The welcome return of Kino’s Journey got us mulling over our favourite bikers in anime, of which there are a fair few. But certain characters who burn the rubber exude the real thrill of the ride, bringing an extra dimension of excitement to watching them on screen. My dad being a biker, I’ve known the terror and then the exhilaration of running headlong into the wind and feeling it steal your breath away. It’s a feeling quite unlike any other, and so you start to feel a kinship with anyone who’s shared it with you, even if they’re 2D.
Let loose your rebel soul as you read this list of the best anime bikers, in our most humble opinion.
Kaneda Shotaro – Akira
Kaneda’s determination is expressed through his bike and how he rides, the vehicle an extension of the soul of the rider. His pure kinetic energy, leaving trails of tail light glow through the streets of Neo-Tokyo, gives the film itself constant bursts of adrenaline. He might be a bit of a show-off, but his rebellious ego is clearly the shield for a heart of gold as he puts his life on the line to rescue his friend Tetsuo when he’s taken for his esper powers
Celty Sturluson – Durarara!!
She cuts the coolest figure on her Dullahan’s headless steed, masquerading as the wheels that always get her where she’s needed. True to her faery nature, though she’s seen as a dangerous troublemaker she’s compelled to go to the aid of any soul in distress. And you can be sure she’ll get there in great style, bombing down the highway and turning tricks as if she had wings.
Eikichi Onizuka – Great Teacher Onizuka
It’s a shame we don’t get to see this guy on his bike much, because those rare times we do show the full strength of his character. When he comes roaring up to save a student from a gang of thugs, we’d like to think it wasn’t mostly to impress her. Wayward and perverted he may be, but as an unlikely teacher his laidback attitude lends itself to the job – maybe because he knows exactly how to let loose, and the value of retaining a youthful rebel spirit.
Nagare Akiba – Ushio and Tora
This serene and cheerful individual, true to his calling as a monk, rails against the aggression of the biker stereotype, and we love him all the more for it. He was considered a candidate for the Beast Spear which found its way into Ushio’s hands, but it’s testament to his honourable heart that he recognises the kid’s worthiness to wield the spear. It seems he rides for a taste of danger, as he easily wins out in most any conflict – his wheels, then, a signifier of his existential boredom.
Michiko – Michiko and Hatchin
Escaped from prison and on the search for her lost love, Michiko’s motorcycle is an extension of her drifting heart. With no place to call home, she comes to find that warmth in Hatchin, a young girl she rescues from an abusive foster home. Besides being hilarious, she’s an empowering action heroine, befitting director Sayo Yamamoto’s intention of creating a show for working women to kick back with a beer and switch on. We need more sexy, vulnerable, take-no-crap female characters like her, own hogs a bonus.
Honourable mention: Hane Sakura – Bakuon!!
Hane grabs the honourable mention because, though she’s a flyaway behind the handlebars to the point of hazard, she is exactly how I would be on a bike. Revelling in the sheer joy of riding with friends and making a point of appreciating the natural beauty along the road, I’d be part of her ride-out crew any day.
With that, we’ll ride off down the open highway into the sunset and leave you to have your stand-offs over which biker is best. Is your favourite listed, or did we miss them as they left us in the dust? Give them a shout in the comments below.