At the bottom of every anime fan's heart is a secret chamber that holds an undying love for certain anime villains. No matter how much you despise a specific antagonist, you just can't seem to get them out of your head.
Anime villains have a way of frustrating us, of making us want to punch the screen, of getting under our skin. The best of these villains, though, are able to win our admiration even as we hate them.
Here are my picks for the greatest anime villains who are written so well that we just love to hate them.
15. Satsuki Kiryuin (Kill la Kill)
Kill la Kill is home to some of the most powerful women in anime, and I'm not just talking about Ryūko Matoi. The main antagonist (for a major portion of the series), Satsuki Kiryuin, still leaves her distinct mark.
Who else can double as a student council president and master manipulator? Yup, none other than Satsuki Kiryuin. She's one of Ryūko's top rivals, but her harsh demeanor, thick eyebrows, and sheer power make her especially remarkable.
14. Cell (Dragon Ball Z)
Cell is the diabolical creation of Dr. Gero, the mad scientist who combined the cells of the universe's best fighters to develop Cell's egg. Despite resembling an insect, Cell possesses a huge amount of power.
He goes through several form changes (like most Dragon Ball characters do), and his final form called Perfect Cell is his most powerful. Plus, he continues to increase his power by absorbing other fighters, which makes him even more unique of a supervillain.
13. Hisoka Morow (Hunter X Hunter)
Instead of killing everyone in his path, Hisoka Morow prefers to wait. In other words, this Hunter X Hunter villain won't face his foes until they've become more powerful, which is sort of a nice thing to do.
Why? Because he gains an immense (and somewhat creepy) satisfaction from battling strong, worthy opponents.
On the surface, Hisoka may look like a complete joke due to his jester-inspired appearance, but don't underestimate him. He's as dangerous of an enemy as every other character on this list.
12. Dio Brando (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure)
Fans of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure might want to feel bad for Dio Brando. After all, he had a rough childhood in which his alcoholic father constantly abused him. That'll mess you up.
Once Dio weasels his way into becoming Jonathan Joestar's adopted brother, it's clear he has malicious intentions. He makes Jonathan's life a living hell, not just killing his poor dog but also his father.
And Dio gets even more powerful after transforming into a vampire! He ends up being one of those annoying villains who never die, which somehow makes him grow on you even more.
11. Sōsuke Aizen (Bleach)
Sōsuke Aizen is clever, strategic, and charismatic. He initially comes off as a kind and respectable person, and he's deemed trustworthy enough to assume the role of Captain of the 5th Division.
However, his warm personality is just a facade. He's secretly manipulating everyone behind the scenes just to get one step ahead. Aizen's exquisite tactics and apparent immortality make him an unforgettable villain.
10. Wrath (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
Wrath is introduced as part of the seven deadly Homunculi. However, he's no match for his sinful counterparts. He may look like an old man, but his speed, swordsmanship, and agility can beat just about anyone.
Also, Wrath doesn't wear an eyepatch just to look cool. He uses it to conceal the Ouroboros mark on his left eye and the power within it.
Wrath possesses the Ultimate Eye power, which allows him to clearly see every minute detail in front of him—and this ability makes predicting and dodging his opponents' attacks even easier.
9. Pain (Naruto Shippuden)
Pain (real name Nagato) isn't all that evil of a villain, and that's what makes him surprisingly likable. He took on the nickname of Pain after assuming a leadership role in the criminal organization called Akatsuki.
Before he became a total villain, though, Pain actually strove to live in a peaceful, non-violent world. He only started getting fed up with everything once his friend got killed in battle.
That's why he decided to lead the Akatsuki and forcefully bring peace into the world with an iron fist. It's a little counterintuitive, but he has overall good intentions.
8. All For One (My Hero Academia)
All For One is the most powerful villain in My Hero Academia. He dons a black suit and a full face mask that definitely alludes to his psychotic and evil personality.
His Quirk, also called All For One, allows him to steal the Quirks of other heroes. As a result, he can combine multiple Quirks, making him almost undefeatable in battle.
