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The 20 Smartest Anime Villains Of All Time

Updated June 16, 2021 38.2k votes 9.5k voters 179.1k views20 items

List RulesVote up the most genius anime villains in history.

It's not always brute strength that wins the day because sometimes, it takes a little brain to outmatched brawn. That why, when it comes to anime villainy, it's the smartest ones that are always the most terrifying, yet, captivating to watch. No matter how fired up a hero may be, it's all meaningless if they don't have a strategy to overcome their highly intellectual foe.

Present in this list are the smartest anime villains of all time. They aren't just among the greatest anime villains - they are antagonists who are always two steps ahead of their adversaries, playing out their deadly game of wits with sinister glee. That's not to say these villains are invincible, but when presented with an impossible situation to overcome, they always manage to find some small detail to exploit for victory.

Whether it's taking advantage of their victim's frail emotions, or sacrificing as many pawns as necessary to declare checkmate, these intelligent villains are a dangerous force to be reckoned with. Listed here are some of the smartest villains in all of anime. Which ones deserve to reign all over the others? Vote up the characters you believe are the smartest anime villains around. 

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  • While all the other Souls Reapers are out playing tic-tac-toe, Sosuke Aizen is playing 4D chess with a 3D chess board. It took Aizen a hundred years to calculate the perfect plan to overthrow the Soul Society. He spent his time gathering intelligence and enlisting the right kind of men for the job. He drowned his former comrades in conspiracies and paranoia, ensuring they fight amongst themselves before they ever grew suspicious of him.

    For good measure, he staged his own death by hypnotizing the witnesses to see what he wanted them to see. Once the ugly truth came out, even without his hypnotic powers, Aizen wiped the floor with Ichigo and the other Soul Reapers with ease. 

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  • Photo: Madhouse

    As the ancient proverb says, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." Light Yagami was a bored high school kid when he came across the Death Note. If you write a name in the notebook and picture that person's face, they will die within 30 seconds. Yagami might have had noble intentions when he first began using the Death Note to rid the world of evil, but as the series progressed, he became nothing more than a cold and calculated serial killer with a God complex. 

    It wasn't just the Death Note that made Light such a terrifying villain - it was how he used it. For years, Light was able to hide his true identity from the police, while strategizing unthinkable ways of executing anyone who came close to the truth. 

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    Meruem - 'Hunter x Hunter (2011)'

    Photo: Madhouse

    As the King of the Chimera Ants, Meruem is quite the formidable anime villain - and an intelligent one at that. He can learn things at an incredible speed and is particularly gifted at strategy games. He's able to master any form seen of board games in just 10 matches. And mind you, he's not even a year old yet! 

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  • 4

    Shougo Makishima - 'Psycho-Pass'

    Shogo Makishima is just a proud humanist who enjoys dystopian literature and overthrowing Japanese society. Makishima is certainly a troubled young man who is obsessed with restoring individual thought to the futuristic world of Psycho-Pass. He will take any violent means necessary to complete his goal. While Makishima's charisma is alluring, his love affair with the worst aspects of humanity makes him a twisted individual. 

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