10 anime child soldiers who had no one to rely on

Several examples of anime child soldiers (Images via White Fox, Bones, Kyoto Animation and MAPPA)
Several examples of anime child soldiers (Images via White Fox, Bones, Kyoto Animation and MAPPA)

There is no shortage of anime child soldiers across the vast multiverse. From Attack on Titan's Scouts to the EVA trio from Neon Genesis Evangelion, anime child soldiers have jobs ranging from mecha pilots to monster slayers and even ninjas. There is a certain debate on how ethical or desirable its depiction is, but that's an entirely different argument.

Despite seeming solitary, there are a lot of anime child soldiers that have more than a few people to lean on and rely on. Eren Yeager still had Mikasa, Armin, and the rest of the Scouts. Shinji Ikari still had all of NERV, plus Misato, Asuka, and Rei. It can be difficult to talk about anime child soldiers who had nobody there for them, given how this period is usually the backstory and not the main plot.

That being said, there are several examples of anime child soldiers like Guts from Berserk who were originally alone, and the audience gets to see that unfold.

Disclaimer: The following article will contain spoilers for all the anime listed. All opinions are exclusive to the author. Content warnings included for mature-rated material, including war crimes, s**ual assault, and grievous harm to minors.


Several anime child soldiers who had nobody to help them

1) Guts (Berserk)

Berserk contains some of the examples of anime child soldiers, but protagonist Guts is a highlight. Guts' life began as an infant left to die beneath his mother's lynched corpse but was saved by a mercenary group led by a man named Gambino. His surrogate mother, Shisu, died of the plague when Guts was three.

When Guts was six, he was ambushed and r***d by a mercenary named Donovan. Even after killing Donovan, things don't get any better since Gambino physically and verbally abuses Guts and confesses he sold him to Donovan. Guts killing Gambino in self-defense only made everyone else in that mercenary group drive Guts out.

Even finally finding a best friend in Griffith and a potential love interest in Casca did little for Guts, as he spent a long time alone and through betrayal after betrayal. Griffith turned on him likewise with the Eclipse, but Guts making a band all his own helped him turn around.


2) Denji (Chainsaw Man)

Denji and Pochita in Chainsaw Man (Image via Studio MAPPA)
Denji and Pochita in Chainsaw Man (Image via Studio MAPPA)

Although Denji had Aki and Tokyo Special Division Four, he wasn't always that blessed. Denji's life before being "recruited" by Makima was pure hell, as he was forced into doing whatever he could to scrape out any kind of payment to the Yakuza owing to his father killing himself and the Yakuza transferring his mom's medical debt to him.

This resulted in a severely socially awkward teen who was on the verge of selling several major organs, including his eye, liver, and possibly privates, to make money. When he was betrayed and merged unknowingly with Pochita, he found himself as the titular Chainsaw Man, sliced up the zombified Yakuza men to death, and killed the Zombie Devil.

While being in Makima's "care" would normally disqualify Denji, that wasn't truly "caring" for Denji as much as it was saddling him with someone else and using him to access Pochita. He came to rely on Aki, Power, and others for help and support, but it took a while since the three anime child soldiers were considered nuisances to each other.


3) Gaara (Naruto)

Gaara, one of Naruto's Anime child soldiers (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Gaara, one of Naruto's Anime child soldiers (Image via Studio Pierrot)

Of all the cases of anime child soldiers in Naruto, it was hard to choose between Gaara, Sasuke, and Naruto. Gaara won out in the end due to being betrayed at nearly every turn by people who he thought loved him, having to be not only a Jinchuriki but also the child of the Kazekage, and being constantly targeted for assassination.

This would qualify him for this list alone; his backstory and past made him a target because he was implanted with the Shukaku since he was a baby. But nearly being killed multiple times over, even by his uncle Yashamaru, and never being able to die or get close to another person closed Gaara off from any emotion that wasn't anger, and he was used as a weapon by Orochimaru during the Konoha Crush.

