Japan has a long and storied history of producing some of the most iconic and beloved superheroes in the world. From the classic manga and anime heroes of the past to the modern-day blockbuster superheroes of Marvel and DC, Japan has always been a hub for superhero culture. But what happens when we combine the best of both worlds? In this article, we’ll be taking a look at 30 of the greatest Japanese superheroes from Marvel and DC comics.
1. Nico Minoru – Sister Grimm
Nico Minoru, formerly known as Sister Grimm, is a member of a group of teenagers called “Runaways” who discover their parents are part of a secret organization called the Pride. The Pride serves mystical beings known as the Gibborim, and they require an annual sacrifice to gain the power to destroy mankind.
Nico and her friends decide to stop this plan and confront their parents, but their teammate Alex reveals himself to be on their parents’ side. Despite harboring feelings for Alex, Nico declines his invitation to join him, and their parents sacrifice themselves to save their kids.
2. Mai Miyazaki – Naiad
This Firestorm villain started out as Mai Miyazaki, a staunch environmentalist who wanted to do everything in her power to stop the spread of humanity’s pollution. Born without any kind of superpowers under the name Mai Miyazaki, Naiad was transformed into a water elemental when she was set on fire by employees of Shogun Oil Company. Soon after waking up, her madness consumed her, and due to her past scars and traumas, she attacked Firestorm, who found himself on her path of vengeance.
3. Tatsu Yamashiro – Katana
Katana is perhaps among the most popular antiheroes in the DC comics universe. Katana, born under the name of Tatsu, was a successful Olympic-level martial artist with superb agility, reflexes, and balance. When she decided to retire from her martial arts career, she soon met and fell in love with Maseo Yamashiro. Getting married, his problems became her own, and this meant Maseo’s murderous brother, Takeo.
Takeo was jealous of the relationship between Tatsu and Maseo, especially when their two daughters were born. Even though Maseo and Tatsu tried to hide, Takeo caught up with them. Using the ancient and powerful blade Soultaker, Takeo massacred Maseo and Tatsu’s daughters. At the time, Tatsu didn’t realize that the Soultaker sword was enchanted, and just as Takeo was about to finish her off, Soultaker chose Tatsu as its next wielder. Tatsu soon realized that the souls of every person that the sword had even slain were trapped within the blade. She assumed the mantle of Katana and rose in the ranks of DC’s iconic antiheroes.
4. Toshiro Misawa – Fuji
Toshiro Misawa was born in Japan, and due to his peculiar size and strength, he was on his way to becoming a successful sumo wrestler when he developed a bizarre disease that resulted in his body structure deteriorating. Since his father was a rich businessman, he did everything in his power to cure his son of this strange condition, and that is how he came into contact with Stormwatch, which managed to contain Toshiro’s no longer human body structure. Currently, Toshiro cannot live outside his special suit since he is made out of pure energy.
5. Leyu Yoshida – Sunpyre
Sunpyre is the sister of another famous Marvel mutant, Sunfire. Leyu can absorb solar radiation and, with it, produce deadly and destructive energy blasts. She is likewise capable of flying. Over the course of the years, Sunpyra worked with X-Men and X-Corps until eventually joining Big Hero 6.
6. Ryoko Sabuki – Radiance
Ryoko Sabuki, better known under her alias Radiance, is the granddaughter of another famous Japanese Marvel heroine, Gwendolyne Sabuki, aka Golden Girl. Radiance has powers similar to Monica Rambeau in that she can utilize different wavelengths of light and other forms of photonic energy to produce powerful blasts. She came into conflict with S.H.I.E.L.D. due to a misinterpreted vision related to the bombing of Hiroshima during World War II.
7. Eiko Hasigawa – Catwoman
After Selina Kyle retired, Eiko Hasigawa heiress to the Hasigawa Family branch of the Yakuza, was aware of the fact and briefly took over both the costume and the hooded identity of this legendary DC comics character. Eiko had the same powers and abilities as the original Catwoman, and eventually, Selina figured out that something was up. When Selina realized that Eiko had taken over her identity and her extra activities, the two joined forces to manipulate Gotham’s crime families to do good for once instead of bringing chaos.
