Anime is a type of media with many variables and genres. This means that there can be a lot of combinations of settings and characters.
In the fantasy genre, there are a lot of titles with a female protagonist and in this article, we want to propose a list of anime with a compelling plot where the lead is a girl.
You won’t see the usual stereotypes where the girl is in danger or extremely weak. There are some of these cases, but the following list features shows that highlight feminine power and strength.
If you like the idea we are sure that you can find here some inspiration for the next one to watch. Rankings are based on our opinions and personal experience, and we can guarantee the quality here is quite good.
Table of Contents
16. Shinsekai Yori
A 2012 anime released in 25 episodes based on a novel of the same name. The anime is set in Japan a thousand years from now and features 5 main characters: Saki, Satoru, Maria, Mamoru, and Shun, born and raised in a quiet Japanese village.
Japan of this era is dominated by those who possess Juryoku, or telekinesis and telepathy, and those who have this power are strictly controlled. But one day the protagonists will come to discover what is really behind all this.
Saki, the female protagonist of the show, comes off initially as a quiet and timid girl but she quickly turns out to be a very talented user of her powers. She’s very intelligent and doesn’t often act offensively except for when she’s forced to.
An anime that should be watched if you are looking for an excellent psychological anime that combines romance-type elements into itself without being preponderant.
15. Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina
This is a 12-episode anime that premiered in the fall of 2020 and tells the tale of Elaina, a young girl who is fascinated by magic and witches.
She dreams of becoming a witch herself and traveling the world just like her hero Nike. Elaina will eventually succeed in becoming a witch and she will begin to travel the world just as she had always dreamed of.
The world will open up to the girl and she will meet many people along the way. During her travels, Elaina will experience the good and the evil side of humanity as she will grow up and build her legacy.
Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina is a short anime that makes you identify with the main character as she embarks on a proper adventure with all of its ups and downs.
14. Laputa – Castle in the Sky
The movie chronicles the adventures of Pazu and Sheeta as they search for the flying fortress of Laputa. It’s an enchanted island containing an extremely powerful secret weapon, already in the sights of the evil Colonel Muska and his army.
Sheeta is the quiet one of the two, she has a reserved and shy nature but can overcome these obstacles to save her hometown. She’s also a very loving character and cares very deeply for Pazu, as is shown in multiple instances throughout the movie.
In the search, the two youngsters will be joined by a crew of wacky air pirates led by Mama Dola, a terrible grandmother who aims to seize the legendary treasures hidden in Laputa.
One of the most classic productions by the legendary Studio Ghibli, which has entered the history as one of the best fantasy anime ever made.
Laputa – Castle in the Sky is even referenced in isekai anime like Re:Zero, to prove how influential it is in modern times.
The female lead of this anime is called Lina Inverse, a young sorceress who is very greedy for treasure with an irritable temper.
After performing another one of her heists, something goes wrong and she is attacked by survivors of the gang she has just struck.
Just as she is about to effortlessly dispose of them with one of her powerful spells, she is rescued by a skilled swordsman who defeats the rogues in an instant.
She sees him as a prince charming who has come to rescue her so Lina pretends to be a helpless maiden, only to discover that she is dealing with a handsome fellow as skilled with a sword as he is dumb.
This unusual couple represents the 2 main elements of the story which can be found in magic and swordsmanship. The two will embark on an adventure where the stakes will grow higher as the plot goes on.
If you like the fantasy medieval setting this will be right up your alley. The writing is also great and the characters are interesting, with a good touch of comedy and ecchi elements to spice up the story.
12. The Beast Player Erin
This anime from 2009 is set in Ryoza, a fantasy land composed of the provinces of Shin-Ou and Tai-Kou. The two provinces have been at peace for a very long time but the latest tensions are threatening the coming of a civil war.
Erin lives with her mother Soyon, who is a doctor tasked to take care of the kingdom’s army of powerful lizards known as Touda.
One day, one of the Toudas under Soyon’s care suffers a lethal accident and she ends up getting blamed for it.
Erin tries to save her mother but she ends up falling into a river and wakes up in a different place. She will meet many new people and try to find out the truth about his kingdom while it is on the brink of a civil war.
Erin is a very interesting main character that grows throughout the show. In the beginning, is portrayed as a curious 10-year-old but she also shows her courage right away when trying to save her mother.
