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Life is not fair, and whoever tells you otherwise is lying. Those are words that may make us laugh at first, but are very true in real life. We’ve all suffered at least one injustice in our lives; from the very small, like when a teacher gives a prize to a student that is not very good, to the very big, which makes us wonder why we can’t catch a break. Fiction, however, is very different because writers can give us a more or less just world, where those who deserve pain, get it.
Unfortunately, sometimes justice is really slow. We’re allowed to see a villain’s actions in absolute detail, seeing them escape human and divine justice over and over again, to a point where we wonder if the writer wants us to believe the world is unfair. At least until that great moment in which everything finally comes to bite our antagonist in the ass and we are there to cheer.
So let’s see those great moments of justice, where karma finally gets those who really deserve it. Of course, be careful, as this list includes spoilers to spare.
10. Franken Fran
- Authors: Kigitsu Katsuhisa
- Genres: Comedy, Horror, Supernatural, Psychological, Seinen
- Volumes: 8
- Published: 2006 - 2012
Fran Madaraki has her share of strange customers, and a good number of them end up facing karma after using her services, especially if they weren’t completely honest with the good doctor. Many of them definitely deserve the horrible mutations that the surgeries cause, but at the same time it’s easy to think that maybe the punishment was too harsh for their crimes. Unless we’re talking about the Kuze family, in which case, one would be pressed to say their punishment was barely enough.
Shion Kuze is a young girl who ended up inheriting 80% of her family fortune. Unfortunately, this meant every single one of her relatives were trying to get her out of the way. Things get worse for her when, after an accident, Fran ends up connecting her brain to one of her uncles’, literally giving him control over the whole fortune. And it is then when he finds out that he was the only one not trying to actively kill his niece. When you see that even her mother was willing to kill her for money, the last shot of the chapter that shows their brains all hidden inside plush dolls connected to Shion’s body –whose own brain has been transplanted to a different human body- to be forever trapped unless they all agree on the same movement, is a sweet moment of justice, even if it’s a bit too late, as Shion also loses the money she had.
Although the Kuzes’ punishment is a sweet retribution, the time between the crime and the punishment is very short and so, it only reaches the tenth place on our list.
9. Kurosagi Shitai Takuhaibin (Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service)
- Authors: Otsuka, Eiji (Story), Yamazaki, Housui (Art)
- Genres: Comedy, Mystery, Drama, Horror, Supernatural
- Volumes: 21
- Published: 2000 – Ongoing
The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service clients all have one thing in common: They’re dead, and their resting place is not the place they wanted to be. And since all the members of the Kurosagi Company have their bachelor degrees from a Buddhist College, it’s not a surprise that most of their cases deal with karmic retribution. And while there are many people that deserved their punishment and the readers are really happy to see them, few deserved it more than Yoji Yanagawa, an insurance worker who had found a way to predict how people would die, make them change their insurance so he’d be the one to get all the money, and then manipulate his clients so they’d be in a situation where it’d be certain they die without it coming back to him.
We know it sounds implausible, even when Kurosagi is a fantasy manga that includes ghosts and other supernatural creatures, but Yanagawa has no superpowers. He works exclusively with mathematical probability, and is gleeful when he mocks anyone who tries to hunt him. He even claims that he checks his own numbers to insure that he’ll die of old age. Unfortunately for him, Karma has a great sense of humor. While he is gloating that Karatsu and his friends will die, he mentions that he cancelled a flight because he had known that he was in danger which related to a plane. And at that moment, a small screw falls from a plane, unnoticed, hitting him directly between the eyes. Justice is served, and his victims get revenge.
Due to the suddenness of the death, it loses a few spots, but still manages to land on the ninth place of our list.
8. Petshop of Horrors
- Authors: Akino, Matsuri
- Genres: Comedy, Mystery, Fantasy, Horror, Supernatural, Josei
- Volumes: 10
- Published: 1995 - 1998
There is a pet shop hidden well in Chinatown where you can find any animal you wish for. Cats, Dogs, Rabbits… even exotic reptiles thought to be extinct; all can be procured by the owner, the mysterious Count D. You just have to be mindful of the rules that come with each pet, because if you break them, the Count can’t be held responsible for the consequences. With that premise, it’s logical to think that we’ll see a lot of karmic justice delivered to those who buy one of the Count’s pets for nefarious purposes. However, one of the best moments of justice served comes from the first volume, and not against one of the Count’s clients.
After young Karen Schneider’s house was burned and she lost her parents and her sight, her uncle Edward insists on getting her a guardian dog. And so she gets a Doberman who, as per the Pet shop’s usual modus operandi, looks like a young man in uniform. And through him, we get to really feel for Karen’s plight, since it’s obvious someone wants to kill her for her money. It’s even more painful when we realize it was her uncle Edward, and thus, we can’t help but smile when Dreizehn, the Doberman, kills Edward as he was trying one last time to kill Karen, wearing the same disguise he used when he caused the fire.
As it’s one of the few chapters where the reader doesn’t feel as if the Count went too far, this particular moment earns the eighth place on our list.
