What makes an anime villain? Sure, he or she may have a wicked laugh, a deathly stare, and a super-evil master plan, but what makes a good villain instead of the bad kind? You have to like them, right? (After all, you’re usually rooting for them, even though they are the bad guys.) Plus, they often have the coolest powers, and you want to be just like them when you grow up. Like any list of the best anime villains, this one is subjective. But here is our list of the ones that we think are the most interesting, and sometimes even the most likable.
Content Navigation (TL:DR)
- Mama Isabella (The Promised Neverland)
- Johan Liebert (Monster)
- Griffith (Berserk)
- Bondrewd (Made in Abyss)
- Rize Kamishiro (Tokyo Ghoul)
- Shogo Makashima (Psycho pass)
- The Major (Hellsing Ultimate)
- Kyubey (Madoka Magica)
- Junko Enoshima (Dranganronpa: The Animation)
- All For One (My Hero Academia)
- Reiner Braun & Bertolt Hoover (Attack On Titan)
- Naraku (Inuyasha)
- Garou (One Punch Man)
- Yami Marik (Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters)
- Utsuro (Gintama)
- King Bradley (Full Metal Alchemist)
- The Anti Spiral (Gurren Lagann)
- Zamasu (Dragon Ball Super)
- Gilgamesh (Fate Series)
- Yoshikage Kira (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
- Madara Uchiha (Naruto Shippuden)
- Meruem (Hunter x Hunter)
- Marshall D. Teach (One Piece)
- Sosuke Aizen (Bleach)
Mama Isabella (The Promised Neverland)
This dark fantasy anime adaptation shows us an orphanage where children are raised as livestock to the demons that hunt and feed on human flesh.
One of the most hated female anime villain to date, Isabella appeared to be a caring person who genuinely wanted to help children at the Grace Field House orphanage. When the twist is revealed that she’s taking good care of these children to be high-quality food to save her own skin, we were shocked. Shen it was revealed that she actually did love these children but still chose her own skin, we were conflicted. Isabella raised a lot of eyebrows, but though she was villainous, she is easily one of the most impactful characters in The Promised Neverland.
Check Out: 13 Dark Anime Like The Promised Neverland
Johan Liebert (Monster)
Monster is a psychological anime series about a famed neurosurgeon that is burden by guilt when he finds out that the one he chose to save some nine odd years ago ends up as a perfect villain.
Johan has an unusual and unsettling ability to fade into the background of any situation. Wherever he goes, people seem to forget his presence almost instantaneously as if he never was there at all in the first place. His likeable demeanour coupled with a modest appearance only exacerbates this effect; most who see him for even just one moment will likely not remember anything about it, later on, save from that brief encounter where they may have shaken hands or passed by each other without exchanging words.
You might not be able to tell at first glance, but this man has a secret. He’s been raised as the child of government agents trained in all sorts of ways. He is a master manipulator, using people’s weaknesses to make them commit unspeakable acts and even kill themselves when they’re at their most vulnerable state.
He has an original goal, as he stated when he was young. He plans on being the last one standing at the end of all things. Johan creates a new fate for himself towards that end, and it’s not what you might have expected. One of Monster’s themes is how individuals are capable of transforming into monsters with Johan often acting as either direct and indirect catalyst for these transformations.
Giving us one of the truly evil anime characters, Monster is a slow-paced psychological thriller anime that dives deep into the human psyche and handles dark and mature themes. A widely acclaimed 1:1 anime adaptation of a manga of the same name published in 1994.
Berserk is the story of one man’s quest to find his own path while supporting another’s lust for power. It follows Guts, a giant sword-wielding mercenary who joins and leaves an infamous band of mercenaries called “The Band of Hawk,” under their leader Griffith.
As the leader of his own mercenary band, Griffith did nothing wrong in his pursuit of power with unparalleled efficiency. If it involved overcoming an army or assassinating leaders in a country to get what he wanted, then you better believe that this peasant-turned-legend did it without any hesitation whatsoever. In fact, when times were tough and there was no way out but forward, his friends would be right at his side as they made their trek into power!
