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What makes for a great anime villain? Memorability, degree of depravity, how they contrast against the hero or symbolically fit into the overarching story? There isn’t a clear answer as it largely depends on personal taste, and exposure of course, but in this article we’re updating our list, drawing from newer series along with a couple of classic characters that were overlooked previously. No repeats, just villainy and spoilers ahead! Let’s get started!
5. Yashiro Gaku from Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED)
While admittedly not without some controversy, ERASED’s villain Yashiro was a big part of what made the show work so well. Even after Yashiro is revealed to be the killer, Satoru’s ability to outsmart him is severely tested by his homeroom teacher. The mind games he has to play to try to hide his knowledge from Yashiro and eventual confrontation led to many memorable and intense moments in the series like when Yashiro tries to drown Satoru in his car.
Yashiro is also quite persistent, carefully monitoring Satoru in his comatose condition for 15 years until finally being brought to justice after Satoru foils his attempt to kill him disguised as a suicide. Yashiro’s obsession and disturbing ability to blend into society for years as a serial killer and kidnapper made him one of the best villains of recent years.
4. Petelgeuse Romanée-Conti from Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-)
There must be something with time travel anime producing solid villains, as our next pick from Re:Zero is the unmistakable Archbishop of Sin representing Sloth: Petelgeuse, or was it Beteguelse? In any case, this guy is unquestionably insane in a very over-the-top and energetic way that belies his moniker as representing Sloth.
His constant bodily contortions and vigorous self-harm, often involving crushing or biting his own fingers, along with his creepy character design definitely leave a visceral impression immediately. Petelgeuse’s presence in the story was also memorable as the first Archbishop of the Witch Cult with some terrifying power with his Unseen Hands and ability to possess and travel between multiple bodies. Although ultimately defeated after several resets, Petelgeuse proved to be a worthy and distinctive villain.
3. Hamdo from Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku (Now and Then, Here and There)
The dark horse of this dark bunch, Hamdo from the somewhat obscure anime Now and Then, Here and There is perhaps the best example in the medium of the horrors that can be wrought by selfish, incompetent leaders in places of power. The “mad king” of Hellywood is totally despicable, engaging and enabling incredibly cruel acts of physical, mental, and sexual violence under the weak guise of “bringing peace”.
Hamdo's army, largely made up of child soldiers, pillage the few remaining villages for spoils and new “recruits” in a never-ending violent struggle. Hamdo also perhaps suffers from multiple personality disorder, erratically slipping from childish cowardice and paranoia to cunning megalomania, making him even more disturbing. Thankfully, Hamdo does eventually get his just deserts in one of the most cathartic moments in anime. He’s certainly a villain that’s easy to hate, easily earning him a spot on this list.
2. “Mama” Isabella from Yakusoku no Neverland (The Promised Neverland)
Speaking of villains particularly cruel to children, next up we have The Promised Neverland’s Isabella. While assuming the role of mother to the orphans of Grace Field House, Isabella is in fact running what amounts to a farm for premium human meat that is sold to mysterious and terrifying creatures known as demons once the children reach a certain age.
Isabella herself is no slouch when it comes to horror, casting a commanding presence in the series as she strictly monitors the kids and knowingly sends them off to be killed behind a mask of kindness. Isabella’s projection of that eerie feeling of always being watched and her sinister nature made her one of the most memorable villains of recent anime. While she was given some depth in her backstory and reaction to the escape of Emma’s group, arguably offering a bit of redemption, Isabella is most definitely still a villain and one of the best in our book.
1. Dio Brando from JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure)
You might have thought it was someone else, but it was me, Dio! Jokes aside, Dio Brando is unquestionably one of the most iconic anime villains of all time and, thanks to his series’ late-blooming popularity outside of Japan thanks largely to the 2012 anime adaptation, also one that still feels modern in our minds.