7. Gunsmith Cats
- Authors: Sonoda, Kenichi
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Cars, Drama, Police, Seinen
- Volumes: 8
- Published: 1990 - 1997
Goldie Musou is one of the most heartless and vicious villains we met in Gunsmith Cats. She’s not only the creator of a drug named Kerasine, a similar substance to meth that can mimic the effects of cocaine, heroin and LSD that won’t cause an overdose, thus making all the addicts end up as her slaves. She employs this as a way of keeping a harem of beautiful girls –some of whom may be underage, although the manga never delves on that-, whom at times she forces to kill their own families, and will kill anyone who gets in her way. But it’s not her downfall that makes it into this list, but her actions when she’s the one getting revenge.
Before she became Iron Goldie, she was living peacefully in Italy, as the granddaughter of Juliano Musou, the Don of a minor cosa nostra family. But when she turned 18, her parents and her older brother were killed, leaving her –who hadn’t been very interested in the family business- as the sole inheritor. Not much later, her grandfather was also killed, and it was then when she found out that her “tutor”, Francesco, had engineered everything. At which point, she invented Kerasine, and made sure that Francesco was killed by his wife and kid. And while the child was innocent, given that if Francesco hadn’t been so greedy, Goldie would’ve never become a monster, it’s hard not to cheer for her.
Still, she is a villain, and one who manages to escape punishment all through Gunsmith Cats and the sequel, Burst, so her revenge only reaches the seventh place on our list.
6. Battle Royale
- Authors: Taguchi, Masayuki (Art), Takami, Koushun (Story)
- Genres: Action, Drama, Horror, Psychological, Seinen
- Volumes: 15
- Published: 2000 -2005
When Shiroiwa Junior High’s Class B realize they have been chosen by “The Program” to kill each other until only one survivor is left, they react in different ways. Some of them decide to try and just stay alive as long as they can without killing their friends; some others try to take over the system so everyone will survive. But there are a few who decide that if the only sure way to survive is to kill everyone, they will kill everyone. And among those, few are as cruel and effective as Mitsuko Souma, girl 11.
Even if she only kills 6 people, she still has the second highest kill count. She seems to go out of her way to kill, and uses her looks to manipulate others into thinking she is their friend. It’s very easy to hate her, even after knowing her very tragic backstory. And thus, when she finally meets her end, crying, on her knees and hallucinating due to the pain by Kiriyama’s hand, it’s hard not to say that she deserved every bullet. After she killed her friends, and even those who tried to help her and loved her honestly, we can’t deny that we’re happy to see her gone.
Her death marks the beginning of the end of Battle Royale, and is so satisfying, that she earns the sixth place on our list.
5. Platinum End
- Authors: Obata, Takeshi (Art), Ohba, Tsugumi (Story)
- Genres: Drama, Shounen, Supernatural, Psychological
- Volumes: 6
- Published: 2015 – ongoing
Greed and Jealousy can destroy many lives. Mirai Kakehashi knows this first hand, as his own life has been a living nightmare ever since his parents and young brother were killed in a freak accident and his uncle and aunt took him in.
From that day onward, he was treated as a slave in the house, and mistreated so badly, that by the time he finished junior high, the only thing he wanted was to die. And neither his uncle nor aunt cared, as for them, he was just a means to an end –as long as he was with them, they got the money from his inheritance and his parents’ insurance.
The worst part of the whole thing was that Mirai didn’t know that his uncle was directly responsible for the death of his family and that Mirai himself was supposed to die with them. His uncle had messed with the family’s car’s wiring, waiting to get rid of his brother and make sure the money went to him. So when Mirai accidentally mind-controls his aunt to reveal the truth and kill herself, we can’t feel sorry for her. We feel less sorry for Mirai’s uncle, who was the one who triggered the whole situation –both by killing his brother, and by arriving when Mirai was learning the truth and making him say ‘You should’ve died instead- and is taken to jail as a suspect in his wife’s death.
This is a swift act of justice that really needed to happen, and because Mirai is so good that he even feels bad for his aunt and uncle, it earns our fifth place.
- Authors: Tonogai, Yoshiki
- Genres: Mystery, Drama, Horror, Psychological, Shounen
- Volumes: 6
- Published: 2010 - 2012
What is your sin? That is the question that a group of people in animal masks have to ask themselves if they want to save their lives. Unfortunately, all of them have dark secrets in their closet, and those secrets actually connect to each other. Hiro believes he is the exception to the rule, as no matter how much he tries to remember, there’s nothing he has done that deserves a death penalty. Well, there was the time he told his brother that his girlfriend had changed the hour of their date, which in turn caused him to be in an accident that killed him, but he didn’t do it in purpose, so it really doesn’t count.
Judge is a manga full of twists and turns, as we have come to expect from Tonogai’s works after Doubt. But the biggest one is that Hiro is not quite an innocent bystander caught in the game, but one of the masterminds behind it. He, and his childhood friend Hikari, are killing everyone who was involved in the accident that killed Hiro’s brother, as revenge for the light sentence that the driver who caused it got. So it seems that Hiro will manage to hide many crimes: the killings in the Judge game, as well as his original lie. That is enough to dislike him. Until the moment he starts feeling ill, right at the end, and Hikari reveals that she knew about his lie. She considers him to be guilty of his brother’s death, and thus, she also has to punish him.
