The Top 10 Greatest Anime Villains of All Time

Villains, we all know of their reputation as the horrible fiends the world makes them out to be, but let’s face it, there would be NO story without the villains. Yes, I see your eyebrows cocking now but think about it, villains MAKE the movies. They make the shows. No one wants to see an epic battle between the forces of good and the forces of really nice. So to prove this universal truth, we look to anime; many of us’ first point-of-contact when it came to even knowing who or what an antagonist was. So without further ado here’s The Fresh Committee’s Top 10 Greatest Anime Villains of All Time.

10. Naraku

Anime: Inuyasha

Japanese Name: 犬夜叉

Aired: Oct 16, 2000, to Sep 13, 2004

Studio: Sunrise

To start the list off we begin with one of the most despicable. An adjective quite apt for one such as this. This piece of sh*t drove home the point of an antagonist:  to serve as a direct barrier to the goals of the protagonist. But in the case of Naraku, he’s been a constant thorn in the side of Inuyasha and his team since the inception of this titular series. Once that sinister music flooded our living room speakers and the purple miasma filled the screen, you knew some f**kery was brewing. Not only was he cunning he was quite powerful too, thanks to his creepy regeneration power and his ever-lasting arsenal of demons to absorb.

That and the fact that his name literally alludes to the Underworld should make it perfectly blatant as to why this man is so dangerous. His ability to control wasps from the nether realm, shape-shifting, lust for a woman who was not feelin’ him and enhancing his physical strength make him an imposing and quintessential villain quite worthy in starting off our list.

 

9. Vicious

Anime: Cowboy Bebop

Japanese Name: カウボ

Aired: September 18, 1997 – June 18, 1998

Studio: Sunrise

A classic anime villain to continue the list. Vicious didn’t have any supernatural ability that we know of, no fantastic super powers. Just a brain, general lack of human decency, and an annoying tendency to be a roadblock to our beloved Spike Spiegel every chance he got.

Getting his Corleone on in the late ’90s, Vicious was a crime kingpin. Ambitious, obsessive and ruthless, he stages a coup against the hardest gangsters in the solar system. What a way to go after being Spike’s partner and right-hand man, that relationship went south once they both courted a special lady named Julia, causing 99 problems and a b**ch is the biggest one. This convoluted relationship with the series protagonist, Spike created a unique tension that drove the series. Without Vicious, Spike would never be motivated, focused, and determined. He was our hero’s catalyst igniting something in Spike each time they faced off that made for some of the best moments in anime television history.

8. Goku Black

Anime: Dragon Ball Super

Japanese Name: ドラゴンボール

Aired: June 20, 2015 – present

Studio: Toei Animation

Goku Black AKA Zamasu gets ultimate points for not knowing how or when to give up. As if Future Trunks didn’t have enough to deal with throughout the years. We all remember his history with the Androids and how traumatized all us 11-year-olds were when we saw how they got busy with the power blasts at Gohan’s expense. Welp, they’ve got nothing on this character. As the Supreme Kai of Universe 10, we know off the rip that he’s going to be formidable. After Zamasu views the entirety of existence and humanity, he becomes depressed over just how whack mortals are and set out to destroy them all and begin the universe anew. Very Luciferian if you ask me.

So what does this a**hole do? He steals an alternate timeline’s version of Goku, and with the help of a future version of Zamasu, Goku Black is born.

A problem. This man is a big problem. So much so, Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta and Goku aren’t able to take him down and Goku Black even has his own evil equivalency, Super Saiyan Rose.

 

7. Kariya Kagetoki

Anime: Samurai Champloo

Japanese Name:  サムライチャンプル

Aired: January 26, 2004 – September 26, 2004

Studio: Manglobe

What would an anime list be without the every popular and ever compelling Samurai Champloo thrown in the mix? Yes, at no. 7 we have elite warrior Kariya Kagetoki, that worked for the Shogunate. The problematic band of elites that hunted our heroes Mugen, Fuu and Jin.