Dio is a tenacious bastard that takes advantage of the generosity of the Joestar family to further his own power, being inordinately dickish to Jonathan by constantly tearing him down, trying to make him look bad in front of his dad, spreading rumors to sully his reputation, and sabotaging his relationships. This escalates into killing his dog, poisoning and later stabbing his adoptive father, and becoming a freakin vampire. Even after decapitation, Dio gets his revenge and sets in motion many of the events of the series, making a formal return in Stardust Crusaders as the main villain once again. With raw ambition taken to the extreme, iconic lines, poses, and outfits, incredible abilities from Aztec mask-induced vampirism and the time-stopping power of The World, Dio’s menacing presence towers over his series and is our pick for the best villain in anime.
Altogether, anime villains are a big part of what makes their series so compelling. We hope that you enjoyed our picks and would love to hear who you’d include in your list! Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below and be sure to stick around Honey’s for more of all things awesome, anime and otherwise! Until next time, don’t be a villain!
In many great stories that posit to have strong and developed heroes, you will find villains that are just as strong as they are evil or at least apathetic. Villains serve a key purpose in a story, aside from establishing ongoing conflict on a hero’s journey, a strong villain also acts as a foil or a standard to compare the hero against. This is done so the audience can fully grasp what separates the hero of a story from becoming that which he or she fights against.
Below is an updated list of top 10 villains in anime. The goal in making this list is to both acknowledge the villains of anime past while shining a spotlight on some of the eviller characters to appear in recent years. When selecting for the list, we considered the motivation, deeds, and character of a listed villain which helps in determining their placement.
10. Hiro – Inuyashiki (Inuyashiki: Last Hero)
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: October 2017– December 2017
Inuyashiki focuses on the life of Ichirou Inuyashiki a 58-year-old man who finds himself the eyre of his wife and children, and struggling with the degrading nature of his body. Befriending a dog, Inuyashiki is then only to discover that he himself is afflicted with cancer and has only months to live. Shortly after receiving the news, he and a young man Hiro are caught in the explosion of a crashed extra-terrestrial ship. Having both seemingly been eviscerated, they are remade by strange technology. Each discovers incredible powers gifted to them as a result of this accident. While Ichirou may play the white knight in this story, all good tales have a foil and we find this villain in Hiro Shishigami.
Hiro was a relatively popular and attractive teenager. Yet despite this, he seemed to exhibit little to no care for other humans beyond his friend Naoyuki Ando. After the crash and his seeming destruction, Hiro becomes almost more robotic in his personality and only upon witnessing the demise of a jumper on subway tracks did he feel truly alive. What brings him to this list is not his indifference to human suffering but his active role in causing it. Hiro will go into random homes of family, shoot a mother and father and watch a child drown in a bathtub of his father’s blood and not show any remorse or care in the world.
9. Sosuke Aizen – Bleach
- Episodes: 366
- Aired: October 2004- March 2012
Between our world and the soul society, a spirit world exists just outside the space of our reality. There stands elite forces of soul reapers who fight against hollows, corrupted souls of those who died, maintaining a relative peace between both realms. You may be well acquainted with the substitute soul reaper Ichigo Kurosaki and the powerful captains and lieutenants of the 13 court squads. Yet it is one in particular that earns a spot on this list. Among these powerful captains was one named Sosuke Aizen, captain of the 5th Division, a seemingly friendly and studious man.
Yet beneath this guise was a man who was revealed to be a traitor, caring little for the society he was sworn to protect nor for the welfare of his subordinates. His only aim was to unlock the power of a particular artifact that would grant him immense power. Upon faking his own death and framing another soul reaper for it, Aizen attempted to murder his own lieutenant whom he had worked at secretly manipulating to be dependent on him for many years. He is responsible for the death of countless souls and the kidnapping of Orihime Inoue, a friend of Ichigo Kurosaki.
8. Sato – Ajin (Ajin: Demi-human)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2016 – April 2016
If strange immortal beings lived among us, looked like us, talked like us, identical in nearly every way to humans, how would you react? These people who possess seeming immortality are called Ajin. Beyond immortality, they possess the ability to project strange dark figures from their body who fight on their behalf. Among these hidden individuals is a mysterious older man named Sato who is as dangerous as they come.
