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This is an updated article to the original Top 10 Anime Anti-heroes article. Be sure when you are done enjoying this one, to check out the original that is directly underneath!
Anti-heroes make for an interesting character category in anime. Whether the main protagonist or not, an anti-hero can easily steal the spotlight as they represent an area of intrigue for the reader. Things are not black and white in an anti-heroes storyline, and in their moral quandaries we generally find things a little more relatable. Maybe, it’s just the fact that we find their complexity appealing or perhaps we just like our characters to have a little bit of a naughty side. Either way, anti-heroes provide shows with a great opportunity to explore more interesting, if not controversial, topics. With that said, let’s get into anime’s darkest and most convoluted heroes.
10. Katsuki from Boku no Hero Academia
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr. 2016 – Jun. 2016
Boku no Hero Academia finally got an anime adaptation this year and it perfectly captured the beginning adventures of Izuku Midoriya, as he becomes the greatest superhero ever. However, such growth is not easy, especially when Izuku Midoriya was born without a quirk and he has a prodigy like Katsuki breathing down his neck.
Now Katsuki was one of the first kids in class to develop his quirk and immediately began earning praise for it. It seemed the type of quirk that would easily lead him to success and a chance at becoming a legitimate superhero. All of this was simply more fuel to the ego of a hot-headed and bold child. This confidence of his, however, leads him to act rather antagonistic to most people. Either he finds them below his level and not worthy of his time or someone he simply has to defeat. He’s not one to admit being inferior in any situation.
9. Archer from Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct. 2014 – Dec. 2014
Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works follows the participants of a magical war that allows the winner to make one wish through the Holy Grail. In this war, seven magi, mythical heroes with incredible powers (such as Hercules), are summoned by seven magicians. The magicians can be of various rank and status and each hero belongs to a very specific class, with its own strengths and weaknesses.
This particular war focuses on Rin Tousaka with her Archer spirt and Shingi Emiya with his Saber spirit. Now, Rin’s Archer is an interesting mix of insubordinate, callous, sly, and powerful. In fact, upon their very first meeting, Archer causes Rin to use one of her three seals, which are a sign of her control over him. That’s not all that this “heroic spirit” does of questionable integrity. At one point he abandons Rin in order to join the team comprised of the Caster and Assassin class, because they seem to have the best odds. Admittedly, this is a ruse, but by the very end he does try to kill off Shinji, who is both one of the main protagonists and a force of good.
8. The Handymen from Gangsta
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul. 2015 – Sep. 2015
Ergastulum is a city filled to the brink with thieves, crooks, hustlers and basically anyone partaking in rather questionable professions. Ingrained into this community are the “Handymen,” Nic and Worick, who will take on the jobs that no one else really wants to deal with.
Investigations, hit jobs, and selling certain goods are all things that Nic and Worick take on without much resistance. On the side of such unsavory business, Worick also acts as a gigolo and Nic takes an immense joy out of fighting. Despite their harsher qualities, it’s quite hard to not care deeply for Nic and Worick as their friendship and care for many of the city’s inhabitants is deeply touching. Rather or not they care to admit, it becomes clear that these two have hearts of gold behind their extremely rough skin.
7. Koko from Jormungand
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr. 2012 – Jun. 2012
Jormungand follows the exploits and adventures of the international arms dealer, Koko Hekmatyar, and her crew of misfit bodyguards. Included in this team, and acting as a constant juxtaposition to Koko, is the child solider Jonah, who absolutely detests weapons. Strange alliances are made and stranger relationships form in this world where just about everything Koko and team does is illegal in one way or another despite trying to achieve world peace.
You really don’t have to go far beyond the premise of the series to understand just how much of an anti-hero Koko is. She is very much the definition of the ends justify the means as she breaks all the rules in her hope for peace. She will gladly use threats and deadly force in almost any situation if she deems it necessary or just the easiest the way to overcome an obstacle. Despite all of this, her heroic side does come out from time to time, as she has been shown to spare people that she’s already beaten.
6. Ai Enma from Hell Girl
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Oct. 2005 – Apr. 2006
Hell Girl takes viewers into a world where people are able to access a website called the Hell Correspondence. To write someone’s name into this website will send them to hell immediately, where the writer will join them upon their own normal death. Such is the price for using the website.
Enacting the desires of the users for Hell Correspondence is Ai. A seemingly young girl who culls people into hell through nightmarish mazes. What makes her such an interesting anti-hero is that it doesn’t matter whose name is written down or why the name is written down. Though none of her targets are per say innocent, it is quite clear that she wouldn’t lose much sleep over killing someone who has committed maybe a minor offense or is hated unjustly by someone. In the end, all that is required for her to take on the job is for her sympathy to be incited. Thus, she kills through her own desires and whims.
5. Accelerator from A Certain Magical Index
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Oct. 2008 – Mar. 2009
In Academy City, two things take precedent: technology and psychic abilities. It is, after all, 30 years ahead of the world when technologically and over 75% of the city’s population are students perfecting their esper ability. Well, one such student, who happens to have an extremely unique ability finds himself mixed in with the dealing of a dangerous organization after meeting Index, a young girl who was able to memorize all of the forbidden grimoires.
