Though it may be taboo for many in the religious community, there’s no denying that demons have become popularized in mainstream culture. From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Lucifer, there are countless shows and films where demons have taken center stage and, in some cases, even get portrayed as heroes rather than villains. No matter what side they’re on, demonic characters have strongly resonated with fans to the point that it’s almost become a trend the same way anime has. With all the demon anime titles that have hit the west in the last few years, the number of demon enthusiasts has grown exponentially, to the point that you can’t even walk around without seeing pedestrians carrying some kind of Demon Slayer merchandise.
There are so many good demon characters in anime’s history that it’s surprising most of this new generation of fans isn’t shining a light on other demonic anime characters like Inuyasha or Devilman. Then again, anime does have thousands of titles, so maybe they’re not aware that other great demon characters⏤especially from the early 2000’s⏤deserve some respect as well.
Here are some of the best anime demons, all of whom will hopefully remind fans that there are many other demon characters out there who are just as iconic as the series that they hail from.
As the son of Satan, Rin Okumura is about as demonic as they come. Though it’s true that he is half-human and doesn’t quite resemble the familiar imagery of the Devil, Rin’s blue flame gives him fiery horns, elongated ears, and even a tail, which are all definitely traits from the Underworld. Blessed with superhuman abilities and a katana draped in fire, Rin Okumura is undoubtedly the Devil’s spawn, but after being raised as a human for so long, he’s also one son who is not looking to reconnect with his father. In fact, he’s actually hoping to kill him. Talk about family drama.
The big bad from Inuyasha is one of the most cunning demons ever to grace an anime. During the series, he single-handedly spearheaded an elaborate plan and demonic operation to obtain the shards of the Shikon Jewel and guide Inuyasha and his friends into often nefarious circumstances like chess pieces on the board⏤and he did it all from a safe place without ever needing to lift a finger.
Hard to kill and filled with the strength of more than a thousand demons, Naraku is the boss demon that other demons wish they could be.
Akira Devilman Fudo
He’s literally a Devil! This is kind of funny, given how cowardly and timid Akira Fudo really is, but thanks to the possession of the demon hero Amon, Akira gains powers and the willingness to fight without losing himself in the process. This makes for a powerful creature with the body of a demon and the mind of a human.
As a Devilman, Akira has enhanced strength, speed, reflexes, and combat skills that allow him to lift heavy objects and tear demons apart with his bare hands. Thanks to his devil wings, he can also fly and leap over tall buildings in a single bound (sound familiar?). In addition, he can phase through solid objects, teleport, possess objects, and shoot beams from his body. If all the demons in anime decided to invade the DC Universe and attack its heroes, you can be sure that it would be Akira who would give Clark Kent a run for his money.
Just like Rin Okumura, Meliodas from The Seven Deadly Sins has his share of family issues. Born the son of the Demon King, Meliodas was raised in the Underworld and is considered the most powerful in both the demon and Earth realms. At one point, he was even the commander of the Demon King’s army in the fight against Heaven before he met the angel and defected to live a different life among humans.
Destined to age slower than humans, Meliodas has been around for thousands of years, which means that he’s had more than enough time to hone his superhuman fighting skills to almost near perfect. Even though he portrays himself as a happy little boy, this immortal is not one to mess with when planning world domination.
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Though Naraku is undoubtedly one of the most memorable OG demon bosses to work from behind the scenes, there are many younger and more modern demons who have followed his example. Demon Slayer‘s Muzan Kibutsuji is one such character. Also known as the Demon King, Muzan can turn humans into demons and control them, using them to help build the army of demons ravaging the land in the series. With the Twelve Kizuki⏤his most elite group of demons ever created⏤Muzan comfortably travels the land in the appearance of a human and issues orders to his subordinates without crossing paths with the Demon Slayers. That’s some really boss-level stuff right there.
Cold, calculated, ruthless, and extremely intelligent, Muzan Kibutsujj is one of the most dangerous demons to walk the face of the Earth.
Even though we have yet to see his full power, it’s said that Ryomen Sukuna is one of the most powerful Cursed Spirits in Jujutsu Kaisen. A thousand years ago, Sukuna was a human Jujustu sorcerer whose name as the King of Curses brought terror across the land. Defeated by his fellow Jujutsu sorcerers, Sukuna turned into a cursed spirit and sealed himself inside his own 20 severed fingers, turning them into cursed objects.
Sukuna’s presence as a cursed spirit is so powerful that even those same severed fingers are damn near indestructible. He’s powerful enough to almost take over Itadori’s body, and that’s after ingesting one finger. With that finger, Itadori has developed superhuman strength, speed, and even some abilities of the cursed spirit. If just one finger can do that, imagine what ingesting the other 19 will do to Itadori later on.
We may not have seen Sukuna’s full power yet, but at this rate, it’s pretty evident that the Cursed Spirit may actually be the most powerful in the anime.
Earlier this year, Funimation released a demon-based anime called Kemono Jihen that seems to have flown under the radar in terms of media coverage. In the series, a half-ghoul human boy named Kabane Kusaka works for a private eye demon agency to find his long-lost parents. Left only with a talisman called a Life Calus to abate his thirst and keep him from transforming into a full ghoul, Kabane is a powerful and selfless demon for a young boy. Ready to fight for his friends and any oppression to the Innocents, Kabane has even put his own body on the line to protect them, often ending in him being burned and torn to shreds. Luckily, thanks to his ghoul blood, Kabane can also regenerate his body relatively quickly, even if all he has is his head!
With immortality, superhuman strength, and a numbness to pain, Kabane is one kid you don’t want to come looking for you if you’re up to no good.
When you usually think of a demon, you likely think of someone who is sadistic, manipulative, and violent. Out of all the demons on this list, Griffith from Berserk definitely embodies those traits. Even before he became the archdemon Femto, Griffith was mercilessly killing enemies on the battlefield as the leader of the mercenary group the Band of Hawk. He even tried to sex his way into power and even sacrificed his own friends to become the demonic presence he is today. Griffith even smiled as he raped Guts’ love, Casca, in front of him, just to hurt his former friend out of jealousy. His rebirth into a demon ushered in a new era of the Dark Ages for Midland, bringing a time of murder, oppression, and fear.
Though you don’t see him very much after his transformation into Femto, Griffith still had a huge demonic impact on the people of Midland. He’s single-handedly responsible for thousands of dead bodies and the land’s economic ruin, thanks to waves of often OP demons that he’s allowed into the world. And once you see Griffith in action, it will make you wonder if he was ever human to begin with.
There are so many great demons in anime that there is no way to include them all here, otherwise we’d be here all day. Do you know any other anime demons that deserve to be on this list of the best? Which one is your favorite? Leave a comment and tell us what you think!