Top 7 Underrated Anime Villains

Here’s another experimental list for Iridium Eye. This one goes out for all the otaku out there.

Since some of my most viewed posts involve anime, I guess it would be great to make a list dedicated to an aspect of Japanese animation. 

This one involves baddies in Japanese animation. I’m sure many of you can name famous anime villains such as Frieza, Team Rocket, or Queen Beryl to name a few. Because this is Iridium Eye, I want to focus on antagonists that are often overlooked by the anime fan community. While we certainly root for multiple protagonists out there, they can only be as good how much of an obstacle the antagonists are. That’s why I’m looking at the Top 7 underrated anime villains. Why Top 7? Because I feel lucky in making this list.


7. King Yukio from Kino’s Journey (2003 version)

This tyrant from the Coliseum Arc managed to get a spot on his list. His level of despotic reign knows no bounds as any traveler or citizen that’s in his kingdom is forced to be a gladiator. If they win this death match, he is able to grant the winner a new rule for the kingdom. Yukio was certainly effective in his villainy as he slaughters his family to keep the throne and he has a permanent smile on his face from killing anyone who was a threat to his regime. I don’t even think The Joker grinned as much as he did throughout his screen time, so that should tell you something about his unstable arrogance. He certainly grabbed my attention in various scenes. While there are objectively better villains out there, King Yukio is certainly no dictator to mess with.

6. Queen Delphine from Last Exile


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There aren’t that many notable female villains in anime, but Delphine certainly was an exception to that rule. Unlike Yukio, she’s a lot calmer and more subtle about her brutality with how she uses her royal status. Delphine is a decadent aristocrat who may look beautiful, but she has such a demonic heart. She’s able to psychologically manipulate her subordinates where they have blind loyalty to her and she even alters her little brother Dio to follow her lead. One thing that I found sickening about this character is how extravagantly wasteful she is with her food. She brags about how one yak dish was made at the expense of starving hunters or how one catfish was prepared by cleansing it with 100 gallons of water. She certainly beats so many other evil queens out there and I feel that she gets overlooked by so many anime fans.

5. Saga from One Piece The Movie 5: The Cursed Sword
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That’s right, everybody! I’m putting a One Piece villain in this list. It’s kind of strange for me, but I’m sure most of you haven’t heard of him. I’m sure we could agree that villains such as Buggy, Crocodile, Arlong, or even Alvida of all people would outrank him in notoriety. When you check out Saga, you’ll think he should be better known. Even though he’s not that evil of a character, he becomes possessed by the titular sword and becomes crazy powerful and sadistic with it. One fact about him that gave him a spot on this list is that Saga has two wins over Luffy. Let me repeat that…Saga beats a Shonen Jump Breakfast Club member TWICE in the same movie. Let that sink in, people. Yes, I know this movie was more of a Zoro showcase piece, but that fact alone makes Saga an extremely dangerous antagonist for the Straw Hat crew and I don’t know that many One Piece villains who have that many Ws against Luffy. Seriously, I wouldn’t mess with this master swordsman.

4. Harry Killer from Patapata Hikousen no Bouken


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What better way to use this list than to mention this underrated anime series? Harry Killer is the leader and ruler of Neo City which is this technologically advanced area that he helped build. While there are several riches around, he secretly abuses anyone who dares defy him. I won’t reveal his true identity even though it’s obvious who he is if you watch that series, but he is a complex character who really didn’t have to end up the way that he did. His last scenes can certainly be heartbreaking to watch given what Harry went through in his life and his connection to Jane. He’s a threatening individual, but he’s much more than what’s hiding behind that strange mask.

3. Claw from Kimba the White Lion/Jungle Emperor Leo series
https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/junglemperorleo/images/7/70/15a700fc62f49c14e.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20180329222141

There’s only room for one usurper in the jungle and that’s Claw! No matter which iteration of Tezuka’s infamous lion villain is out there, he’s certainly there to cause trouble for Kimba and company. I liked how he doesn’t try to be the “cool villain” or to be a Draco in Leather Pants (that would be terrible) as he does enough bad stuff to make you want to root against him even if he does have moments of some humor. Claw was originally going to be lower on the list, but there’s one obvious fact about him that made him get the #3 spot and I can sum it up in two words: ORIGINAL SCAR! Come on, Claw has been in existence since 1950 with the manga and first animated in 1965. It’s not like this scarred black maned lion takes over the kingdom and has hyena henchmen…oh, wait. YES, HE DOES! If you get into an argument with a Disney fan and they say that that company doesn’t plagiarize characters, then show them Claw and call it a day. Shoot, even Simba didn’t rip off Kimba THAT much in his design or personality. That alone should make Claw on any underrated villain list. Shame how prideful others are in denying his existence.