Kariya comes out of retirement upon hearing of warriors worthy to face off against. Known as the “Hand of God”, Kariya carries out the Shogunate’s wishes, one of which is to eliminate the Sunflower Samurai and his family for his role in the Shimabara rebellion. Kariya’s murderous talents are very evident in his fights with Mugen and Jin; he easily makes mincemeat of Mugen and proves to have the edge over Jin. Kariya’s skills lie with his use of the sword as well as a mastery over ki but more so his calm and collected demeanor that hides a cold and manipulative personality. A villain’s villain through and through. It can be said without a doubt that Kariya is the deadliest character in Samurai Champloo.

 

6. Perfect Cell

Anime: Dragon Ball Z

Japanese Name: ドラゴンボールZ

Aired: April 26, 1989 January 31, 1996

Studio: Toei Animation

This guy. Now Cell doesn’t seem to be as popular as some of the other heavyweights in the timeless series but he’s pretty compelling. This isn’t just some evil force from somewhere in the universe, this is a creature biomechanically engineered to be a super warrior with all the DNA of the most powerful fighters in the Galaxy. Including inheriting the bloodthirsty Saiyan love for fighting stronger opponents to the death.

Cell’s origin story doesn’t get enough credit and it’s very satisfying to see him turn these heroes’ signature attacks back on them. Not to mention Bruce Falconer’s iconic theme that played every time this cat came on the screen. The beat was ahead of its time.

Not just cruel and calculated, with his incredible power this prick can do things like generating the equally strong Cell Juniors. Not to mention he’s the first villain ever that required a Super Saiyan 2 combat level to eliminate. All hail.

 

5. Light Yagami

Anime: Death Note

Japanese Name: デスノート

Aired: December 1, 2003 – May 15, 2006

Studio: Madhouse

Nothing like a tragic character, eh? Light Yagami began as someone who believed he was doing right… admired by all, loved by many, a top tier boy-scout with a promising future in the police force. But of course, he ended up with the power going to his head. With a huge brain and an even bigger ego to match, Light’s vainglory combined with a death god’s notebook created a recipe for a singular story with all sorts of commentary on power and morality. Light’s quest for perfection leads him to become a disturbing mastermind who evolves into judge, jury, and executioner for the entire world. Running the show from the shadows and outsmarting pretty much everyone who got in his way. And what did it take? Just a few (thousand) dead people.

 

4. Orochimaru
Anime: Naruto

Japanese Name: ナルト

Aired: September 21, 1999 – November 10, 2014

Studio: Pierrot

Ohh what would a villains list be without this ‘see you next Tuesday‘?

But let’s give credit where credit is due, shall we? As far as antagonists go, Orochimaru was persistent, powerful and so very typical. Anyone who crossed his path was simply a pile of flesh to be discarded or used. Simple. He gives no regard to any pain. Murdered men, women and children indiscriminately. He is the only truly evil character in the series. His name always whispered with a Voldemort-esque fear and hatred behind it. Speaking of Voldemort, the pair of them seem to have a satanic fetish for Snakes.

Yuck.

Bottom line, Orochimaru was hella creepy, yet the most charming character in the series. Imagine that? He didn’t walk, he staggered like someone or something possessed. He didn’t speak, he taunted. Everything about him was inhuman. Cruel. Heartless. From kidnapping to using people as pawns, using characters as genetically modified experiments– he was a mad scientist with no regard for human life of any kind except for the extension of his own. Even killing his ex-village leader (Hokage) and mentor. I think we all remember where we were that episode during the Chunin exams. It just doesn’t get any lower. Pure evil if you could define it.

3. Madara

Anime: Naruto

Japanese Name: ナルト

Aired: September 21, 1999 – November 10, 2014

Studio: Pierrot

Yes, we’re getting to the meat here, folks. Madara Uchiha of the notorious Uchiha clan and Hashirama’s (the first Hokage’s) old rival. The dopest of villains. During most of the series, Madara was nothing more than a legend. But his strength becomes a problematic reality as it was unparalleled compared to the any other Uchihas (yes Sasuke included). Madara was the first to use a powerful technique that required Mangekyo Sharingan in both eyes. The only one who could fight Hashirama nonstop for several days. In fact, their epic battle carved actual geographical monuments. Talk about god-like, eh?

