In the anime industry, it is both convenient and fun to categorize anime characters according to their personalities, their general behavior, their ways of showing love, and a whole lot more. Examples include archetypes such as tsundere and yandere, but there’s more, such as the concept of gap moe, which is based on two components.
If a character’s adorable moe personality contrasts sharply with their appearance or lifestyle, that makes them a gap moe character. Often, the gap moe character’s warm personality appears only after the character makes a brutal or frightening first impression. Gap moe characters help prove that appearances can indeed be deceiving.
10 Mikey Is Still Just A Kid (Tokyo Revengers)
Majiro Sano, better known by his nickname Mikey, is a fine example of gap moe in modern anime. He is a tough, reckless delinquent who commands the entire Toman youth gang with shows of extreme violence and a menacing aura, but in the end, he’s still a 14-year-old boy underneath it all.
For all his brutal antics, Mikey is still a fun-loving kid who can’t deny his own youthful tendencies. He can be amusingly naive and juvenile when he’s not picking fights, and at times, he seems downright wholesome. This is especially true when he’s hanging out with his friend Draken.
9 Veldora Is A Cuddly Dragon (That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime)
Veldora was once feared as the invincible storm dragon, but then the female masked Hero sealed him away in a cave, which gave Veldora a chance to cool off and reflect on his life. By the time Rimuru Tempest met him, Veldora had become pretty laid-back, despite his size and pride as a dragon.
Veldora had become a tsundere by then, and it was so heart-warming to see this former destroyer of worlds acting like a bashful, stubborn teenager. It made for some great gap moe, and later, Veldora got reborn with his own human body.
8 Tatsu Traded Crime For Groceries (The Way Of The Househusband)
Tatsu was once a fearsome Yakuza thug, but after nearly getting himself killed, the “immortal dragon” re-entered mainstream society as a wholesome homemaker. His businesswoman wife Miku can come home every day after work to freshly-laundered clothes, a sparkling-clean kitchen, and a hot dinner waiting for her.
Tatsu isn’t exactly forcing himself to do this. He greatly enjoys being a homemaker living an honest lifestyle, though he hasn’t yet shaken the habit of talking tough about “the goods” and “my turf.” Nearly everyone is pleasantly surprised when he explains his lifestyle to them, too.
7 Toru Kirishima Is Another Good-Hearted Mobster (The Yakuza’s Guide To Babysitting)
Toru Kirishima is a lot like Tatsu, though they do have a few differences as well, such as the fact that Toru didn’t actually quit the life of organized crime to embrace his gap moe side. But he is also a scary-looking tough guy who is actually much kinder and more introverted than one might think.
Toru is also a great babysitter for the boss’s daughter, Yaeka Sakuragi. Toru is afraid he’s out of his depth and admitted that to Yaeka, and the little lady sympathized with him. Even if Toru loves beating people up, he also takes his babysitting job seriously and will protect Yaeka’s happiness from all threats.
6 Katarina Claes Is A Goofball Bad Girl (My Next Life As A Villainess)
The original antagonist of the Fortune Lover otome game is the spoiled wannabe princess Katarina Claes, and she certainly looks villainous, too. She has a cruel smirk on her face and dresses like royalty despite being a terrible student, and of course, she tormented Maria Campbell without mercy.
But all that changed. Katarina got reborn as an isekai protagonist, and despite her appearance and background not changing, she is now a warm-hearted, innocent and goofy lady who just wants to make everyone happy. She’s gone from bullying Maria to embracing her as a dear friend.
5 Kenpachi Zaraki Is The Best Foster Dad (Bleach)
Captain Kenpachi Zaraki is a total tsundere of a warrior, but he also has his gap moe side because his brutal appearance contrasts so sharply with his foster dad side. In his pre-Soul Reaper days, Kenpachi met a young orphan girl and unofficially adopted her. He even gave her a name: Yachiru.
They’ve been inseparable ever since, and Kenpachi is highly protective of his new child, which makes him gap moe in all kinds of ways. He also tends to get humorously lost when trying to find the battlefield, and he’ll even listen to Yachiru’s equally bad directions.
4 Inosuke Hashibira Has A Pretty Face (Demon Slayer)
The helmet-wearing Inosuke Hashibira is a wild demon slayer who was raised by animals, and he is notorious for his competitive, aggressive nature, too. However, Inosuke wasn’t so scary when Tanjiro and Zenitsu got to know him. Under that board helmet, for example, is a charming face.
Inosuke would rather keep that side of him hidden, but he also cannot hide his personalities better traits. He may be boorish and rough, but he also loves it when Tanjiro praises him, and he openly wept when Kyojuro Rengoku was killed. He may act tough, but he’s a nice guy after all.
3 Killua Zoldyck Is A Kid After All (Hunter X Hunter)
Killua Zoldyck is pretty scary for a 12-year-old boy. He is a trained assassin who can tear a grown man’s heart out in an eyeblink, and he can be pretty cool and menacing when he wants to be. But like Mikey, Killua is a good-hearted punk who can’t help acting his age at times.
Killua is bloody and deadly one moment, then the next, he has a goofy “cat boy” face and is goofing off with his best friend, Gon Freecss, without a care in the world. He is also quite fond of toys such as skateboards, and he loves candy too, such as chocolate bars.
2 Guts Only Wanted True Friends (Berserk)
Like Kenpachi, Guts the black swordsman is a tough guy on the outside and a softie on the inside, though he also bears some mental scars that shaped his worldview. For all his talk about being a cursed loner, Guts actually longs for the power of friendship. He’s not alone because he wants to be.
Guts is hugely motivated by having friends by his side, and he is almost like a big brother to Schierke and Isidro. Guts is also a tender and heartfelt lover with Casca, contrasting with an exterior that suggests he has no time for love. On the contrary, love and friendship make him stronger than his anger and sword combined.
1 Loid Forger Is A Spy Turned Foster Dad (Spy X Family)
Just like Toru Kirishima, the Westalis spy calling himself Loid Forger is a fighter turned foster dad, and it’s a great look for him. He’s not a thug or delinquent, but then again, his tragic background and hardcore spy persona would suggest that he’s got no time for a wife and kids.
However, his new mission in Ostania calls for a family, and he married Yor Briar and adopted the adorable telepath Anya Forger to become the perfect fake family man. And despite himself, Loid is fond of his new family and highly protective of Anya, a sentiment his wife shares.
NEXT: The 10 Most Moe Anime Characters Of All Time, Ranked