The Demon King concept is an idea present in various religions across the globe, but we all know anime has the innate ability to deconstruct ideas and present them in new and fresh ways; a fact which sees various representations of an evil demonic ruler strewn across the anime world. These Demon Kings can range from benevolent gamers to deadbeat demon dads to harbingers of death and destruction. Regardless of what they choose to get up to in their spare time, we can all agree that we’ve seen some pretty awesome and interesting Demon Kings in anime. Get your magic circles ready, we’re about to summon some devils, so hang tight!
10. Maou from Maoyuu Maou Yuusha
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2013 – March 2013
In a world torn by a fifteen year long war between humans and demons, a hero, dissatisfied with humanity’s slow invasion of the Demon Realm, abandons his companions in order to make headway into the Demon Queen’s castle, where he meets the beautiful Demon Queen. In a strange turn of events, the Demon Queen seeks the Hero’s help to end the war and bring peace and prosperity to the Southern Nations and the rest of the world. Realising that they share a common goal, Hero teams up with his now former enemy as they head over to the human realm to begin their quest to restore peace and maintain prosperity throughout the world.
First up on our list of demon kings is, well, a demon queen; with a name that matches her title. Consistent with our theme of demonic royalty we have an antagonist turned protagonist with fairly noble intentions and beauty to boot. Maou is a maou-sama in very political terms; she has seen the benefits of the war on humanity and she seeks to work alongside humans in order to end the war. Sometimes the Demon King is only the Demon King because they’re, well, the king of demons, and not exactly evil. Go figure.
9. Demon King Piccolo from Dragon Ball
- Episodes: 153
- Aired: February 1986 – April 1989
According to legend, scattered across the globe are seven golden orbs known as the Dragon Balls which, when gathered together, allow the collector to summon the Eternal Dragon known as Shenron, capable of granting any one wish. Young Bulma Brief’s search for the Dragon Balls brings her to Mount Paozu where she meets 12-year-old Goku Son, a monkey-tailed boy with extraordinary strength and no knowledge of the outside world. Goku happens to be in possession of one of the Dragon Balls but he refuses to give it away, so Bulma brokers a deal: he can join her on her quest if she can get to use the Dragon Ball when she eventually gathers all seven. Thus began their legendary journey to collect the orbs.
The strongest antagonist Goku Son fought in his childhood is none other than the evil Namekian overlord, Piccolo. After Tambourine, Piccolo’s underling, murders Goku’s best friend Krillin, Goku kills Tambourine and squares up against the Demon King Piccolo himself. Piccolo is the evil counterpart of Kami, the Earth’s guardian; a cruel, sadistic and highly arrogant villain who enjoys wreaking havoc and destruction. He often claimed to have infinite power and upon defeating King Furry to become the new ruler of the Earth. To celebrate becoming the ruler of the Earth, King Piccolo planned to destroy a city on every anniversary of his ascension to power. Scary.
8. Akuto Sai from Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2010 – June 2010
Upon enrolling at the Constant Magic Academy, Akuto Sai’s life is changed forever when he comes to the realisation that he is destined to become the next Demon King. Despite his reservations about his new situation, his status as a potential Demon King makes him hot property amongst all the girls at his school. With every girl out to seduce him, will the young Demon King Akuto be able to graduate from Constant Magic Academy while resisting all the temptation that comes his way?
This Demon King is at first glance, the most ill-suited to the job. Why? Well, to start off with, Akuto grew up in a church and wishes to graduate from the Constant Magic Academy and become a high priest. Yes, a Demon King wants to become a priest when he grows up! After the predicting spirit Yata Garasu foresees Akuto becoming a Demon King when he graduates, people grow wary of Akuto and the news does put a spanner in his plans for priesthood, especially since Yata Garasu’s predictions have never been wrong. Despite all this, Akuto is the type of person who always tries to do the right thing, and in a manner contrary to his apparent destiny, Akuto aims to join the ranks of the upper echelon of magicians in the country and make a positive impact in society. Anyone else feeling the urge to drop everything and follow this Demon Lord into war? No?
