So in another collaborative effort between myself and the great Johnny Varina, we take another deep dive into the wonderful world of anime. This time, we want to give you all a look at our first class of the Anime Villains Hall of Fame. We know there are tons of villains, but these first six really blew our minds one way or another.
Hunter x Hunter
Just like his sexual orientation, we have no idea where Hisoka stands. Oddly enough – that’s plenty to go ahead and classify him as a villain.
First and foremost, Hisoka habitually proves his strength throughout every arc. He shines in the Hunter exam, Battle Tower, and even in Greed Island (the most epic dodgeball match since Peter La Fleur and White Goodman). Hisoka also wears the “Pervy Side Character” hat for this story, bearing a lusty (and pedophilic) attraction to our protagonists. So yeah, he has a lot going on.
Unbeknownst to Hisoka, Gon proves his potential by stealing his number – despite Hisoka making light work of everyone else. This simple act is what causes him to flex his menacing aura in the first arc, even going as far as killing another competitor. Because of this, Hisoka becomes oddly infatuated with Gon and Killua- our light-hearted, pre-teen heroes. The trend continues for the rest of the anime, where Hisoka intentionally places himself in the hero’s path and assumes the role of villain.
In some twisted way, Hisoka is a huge contributor to the growth the duo achieved, always pushing them to reach higher levels. Hisoka’s nen was SO strong that the kids couldn’t even walk down the hallway in Battle Tower; can you imagine how badass you have to be to do that? Nonetheless, Hisoka proves his worth as one of the strongest fighters in the Hunter x Hunter universe, but also the wildest wild card we’ve seen in an anime.
Will we ever know his true intentions? Is he a good villain, or a bad hero? Can we even call him a villain by the end of the series? (We can definitely call him a pervert though,)
In this mecha reimagination of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, Ukyo starts off as a pesky gnat that won’t leave our protagonists alone. Little did we know, he’s actually playing the long game. At the beginning of the story, he is a minor villain, at best. He debuts as the whimsical, yet the lazy son of a high government official who wants to kidnap Kirara (the girl tasked with saving her village) and make her a concubine. Typical feudal Japan shit, right?
Wrong. After being defeated in his hometown, Ukyo fell into the shadows, until he is revealed as a potential heir of the dying emperor. Ukyo’s plan goes into motion as he finesses his way to the Emperor, passes a three-day oral exam, and assumes the title of the official heir.
His first act as official heir? He kills daddy and assumes the throne. The wildest part, it only takes two episodes.
His first order of business as emperor? Get back at those pesky samurais who embarrassed him back in his hometown – that, and manufacturing a war that he would later solve with destructive forces to solidify his following. In one fell swoop, Ukyo planned to eradicate the rebellious farm workers and the samurai who kept ruining his plans, all while making himself look like a worthy leader to all of Japan.
As we all know, what was left of the Seven were not going to let that go down.
The main reason Ukyo is on the list is to highlight his patience, and his ability to go from “bitch to bull” when it’s showtime. His attack on the villages was held back mainly because a majority of our beloved Samurai 7 team sacrificed themselves for the greater good. From the outside looking in, Ukyo was weak sauce, a scrub! He wasn’t some super powerful villain, he didn’t have any special abilities, he was just a conniving little bastard that could capitalize. Ukyo’s master planning from lowly aristocrat to an emperor of an entire country is what gets him a spot on our Villains Hall of Fame.
Have you ever met a villain who read books? Like actual novels such as 1984, Sherlock Holmes, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Psycho-Pass Shogo Makishima might be the first.
In many of his scenes, he’s often perusing through a physical book despite living in a world with advanced technology. How advanced? The justice system can determine if you’re going to commit a crime and then apprehend (or murder you Cronenberg style) you for thinking about it. So, how does one become a villain in such a society? By having a strong sense of individuality- and being considered criminally asymptomatic, basically a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.
What makes him so renowned is that he’s…kinda not wrong? The world of Psycho-Pass is one of absolute dominance when it comes to justice, and Makishima is a rebel against that ideology, believing that individuals should be “independent thinkers.” The mastermind behind season one’s plot, Makishima uses his intellect and gift of charisma to rally followers to do his bidding, but don’t let the well-tailored vest ensemble face fool you, my man’s got them hands too (ask Kogami’s face)
His villain archetype may not be anything new (pretty boy with a God complex and one too many philosophical monologues), but his role is necessary in Psycho-Pass because of the world he lives within. He uses these skills and intelligence to “liberate” society, but his tactics are extreme and often end in the loss of life.
His downfall is something to marvel at as well because it’s his foil, Kogami, who deals the final blow. You almost feel saddened and relieved at his death. Lastly, Makishima had some awesome moments when he was front and center. My favorite scene is the hostage situation with Akane. I think this is one of the best introductions to an intelligent villain in anime history and shows that Makishima is not afraid to get his point or razor, across.
As if there was any more room for white-haired, pretty faced, villains, we have the “number one most f*cked up antagonist” in anime history. Yes, that’s a hell of a title but who else is worthy to wear such a crown than Griffith. Why does he appear on almost all lists similar to this one? Because he is the worst kind of antagonist; he was originally good.
When we’re introduced to Griffith, he’s the shining leader of the Band of the Hawk. He and Guts become fast allies but never teeter into the “friend” category because Griffith only values those who have their own desires…or something like that. Either way, after Guts finds this desire, Griffith goes full Patrick Bateman-if Bateman was able to make a deal with the devil.
The final arc of the 1997 anime (or the 3rd movie) follows the downfall of Griffith and to be honest, it’s something to marvel at. It’s a pivotal point for the entire world of Berserk.
