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Much of life is a duality; can you really enjoy the sunshine if you’ve never been stuck inside on a rainy day? Can you truly understand love without a little heartbreak? Can anime heroes exist without (literally) cartoonishly evil villains to bar their path, and cause grief, destruction, and mayhem? We at Honey’s Anime don’t think so, which is why we’re bringing you an article dedicated to those dastardly villains you love to hate. Get your happy thoughts ready, because you’re gonna need ‘em.
10. Gantz – Gantz
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2004 – November 2004
It’s a bit of a challenge to characterize a giant, floating black sphere full of weapons and a strange old man attached to equipment as “evil,” especially when it seemingly brings people back to life. However, the purpose and context in which it does so makes it obvious that its intentions definitely aren’t benevolent.
That’s because Gantz uses humans as tools in a viciously brutal game of murderous hide-and-seek, where those hiding are aliens and other monsters, and the penalty for losing the game is another, usually more violent death than the one that got the players there in the first place. It doesn’t help that the players chosen by Gantz as pawns are often-times insane themselves, abusing their new-found powers on innocent bystanders and their fellow players. After all, one of Gantz’s first acts is to summon an unconscious naked girl into the midst of players old and new, just to see what happens.
If acts like that aren’t enough, the sheer scope of the collateral damage caused by this strange, omnipresent being is enough to making anyone’s blood run cold.
9. Majin Boo – Dragon Ball Z
- Episodes: 250+
- Aired: July 1989 – April 2015
Majin Boo is somewhat of an anomaly in the Dragon Ball universe, as his intentions aren’t necessarily nefarious when he is first encountered. His appearance is chubby and almost cuddly, if you can get past the fact that he was created specifically for the destruction of all living beings in the known universe by a sorcerer with an inferiority complex, and brushes aside the series’ heroes like gnats.
Even though he murders and eats innocent civilians (and uses them to build his dwelling), there’s enough good in him that when the bad finally gets out, all lean muscles and malevolence, and subsequently transforms even further, it makes his previous form look like a puppy (the death of which is actually what put him over the edge).
As if the death of most of the world wasn’t enough, shortly after his emergence, “evil” Boo makes a point of murdering humanity with the destruction of Earth as a way to taunt Goku and friends, before taking the fight to another planet. In the end they’re able to put him down, which is fortunate since his chances at eliminating the universe were actually looking pretty good.
8. Kyubey – Puella Magi Madoka Magica
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2011 – April 2011
Appearances can be deceiving, and this is especially true of adorable, cat-like aliens incapable of feeling empathy and that have with hidden agendas. All is not what it seems when one such alien, Kyubey, offers young middle schooler Madoka Kaname some wishes in exchange for her soul, and her promise that she’ll help in a magical war against witches.
Throughout the series it is revealed that Kyubey and the rest of his alien race, the Incubators, are fighting to counteract the laws of entropy and the eventual heat death of the universe in an incredibly manipulative and misguided way. In exchange for granting wishes and magical powers, they harvest the souls of young women and store them in gems, feeding off the emotional distress engaging in life and death combat with witches provides.
As if that weren’t bad enough, once those who have been unknowingly manipulated into offering their souls for a human perpetual motion machine sour to the experience and become jaded, they become the very enemies they were created to combat, continuing the cycle. If the death of countless adorable young girls for the sake of utilitarianism isn’t evil, then what is?
7. Light Yagami – Death Note
- Episodes: 37
- Aired: October 2006 – June 2007
Sometimes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and this has never been truer than in the case of young do-gooder Light Yagami. In what seems like a rather responsible use of a notebook that bestows the bearer with the ability to kill indiscriminately with the powers of a death god, Light sets himself on a mission to rid the world of evil, one criminal at a time. His desire to become the ruler of the new, crime-free utopia was definitely a warning sign.
It isn’t long before Light becomes enamored of his role as judge, jury and executioner, and starts abusing his power. This, unsurprisingly, attracts the attention of Interpol and the socially anxious detective wunderkind, L, beginning a devious game of cat and mouse that leaves several (mostly) innocent bodies in its wake, and countless dead criminals.
Eventually, Light’s almost indiscriminate use of the Death Note catches up with him, accompanied by his sociopathic lack of emotion, results in enemies on all sides and his eventual downfall. Light’s case is a perfect example of sad folks becoming everything they hate.
6. Dio Brando – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 2012 – April 2013
Dio’s cruelty is partly understandable; he had a tough childhood. He came from a poor, abusive family with alcohol problems before being adopted by the affluent Joestar family. But even after his circumstances improved, from a young age he displayed a cruel streak and an unwillingness to tolerate the happiness of others. When he grew up, he attempted to murder his way to the head of his adoptive family. Failing in his task, he turned to the power of the mysterious Stone Mask, which turned him into a vampire.
His ambition for power didn’t stop there however. No matter how many times he was thwarted by his adoptive family members, Dio kept upping the ante (even going so far as to steal the body of one of his family members), resurrecting the ancient, incredibly powerful Pillar Men, all the while trimming the branches of his extended family tree. His ambition fostered an evil so powerful that not even death could stop him. You’ve gotta respect that.