Amidst all the dangerous, underground activities of Academy City is the first ranked Level 5 esper, Accelerator. To put things simply, he can basically destroy anyone as his powers allow him to create a thin field of AIM around him, which allows him to modify the vector values of anything he touches.
Throughout his life he’s been targeted and thus understands just how much pure, unadulterated power can affect the world. Thus, he seeks power for the sake of it. However, there’s also this slight side of him that sees ultimate power as the best way to prevent others from even challenging him, which suggests a gentleness. This part of him contrasts with how excited he becomes when finding a strong opponent that he can unleash his powers on. Overall, he’s a conflicted character, who tends to challenge our main group of protagonists, but at the same time refuses to give into systemic corruption.
4. Guts from Berserk
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct. 1997 – Apr. 1998
Berserk primarily follows the warrior Guts as his fate weaves itself with the formidable troop of mercenaries known as the Band of Hawk. It’s a gritty tale that never really presents characters as right or wrong, but just living in a world where what matters most is survival.
For Guts, it helps that staying alive often means killing others and that he delights in the opportunity to hack apart anyone who stands in his way. What makes him such a fun character to watch is the fact that he starts off with almost zero redeeming qualities. The only thing that really pulls you towards him is his immense battle prowess. However, as the show progress and he becomes part of something bigger than himself, he begins to understand more of the human condition and struggles to figure out how his position correlates to that of his comrades.
3. Revy from Black Lagoon
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr. 2006 – Jun. 2006
Black Lagoon shoves a regular office type worker into the mad underground and black market dealings of the mercenary group Black Lagoon. Teamed up with the crass and gun happy Revy, calculating and iron-armed Dutch, and carefree computer whiz Benny; Rock finds himself discovering a whole new reality from the life he had experienced so far.
Out of all the group members of the Black Lagoon, Revy is the most antagonistic hero you’ll ever find. She doesn’t give a shit about anything except her guns and booze. She enjoys killing, sometimes finding herself most at peace when she’s threatening to shoot someone, if not actually shooting them. She has zero manners and even those who she respects, such as Shenhua and Eda are fair targets for her merciless wit and crosshairs.
2. Lelouch from Code Geass
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct. 2006 – Jul. 2007
Code Geass depicts a universe where Holy Empire of Britannia has conquered a large amount of the world. One country that has been subjugated under their rule is Japan, what was renamed Area 11 to signify their submission. Due to the oppression that the Japanese now find themselves dealing with in their own country, a resistance faction has formed to fight against Britannia. Joining up in this fight is Lelouch Lamperouge, an exiled prince who suddenly earns the Power of Kings.
Lelouch is one of those characters who will do whatever is necessary to achieve his end goal. It doesn’t help that a lot of his actions are driven primarily by his desire for revenge as well. This is why for the better half of the series, many people will actually probably hate Lelouch as he seems rather callous and cruel in his actions to liberate Japan. Constantly, it appears like everyone else that is part of the resistance is merely a pawn to be used. Of course some are knights, but they are all disposable if it means winning the war. This is displayed in many battles and ultimately when he betrays the resistance in order to set up his own dictatorship in Japan. However, his ideal is pure and, by the end, we even see that he’s even willing to sacrifice himself for the cause.
1.Alucard from Hellsing Ultimate
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: Feb. 2006 – Dec. 2012
Hellsing Ultimate portrays a world that is being torn apart and saved by people who relish in chaos. The people receiving the most delight from such destruction are a group of vampire Nazis and then the protagonist of the story himself, Alucard Hellsing.
When the main character has parallels being drawn between him and a crazed Nazi force, then there are clearly some rather brutal, if not downright disturbed qualities, comprised within our hero. Though at times these qualities are downplayed as he is mainly killing other vampires or people trying to destroy Britain, whether that is the Vatican or the Nazis. However, it’s hard to ignore the blood lust that engulfs his killing spree in South America, when he begins limb tearing and nick biting human forces in a gory declaration of war.
However, he wouldn’t be at the top of this list if it was just for the fact that he relishes in killing. This nightmarish hero from hell is also extremely manipulative and cruel in almost each of his relationships. Even with his technical master, Integra, he loves to pry open her feelings and test her mettle at almost every occasion. He does after all force her to permit his rampages, essentially drawing her into the muck with him.
Anti-heroes provide creators with a chance to embellish a more unique character. Obviously, the goody goodies of the anime world can have conflicts and will undergo change. However, they rarely leave us questioning what’s right and what’s wrong. An anti-hero can make you wonder and question an act, because there’s always something hidden between the lines when a decision is made. A lot of the times this is simply because an anti-hero to a certain extent has achieved enough power to enforce his/her point of view upon others. It’s with such characters that ethics can be more realistically explored.