If not for Naruto fighting and defeating Gaara in combat and subsequent rehabilitation by Kankuro and Temari, Gaara could've been worse. He became Kazekage during the time skip, and while he does rely on Kankuro and Temari, he wasn't that way for a long time.


4) Satsuki Kiriyuin (Kill la Kill)

Satsuki Kiriyuin, one of the unlikely anime child soldiers (Image via Studio Trigger)
Satsuki Kiriyuin, one of the unlikely anime child soldiers (Image via Studio Trigger)

The heir to the Kiriyuin Conglomerate in Kill la Kill, despite seeming like the most privileged person on Earth, was raised as one of the many anime child soldiers in the series. Satsuki Kiriyuin was groomed by her mother, Ragyo Kiriyuin, to be a host for Life Fibers and eventually end the world.

Before his disappearance, Sōichirō Kiryūin told a young Satsuki the truth about Ragyo and turned Satsuki against her mother. Satsuki set forth to eventually turn on her mother, gathering subordinates like the Elite Four and establishing Honnōji Academy.

Satsuki gathered everyone in the Elite Four by herself, either by defeating them in combat as with Uzu Sanageyama or helping them out of bad situations like Ira Gamagōri. While she had Mitsuzō Soroi, the loyal family butler, she wasn't necessarily reliant on anyone except her abilities to get things done.


5) Levi Ackerman (Attack on Titan)

Despite being humanity's strongest soldier in Attack on Titan, Levi didn't have a good life growing up. A son of a s*x worker named Kuchel Ackerman, Levi worked in the underground of the capital city of Mitras in Eldia as a child. While Kenny Ackerman, his uncle, rescued him from poverty, he just as quickly abandoned Levi after teaching him survival skills.

Before joining the Survey Corps, Levi worked as a thug in Mitras' underbelly. His inner power as a member of the Ackerman clan helped him tremendously against both the Titans and enemy humans, including Kenny later on in life. He's one of the only people to survive until the end of the series.

Everyone looked to Levi for guidance or assistance due to his exceptional combat abilities. He went from being an underprivileged kid to a world savior, almost entirely on his own, as his whole squad and mentor, Erwin Smith, died early on in the series.


6) Jonathan "Jonah" Mar (Jormungand)

Jonah, one of many anime child soldiers in Jormungand (Image via Studio White Fox)
Jonah, one of many anime child soldiers in Jormungand (Image via Studio White Fox)

The deuteragonist of Jormungand started life as a child soldier, so his inclusion in a list of anime child soldiers wasn't difficult. After his village was destroyed by armed mercenaries, he fought against the Russians in very hard guerrilla warfare as part of the Mountain Division.

What closed his heart off was seeing a friend and orphan, Malka, killed when probing for land mines. He killed the person responsible, destroyed the garrison that carried it out, and was captured by Kasper afterward. He became protagonist Koko Hekmaytar's bodyguard in exchange for orphans he had rescued getting help in Japan.

Thus began Jonah's journey with Koko's squad and the irony of hating weapons and those that sold them while working for an arms dealer. Working alongside the squad, he proves himself time and again but is extremely stoic and shows little emotion. Jonah is effectively Koko's squad's collective little brother, as he's the youngest member.


7) Violet Evergarden (Violet Evergarden)

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Former child soldiers finding a reason to live after the war or conflict is a longstanding trope. Being used and groomed as a weapon is something most anime child soldiers can relate to and go through at least once, and the titular Violet Evergarden is no exception.

Violet was found on a deserted island and was considered a terror, already being able to kill fully grown adults. Dietfried Bougainvillea recognized this and took her under his wing as a personal killing machine, and she was gifted to Major Gilbert. She was considered a weapon to point at the enemy and shoot. Gilbert saw her differently, trying to treat her with kindness.

