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The 13 Most Compelling Hero-Villain Dynamics In Anime

Updated October 5, 2020 1.6k votes 407 voters 23.3k views13 items

There's a lot that goes into making a great villain. One of those things is their relationship with the hero. Often, villains are a heck of a lot more interesting when they have a real history with their opponent - or at least an interesting dynamic. The same applies to the heroes: sometimes, it's more fun to see them locked in conflict that's a little more personal than a standard clash between good versus evil.

What are the most interesting hero-villain relationships in anime? There are plenty to choose from. One classic example is Vash the Stampede and Knives Millions from Trigun, twin brothers with wildly different views on humanity. More recently in The Promised Neverland, there's the relationship between Isabella, the supposedly loving caretaker of Gracefield House, and the orphans fighting desperately to escape her.

Which dynamics keep you interested? Vote them up!

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    Light Yagami & L - 'Death Note'

    Light Yagami & L - 'Death Note is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The 13 Most Compelling Hero-Villain Dynamics In Anime
    Photo: Madhouse

    In another universe, L and Light could probably have been friends: they're both highly intelligent people who have plenty in common. The problem is that Light Yagami has a self-imposed mission of ridding the world of criminals via destroying them with a magical notebook, and L is the detective charged with taking him down.

    Throughout the series, the two constantly try to outwit each other. And despite the fact that L wants Light in prison and Light wants L deceased, the two occasionally wonder about the friendship that could have been. 

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  • 2

    Gon Freecss & Hisoka Morow - 'Hunter x Hunter'

    Gon Freecss & Hisoka Morow - ' is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The 13 Most Compelling Hero-Villain Dynamics In Anime
    Photo: Madhouse

    Hisoka Morow isn't a villain in the strictest sense, but he's definitely an antagonist and he definitely doesn't have anything resembling morals. His relationship with Gon is a totally bizarre one. He sees Gon as someone with serious battle potential, and he wants to help him achieve greatness.

    But he doesn't want this for any altruistic reasons - he wants it because he wants the challenge of defeating someone strong. Basically, he's hoping that Gon will one day measure up to his current would-be rival, Chrollo Lucilfer. 

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  • 3

    Sasuke Uchiha & Itachi Uchiha - 'Naruto'

    Depending on which part of the series you're talking about, Itachi and Sasuke could both be considered either heroes or villains. 

    When we first meet Sasuke, he's brooding over his desire to destroy his formerly beloved older brother Itachi. That's because Itachi massacred the entire Uchiha clan, and told Sasuke that he did it 'to test his strength.' 

    Itachi left out a ton of information that Sasuke would not discover until after he'd had his revenge. He wasn't malicious at all - rather, he did it because a corrupt government official named Danzo Shimura made it clear that this was the only way to save himself and save Sasuke, while avoiding a potential civil war. He didn't tell Sasuke because he wanted him to eliminate him and gain the Mangekyo Sharingan. 

    Once Sasuke learns the truth, he's devastated. His hatred for his brother is gone, and replaced by a hatred for the city of Konoha.

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  • 4

    The Orphans & Isabella - 'The Promised Neverland'

    The Orphans & Isabella - 'The  is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The 13 Most Compelling Hero-Villain Dynamics In Anime
    Photo: CloverWorks

    On the surface, Isabella appears to be the kindly caretaker of Grace Field House. All of the child residents, including Emma, adore her, and it seems like she feels the same way. But the reality is far more sinister. Isabella is actually running a farm from which she sells the children as meat to a group of demons. 

    You'd think that meant that she hated the kids in her charge, but that's not true. In fact, she was once one of them - becoming a 'mama' was the only way she could find to avoid being fed to demons herself when she was a child. She ended up loving the kids deeply - especially Emma, who she admires, and Raye, who she has a far deeper connection with than most viewers guess.

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