Evil Rant

Greatest Anime Villains

It's no secret that we are fans of anime here at Twisted Jenius and so I thought it was high time that we explored this topic (from a villain's perspective, as always). One of the things that often seems to confuse or unnerve some new comers to this form of entertainment is the frequently amoral nature of anime. Although there are characters that obviously lean more towards heroics or villainy, anime often blurs the line between the two. The anime world tends to be less morally bias than other forms of entertainment. Good and likable characters get killed off for no reason, and the bad guys sometimes prevail. Bad guys can often become good guys and vice versa. It should come as no surprise that this level of moral ambiguity is one of the elements that first attracted me to anime and is one of my favorite things about it (I also love the visuals). These villains can be intelligent, insightful, charismatic, noble, and understanding. And the heroes can often be rude, petty, hostile, and irresponsible, as well as absent minded.

It is my belief that many anime villains epitomize exactly what villainy should be. This is why I felt compelled to share with you, my valued audience; the characters which I feel are some of the greatest anime villains that I have had the pleasure of encountering. If I know anime fans, each of you undoubtedly has your own list and I'm not presumptuous enough to expect most of you to agree with me on my choices, 100%. You can feel free to share your own favorite anime villains with us in the forum if you'd like. You'll notice that many of the characters I include here fall under the same basic villain archetypes. I have not included any of the tough guy, "block head" type villains here because they don't reflect my notions about ideal villainy.

I used several standards of deliberation to choose which villains I would include on this list. Because I prize both intelligence and manipulation so highly, these are attributes that many of the characters on this list tend to have. Aesthetics were another important aspect of this and the ability for these characters to look both cool and evil, simultaneously, was a priority. Another consideration, though not as significant, is just how evil these characters' actions and attitudes really were. Lastly, the most important factor was how fun and enjoyable it is to watch these characters. Do they seem to inspire a sense of villainy? Obviously, here at Twisted Jenius we strive for a sort of glorified evil, a glamorized darkness if you will; and so it's essential that the villains whom we choose to discuss fit that standard of Villainesque. It will be argued by many anime fans out there that some of these characters are not quite playing the part of a villain within these stories. Part of this is due to aforementioned morally ambiguous nature of anime and the lack of more obvious villain roles within the story. However, as I have said before, my definition of "villain" has more to do with certain attributes of the characters themselves; rather than just filling an antagonist niche as a character within the story. A character possessing very villain-like attributes is what I would consider Villainesque; regardless of whether or not they happen to be acting as the "bad guy" at any given moment in time.

Since I see no way of doing a rant like this without some sort of visual representation (and it would be criminal for me to try), I have provided a few images in the hopes that it will give you a better feeling of what I'm discussing or make it easier for you to see what I see. This is the first rant to include pictures like this, but I think it's important for this topic, as we're dealing with visual media here. There are plenty of other internet resources in which you can look up general information about any characters you might not be familiar with, (and I encourage you to do this or, even better, watch the series; if this happens to be the case). For now, I'm going to forgo basic character and plot descriptions and focus mainly on my villainous thoughts and insights about each character.

Akabane AKA Dr. Jackal
Legato Bluesummers
Treize Khushrenada
Itachi Uchiha
Roger Smith
Haruko Haruhara
Zechs Merquise
Light Yagami AKA Kira


Series: InuYasha
Character: Naraku

Described by a betrayed former ally in the series as a "true villain", this character is a greedy, murderous, manipulator; and that's before he became a demon! Naraku (meaning "underworld") has become one of the more infamous villains in the world of anime and regardless of whether you think him cowardly or clever; he undoubtedly has a real talent for laying intricate traps and acting as a ruthless puppet master. Although it can be argued that part of the motivation for his sadistic hijinks is to "taint the sacred jewel with malice", he does seem to genuinely enjoy toying with people's emotions and tricking them into doing what he wants. But despite his mind games, Naraku is an extremely powerful demon. Many fans of the series have argued that he is too powerful, or that he possesses too many abilities. It should be noted that Naraku continues to grow in power throughout the series and I see this as a dark progression of his villainous goals. He self improves! His ability to literally transform himself by removing the weaker elements of his body and strengthening the more powerful ones (Naraku's body is said to be composed of "countless demons") should serve as an inspirational metaphor for how a real villain should try to constantly improve themselves (as discussed in the Controlling Your Surroundings rant).