A former United States Marine, Samuel T. Owen A.K.A Sato was dishonourably discharged from the military after needlessly endangering his men. Upon arriving in Japan, Sato begun a string of terrorist operations under the guise of obtaining rights for Ajin under Japanese law. He even allowed for the capture and torture of a fellow Ajin named Kei Nagai so that he could attempt to turn him to his side of the fight between the government and Ajin. Yet even beneath his terrorism, which he claims to do for the sake of a cause, Sato is quite simply a homicidal individual who relishes in the suffering of human beings. The deception of others to justify mass murder is pretty dark stuff.
7. Griffith - Berserk: Ougon Jidai-hen
- Episodes: 3
- Aired: February 2012 – February 2013
Berserk is an anime taking place sometime in the middle ages and follows the trials and tribulations of a mercenary named Guts who is known for carrying a large black sword. Depending on which series you have seen or if you have only tuned into the movies, you may find Guts a part of the Band of the Hawk led by a seemingly charismatic leader named Griffith who takes Guts into the group after defeating him in battle.
Griffith you will soon find is anything but your friend and no great leader. After suffering tremendous torture for over a year at the hands of a king, he seeks out and is imbued with godly power upon sacrificing his entire band of the hawk. To spite the early desertion of Guts, Griffith proceeds to rape Casca, Guts’ love interest, in front of him as Guts is held down by demons. He is not a good guy.
6. Yuno Gasai – Mirai Nikki (Future Diary)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 2011 – April 2012
How would you react if you discovered that your imaginary friend turned out to be the real lord of time and space and that you were one of 11 candidates selected to fight to the death for a shot at becoming his successor? This was the absurd situation which Yukiteru Amano, an introverted 14-year-old high school student, found himself. Upon receiving the revelation of this battle to the death, Yukiteru was apprehensive and did not receive much comfort from a classmate with a crush, Yuno Gasai, a lonely girl who had been obsessively stalking him for a long period of time ever since he made a promise to see the stars with her.
While in the beginning, Yuno may simply seem like a shy and slightly unhinged protector of the protagonist, the viewer will soon discover how twisted Yuno is as an individual as the truth of her psyche and past deeds begin to unravel. Yuno has not only butchered her competitors and brutally murdered her own parents, she has even gone so far as to kidnap Yukiteru, threatening to dispose of any who seek to separate the two, be it friend or family. All of this in the name of love.
5. Sybil System – Psycho-Pass
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: October 2012 – March 2013
In 22nd century Japan, the rule of law and order has significantly altered under the watchful eyes of the Sybil system, a mysterious program created to measure and score the psychological stability and wellbeing of citizens. This score is referred to as a Psycho-Pass, which ultimately seeks to determine criminal intent or vulnerability before any crime is committed and thereby maintaining peace. Yet as Akane Tsunemori, a young police officer, and others will soon discover, the seemingly idealistic system that society has placed its trust in, is far from perfect.
The sibyl system is, in truth, a collective hive of over 200 real human brains regarded as criminally asymptomatic, otherwise strictly analytic and void of excessive pain or emotion. All of the brains are surgically removed to assimilate into the large system. In some ways, it is difficult to label the sibyl system as one villain as each brain technically maintains its personality. Yet the united operation of it as an all-seeing system gives it a spot on this list. Though seemingly genuine in its wish to maintain peace and allow society to prosper, the system’s methods to accomplish such a goal are void of all humanity. There very decisions act much like a prophecy in determining the fates, the jobs, the very futures of individuals, unilaterally shaping society to its preferences, thereby taking away democracy and freedom of choice from its people.
4. All for One – Boku no Hero Academia
- Episodes: 63
- Aired: April 2016 – September 2018
In a world appearing much like ours, there have emerged individual with powers called “quirks” who make up eighty percent of the world’s population, leaving the other twenty percent without any special ability. In this new society of super powered individuals, incredible forces of good such as All Might, his protégé Izuku Midoriya,other heroes and students training to be heroes seek to maintain order. Yet with every great light, there is an emergence of darkness that appears to fight against it. We find this great evil in a man named All-for-One.
