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14 Anime Where The Villain Is More Interesting Than The Protagonist

Updated October 15, 2018 17.1k votes 4.1k voters 77.7k views14 items

List RulesVote up the anime villains who you think outshine their hero counterparts.

Just because an anime character happens to be the protagonist of a show doesn't mean they’re the most interesting person to focus on. Sometimes the most fascinating character is a compelling villain, the one trying to upset the status quo by introducing some calculated destruction. 

Some series have a multitude of horrifying anime villains, and it’s hard for the protagonist to even compare. Naruto turned Itachi Uchiha from a blood-thirsty villain into one of the most empathetic characters in anime history. Let's be real, Naruto Uzumaki has nothing on Itachi.

Other times, a single villain makes a more memorable impression than the main characters - Dilandau’s arc in Escaflowne is far more dramatic than Hitomi’s.

It’s not that these protagonists are bad, it’s just that the villains are better. 

  • Photo: OLM

    If you're a Pokémon fan, your favorite character probably isn't Ash. He doesn't grow or change over time, his goals aren't especially interesting or different from those of the people around him, and he consistently fails at the things he's trying to accomplish.

    The villains are far more interesting. Team Rocket's bumbling antics and upbeat attitudes contrast well with their genuinely tragic backstories. Their boss Giovanni is the archetypal man in the shadows stroking a cat with a sinister look on his face. Even later characters like N make you question the whole premise behind Pokémon. 

    The villains carry the anime in a way that Ash Ketchum just can't. 

    Is this a superior villain?

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  • Edward Elric is a great protagonist, but if you compare him to the excellent cast of villains that FMA has to offer, he doesn’t quite measure up.

    The Homunculi all present fascinating twists on their assigned sin. Envy is proud and imperious, refusing to acknowledge that they actually feel envious of anyone until they reveal at the end that all they’ve ever wanted is the genuine connections humans enjoy with one another.

    Father is a terrifying megalomaniac. Scar is a non-traditional villain, as his true motivation is seeking vengeance against those that slaughtered the Ishvalan people. Eventually, however, he comes to the conclusion that hate begets hate, and while he can’t entirely forgive what happened, he can work with his former enemies to build a better future together. 

    Is this a superior villain?

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    The Message Of 'The Ancient Magus' Bride' Relies On Joseph

    Photo: Wit Studio

    Unlike some of the protagonists that come second to the series' villains, Chise Hatori from The Ancient Magus' Bride isn't a bad character at all - she's actually one of the most emotionally nuanced protagonists to come out of 2017. However, her emotional journey is augmented by the villains' story, to the point where it wouldn't be nearly as resonant without him. 

    Joseph started off an excessively kind person, who was so dedicated to helping others that he literally fused his body with another person's in order to try and alleviate their suffering. This led to him being cursed with immortality, forced to live forever as his body rotted from the inside out.

    As centuries passed, he lost contact with his humanity and began doing experiments on people to try and find a way to end his own life. Eventually, he manages to trade curses with Chise, who will die unless she sacrifices someone else's life to save herself. The story raises questions about the extent to which we should assist others, and whether it's acceptable to take from others in order to help oneself.

    These themes would be impossible to get across without Joseph. He's every bit as fascinating as Chise is, but because the series focuses less on him than her, he retains an air of mystery that Chise lacks. 

    Is this a superior villain?
  • Tohru Honda is a sweetheart, and there's nothing especially wrong with her - but compared to the series villain, Akito Sohma, she just isn't as noteworthy. 

    Akito Sohma is the cruel and despotic leader of the Sohma family. They control every aspect of their family's lives, including where they're work, where they'll go to school, who they date, who they speak to, and more.

    This is ostensibly to protect them from outsiders who would persecute them due to the a curse that causes them to transform into different animals, but it's also deeply personal. Akito feels that their family owes them - in the anime, it's because Akito is actually keeping them all alive at the expense of their health, while in the manga it has more to do with Akito's abusive mother.

    Either way, this enigmatic character has a powerful influence over every other character, and their scenes are the dark heart of an otherwise cheerful show.

    Is this a superior villain?

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