I also find much of the imagery that is associated with Naraku to be extremely appealing in a Villainesque way. His sinister and callous smirk, the baboon skin disguise that he occasionally wears, the poisonous insects that he surrounds himself with and the general cold, dark colors which typically surround him and his demonic aura; all contribute to this effect. The image of him sitting in his dark futile Japanese castle, next to that eerie glowing purple window, to me, is the perfect representation of the quintessential villain plotting something within their lair. And the fact that even we, the audience, can't really be sure what his "true form" is (he's a shape shifter), makes him all the more frighteningly mysterious. Yes, because of his cunning and treacherous mental ability, his love of pitting his enemies against one another, his ambition and drive towards gaining more power and the sinister aesthetic which he seems to prefer; Naraku is definitely one of my favorite anime villains.

(Interesting Note: When both Naraku and Dr. Jackal are first introduced in their respective series', there is a snake present in the scene. When InuYasha and his friends first encounter Naraku face to face, the audience sees a snake falling off a nearby tree and into a river and then swimming off. And when we first encounter Akabane, in GetBackers, he is seen walking through the dark woods by a snake, who promptly slithers out of his way.)

Naraku is scheming something.
Naraku donning his iconic baboon-skin ensemble.

Series: GetBackers
Character: Akabane AKA Dr. Jackal

Akabane is a consummate professional who truly enjoys his work. He is an infamous freelance transporter, a person who is paid to ensure that an item gets to where it's going without interruption. It's a bit like being a body guard for items that are being transported from one place to another. He is intelligent, overly polite, courteous, always smiling and generally conducts himself as a true, white-gloved gentleman. He's also a snappy dresser (he and I seem to share similar tastes in fashion). The only thing he seems to care about more than completing his job effectively is enjoying himself while he's doing it. So, you may be asking yourselves how an individual like this could ever be considered a major villain in this series. Well, it just so happens that this fun, which he prizes so highly, involves engaging in mortal combat. Akabane is a sadist and he enjoys testing his deadly abilities on powerful opponents, as well as hacking them to pieces with his weapon of choice; a number of glowing scalpels which he keeps within his body and has the ability to control. This tendency has undoubtedly led to the alias of "Dr. Jackal" (he often uses his super speed to carve large "J"s in the torsos of his victims as they stand).

I've heard many people argue that Akabane isn't a true villain in this series because he's not always antagonistic towards the GetBackers, the heroes of this anime. However, I believe that this behavior, which we see from Akabane, is an ideal example of how a villain should conduct themselves on a day to day basis. We can learn something from him. He is not needlessly hostile or combative towards the heroes of this story and despite often being on opposing sides, he seems to feel a certain admiration towards them and their power. He tends to be very polite towards almost everyone and he also doesn't mind working with people who might otherwise be his enemies, so long as it serves his purposes. And that's what it's really all about for Akabane, doing the job and indulging in the grim enjoyment that his work provides. In fact, the only time he ever really seems to get angry or annoyed, is when he gets too bored or feels he's been denied his pleasure. Stimulation is his main motivation and he displays very little sense of ego when interacting with other characters (see Fear, Ego & Stimulation rant). By this I mean that, even after being insulted, he usually continues smiling and being extremely courteous. As long as he has his fun, he doesn't care!

In my opinion, Dr. Jackal is also one of the most fun characters to watch in anime. Not only does he seem to be having a good time himself, but he also offers a lot of dry humor to many of the scenes and this series would not be the same without him. Despite the fact that he can be somewhat "morally challenged"; he does seem to be a surprisingly likable and popular character. Perhaps this is the reason why people hesitate to call him a villain; after all, you're not supposed to genuinely like villains, right?

Akabane dresses for success.
Dr. Jackal
Dr. Jackal is enjoying his work a little too much.