2. Kano from Texhnolyze
Image result for kano texhnolyze

Okay, this shouldn’t surprise anyone that I would put someone from a Yoshitoshi ABe series on this list. Kano was the perfect choice from my 2nd favorite ABe project. He’s one of the most brutal masterminds out there as he works behind the scenes and obsesses over Texhnolyzation as the next big step of human evolution. Kano is able to exploit the population of Lux and cause massacre over massacre with the Shapes and the already dystopian environment. It’s scary how effective he is as a villain when he got over on Onishi and Ichise so many times without them being aware of it all the time. Trust me, you’re going to want to see his comeuppance at the end when he does unspeakable things to more of the city’s population as he brags about being humanity’s last hope of sanity and stability.

1. Johan Liebert from Monster


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Why is this villain not on more people’s top lists for anime baddies? Johan is one of the most straight-up evil villains I’ve ever seen and his level of manipulating others for his gain is near God tier for me. He’s able to evade Dr. Tenma for so long and psychologically control so many people in the process, it’s just phenomenal with how much of a threat he is to so many out there. I’m also a sucker for “face of an angel/heart of a demon” tropes as it’s a brutal inversion of the trope that only pretty people are good (just look at so many Disney movies…I rest my case). Johan plays up this antichrist role so perfectly with his immense charisma and looking so unassuming to the public. Don’t let this German bishonen fool you, Johan puts so many villains to shame in his actions and being able to avoid the protagonists for so long.

Which villains do you think are underrated in anime? Make sure you comment here!


All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Kino’s Journey is property of ADV Films and Sentai Filmworks. Last Exile is property of Gonzo and Funimation. One Piece the Movie 5 is property of Toei Animation. Patapata Hikousen no Bouken is property of TMS and Sega. Kimba the White Lion is property of Tezuka Productions. Texhnolyze is property of Madhouse and Funimation. Monster is property of Madhouse.

The screenshot of Queen Delphine from Last Exile is from Anime Characters Database and is property of Gonzo.

The screenshot of Saga from One Piece the Movie 5 is from MyAnimeList and is property of Toei Animation.

The screenshot of Harry Killer from Patapata Hikousen no Bouken is from Anime Characters Database and is property of TMS and Sega.

The screenshot of Claw is from The New Adventures of Kimba the White Lion is from the Kimba the White Lion Wiki and is property of Tezuka Productions.

The screenshot of Kano from Texhnolyze is from AnimePerson and is property of Madhouse and Funimation.

The screenshot of Johan Liebert from Monster is from Villains Wiki and is property of Madhouse.

43 comments

    • I’m glad you appreciated those three. I’m surprised that you didn’t expect me to put Kano in there since I’ve been a pretty open Yoshitoshi ABe fan and I gave Texhnolyze a 10/10 on here. It would be my 2nd favorite show he’s worked on next to Haibane Renmei and that series gets slept on so much. The 2003 version of King Yukio was certainly a threatening antagonist and I liked how they actually show his character development in only 2 episodes. YES! Johan is seriously one of the best anime villains ever and I’m shocked that not enough people put him on a top villains list. Side note: I do think it’s weird to think that his VA is the same guy who played Yusuke Urameshi from Yu Yu Hakusho, yet he just nails it in the Japanese version.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I do tend to cover a lot of obscure stuff. Which villain have you heard of on this list? Which ones that you haven’t heard of look like interesting characters? Feel free to check out some of those series. I’ve reviewed Kino’s Journey, Patapata Hikousen no Bouken, multiple parts of Kimba the White Lion/Jungle Emperor Leo, and Texhnolyze on this blog.

        Thank you very much! I’m happy you liked this list. Feel free to read the other posts on here!

        Like

    • That’s so true. Monster gets slept on so much in the anime fandom. There was so much good stuff and it was legitimately scary. I bet you if Monster was a live action show, this would be some critically acclaimed cable network show, probably played on HBO, AMC, or FX, and win a ton of awards.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, Viz dropped the anime license for it which is a huge shame even though they still own the manga series. I heard that they didn’t release all the episodes on DVD which wouldn’t be the first time this has happened (see: Hikaru no Go). Monster deserved so much better during it’s American release.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I’d love to watch Monster… Too bad there is no place to legally enjoy 😦

    Last Exile was crazy, and the villain was right up there. I haven’t watched some of the other shows so avoided the names and info to avoid any spoilers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, it’s quite disappointing how the anime license lapsed.