5. Ragyo Kiryuin – Kill la Kill
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2013 – March 2014
In her role as the elegant, multi-talented CEO of the ubiquitous clothing conglomerate Revocs Corporation, as well as the director of Honnouji Academy, almost everything about Ragyo screams evil. While the world of Kill la Kill is a brutal, unforgiving place, Ragyo and her Corporation are directly and indirectly responsible for most of the bloodshed that takes place over the course of the series.
As the show progresses, it is revealed that the clothes her company creates are comprised of a special fabric known as Life Fibers, which are actually sinister aliens that consume their wearers. Ragyo’s goal is to destroy Earth in order to propagate the expansion of Life Fibers throughout the universe. She has sacrificed everything in pursuit of her evil goal, including her estranged daughter Ryuko, as well as her very body.
Truly worthy of her style, Ragyo goes out with all the flare you’d expect an evil villain of her caliber. Refusing to accept defeat at the hands of those she considers inferior, she crushes her own heart and cruelly reminds the protagonists of the futility of their actions.
4. Lucy – Elfen Lied
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2004 – October 2004
Part heroine, part villain, Lucy views her world in shades of gray. That is, when it’s visible through the fountains of blood she spills. Her worldview is a little understandable; as a Diclonii, a horned humanoid race with extra limbs called “vectors,” (which double as terrifyingly brutal weapons capable of rendering human flesh with ease) Lucy has spent a lot of her time in as a test subject in a lab, looked down on by humans. Like other Diclonii, she is partial to extremely violent outbursts and occasionally dreams of eradicating humans entirely through the proliferation of the “vector virus.”
While capable of acts of kindness, especially in her more benevolent, childlike persona Nyu, when the flip switches with Lucy the only thing capable of calming her down is the hot blood of her enemies, as she lets her aggression loose. Not satisfied by merely killing her enemies, she often leaves them mangled or crippled, helpless and bleeding out in slow agony.
With Lucy, maybe all it comes down to is being misunderstood, rather than inherently evil. But for the few gruesome moments you’re on the business end of that misunderstanding, it’s hard to look at her as anything else.
3. Annie Leonhart – Attack on Titan
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2013 – September 2013
While one look into the sadistic, hunger-filled eyes of any of the show’s titular Titans is enough to convince even the most stalwart member of the military of the evil lurking behind their menacing smiles, they pale in comparison to the female Titan. In the end, she is revealed as none other than soft-spoken MP and former trainer to protagonist Eren Yeager, Annie Leonhart.
What makes Annie stand out in a world ravaged by giant, man-eating monsters? It’s not simply her intellectual prowess, revealed in and out of combat, as she bloodily and dispassionately dispatches legions of her comrades in arms, using a situational awareness far beyond that of an ordinary Titan, while hiding in plain sight. It’s not even the way she betrays her closest friends, all the while putting the last vestiges of humanity at risk.
What really makes Annie evil in the eyes of her peers and viewers is that when she’s finally backed into a corner, and asked to explain the motives behind her barbaric actions, she refuses to offer anyone the solace of understanding, or an answer. Instead encases herself in crystal, robbing anyone of a chance at closure.
2. Knives Millions – Trigun
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 1998 – September 1998
You know Knives had to make a brutal impression to be considered one of the most evil characters in a wild-west themed show where episodes aren’t measured in bodies piled up, but in towns destroyed. As a living plant and the brother of the show’s protagonist, Vash the Stampede, Knives spends most of the show orchestrating most of his brother’s trials and misery from the shadows.
And his orchestrations are vicious. He is the head of the aptly named superhuman gang of assassins, the Gung Ho Guns, which he created specifically to make his brother suffer to the very end. Heck, he even gave his right hand man his brother’s actual left hand, granting him the ability to control people telepathically.
Most of Vash’s terrifying, negative reputation is due to Knives’ attempts at his life, directly or indirectly. Where Vash tries to see the good in everyone, Knives’ ultimate goal is the destruction of all humans – a race he considers to be weak and unredeemable. With the body count under his belt, he’s well on his way.
1. Johan Liebert - Monster
- Episodes: 74
- Aired: April 2004 – September 2005
The character that acts as the series’ namesake, Johan Liebert is the closest anime has come to capturing the cruel, terrifying intelligence of iconic psychopaths like Hannibal Lecter. Referred to by other characters as a monster, as the devil, or even the next Hitler, like history’s most evil villains, he’s merely human.
He was saved from certain death as a child by renowned surgeon Dr. Tenma, which set forth a fateful and bloody series of events that took viewers into a dark underworld and explored what humans are capable when they give in to their darkest impulses. Unlike other entries on this list, part of what makes Johan so frightening is the evil he is able to accomplish with nothing other than his cold intelligence and charisma.
He’s capable of cruelty and violence to the people he claims to love, like his sister, and even children. The orchestrator of countless traumas, both physical and psychological, as well as massacres big and small, Johan proves in the bloodiest way possible that no good deed goes unpunished. Some people just want to watch the world burn.
There we have it, ten of anime’s most evil villains. Once you’ve calmed down after thinking about all the terrible things the entries on this list have collectively accomplished, feel free to keep the sinister fun going by mentioning your favorite baddies in the comments section below.