Series: Trigun
Character: Legato Bluesummers

Yes, I'm fully aware that Millions Knives is the main villain in the Trigun series and I will agree that he's a pretty cool one at that. I understand and sympathize with the logic behind Knives' philosophy in the series and he does make a hell of a lot more sense to me than Vash does (young Knives' argument about the spider and the butterfly, aboard the SEEDS ship, is right on; the essence of "practicality over principle"). But, in my opinion, Legato is a slightly better example of the caliber of villain which we are shooting for on this list. A subordinate of Knives, Legato Bluesummers is a man who intends to help his master end all human life on the planet of which he resides. Legato is a cruel and conniving villain, who was originally human and has gained the psychic ability to completely take control of other people's bodies like puppets (Vash, the protagonist in the story, may have unintentionally given him a "hand" with this). Aesthetically speaking, Legato dresses the part of a proper anime villain, and has the evil smile to go along with it. In some ways, I would argue that Legato is more evil than Knives. Knives, after all, is not human; Legato is (mostly). It's a little bit understandable that Knives would wish to destroy the human race; but Legato has chosen to write off his own kind as being worthless and inferior. He also seems to be more genuinely sadistic than Knives. He takes a great deal of pleasure in using his power to dispatch other humans. Legato's purpose in life is to help his master wipe out all of humanity and to cause eternal suffering for Vash; even at the cost of his own life. This guy actually manages to psychologically torture the hero of the series from beyond the grave!

Although, as a villain I cannot approve of such self sacrifice under normal conditions; from Legato's standpoint this does make some sense. If you really think about it, Legato is a very selfish character. He believes that the world of humans is coming to an end anyway, so why not go out with a bang? He obviously has a great deal of respect and admiration for Knives' power, so it makes sense that he would choose him as a master (a true villain doesn't always have to be in charge, but the ability to choose a master wisely is a must). If the world is going to end anyway, then why not serve the winning team and gain some power while having some sadistic fun before you go out? I believe that this is probably Legato's reasoning behind his actions and I certainly can't blame him for wanting to make the best of an otherwise somewhat complicated situation. Getting to play the predator for a while is definitely preferable to just being another victim.

Legato Bluesummers
Sometimes you can just tell when a character is a villain.
Legato Bluesummers
Legato can't help but to laugh at his pathetic adversary.

Series: Gundam Wing
Character: Treize Khushrenada

Treize Khushrenada is the ultra aristocratic leader of OZ, a special military group who staged a coup against the prevailing alliance organization in this series. Treize is seen as a charismatic leader and, although his actions and decisions may seem a bit cruel and bloodthirsty, he always insists on conducting himself as a gentleman, even while manipulating those around him. Despite his apparent ruthlessness, Treize tends to prize chivalry over any other attribute and is not the type of villain who is willing to "win at all costs." Although many have argued that Treize is not a villain in this series, he is the closest thing to it and is definitely Villainesque. In fact, I would say that Treize is the very epitome of the "noble villain" archetype; both in his appearance and attitude, as well as his beliefs. He often speaks of war, battles and what it means to be a soldier with fondness and in a beautifully poetic style. He believes that human conflict is a very essential part of our history; and seems to view war almost as a form of personal expression.

Most importantly, he believes that what he is doing is right, that these battles are an exquisitely necessary evil; that they are essential to human progress. This, to me, is part of what it means to be a noble villain. Just because something may be widely considered "evil", doesn't mean that it isn't necessary or accurate. Treize is also very well respected by his subordinates and his men do seem to be genuinely loyal to him and his goals. He is a very complex character who definitely has his own sense of principle and honor. And yet there is something distinctly sinister about him as well (during one battle scene, an opponent asked him, rhetorically: how many people's lives had been sacrificed while pursuing his ambitions; to which he responded with a very specific, high number and revealed that he went through the trouble of committing every name of every person who had died for him to memory in order to honor their sacrifice, a realization which outraged his opponent even more!).

Treize Khushrenada
Treize dueling an opponent.
Treize Khushrenada
Treize being charismatic.

