What’s the definition of a villain? Someone with plans to take over the world; wants to kill the main character; wants something someone else wants; power? There are many motivations for villains and each is distinct from the other. So, I decided to do a little write up of ten very memorable anime villains. To do this, I recruited the assistance of a very close friend of mine, Hasteaguy. We both picked five villains each, one per anime franchise, and they’ll be listed on this post as every other pick. And there will be spoilers for quite a few of them, so if you are currently watching an anime with one of these villains and don't want it to be ruined for you, I suggest you stop reading now. For those of you who don't really care if there are spoilers or not, here are some very good badies starting with Hasteaguy’s pick:
FULL METAL ALCHEMIST
The evils of humanity stem from the seven deadly sins: Pride, Sloth, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Wrath and Envy. The Homonculi, created in Full Metal Alchemist, are named after these sins, and each symbolizes their sin in some way. They are created by trying to bring a person back from the dead with alchemy, but instead making something that is alive but not human. Envy was created in the same way. Like the other 6 Homunculi, Envy is preternaturally strong, fast, tough, essentially ageless, and also comes with it’s own unique power: the ability to shapeshift into any form it chooses. Because of this (and because of plot spoilers) we don’t know (until later) whether or not Envy is male or female, because it can be whichever it wants. Envy is largely reputed as the cruelest of the Homunculi, laughing and joking gleefully when seeing others in pain. It kills without mercy or hesitation, betrays others readily and never regrets any of it. It’s not just a brutal killer either, it uses it’s shapeshifting abilities to masquerade as people and can manipulate others almost as well as Lust, the most manipulative of the Homunculi.
GRAPHIC VIOLENCE WARNING
Envy "Accidently" Shoots Child
However it’s temper keeps it from being a master villain; for the temptation to flex it’s jealous urges is just too strong for a 175 year old being. Guess being petty never get's old. Beneath this cruel exterior, Envy is secretly envious of humans' inner strength and the mutually beneficial friendships that they share, as most of the Homunculi show little real concern or emotional support for each other.
It holds, in its dark “heart”, a grudge against Edward Elric especially, actively putting it’s utmost efforts into hurting Edward every chance it gets, torturing him, killing his friend Hughes by masquerading as his wife, and *gasp* Calling him short! Envy says that it can never forgive him, though why and for what, we won't know until later in the series. In a show that is known to be very graphic and disturbing, for a mainstream anime, Envy stole the show for many, as a deliciously evil, revenge-engine.
This one is a different kind of villain. Lil Slugger is the villain hiding in your mind. The one you go and blame when you don’t want to own up to your own faults and just wish they would disappear. This makes him entirely impossible to arrest. Although he is a figment of your imagination, it is very convenient that every victim describes the same person; a middle schooler wearing a red baseball cap, golden roller blades, and carrying a bent gold baseball bat. All this makes Lil’ Slugger pretty deadly to the world mentally and, in some cases, physically. Some of the victims even go as far as to injure themselves in order to use this bad coping skill named Lil’ Slugger. Starting with Tsukiko Sagi and the pressure to create a character, to someone needing money, to a woman with split personality disorder, to a young girl trying to get away from her perverted father, and even entailing stupid stories like a woman carrying a fetus with a bent bat!
Eventually, all the citizens from Japan began to suffer from paranoia; and, as they do, Lil Slugger becomes stronger and stronger. He finally does get stopped at the hands of Tsukiko and the odd connection he has to Maromi. By the end of the series, the victim count is exceedingly high at god knows how many people!
*sigh* All I have to say to the characters in Paranoia Agent...... FIND BETTER COPING SKILLS INSTEAD OF THIS FIGMENT OF YOUR IMAGINATION!!!
Fan Made Paranoia Agent Trailer
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM,
ZETA GUNDAM, AND
Char, a.k.a Casval Rem Deikun, is kind of unknown to those who haven’t seen the first Gundam series, but to those who have, he’s the one who started it all. He’s the Ace Mobile Suit Pilot of the Principality of Zeon, known as the Red Comet, and is the rival of Amuro Ray, the protagonist of Mobile Suit Gundam. To give you an idea of just how badass this guy is: he singlehandedly destroyed 5 Federation battleships, in a single mobile suit, repeatedly whips Amuro just to prove he can, and always looks badass despite the silly mask and blond hair.