8. Master Izo
Izo was one of the founding members of the Hand, a martial arts organization led by a blind martial artist named Kagenobu Yoshioka, several hundred years ago in Japan. Izo blinded himself to develop a radar sense and see the world as Yoshioka did. However, he left the Hand after Yoshioka’s death as it became darker and more dangerous. Izo founded a rival group, the Chaste, to combat the Hand, but was later thrown out by his students for his excessive drinking and gambling.
9. Hisako Ichiki – Armor
Hisako Ichiki was born in Japan and lived a relatively peaceful life until she developed strange mutant powers. After that, she joined Xavier’s mutant school and formed close relationships with its many students there. Hisaki Ichiki owns her alias “Armor” to her unique powers, as she can form a psionic exoskeleton around her that offers her an unprecedented degree of protection from harm. She is likewise superhumanly strong and can generate extremely powerful energy blasts.
10. Keniuchio Harada – Silver Samurai
Silver Samurai, a mutant, mastered the disciplines of a samurai and worked for criminals like Mandrill and Hydra’s agent, the Viper. After his father’s death, Harada sought to lead the Clan Yashida but was opposed by Wolverine and his half-sister Mariko Yashida. He often likewise clashed with Daredevil, but briefly, he was employed by Big Hero Six until reverting back to his mercenary and villainous ways. Even though Keniuchio is an extremely talented martial artist, he can rely on his mutant powers and generate a tachyon energy field from within his body.
11. Ryuku Orsono – Bushido
Ryuko Orsono was a teenage bushidoka who aimed to avenge his mother’s death by slaying the demon Tengu. He was armed with ancient weaponry that had the spirit of his ancestors, including his mother. When he encountered the Tengu, he attempted to decapitate him by attacking the possessed Beast Boy, but the Teen Titans intervened, leading to a battle between them and the Tengu’s goblin brethren.
Ryuko managed to force the Tengu to leave Beast Boy and fled the scene while the Titans helped Beast Boy recover. Even though the first time he met Teen Titans, he almost fought them; he still attempted to join them in the future until joining an improvised Teen Titans group. Bushido relies on his extremely developed combat skills and his masterful array of powerful spirit-infused weapons ranging from Naginata to pistols.
12. Jennifer Takeda – Hazmat
Jennifer found that she has superpowers in quite a tragic way. One day she was kissing her boyfriend when he seemingly fell into a coma. It was soon discovered that Jennifer Takeda was the source of the radiation that harmed him so grievously. After the media found out about her case, she was kidnapped by Norman Osbourn, who tampered with her powers and made them even more potent.
When she returned, she accidentally leaked radiation, and due to this, her family got sick from all the radiation. Hank Pym invited her to join the Avengers. The only catch is that she needs to wear her Hazmat suit at all times to avoid exposing others to radiation and hence where her name comes from. She eventually learned how to control the radiation and currently doesn’t need a protective suit.
13. Shiro Yoshida – Sunfire
Shiro Yoshida’s powers awakened when he was visiting the ruins of Hiroshima. Shiro’s family had a difficult relationship with the vest, and due to his mother’s status of being a survivor of the Hiroshima bombings, he embraced his family’s nationalist views as well. His uncle was the one that trained him and thought of the whole “Sunfire” persona that embodied Japan’s color and the “rising sun” mentality.
Sunfire initially refused to join the X-Men due to his nationalist views but later became an ally of the team. He has also been a member of other superhero teams, including Big Hero 6. Over the years, Sunfire has risen to the top, being one of Japan’s prime superheroes.
14. Isuma Yasunari – Rising Sun
Izumi Yasunari is a Japanese solar physicist and a member of the Global Guardians. His family has been affected by cancer, with his grandparents dying from the after-effects of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and his mother surviving the disease. Izumi and his brother became doctors specializing in cancer research, while their sister joined a religious cult.
He is also a founding member of the Big Science Action, a team that was formed to defend Ultimon from the Monster Army. When it comes to his powers and abilities, DC’s Rising Sun is yet another superhero that has the ability to absorb and utilize the sun’s energy.
15. Miya Shimada – Tsunami
Even though Miya was born in the United States, her parents were native Japanese. Miya grew up in the United States during a time that was rife with prejudice and conflict at the start of World War II. She briefly returned “home” to Japan when he powers manifested; she was able to manipulate and generate powerful waves with nothing but her mind. The Japanese government used her during the war to deal some damage to the United States, something that Miya eventually deeply regretted.