Series: Elfen Lied
Character: Lucy

Lucy can easily be counted as among the most lethal of all anime characters. In fact, it can be argued that killing people is her primary function as an organism. She is a Diclonius, a species which seems both destined and compelled to replace humanity. And she (like all Diclonius') possesses special abilities which allow her to savagely eviscerate and dismember anyone that she pleases. Visually speaking, Lucy is very good looking by general villainess standards and you do get to see quite a lot of her throughout the series (and I'm not just talking about screen time either, *wink*). She also seems to have a distinctly sadistic streak in her and is just as willing to butcher her own kind, as she is to kill humans.

Lucy is a very complex character and despite her personal hatred of much of the human race (she was treated very badly as a child for being "different"), as well as the fact that she was literally born to replace humanity with her own kind (she is the first, and is considered the "queen" of her species); there does seem to be a part of her that is still somewhat reluctant to go through with this task. She even seems to have developed an alternate personality, which could be seen as a reaction to this inner conflict (as well as a bullet to the head that she receive while making her escape from a secret scientific/military type installation at the beginning of the series). The source of this reluctance seems to be the positive feelings that she's developed towards one (or perhaps a few more) of the relatively few humans which she has come in contact with.

There is obviously some conflict within her in regards to whether she actually wants to end the human race. These feelings become much more apparent towards the end of the series. She does seem to be a rather unstable character and it's hard to tell what she's really thinking. Part of this is due to the fact that she is not actually human and that she endured a great deal of suffering throughout her life which has undoubtedly had a large impact on her psychology. Adding to this problem is the fact that of her two separate personalities, one is cold, cruel, somewhat angry but otherwise emotionless; and the other is basically retarded and for the most part, incapable of any kind of in-depth conversation or self expression. The one thing which we can deduce about Lucy is that it's generally best to stay as far away from her as you can and not to piss her off. This is one lesson that many characters in the series end up learning the hard way; providing us with some brutally entertaining results! We can safely say that Elfen Lied is one of those anime series which has what may be considered some "adult themes"; to put it mildly.

Do not mess with her.
Lucy escaping her scientific facility in a gruesome, yet arousing action sequence.

Series: Naruto
Character: Itachi Uchiha

I was very tempted to put Orochimaru in this slot (you know I love his ever present snake theme), but due to the fact that I opted to have a maximum of one villain per series, per category on this list; I had to go with Itachi. Itachi Uchiha has some extremely villainesque attributes. For starters, he's a ninja, which is always great (though not quite as impressive in this particular series, seeing as though the vast majority of the characters in Naruto are engaged in that profession). Even among his clan (whose heredity traits alone are considered exceptional in the world of Naruto) he is an outstanding prodigy. He is the elite of the elite. But despite this, he decided that he wanted to increase his power even further; and wasn't about to let a little thing like having to kill his best friend, get in his way. Shortly thereafter, he polished off the rest of his clan, including aunt, uncle and parents; sparing only his younger brother. He then left his village and became a rogue ninja (and yes, that is cooler than a regular one as far as I'm concerned).

He eventually became a member of an organization called the Akatsuki, a criminal group of equally powerful and ruthless rogue ninja whose goal is to obtain even more power (it's so nice and healthy to make friends with like minded individuals who can share in your common goals and interests; don't you think?). Itachi is a very cold and calculating character who seems to have discipline in spades. His abilities are superior to the vast majority of other ninja and he knows it. He exhibits the "screw this, I'm doing things my way" attitude which I, myself, am very fond of. There is definitely an air of superiority about him, or at least, disappointment or disgust in the weakness of others. During some flashbacks sequences in the series, it is implied that his actions may have been somewhat motivated by his dissatisfaction with the current state of his clan. It seems that Itachi may have higher standards than most, which is an admirable attribute in villainesque thinking. His sharingan (the powerful Uchiha heredity trait which I mentioned earlier and manifests through his red eyes) attacks are also impressive, in that they tend to be more psychological than physical and he's basically able to defeat most opponents with this "psychic" style of attack alone, only resorting to using his body's physical prowess in direct self defense. And from an aesthetics standpoint, the Akatsuki uniforms are by far the most villainesque ones in this series. Otherwise, Itachi is a pretty cool looking character all around; but then again, he is still lacking Orochimaru's wicked snake tongue!

Itachi Uchiha
Itachi has a killer stare.
Itachi Uchiha
Itachi taking a breather after dispatching his entire family.

