Anime is like the death metal of the cartoon world. The other genres know it’s there and tolerate it accordingly, but deep down they know something darker is at work, and nowhere is that clearer than in its supervillains.
The Japanese brand of cartoon does the evil adversary like no other, and among the decades of anime series and film is a waiting room chocked full of some of the most memorable baddies to ever grace the illustrated screen.
Not every anime follows the same design, and often it’s the vibrantly coloured protagonists who draw the most attention. People remember Ash Ketchum and Goku most from their respective series, but there are some villains who go on to become the most iconic figures of their own.
Honourable Mention: Lucy/Nyu - Elfen Lied
It’s up to the viewer themselves to decide just whether they consider Lucy (or Nyu) to be a hero or a villain, good or bad, or just downright insane.
Elfen Lied’s main character is the epicentre in this messed up narrative, combining extreme beauty with a complete disregard for other life, resulting in one of the goriest anime series to which you’ll ever likely bear witness.
Anti-hero may be the correct term in this instance, as there’s no doubt Lucy kills some people who deserved it, but there are very few out there who have killed the number of people she has, in the ways that she has, who could be called “good.”
This invisible-killer-tentacle-wielding lab experiment has few emotional tethers and could be an apocalyptic force if she were so inclined, so we should perhaps count our blessings she limits herself to the dozens of deaths she's responsible for during the series.