That didn’t stop Griffith from seeking out his dreams. When given the option to become a demon and continue on in pursuit of those dreams, he whole-heartedly accepted it; even though this came at the cost of sacrificing not only everyone else’s lives but also his own friends’ and allies’. Yes, Griffith did nothing wrong! But to his allies, he did them nasty.
Check Out: 14 Gruesome Anime Like Berserk
Bondrewd (Made in Abyss)
Made in Abyss is not the happy adventure anime it seems to be. Though there are plenty of chibi art and all, this series gradually reveals its dark side as Riko’s and Reg’s desperate ascent takes a turn for the worse with death lurking around every corner they take.
When you are talking about Bondrewd, it is not enough to simply say that he’s one of the Abyss’ most renowned explorers. Bondrewd is the embodiment of what it means to survive in a world where there are no boundaries. No matter how much pain he inflicts on others, or how many lives he takes for his research, Bondrewd will stop at nothing until all secrets of the Abyss has been uncovered and revealed.
He has been inflicting the suffering of dozens, if not hundreds, of people and even more still will suffer. That is why his reputation even reaches several hundreds of thousands of feet above.
With his ability to survive the horrors of the Abyss by any means necessary, Bondrewd has become one of anime’s most iconic villains. A conqueror seeking domination over everything that crosses his path: He can rise as an all-time greatest anime villain if he could sink any lower. A conqueror seeking domination over everything that crosses his path.
Rize Kamishiro (Tokyo Ghoul)
The Binge Eater’s purple hair and beauty often enchanted others, but her eating habits lead to her defeat. And while she could always easily charm everyone else around her, no creature wanted to be on bad terms with the binge eater – nearly every opponent died who opposed Rize. Her rampage ended when Kanou captured Rize in order to obtain her Kakuhous.
She may not be that evil but she is one of the hottest female anime villains.
Shogo Makashima (Psycho pass)
There are few anime that have gained as much popularity and success in the west as Psycho-Pass. Set in a dystopian Japan, Psycho-Pass depicts a world in which the government has figured out a way to detect a person’s criminal tendencies via a Psycho-Pass process. This test determines a person’s likelihood to become a criminal and assigns a certain “crime coefficient” to an individual, which determines how much they say they have in their lives.
Shogo Makashima is a former Enforcer of Unit One and a hacker. Makashima is also a member of the Sibyl System and an associate of Kasei.
When Shogo Makashima was introduced in the first season of Psycho-Pass, he was barely a footnote in the show’s storyline. But in the second season, Makashima quickly became the most memorable antagonist in the show. He is a master criminal who can manipulate people using the Sybil System and a character who did not know of “good and evil,” “desire,” and “honor.”
The Major (Hellsing Ultimate)
Hellsing Ultimate is an anime adaptation of a long-running manga series by Kouta Hirano. Gonzo originally created the series in the early 2000s, but it was decided that the anime would be done in collaboration with Madhouse, a relatively new studio at the time. As its title suggests, the series begins with the vampire Alucard, who works for the Catholic Church as a vampire hunter. The series has been praised for its art and writing, but the biggest draw is the antagonist, the Major.
The Major (少佐, Sturmbannführer) is the main antagonist and the leader of the Millennium. He is a short, calculating, and utterly ruthless Nazi officer whose unremarkable appearance and polite demeanor mask a psychopathic mind that delights in all forms of cruelty and carnage. He commands with a good-natured attitude, which can change in a moment to cruelty or grandiose elation.
Fun Fact: The Major’s infamous “I Love War” speech may have been inspired by the “Total War” speech given by Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels in 1943 as the tide of World War II began to turn on the Axis powers.
Kyubey (Madoka Magica)
This creature is anything but cute. It’s a manipulative, selfish being that seems innocent at first glance. His race, the incubators, essentially treat humans like farm animals. They use human souls as the source of their magic and are sure that they’re simply ensuring entropy doesn’t get out of control which is not an evil intention in theory.