Series: YuYu Hakusho
Character: Sakyo

It's true that in a series chock-full of super powered beings, Sakyo is one of the relatively few characters who is lacking in any such ability. And yet, the problems which he causes for the protagonists in this series makes some of the demonic and supernatural villains look harmless by comparison. In fact, the main characters are never really aware of how much he is pulling the strings and determining their fates. The fact that he is just an ordinary human makes his villainy even more astonishing. Not only is he the team manager of the main opponents of the series protagonists in the dark tournament, he is also the one who is responsible for getting our protagonists to participate in these events (through trickery, of course). On top of this, he is also directly responsible for the creation of one of our heroes' greatest adversaries; in a completely separate incident.

Yusuke Urameshi, the hero of this series, is a spirit detective (a human with supernatural powers whose job is to protect the "human world" against demons etc.). In one of the later story arcs, we find that the previous spirit detective (named Sensui) has decided that the human race should be wiped out. He came to this conclusion after stumbling upon a high class social club gathering of Sakyo and his friends; who were betting on demons in a sort of cockfight/Roman coliseum scenario. The horrors which this previous spirit detective witnessed caused him to do a complete 180 and decided that humans are capable of greater evil than the demons which he had been fighting against! This guy actually caused Sensui to completely turn on humanity and inspired him to try to end the world, without even trying! Sensui even modeled his world ending plans after Sakyo's last scheme.

Sakyo is a businessman and a professional gambler as well as a sadist. Unlike his more respectable siblings, he made his fortune off gambling, often betting with his own life. In his childhood he had a penchant for torturing small animals and he seems to genuinely dislike his own family. Yet despite this underlying cruelty, he displays an air of intelligence as well as a very calm and reserved personality. I would say that he represents the quintessential businessman type villain. And even though he may seem monstrous, in some ways, he does display a certain amount of nobility. At one point in the series, he goes out of his way to help/save the sister of one of the heroes. In the end, he also keeps his agreement when he bet that the manager of the losing team would die; and when his team lost, he calmly and willingly took his own life (as well as destroying an entire building for good measure) as per the deal. Sure, he may be a manipulative, sadistic, gambler, who tried to open a permanent gateway between the human world and the demon realm for his own selfish ambitions; but never let it be said that Sakyo is a man who will welch on a bet!

Sakyo has a fashionable scar around his right eye.
Sakyo calmly watching how things progress.

Series: Final Fantasy VII (games & anime)
Character: Sephiroth

Although, admittedly, Sephiroth has made a much greater impact as a video game character than a character in anime (though he has graced at least one anime series); it cannot be denied that there is a certain connection between these two media forms. Anime often influences video game culture and vice-versa and when it comes to greatest video game villains, Sephiroth is a regular on the lists of fan favorites. This is one reason why I felt compelled to include him on this list; as he is an extremely iconic villain. He is a character in Final Fantasy games or, more specifically, Final Fantasy 7 titles (you read that right, that's plural). For those of you who are not familiar with the Final Fantasy series, basically, their sequels have sequels. This is due to the fact that almost every game in the series with a different number occurs in a different world, with different characters; and as a result of this, any sequels and reworkings of that story are given the same number, with an additional title tacked onto it. Aside from Final Fantasy 7 titles, Sephiroth has also appeared in a few other games as well.

Visually Sephiroth has long silver hair, a lengthy black coat and an equally impressive size samurai style sword. Aside from his dynamic appearance he also has a fairly impressive career as a villain. For one thing, he never seems to really die (much like many popular horror movie villains who always come back for the sequel). His exploits include: unexpectedly assassinating video game heroines, burning entire villages to the ground and summoning meteors in order to destroy the entire planet, as well as other such activities which tend to be frowned upon by general society. Some have criticized Sephiroth due to the fact that his motives can seem a little bit unclear (the understatement of the century for anyone who has played Final Fantasy VII). But from what I can tell, I think he tends to be motivated by revenge and the desire to become a god. And, if you really think about it, how many of us wouldn't easily sympathize with those goals?

Iconic image of Sephiroth after he has destroyed an entire town.
Sephiroth in anime form, from Last Order: Final Fantasy VII.


