Top 10 Anime Antagonists
Written by: ClayDragon and Shiggins
Let’s face it, a major part of a show’s appeal is the villain. Be they suave and sophisticated, or insane and genocidal, they’re always one of the more memorable aspects of a series. With this in mind, Shiggins and I have constructed a list of the top 10 anime antagonists. For the purpose of this list, the word ‘antagonist’ refers to the main enemy of a series, and not necessarily their moral alignment.
10.) Future Rouge (Fairy Tail) (Written by Shiggins)
Future Rouge: The earth will crumble, the skies shall burn, and the flames of light shall be extinguished, for I am the Dragon King: the emperor born from the Dragon King Festival!
He’s bad. He’s dark. He’s handsome. His name is Rogue and he’s from the future, so get ready to fear him. Although we’ve already met and fought Rogue in the present, this version of Rogue quickly became the major villain of his arc, which is impressive considering everything that had happened already.
|Deal with it, Minerva.|
Everything we know about him is definitely designed to make you wonder just how epic or scary the future will be. Apparently, the world has been destroyed by thousands of dragons and humanity is on the brink of destruction. When Rogue lost his best friend, the Exceed called Frosch, he went insane and killed his other best friend Sting so as to obtain his powers. He then went back in time (somehow) and started manipulating a princess to create a time portal so she could accidently bring dragons back in time and let him control them.
|"You thought it was over, but the games have only just begun."|
I know it’s confusing but that’s part of what makes him so fun. Some villains are obvious and can be figured out in just a few chapters. With Future Rogue, you have so many questions. What happened to Frosch? How did Rogue steal Sting’s powers? How did he go back in time? How could such a cool and nice man sink so far down in only one year? All this foreshadowing makes the plot all the more interesting, and that is why he makes it on this list.
9.) Medusa Gorgon (Soul Eater) (Written by Shiggins)
Medusa: Do you really want to live in a world of stasis? Where nothing ever changes? You’re a scientist like me, surely you must understand.
We all love a girl who shows some leg. Unfortunately, this one will also bring snakes to life and tear you apart. That, or she’ll just make her androgynous child with personal issues do it for her. She’s a scientist, so you know from that start that she’s going to be a great villain (because all scientists are obviously evil). Add the fact that she is a witch to the equation, and you know that the main characters are in trouble.
|She's like a magical, female Orochimaru.|
Medusa works undercover as the nurse at the school where almost every character either works or attends classes. Surprisingly fitting for a mad scientist who, among others, literally experimented on her own child Crona so much that the kid went insane. Her magic is snake-themed, as you can probably tell by her name. She also has a thing for magical arrows which makes her abilities even more strange and freaky, like allowing her to control a person’s gravity so that they get thrown around like a ragdoll.
|Don't be fooled by her cuteness!|
Even after she’s been sliced in half, she refuses to stay down. Appearing in the form of a snake and possessing a little girl called Rachel, Medusa spends the next half of the series as a little girl that was somehow still able to commit dark acts of magic. The best part of this form is that she spends most of her time manipulating and freaking out others with nothing but words and a trap or two.
8.) Envy (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) (Written by Shiggins)
Envy: Quit your pathetic blubbering, you idiot! You were trying to kill one of our most important sacrifices. Do you understand me?! You could've messed up the entire plan! What would we have done then?! Huh?!
And now we come to a real monster. Someone who isn’t human and doesn’t even has a gender. Envy is a Homunculus and represents one of the Seven Deadly Sins. For those who don’t know, a Homunculus is an artificial person who was literally created through science and experimentation (hence Envy and the rest of the Homunculi not actually being human).
|Envy was very pleased with the new script for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.|
Envy possesses the unique ability to shape-shift its own body, allowing itself to look like anybody it wants, although it usually takes the form of an androgynous teenager (hence why it’s referred to as an ‘it’). This is one of the biggest reasons Envy is feared throughout the series and is considered one of the toughest to deal with. Envy’s true form is definitely one of, if not the most disturbing sight you will ever see within the series. A giant green lizard-dog monster with six legs and tons of people poking out of its own body to represent all the victims that it killed during the Civil War years ago.
|Take our advice: Don't try and play fetch with him.|
So what makes Envy so much worse than all the other homunculus and villains that inhabit the story of FMA? Its kill count. Envy is perhaps best-known to readers as the murderer of one of the most beloved characters in the entire series, taking the form of his wife to make him lower his guard. If that wasn’t enough, Envy is the proud owner of a “Kid-Killer” award, as it once took the form of a military soldier, then shot an innocent child, so a massive war would break out between the government and the people of the region known as Ishval (In the 2003 anime, he killed the main character but that doesn’t count due to it being non-canon).
