The Best Anime Villains

Attack on Titan season 4 art

One of the cold hard truths about life is that you can’t have good without evil. The same goes for anime: a good hero always needs a good villain. With so many different genres in anime, fans have been introduced to a plethora of great villains, even some so good that they’ve been widely considered more interesting than their heroic counterparts. Here’s a rundown of the top anime villains that are so bad, watching them do their thing actually feels good.

Tomura Shigaraki

The second-biggest villain in My Hero Academia after the nefarious All For One, Tomura’s cold raspy voice and chilling demeanor would fill anyone with a desire to leave in a hurry. His Quirk, Decay, allows him to destroy anything that he touches with his hands and⏤based on his lust for destruction⏤can destroy entire buildings if needed. Combined with his intelligence and a penchant for surprising the heroes with his well-executed plans, Tomura has been one of the toughest and most dangerous minds in MHA history so far.

He’s also one of the League of Villains’ sickest minds, which makes him a fitting leader for the merry band of mentally twisted deviants. This is the guy who accidentally killed his entire family as a kid and then made it a trademark look to wear their hands on his body like they were fashion accessories. What makes his story as a villain even more tragic is the fact that before his Quirk destroyed everything around him, Tomura actually hoped to be a hero.

Light Yagami 

There aren’t too many anime where the villain is actually the story’s protagonist, but Light Yagami from Death Note was definitely a special case. Highly intelligent, calculated, and meticulous to a fault, Light Yagami’s intention to save the world by using his supernatural notebook⏤The Death Note⏤to rid society of its worst criminals started off as admirable and heroic in the beginning. 

But when he began to try to cover his tracks and avoid prosecution for his good deeds⏤which were technically murders⏤his intentions soon became dark as he began “writing off” any law enforcement or civilians who were close to uncovering his secret. The creepiest part? He still portrayed himself as an upstanding citizen to the public, went to college, joined the police, and even landed himself a spot on the same investigative unit tasked with hunting him down.

Griffith 

If you’re a fan of the Berserk series by late author Kentaro Miura, then you know Griffith is easily one of the best villains in anime history. Usually soft-spoken and carefree, Griffith’s penchant for violence was usually ferocious and sadistic, all for the sake of his ultimate dream to have his own kingdom. Combined with his ego and charisma, that dream led countless warriors to join his group of mercenaries, the Band Of The Hawk. 

It was also his ego that would turn Griffith against his own band of soldiers. Not only did Griffith allow them to be murdered and sacrifice them in a bloody fashion to become the demonic figure Femto, but he also raped Casca in front of Guts’ very eyes, mentally scarring both of them for the rest of their lives. Thanks to his transformation into Femto, Griffith also brought an age of darkness to the land that set the stage for the Guts and his group of friends in the Berserk series.

Sosuke Aizen

Another cold and calculated schemer, Bleach‘s Sosuke Aizen, was once well-respected among the Soul Reapers as a teacher and a warrior. His warmhearted, soft-spoken, and nerdy demeanor made him popular with the female Soul Reapers, making it easy to dismiss any idea of him having bad intentions. Underneath that caring and benevolent facade, Aizen hid his true intentions: to destroy the Soul Society and create a new version of himself using the Hogyoku. 

Given that his Zanpukto’s true ability is to make a person see whatever he wants them to see, Aizen is probably one of the more dangerous villains on this list. Much like Griffith, many of Aizen’s actions set the stage for a lot of the main story in Bleach. This guy experimented on both Soul Reapers and Hollows, leading to the creation of Vizards and Arrancars. He killed all the members of the Central 46 and issued orders to Soul Reapers that helped his agenda, including the capture and attempted execution of Rukia Kuchiki. He even sewed dissension among his fellow Soul Reapers so that they would kill each other after he faked his own death.

Mahito

Jujutsu Kaisen has only just begun as its first season came to a close this year, but it’s already given us some pretty impressive antagonists. So far, none of them are quite as sadistic as the Cursed Spirit, Mahito. Like Tomura Shigaraki, Mahito is another villain whose sewn-together patchwork skin makes him the perfect antagonist in a horror film.  

As a Special Grade cursed spirit, not only does his cursed abilities grant him super strength and speed, but they also give him skills and cursed techniques equivalent to high-grade jujutsu sorcerers. A sadistic, brilliant, childish predator who plays with his prey’s emotions and treats them like toys, Mahito genuinely enjoys causing pain and destruction to innocent people, as long as he’s not harmed. And just like any child when they’re hurt, Mahito only becomes more dangerous and immature in his pursuit to return the favor.

Zeke Yaeger

The current vessel for the boulder-throwing Beast Titan⏤Zeke Yaeger from Attack on Titan⏤is just as villainous in his human form as he is in his Titan form, if not more so. Unlike Aizen, his cold and calculated demeanor is usually on display next to his quiet charisma and strategic intelligence. What makes Zeke Yaeger so scary is how far he’ll go to achieve his goals. This is the guy who ratted out his parents and had them turned into Titans when he was just a boy. 

Zeke’s strategic intelligence adds a horrifying advantage to his alter ego’s size and strength as the Beast Titan, making him difficult to defeat in any combat situation. It’s got to be difficult for any soldier to defend themselves while The Beast Titan is literally throwing boulders like fastball pitches and using his battle cry to call a platoon of Titans so they can surround a location at the same time. What makes it worse is that he talks as if all of his actions are just another day at the office. It’s that type of nonchalant evil genius that truly makes Zeke one of the scariest villains in modern anime history.