Villainous Art: Three Criteria for a Good Anime Villain (Topic)

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Villainous Art: Three Criteria for a Good Anime Villain


Heroes and villains - many anime stories revolve around their confrontation. However, villains often fade behind the broad backs of tough and strong heroes and in vain, because sometimes they drag all the anime on them. The question then becomes, what exactly makes a villain good? We answer the question together with MyAnimeList. One can argue on this topic for a very long time, but in principle everything can be reduced to three points: the villain in the anime must be a real living character, and not a plot device, must occasionally evoke sympathy or understanding, but at the same time be a threat. Due to the specifics of the topic, the material will contain spoilers for the anime Death Note, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Overlord and Akame Killer.

Business man

One of the most important criteria for making a good villain is making the viewer realize that he is human too. Just because he is a villain does not mean that he is devoid of hopes and dreams, and lacks the qualities that make him a person. Most criminals or bad guys are just people who choose the wrong path, leading them to a collision with the hero. A great example is Yoshikage Kira from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable.


Kira is a lot like us. He lives a fairly ordinary life, but at the same time admires it. This is exactly what he tells one character, describing his life, at the same time revealing some facts from his biography to us.

If you haven't seen the anime, you probably never would have guessed that Kira is also a serial killer who blows up young women and takes their hands [yes, he literally takes severed hands].

The reason for this is not immediately obvious, because he is still human. Kira suffers from an irresistible desire to kill. If he did not have this desire, it is very likely that he would never harm anyone. However, his appearance is not so much shocking as the reason for the battle with the heroes, as he himself said: “I don’t care about victory or defeat, I just want a peaceful life and peaceful sleep. You are the problem that prevents me from sleeping, therefore you are my enemies. " For Kira, our heroes are a threat to his lifestyle and they are villains for him.

Evil Charm

Somehow it happened in the anime that the audience should always root for the hero of the story, and not like the villain. At the very least, I've found that I often do the opposite and root for the villain. The most striking example is Light Yagami from Death Note. Although I call him a villain, people are used to calling Light rather an anti-hero, but this is not entirely correct from the point of view of the plot, because it is difficult to be the main character, but not a hero ... The bottom line is that for Light - L is an enemy and a manifestation of evil. Light finds a death note that can kill any person whose name is written in it.


At first, he is a simple student who once accidentally stumbled upon a notebook. Light is disgusted with injustice in the world and, upon learning about the power of the notebook, begins to use it to kill people who, in his opinion, deserve it, namely criminals.

However, as the plot progresses, his pride grows until he begins to think of himself as a god, killing anyone who opposes his crusade. While he is an antagonist, the story always revolves around him, not people trying to stop him. I almost always wanted him to win. But not because I agreed with his actions or methods, but because for me he was a person with good intentions.

To be a character, a villain must evoke sympathy and understanding. After all, as I said before, antagonists have their own reasons for doing what they do. This does not mean that everyone should agree with them or accept them, however, these reasons should be presented in a way that you respect them.

Real threat


While I was only talking about the fact that a good villain must have human qualities or look cool, but there is another factor, without which a good antagonist will not differ from the protagonist in general. The villains must pose a real threat and represent danger. The creator of the manga about JoJo, including the antagonist of Yoshikage Kira, Hirohiko Araki spoke

“A person who does bad deeds does it because he has spiritual weakness. And it's really scary when he starts using her against others as a force. ”

Ultimately, an antagonist is one who cannot overcome his personality complexes and allows them to control himself. However, they become villains when they are dangerous because of it. A good villain almost always has to be more powerful or smarter than the hero for much of the story. After all, if the hero is not afraid of the villain and cannot defeat him, why should we be afraid?

The villain can be more cunning or stronger. The advantage an author gives to his antagonist could completely change the anime genre. The same Light Yagami is smarter than almost all the characters in "Death Note". So, anime becomes a psychological thriller. In addition, in the anime, the villain can be physically stronger than the heroes, which makes him dangerous. For those who perfectly illustrate this with Esdeath from Akame ga Kill.


Throughout the anime, Esdeath tries to be the most powerful character in the anime world. She also has the most powerful teigu [magic weapon]. And there are times when we see the manifestation of her power and it is mesmerizing. It blocks high power attacks and freezes huge monsters.

This power helps not only to show the character as a person, not only incredibly strong, but also the most dangerous villain in the entire anime. And although she is not the main antagonist in the whole story, she is represented by an impending threat and the viewer understands that it will be very difficult for the main characters to cope with her. This point may sound common knowledge, but I've seen villains who are unable to do even that. The antagonist must pose some kind of threat to the main character. And if this is not the case, then it will become just a useless obstacle that the GG will overcome without loss.

So it was with Clementine from Overlord. Clementine is by no means a bad character in terms of the story as a whole. In truth, she's a pretty entertaining and interesting villainess. She had a sharp tongue and the voice acting was excellent.


However, thinking about her as an antagonist, you understand, leaves an unpleasant aftertaste. The reason for this is that she is negligible compared to the main character. The result of their duel was pretty disappointing. Clementine was never given the opportunity to prove herself properly.

The right personality traits, a certain level of charm and, of course, a real threat can turn a mediocre villain into a great antagonist, and a great character in general. It's almost always necessary in a great anime. There are, of course, exceptions. Comedy titles and other anime devote little or no time to such characters. Regardless, everyone loves cool assholes, and I hope to see more of them in the future.

The Topic of Article: Villainous Art: Three Criteria for a Good Anime Villain.
Author: Jake Pinkman