Sosuke (and vice versa).

 

4. Akane Tsunemori (Psycho Pass)

Akane Tsunemori suit smile

Akane is a NEW recruit in the police force, so she’s an amateur just getting started. On her first day she witnesses the savgery of what life can be like as a police officer.

She’s on a job where a woman was under threat of being raped. The culprit is literally splattered to bits and there’s blood everywhere. Leaving the woman traumatized (not Akane).

Throughout the tough situations Akane is put through, she matures and grows mentally and emotionally. Becoming a more competent police officer in a technologically driven society.

A society where everything is run and determined by robots, A.I, and the Sibyl system that runs it.

 

5. Orihime Inoue (Bleach)

orihime inoue smile sparkle

Bleach is an anime about humans, Hollows that are like dead creatures, soul reapers who slay them, and the drama that happens in between.

Orihime is an obvious damsel in distress type of character in the series. She always needs saving, protecting, and this is a repetitive theme in BLEACH.

Similar to Sakura from Naruto, this can make Orihime seem annoying or just plain useless when it counts.

That said, Orihime at least does make some progress in Bleach. It’s just not the respectable type of progression you’d want to see, given how much potential she has.

She’s a weak female lead, but doesn’t need to be.

 

6. Fuu Hououji (Magic Knight Rayearth)

Fuu Hououji smiling glasses e1634311373183

This anime series is about Cephiro, a world where 3 girls are summoned to basically fix it (Isekai).

They’re all equipped with armor, magic, and weapons.

Fuu is one of 3 main characters in Magic Knight Rayearth. Out of Hikaru and Umi, it’s clear she’s the weakest in a literal sense.

The beauty of this old school series is all characters make progress, and ALL of them develop in sync.

Fuu is a feminine, gentle type of girl. She’s not one to go looking for fights, and would rather not fight even if it came down to it.

She’s the perfect friend and the type who will always have your back and support you. This plays into her weakness since fighting is inescapable in this anime.

 

7. Usagi Tsukino (Sailor Moon)

Usagi Tsukino ditzy moments

Usagi Tsukino is an airheaded “dumb” blonde in every sense of the stereotype. She also wants a knight in shining armor, the perfect” dream boyfriend who doesn’t exist.

Typical teenager stuff in a nutshell.

She’s also weak in the beginning and that’s part of why she’s a favorite. There’s progress to be made with her character, story, experiences and journey.

With the help of the sailor scouts (her friends), and a talking cat of all things, Usagi develops into a better, stronger person.

Inside and out.

Relevant: 18+ Old School Waifu’s From The 80’s, 90’s, And Early 2000’s!

 

8. Red Blood Cell (Cells At Work)

red blood cell cells at work cheerful

Cells At Work is an anime that teaches you about:

  • Biology.
  • Types of cells in your body.
  • How types of foods and drinks affect your body.
  • What your cells do and their functions.

And basically boring stuff you’d rather not learn about.in school. Cells At Work makes it fun, entertaining, and portrays it all in a Shonen style.

Red Blood Cell starts out weak in the beginning. Overtime she becomes a little more responsible and dependable, but still the airheaded, easy going character you grow to love.

It’s mostly in comedic taste but it still counts.

 

9. Mikasa Ackerman (Attack On Titan)

Mikasa Ackerman attack on titan character

Mikasa Ackerman starts out weak just like most of everyone else. They were kids before the world turned upside down after all.

She goes from being weak, and not being unable to protect anyone really. To a strong woman who kills XXL man eating titans who threaten humanity.

In short, Mikasa is what Americans call “bad ass”. Or what brits would call a tough nut to crack.

If you take Mikasa Ackerman out of the picture, a lot of people die, and the anime won’t be the same. That’s how important she is and how much progress she makes.

Relevant: 17+ Of The Greatest Female Lead Shonen Anime Worth Watching

 

10. Yashiro Nene (Toilet Bound Hanako Kun)

Yashiro Nene kawaii

Yashiro Nene is a sweet, kind girl from the Toilet Bound Hanako series. She’s also airheaded. Not sure if that’s a trend.