Most stories end with the hero stopping the apocalyptic pandemic or curse, but not this time. Instead, Griffith initiates. The downfall starts after he loses a sword fight to Guts (ironic because Guts lost his first match to him) and the lone warrior leaves the Hawk. From that point, shit goes from bad to “wtf did my guy just do?!” He bangs (ahem deflowers) the king’s daughter, gets tortured for it, breaks free with the help of the Hawk, tries to strangle Guts as a half-broken skeleton, summons an entire universe of demons, sacrifices his soldiers, rapes his most devoted follower (and Guts lover), and curses his now one-armed best friend. And then he becomes Batman. Or Manbat. But they call him Femto.
I could honestly go on all day about this guy (plenty have on YouTube), but one thing about Griffith always stands out: he never gave up on his desire, which was a kingdom. Yeah…anticlimactic right? He did all this terrible shit just for a damn castle.
Either way, this resolve is what his troops respected, Casca loved, Guts admired. But it was also this resolve, and the eventual twisting of it, that gave birth to one of the worst traitors in anime history.
But really tho? Just a damn castle? Can’t he just go play Minecraft if he wants a kingdom?
Dragon Ball Z/Super
So to be honest Frieza was kind of lame compared to Cell or Majin Buu, the other big baddies of Dragon Ball Z. I mean don’t get me wrong, he was a solid villain. He blew up planets, he killed entire races, bossed his lackeys around like Joffrey from GoT. His backstory is interesting, (that one time he let that one Sayain get away) and its dope how that leads to his first demise.
Frieza also added a new element to the series when it decided to take its talents to Namek. When he’s introduced into the anime, Frieza is in his bag as the leader of a space army. Then, he comes onto the scene, pops Krillin who fans have loved since the Dragon Ball days, and gives all of our heroes an asswhooping (but Goku pimpslapped that ass).
Our childhoods owe a great thank you to Frieza, for he’s the reason we were blessed with the first Super Saiyan transformation, back in 1991. Fun fact: I wasn’t even born yet.
The real value of Frieza’s villainy comes from his tenacity. In their first match, Goku offers to spare him, so as long as he promised to change his ways; obviously, he doesn’t-missing limbs and all. So he gets blown up on the same planet he was trying to blow up…talk about reversal of fortune. Then, somehow, he pops up on Earth to get revenge again — and falls victim to another Saiyan: Future Trunks. Next time he wants to hit Earth up he should consider a vacation to a universe where there ain’t no Saiyans, know what I’m sayin’?
But, the transforming, androgynous alien returns twice in Super, once as a villain, and then as an ally. Frieza who is chilling in Hell, is recruited by his nemesis Goku to try and save their universe (which is more important than their feud). I’m constantly amazed at this tenacious motherf*ckr, always back to eff with the Z warriors. Can we also talk about his grand reveal, that he hasn’t trained a day in his life? Uhm. Excuse me? So you were blowing up planets and never picked up a barbell? So he decides to train for four months and is on the same level as Goku and Vegeta, who are literal GODS at this point. What? It took them like thirty years and thirty asswhoopings. Then, spoiler alert – Frieza makes Dragon Ball history again, in one of the most amazing fight sequences. He and Goku put their beef aside, and rush Jiren together to save their universe. Nonetheless, Frieza’s tenacity and just overall hatred for all things good (for over twenty years) solidify his place in our Villain’s Hall of Fame
Attack on Titan
Maybe we spoke too soon when we said Griffith was the worst traitor because Reiner Braun is a close second. Now, if you haven’t watched season two of Attack on Titan two things:
1. What are you doing with your life, we waited four years for this moment?
2. You’re probably confused as to why he’s even on this list.
Spoiler alert, Reiner is actually the antagonist of season two, as well as the Armor Titan. Yep, that same Reiner who was teaching Eren how to fight and bonding with Armin is our baddie. Like c’mon bro? You spent a whole two years with these people! I was even here for this brotherly love you had for Eren.
I’m a fan because Reiner is probably the most human of the villains on this list. In the anime, we witness him struggle with his choices, and this is ultimately what gave him a depth beyond other antagonists.
What makes Reiner so special in terms of antagonists? Because he wasn’t supposed to be one. He’s a basketcase with a few titan-sized insecurities but Reiner is also a dedicated soldier. He upholds his duty, even when tasked with infiltrating a peaceful island nation, sacrificing your comrade to have them eaten, destroying a whole castle wall and turning those peaceful island people into fodder for giant, naked monster-one of those people happened to be Eren Yeager’s mother (insert Yeager yell).
The truth is revealed that he and his roflbffl Bertholdt are responsible for the atrocities of season one. I wish this were the end of his list, but S2’s Reiner is even more outlandish. After a brush with death, Reiner slips into a state of dissolution, becoming lost to his duties as both a soldier of Marley (yeah, I read the manga…I had four years to kill between seasons), and a member of the Survey Corps. And then he blows his cover for no reason…but let’s face it, that transformation scene is so worth it! (manga fans probably shat bricks that day).
To sum up Reiner, I’ll draw a comparison between him and another infamous cinematic traitor: Donnie Brasco. Brasco started his life as a virtuous cop, but because of the nature of his undercover mission, he was forced to become one of the very same people he was out to get. And after forming bonds with these crooks-essentially his family-he suddenly remembers his duty and turns on them, destroying their lives in the process. Yup, that’s Reiner Brasco for ya.
So there you have it! If you have suggestions on who else should be inducted into our Anime Villains Hall of Fame, or if you have any anime-related ideas you think Leevis and I should tackle, let us know on our social media pages.
Underpromising and overdelivering,
Leevis & Mutthead