While there are plenty of good and bad guys in anime, it’s the characters who straddle the line that we find the most compelling.
Being a good guy has certain challenges. Even when no one else is, being “good” entails being held to higher standards; slavishly following the rules and appearing holier than thou. No one will enjoy it, even if it works. Despite our admiration for heroic figures like Luke Skywalker, we’d much rather spend a day aboard the Millennium Falcon with the legendary rogue smuggler Han Solo. Han Solo is the archetypal anti-hero in the Star Wars universe. Amoral anti-heroes are unconventional marauders who follow only their own code of conduct. Because of their predisposition to be self-centered and unscrupulous, they are often mistaken for villains.
The goal of an anti-hero isn’t evil or to take over the world, but they aren’t afraid to use lethal force if necessary. On the other side, an anti-villain (the actual antithesis of an anti-hero) has a noble objective but is ready to use wicked methods to achieve it. While Light Yagami, as the “God” Kira of Death Note, fits this description with ease, his sweet-toothed antagonist L casts him as the story’s anti-hero. It’s common for anime to have “good vs. evil” antagonistic rivalries, but there are plenty of characters like Light and L who exist somewhere in the between. Attack on Titan’s Eren Jaeger, while seemingly good-hearted, has a personal hatred against the Titans, which makes his outbursts terrifying. In light of this, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite anime anti-heroes that prove that breaking the rules is lot more fun than following them.
1. SEBASTIAN MICHAELIS
Ciel Phantomhive, heir to the Phantomhive estate, and his mysterious butler, Sebastian Michaelis, investigate supernatural criminal cases at her Majesty’s request in Black Butler, set in Victorian-era London. As a butler, Sebastian considers himself “one of a kind.”
Sebastien’s secret identity as the Prince of Hell is obviously being alluded to in this way. As a result of Ciel’s bartering his soul for a trustworthy and talented servant, he’s a demon disguised as a human. Sebastian’s speed, strength, and dexterity with a knife and fork are unmatched. The only thing keeping him from succumbing to his demons is his devotion to his lord.
2. CAPTAIN HARLOCK
In 1977, Leiji Matsumoto’s renowned manga series, Space Captain Harlock, Captain Harlock is the star. After the Captain was transformed into an anime series soon after, it’s easy to see why he hasn’t been off our screens for long. The character exudes a vintage air of coolness.
The eye patch, facial scar, high-collared coat, hard-eyed stare, and legendary ship, the Arcadia, are all on display in this iconic pirate look. Just a little “yo ho ho” spirit of adventure is all that’s missing. He is a sad figure who “fight[s] for no one’s sake, simply for something deep in [his] heart,”
3. NICOLAS AND WORICK
No questions asked: Do you have someone in your life that you need to take care of? Fortunately, Benriya guys are here to assist you! Nicolas Brown, the deaf assassin with superhuman strength and speed, and Worick Archangelo, the one-eyed gigolo with a startling skill set, make up Benriya (meaning “Handymen” in Arabic).
They are a group of criminals living in the rough streets of Ergastulum City, caught in the crossfire of the city’s many rival gang fights. Despite their reputations as hardened survivalists, Nick and Worick show a tender side when it comes to those in need. It’s hard to find a better group of comrades.
Revy, or Rebecca Lee, to use her full name, is perfectly suited to the life of a mercenary in Black Lagoon. The Chinese-American assassin places a higher value on her weapons than on most people’s lives, and she sees murder as a pleasurable pastime, demonstrating an alarming lack of any sort of moral compass.
In addition, Revy is a frequent source of friction within the Black Lagoon crew due to her crudeness, immorality, and defamatory language. Revy is one of the most feared and respected members of a team of hardened professional murderers. As an anti-hero, she’s teetering on the edge, her sole saving grace being her association with Rock.
Saitama, the protagonist of One Punch Man, was a typical guy until he was attacked by a supervillain and resolved to alter his life for the better.
Afterward, Saitama had lost all his hair but earned the ability to knock out any opponent with a single punch after performing 100 sit-ups, push-ups, squats, and runs every day for six miles each.
Make no mistake, One Punch Man loves and criticizes the Shonen and superhero genres in equal measure, even though Saitama wears a superhero costume. Saitama’s only motivation for fighting is to avoid boredom in a world where “lesser” superheroes work tirelessly to improve the world. In the correct position, but for the wrong reasons.
6. ARSENE LUPIN III
Long-running Lupin gentleman thief When it comes to taking stuff from places no one else would dare, the Third franchise is regarded the best. As a result, he is constantly the subject of an Interpol manhunt, which he successfully eludes with a sense of humor.
Lupin is frequently accompanied on his criminal exploits by Fujike Mine, a gorgeous thief, Daisuke Jigen, a marksman, and Goemon Ishikawa XIII, a modern-day samurai. In spite of the fact that Lupin and his gang of outlaws help those in need, they’re far from altruistic—no good deed goes unrewarded.
in an alternate medieval fantasy world, the mercenary band Band of the Hawk is led by Griffith and his fellow bandit Guts. Griffith’s demonic allegiances make Guts the more virtuous of the two men, who both have a wholly autonomous outlook on existence.
Guts, on the other hand, is a vicious combatant with a wrath befitting a savage. Most people who come into contact with him either die at his hands or wish they’d never met him. However, Guts appears to be the villain to Griffith’s hero leader on the surface of things. Guts, despite his harsh look, actually has a gentle heart.
A number of philosophical and ethical issues are dealt with in Fullmetal Alchemi and Brotherhood. Scar serves as a symbol of the story’s ability to explore the idea that good and evil are merely a matter of perspective in both forms. Scar is a man driven by revenge after surviving the Ishvalan Civil War.
The majority of people believe that his brutal and homicidal activities are those of a deranged psychopath. To others, he is a religious fanatic bent on vengeance against those who have mistreated him and his people. (Or, only those he considers to be guilty by association). Scar, despite his brutality, shows a compassionate side by allowing his victims to say one last prayer before they die.
Akira Toriyama originally meant to diminish Goku’s heroic characteristics by making him (even) more self-centered in Dragon Ball, but changed his mind. Instead, Goku’s Saiyan brother Vegeta assumed the position of anti-hero in the Zseries. Well, it did in the end. The alien prince was Goku’s first new foe when he initially appeared.
Like Piccolo, Vegeta’s villainy progressively mellowed until he was accepted as a member of the family, much like Piccolo’s villainy did. Vegeta has and will continue to sacrifice his life for Goku’s sake, despite their long-standing animosity. Assuming that (in the first instance) his quest for a fair and hard contest was the reason for the Earth’s endangerment,
Only a 500-year-old, Nazi-hunting vampire is cooler than a muscle-bound Saiyan Prince in pink. To fight against the despotic powers that rule his world — forces that include members of his own kind — Alucard, the main character of Hellsing and Hellsing: Ultimate is an ever-evolving living weapon.
A “real” vampire like as Alucard has no qualms about killing his “lesser” brethren with ferocity—and with easy, considering his enhanced superhuman abilities. Although he is compassionate to Seras Victoria, his ward, he is ethically worse than his victims, which is the only thing keeping him from being a villain.