7.) L (Death Note) (Written by ClayDragon)
L: Justice will prevail!
Simply put, L is a genius. He’s the world’s greatest detective and is renowned for uncovering seemingly unsolvable crimes with ease. At the start of the series, he’s called in to help with the Kira case, and in the span of an episode he’s able to deduce Kira’s location and age simply by utilising a public broadcast and some basic logic. He becomes Light’s main enemy very quickly, and is just as sharp as him when it comes to forward-planning, meaning that the two keep on having to out-gambit one another to stay ahead. It’s a measure of his popularity (and awesomeness) that the show pretty much bombed when he left.
|"This is a public service announcement: Who stole my cake?"|
One of the main reasons I like L is simply because of his intelligence. When planning against Light, he makes no wrong moves and is constantly putting his opponent on the spot, forcing Light to think of a new way to turn the tables. This is complicated by the fact that Light and L spend a lot of time together without L knowing Light’s true identity, and so Light ends up unable to simply kill L with the Death Note.
|"Oh, mystical panda cracker, tell me your secrets."|
The dynamic between the two is probably one of the best parts of the show, and it’s one of the contributing factors of the show’s demise after the second arc. It’s made clear that Light is never quite sure if L actually sees him as a friend or not, and due to this he’s usually unsure of how to act around him. In fact, it’s a testament to L’s abilities that even Light isn’t sure of what to do against L sometimes. As such, L is one of the best characters in Death Note, and his intelligence, deductive skills and quirky sense of humour earn him a place on this list.
6.) Vicious (Cowboy Bebop) (Written by ClayDragon)
Vicious: I’m the only one who can keep you alive… And I’m the only one that can kill you.
As a member of a criminal syndicate, Vicious did a number of jobs with his friend and rival Spike Spiegel. However, when he found out that his girlfriend Julia was having an affair with Spike, he took it….less than well. He gave Julia a simple choice: kill Spike or be killed. Somehow though, Spike faked his death in such a way that everyone believed it, except for Julia and Vicious. Whilst Spike and Julia fled to different parts of the Solar System, Vicious climbed the ranks of the syndicate and waited for the day that Spike would return. When it finally happened, he had an epic battle with Spike on the roof of the syndicate building, resulting in one of the best endings to any anime I’ve seen.
|Say what you like, he has style.|
Whilst most villains have complex or multiple motivations, Vicious is driven by revenge, pure and simple. His obsession with killing Spike is reflected in every action he makes, and yet he never lets this fixation become a hindrance when ascending through the ranks of the syndicate. In fact, his entire reason for wanting to become head of the syndicate is so he can kill Spike, and this is only really made clear near the end of the show.
Despite not being in the show a huge amount, Vicious is a large part of Spike’s backstory, and is a driving force behind Spike’s way of life. As a result, he’s used to show that no matter how much Spike runs, he’ll never be able to escape his past. His sheer tenacity, coupled with his cool katana and weird…vulture…bird…thing make him a definite choice for this list.
5.) Izaya Orihara (Durarara!!) (Written by ClayDragon)
Izaya: It’s kinda scary how much people trust me.
