Unfortunately, bullying is a part of life and, at one point or another, everyone is going to come across some form of discrimination. Whether the victim, the instigator, or just an onlooker; bullying is something that needs to be addressed and brought out into the limelight. Nobody gains anything from schools sweeping these type of issues under the carpet.
Across the years, media has always served as a means to discuss any social difficulties that may define a particular era. As awareness grows regarding the problematic conditions in certain educational or work environments, our entertainment industries should attempt to comment on the matter. Thankfully, anime is no different. We are looking at anime bullies who, for some reason or another, are memorable. In some cases, the characters go through a satisfying redemption arc. On the other hand, some bullies are iconic for their sheer heinous acts!
10. Daigaku Kanehira from Piano no Mori
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: July 2007
Piano no Mori is a fantastic anime about two musically gifted schoolmates who form a bond over a mysterious cursed piano that only seems to work when in the hands of Kai Ichinose. The son of a well-known pianist, Shuuhei Amamiya is required to move to a small village due to his grandmother's ailing health. Endeavoring to follow in his father's footsteps, Shuuhei is an accomplished enough musician for his age, but his strict upbringing has ensured the teenager is unable to really experiment or express himself.
The class' designated bully, Daigaku Kanehira is a relatively minor character, but he plays a significant role in launching the film's central plot. Hailing from Tokyo, Shuuhei sticks out like a sore thumb and the school's ruffians quickly set their sights on the class' fresh meat. Assisted by his lackeys, Daigaku torments Shuuhei and dares the musician to try the cursed piano.
Putting aside the fantastical instrument, Piano no Mori is a relatively grounded coming of age story. In many ways, Daigaku represents one of the more realistic portrayals of a bully in anime.
9. Director Ton From Aggressive Retsuko (Aggretsuko)
- Episodes: 10
- Air Date: April 2018
Aggressive Retsuko is such a peculiar show! On the surface, the cute animation and anthropomorphic animal characters suggest this Netflix series is meant for children; however, quicker than someone can say Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the adorable red panda protagonist twists her ankle and launches into a massive scream that would make any death metal band frontman jealous!
Principally set in an office building, this seemingly silly anime gradually tackles themes like prejudice, regret, frustration, and bullying. With regards to the latter, Director Ton tends to be the perpetrator. Serving as Retsuko's boss, Ton is a hard pig to pin down, as he seems to shift personality at a moment's notice. For the most part, the tormentor only targets Retsuko, while the rest of the characters are either ignored or treated rather kindly.
Despite featuring in a chiefly comedic series, Ton has far more depth than most similar characters. Capable of being nice and even giving prudent advice, Aggretsuko opts against depicting its bully as a one-dimensional monster who merely exist to torment the protagonist.
8. Rin Sasaki from Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo (Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: April 2015 to June 2015
A harem series about witches who activate their abilities with the power of a kiss, Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo is a lighthearted supernatural comedy featuring a delinquent protagonist who regularly finds new and exciting ways to get dragged into trouble. Bored and always a second away from throwing a punch, Ryuu Yamada inadvertently ends up switching bodies with Urara Shiraishi, an honors student who is the victim of bullying.
Rin Sasaki is nothing more than a minor character, but a couple of the series' most emotionally resonant moments revolve around the girl's treatment of Shiraishi. Even though the anime's premise is outlandish, Rin's behavior is shockingly realistic. As the ringleader of a gang consisting of the school's It girls, she mocks Urara by cutting her down after offering a helping hand. Sure, her victim might not end up in hospital, but the damage is still done.
7. Katsuki Bakugou from Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: Apr 2016 to June 2016
Bullies tend to be simultaneously easy and difficult to properly write. On the one hand, their villainous acts allow the audience to gain sympathy for the main character, but certain shows venture into absurdist territory. For the most part, these antagonists are still humans and their behavior should come with a touch of nuance.
Recognized as one of the best shounen series in recent memory, My Hero Academia has barely set a foot wrong. Unsurprisingly, this extends to Bones' depiction of Deku's rival and childhood bully, Katsuki Bakugou. A fan favorite and an anti-hero, the teenager's positive traits do not erase the fact that he tormented Izuku for a number of years and continues to treat most of his superhero classmates in a somewhat questionable manner.
Katsuki's brilliance lies in his character development. As he suffers numerous defeats and learns to rely on others, Katsuki has gradually softened up. Obviously, the soon-to-be hero's anger issues are unlikely to completely subside, but progress has been made.
6. Tomoo from Elfen Lied
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: July 2004 to October 2004
Wait! How is this monster so low on the list? Surely, anime cannot be home to even worse bullies! Sharing many traits with serial killers, Elfen Lied's Tomoo is an absolute demon and shows all the signs of being a psychopath. Residing in Kaede's orphanage, Tomoo and his group of bullies systematically torture the lonely girl, even going as far as to assault their target.
After Kaede finally makes a friend, which may or may not have been genuine, the sweet girl reveals to her new companion that she has been taking care of a stray puppy. Tragically, this tidbit of information lands in Tomoo's lap, who decides to butcher the animal in front of Kaede! This heinous act completely breaks the group's victim, who unleashes her vectors and massacres her tormentors.
For better or worse, Tomoo's murder of the puppy is iconic, but the bully comes across as somewhat of a cliche. Psychopaths do exist and we are sure there are some absolutely monstrous children out there, but Tomoo is more of a plot device than an actual character.
