It’s officially the era of villains. Welcome aboard. Maybe you’re looking for inspiration on what kind of villain you want to be. A nice n’er-do-well? A cold-hearted tough guy in a tight dress? A grandmother who uses her offspring as her own personal army? As you research your new brand, there’s one place you can reliably find great inspiration: anime.
Before we dive in here, you might notice one very big absence on this list: absolutely anyone from The attack of the Titans. That’s because, where the show is now with two of three parts in its final season (don’t worry), it’s rendered the traditional idea of a “villain” meaningless. Is Annie meaner than Gabi, who killed one of my favorite characters? And even considering that, can you honestly say that you still consider Gabi a villain through and through? You can’t, can you? I put down my file.
Maybe you expected me to do an entirely “high-end” anime here. First: how dare you do not consider Pokemon high-end anime (okay, the 4Kids version… you get a point). Second: you love Jessie, and you know it. How can I not put the most iconic anime villain of my childhood on this list? She’s brash, vain as hell, and stays strong even when constantly thwarted. But she always rallies around and finds someone to yell at. An icon. A hero.
Esdeath (Akame Ga kill)
I’ll be honest with you: I haven’t watched yet. Akame Ga kill (I’m sorry, I’m only human, and there’s so many shows). But, as I was looking for inspiration for this piece, Esdeath repeatedly came up as a fan favorite, so I wanted to honor that. Besides, any woman who has been promoted to the top of an Imperial army deserves my respect. Like any woman who is a formidable force on the battlefield while maintaining compassion for her soldiers.
Neferpitu (Hunter X Hunter)
To watch the Chimera Ant arc from Hunter X Hunter is to constantly miss your boy Kurapika…I mean, watching the Chimera Ant arc is like ending up in a puddle of tears…I mean, it’s being mad that three seconds have passed for an entire episode…I mean, it’s to start liking Neferpitou only to be constantly reminded that she’s endlessly brutal and terrifying. Yeah, that’s the one.
This back and forth is precisely what makes Neferpitou such an intriguing character. She’s incredibly cruel, and yet there’s a catlike streak of playfulness and curiosity. Combined with her intense loyalty and even devotional ability, she’s a fascinating villain to behold during a very turbulent arc.
Isabella (The promised never-never land)
First season of The promised never-never land is spectacular. The second season is going well, until the last ten minutes of the final episode, which is probably the hottest mess I’ve ever seen on TV. It’s not Isabella’s fault, but it pains me a little to put her on this list. So we’re going to pretend season two of The promised never-never land does not exist. OK? Great, okay.
All through the (ahem) single season of The promised never-never land, Isabella is largely responsible for giving the story its shocking depth of unease. The betrayal of the mother figure is devastating, especially for a group of children. For a beloved guardian, actually being a ruthless actor orchestrating the slaughter of her children is a crude duality. She still stands assuredly in the shadows, armed with cunning and a knowledge of the world that alludes to everyone. All of this makes her terrifying.
Nonon Jakuzure (kill her kill her)
As a former high school band geek, how does the cheerful fighter who so elegantly uses fanfare in her grand entrance into the arena do not to be one of my favorite villains? Music-based battles bring me a lot of joy, so a magical girl-like transformation into a giant heart attacking people (complete with bladed musical notes and abrasive bass) is just perfect. And his choice of classic marches that we totally played in high school or on the other hand cartoons (Opening of Calvary Light? pshaw!) is flawless. Who knew kawaii aesthetics, marching bands, and good old fashioned violence worked so well together?
Himiko Toga (my hero academia)
Himiko is another great take on the kawaii girl. She displays all the cheerful and cute trappings of a teenager who imagines herself in such a light. She also comes to really enjoys killing and torturing people. Including – especially? – the people she is in love with. Which, you know, maybe leans a little bit on the uncomfortable “crazy woman in love” archetype. But he’s an intriguing enough character that I’d give him a pass for that one. I mean, damn it, his quirk requires him to ingest his victim’s blood. This is next level shit.
Lust (Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood)
Lust was my mean OG female anime. She’s the first one I thought of when I was given this prompt. For better or worse, she embodies a quintessential archetype for a female antagonist in anime: very sexy, very deadly, very terrifying. Her cool attitude, coupled with her horrifying extendable claws, make her a memorable and fearsome foe. Yes, you can literally be the epitome of lust, but you can also instantly kill people by shooting spears through their bodies. It’s a strong vibe as hell, and I love it.
Grandmother (A piece)
I’ve been accused of “erasing Big Mom” before, so I’m trying to right that wrong. Also, while looking for inspiration for this piece, absolutely nothing other “mean anime female” lists included Big Mom, who is a scary crime. “Big Mom erasure”, indeed!
Big Mom is one of the Four Emperors of the New World, which automatically makes her one of the strongest characters in A piece. From his insatiable appetite which – ahem – includes subconscious cannibalism, to his Devil Fruit power which allows him to manipulate souls, to the fact that his formidable pirate crew is largely populated by his biological offspring (get it, gurl! ), Big Mom is a terrifying force. Although her story is quite tragic (and also quite grotesque), she is one of the few A piece bad guys who are downright bad guys. She’s a selfish bitch. But damn, she’s such a joy to despise.
(featured image: Aniplex)
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