There are some bad guys that, no matter what they do, you just can’t help but like them. Such is the case with Izaya Orihara. An information broker in the Ikebukuro district of Japan, he’s probably the biggest troll in the anime world. Want an example? Using an online alias, he made a suicide pact with a young girl, then arranged for her to be kidnapped, saved, and brought to a rooftop to meet him, where he laughed at her reasons for wanting to commit suicide and pretty much deconstructed her entire way of thinking. Then he left, and waited to see if she’d still kill herself. That’s right, he used a suicidal girl as a social experiment. And he’s still likable after that.
|The most untrustworthy man in anime.|
What makes Izaya interesting is that he doesn’t have any special powers or cool weapons or anything that a villain usually has. All he has going for him is his charisma, his insane manipulation skills, and parkour. Even without powers or weapons, he still plays everyone for fools. In fact, his plans aren’t that hard to foil, and yet he makes it so that they hinge on someone facing and accepting their flaws. They don’t, Izaya’s plan works perfectly, and he laughs his ass off.
|Yep, that's pretty much him in a nutshell.|
On the other hand, if this list was mainly based on the villain’s main motivation, Izaya would be much further down. Fearing the possibility that there might be nothing after death, Izaya plans on starting a district-wide conflict that will cause a Valkyrie to take the main warriors to Valhalla, and he plans to be amongst those taken away. All well and good, except it never really goes anywhere. However, his charisma pulls him up this list, as does his fairly epic enmity with Shizuo Heiwajima. It’s just a shame we never get to see whether or not his grand plan would have actually worked.
4.) Gilgamesh (Fate/Zero) (Written by ClayDragon)
Gilgamesh: What kind of philosophy calls pleasure itself a sin?
One of the seven Servants summoned during the Fourth Holy Grail War, Gilgamesh is initially in the service of Tokiomi Tohsaka, before deciding that his Master isn’t interesting enough. As a result, he decides to make a deal with Tokiomi’s pupil, Kirei Kotomine, and begins to work with him instead. Due to being the ancient king of Babylon, Gilgamesh has a massive superiority complex, and believes that every treasure in the world belongs to him – including the Holy Grail. As such, he’ll go to any lengths to win the War and walk away with his treasure.
|"Screw the rules, I AM the rules."|
Gilgamesh’s distinguishing feature is his pride, and it’s incredibly obvious that he considers pretty much everyone and everything beneath him. However, his pride may not actually be that misplaced. He’s probably the most powerful Servant in the War, as his two main abilities are overpowered to the point of just being unfair. His Gate of Babylon opens a portal to a huge collection of his weapons, which he then fires at his enemies. His other attack, Ea, is a huge sword that is capable of literally destroying planets. When someone has abilities like those, it’s easy to see how their ego could inflate.
|Don't worry, he doesn't always look like this.|
However, his one redeeming quality is that he will respect the wishes of those he sees as a worthy opponent, and as such spared Waver Velvet’s life when he defeated Rider. Given that this trait only shows up once though, it doesn’t make his character any more of a decent person. Even so, he’s occasionally described as somewhat akin to an anti-villain. This is despite the fact that he single-handedly pushed Kirei down the path of evil, which eventually led to him becoming the villain of Fate/Stay Night. How that can be seen as an anti-villain trait, I have no idea.
3.) Freiza (Dragon Ball Z) (Written by Shiggins)
Freiza: There are three things I refuse to tolerate. Cowardice, bad haircuts, and military insurrection. And it is unfortunate that our friend Vegeta possesses all three of these.
You can’t talk about anime antagonists without Freiza being a big part of the conversation. When he was designed by Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball Z, he took all of his childhood fears and combined them into this alien monster (Akira must have been scared of men in make-up). Freiza is literally the embodiment of fear and evil, as well as the most well-known of all Dragon Ball villains in history. In fact, he might even be the most infamous anime villain of all time.
|"This isn't even my final form."|
Not much is known about his past but in a way, that’s a good thing because we don’t need to waste time trying to understand or sympathise with him. He’s not some poor boy who lost his family or got turned mad by the death of a girlfriend. He’s an asshole and he’s really good at it. In his first scene, he kills children and old men instantly with zero compassion or mercy, and that pretty much sets the tone from there on out. He is also hated for committing mass genocide on a planetary scale, including the main character’s entire species (except the obvious few).
|He's talking to you.|
Freiza is also the holder for the longest anime battle in history, where he fights Son Goku on the alien planet Namek for multiple episodes (his claim that the planet would explode in five minutes was somewhat off). During this awesome fight, he killed tons of characters, took many beatings, unleashed an awesome barrage of techniques and became known for constantly transforming into a new form in order to get stronger and stronger. Seeing Freiza finally fall at the hands of Goku is possibly one of the most satisfying experiences ever put to paper.