With her childish dreams of a knight in shining armor on a white horse (her idea of a boyfriend) she seeks out Hanako, a ghost.

More accurately an apparition.

She has one wish in mind: to make it so the boy she likes returns her feelings. This turns out to be hectic and she and Hanako end up becoming partners of sorts.

It’s only a 12 episode series so we don’t see too much progress from Yashiro as far as strength. But the anime is set up for her to be saved, which is partly her own fault from episode 1.

 

11. Princess Yona (Yona Of The Dawn)

Princess Yona photo maroon hair

Princess Yona is a naive girl who doesn’t know zilch about the world around her, and especially outside of her palace.

She’s pandered to, kept in the dark, coddled, and pampered. That’s why when Su-Wan, a guy she considered a friend kills her own father, she’s lost for words.

She escapes with HAK, her main protection, as Suwon also wants to finish off Yona for his own personal reasons.

Yona is like a kid thrown into the wild. She has to learn on the fly, and adapt to the harsh environment of the real world she was shielded from for so many years.

She brings stronger, more fierce, more accountable to herself, and leaves her weaknesses behind her in the past.

 

12. Saltherine Aldarake (Peach Boy Riverside)

Saltherine Aldarake big tiddies sexy green jacket 1

Sally, or Saltherine as she’s named, is one half of the protagonists in Peach Boy Riverside.

She’s originally a princess who’s cut loose from her kingdom. It’s sally who did the cutting. She wants to set out on a journey to explore the world and put a stop to discrimination.

This is motivated by the bloody event she witnesses outside of her palace. Kibitsu Mikoto (the other MC) indirectly saves her life.

Sally is strong, optimistic, a bit naive, but is more than capable of fighting for herself and working on her personal development.

Like Yona Of The Dawn, a 2nd season is desperately needed.

 

13. Kyouko Mogami (Skip Beat)

Kyoko Mogami beautiful orange hair

Kyouko Mogami is one of my top 10 anime characters of all time. She’s the main character from Skip Beat who takes a major turn in her life.

Growing up it seems like she was never appreciated. Her parents only cared if she had good grades, her boyfriend who she pays bills for and supports didn’t really care.

In fact once Sho (her boyfriend) has the opportunity to pursue his dream career in showbiz, he abandons Kyouko and DUMPS her.

Before that she overhears him backstabbing her, and the truth comes to light. Leaving Kyouko heart broken.

This is where the plot for vengeance comes into the picture, but not the revenge you’re thinking.

Kyouko becomes a new person all together.

She’s no longer the weak, simpering, insecure girl who will stay quiet and take abuse. Her character development is one of the best written and best portrayed.

Relevant: 22+ Shonen Female Characters Who Break All The Stereotypes

 

14. Madoka Kaname (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)

Madoka Kaname crying sad

Madoka Kaname is an ordinary girl who in her own words, has no talents or anything to speak of.

After becoming interested in Homura Akemi, another female lead, she’s indirectly drawn into the world of magical girls.

Madoka is the weakest of all 5 female characters in this series. She’s hesitant, insecure, fearful, but kind and compassionate.

Whenever the worst episodes and traumatic experiences play out, Madoka doesn’t really do much because she’s too busy “thinking” about what to do.

On one hand it’s understandable, she’s just human. A human has no bearing on supernatural events.

This changes later in the series. I can’t say more to avoid spoilers.

 

15. Lucy Heartfilia (Fairy Tail)

Lucy Heartfilia moments

Lucy is a major character in Fairy Tail, and one of the main female leads from start to finish.

She starts out not being one of the more powerful or strong characters in Fairy Tail. As a wizard who uses celestial gate keys, it takes power and skill most can’t handle.

Having strength with keys isn’t the same as having brute strength or any other simpler method of supernatural strength.