Also he has the most badass Headshot in Gundam history.
GRAPHIC VIOLENCE WARNING
It pays to be a stone cold pimp.
Char is a wonderful mix of passion, pride, charisma, and vengefulness. He can inspire people to battle at his side to victory with ease, while instilling fear in his opponents. Another defining trait is his tendency to hold deep grudges. First: against the Zabi family for killing his father and stealing the rule of Zeon; Second: against Amuro Ray for killing his pupil, and object of his affection, Lalah Sune. So yeah, he’s The Princess Bride's Inigo Montoya, in a big red mech.
Technically he flips back and forth from villain to anti-hero. In Zeta Gundam he changes sides and fights as a protagonist against the Titans under a new name. He almost becomes a new leader for the free world, In Space (lol), like he was supposed to be after his father. However, in Char’s Counterattack, he gets fed up with how disgustingly corrupt humanity has become, and sought to bring about the next evolution of humanity into Newtypes (space dwelling humans), by dropping asteroids onto earth. The logic behind this is that if humanity can’t live on Earth, they’ll move into space, and evolve into Newtypes. Smooth Criminal that one.
Full Frontal - Gundam Unicorn
Schwartz Bruder - G Gundam
Zechs Merquise (Milliardo Peacecraft) – Gundam Wing
Neo Roanoke (Mu La Flaga) – Gundam SEED
And several others.
All these Char Clones, as they’re called, emulate some form of Char’s personality or character, from the mask they wear, to the alias they use, to the vengeful attitude, pride, antagonist/anti-hero stance, or general badassitude in a Mobile Suit, and most of the time, all at once.
His name is Char Aznable, you killed his father/girlfriend, prepare to die.
In Greek Mythology, Medusa was a Gorgon who had snake hair and would turn people to stone if eye contact was made. Medusa Gorgon of Soul Eater is a witch who is really really into snakes and can pretty much scare the living daylights out of anyone that looks at her.... Yeah, see the similarity? Medusa is one of the few anime villains that would prefer to use brains over brawn, having other people do the dirty work for her. She has a very twisted idea of experimentation, even using her own son Chrona and trying to make him into a Keshin. After the experiment fails, she moves on to attempting to revive the Keshin Asura and even succeeds! In the process, however, she is killed by Professor Stein.... Or so we believe. She comes back, possesses the body of a young girl named Rachel, and is right at it again; but this time she stays out of the conflict between the DWMA and her sister Archane until she deems it the right time to move. That and she wants Professor Stein for herself. Oh and did we mention the Pumpkin Panties/Bloomers she wears this time?
Medusa has no qualms about taking exactly what she wants, and, if you don't comply, you better be prepared to die. She wants power and madness to swallow the world (Madness is a weapon in Soul Eater, go with it). Most importantly, however, she wants knowledge. Like Professor Stein, she’s a scientist and knowledge is the one thing a scientist ever really wants. But, unlike Stein, she takes it to new heights when she involves her own child, the well being of all the witches, and even her own life while masquerading as the school nurse at the DWMA. Medusa is a cold yet calculating character that will quickly be able to decide wether you are useful to her or not. Actually, now that I think of it, she's not really a human character. She's more like an animal, with her predatory ways and the way everything she touches around her pretty much ends up in serious trouble (Yeah, I know, snake. Ha ha). Medusa cemented herself as one powerful, slippery witch who will kill you the instant she doesn’t find you useful to her anymore. With snakes that dwell in her own body, and on the tattoos she posess on her arms, Medusa is certainly one of the more vicious and cold witches in anime to date.
Speaking of the word Vicious....