2.) Yhwach (Bleach) (Written by ClayDragon)
Yhwach: Conflict is always such a bitter affair.
As the Emperor of the Vandenreich, Yhwach (pronounced Juhabach) is not only the progenitor of the Quincy race, but also their main Commander in their war against the Soul Society. Given the obvious parallels between the Vandenreich and the Third Reich of Nazi Germany, it’s not too difficult to see Yhwach as Bleach’s version of Hitler (except Yhwach has a much better moustache). As the head of the Quincy army, Yhwach leads an invasion into the Soul Society, where his top soldiers pretty much destroy the Soul Reapers whilst he faces off against the Soul Reaper Captain-Commander, Yamamoto. Well, sort of. He uses a decoy in order to soften Yamamoto up, and then steals his Bankai, bisects him, cuts his arm off and nukes the corpse.
|Yhwach laughs at your attempts at overkill.|
He then goes on to nearly kill Ichigo, and it’s only due to a (as-yet-unexplained) stroke of luck that he was pulled back to the Vandenreich base before he could go any further. From there, he rallies his troops, waits until Soul Society is in the midst of training for their next battle, and replaces the entirety of the Soul Society with the Vandenreich base, cutting off and confusing the Soul Reapers.
|Yet another addition to the list of Anime Characters with Oversized Swords.|
Before I begin talking about why I like Yhwach, I’d like to set one thing straight. I like Aizen; he’s a good villain with a number of interesting plans and effective strategies. However, Aizen’s plans were always complex and sometimes overly complicated. In contrast, Yhwach’s strategies are clear-cut and simple, and he clearly just doesn’t give a damn about the rules of war. In fact, where Aizen spent a huge amount of time trying to negate Yamamoto’s Bankai and defeat the Captain-Commander, it took Yhwach 6 chapters to engage and kill Yamamoto. In my mind, this is what makes him a better villain than Aizen – he doesn’t go for complex plans, he doesn’t try to manipulate everyone, he just stacks the odds in his favour, goes in with simple plans and still makes everyone look like total weaklings. Oh, and he defeated Kenpachi. Off-screen. Without getting hurt. That is impressive.
1.) Orochimaru (Naruto: Shippuden) (Written by Shiggins)
Orochimaru: In order to obtain every possible technique and truth, it would require an eternity. Only one who understands everything after spending such time on this can be fittingly called the Ultimate Being.
One of the all-time perfect villains of anime, in my opinion. He’s creepy. He’s evil. And he has a tongue that could strangle any boy that tries to escape his dark dungeon. He’s Orochimaru and if you’ve even watched the series once, you’d understand why he is on this list.
|*Insert obligatory pedophile joke here*|
The closest thing to a reason for him being evil is that his parents died when he was a kid and he wants to become immortal so he can obtain every jutsu. Some theorise that Orochimaru wants to bring his parents back but I think it’s obvious that they’re just wishing he had a redeeming feature. Although some people might call him feminine, the closest he gets to acting like a girl is when he talks about his main goal - taking Sasuke’s body so he can use the Sharingan to obtain every jutsu. You’d expect that to get annoying after a while, but it actually gets more tolerable as the series goes on. Hearing him talk about his experiments or how he is going to collect every jutsu in the world is an enjoyable treat when it happens.
|The result of too much plastic surgery.|
Do you have any suggestions for a Top 10 list, or an anime you want reviewed? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below!
|"Does this bug you? Does this bug you? Does this bug you? Does this bug you?"|
ClayDragon is currently studying Physics at university, and is constantly bewildered by it. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at firstname.lastname@example.org. The alternative is his Skype account at kyleroulston1993. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to understand quantum physics. He hungers for souls.
Shiggins enjoys all strange forms of communication, especially those including cosplayers saying hello to him. However, until that wonderful day comes, you can also contact him on his Skype; shigginsishere. He can also respond to you if you contact him through GMails at email@example.com.