If Kyubey has his way, the universe will continue on with only a few individuals left. He also seems to be very amused when he forces girls into contracts.
Junko Enoshima (Dranganronpa: The Animation)
The animated adaptation of the popular murder-mystery visual novel series by Spike Chunsoft released initially on the PlayStation Portable, drags a group of high school students into a life or death game. It’s up to the students to put their heads together and solve the murders of fellow students before they are killed.
The game’s hook is that the students are placed into an elaborate death trap by the blackened, a person who has committed the most heinous crime in the country: murder. If the students can solve the blackened’s murder and identify who the blackened is, they win the game—but if not, the blackened gets to kill them all.
Junko can cause nearly anyone to fall into despair, and she revels in the despair felt by herself and others. Using her talent as the Super High School Level Analytical Prowess, she could detect everyone’s weaknesses and use this information to manipulate or even exploit people around her to do her bidding.
This was demonstrated by how she could prevent the Warriors of Hope from committing suicide and persuaded them to join her in spreading despair by killing adults. That power move makes her one of the best female anime villains out there.
All For One (My Hero Academia)
My Hero Academia was first released in 2014 and revolved around a world of superpowers, where 80 percent of the population has some kind of ability, known as “quirks.” The series focuses on Izuku Midoriya, one of the 20 percent of those without a quirk. However, he still dreams of gaining the ability to help the world and enrolls in the prestigious U.A. (U.A. High School is a school that teaches young superheroes.) The series explores not only how Izuku acquires his powers but also the theme of heroes and villains, as well as the history of the world. (Plus, the vast majority of the characters are charming and lovable )
Villains are often the most colorful and compelling characters in anime since they often have unique motivations and goals. One of the most interesting in the recent My Hero Academia series is All for One, who is the leader of the League of Villains, a group of villains that works to bring about the downfall of the world’s superheroes. His goal is to create a world without quirks, and he believes this can only be achieved by eradicating everyone with a quirk. He has manipulated many of the heroes’ most formidable foes into joining his cause to accomplish this.
Reiner Braun & Bertolt Hoover (Attack On Titan)
Attack on Titan is a series about humans battling giant monsters called Titans that want to destroy the world. The story takes place in a world where Titans have claimed all land, and humans have been forced to live inside cities surrounded by three walls. The story focuses on Eren Yaeger, who joined an elite squad to fight the Titans. The series is known for having great animation, a dark story and great characters, and a twist ending that leaves you craving more.
Reiner was supposed to be a soldier of the Survey Corps, but it turned out that he was a Titan in disguise, and he is now a vital member of the current Marley government. (A key member of the army, he may be, but not the most beloved. He has betrayed his friends and the country he has sworn to protect, and as such, he is the ultimate villain.) Also, know as the Armored Titan, Reiner is a dangerous beast who is virtually unstoppable. He does not have any problem with killing anyone who stands in his way of accomplishing his objective.
Bertolt Hoover is the main antagonist of the famous anime series Attack on Titan. Often referred to as “The Colossus of Death” by the Survey Corps members, Bertolt was once a member of the 104th Training Corps and Marley’s elite Warrior Unit. As a child, he was best friends with Reiner Braun and Annie Leonhart. When the Eldian Warriors failed in their attempt to capture the Founding Titan, the three of them were sent on a mission to find the “Coordinate” in Paradis Island. After murdering his father, Grisha Yeager, and stealing his Titan power, Bertolt joined the Warriors and became known as the Colossus of Death.
The show begins when a fourteen-year-old high school student named Kagome Higurashi falls into an old well on the grounds of her family’s Shinto shrine. When she is rescued by a half-demon named Inuyasha, Kagome learns she is the reincarnation of the priestess Kikyo, who sealed Inuyasha’s yōkai (demonic powers) away using a sacred arrow. Kagome’s family discovers that she has inadvertently released the sacred jewel that serves as a seal on Inuyasha’s powers.
