101 candidates, over 275,000 votes, and three characters from one series in the top 4.

Manga anthology Weekly Shonen Sunday has been in publication for more than 60 years. The magazine is the home of some of Japan’s most popular manga series from both the past and present, which in turn makes it the home of many of the fan community’s best-loved female characters.

But who’s the best of the best? That’s the question at the heart of a survey recently conducted by internet portal Comic Natalie, which it dubbed the Shonen Sunday and Sunday Web Every Heroine General Election (it’s worth noting that within the Japanese anime industry, “heroine” is used to describe prominent female characters in a work of fiction regardless of whether or not they take part in any epically heroic deeds).

To initially pare down the field, Comic Natalie selected 101 candidates from series that debuted in Shonen Sunday between 1980 and 2023. They then collected roughly 275,000 votes over a 10-day period. They’ve now released the results, and while voters had plenty of options to choose from, there’s one series that really dominated the highest part of the list, as we’ll see as we look at the top 10.

10. Aoi Nogami (Zettai Karen Children a.k.a. Psychic Squad)
9. Lum (Urusei Yatsura)
8. Princess Syalis (Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle)
7. Miku (Aishiteiru Game wo Owarasetai)

Aishiteiru Game wo Owarasetai’s Miku, on the right.

We start things off with an eclectic mix in this block. Aoi Nogami hails from a series that was intensely popular in the late 2000s, but whose active fandom has now largely faded. Princess Sylais is the persistently drowsy heroine of a sleeper hit, and Miku is one half of a will-they-or-won’t-they pair of childhood friends in a romantic high school comedy that only debuted in Shonen Sunday about a year and a half ago.

Lum, on the other hand, is the one character in this section of the rankings that pretty much any anime/manga fan in Japan would instantly recognize and know by name. She’s one of five female character from manga creator Rumiko Takahashi to make the top 30, the others being Mao’s Kiba Nanoka, Rinne’s Sakura Mamiya, Ranma 1/2’s Akane Tendo, and one other character we’ll be seeing a little later on (and for any fans of Takahashi’s Maison Ikkoku who might be wondering where its female lead Kyoko Otonashi ended up, she wasn’t eligible for the poll, as Maison Ikkoku ran in a different anthology, not Shonen Sunday).

6. Kanon Nakagawa (The World God Only Knows)
5. Nazuna Nanausa (Yofukashi no Uta)
4. Ayumi Yoshida (Detective Conan a.k.a. Case Closed)
3. Kagome Higurashi (Inuyasha)

▼ Kanon Nakazawa, appearing as a promotional standee at the real-world Ise-Nakagawa Station in Mie Prefecture

Like Zettai Karen Children, harem comedy The World Only God Knows is a series that doesn’t get a lot of mainstream attention now that it’s over, but back in its early 2010s heyday Kanon Nakagawa stood out from the rest of the sizable female cast enough to get her own magical girl spinoff manga and OVA anime.

Also, as promised, we’ve got our fifth Rumiko Takahashi heroine with schoolgirl-turned-adventurer Kagome, and our first appearance by a Detective Conan character, child sleuth Ayumi Yoshida…

2. Ai Haibara (Detective Conan)

…but not the last, as at number two on the list we come to Ai Haibara, who shares the titular Conan’s dilemma of being trapped in a child’s body.

▼ Ayumi Yoshida (with the hairband) and Ai Haibara


Conan’s not done yet, either, because…

1. Ran Mori (Detective Conan)

…at the very top, beating out all 100 other candidates in the poll, is Ran Mori, Conan’s childhood friend (from his original childhood).

Ran’s place atop the poll means that three of the top four spots are occupied by Detective Conan characters. While the series may not have had much success in English-speaking markets, Detective Conan really is a pop culture juggernaut in Japan. The manga began publication since 1994 and its adapted anime TV series started airing in 1996, both of which continue to this day, and since 1997, there’s been at least one Conan anime movie a year, if not two. While murders and terrorist plots may not be considered kid-friendly plot points in the U.S., Japan’s extremely low violent crime rates mean most parents don’t have any qualms about letting their children start reading Conan at a young age, either.

▼ The top 10

So while it may not inspire the same sort of intense devotion to its female characters that other more lascivious or otherwise otaku-oriented series often do, there’s a pretty safe bet that if you became a manga fan in Japan at any point over the last 30 years, you’ve read a good amount of Detective Conan, and the constantly strong and supportive Ran being the one most fans latch on to is pretty easy to understand, even if she also showed up in the rankings for anime and manga’s most bizarre hairstyles.

Source: Shonen Sunday via Comic Natalie via Hachima Kiko
Top image ©SoraNews24
Insert image: Shonen Sunday
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s sad to see Patlabor’s Noa didn’t crack the top 30 (even though he would have voted for Kanuka).