All-for-One, leader of the League of Villains, is the complete antithesis of the hero: All Might who stands to protect all that is good and bright in the world. All-for-One, in a word, is a megalomaniac. While horribly disfigured from past encounters with All Might, he utilizes his ability to steal quirks to function without eyes and fuel his insatiable hunger for ultimate power and control. All-for-One believes power justifies rule and is guided by seemingly no other moral compass or line of ethics. He seeks to turn society inside out by inciting conflict between heroes and the rising class of villains. He will use and manipulate anyone if it means he can gain something from it.
3. Father – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Episodes: 64
- Aired: Apr 2009 – July 2010
Equivalent exchange— “to obtain something, something of equal importance must be lost”—this is an absolute law of alchemy. The Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse—both gifted for their age—attempt the dark alchemy of human transmutation and thereby break the core law and backfires on them. Edward is left missing an arm and a leg, and Alphonse is left with his soul. They become state alchemists to search for the philosopher's stone. As they begin to step closer to the truth they seek, they find the path blocked by homunculi, artificially created beings forged from the stone they seek by a strange man referred to as “Father”.
The first up in the top three of this list, is perhaps the most complex villain when it comes to his origins and his abilities. Father is in essence a near perfect manifestation of what seems to be a divine power or creation on earth, represented as an immortal alchemist similar in appearance to the Elric brothers’ father. What earns him a place as a villain is for his mass genocide of nearly an entire people for the sake of granting him further power to become as close to a deity as is possible and rule over the earth entirely by utilizing the power of the sacrificed souls. He is responsible for the death of countless others and the incitement of war and conflict across nations while seemingly apathetic to the plight of those who suffer. His actions seemingly justified for simply being a quest for all the knowledge that humanity possesses.
2. Pain/Nagato – Naruto Shippuden
- Episodes: 500
- Aired: February 2007-March 2017
Many of you reading this are probably familiar with the tale of Naruto Uzumaki, an orphaned boy in the village hidden in the leaf who harbours the spirit of a demon fox. Naruto’s aspirations to be Hokage, leader of the village, and most skilled ninja drive him further and further towards his goal as the years pass and he must encounter ever increasing threats such as the rogue ninja gang referred to as the Akatsuki and its leader, the mysterious Pain.
Nagato A.K.A. Pain is a former resident of the village hidden in the rain and descendant of the same clan as Naruto Uzumaki. He experienced warfare and famine in his youth, watching his parents murdered by shinobi of the hidden leaf. He and his friends Yahiko and Konan, were taken in and trained in Ninjutsu by Jiraiya, one of the great legendary sannin. Nagato would later grow up only to watch his close friend Yahiko perish for their cause of achieving peace in their land. Following the death of his friend, Nagato adopted the moniker of “Pain.” Utilizing the power of the Rinnegan, eyes which allowed him to what normal ninja could not, he controlled six bodies all representing a different aspect of his power. Using his gifts, he refocused the aims of the Akatsuki, which his friend started, and sought to achieve peace no matter what the cost was to the rest of the world. This almost nihilistic goal drove him to destroying the entire village hidden in the leaf. While his actions were reversed following a confrontation with Naruto, Pain earns one of the top spots on this list for the impact he had on the entire series and development of its characters.
1. The Major – Hellsing Ultimate
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: February 2006– December 2012
In the shadows of civilization, there is an ongoing war between the supernatural forces of evil and the organization Hellsing, tasked by her majesty the queen with eliminating these threats. The secret weapon of this organization is an immortal vampire named Alucard who works alongside humans to ensure that all evil forces are annihilated. Among these great evils is the Nazi organization Millenium and its leader The Major.
The Major is a seemingly immortal cyborg in a white suit who was handpicked by Hitler to lead a one-thousand-year army of vampires to be used in World War II. After the fall of the Nazis and Berlin where the Major was situated, he escaped with remnants of the millennium organization to the Vatican where he aimed to establish the army he dreamed of, eventually becoming the next major threat that the Hellsing organization must defeat. The Major earns the top spot on this list not only for being a Nazi but for his insatiable bloodlust and need to begin an endless war that would engulf the entire world in fire. He is the poster child of what villainy looks like. You really can’t get more villainous than this character.