The name Naraku is one that most fans of the Inuyasha anime and manga series will recognize. The mysterious villain responsible for many of the main characters’ problems has been a source of intrigue and fear throughout the series, so much so that he is often thought of as one of the best anime villains to ever exist. However, many fans may not know that Naraku has a deep history that stretches back for centuries. The characters have acquired a wide variety of impressive and terrifying abilities over his long lifespan.
Garou (One Punch Man)
One-Punch Man is a 2015 anime series that was widely acclaimed by fans and critics. It is a parody of the superhero genre. It frequently makes references to other superhero shows, including the Big Three of the superhero genre: D.C. Comics, Marvel Comics, and Dark Horse Comics. The show follows the story of Saitama, a superhero who accidentally gains powers and becomes the strongest Hero in the world. The series is a comedy with a lot of dark humor and is well-received for its art, writing, and fight scenes.
Garou, known as the Hero Hunter, is a famous hunter-warrior who’s dedicated his life to ridding the world of all superheroes and supervillains.
As a child, he was enraged by the hypocrisy he saw amongst those who considered themselves heroes and still preyed upon the weak.
He sought to end this new society by taking down the heroes even if he had to live up to being a villain.
Check Out: 10 Must Watch Anime Like One Punch Man
Yami Marik (Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters)
Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Kazuki Takahashi, which spawned the Yu-Gi-Oh! Franchise. It was serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine between September 30, 1996, and March 8, 2004. The plot follows the story of a boy named Yugi Mutou, who solved an ancient artifact known as the Millennium Puzzle, causing his body to play host to a mysterious spirit with a gambler’s personality. He becomes a Duel Monsters champion, with his best friend Joey Wheeler and his love interest Anzu Mazaki as his rivals.
You may think that a character in a children’s card game can’t be this awesome, but Yami Marik is not only the greatest villain from Yu-Gi-Oh. He’s also one of the best anime villains out there, period. His wickedness is matched only by his complexity, as he embodies both the hatred and the love that drive us all.
Gintama is an anime about a samurai named Gintoki Sakata who can’t get a job but still tries to do the right thing. He’s accompanied by Shinpachi Shimura, a teenager who’s still in high school but dreams of becoming a journalist someday, and Kagura, an alien with amazing fighting skills who are looking for a job. Gintama is a show that’s been running for over five years, with over 200 episodes, so there’s a lot to digest.
Utsuro is one of the antagonists introduced in the Farewell, Shinsengumi Arc, and established as the main antagonist in the Gintama series. Utsuro (original name unknown) was born with the ability to absorb and contain a high amount of Altana within his body, granting him near ageless immortality and high regenerative capabilities.
Utsuro decided that the only way to experience death was to start a big war that could kill everyone. His amazing backstory and chilling smile make him one of the greatest villains in anime.
King Bradley (Full Metal Alchemist)
The Anime series Full Metal Alchemist is a compelling story of the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse, and their quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone and restore their bodies after a failed attempt to bring their mother back to life using alchemy. Although the brothers are not always in agreement, they’ve become closer than ever as they search for the stone. But when they reach their goal, the Elrics soon discover that not even the greatest power may be enough to repair the damage they’ve suffered.
King Bradley is the alias of the Homunculus Wrath. He is the main antagonist of the Fullmetal Alchemist series and a secondary character in the first anime series. He is the first character FMA fans think about when they hear the word villain. He is one of the seven artificially created Homunculus and is the strongest of all of them. He is the most ruthless and brutal of all the Homunculi, willing to commit genocide (killing all the Amestrians in Central City) if it means the Homunculi will come to power. His inhuman strength, combined with his immortality, makes him a formidable enemy against the Elric brothers and their allies.
