10 Best Anime Villains of 2017
by Jacob Chapman,
Hey, folks. Jacob here. Last week, I saw that our regular columnist Lynzee made a list celebrating her favorite pairings of anime in 2017, which is sweet and all, but what would life be without some bitterness to keep things interesting? Sometimes you need a little dark chocolate to balance out the milk and honey, so I'm commandeering The List this week to share my favorite dastardly baddies of 2017 before making these retrospective lists is totally passé.
My criteria is pretty basic: go big or go home. I want to see deliciously evil villainy, supervillains who leave a mark with their shameless excesses of wickedness, whether their machinations ultimately make them sympathetic or just plain sinful in the end. So long as they leave a mark and know how to dress the part (longcoats and dramatic hair are always a plus), I tried to make room for them on this list. Here are my top ten best villains of 2017.
10. Hiro Shishigami (Inuyashiki) Alright, so this kid's probably needed therapy for a long time. It's safe to assume he drowned his fair share of class hamsters when he was a kid, and getting turned into an all-powerful combat robot by aliens with no respect for the prime directive only made indulging his sadistic desires that much easier. But as baffling as this psychopath's daily killing sprees were, he definitely made an impact in his nation-terrorizing efforts to make life comfortable for the three or four people he liked (and absolutely terrifying for the hundreds of millions he didn't).
9. Tomura Shigaraki (My Hero Academia) This handsy hellion didn't get much to do in My Hero Academia's second season, but he made up for his lack of screentime by stealing the spotlight when it really counted. After he was left steaming at Stain for upstaging the League of Villains, Shigaraki took out his frustrations on poor Midoriya in the last episode's climactic scene, desperate to burn his specific brand of fear into the next generation of heroes. The confrontation that followed gave Shigaraki a wonderful, awful idea, and I'm worried his deathly grimace might even spell doom for The Symbol of Peace himself...
8. Magane Chikujoin (Re:CREATORS) Unlike all her peers on this list, this "Night Window Demon" doesn't have any grand ambitions behind her pursuit of wanton wickedness. Magane simply takes joy in lying, thieving, and murdering for its own sake, just so long as it's fun. Especially lying. Her one superpower is surprisingly versatile; she can make any lie she tells into reality if the foolish heroes call her bluff, and of course they always do. With her endless crazy faces and passion for little cruelties, it's definitely more fun to watch Magane play her games than try to hold a conversation with her.
7. Bondrewd (Made in Abyss) Look, we all have to take our own journeys to find ourselves, and religion is as viable a path as any to give you direction in life. Unfortunately, this father of the year takes his zealotry several levels too deep when he settles on the worst way possible to show love to his "children". You'd think after turning a couple dozen kids into screaming immortal Nickelodeon Gak, he'd have enough data to cut that shit out already, but Bondrewd's desire to harness the power of the abyss is just insatiable. He may have only appeared in a couple episodes, but he left a truly despicable impression.
6. Usagi/Rabbit (Juni Taisen: Zodiac War) Speaking of lousy ways to show affection, this leg-day-loving gym-bunny will make you regret laughing at his Louboutins and Daisy Dukes—even after he lops your head off. (Get it? LOPS?) Poor Usagi just wants to become friends with everyone in the whole world, but unfortunately his definition of friendship means necromancing your corpse into an undead combat companion. Geez. Couldn't he just give out matching bracelets instead? Maybe with cute little bunny-shaped beads?
5. Azami Nakiri (Food Wars! The Third Plate) Continuing the grand tradition of Very Bad Anime Dads, Azami is the polar opposite of Magane (save for the pallid complexion and shifty eyes), because his dastardly master plan is the entire reason he's on this list—that and being voiced by the incomparable Sho Hayami. Erina's pretentious papa wants to force every restaurant in Japan to bow to his tastes alone, condemning anything short of haute cuisine as animal feed (which means condemning anyone who can't afford his restrictive idea of gourmet paradise to starve). Combine that with the chillingly realistic emotional abuse he inflicts on his daughter, and you've got a Bad Dad even Gendo Ikari might scowl upon.
4. Croix Meridies (Little Witch Academia) Though they're few in number compared to the unrepentant monsters on this list, Croix won't be the last sympathetic villain (or the last one in a melodramatic longcoat) in the cut. Anyway, this witchy woman earns her spot on my list by being drop-dead fabulous and successfully playing the long game. Her tech-driven plan for magical domination is years in the making and seemingly foolproof—the only thing it lacks is heart, something poor Croix left behind many years ago after getting hurt by her best friend. Fortunately, a believing heart is what magic's all about, so with a little help from the next generation of witches, there may be some hope for this fashionable free-thinker yet.
3. Stain (My Hero Academia) While we don't know much about this tongue-lashing terror's backstory yet, I can't help but feel like his Quirk condemned him to a life of villainy right off the bat. I mean, if your superpower requires you to slurp up people's blood to get anything done, you're probably going to end up running from the cops instead of running a daycare or running for city council. (MHA even addresses this problem in episode 20 with poor Hitoshi Shinso's naturally villainous Quirk.) Still, Stain displays a disturbing level of commitment to killing off anyone he deems not heroic enough to be called a hero, and his venomous vendetta might even kick off a movement greater than himself. And I mean, even beyond his rap sheet, just look at this guy. Nothing screams "best villain" quite like an evil grin that's twice the size of your actual face.
2. Big Mom (One Piece) This monstrous matriarch comes from a very different school of villainy than most anime baddies. That's right, Big Mom hearkens back to the Disney tradition of evil queens who serve up showstopping musical numbers! Her appearance heralds the beginning of the (no doubt extremely long) final journey to Gold Roger's treasure, since she holds the first of four poneglyphs revealing its ultimate location. Regardless of her incredible strength and influence, it's also just impressive how many kids she's managed to pop out and how many disappointing husbands she's managed to crush in just 68 years of swashbuckling. But if she doesn't feel like killing you, she could always use her Devil Fruit power to jam your soul into a teapot, accordion, or if you're really unlucky, something more soft and edible. She's got so many desserts to prepare for her daughter's wedding, after all! Let's hope none of the Straw Hats end up on the menu.
1. Altair (Re:CREATORS) Alright, I'll stow the alliteration and terrible puns for this last one, because Altair pulled off the incredible one-two punch of being both a ruthless badass and making me feel mighty feelings this year, easily earning her the top spot on my list. Without going into too many spoilers, this doujin drawing was abandoned by her creators through a series of tragic circumstances, and her quest to get vengeance on our world for giving her life just before ripping that life's purpose away from her was equal parts thoughtful, heart-breaking, and wildly imaginative, easily the strongest part of an occasionally troubled production. Altair puts up such a stone-cold front for most of the series, unleashing her limitless arsenal of superpowers with glee and gusto, that it was incredibly satisfying to finally see what it would take to make her falter in her vendetta. As a supervillain, Altair was the complete package: totally threatening, wildly entertaining, and surprisingly human just underneath that larger-than-life facade.
The new poll: It's going to be another big year for the Fate franchise! What are your favorite anime set in the Type Moon universe?
The old poll: With the recent success of Land of the Lustrous, what's your opinion on CG anime films and shows?
- I like standard animation more, CG is okay (60.6%)
- I like CG and standard animation equally (17.7%)
- I can't stand CG! (9.7%)
- I like the two mixed together, i.e. Love Live! (9.5%)
- I prefer CG to standard animation (0.5%)
- [no answer] (2.0%)
Jake is Anime News Network's associate editor, he's been an anime fan since childhood, and he likes to chat about cartoons, pop culture, and visual novel dev on Twitter.
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