When you first see this guy in the wonderful mishmash of mostly unordered chaos that is Cowboy Bebop, you never expect to see him again. He just looks like a big stereotype, fixed scowl, gravelly voice, and few words to say. Most of all: his name is Vicious. That’s a name that I’d come up with when I started up Xbox Live as a 12 year old because I want to seem dark and edgy… until in the scene at the opera house and everything is justified: Faye is at the opera house but is captured. She asks the tall and evil looking man “who are you?” And he replies, “Vicious.” And she. Becomes. Terrified. Vicious is an incredibly heartless character that has been quoted by JesuOtaku as, ‘wanting everything and nothing at the same time’. At first it seems he’s loyal to the Syndicate and will do anything and kill everyone to get to the traitor Spike. But then we see that he hates the Syndicate and wants to destroy them and take the spot at the top. Not even his friends and comrades or even lovers matter to him at all. Literally, vicious and calculating, nothing and no one will stop this man when he sets his sights on a goal. And he’ll go to the darkest extremes to get it. Again, he’s one note, but he’s played so well that he’s up near the top of many people’s lists, and here he is again.
Spike v.s. Vicious
Skip to 1:10 and watch to 4:30
Yeah, yeah, yeah we all knew that this was coming and where this is about to go. Light is your average honor student who, one day, stumbles across a mysterious notebook on the ground. Soon enough he discovers what it is and what it can do. The DeathNote is the notebook of a Shinigami that can cause death for those whose name is written in it as long as you know the person’s birth name and their face. Now with something like this, you would think that the good student would either return it or even study it for scientific purposes. Oh no! Of course not! In the first episode, Light declares that he will wipe out all evil and become the “God of a new world”.
"God of the new world"
........Yeah....... Anyone who will declare themselves God is going to need a lot of counseling. But Light doesn’t take his new found power lightly. With current technology at his disposal, he can search for the names and faces of any criminal he chooses. And even good people like policemen who are investigating him are taken down by his power. Not only is Light intelligent, he is a master manipulator and liar, fooling, not only the Kira investigators but using the women he loves until he can’t get anything out of them. As JesuOtaku puts it, “If the villain is a snappy dresser with a sliver tongue and the good guy is a greasy gnome with poor people skills. Who are you going to believe, right?”
Now I know what’s coming next. “Light’s an anti-hero!” or “He had good intentions!”. The best argument that can be used is that Light was a good person and was just mislead by the DeathNote. However, and sorry Kira fans, anyone who calls themselves God in the first episode is not a hero of any kind. Near, I believe, put it best, “You yielded to the power of the Shingami in the notebook, and you have confused yourself with a God. In the end, you’re nothing more then a crazy serial killer. That’s ALL you are. Nothing more and nothing less.”
In the end, Light is a intelligent and cunning villain who has killed thousands of people while the world watched in either fear or admiration.
What makes villains fun to watch? They hurt people, create almost nothing that isn’t designed to hurt people, and generally have no redeeming positive qualities. So why does Ladd Russo, the lead hit man for the Russo family, keep on showing up as such a fun character? Lets take a look at what he’s like. Ladd is, for lack of a simpler phrase, OUT OF HIS DAMN MIND. He becomes excited at the presence of, or the promise of violence and death. He takes utmost pleasure, and repeatedly says that he does, at killing. Fast, slow, it doesn’t matter so long as they never see him coming. Nor does it matter who, as shown by this clip:
GRAPHIC VIOLENCE WARNING
Ladd Shots Chezlaw
For those who didn’t click, that was a child. And he shot him in the face, while smiling. So if all this is true, why do we love watching this guy?! I’ll tell you, he enjoys what he does, so we do too. Most slashers in shows and movies don’t know who they are or what they want, and kill to validate their existence or a cause. Ladd however knows exactly who he is, and what he wants and loves every second of it. He’s gathered people of similar interests and is betrothed to a masochist for his sadist. Ladd’s only failing as a character is his impetuous and rash nature. Causing his downfall later in the series, and several poor choices, made simply for the "fun" of it. Even when he’s literally beating someone into a bloody paste with his bare hands, the amount of giggling fun he brings to the screen makes you smile along with him, and then consider checking yourself into an asylum.
Ladd is a boxer!