She grows up to be a caring and lovable young girl who is deeply interested in humans and beasts and truly refute the use of violence.
11. Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
The story is set in a world where legendary people called Iolph don’t age when they reach adolescence, except for hair length and color.
Maquia is one of them and spends her days in complete peace filling the role of assistant to the village elder.
This peaceful routine is interrupted by the attack of the army of the Kingdom of Mezarte, eager to gain possession of the extraordinary abilities of these individuals.
After the attack, she will be left stranded in a forest far away from her home and she will find a baby in a ruined village that she will decide to raise as her own and name him Ariel.
This makes you feel for Maquia who is unable to bond with anyone outside her village and seems destined to be lonely. She cares very deeply about Ariel but she will have to face the fact that he’s aging much faster than she is.
Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms is a hidden gem due to its drama and tearjerking story. Even though the female lead is not among our top choices, we still recommend you give a try to this beautiful movie.
10. The Garden of Sinners
The Garden of Sinners is a series of movies set in late 90s Japan that revolves around Shiki Ryougi. She is a demon hunter who acquires the power called Mystic Eyes of Death Perception after surviving a fatal accident.
It features a pretty intricate plot where Shiki Ryougi and her friend Mikiya Kokotou are investigating a series of suspicious suicides of young girls jumping off the Fujou building, an abandoned structure on the outskirts of the city.
They will both end up working for the Garan no Do detective agency specialized in paranormal investigations to uncover these mysteries
Every entry in the series will provide more and more context and will give much more depth to the characters, especially the two main protagonists.
Shiki Ryougi is not just a girl with supernatural powers but we found out that she had a rough upbringing and that she got her special skills by creating two separate personalities within herself.
The movies are compelling even though the plot is quite confusing in the beginning. If you’re up for a thriller you should give it a shot.
A 26-episode anime set in a medieval fantasy-themed world where the inhabitants are forced to fight the threat of monstrous creatures that feed on humans.
Fighting these creatures, called the Yomi, are the Claymores, warriors with enormous power who can counter the terrible monsters with their swords.
The protagonist of the story is Claire, a low-level claymore who will increase her fighting power over time as she discovers the deceptions behind the Yomi and the society in which she lives.
The female lead is a strong-willed and resolute woman, who can be compared to Berserk’s Gatsu.
There are many reasons why you should watch Claymore. From the plot to the soundtrack everything comes together to make a great product that you will enjoy.
The anime is a great introduction to the more complete manga, which is the original source.
8. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
This movie from 1984 is set in a world where humanity barely survived a nuclear war called The Seven Days of Fire.
The remainders of the human race now are surviving in a hostile environment filled with mutated life forms that populate the menacing jungle.
Our protagonist is Nausicaa, the princess of the Valley of the Wind, a peaceful kingdom sheltered from the dangers of the post-apocalyptic world.
She is the embodiment of what a true heroine should be. She is brave and wise, loyal and intelligent, also she is a very proficient warrior with the ability to use any kind of weapon.
One day an airship from the kingdom of Tolmekia crashes into the Valley and the citizens find a sinister pulsating object in the wreckage.
The Valley is suddenly invaded by the Tolmekian military, who intend to revive a dangerous weapon from the Seven Days of Fire.
Nausicaa must fight to stop them from dragging everybody into a cataclysm that humanity could never survive.
7. Magic Knight Rayearth
A 1994 anime that features three girls as main characters, Hikaru, Umi, and Fu, who during a school trip to Tokyo Tower are teleported to the fantasy world of Cefiro.
Upon arriving in this new reality, the three realize that the world is in grave danger and decide to fight for its salvation as Magic Knights, using magical powers.
They were summoned to Cefiro by Princess Emeraude to fulfill their destinies as Magic Knights.
The 3 girls form a magical guild that is tasked with fighting to save the Princess from the evil High Priest Zagato.
Magic Knight Rayearth is a bit old at this point but the writing is solid and the characters are very good, you should give it a chance just for its charming style.
It’s also one of those few isekai merging mecha with magic, as this is one of the best magical girls anime in general.
6. Made in Abyss
The Abyss is a very strange place, you can expect almost anything. There are even specific rules and a set of guidelines to ensure the safety of adventurers, called Delvers/Cave Raiders.
The main characters Riko and Reg will make a lot of unpleasant discoveries and encounters while roaming in this dark pit.
