Most Ruthless Anime Villains
When it comes to media like anime, with a flair for impressive aesthetics & compelling storytelling, villains grab as much attention as heroes. After all, the villains in these anime stories motivate protagonists to become better versions of themselves. While they almost always fail in their gr& designs, some are ruthless enough to earn a spot among the most horrifying characters in their respective franchises, or in anime as a whole.
Fans looking anime stories with ruthless villains might find it difficult to sift through all the options to find their “perfect” fit. Which villains, with their brutality, mercilessness, & twisted philosophies, end up becoming perfect fits for the “ruthless” description?
Updated on 15 November 2022 by Rhenn Taguiam: With a hit game like Genshin Impactmaking the rounds among otaku given recent news that it’s set to become an anime, animation fans would likely want a blast from the past to see what kinds of honorable heroes & terrifying villains a Genshin Impact anime has to offer.
While there’s always the enigmatic Fatui Harbingers serving as the game’s version of villains, some anime fans may want the video game’s anime adaptation to feature far more ruthless anime villains. Examples of these include comedic-but-sadistic prison owners, someone obsessed with research & immortality, & even a being from another dimension hell-bent on bringing humanity to its knees.
15/15 Tamaki Tsunenaga (Deadman Wonderl&)
In the world of Deadman Wonderl&, a devastating earthquake has destroyed most of Tokyo & caused widespread destruction in Japan. While protagonist Ganta Igarashi seems like an ordinary 9th grader, a grisly massacre of his class had all evidence point an innocent Ganta. Cornered & framed, Ganta had no choice but to go to the eponymous Deadman Wonderl& as a death sentence, a prison-theme park run by the warden Tsunenaga Tamaki.
While Tamaki being the warden immediately puts him in the crosshairs of most Deadman Wonderl& characters, it’s his relationship with them that makes him quite the menace. For starters, not only did he pose as Ganta’s lawyer, he actually rigged evidence against him. Moreover, beneath his goofy, idiotic, & always-smiling exterior is a sadistic nature that cares for nothing but finding ways to kill more prisoners for his amusement.
14/15 Orochimaru (Naruto)
Despite being sidelined as a scientist figure in Boruto, Orochimaru is in fact one of the deadliest antagonists in the Naruto series. In the original Naruto anime, Orochimaru establishes his notoriety by not only studying Forbidden Jutsu, but also stopping at nothing to achieve his goal of immortality. These included experimenting on unwitting subjects, & even outright experimenting on himself to be capable of “transferring” himself to other bodies.
Such was his nature as a deadly character that he orchestrated the dreaded Konoha Crush that almost caused the destruction of the Hidden Leaf Village. He also served as Sasuke Uchiha’s mentor, training him to become a merciless shinobi. Such was his rather eccentric nature that the only reason he hasn’t decided to become a villain in Boruto was in his insistence to observe Sasuke’s “different” path, contrary to his expectations that the Uchiha survivor would choose to destroy Konoha.
13/15 Bondrewd (Made In Abyss)
The small town of Orth gained notoriety for surrounding a giant hole known only as the Abyss, the eponymous setting of Made In Abyss. It’s said that the Abyss contains remnants of ancient civilizations & artifacts of dangerous qualities, attracting various adventurers known only as Cave Raiders. When protagonist Riko discovers that her mother, White Whistle Lyza, may be alive deep within the Abyss, she takes the robotic Reg with her & ventures forth. And throughout their journey, they eventually discover the existence of Bondrewd, the Lord of Dawn, one of the most legendary White Whistle Delvers to ever exist.
Unbeknownst to Riko, Bondrewd harbors a rather dark secret. Fascinated by the nature of the Abyss, Bondrewd has made it his life’s mission to conduct research on the Abyss’s netizens, employing various methods to get the data he needs. Inside his base called the Ido Front, Bondrewd conducts sadistic experiments with no signs of remorse.
12/15 The Major (Hellsing)
In the alternate reality of Hellsing, it was Abraham Van Hellsing & his Royal Order of Protestant Knights that became the sole defense of the United Kingdom against the forces of the undead & the paranormal. Now led by Sir Integra Hellsing, a threat in the form of a Nazi group called the Millennium forced Integra to awaken the vampire Alucard, defeated by Abraham & forced into a life of servitude.
