Child main characters are often disliked by anime fans, usually either because the children don't act or sound anything like actual kids, or because said kids are annoying and nowhere near as compelling as their adult counterparts. However, some child anime characters are so genuinely adorable or charming that fans can't help but love them, even if they typically don’t like child anime characters in general.
Here are five child anime characters who often appeal to even the most child-averse of anime fans.
Rin Kaga (Usagi Drop)
Usagi Drop’s Rin Kaga is the illegitimate six-year-old daughter of the main character’s late grandfather, and her initially very withdrawn and grief-stricken persona gradually changes once she is adopted by Daikichi and treated with the kind of attention she needs to thrive.
Her budding father-daughter relationship with Daikichi, as well as her eventual friendship with a boy her age named Kouki, allows Rin to blossom into a mature, independent, and even confident young girl who is able to process her grief, deal with her fears of death and abandonment, and trust in the love and care that Daikichi always does his best to offer despite his own inexperience with fatherhood. This also makes Usagi Drop one of the most emotionally impactful slice-of-life anime out there.
Naru Kotoishi (Barakamon)
As the second main protagonist in Barakamon, Naru is a six-year-old who lives on the Goto Islands in Nagasaki prefecture and revels in her rural village life. Extremely joyful and lively, Naru enjoys collecting things like bugs and beach shells, adventuring around the island, and invading everyone’s personal space, much to calligrapher Seishuu’s chagrin. There’s a lot of comedy to be derived from Naru’s habit of copying whatever her elders are saying, even when she doesn’t understand the meaning or implication of the words.
Although not necessarily tactful, Naru is nonetheless very kindhearted and empathetic and seems to make it her personal mission to cheer people up whenever they’re feeling down -- especially the much more cynical and socially awkward Seishuu, who becomes something of a mix of an older brother/teacher figure to Naru and the other kids.
Momo Kawamoto (March Comes In Like A Lion)
The youngest of the three Kawamoto sisters, the three-year-old Momo from March Comes in Like a Lion is usually extremely bright and active, although her young age means that she often doesn’t understand the emotional gravity of what’s happening around her. However, she loves her family members deeply, also extends unconditional love to the main show’s protagonist Rei, and is extremely empathetic -- to the point where, when middle sister Hinata cries due to being bullied at school, Momo cries along with her.
While she can be a little bratty at times, especially if she’s overly tired, Momo is very much part of the heart and soul of the show, lending it both comedy and real warmth even at its darkest moments -- and her obsession with the anime character Bodoro (based on Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro) is nothing short of adorable.
Tsumugi Inuzuka (Sweetness & Lightning)
The daughter of high school math teacher Kohei and the late Tae Inuzuka, the latter of whom died six months prior to the story, the five-year-old Tsumugi from Sweetness & Lightning has a naturally positive and enthusiastic personality, as well as a vivid imagination; some of the best scenes from the anime are when the viewer gets to see the world as perceived through Tsumugi’s eyes.
Through her adorable sister-like friendship with a high school student named Kotori -- one of Kohei’s students --, Tsumugi discovers a passion for food and cooking, strengthening the clearly very loving bond she has with her father.
Phil (The Promised Neverland)
A four-year-old orphan who lives in the Grace Field House along with the other main protagonists in The Promised Neverland, Phil’s charm comes from the fact that he is far smarter and more observant than he initially appears, making viewers wonder whether he truly is as innocently playful and carefree as he appears, or if some (or even all) of this is an intentional ruse.
Although the anime features more than a dozen kids that are around the same age, Phil stands out as someone who is able to discern things that most of his immediate peers do not, and for his courage when he stays behind at the end of the first season, allowing the older kids to make their successful escape.