On top of that, Lucy is also not as strong infernally in the beginning.

We see her character develop, her secrets revealed, past life, struggles growing up in a complicated family, and her moving forward and becoming a better person.

Fanservice moments can admittedly get in the way at times, but Lucy‘s role as a female lead is solid regardless.

Related: Lucy Heartfilia Character Analysis: MUCH More Than She’s Given Credit For

 

16. Onna Shinkan (Goblin Slayer)

Onna Shinkan cute blonde blue eyes

Onna Shinken is the priestess of the Goblin Slayer series. She’s weak and fragile in the early stages.

After being traumatized and almost being murdered in episode 1, she’s saved by Goblin Slayer, an awkward man who speaks few words.

Onna’s gratitude is clear, and as the anime moves forward she becomes more comfortable in her own skin, and more confident in her abilities.

Her relationship with Goblin Slayer is probably one of the most wholesome there is, even though this is a horror/action series at heart.

Similar: If You Love Goblin Slayer, Here Are 10 Of The Best Anime Just Like It

 

17. Pacifica Casull (Scrapped Princess)

Pacifica Casull character female lead

Pacifica Casull is the main female lead in this supernatural/historical type series. With even elements of Mecha and romance.

It’s said that when Pacifica turns 16 she’ll destroy the world. Hence the name “scrapped princess“. She was thrown off a cliff in an attempt to kill her as a baby, but somehow it failed.

She’s adopted by Shannon and Raquel as they discover her on their journey, and choose to raise her as a little sister.

Pacifica rely’s heavily on her adopted family when it comes to fights and drama, but she finds a strength of her own as the anime progresses.

She becomes more developed as a character and finds herself in a world that hates her for simply being born.

Similar: 15+ Of The Greatest Historical Anime Series With Their Own Vibe

 

18. Ochako Uraraka (My Hero Academia)

Ochako Uraraka eating rice

Ochako in many ways is like DEKU from My Hero Academia. She doesn’t start out as the strongest, and isn’t one everyone has high hopes for.

She has the quirk to control the gravity of whatever she touches. People, objects, and so on.

Her ONE goal that made her shine from the beginning is to make a lot of money so she can support her family. So they don’t have to struggle anymore.

Many times, especially in the early stages, Ochako proves her worth and her strength. Inside and out.

She’s been finding ways to compensate for her weaknesses, and ways to improve herself constantly. This happened again in season 5.

While there have been shaky times with her character development or focus, she’s a solid character after all is said and done.

 

19. Sakura Haruno (Naruto)

Sakura Haruno casual outfit

Sakura Haruno is too famous her own good, but not for the right reasons. She’s a meme and that “stink” has never gone away.

She starts out with Naruto and Sasuke, and is a major lead in the Naruto series. She lags behind though because she’s too fearful and cowardly.

Talents and smarts mean nothing without action, and Sakura is proof of that. Especially in Naruto season 1 for the most part.

She becomes stronger and more competent in Shippuden, but the shoddy writing and inconsistencies in her character make it hard to truly appreciate Sakura.

Either way, she embodies this list and had to be mentioned.

 

Other anime female leads who start weak:

  • Violet Evergarden (Violet Evergarden).
  • Kagome Higurashi (Inuyasha).
  • Yuko (The Demon Girl Next Door).

Recommended Next:

The Best Female Anime Protagonists Who Are Strong, Smart And Capable

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yankovskiy
yankovskiy

Lucy progresses from part time tied half-naked to full-time tied almost naked. Kind of progression you would expect from 500+ chapters shonen manga anyway, but since other female characters progress in a similar way, it destroys common sense completely. But people like naked girls, so it’s alright, i suppose It sold well, that’s all that matters. I wonder if Demon Slayer has such amount of tied naked young girls, since it’s even knocked over some american comics in terms of popularity. Or it’s rather because of FT, Naruto, Bleach and Gintama ended, and One Piece is just tooooo long, so… Read more »