7. Shibuya Yuri from Kyou Kara Maou!
- Episodes: 78
- Aired: April 2004 – February 2006
Regular high school student Shibuya Yuri one day sees one of his classmates being bullied and intervenes, but as a result, Yuri unfortunately becomes the new target of the bullies’ harassment. The bullies shove Yuri’s head into a toilet, but little did they know that the portal contained a portal to another world, one reminiscent of medieval Europe. Because of his black hair and eyes, the people of that world tell Yuri that he is one of the line of royal demons, putting him in line to be the next demon lord. Now tasked with gaining the maintaining peace this new realm, Yuri must gain the trust of the demons and come to terms with what it means to be the Demon King.
When Yuri arrives in Shin Makoku, he silences the demons unconvinced of his ability to lead when he uses his magical powers to win a duel, a testament to the sheer magical strength the royal line of demons possesses. In the beginning of the series, Yuri unconsciously taps into his magical powers whenever he experiences strong emotions and he is quickly aggravated. As a result, Yuri is prone to losing control of his own powers. As the 27th Maou of the Mazoku, Yuri aims to create a world in which humans and demons can co-exist, which serves to highlight Yuri’s good nature as he strives to be a Demon Lord with his subjects’ best interests at heart. Oh, Maou-sama!
6. Staz C. Blood from Blood Lad
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: July 2013 – September 2013
Staz Charlie Blood is a vampire who rules over the entire Eastern District of the Demon World. Due to his status as a Demon Lord, various rumours report Staz to be a bloodthirsty, power hungry tyrant but in reality, Staz is just an otaku obsessed with Japanese culture. One day, a Japanese girl named Yanagi Fuyumi accidentally wanders into a portal leading into the demon world, where she meets Staz, but unfortunately falls victim to an attack on Staz’s territory, rendering her a wandering ghost. Staz vows to resurrect Fuyumi because that would grant him the opportunity to travel to the human world, something he has always wanted to do. Energised by the prospects of experiencing human culture for himself, Staz travels alongside Fuyumi to find magic powerful enough to bring humans back to life.
Staz is an unusual protagonist – he is a vampire who happens to be ruler of a significant part of the demon realm and much like a few people we know, he is absolutely obsessed with anything remotely related to Japanese culture. Staz’s obsession kills his desire to be a proactive leader and he leaves most of the administration of his territory to his underlings; opting rather to watch some anime, read some manga or even play some games. As far as Demon Lords are concerned, Staz’s major selling point is his reputation – his name strikes fear into the hearts of many. Staz’s obsession with anime and manga reaches extraordinary levels as he once attempted to use Goku Son’s legendary signature move, the Kamehameha, in a fight.
5. Nura Rikuo from Nurarihyon no Mago
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: July 2010 – December 2010
Nura Rikuo is a teenager who simply wants to live a normal life, but unfortunately for him, he is a quarter youkai, the blood running in his veins linking him fast to the demon world. To make things worse, his grandfather Nurarihyon is adamant that Rikuo will take over for him as leader of the Nura Clan. For the most part, Rikuo is able to keep his supernatural life hidden from his friends but with enemy youkai factions targeting both his youkai and human friends, Rikuo has to make the decision to accept his youkai side and eventually lead the Nura Clan.
Due to the youkai blood flowing through his veins, Rikuo is capable of assuming two forms: his regular human form and his youkai form which, in the beginning, he is only capable of donning at night. In his youkai form, Rikuo appears taller with long flowing black and white hair and a change in demeanour. Despite initially wishing to be relieved of his duties as head of the Nura Clan, Rikuo gradually comes to accept and grow suited to the role, noting that he has the capacity to protect both humans and youkai alike.
4. Momonga from Overlord
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2015 – September 2015
When the popular online virtual reality game Yggdrasil’s servers begin to shut down, Momonga, a powerful sorcerer decides to see out its final moments while in the game. However, when midnight strikes and he expects to be logged out of the game, a surprised Momonga comes to the realisation that he cannot log out and to make things even more interesting, the non-player characters present in the game seem to have developed personalities of their own. In order to come to understand his new environment, Momonga assumes the character of what used to be his in-game avatar and with his loyal servants, he sets out to find any other players caught in the now-real world of Yggdrasil.
In many ways, Momonga is the popular impression of what a Demon Lord would look and act like: he is pretty much a huge skeleton that dresses in large dark robes. Appearances aside, Momonga is at the time of the server shut-down the strongest being in Yggdrasil, having gained World Items and magic of Super Tier, capable of annihilating any enemy. His influence is incredible, as he travels across the world of Yggdrasil searching for other players turned inhabitants. With his band of extremely powerful and extremely loyal underlings, Momonga comes to grips with the new Yggdrasil, spreading his name far and wide.
