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When it comes to gods, anime series feature them in droves — just not always the kind that might immediately come to mind when you think the word "benevolent." Even so, there are a ton of religious figures in the vast expanse of anime.
From a catlike god with a penchant for trying new food to a god of death who watches humans mess about with his magical notebook, the medium is full of them, colorful, candid, and omnipotent.
We've rounded up five of the most iconic gods and goddesses of anime for a brief look at a few of some of the faces "on high" that our favorite anime characters interact with on a regular basis. We're not so sure you'd want to pray to any of them, though.
Beerus - Dragon Ball Super
There are several gods and godlike beings in Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball Super, but the God of Destruction himself has rapidly become the most recognizable and entertaining. Beerus can destroy planets with surprisingly little effort. In fact, that's one of his favorite things to do, being that it's his profession and all, in contrast to the other gods in the Dragon Ball universe who are meant to create and save them. He also absolutely loves to eat, and is always on the search for new snack foods and cuisines. And with company like Goku, he's learning to better understand humans as more than just frivolous, worthless beings.
Haruhi Suzumiya - The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
She may seem like a regular high school student, but Haruhi Suzumiya has the power to change the entire universe and tailor it to her liking. Apparently, she created the whole thing because she was bored. Anything she wishes to see in the world comes to fruition, but she has no idea she's even making things happen. When her companions in the SOS Brigade (her school club) figure out that she's an all-powerful being, they have to learn to walk on eggshells so as not to disturb the fragile balance of the world, making sure she's sufficiently entertained, lest things change for the worse. And you thought she was just a wacky moe girl.
Ryuk - Death Note
Death Note's Ryuk is a shinigami, or a god of death. He has the power to take the life of just about anyone he deems fit, simply by writing an individual's name in his Death Note, a supernatural notebook. But it's boring being a god, and all the other gods in the shinigami realm hang around and play cards and dice games all day. He's not interested in the affairs of humans or shinigami, and finds his job reaping and claiming souls to be a sort of "joke," dropping his Death Note into the human world purposefully to see what happens. We know what happens, and it's, well, not good, at least not in the hands of Light Yagami. And Ryuk never interferes. We never said he was a benevolent god, now did we?
Belldandy - Oh! My Goddess
The beautiful Belldandy is one of the older goddess characters in the world of anime, but still very much one of the best. In the world of Oh! My Goddess, gods and goddesses work to maintain a massive computer known as Yggdrasil that keeps the very threads of reality functioning normally. Belldandy is a force to be reckoned with, even though most of the time she's keeping her powers under wraps for the sake of the humans she interacts with. She's quiet and kind, and can heal others, teleport from one area to another, fly, transform into other forms, and can even hold her own in a fight if she needs to. She's essentially one of the most perfect characters we've seen in anime. That's kind of what makes her a goddess, after all.
Lain Iwakura - Serial Experiments Lain
Serial Experiments Lain isn't the easiest series to follow, but it features one seriously interesting teenage girl. Or is she a goddess? As it turns out, Lain is a being with fantastic powers who lives eternally as an omnipotent goddess after attempting a life using the online network known as The Wired to try and live the life she's always dreamed of. She slowly transforms into a god and begins throwing away her human existence little by little, eventually ending up erasing herself from the very fabric of life itself. You might not think of her as a traditional "goddess," per se, but she's just as powerful as any of the other characters on this list, and in some ways even more so.