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Captain Dola (Castle in the Sky)
Topping off this list is none other than the queen of the sky pirates, Captain Dola. Originally acting as an antagonist to Sheeta and Pazu, Dola quickly realizes that saving them from the hands of the evil Muska is much more important. Dola is the captain of the airship Tiger Moth, whose crew consists of her husband and her unspecified number of sons. Not only does this mom take to the skies to become one of the most feared pirates in all the land, she also raised a small army and keeps her crazy husband in check. Now that’s one badass Captain if I may say so myself.

Motoko Kusanagi (Ghost in the Shell)
It’s not often that one series becomes emblematic of an entire genre, but Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell took the 90s cyberpunk genre by storm. Following in the footsteps of William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer, Ghost in the Shell is a crime thriller about hackers, with police officer Motoko Kusanagi taking center stage. Not only does Motoko frequently charge fearlessly into battles to take down her targets, she also embraces the Puppet Master’s fusion, unlocking her fullest potential as a cybernetic human. As a protagonist, Motoko is unflappable, mysterious, and smart, making her one of the most compelling female protagonists in all of anime. Plus, she totally kicks ass.

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Deedlit (Record of Lodoss War)
Deedlit is the youngest elf during the time of the Lodoss War, meaning that the future of her people rests on her shoulders. In battle, Deedlit is swift, accurate, and silent, making her one of the most dangerous members of Parn’s party. Despite her friendship with Parn, Deedlit is very independent and strong willed, often to the point of being downright stubborn. Deedlit is special because she sets her own pace and always gets the job done, even saving her friends during their adventures, making her a formidable opponent on the Island of Lodoss.

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Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon)
Usagi Tsukino, the identity of Sailor Moon, the leader of the Sailor Senshi, was for many American Anime enthusiasts their first experience with a female protagonist. Sailor Moon is notable for being one of the first truly strong female characters, and despite her fear of homework and carrots, is a courageous leader. Not only is she strong on her own, Sailor Moon also values teamwork, which she exhibits in her alliance with the other Sailors. Plus, who doesn’t recall the early days of Toonami when Sailor Moon took America by storm?

Maka Albarn (Soul Eater)
In a similiar vein to Sailor Moon, Maka Albarn is the protagonist of Soul Eater and aspiring Death Scythe Meister for the Death Weapon Meister Academy. Throughout the series, she is the most consistently tough and quick-witted of all the Meister students, often unlocking new abilities and techniques before her classmates. Maka also has a strong bond with her weapon, Soul, whom she is even able to help escape the encroaching madness. Despite her father’s embarrassing activities and her mother’s absence, Maka is a powerful and intelligent hero that never fails her friends, despite how often they may fail her.

Bulma (Dragon Ball & Dragon Ball Z)
Bulma has been a central character to the Dragon Ball franchise since the first episode of the original anime. In the beginning, the adventures of Goku and the Dragon Balls were spurred on by Bulma’s own hunt for the mysterious artifacts. In a way, the series follows both Goku’s and Bulma’s own lives very closely, with Bulma always right by Goku, despite her own mortal danger. Without Bulma’s intelligence and technology, Goku would have never been able to locate the Dragon Balls, making her presence essential. In Dragon Ball Z she even marries Goku’s rival Vegeta, the Prince of all Saiyans, who comes to fear Bulma’s wrath despite his own immense power. While she may be no where near the power of her comrades, Bulma’s fiery temper never backs down from a fight, making her one scary lady indeed.

Edward (Cowboy Bebop)
Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV is one tough cookie, at only thirteen years of age, she has already become one of the best hackers in the solar system, as well as a consistently wacky kid. Often serving as the comic relief upon the Bebop, Edward is notorious for derailing satellites to carve smiley faces into planets and having high stakes chess matches. While Edward may take a backseat to her other companions on the Bebop, there is no one in the show that can rival her skills, nor ignore her hilarious antics.

Riza Hawkeye (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
If you’ve ever watched Fullmetal Alechmist: Brotherhood, you’re probably at least a little bit of a fan of Riza Hawkeye. Best known as Roy Mustang’s righthand man, Hawkeye is a top marksman who never misses her target. Not only does she stop enemies in their tracks despite her own lack of Alchemic powers, Hawkeye is also one of the toughest and gentlest characters in the series. Despite Mustang’s past, Hawkeye never wavers in her devotion to him, nor does she shy away from doing what is necessary to keep him in line. Her mentor-like relationship with Winrey is also notable, as it is one of the few times in anime when a show takes time to develop a strong bond between two females characters, each learning to become stronger from the other. While Hawkeye may take a backseat to the main characters of the show, when it is her time to shine her unwavering light shines the brightest. Thanks Hawkeye, thanks for always kicking homunculus ass.

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