3. Beelzebub III from Beelzebub
- Episodes: 60
- Aired: January 2011 – March 2012
The infamous Ishiyama High is a school known for the widespread delinquency and lawlessness that populate its spaces. In this sea of delinquents stands out first year student Oga Tatsumi; the most vicious delinquent of them all. One day when he was routinely beating up a group of other delinquents by a riverbed, Oga encountered a large man floating down the river. Upon rescuing him from the river, Oga splits the man in half and from within the man comes out a cute baby boy who immediately becomes attached to Oga. It turns out that this baby is none other than Kaiser de Emperana Beelzebub IV, the future Demon Lord! To make things even more interesting, the child’s maidservant from the demon world, Hildegard, appears and together with her, Oga attempts to raise the future Lord of the demon realm.
While the majority of the show focuses on Beelzebub IV, the future Demon Lord, one must never forget the one who is currently in charge, Baby Beel’s daddy, Beelzebub III. Contrary to traditional depictions of the Demon King, Beelzebub III is a wacky fun-loving slacker who leaves everything to his loyal aides and spends his time doing a variety of random activities, mostly with women in tow. His lack of real concern for his own offspring is shown in how he entrusts the wellbeing of his youngest son to any strong human being. The best way to describe Beelzebub III would be “unconcerned deadbeat dad”.
2. Sirzechs Lucifer from Highschool DxD
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2012 – March 2012
Hyoudou Issei is a perverted high school student who dreams of one day becoming a Harem King, but reality begs to differ. However, things seem to be looking up for him when a beautiful girl named Yuuma asks him out. Unfortunately, at the end of their first date, Yuuma turns out to be a fallen angel and kills him, but as the life slowly flows out of Issei, he is saved by his beautiful senior, the scarlet-haired Rias Gremory, a top-class demon, who revives him as a demon. Now as a part of the Gremory household of demons, Issei must come to terms with his new demonic powers and survive in the brutal world of angels and demons.
With aristocracy being a major theme in the demon world, the demon world appoints high-ranking pure-blooded demons to lead the demon world. The current Demon Lord Satan is none other than Rias Gremory’s older brother, Sirzechs Lucifer. This serves to show the extent of the Gremory Household as one of the three remaining pure-blooded demon households. Sirzechs, despite seeming very diplomatic in nature, cares deeply for his younger sister and her servants, even allowing Issei, Koneko, Akeno and Yuuto to crash Rias’s wedding to Raiser Phoenix. What a cool older brother!
1. Maou Sadao from Hataraku Maou-sama!
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2013 – June 2013
In the world of Ente Isla, the Demon Lord Satan seeks to conquer all and strikes fear into the hearts of mortals everywhere. Well, at least until he and his demon army are put on the back foot by an emphatic onslaught by the hero Emilia. With his plans of conquest thwarted, his only choice is to retreat through an interdimensional portal, which lands him in modern-day Tokyo. Alongside his loyal underling Alsiel, the Demon Lord is rendered powerless in a world without magic, and forced to assume a human identity – that of Maou Sadao. As a human, Sadao has to make ends meet by working at MgRonald’s, a local fast food restaurant. Caught up in the simple life of an average human being, Sadao’s ambition to conquer Ente Isla falls to the wayside as he sets sights on a different goal: to work it corporate ladder and eventually rule the Earth – all while earning an honest living!
From being the tyrannical aspiring ruler of Ente Isla to making sure the fries don’t burn, the Demon Lord Satan’s transition into human life is filled with hilarious moments. To top it all off, he loses his scary demeanour to become an honest, hardworking and friendly worker. Hataraku Maou-sama’s brilliance is in the various anti-climaxes surrounding the once all-powerful Demon Lord Satan and his demon general Alsiel; as they go through the mundane yet necessary aspects of human life, from finding a place to live to doing chores to worrying about money. Maou Sadao as a character is a deconstruction of the Demon Lord concept and his enthusiastic outlook on everything is incredibly refreshing. Hail Satan!
Demon Lords have been a fairly important component in many different anime from the past decade and as time goes on, several different depictions of the traditionally fearsome characters showcase the extent of the creativity that we’re subject to as anime-lovers. With so many awesome demon lords out there, it is difficult to pick a few and that’s where you come in! Drop a comment below and tell us a bit about your favourite anime Demon Lord, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll sell our souls to them too!