Not only was he the shinobi version of google-earth, but he also brought the Nine-tailed Beast under his control to destroy Konoha and is shown to control the Tailed Beasts easily. A feat no other ninja was able to boast about. A feat most villains in that universe can only dream of.

Madara is a ninja with no discernible weakness. He had the ability to take on entire armies without using more severe levels of jutsu. He faced off against the 5 Kage, the supposed five strongest ninjas of modern times, and dog-walked them as they tried to defeat him all while mocking them. That’s cold, ice cold, you ain’t have to do ’em like that, Mad. *Drake Voice*. It was at that moment the audience [and his opponents] realized they f**ked up. That the legends were not only true but paled in comparison to the villainous reality of Madara Uchiha.

 

2. Frieza

Anime: Dragon Ball Z

Japanese Name: ドラゴンボールZ

Aired: April 26, 1989 January 31, 1996

Studio: Toei Animation

This a**hole. No villain was more sadistic than this prick. You heard it here first. What can I say? Toriyama sure knows how to make ’em. That’s why another DBZ character is charting this list. Frieza is one of the most wicked villains in the DBZ franchise. Hands down. Fight me on this. This jerk murders an entire race without any remorse. Glee actually. I’ll never forget Bardock squaring up with the squad like a brave Saiyan just to get obliterated a few seconds later. RIP, fam.

Nonchalant murder, insidious plotting, all done with a cold and calculating smile; Frieza is a truly Machiavellian. Just missing wine glass is all. Stabbed the Saiyans in the back just to make then made their child prince a pet soldier. Blew up planets for fun. Enslaved millions. And the worst? Tortured and killed Krillin. If that isn’t pure unadulterated evil, I don’t what is. This last despicable act, in particular, was so f**ked up that it caused Goku to not only keep the pimp hand strong but go Super Saiyan for the very first time. The block was hot in my  NY neighborhood that day when Toonami let that roll on our televisions. So kudos to you Frieza for being the worst person to ever grace the DBZ screen. Your sadism knows no bounds, just the way we like our villains.

 

1. Aizen

Anime: Bleach

Japanese Name: ブリーチ

Aired: October 5, 2004 March 27, 2012

Studio: Pierrot

Of all the villains despised by shonen-obsessed adolescents worldwide, this sociopath takes the pot. Aizen, former Captain of Squad 5, leader of all Arrancars. One of, if not the smartest villains of all, who went by the unspoken but cardinal law: let the others do the dirty work for you.

Almost if not just as powerful as Head Captain Yamamoto even during his time in Soul Society, and after his subjugation of the Hogyoku, the dude literally becomes immortal. Able to take on nearly every Captain, Vizard, and Vice-Captain solo-dolo. One man, by himself, no help, who mastered every form of Shinigami combat, is able to plan out war 100 years prior to it happening. All while being perfectly capable of deceiving nearly everybody in the entire series in the process.

Let’s face it, the man gets busy.

This man has abnormal power, god-like even. I guess that’s why he eventually decides to try and destroy the Soul King (God, basically) by himself. With the ability to use Kido that can bend time and space, and a Zanpakuto capable of perfectly controlling all 5 senses of anyone who lays eyes on it even once in their life, he is essentially unstoppable. Lastly, unlike Light, Frieza, Naraku, and most other villains, Aizen is literally unkillable. The other three have met their demise, while Aizen still lives, waiting, chillin’ and plotting for the day he shall return. Aizen will forever be the best anime villain. He flexes and sh*ts on everyone. All while stunting with his greaser-like slick-back. Because what’s universal domination without a little style? Lord Aizen, we don’t deserve you.

So there you have it, team. Let’s face it, there’s nothing more enjoyable than a well-written, flawed character. We can’t identify with perfect people and we can’t identify with cackling maniacs (most of the time) but we tend to recognize the ‘real’ when we see it. What’s fascinating about villains is that they have this certain je-nes-sais-quois about them, where even though you know you should be cheering on the good guy, subliminally you’re always following what the bad guy will do next. So here’s to the villains, may they forever piss us off and fascinate us at the same time.