5. Miyabi Aizawa from Great Teacher Onizuka
- Episodes: 43
- Air Date: June 1999 to September 2000
Here we have a rare instance when a change in the anime adaptation actually improved upon the original manga. Whether reading Tohru Fujisawa's masterpiece or watching Studio Pierrot's hilarious series, Great Teacher Onizuka is recognized as a classic for good reason. Centering around a biker gang leader turned high school teacher, Onizuka is a pervert who yearns to spend time with teenage girls; however, the main character is the only person capable of straightening out class 3-4.
Angered by a former teacher's betrayal, which led to the death of a classmate, Miyabi Aizawa acts like a model student but actually strongarms the entire class into their constant attempts to instigate the firing of any new teacher. Besides hating adults, Miyabi loathes weakness and will immediately ostracize anyone deemed to be going against her wishes.
In the manga, Miyabi's bullying is born due to her unrequited feelings for a former teacher. In other words, she was a young girl throwing a temper tantrum over not getting what she wanted. The anime opted to have Miyabi's friend commit suicide after being impregnated and ignored by the class' beloved sensei.
4. Kaname Asagiri from Mahou Shoujo Site (Magical Girl Site)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: April 2018 to June 2018
Mahou Shoujo Site borders on torture porn. We doubt there is a single person capable of sitting through the pilot episode without desperately wanting to kill everyone not named Aya Asagiri and Tsuyuno Yatsumura. A middle school girl who ostensibly seems to draw the absolute worst out of people, Aya is treated like trash by her classmates and family. Frankly, the anime depicts the protagonist as such a pathetic sad-sack, it borders on comical.
In a series packed to the brim with disgusting bullies, it would take someone truly diabolical to stand out among the crap. As Aya's brother and main abuser, Kaname Asagiri is simply that detestable of a person. Admittedly, the family's father regularly bullies Kaname for failing to meet his expectations, but that hardly justifies the brother's constant harassment of his sister. Kaname's actions go well beyond sibling banter, as he literally restrains and beats Aya to within an inch of her life.
Manipulative and a sociopath, Kaname is a purposely abhorrent antagonist. After witnessing so many of his heinous acts, it is near impossible to view this character as anything other than a monster. Honestly, describing his behavior as merely bullying feels almost wrong.
3. Kyouko Kouda from 3-gatsu no Lion (March Comes in Like a Lion)
- Episodes: 22
- Air Date: October 2016 to March 2017
Bar none, 3-gatsu no Lion has the most subtle and realistic depiction of bullying in anime. Transpiring during the second season, Shaft's flawless series suddenly jumps into a moderately long arc that focuses on the harassment of one of the main characters by a group of other students. While the bullying is obvious for everyone to see, finding a way to help proves to be painfully difficult, and the situation gets worse before it gets better.
Also, Kyouko Kouda has absolutely nothing to do with this arc. Gorgeous on the outside but hideous on the inside, Kyouko is the main reason Rei Kiriyama struggles so much when it comes to trusting other people. The daughter of a highly regarded shogi master, the girl becomes jealous when Rei is allowed to move into their house after the death of his parents. Desperate to always be the center of attention, Kyouko took out her frustration on the helpless boy, and the series even implies that some physical abuse occurred.
Living on his own and regularly suffering from bouts of depression, Rei's existence is frequently upheaved by Kyouko. Randomly showing up to make sure that her victim is not feeling too good about himself, the 22-year-old is a typhoon who destroys everything in her path.
2. Naoka Ueno from Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice)
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: Sep 17, 2016
With perhaps a handful of exceptions, bullies are not really designed to be likable. At most, their actions and motivations might be slightly relatable or understandable, but it is difficult to side with someone who receives pleasure from ruining someone else's life. The most memorable examples tend to feature antagonists who learn the error of their ways; nonetheless, when handled poorly, such an arc can come across as cheesy or forced.
An unflinching examination of classroom bullying, A Silent Voice made quite a splash upon release. After transferring to a new school, the deaf Nishimiya Shouko is forced to leave due to being bullied by the entire class. When questioned about their acts, the group blame everything on Ishida Shouya and decide to start bullying him.
Ishida's oldest companion and fellow bully, Ueno Naoka threw her friend under the bus to save herself. A tsundere at heart, it takes an incredibly long time for Ueno to accept that what she did was wrong, and she even blames Ishida's misfortune on Nishimiya. Prone to violent outbursts and using her bluntness as an excuse to insult other people, Ueno is aware of her actions but constantly fights against changing.
1. Ishihara from Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin (Rainbow)
- Episodes: 26
- Air Date: April 2010 to September 2010
Certain bullies are redeemable. Perhaps, they were victims themselves or failed to truly comprehend the consequences of their actions. In some cases like Hajime no Ippo, they even befriend their former prey and make up for their transgressions.
Ishihara is not one of these people. Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin is far from a comfortable watch, and this revolting human being is a primary reason why. Working as a disciplinary officer in a correctional facility for boys, Ishihara's favorite hobbies consist of torture, murder, and assisting in sexual abuse.
Due to Rainbow's shocking imaginary and unrelenting commitment to portraying the many appalling acts which might transpire in such an environment, Ishihara does not really feel out of place or overly cartoonish. For a lack of a more suitable word, this anime bully feels way too real!
Hopefully, bullying will one day be a thing of the past; until then, it will remain a topic of discussion across various anime. While scenes focusing on this subject are seldom enjoyable, they are also important and should be noticed. Whether realistic or simply despicable, these characters stand out from the crowd!
Which bully left the worst impression on you? Please let us know in the comments section below.