And despite the nonstop action Hellsing provides to fans, what perhaps serves as the series’ most perplexing figure comes in the form of The Major. Serving as the leader of the Millennium & the former first lieutenant of Adolf Hitler himself, the Major is hell-bent in ensuring the Fuhrer’s Order 666 was implemented, which in itself is a plan to artificially induce vampirism to the mass populace. What makes the Major especially gruesome is his ridiculous love for war, stopping at nothing to ensure violence is propagated throughout the series.
In the region of Amestris in Fullmetal Alchemist exists the craft of Alchemy, a specialized science that involves transforming one object into the other. While protagonist Edward & Alphonse Elric have grown to become reliable State Alchemists throughout the course of Fullmetal Alchemist, it seems they have a much deeper relationship with their father Van Hohenheim. This is especially since Van Hohenheim has lived for hundreds of years, with his original name simply being “Number 23,” an alchemist in service to the King of Xerxes.
During this ancient time, Van Hohenheim managed to Advance into contact with the Gate – the origin of all knowledge – & “extract” a part of it. Known simply as the Dwarf in the Flask, it’s this being (called a homunculus) that taught Alchemy to the rest of the region. And after purging himself of sin, he’s adopted a colder, sadistic, & megalomaniacal persona as Father. In this form, his sole purpose was to transform the entirety of Amestris into a large-enough transmutation circle to enable him to achieve the power of godhood, which Father had done for a limited time. In his most powerful form, he was even able to create miniature suns at the palm of his h&. It took the combined powers of Edward Elric & his other companions to finally defeat Father.
10/15 Gendo Ikari (Neon Genesis Evangelion)
A person solely focused on their goals, regardless of whether they’re right or wrong, can be more terrifying than a megalomaniacal villain. Such is the case of Gendo Ikari, eventually becoming the ultimate antagonist of Neon Genesis Evangelion. After losing his wife, Gendo would stop at nothing to reunite with her — even if it meant throwing the whole world away in the process.
Through this mission, Gendo knowingly threatens the world with a near-cataclysmic event to awaken powerful Angels, which would then deem his Evangelion project necessary to save the world. Beneath all of this, Gendo mercilessly neglects his own child, emotionally manipulates his assistants, & even conducts human experiments in order to achieve his goals.
9/15 Majin Buu (Dragon Ball Z)
Initially appearing as the bubbly yet unpredictable pink monster in the latter part of Dragon Ball Z, the character of Majin Buu would end up becoming perhaps its strongest, most dangerous villain. While possessing many forms, the diminutive Kid Buu is his truest form, the one devoid of restraint & sanity. It’s also this form that Goku & his comrades had the hardest time defeating due to its absorption abilities, constant regeneration, & seemingly-indestructible body.
However, what makes Majin Buu ruthless & terrifying is his personality — or lack thereof. Majin Buu lacks any remorse or compassion, & seems incapable of comprehending empathy. Majin Buu enjoys destruction, & finds amusement whenever he destroys worlds.
8/15 Kyubey (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
Despite its appearance, Kyubey of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is more than just a cute cat-like mascot. Kyubey is an Incubator, a member of an advanced civilization hell-bent on stopping entropy from killing the universe. Kyubey & his species discover that emotions, particularly from teenage girls, can help prevent the spread of entropy. Kyubey approaches these girls & offers to grant their wishes in exchange for fighting witches, not telling them that they will become witches themselves after being exhausted of their emotional energy.
Kyubey’s abject lack of empathy makes its actions more terrifying. For their species, it’s worth sacrificing the lives of these magical girls if it means stopping the eventual death of the universe. And Kyubey won’t hesitate discarding a magical girl whom it finds useless. It’s possible that once the human race is devoid of magical girls, Kyubey will simply find another species capable of producing such emotions, & repeat the cycle.
7/15 Light Yagami (Death Note)
When Light Yagami receives the Death Note, he soon realizes that writing anyone’s name in it will kill said person. Thus begins Death Note & Light’s quest to kill criminals himself, ushering in the birth of a perfect & lawless world as Kira. However, Light’s journey towards godhood is continuously hindered by the authorities, particularly L, who easily proves to be his nemesis. Soon enough, Light will stop at nothing to achieve his goals.
Despite Light being the “protagonist” of Death Note, he’s truly its main villain. To Light, being Kira & using the Death Note to kill criminals has become a daily routine. He manipulates his way into the favor of others to transform them into his allies or disciples, & then discard them when they’re of no use.