There are many anime characters with desirable qualities that cannot rightly be called villains by any (reasonable) stretch of the imagination. Some of these are characters who started out as villains and then became anti-heroes as the series progressed. Still others never actually played the role of a villain, but still possess some very Villainesque attributes.

Series: Hellsing
Character: Alucard

Hellsing is undoubtedly one of my all time favorite anime series'. This should be pretty understandable considering just how Villainesque the main protagonist is. Alucard is Nosferatu, the Undead, one of the blood thirsty creatures that stalks the night; in other words, a vampire. And he is an extremely powerful one at that. He is virtually indestructible and seems to enjoy allowing his enemies to blast his body into pieces; only so that he can completely regenerate, unscathed and mockingly destroyed them. He has an unbelievable array of supernatural powers and it can be argued that he is almost abstract, in that he can transform into bats, fog, daemon dogs and large masses of swirling black energy among other things. Aside from his considerable power, one of the things that I find most appealing about Alucard is his high standards and general elitist attitude. He has a great deal of pride and it is a lot of fun to watch him lecture his opponents even as he's destroying them. He seems to have very discriminating tastes, which are alluded to in statements about how a "proper vampire" should conduct themselves.

Despite his rather critical appraisal of many individuals which he encounters, Alucard does seem to have a great deal of respect for certain characters, both vampires and humans. In fact, he has sworn allegiance to a particular human (Integra Hellsing), whom he serves and seems to genuinely admire. This sort of behavior would seem to imply that he judges others on a strict basis of individual merit and by his own standards (as discussed in the Loyalty rant). Another notable attribute of Alucard's is the enjoyment and the savagery which he displays during battles. He seems to be fond of tough opponents and tends to get very disappointed when his adversary is too weak or too easily defeated. He also seems to get extremely excited by intense violence and heated combat, donning a sadistic grin during such situations.

Yes, Alucard is a very fun character to watch. And despite the fact that he is obviously the anti-hero in this series, he does display some distinctly evil tendencies on occasion. Don't think so? We're talking about a bloodsucking creature of the night, who can morph himself into numerous different types of hell spawn, has a monster size ego and can use his supernatural abilities to reassemble himself after his body has been blown into a puddle of paste. Plus, he's got a gun! I mean, come on...!

Alucard enjoying a late night stroll.
Fangs are also good for cocking your semiautomatic.

Series: Dragon Ball Z
Character: Vegeta

"It's over NINE THOUSAAAAAAAND!" (Sorry for that outburst, I couldn't resist.) There was a time (the early 90's) when many Americans, myself included, were getting their first real taste of anime. These shows made many American cartoons seem pathetic by comparison. It was a time when I could easily count on one hand how many anime series' I had been exposed to (it would be virtually impossible for me to count how many anime series' I've seen at this point, even if I had numerous hands to do with). This was an exciting time, full of discovery. However, among us fledgling anime fans, there was one character that stood out above all others. This character seemed like a favorite among everyone in my social circle who was familiar with him or the series which he graced. At the time, we thought he was the coolest, baddest, most awesome character that we have ever seen (and he probably was). This character's name was Vegeta.

Vegeta is a most excellent example of a villain character evolving into an anti-hero (an occurrence not uncommon in anime). And yet, I still prefer the villainous Vegeta, featured in the first part of the extremely long Dragon Ball Z series; both in his appearance and his attitude. Powerful, ruthless and terrifying to the Earth's Special Forces; I used to get excited every time he made a cocky remark, blasted his enemies or internally sized up his competition. The Saiyan prince; a cunning, selfish and formidable warrior, whose ultimate goal was nothing less than immortality and to rule the entire universe. The character whose first earth shaking battle with Goku has often been cited as one of the greatest anime fights of all time. Yes, that was Vegeta.

Vegeta sizing up his competition.
Vegeta doing what he does best.