Are they the good or the bad guys? The characteristic ambiguity is what makes them so fun to watch. Even selfish and immoral as they are, these characters never cease to surprise us and bring us good moments. That is why in the following list, we have gathered the most iconic, and fun, anit-heroes out there.
Hope you have fun!
10.Ladd Russo from Baccano!
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jul 27, 2007 - Nov 2, 2007
In the cocktail of stories and character development that is Baccano!, Ladd Russo surely catches our attention. Right from the beginning, this man is shown as someone who loves violence and wining. He might celebrate killing a person, even if it's dancing around his dead rival's body.
The quirks of his personality goes along perfectly with the complex and fast development of the plot makes him worth to watch.
9.Koko Hekmyatar form Jormungand
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr 11, 2012 - Jun 27, 2012
We kick off with a recent anime series that is worthy of its place. In the sketchy and violent world of gun dealing, Koko Hekmyatar turns out to be a well known and respected merchant. However, the more we know her, the darker she gets.
Most of the twists in the story are due to her unpredictable decisions, for which she always finds a clever and efficient way to solving the problem at hand. This anime would not be the same without the leader of the deadly band of mercenaries, Koko Hekmyatar.
8.Alucard from Hellsing
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Oct 11, 2001 - Jan 17, 2002
The powerful vampire who defends the Queen and the Country of England, surely represents the badass term on this list. He always longs for battle and strong opponents, especially for one who can put an end to his eternal life. We can see him getting along with some humans, although that's in some rare cases.
Regardless of his duty and morality, Alucard fights almost for the sake of it. It is a good thing he is on our side, otherwise who can tell what would become of the human world.
7.Revy from Black Lagoon
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr 9, 2006 - Jun 25, 2006
She might be what we all want to see in this anime. Revy makes the perfect connection from our main character to this mercenary world in Southeast Asia, and she does with splendid action. Faithful only to her partners and herself, Revy is a fearless killer. She will not hesitate to kill a person for the job, even if they are civilians.
The strong and stubborn personality about her makes negotiations even more difficult, which often end up in killing sprees. For the survival inside the dangerous world of Black Lagoon, Revy would make an excellent partner and a spine-chilling enemy.
6.Hei from Darker Than Black
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 6, 2007 - Sep 28, 2007
Just as being a contractor implies, Hei kills people like he brushes his teeth in the early morning. In the case of Hei, though, we do see him caring for some special people. This perhaps is also what makes him scary. For if it's his agency and for his own good, he will not hesitate to end a life, and in an quick way.
His large appetite goes according with his superb skills, making him a masked cold blooded assassin.
5.Light Yagami from Death Note
- Episodes: 37
- Aired: Oct 4, 2006 - Jun 27, 2007
If you ever thought about a decisive and ambitious character, then you have though about Light Yagami. A natural genius thinker with a cynical view of the world we live in, Light proclaims himself the next saviour of humankind after finding the Death Note.
This determined character will not easily give up on his plans, even if it means dealing with very powerful people. Despite how many people he kills in cold blood, it will all be justified, taking part in his "Becoming God of the world" scheme.
4.Guts from Berserk
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct 7, 1997 - Mar 31, 1998
The mercenary who travels from company to company, always fighting. The background of Guts, surrounded by violence and treason, is what makes this character a fearless warrior.
After some unfortunate incidents, he is complied to search for his revenge.
The complex history behind his past and the desire for vengeance is what makes him the ideal main character for this seinen styled series.
3.Mugen from Samurai Champloo
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: May 20, 2004 - Mar 19, 2005
Rude, vulgar and lewd. We encounter this vagabond with a strange fighting style early in the series, and we love him ever since. Mugen is known to be a womanizer, a trouble maker and a really stubborn guy.
His personality however, is contradicted perfectly with his companions, and ends up helping them once in a while. The nihilistic way of seeing life works as the cherry on the cake. Without any clear objectives in mind, he makes up for the most interesting and funny stories in the show.
2.Togame from Katanagagtari
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 26, 2010 - Dec 11, 2010
A little bit harder to find on the map, however not the least of this list. Togame starts a revenge plan with his weapon and companion Shichika. She then tells him about this scheme, which includes all kinds of strange conditions.
Even though she might be a cheery girl who considers herself as royalty, Togame will definitely play a brutal strategy against her enemy.
1.Vegeta from Dragon Ball
- Episodes: 153
- Aired: Feb 26, 1986 - Apr 12, 1989
When you think about iconic and anti type characters, you have to think about this guy. Regardless of our melancholy in play, Vegeta is a complex character with too much pride on his hands. We get to know him as the prince of the Saiyajins, and his attitude will surely prove that.
Highly competitive and wanting to prove to be worthy of his inheritance, Vegeta is always on the look for powerful rivals. His rivalry with the not so nobleman Saiyajin, Goku, is one of the most interesting features of this classic anime.
So those are the special 10! Do you have a favorite anti-hero? Please share with us in the comment section! Also, who do you think would win in a free-for-all fight between these characters? Chip in for your opinion on the most badass character around!