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The 13 Greatest Anime Anti-Villains of All Time

Updated September 5, 2019 14.0k votes 3.6k voters 115.6k views13 items

You've probably heard of an anti-hero before - but have you ever heard of an anti-villain? If you haven't, that's okay - the term isn't widely used. Anime anti-villains are characters for whom the ends justify the means. Their goals are often good ones - or at least they arrived at them for good reason - but they commit some seriously bad deeds to get there. 

One of the most well-known and best anime anti-villains out there is Itachi Uchiha from Naruto. Itachi may have taken out his entire clan, but his reason for doing so is so compelling that it's hard to argue that he could have done anything else. There's also Harumi Kiyama from A Certain Scientific Railgun, who creates a dangerous weapon in the hopes of reviving her comatose students, and Treize Khushrenada of Gundam Wing, whose method of creating lasting peace involves starting the biggest war anyone involved has ever seen.

Which anime anti-villain do you find the most compelling? Vote them up to let the world know what you think.

  • When he first appears, Itachi Uchiha seems to be one of the most vile villains imaginable. He took out his entire clan, leaving his younger brother Sasuke as the sole survivor. After that, he joined the Akatsuki, an organization known for wreaking havoc on innocent people.

    What could possibly be the explanation for such heinous acts? Itachi was actually attempting to prevent war and protect his younger brother. Danzo, the leader of an organization called Root, gives a then-13-year-old Itachi a choice. Either Danzo and the rest of Root would destroy his family for him, potentially sparking an all-out war that would implicate the entire city, or he could do it himself, sparing his own life, his brother's life, and that of the rest of the city. 

    While not everything Itachi does after that is perfectly calibrated toward maintaining peace, that is his ultimate goal - even if he has to commit atrocities to get there.

    Are they compelling?
  • 2

    Stain - 'My Hero Academia'

    Hero society isn't what it's cracked up to be, and Stain would be just the guy to do something about it - except that he gets his point across by taking innocent lives. 

    His point is a valid one. Hero society in the world of My Hero Academia is driven less by the genuine desire to save people than it is by flashy sponsorships and corporate deals. Some heroes are actually deeply corrupt people who do more harm than good. It's not unreasonable to want to tear down that system and expose its inherent hypocrisy, but his point is lost in all the blood that's shed by his hands.

    Are they compelling?
  • Photo: Sunrise

    One of the most unfair things about the Yu Yu Hakusho universe is that that it's perfectly fine to destroy demon lives, while humans are considered worthy of protection. This is because humans are seen as pure and defenseless, while demons and powerful and evil. Except, that isn't even remotely true - plenty of humans are powerful or cruel, while plenty of demons are weak or innocent.

    Shinobu Sensui, a former spirit detective, realizes this contradiction and is overcome with guilt at the number of demon lives he took without thinking. He decides that the only way to make up for it is to destroy humanity through opening up the demon gate. 

    Obviously, no one who seeks to do something so violent can be called a good guy - but his understanding that demons deserve to be treated like sentient beings is on point.

    Are they compelling?
  • 4

    Archer - 'Fate: Unlimited Blade Works'

    Photo: ufotable

    Archer began as a heroic person who desperately wanted to save as many people from danger as humanly possible. However, because of the role he was forced to occupy, he's assigned the task of taking lives in order to protect humanity as a whole. This is utterly miserable for him, since he's a man of principle.

    In the midst of this difficult situation, he decides to take out Shirou Emiya, a version of himself from an alternate universe. He believes that this will ultimately prevent further catastrophe, but it casts him in the role of villain during one of the versions of Fate's extensive timeline. 

    Are they compelling?