Ultimately, there are several villains who deserve a place on this list but did not make it this time around. We did our best to forge a list that was diverse, if not in the atrocities which the villains committed than at the very least in the beliefs systems which drove them. Do you agree or disagree with the list? Was there someone you believe deserves the top spot? Let us know in the comments.
You know who doesn’t get enough recognition in anime? The bad guys. The antagonists that make your skin crawl or the monsters that make you so angry that they’re still alive you just want to pop into the 2D world just to kill them yourself. That’s what we are going to explore in this article! We want to pick out the best of the best in terms of people we all love to hate in the form of the best anime antagonists aka top anime villains !
10. Makoto Shishio – Rurouni Kenshin
Coming in at our number 10 spot of top anime villains, we have the infamous Makoto Shishio, the assassin that replaced our favorite wandering swordsman. This man is not just evil, he is a justifiable evil. He’s got a type of evil that only comes from the complete betrayal by his government. Not only does he survive multiple gunshots, but being doused in oil and burned alive. He spends the rest of his days after that incident in complete and utter agony.
What allows Shishio to make the list of our top anime villains or baddies is what he manages to do after surviving death. He compiles an army of the best fighters Japan has to offer and plots to overthrow the entire Meiji Government. While in complete agony. Who else can claim that? Did we also mention he’s topping the list of best fighters in the show? His swordsmanship is second only to Kenshin himself as he proves in their fight.
9. Izaya Orihara – Durarara!!
If you think of top anime villains and Izaya isn’t on your list, you haven’t seen Durarara!! yet. Izaya doesn’t even realize he’s evil, that’s what makes him great. He loves humanity; from the depths of his bones he loves us all. This is why he makes it on our list; he does progressively more cruel acts against humans, putting people in situations that generally lead to their deaths.
He is a master of parkour and highly skilled with his switchblade, which he generally only uses in dire situations or fights against Shizuo. In short, we love this guy. We thoroughly enjoyed the way he manages to manipulate an entire populous and this is what gains him our number 9 spot on the list of top anime villains.
8. Johan Liebheart – Monster
Now, when you think about a show named Monster, you’re prepared for what you think could be everything. You’re not, believe me. Our number 8 spot on this list of top anime villains is dedicated to you Mr. Liebheart, and all the crazy you have to offer.
Johan is the perfect antagonist for a show dedicated to twisting your insides. Let’s put it this way, he’s been called the next Hitler. At a young age Johan was shot in the head and saved by Dr. Tenma. He’s spent most of his life travelling and taking different aliases why manipulating and controlling others, sometimes twisting their views and corrupting them. He kills to be the last person standing at the end of the world. No other reason than that. The only person he truly wishes to save is his twin sister, whom he wants to stand beside him in the end of all things.
7. Medusa Gorgon – Soul Eater
What can we say about Soul Eater aside from how much we truly just deep down despise Medusa? She subjects her daughter to torture, legitimately painful torture, emotional and psychological trauma, and even poses as a good guy in the Death School’s nursing office. As if that weren’t enough, she wants to destroy the world.
She views the world as that of something in a stasis, where nothing is changing or evolving. Medusa despises this and sets out to change it all on her own (with her incredible witches powers it’s even possible for her) by resurrecting Kishin Asura (Demon God Asura). Her ability to possess people through her snakes allows her to escape situations that would normally lead to her death as she proves in the show. That is why she is here among the top anime villains.
6. Giovanni (Sakaki) – Pokémon
Have you seen the first season of Pokémon? If you haven’t, you missed out on one hell of a childhood. We hated this man from the depths of our tiny little bodies right from his first appearance.
