There are many approaches an author can take to write a compelling villain. In the DC Universe, the rogues gallery is often made up of true sociopaths, listless monsters who revel in chaos. In the MCU, most of the villains are more empathetic, forcing audiences to wonder how easily they could become the « bad guy » themselves.
Anime features the full gamut of villain types, but these villains often turn out to be fan-favorite characters. Although sometimes the sympathy of the antagonist is intentional – characters like Dabi, for example, are meant to be likeable – there are some villains who, by right, should be hated, but still still adored.
10 Sebastian Michaelis (Black Butler)
First you have to recognize that yes, Sebastian Michaelis is a handsome devil. But he’s a demon after all, and Sebastian’s face is just a facade. In the middle of the series, fans seem to forget that Sebastian is a demon who wants nothing more than to devour Ciel’s soul.
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It is a testament to his characterization that fans choose to view Sebastian as seductive and devoted rather than evil. Logically, it is a monster, but aesthetically? It’s a good match.
9 Envy (Fullmetal Alchemist)
One of the most devastating moments in the two Fullmetal Alchemist series is the murder of Maes Hughes. Although Roy mainly takes revenge on Lust, it is Envy who deals the death blow to Hughes. Envy hates humanity more than any of her siblings, so why is Envy still the fan favorite? Maybe it’s that deep, blatant hatred that truly humanizes Envy. Like its namesake, Envy is deeply ugly at times, but also painfully familiar. Envy is a jerk, but he is because he’s jealous of what he says he hates. Sometimes envy is just too real.
8 Toga (My Hero Academia)
Toga and Harley Quinn have a lot in common, and it’s not just about pigtails and moon bows. They both exude chaotic energy and winning charm despite their clearly villainous demeanor.
Toga is a ruthless sadist who has no empathy for her victims. He uses his Bloodsucker transformation quirk primarily to harm others. But she is also heavily influenced by the yandere type of character, which many fans have grown to love in recent years. Yes, Toga wants to kill Deku, but she adores him too. For whatever reason, that inspires a large part of the fandom to worship her in turn.
7 Griffith (Berserk)
Is it possible that the same charm that Griffith uses on friend and foe alike has worked its magic on the audience? Griffith is by all accounts a truly disgusting character. A rapist and sadist, Griffith is a monstrous man who is also strangely beautiful. Over the years of character development, he has only become a more clearly despicable antagonist. But Griffith is still a memorable monster, especially cunning, and his humble origins and dedication to his goals, however evil, make him compelling to watch.
6 L and / or Light Yagami (Death Note)
It is a matter of perspective, which of these two protagonists is the main antagonist of Death Note. They are both despicable and likable at the same time, and this compelling contradiction has fueled the series’ popularity for years. There are those who support Light’s attempts to rid the world of evildoers, and there are those who support L’s quest for justice. And both characters are cunning, constantly trying to outsmart the other in a cat and mouse game he remembers. to the rivalry between Sherlock and Moriarty. There is something eternally satisfying about watching a pair of narrative enemies clash.
5 Izaya Orihara (DRRR!)
Everyone knows that Izaya keeps Celty’s severed head captive on his shelves. Wield the knives of your enemies and also pull all the threads behind the scenes in the underworld of Ikebukuro. He often hints that he’s some kind of immortal being and not just a pain in the ass, and it’s more than clear that Izaya Orihara is a sociopath and perhaps the biggest monster in a series full of them. So what is it about Izaya that makes him so loved? Terry Pratchett introduced the word « char-isn’t-ma » into the lexicon. It describes someone so unfriendly and disturbing that you just can’t ignore them. Izaya has char-isn’t-ma in abundance.
4 Lady Eboshi (Princess Mononoke)
Lady Eboshi is a very proud woman, but she is not necessarily wrong about things. Ghibli is often praised for her nuanced portrayals of female characters, and while Lady Eboshi is the main antagonist of Princess Mononoke, she is a very likeable character. She is a decent leader for the people of Irontown, and values human progress and women’s rights. Unfortunately, it often does so at the expense of the environment, which becomes its ultimate undoing.
3 Crocodile (One Piece)
Crocodile is quite simply one of the coolest villains to ever appear in a shonen series. Former leader of a crime syndicate, the mobster is one of the first characters to completely devastate Luffy in battle, twice.
It’s difficult to determine what makes Crocodile such a beloved villain. He is a callous dictator with his trademark crocodile smile, and he doesn’t care about his people. But he has charisma and even now, decades after the Arabasta arc was issued, Crocodile remains unforgettable.
2 Hisoka (Hunter x Hunter)
There is no reason why Hisoka shouldn’t seem ridiculous. He wears clown makeup, and could perhaps be mistaken for an imitation of the Joker in the anime. But Hunter x Hunter fans know that Hisoka is a very nuanced character. It is impossible not to see him, giving the anime a stage presence as if it were theater. He has also spared those he believes will be better opponents in the future, a habit that could be mistaken for kindness. Even years later, Hisoka steals every scene in which he appears.
1 Kyubey (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
Kyubey is a soul-sucking sociopathic monster, but her design is very pretty. Perhaps that is why it appears in anime merchandising, in the form of a teddy, keychain and backpack all over the world. Kyubey’s viciousness only becomes apparent as the series progresses, and perhaps that adds to the sympathy this stuffed alien parasite arouses. The fact that a smiling and tender face hides an empty heart has something cute about it. There is a difference between being « nice » and being « nice », and Kyubey comes across as benign simply because it benefits her.