Because Hiro is so convinced of his innocence, and his jealousy towards his brother is so obvious, it’s great to see him get caught in the end, and this moment earns the fourth place on our list.
3. Banana Fish
- Authors: Yoshida, Akimi
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Shoujo
- Volumes: 19
- Published: 1985 –1994
When you are knee-deep in a gang war and a territory war between the Italian and Japanese mob, there are a lot of people around you who deserve to be punished. As we follow Ash and Eiji’s desperate search of the origins of the mind-controlling drug known as Banana Fish, we meet every kind of despicable human; from Dino Golzoni, who abused Ash since he was only eight years old, to politicians who use the criminals’ families resources to rise in power. But few are as dangerous and despicable as the Lee clan, who are the main players in the search for the Banana Fish formula and the majority of the deaths in the series. They’re collectively so evil that they don’t stop at raping their own women if that serves their final plan.
And because of this, it is very cathartic to see their power be chipped away by the same people they used as cannon fodder. Sure, Yut Lung Lee survives, and takes over the syndicate, but their power is nowhere near what it used to be. Seeing him reduced to tears as he realizes that his subordinate won’t kill him because he is a better man who is tired of all the violence, is a better revenge than just a mindless kill. Because now, Yut Lung will live with the knowledge of what he did, and given his soft nature, that’s punishment enough. It’s just a pity that not all of the Lee Syndicate subordinates learned that lesson, as we learn in the very last manga volume.
Although it’s a very satisfying moment in the manga, it’s a bit softer compared to other karmic moments so it only reaches the third place on our list.
2. Adolf ni Tsugu (Message to Adolf)
- Authors: Tezukua, Osamu
- Genres: Drama, Historical, Military
- Volumes: 4
- Published: 1983 – 1985
Message to Adolf is a very hard story to read, as it follows three men named Adolf who were born in Germany at the beginning of the last century: Adolf Kamil, a young jewish german boy; Adolf Kaufman, his Japanese-German best friend-turned enemy due to World War II anti-semitism; and none other than Adolf Hitler. With that premise, one would think that the greatest moment of justice in this manga would be the moment when Adolf Hitler finally meets his end in a very ironic way. However, that moment is completely dwarfed by the real resolution of the story, the final confrontation between Adolf Kamil and Adolf Kaufman is the real winner of the contest for justice served.
Because, while at first you may be feeling sorry for Kaufman, as he starts as a sweet kid who just got brainwashed by the nazi ideals, he not only attacks and tries to kill Kamil many times, but also rapes Kamil’s wife, Elsa, whom he had loved as a child because she refused to go with him. He’s chased by the ghost of those whom he killed, and not only that, but his mission in life –to destroy the evidence of Hitler’s biggest secret – is made useless right the second he manages to get the means to fulfill it. And then, because he hates jewish people with all his heart, he goes and joins the Palestinian army. For all these reasons, it’s hard not to smile when his life finally ends… at Adolf Kamil’s hands.
Because of the great timing and narrative genius of Tezuka Sensei, this moment of justice served earns the second place on our list.
1. Ikigami (Ikigami: The ultimate limit)
- Authors: Mase, Motoro
- Genres: Action, Mystery, Drama, Psychological, Seinen
- Volumes: 10
- Published: 2005 – 2012
In the world of Ikigami, everyone lives with the risk of dying between their 18 and 24th birthdays due to a law called the National Welfare Act. Children are randomly injected with a nanocapsule that will rupture their aorta, killing them instantly, in order to encourage the whole country to be grateful for their lives. No one knows who the chosen are until 24 hours before their death, when a government official comes with an Ikigami, a Death Paper. Obviously, people react very differently to the news, and most of the story deals with those individuals before verging on the real question of why the Act was instituted and how random it really is. And while anyone who decided that a massive decimation of the population deserves punishment, they’re not what puts Ikigami on this list.
Enter Representative Takimoto Kazuko. She is a very driven woman who will stop at nothing to win her local elections, as she wants nothing but to become the country’s leader one day. This has made her neglect her family to the point that her son is convinced she doesn’t love him at all, and her husband is deathly afraid of her. What makes her truly despicable is that when her son gets his Ikigami, instead of wanting to spend time with him she decides to make it part of her campaign to insure that she will win. This drives the poor Naoki to try and kill his own mother, and thus, bring all her political ambitions to an end. Given how cold she was, and how much she didn’t care about her dying son, even as he fell at her feet, we can’t feel sorry for her.
Given the long-reaching consequences that this has both in Takimoto’s life and in the general plot, this moment of karmic justice earns the first place on our list.
We all want the guilty to face justice, be it by legal means or because the universe has decided to punish them somehow. It’s what makes us believe for a moment that life can be fair, that good guys win, and bad guys never prosper. So a good cathartic moment where justice wins is always a great way to either end a series, or at least, end a villain’s story within the series.
Of course, there are many manga with memorable villains that have faced the consequences of their acts, so we need to ask you, did we miss your favorite sweet justice moment? If so, please, let us know and tell us about it in the comments below.