The Anti Spiral (Gurren Lagann)
In the distant future, humanity has lived underground for hundreds of years, subject to earthquakes and cave-ins. Living in one such village are two young men: one named Simon, who is shy and naïve, and another named Kamina, who believes in the existence of a “surface” world above their heads. These two’s destiny starts moving drastically when the ceiling of their village falls in, and a gigantic “Gunmen” and a beautiful girl named Yoko, wielding a superconductive rifle, come from the surface. Together, Kamina, Simon, and Yoko ride the mecha, Gurren Lagann, and soar out into the open sky.
The Anti-Spiral is the final and most powerful enemy in the anime series Gurren Lagann. The Anti-Spiral is the name given to the being that exists at the end of time. In its confrontation with Team Gurren, it reveals that intelligence is inevitably developed during the evolution of life. The Anti-Spiral exists to destroy intelligent life before it can threaten the universe with the power of spiral energy, which it fears will one day destroy the universe itself. The Anti-Spiral is the only being in the universe that has limitless Spiral Power, which it uses to power its attacks and transform itself into a giant centipede-like being.
Zamasu (Dragon Ball Super)
It’s actually pretty simple for those who are just joining the Dragon Ball universe to get to know your way around. There are three general storylines: Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball Super.
The Dragon Ball franchise is one of the biggest in anime history—and it just got even bigger with the introduction of Dragon Ball Super. The series is based on the manga series of the same name, and it picks up where Dragon Ball Z’s events left off. It follows Son Goku’s adventures, as well as his friends, family, and enemies—including an evil overlord who’s bent on destroying the Earth and a Saiyan warrior who’s destined to conquer it.
Zamasu (ザマス) is a Supreme Kai apprentice born from the universe 10. He is an antagonist in the Dragon Ball Super series who appeared in the “Future” Trunks Saga. He is a follower of the Zero Mortal Plan and believes that the mortal and immortal realms should be separate as the mortals are sinful and would destroy the universe given a chance. He plans to wipe out mortals and posed as Goku Black to steal Super Saiyan Blue and the Super Dragon Balls to give him the power to carry out this plan.
Gilgamesh (Fate Series)
The Fate series is a series of Japanese visual novels developed by Type-Moon under Kinoko Nasu’s direction and published by Marvelous and later Marvelous AQL. Since their debut in 2004, the games have sold well over a million copies, with over 350,000 copies in Japan alone. The series’s setting is based on classical mythology, primarily based on the Abrahamic religions, Greco-Roman mythology, and Japanese mythology. The series has been adapted into anime, manga, light novels, and other media. The series’ first installment, Fate/stay night, was first released in 2004. It was immediately followed by a sequel, Fate/hollow ataraxia, released the same year.
We’ve watched him grow from the sidekick of a villain too ridiculous to take seriously—in the first anime series—to the lead villain of the entire Fate series. (These days, it seems like he’s just another power-hungry jerk who wants to take over the entire world, but in those early days, he actually had a noble purpose.) He was defeated—twice—and yet, he’s still around, and he’s still a force to be reckoned with.
Gilgamesh is not your average, everyday villain. He plays the part of an anti-hero and an antagonist in the Fate Series, and his motives are unclear. He is both a parody of and a counterpart to King Arthur, and he is a constant foil for the protagonist of the story, Saber. He is a powerful sorcerer, a master of weapons, and a king.
Yoshikage Kira (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
The world of anime is filled with some truly bizarre and unique characters, so much so that it’s often difficult to explain why we love them. But one anime and its characters— stand out from all the rest. We’re talking about JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (JoJo’s B.A.), an anime about a lineage of heroes who have to fight off vampires, zombies, and other villains.
What is it about JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure that makes it so appealing to viewers? You have to start with the characters. Each one has a distinct personality, and every time a new one is introduced, they become another colorful part of the story. The way they interact with each other is what makes this anime such a joy to watch, especially the relationships between the main characters.
As a villain, Kira is a compelling antagonist. He has the qualities of a true sociopath, his motives and goals are clear, and his abilities far exceed those of his opponents. He’s intelligent and resourceful and has no problem murdering anyone who gets in his way. He’s also one of the best examples of the villain who is also the Hero of his own story.