Riko is an enthusiastic little girl who grew up as an orphan. She makes up for her physical shortcomings with a quick mind and a witty attitude. She wants to become a Delver and follow in the footsteps of her mother.
The entire system behind the adventurers is based on bells and whistles. Bells are the novices in training, yet to receive their first whistle.
On the contrary, whistles represent Cave Raiders and can have different colors, based on skill level.
At the edge of the Abyss, you can find the city of Orth, where the story starts.
With these premises, it’s clear that Made in Abyss is an interesting anime and one of the best anime that get darker soon in the story.
5. Violet Evergarden
Violet Evergarden is a 13-episode short anime about drama, war, and romance released in 2018.
After 4 years of uninterrupted conflict between the northern and southern regions of the Telesis continent, peace is finally born.
The protagonist goes by the name of Violet. She is a girl who has lived in the army since birth, under the orders of Major Gilbert, and must now reinvent her life from scratch.
Thus will begin Violet’s journey to discover emotions and feelings, trying to leave behind her warlike past.
In short, the usual cliché of the machine trying to become human and the difficulty of such a process, but with some nice sentimental gimmicks and a chilling graphic compartment.
Truly a great anime, which will be able to convey strong emotions to you, and you will hardly fail to identify with Violet. If you like intense anime, both emotionally and psychologically, then this is exactly for you.
4. Ancient Magus Bride
The protagonist of the story is young Chise Hatori, a girl who, after losing her entire family, decides to sell herself off at an auction to change and find some light in her life after many years of suffering.
She will then be purchased by a man who stands out mainly because of his tall height and head shaped like a canine skull to make her a magician.
The relationships between the characters will be the real focus of the work, with great seriousness and realism to the various emotional developments.
It’s also undoubtedly one of the best dark fantasy anime if you like dark turns in fantasy settings.
This anime is from the same studio behind Attack on Titans so you can expect a very compelling plot and great characters.
3. Card Captor Sakura
Card Captor Sakura is one of the most-known and one of the best anime about magic world of magic. The story features a 10-year-old girl who one day stumbles upon a mysterious book in her father’s library.
Sakura Kinomoto is the titular protagonist of the show and is described as a cute little girl with a tendency to be quite clumsy and naive.
The girl, intrigued, opens it and releases the magic contained within it in the form of cards, at the same time acquiring magical powers.
These powers will be useful for the protagonist to undo the damage done, beginning a journey that will lead her to find all the lost Clow Cards.
Due to each Card’s ability to act independently, Clow had sealed them away. Now that they have been set free, they could be dangerous and it is up to Sakura to make up for her mistakes.
The main character Sakura embodies the concept of hope and strong will. This statement may seem stupid but it’s actually what made Cardcaptor Sakura one of the pillars of the magical girls genre.
Speaking of which, the female lead can be compared to a saint, able to change the perception of others with her miracles, even if metaphorical.
2. Yona of the Dawn
In a story about treason and revenge, the main character princess Yona is betrayed and gets banished from her kingdom.
She will do everything in her power to reclaim her place, as shown by her resolute nature. The story is set in a fictional kingdom that takes inspiration from the Three Kingdoms period of Korea, around 57 BC to 668 AD.
She lives a pampered life before being forced to flee from her home, the Hyriuu Castle. This will change her life and she will begin to learn all sorts of combat techniques from Hak, including archery and swordsmanship.
The plot is compelling and stars a very interesting protagonist, that starts as innocent and pure. Throughout the story, Yona will start to understand how the world really works, especially her kingdom.
This realization allowed her to be independent and experience one of the best female character development in the entire medium.
Since the female lead is quite strong, it only makes sense to watch it if you love reverse harem shows.
1. Princess Mononoke
A movie by Studio Ghibli from 1997, Princess Mononoke is quite famous and deals with environmental and spiritual themes.
We can summarize this production by saying that it’s about the contrast between nature and humanity, a quite current theme right now. All of that in a pleasant fantasy setting tracing back to the late Muromachi period in Japan.
The titular Princess Mononoke is called San, a young girl who was raised by wolves and he feels distrust and hatred toward humans.
She will eventually come around and start to feel different toward Ashitaka, another main character who goes out of his way to defend and save his people.
This process is what we can define as her humanization because she is introduced as a warrior-princess who is closer to animals rather than people.
Her stubborn and adamant behavior will change as she gets to know and appreciate the presence of Ashitaka.