6/15 Frieza (Dragon Ball Z)
Majin Buu might have been the strongest villain of Dragon Ball, but none could match Frieza in terms of sheer evil. His charm & mercilessness maintains his popularity among fans, to the point of being the most recurring villain in the Dragon Ball franchise. During his time as ruler of the galaxy, Frieza exterminated of the entire Saiyan race. Prior to his demise at the h&s of Goku, Frieza freely toyed with his friends & comrades.
Boasting the power of transformation, Frieza always keeps his enemies on their toes, & takes delight in taunting & torturing them for his amusement. His intelligence makes his sociopathic nature all the more horrifying. Some of his infamous acts include causing Krillin to explode, & destroying Namekian villages in his pursuit of the Dragon Balls.
5/15 Shinobu Sensui (Yu Yu Hakusho)
Fans of Yu Yu Hakusho remember the arrogant yet noble Yusuke Urameshi & his signature Spirit Gun, while those with an eye for villains will remember Shinobu Sensui. Koenma’s spirit detective prior to Yusuke, Shinobu quit his job & went into hiding, prior to resurfacing with a plot to destroy the world. This was tragic, considering Shinobu had strong spiritual perception. To him, humans are purer than demons, & it’s his job to exterminate demons to stop them from threatening humans.
However, Shinobu witnessed an event where humans lavishly tortured demons for his own amusement. With his moral compass broken, Shinobu unconsciously developed multiple personalities to salvage what’s left of his mental state. With demons being vermin & humans being unworthy of saving in his eyes, Shinobu will stop at nothing to see the two species wipe each other out.
4/15 Griffith (Berserk)
Sometimes, villains that appear extremely humble & innocent strike people as the most terrifying. Such is the case of Griffith from Berserk. Given his humble origins & well-mannered demeanor, no one would suspect the bizarre machinations of Griffith’s mind. His charm, conviction, & ambition always get people to follow him. It’s unfortunately the same ambition that transforms Griffith into Berserk‘s most infamous villain.
When Griffith drowns himself in ambition & is reborn as Femto, he became even more terrifying. Now an instrument of the Idea of Evil, Griffith/Femto willingly gives up his humanity for the pursuit of his ideas. He lies, betrays, & kills his own comrades to further his ambition. Even more horrific, he can seemingly apply callous logic to everything he does.
3/15 Makishima Shogo (Psycho-Pass)
In the future Japan of Psycho-Pass, the enigmatic Sybil System can instantaneously quantify & measure a person’s mental state, using said information to determine someone’s “perfect” place in society. However, Sybil System requires people to have a low “Psycho-Pass,” a propensity for violence. The police hunt down individuals with a high Psycho-Pass.
Makishima Shogo, the first season’s central antagonist, conducts mass murder with a low Psycho-Pass. Despite his murderous intent, his Psycho-Pass remains low because he thinks of his crimes as sound & reasonable. One might think he kills solely to mock the system that thinks it’s perfect, which makes Makishima all the more horrific.
Despite only appearing for a few episodes, Shou Tucker of Fullmetal Alchemist made a horrifying mark on its viewers, showing what can result from unbridled ambition & irresistible curiosity. The foremost expert in chimeras, Shou Tucker lives with his daughter, Nina, after his wife left them. Shou earned his State Alchemist License on the promise of producing a chimera capable of speech.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t produce any results until he comes up with a horrifying solution: fusing Nina & their family dog, Alex&er. When confronted, Shou tries to justify his depravity with the explanation that all scientific advancements are founded on a price. It’s this mercilessness of sacrificing his daughter in the name of science that makes Shou so deplorable in the eyes of fans.
1/15 Lil’ Slugger (Paranoia Agent)
It’s one thing for a country to sleep in fear of a serial attacker, & another to fear an entity that may or may not exist. Such is the dilemma of Lil’ Slugger, the main antagonist of Paranoia Agent. In the anime, a woman named Tsukiko Sagi is attacked by a boy with a bat, whom she names “Lil’ Slugger.” From then on, Lil’ Slugger makes appearances to various individuals, all attacking them under various circumstances.
It’s soon revealed that Lil’ Slugger is no more than a figment of Tsukiko’s imagination. The spreading rumor of Lil’ Slugger transformed it into a meme, a cultural phenomenon that seemingly enters the minds of people with varying degrees of psychological burdens. Lil’ Slugger is ruthless not because of its actions, but in how easily it can manifest in the mind.
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