Series: YuYu Hakusho
Character: Hiei

Hiei is another villain who became an anti-hero over the course of a series. As with many of these cases, Hiei was one of the protagonist's first opponents. He is a demon and is a fairly powerful and notorious one, within some circles. He is a relatively well known criminal in the demon world and there have been rumors that he has been known to kill just for fun. Despite his cold, antisocial and somewhat ruthless exterior, it's clear from almost the beginning that he possesses some deeper sentiments. This first manifests when he begins to team up with the protagonists of this series and starts showing hints of respect for them. We eventually find out that he has a sister whom he cares for a great deal. He also has a dark, secret history (this is something that has become a fairly clichd standard within anime series', to the point of almost being a joke; but it's one of those features that makes the genre what it is and is still quite a lot of fun).

But despite his tragic past, Hiei is still a genuine demonic badass. Aside from his other supernatural abilities, he is a master swordsman with super speed. He trains hard and is willing to go through a great deal of pain and torment to increase his power (he has endured that least one major surgical modification to his body for this purpose). He also seems to be often underestimated by other demons that seem to think that he shouldn't be as powerful as he is. All in all, he is another generally entertaining character. And that black dragon flame attack ability he has is pretty cool too.

Hiei is a skilled swordsman.
Hiei in his full demon form.

Series: The Big O
Character: Roger Smith

Roger Smith is, in many ways, the very embodiment of an anti-hero. He is a professional negotiator and part time vigilante using a giant, city-smashing robot (The Big O). As a professional, he has a very strict code of conduct which he lives by, as well as what he expects of others (though he doesn't mind indulging in sleeping in when he is given the chance). His world is very noir/art deco in aesthetic and attitude, Paradigm City; "a city of amnesia".

One unique observation that I have about Roger Smith is that, in a very subtle way, he is a satanic character. Basically, for those of you who are familiar with some of the more nuanced and obscure attributes associated with real Satanism (Church of Satan, Satanism), you may notice a few interesting parallels with this character. First, and most obviously, he insists on wearing black and has a house rule that everyone who's living with him must follow suit. It is suggested several times in the series that black clothing is considered tasteless in this culture (and the principle antagonist in this series, the godlike ruler of the city and the status quo, is often shown as wearing a white suit; this inverted symbolism undoubtedly adding to Roger's anti-hero status). In fact, his choice in clothing could be seen as a metaphor for his more general social dissension. Despite being able to afford a nice car, a big house and a butler; he chooses to live outside of the domes that most wealthy citizens of Paradigm reside in. He also displays an admittedly irrational dislike for a commemorative citywide holiday which seems suspiciously like Christmas, in both aesthetic and tradition.

Another interesting point is that he happens to live with an android (Satanists champion the idea of "artificial human companions"). He is not depicted as being a particularly charitable individual, but he does seem to genuinely care about the city in which he lives and is willing to act as a vigilante, often going over the heads of law enforcement in order to protect it and ensure that justice is served. And as vigilantes go, he does have a very admirable code of conduct and sense of professionalism. Despite the fact that this may be a giant robot or mecha series, I have to admit that it's the parts of the story without the "Bigs" that I find the most interesting.

Roger Smith
Roger is the man in black.
Roger Smith
Roger Smith is very noir.

Series: FLCL (Fooly Cooly)
Character: Haruko Haruhara

Fooly Cooly has gained something of a cult following and it cannot be denied that much of this is due to its most memorable, main character. Haruko is not your typical leading anime lady. First, she is an alien who has come to earth for the singular and ultimately selfish purpose of gaining power by stealing it from a space pirate that she's been tracking. She is also blatantly manipulative, prone to wreaking all sorts of havoc and causing destruction, and is not sweet, compassionate or loving by any stretch of the imagination. Plus she's, well, completely insane! Yet despite her unstable behavior and general penchant for goofing off, she always seems to keep her primary goal in mind. She knows what she wants and is willing to have a little bit of fun while she's getting it.

She certainly seems to have a very bizarre sort of charm about her. And as testament to her desirability, it seems that all of the male characters in this series end up falling in love with Haruko (it's been suggested by fans that this is one of her "powers", but it's not clear whether it's that deliberate or not). All in all, Haruko is a very likable character and despite being an anti-heroine, she has some very Villainesque qualities. She enjoys messing with people's heads (figuratively and literally); she occasionally flies into destructive fits of rage, has absolutely no problem randomly clubbing people in the skull with her weapon of choice (a Rickenbacker bass guitar), if it serves her purposes and, on at least one occasion, made it explicitly clear that she doesn't care whether the entire earth is destroyed or not as long as she gets what she's after. I think we can safely say that with a protagonist like Haruko, this series really doesn't need a villain.