For example, the Search Quirk lets him keep track of up to 100 people at a time while the Warping Quirk enables him to create liquid portals. These are just a mere fraction of the unique abilities he possesses.
7. Light Yagami (Death Note)
Death Note fans are either on Team Light or Team L. There's no in-between. Light Yagami starts out as a typical high school student, that is until a strange notebook falls from the sky.
Light initially has the right intentions: he wants to eradicate the world of criminals. If you had a notebook that could kill anyone just by writing down their name, wouldn't you want to get rid of criminals, too?
You can't deny that his killing sprees quickly get out of hand, but his resourcefulness when it comes to outsmarting the world-famous detective L (and the whole police force) is amazing to watch.
6. Frieza (Dragon Ball Z)
When you think about the most memorable anime villains, the first that comes to mind might just be Frieza and his iconic voice.
Dragon Ball Z spends tons of episodes dragging out the epic battle between Goku and Frieza, but the overall arc is pretty fantastic. (The villain even ends up making a cameo in Dragon Ball Super!)
With each transformation, Frieza gets stronger and stronger. He might look like a puny lizard when he's first introduced, but he turns into a huge challenge for Goku by the end.
5. Neferpitou (Hunter X Hunter)
Catgirl fans, assemble! Here we have one of the most powerful and most lovable catgirl characters in anime: the feline Royal Guard, Neferpitou (nicknamed Pitou for short).
She's an intensely loyal servant to the Ant King, to the point she risked her own life in front of her raging enemy to bow down and ask for a moment to her Komugi (whom the King requested that she heal).
As a catgirl, there's nothing to hate about her. But as a villain? That's a different story. She murdered Kite, one of the most precious characters in Hunter X Hunter, and she even played with his corpse.
4. Mahito (Jujutsu Kaisen)
Every villain in Jujustu Kaisen is worthy of all the hate they get, but the one who really attracted the attention of most viewers is Mahito.
This Special Grade Curse Spirit is a formidable opponent because most attacks don't work against him. The only way to harm him is to do something that can hit and damage the soul.
With a smile for every kill and maniacal laughter for every soul he transfigured into an abomination, there's a reason why Mahito is so widely hated. He's just such a well-written villain.
3. Tomura Shigaraki (My Hero Academia)
We've already mentioned All For One, but Tomura Shigaraki is yet another villain from My Hero Academia that fans love to hate. Despite being All For One's pawn and future body replacement, he's shown his enemies how formidable he can be with his powers alone.
Tomura Shigaraki was once a kid who admired heroes, but things went awry after he manifested his dangerous Decay Quirk.
Unfortunately, when he was drowning in despair, it wasn't the good guys who pulled him out of it. Instead, All For One took advantage of his emotional state and turned him into his murderous puppet, a villain born from trauma, depression, desperation, and hate.
2. Akainu (One Piece)
Of all the villains we've met in the One Piece anime series, there's only one who we can never forgive or forget: the current Fleet Admiral of the Marines, Akainu (who now goes by Sakazuki).
He's the reason for Fire Fist Ace's death, which stirred the anime community and broke every fan's heart. It was he who gave us one of the saddest moments in anime.
The moment when Whitebeard one-shots Akainu with a punch clad in his Gura Gura no Mi, bypassing the latter's invulnerability and causing him so much pain? Oh, it's so satisfying! Unfortunately, he managed to survive the death blow and continues to live on.
1. Griffith (Berserk)
Griffith started as a well-known hero and leader, charismatic and admired by his Band of Hawks and the people around him.
However, due to a traumatic incident that cost him his life and reputation, his heart eventually filled with hatred and greed for power. In exchange for the lives of his comrades, he was reborn into a sinister new being and assumed a new identity as Femto.
Not only that, but Griffith/Femto earned himself even more hatred for what he did to Casca in front of Guts. It's such an unspeakably heartbreaking scene, and Griffith/Femto deserves every ounce of hate.