Madara Uchiha (Naruto Shippuden)
Naruto Shippuden is one of the most popular anime that has a lot of fans that are very dedicated to it. It is one of the most popular anime series because the fans love the antagonist more than the protagonists even though the antagonist has caused a lot of pain and hurt in the series. The reason that the fans love this series so much is due to the fact that the antagonist is the one character that the fans feel they can relate to the most.
We are often told that good things come to those who wait. And patience is the main factor that separates a sore loser from a winner. Madara Uchiha’s patience and his ability to wait until the perfect moment to act is what make him one of the best villains in anime. Madara didn’t start off as the most powerful Uchiha in the clan, but he gave himself the best opportunity to become the strongest person around. This guy had a plan that was so diabolical that he used his own clan members as pawns. And it all began with an act of betrayal.
Meruem (Hunter x Hunter)
Hunter x Hunter‘s story has a great mix of adventure, comedy, fantasy, and action, and it has a lot of memorable characters. Some of them are villains, but they are some of the best villains in anime. The villains are the main focus of the manga series for many chapters at a time. The villains are won over through appeals to their humanity or through simple practicality. They aren’t just bad people for the sake of it. The motivations behind their actions are often complicated, and they are frequently more heroic than the “heroes” of the show.
As the main antagonist of the Hunter x Hunter Chimera ant arc, Meruem is definitely one of the best villains in anime. He’s the king of the chimera ant who’s destined to conquer the world. He doesn’t want to do it because he’s power-hungry or because he’s insane, but because he genuinely believes his actions will ultimately benefit the people of the world.
He stands as one of the best villains in the history of anime because of his rare depth, complexity, and genuineness as a character. You can’t just put him in the same category as other villains in the history of anime because he is a more developed character than them. He is a real villain, who isn’t just created to be the enemy, but as a human being who was so psychologically broken by the society he lives in and the world’s ruthless order.
Marshall D. Teach (One Piece)
One Piece is still one of the most popular anime today. It’s no secret why: the series is jam-packed with action, adventure, romance, and comedy, and for years it’s kept fans on the edge of their seats, waiting eagerly for the next episode. One Piece is the story of Monkey D. Luffy, a boy who gained special abilities after eating a magical fruit, and his quest to become the Pirate King by finding the legendary treasure left behind by the late Pirate King, Gol D. Roger.
Marshall D. Teach is one of the most cunning, ruthless, and feared pirates in the world of One Piece. A character that will do whatever it takes to achieve his goal. He was originally a member of the Whitebeard Pirates but later betrayed them to claim the Gura Gura Gura no Mi power.
The name Blackbeard is a reference to the infamous pirate Edward Teach, more commonly known as Blackbeard. The inspiration for Blackbeard’s appearance, personality, and the “Blackbeard” epithet come from the real-life pirate of the same name.
Sosuke Aizen (Bleach)
Sosuke Aizen is one of the first major villains you see in the anime Bleach, and he’s got a pretty great backstory. First of all, he is the captain of the 5th Squad of the Gotei 13 (which is basically an elite police force). He was an upstanding member of the Soul Society’s ruling council. He’s handsome, well-mannered, and a talented swordsman. He also has a lot of friends and family members who love and support him, which makes him pretty likable. However, He is the mastermind behind the first major villainous plot in the entire series and is the primary antagonist of the show.
Aizen has single-handedly caused more trouble for Ichigo and the shinigami than any other villain in the series. He has caused the death of many of the strongest characters in the show and has put the rest of the other characters in serious danger. Furthermore, Aizen is not evil for the sake of evil, which is how many villains in anime work. He is evil for the sake of his own personal desires.
His betrayal of the Soul Society and his attempt to take over the world with the Hōgyoku and his army of Arrancars was so well-plotted and executed that it could easily be compared to any of the most well-known anime series.