Haruko Haruhara
There's just something about Haruko.
Haruko Haruhara
Haruko going completely insane... again.

Series: Gundam Wing
Character: Zechs Merquise

Zechs is an ace pilot of the OZ organization and is a personal friend of and subordinate to, Treize Khushrenada (mentioned earlier on this list). He considers himself a true soldier and has been given the nickname Lightning Count, due to his superb skills and abilities. He is often put in charge of important tasks and is genuinely revered by those under his command. He originally became a soldier of OZ so that one day he might be in a position to reap revenge against certain military factions who were responsible for killing his prestigious and pacifist family (Milliardo Peacecraft is his real name and Zechs Merquise is an alias that he uses to conceal his identity along with the metallic mask which he is known for).

Zechs is another fairly complex character. Despite his desire for revenge and his unusually exceptional abilities as a soldier, he is very introspective as well as extremely modest. He often questions his own motivations, yet does so without compromising his confidence or his ability to act in a decisive manner. He is also very quick to give credit and praise to his subordinates and often plays down his own individual achievements. He seems to have a very strong sense of honor and principle, while at same time balancing this with a pragmatic approach and acceptance of some of the more grim realities of the world. It could be argued that Zechs is a little bit of a sad character, and under the circumstances this would be understandable. He does periodically go through bouts of regret pertaining to various instances in his past. But he seems to push through all that with a charming strength and tenacity which makes him a very good leader as well as an inspirational anti-hero. It's no wonder why he was chosen to command the White Fang rebel faction.

Zechs Merquise
Zechs preparing for battle.
Zechs Merquise
The Lightning Count unmasked!

Most Villainesque

And the award goes to...

Series: Death Note
Character: Light Yagami AKA Kira

Death Note is definitely a very Villainesque series. It is intelligently done, the tone of the show is very sinister and it is aesthetically dark. However, the most Villainesque thing about this series is its protagonist, Light Yagami. Light has been described as being both a diabolical and somewhat conceited character. He is brilliant, motivated, and calculating; an all around exceptional student who looks to have a very promising career in law enforcement (just like his father). But when he gets hold of a Death Note (a notebook which Shinigami, gods of death, use to take human life), he begins passing "righteous judgment" on known criminals by executing them using this new power which he possesses. He intends to create a better world that he will ultimately become the god of. From then on he is known publicly by the alias Kira (a Japanese pronunciation of the English word "killer").

One of the things that makes Light such a Villainesque character is the fact that he is not only the protagonist of this series, but a character that you're encouraged to root for. You live in his world, follow his life and listen in on his inner thoughts. The audience is given almost no choice but to sympathize with Light, despite the fact that this character is clearly acting as a villain (see Why Villainesque? rant).

I would say that Light Yagami represents the quintessential evil genius character. He is a cold, calculating, manipulative strategist. He plans everything out quite thoroughly and is always thinking several moves ahead; taking into account not only physical events, but human psychological reaction as well. Aside from the intelligence and moral flexibility, he also has the ego of an evil genius. He knows what's best for the world and takes it upon himself to enforce this vision. I also admire his pragmatic side. At one point he states that if he wins (against the law enforcement officials that are trying to catch him) then he becomes the god of this world and if he is caught then he's just another criminal. In this, he is saying that there are no moral absolutes and that history is truly written by the winners. In some ways Death Note reminds me a little of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories and their elaborate deduction and guesswork. Only in this case it would be as though you were following the exploits of Professor Moriarty as opposed to Sherlock Holmes (though I suppose you could easily place L in that role!).

Brilliant, overachieving college student or horrible mass murderer Kira?
Light Yagami
Light is keeping his eye on someone.

Well, I think that this rant has been sufficiently lengthy, so I'm going to go ahead leave you now (evil to do and anime to watch).

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- False Prophet

September 16, 2008