I mean, why does he want to hurt all these wonderful Pokémon? He’s nothing less than downright evil and rightfully deserves a spot on the list of best bad guys. This man though, I didn’t love to hate him, I wanted everyone to be happy. I just outright hated him. His main goal is to gain more money and power, mainly through selling stolen Pokémon his evil organization manages to take from otherwise happy trainers. This man is the embodiment of corruption, and earned the number 6 spot as a top anime villan.
5. Majin Buu – Dragonball Z
Buu evolves throughout the fight for earth’s survival, until eventually he just decides to kill every human on earth with a single move. A single move and everyone on earth is just gone, vanished as if they never even existed at all. The bad thing is he doesn’t even have to be evil.
Buu is like a child that’s been directed to the wrong side of the tracks without any way of knowing that what he’s doing is wrong at all. You even feel bad for him at times, he didn’t deserve the path he was given, he just followed it like any child would. This is why our number 5 spot of top anime villains goes to the pink bubble-man, you love him, and you hate him.
4. Kyuubey – Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica
This little cat right here, there is no redemption for this adorable little ball of hatred. If you haven’t seen Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica then you just can’t understand the pain this little alien brings to the un-expecting viewer. You read that right, alien.
Kyuubey is an alien sent to earth by his species to harvest the emotional energy of humans that directly counteracts the entropy of the universe by granting teenage girls one wish in exchange for their services fighting “witches,” former Puella Magi who gave into the grief. What makes him a top anime villan is quite possibly his species utter lack of emotion. There is no right or wrong, only survival of the bigger picture at the cost of whomever or whatever they deem acceptable. He takes the souls of teenage girls that are going through the highly emotional phase of puberty and places them inside of crystals. Their bodies are replaced by durable shells, allowing the girls to fight their former comrades.
3. Orochimaru – Naruto: Shippuuden
This guy. Orochimaru is leading our top 3 of top anime villains, and rightfully so. He is quite possibly the most annoying villain ever to exist, simply because of his desire for knowledge and the destruction of Konoha. To do this he wishes to acquire the Sharingan and possess Sasuke Uchiha as his new body.
Throughout the entirely of Naruto Shippuuden, he’s seen doing unspeakable atrocities, gaining followers and corrupting those he can to his side. He desires power the most, always more power. Through his ability to possess people to gain a new body, he has the potential to live indefinitely. Plus, the guy just doesn’t die, ever.
2. Light Yagami – Death Note
One of our personal favorite villains of any anime comes in at number 2 on our list of top anime villains, Light Yagami.
Through the entire show he is the main character, everything centers on him and his possession of Ryuk’s Death Note (a Shinigami diary that kills whose name is written down, humans have certain stipulations to this effect) and his alias Kira. He uses the book to empty prisons and murder criminals, as well as those who get too close to his true identity. While he is technically a bad guy, because of the way the show is set up you can’t help but be drawn in to his ideals, aside from the whole wanting to be God thing. But hey, to each their own right? Light is a fantastically created character and one that you can sympathize with as he only wants to make the world a better place.
1. Shou Tucker - Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Our number 1 spot is dedicated to someone very special, and quite possibly the most hated villain in recent anime history. Shou Tucker is an alchemist, and only makes a single appearance in the show that gains your undying hatred making him one of the top anime villains. You have to know that in order to reach the level of animosity fans everywhere have for this man in a single episode; something terribly bad had to happen. Well it did. Something worse than bad happened, this man transmuted his dog and his daughter together to create a talking chimera, which hadn’t been done before.
Throughout the episode you become emotionally invested in his daughter, who loves her father very much and does nothing but support him. She was a kind and loving girl, one who didn’t deserve the fate her father handed to her without remorse. That’s the key; he didn’t care at all what he’d done. He didn’t care that his daughter was suffering; he had no qualms with bringing her pain, all he wanted was more recognition in the world of alchemy. What’s worse is how the episode closed, but I won’t spoil that for you.
That does it for our list of the top 10 best anime villains; if there’s one you think we missed or one that you agree with, let us know in the comments section below!
Izaya Orihara, Johan Leibheart and Light Yagami were also nominated into the rankings of the Smartest Anime Characters.
You can find the rankings here!