The original Hellsing anime didn’t have a great baddie to fall in love with (stupid Incognito), but the OVA gave us back the man from the manga who ran with the Nazis (Hooray!). So far in the OVA, The Major hasn’t had much screen time besides at least two released episodes, but boy does he play a HUGE role in them. During World War II, a special operation was conducted to create a strain of vampiric, Nazi soldiers for an ensured victory. The Hellsing Organization’s Walter and Alucard foiled his plans and destroyed the research lab. However, The Major and his followers escaped to South America. Now, he returns with a battalion of 1000 vampires (and a werewolf and a physics theory). Is he carrying out his orders to take down England? Oh hell no! That would make him a normal dictator! The Major is only occupied by one thing. It’s a rather simple little thing too. What does he want? War. So simple right? Don’t think so? Just listen to, probably, one of the most badass villain speeches ever in anime history!
The Major's Speech
Yeah, crazy badass villain in the building here! It’s funny that one of the most awesome villains happens to be a Nazi supporter, but does that really matter? The Major is just an awesome guy who is having a love affair with war.
Before anyone says anything, yes, I know. Naruto is a bad show, but we’re not talking about Naruto. We’re talking about the first major villain we’re introduced to, and, no, Zabuza doesn’t count. At first we don’t even know he exists until he literally PULLS HIS FACE OFF, after biting a little boy and cursing him.
Orochimaru v.s. Anko
Then it’s revealed that Orochimaru (ironically voiced by the same voice actor as Zabuza [Steve Blum]) was actually a member of the Leaf Village, until he became obsessed with gaining power and immortality, and a serious snake fetish. As one of the three Legendary Sannin, and a previous member of the Ninja Terrorist Group, the Atasuki (wow that sounded sillier when I actually said it), Orochimaru is notoriously powerful.
For SEVERAL seasons, leading into Shippuden, Orochimaru is seemingly unkillable. He always either escapes, or finds a new body, or pulls a new technique out of thin air to confound the protagonists. Onto the next point that most people find the most unsettling about him are his general mannerisms and appearance, and especially his techniques. Orochimaru is pasty white, has snake fangs and snake-like eyes. That’s pretty creepy by itself. Throw in techniques that often involve him stretching out or morphing his body to either form or produce snakes FROM UNDER HIS SKIN! That’d be pretty creepy too, but it gets worse. Orochimaru plans to gain immortality by finding the perfect body. To get that, he experiments on people, literally cutting them apart, or putting himself inside them and then later pulling their faces off to become them. He's like a combination of Medusa from Soul Eater and Ed Gent. The sheer perversion, presentation, and staying power of this character makes him a reoccurring nightmare of many fans and nonfans of the series. However, because he’s attached to Naruto, he’ll stay out of the top slots I’d imagine.
UMINEKO NO NAKU KORO NI
Yeah I know, “Stephanie picked another witch as a villain, how typical...” Well insult me all you want, but once you understand why there is another witch on here, then you won’t be so snippy about it. Beatrice and Medusa are fairly similar; both are rather intelligent, cunning, and both know exactly what their goals are. The difference, however, is their hobbies. Medusa is fond of experimentation and gaining knowledge, and only is cruel when it's beneficial to her work. While Beatrice....
Start at about 1:16 to 4:40ish
Yeah.... Beatrice is a million times more twisted then Medusa could ever be, mostly because it's more fun. Beatrice’s main goal is to get Battler Ushiromiya to admit she is a witch and his family had died from magic. She does this by playing little “games”, involving different scenarios of the Ushiromiya family members dying by strange circumstances. And she does this in the most brutal and tortuous ways possible..... It can be rather disturbing to watch. And she and Battler play this game for several years, all the while everyone including Battler is dead on the island they are staying on. Time just stands still for Battler now while he’s stuck playing Beatrice’s game, and he’ll never escape until either he defeats the greatest witch ever to exist, or succumbs to her will (which will probably involve being naked and being horribly dismembered at the hands of goat-men).
Start at 6:16
There are plenty more villains that deserve mention, and I actually hope to do a countdown list, in the future. For now, you just read about ten memorable villains that will either make you cringe, laugh, or even cheer them on. Comment in the section below on your favorite villains, or your opinions on this list.
Written by: Stephanie (Lilac Anime Reviews) and Decker (Hasteaguy)