When Gilbert died from injuries sustained in battle—the same that saw Violent's arms blown off—he told her he loved her and to find a free and happy life. Since that tumultuous time in her life, she has worked at the CH Postal Company as an Auto-Memories Doll. Thus began her lifelong journey to understand the meaning of love.


8) Crona (Soul Eater)

Crona in Soul Eater (Image via Studio Bones)
Crona in Soul Eater (Image via Studio Bones)

When the entire purpose of one's existence is simply to be a weapon and is raised as such, it can be extremely difficult for anime child soldiers to do anything else. Crona from Soul Eater is an extreme example of this. Similar to Satsuki, Crona was raised as a weapon and meister of the demon sword Ragnarok in hopes of becoming a demon god or Kishin.

Despite Crona's fate being different in both the anime and manga, their backstory is roughly the same in both versions. They were denied any kind of warmth and friendship when they were created, even being forced to raise a pet and kill it to "teach" them to be a better killer and having their blood replaced with Black Blood.

While this gave them a tremendous amount of power, it also gave them excessive amounts of anxiety and pessimism. They mention a great many times that they cannot deal with situations and will very often shut down in stressful situations. That being said, regardless of the version, they do end up forming genuine friendships with Maka Albarn and Soul, and it was enough to make them break out of Medusa's conditioning.


9) Scar (Fullmetal Alchemist:Brotherhood)

Scar from Fullmetal Alchemist:Brotherhood (Image via Studio Bones)
Scar from Fullmetal Alchemist:Brotherhood (Image via Studio Bones)

The man known as Scar fits the list of anime child soldiers perfectly, as he was caught in the middle of the Ishvalan Civil War, aka the Ishvalan War of Extermination. Scar's problems with Amestris started early, his distrust festering with the atrocities committed by the Amestrian military and the practice of alchemy that his older brother embraced.

The boiling point for Scar came when Red Lotus Alchemist Solf J. Kimblee destroyed his home, killed his family, and forced his older brother to use his skills to transfer his right arm to Scar's body at the cost of his own life. Scar began his revenge spree by killing Winry Rockbell's parents, despite them nursing him back to health, since he saw all Amestrians as the enemy.

He had no one to lean on or rely on after running into the desert and witnessing Ishval's destruction. He would learn to survive on his own before he started killing State Alchemists. It would take some time for Scar's hatred to cool, as Fullmetal Alchemist:Brotherhood showed in flashbacks and real-time.


10) Char Aznable (Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin and 0079)

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Casval Rem Deikun was one of many anime child soldiers born into a world of conflict, with his father narrowly escaping death by car bomb at the time of the character's birth. His father would die of a heart attack years later during a speech advocating for independence. The Deikun family's closest friends, the Zabi family, attempted to kill Casval and his sister Artesia multiple times, including when Casval used a Guntank against them.

After being smuggled off of Side 3 thanks to Ramba Ral, the two found themselves in the care of the Mass family. Despite having a nice family, Casval did not take to domesticity and violently murdered two assassins and beat down a man because he was being followed after his mother's death.

He became The Red Comet of Zeon while working to slay the Zabi family from behind the scenes, using treacherous means like letting Garma believe the Gundam went back to White Base, causing his death, or not informing his squadmates of Lino being in a tank, causing his death via friendly fire. Char's path of revenge would continue from Mobile Suit Gundam to Zeta Gundam, eventually culminating in cynicism so great that he attempted to render Earth uninhabitable in Char's Counterattack.


A brief note should be made about anime child soldiers: they usually begin or have the idea of never being able to rely on anyone in the beginning of their series but will slowly defrost over time. This counts whether they are heroes or villains, and only if they're open to the idea of people helping them.

Sometimes anime child soldiers will genuinely have nobody to rely on, or only realize it after a major life crisis or problem. Casval didn't truly have anyone except Lalah Sune, and he got her killed. Satsuki recognized the Elite Four as confidants and later as friends.

All this is to say that, even with anime child soldiers, children deserve better than being used as weapons or tools of war.

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