16. Helen Takahama – Jolt
Helen Takahama was born an ordinary girl that grew up surrounded by her loving family. Everything changed with the coming of Onslaught, which murdered her parents. Armin Zola used this opportunity to acquire fresh study subjects; Helen Takahama was sadly among them. His genetic experiments transformed Helen from the inside out, making her faster, stronger, and more durable and giving her strange superhuman powers that mostly focus on absorbing and manipulating energy.
Over the course of the existence of the character, Jolt was a part of many superhero teams, including Thunderbolts, Redeemers, and currently, Young Allies.
17. Kwannon – Psylocke
Kwannon was raised by the Hand as an assassin ninja and worked as one of Japan’s top enforcers, but later abandoned the organization and became the operative of crime boss Lord Nyoirin. She was in a romantic relationship with Matsu’o Tsurayaba, a Hand assassin, but after a battle with him, she was left comatose, and the Hand switched her body with that of Betsy Braddock, also known as Psylocke.
Confused and believing she was Braddock, she took the name Revanche and joined the X-Men, but after discovering her true identity, she was mercy-killed by Tsurayaba at her request. Braddock continued to live in Kwannon’s body, but when Braddock was killed, she rebuilt her original body, and Kwannon was revived in her own body.
18. Takeshi Matsuya – Wiz-Kid
Takeshi Matsuya had no idea that he was a mutant until he lost his parents in a car accident, during which he became paralyzed and lost his legs. After the accident, Takeshi was depressed and further isolated himself. This was when he started tinkering with various devices and discovered his peculiar mutant ability.
He was able to technoform the devices he was working on, and they were able to function according to his exact specification even though he wasn’t exactly sure how they worked or they worked contrary to natural laws and laws of physics. Takeshi, nicknamed “Wiz-Kid,” eventually joined X-Factor. Even though he never regained the use of his legs, he managed to build several types of chairs, which made moving easier.
19. Michiko Musashi – Turbo
Michiko Musashi acquired the Torpedo suit by accident. She attended the comic book convention in it for the first time, and this was when she discovered what she could do with it as well due to the merciless onslaught of the aliens that Michiko successfully repelled. Her Turbo armor is the source of all her powers giving her flying abilities, superhuman speed, and enough energy to conjure incredibly potent and destructive blasts. Turbo was affiliated with many superhero teams over the years. She was a part of Avengers Academy, Loners, and most famously, New Warriors.
20. Noriko Ashida – Surge
Noriko Ashida, more famously known under her alias Surge, is a mutant with a tragic story. Her powers manifested as incredibly destructive as she was able to absorb and produce incredibly powerful electric shocks and achieve speeds that go well beyond even superhuman limits.
Originally Noriko was born in Japan, but after her powers manifested, she left home due to falling out with her father, who never believed in mutants. She eventually came to the United States and attempted to join Xavier’s school, but she was rejected due to being homeless. Over the course of the years, she was considered to be an extreme threat due to her difficulty when it came to controlling her powers.
21. Gwendolyne Sabuki – Golden Woman
During World War II, Gwenny Lou Sabuki and her father, Dr. Sam Sabuki, were kidnapped by Agent Axis, a superpowered operative for the Axis powers, from a Japanese-American relocation camp. During a battle with sidekicks Bucky Barnes and Toro, Gwenny Lou and her friend Davey Mitchell gained superpowers after an explosion caused by one of Sam Sabuki’s machines. She became Golden Girl and had the power to generate light and energy, while Mitchell became the Human Top.
The four young heroes defeated Agent Axis and formed the Kid Commandos with Bucky and Toro, allied with the adult Invaders. After the war, Gwenny Lou helped establish the post-war version of the British superhero team, the V-Battalion. She later changed her superhero name to Golden Woman before dying in 1961. Her son became the superhero Golden Sun, and her granddaughters became Goldfire and Radiance.
22. Aiko Miyazaki – Honey Lemon
Honey Lemon played a crucial role in the creation of the Power Purse. With this purse, she could access an alternate dimension from which she could retrieve various objects for her use. Later on, Honey Lemon was recruited by the Japanese organization that created the Big Hero Six, the first superhero team in Japan.
The Power Purse created by Honey Lemon has a unique design and allows her to retrieve various objects that she can use in her superhero work. Additionally, her expertise in chemistry and engineering also contribute to her team’s success.
