This is my personal ranking of the best anime villains. This is only my opinion and from what I have watched. There are bound to be great villains missing so don’t be offended. If you have a different take on this ranking, let us know in the comments below what villains you enjoy or what type of villain are you. Let’s start.
10. Askeladd – Vinland Saga
To begin the list we have Askeladd. He starts off as Thorfinn’s mortal enemy as Thorfinn seeks revenge on Askeladd. Thorfinn becomes a part of Askeladd’s crew with the dream of finally killing him. During all this, we get a good look at Askeladd’s character and depth. Askeladd is far deeper than a pirate who seeks only gold and riches.
During season one Askeladd honestly felt more like the main character than Thorfinn. While he teaches Throfinn valuable lessons about life and war he’s like a father figure to Thorfinn. Askeladd is quick-witted, sneaky and ruthless in battle. Although he is seen as a man of few morals he works under his own moral compass. Many find Askeladd to be the most likeable character in Vinland Saga and for good reason. He doesn’t necessarily feel like the villain, but we always have Thorfinn to remind us that he is.
9. Obito – Naruto
Obito’s goal is to create the infinite Tsukuyomi, which would leave everybody in a dream. Obito makes scarily true points when he speaks showing the hypocrisy of the ninja world as they are used like tools of war. Ironically, Obito himself is being used as a tool by another person, but he wishes for the same goal, which is the infinite stoma. So he doesn’t care.
The parallel Obito has with Naruto makes him so important as he was so similar to Naruto as a child. He shows how easy it is to drift to the side of evil, yet his intentions are pure at heart and he genuinely wants to change people’s lives for the better.
8. Light – Death note
Light, a genius teenager, finds a Death Note and brings it home out of curiosity. He wants to use it to see if it’s real so he uses the power on a criminal and it works. Light then starts a crusade to kill all criminals with the Death Note and make the world a better place. Sounding like an anti-hero, we soon see Light begin to deteriorate into a God complex as he sees himself above all others and is willing to kill the innocents for his own vision.
Light is certainly on the edge of good and evil, which makes his character even more interesting. The most compelling characteristic of Light is that his goal is admirable and the viewer will agree with his methods even if they are drastic. Death Note is what I’d consider the perfect entry series to anime.
7. Lelouch – Code Geass
Lelouch is easily one of the best protagonists and villains in anime. He would rank higher in a protagonist ranking, but it’s hard to distinguish Lelouch as an anti-hero or villain, so I placed him seventh as I don’t feel he’s an outright villain. But he is seen as a villain in the anime. Lelouch receives a Geass granting him the power to make anyone do whatever he commands. However, it is limited to one use on each person and often these commands may work out better than he imagined, or far worse.
Lelouch wants to free Japan from its tyrant rulers Britannia and the only way he can do this is by becoming the symbol of hope for Japan, Zero. Lelouch’s methods, similar to Light’s, are extreme, but completely understandable in his given situation. His charisma and fantastic speeches make you ready to go to war with Lelouch. Also, his genius strategic mind is incredible to watch when he’s against all odds. Code Geass does an incredible job of showing how Lelouch positively and negatively affects the world around him.
6. Utsuro – Gintama
From Gintama, Utsuro is the final villain. Utsuro is immortal and simply wants his life to end as he has lived too long. As Utsuro says, ‘can you call it life without death?’. His unique situation is thought-provoking and thrilling. To obtain his goal he has to destroy Earth as it contains the Atlanta which gives him life. The goals for Utsuro are extremely selfish, but yet you can understand him as he has gone through so much pain for hundreds of years, at least. Utsuro’s situation is so unique, but I can’t go on or otherwise I would spoil his fantastic plot.
5. Kira – Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure
My favorite villain with a hand fetish. Jojo has so many great villains, however, Kira was one of the most unique I’ve ever seen. Kira put simply is a clever psychopath who can’t contain his urges to kill. Yet when we see his mindset of wanting a quiet life with odd and polite mannerisms, we end up invested in watching him.
Although we want our protagonist Josuke to succeed, we almost root for Kira even though he is extremely mentally ill. Kira in the second half of part four essentially becomes the protagonist as we see almost everyone from his perspective, which ends up making him strangely likeable. But most importantly entertaining.
Kira will kill a woman and take her hand and treat it better than most husbands treat their wives. He’ll bring the hand to a nice bread shop and let the hand pick her favorite roll. Kira’s unique stand Killer Queen creates great fights, even challenging the likes of Jotaro with its little tricks. Kira wants a quiet life with little trouble, unfortunately being a serial killer leads to a fantastic plot, which is the opposite of what Kira wants.
4. Meruem- Hunter x Hunter
Meruem, born the Chimera Ant King, has a duty to lead his people. He is essentially evolution and is far stronger and faster than any other human. It’s Meruem’s growth that separates him from other villains. We are with Meruem as he is born and watch his character arc from birth. He has many parallels with the main character Gon and sees how flawed humans truly are. Yet Meruem finds them fascinating and wants to learn more as he meets a blind girl named Kogami who makes him think differently of humans.
Meruem is a hard character to describe as he himself changes his viewpoints and beliefs. But his character does a great job at showing the good and ugly sides of humanity and makes us question whether Meruem is more human than some of the human characters.
3. Griffith – Berserk
Berserk’s anime wasn’t done justice compared to the manga, however, Griffith still comes across as one of the best villains in fiction. Griffith created the Band of Hawk as they defended their own kingdom solely because of Griffith’s strategic genius.
Berserks world soon turns darker as Griffith makes a decision that changes the entire world. The dynamic between Griffith and Guts makes him an even deeper character. Guts and Griffith and the perfect contradiction to each other.
Being obsessed with his dream of ruling his own kingdom and all the sacrifices people have made in his name drives him to his decision. Although what Griffith does is unforgivable, he still manages to make the world a better place. I would recommend reading Berserk or picking up the manga after watching the anime.
2. Johan – Monster
The most terrifying villain on this list. Johan has no good intentions. He simply wants chaos. Johan has an incredibly deep backstory that dips in and out of the episodes in Monster. He has a constant presence within Monster even when he’s not in the episodes. Dr. Tenma, the protagonist, hunts Johan down, but Johan sees it more as a game rather than anything else.
Johan represents nihilism the best I’ve ever seen in fiction. Seeing the world as meaningless, while also making good points about how life and death are perceived. He drives the whole narrative and changes many characters for better or worse. You constantly feel at unease just by the mention of Johan in the series making him one of the best villains I’ve witnessed.
1. Shogo Makishima – Psycho-Pass
Many here might not even know Makishima. From the dystopian future anime, Psycho-Pass, only he alone can make society great again. Makishima is one of the few villains where I genuinely agree with what he says. The world of Psycho-Pass measures people’s psycho pass, which means the higher the score the more likely they are to commit a crime. And before they even commit anything they will be arrested. Everyone is monitored constantly and Makishima sees how wrong this is. Makishima in a sense has been forgotten by society as his psycho score is far lower than the average person even while committing a crime.
He is cold and philosophical as he witnesses what is truly wrong with the world and tries to make changes. Makishima is a juxtaposition to the whole world of Psycho-Pass proving that the CIBIL system is completely wrong. Psycho-Pass is phenomenal due to Makishima’s presence. If you haven’t watched Psycho-Pass you’re missing out on in my opinion the greatest villain in anime.
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