23. Kioshi Keishicho – Ebon Samurai
The Ebon Samurai is a formidable warrior with advanced martial arts skills and a powerful suit of armor that enhances his strength and durability. He has a deep hatred for the Silver Samurai, who he blames for his death, and is willing to do whatever it takes to get his revenge. Despite his dark past, Kioshi is also an honorable warrior who values loyalty and respect, making him a valuable member of the Big Hero 6 team.
24. Takeo Sato – Sunburst
Takeo Sato was born and raised in a village near an active volcano, which caused his body chemistry to be altered and gain the ability to absorb and project solar energy. He became a famous actor portraying the role of Sunburst in movies, but his powers were unknown to him until later in life. When criminals kidnaped his parents, Takeo was blackmailed into committing crimes for them, but his actions eventually led him to cross paths with another Japanese superhero Rising Sun, who helped him save his parents.
Despite not knowing about his powers for most of his life, Takeo quickly gained celebrity status once his abilities were revealed, thanks to his previous career as an actor. His encounter with Rising Sun marked a turning point in his life, as he realized the potential he had to use his powers for good. After saving his parents with the help of Rising Sun, Takeo became determined to use his powers to fight crime and protect the innocent.
25. Leiko Tanaka – Go-Go Tomago
Leiko Tanaka is yet another superhero member of the Big Hero 6. Most of Leiko’s superpowers are derived from her suit, which allows her to absorb and utilize kinetic energy. Her suit is activated with famous words that have become her alias over time “Go-Go Tomago.” Leiko is one of the most energetic and aggressive members of the team, and prior to becoming a respected member of Big Hero 6, she had a connection to the criminal world, which led to her arrest. She decided to join the superhero team instead of serving jail time, and the rest is history.
26. Wasabi-No Ginger
Wasabi-No Ginger is a superpowered sushi chef, capable of utilizing his Qi and releasing it in highly destructive energy pulses. Like our previous superhero, Wasabi-No Ginger is likewise a member of Big Hero 6. His chef skills transfer magnificently to swordsmanship, as he is known to be among the finest armed combatants in the team.
27. Riki Kimura – Junior Waveman Kimura
Riki Kimura’s family died at sea leaving him an orphan. Fortunately, he was rescued by a group known as the Wavemen, and their leader, Senior Waveman Otomo, adopted him. The Wavemen, a group of undersea adventurers, taught Riki how to survive in the ocean and how to use various underwater technologies. With his new family, Riki became a skilled underwater warrior and explorer, fighting against underwater threats and discovering new worlds. Riki Kimura eventually joined DC’s Big Science Action superhero team.
28. Kim Kimura – Shiny Happy Aquazon
If the last name sounds familiar, you’re not mistaken. Kim Kimura is the daughter of the above-mentioned Riki Kimura. Due to her father being one of Japan’s prime superheroes, she tried to achieve similar fame over the years. She failed until she happened upon Mister Miracle and Sonny Sumo in danger and helped save their lives. Like her father, Kim Kimura is amphibious and capable of surviving in water for extended periods of time.
29. Daken – Fang
Akihiro, also known as Daken, was the son of Wolverine and his Japanese wife Itsu. After his mother was murdered and he was cut from her womb by Romulus, Akihiro was left on the doorstep of a wealthy Japanese couple who adopted and raised him as their own. However, Akihiro’s mixed heritage made him an outcast, and he developed a cold persona.
As he grew up, Akihiro’s pheromone powers manifested, causing others to mimic his moods. When Akihiro’s adoptive mother had a biological child, he killed the baby and was disowned by his father, leading to a tragic chain of events that resulted in his father’s suicide and his encounter with Romulus.
30. Kimiyo Hoshi – Dr. Light
Kimiyo Hoshi was a supervising astronomer in Japan when a beam of energy struck her from the Monitor, which granted her photon-based powers. She became Doctor Light, assigned to guard one of the vibrational forks required to save the Earth from the encroaching antimatter cloud of the Anti-Monitor. Despite struggling to communicate with the heroes assigned to help her, she accompanied them to the Antimatter Universe to confront the villain. She realized her own selfishness when Supergirl sacrificed herself to save her and resolved to change.
Later, she absorbed the energy of a gigantic star to blast a hole through the Anti-Monitor in a final battle with a force of heroes. As a member of the Justice League Europe and briefly the Doom Patrol, she formed a significant romantic relationship with the Rising Sun, a member of the Global Guardians.