      I definitely agree with Last Exile and Delphine. Don’t worry, I didn’t have spoilers with the rest of the villains save Saga, so you should be safe in reading my other choices. Then again, my #2 and #3 choices were obvious for different reasons if you know about certain anime series I like. Haha!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Of course. Hahaha! Those two choices were interesting for sure.

        Funny enough, I had a brief conversation a long time ago talking about some anime villains and I mentioned Kano. I wasn’t sure if he had seen Texhnolyze or not, but apparently I jump-started his memory and he remembered him and mentioned how great of a villain he was. As far as ABe works are concerned, Kano would definitely be the best one in my opinion. He certainly made me detest him enough that I wanted to see him get owned by Ichise and he was a very huge threat to the protagonists despite being behind the scenes most of the time.

        Claw is certainly a worthy choice and it’s funny every time I show pictures of him to some friends and co-workers that wanted to know about Kimba. They all have their jaws drop especially when I tell him how long that character existed and mention that he has hyenas working for him in the 60s anime. Of course, I don’t want to confuse him with the Inspector Gadget villain of the same name though. Hahaha!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Sure thing. I think you’ll enjoy it. Texhnolyze does get confusing at first especially since half of the first episode has no dialogue at all, but it’s certainly a huge experience watching it. Just don’t watch that anime if you’re depressed though.

        Even though I didn’t watch Kimba for the first time until a few years ago, nor is it my favorite anime, I do confess that I talk about it more than most anibloggers. Yes, I and many others who were born long after it first aired watched it because of THAT controversy, obviously. Hahaha!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Got ya. I’ve been partially avoiding it because Lain and the director’s other works are real slog-fests for me. I /really/ like them, but they require a specific mood and atmosphere for me to watch comfortably.

        I know it isn’t your favorite but you do discuss it a fair bit (not a bad thing btw). It’s cool to know so much about a particular show and bring that information to light. I’m sure many folks appreciate that 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s understandable for Tezhnolyze or his others works even though I do like a lot of them. They are also series where you can’t just turn your brain off while watching. Even a series like Niea_7 while comedic certainly has a cerebral bent to a lot of the humor and atmosphere. I still need to see that Rerided show and that’s the only ABe series I’ve never seen so far. One of my goals this year is to review Lain, Niea_7, and Rerided.

        That’s true and I do want to let people know about the series and the evidence involved with the controversy. There have been people who appreciate that and I was originally scared to post the original review 2 years ago. I’ve also been paying more attention with related issues like how the phrase “Hakuna Matata” got trademarked by Disney which I found to be offensive as it’s a case of cultural appropriation against the Swahili-speaking African community as it’s something they’ve said since time immemorial. It wasn’t just about stealing a Japanese animated show, cultural appropriation and racist actions make my blood boil.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Such a cool post! I don’t know all of these villains I have to admit, but it’s very nice to see Queen Delphine included here as well. Last Exile is an anime I watched a few months ago, and it was truly amazing. She was one heck of an evil…well…bleep lol. Great list, and seems like I still have a lot of villains to catch up too😂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Almost surprised Claw isn’t higher on your list. ;P I appreciate that your list is largely spoiler-free. Monster’s been on my must-watch list since we talked about it in college. Can’t wait to see Johan in all his villainous glory!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha! Claw certainly deserves to be on a most underrated villain list since Scar literally wouldn’t exist without him, but I wouldn’t go that far in appreciating his villainy. Johan is totally the real deal when it comes to baddies with how complex he is, charismatic as heck, and how he can make people not suspect him to be evil. You’ll definitely be impressed when you watch or read Monster.

      Like

  4. I’ve actually heard of the villain from Kimba Although I never heard his name and technically I think I might have heard one the one from one piece but I wouldn’t have physical acknowledged it but I don’t follow that one piece at all I probably should though honestly the idea of it doesn’t interest me and pick one myself as a villain I’m not sure what I would pick if I think of something I’ll let you know. Sorry it took me so long to
    And for a collaboration I still like the idea of top whatever number we pack I think five would do it overrated anime protagonist Would be AWESOME! let me know what you think

    Liked by 1 person

    • Really? That’s pretty cool. Did actually watch Kimba or did you hear about Claw because of the TLK plagiarism controversy? It’s funny because I’ve showed pictures of him and people freak out a lot when they see him. Hahaha!

      It’s fine if you don’t follow One Piece. It’s been a long time since I’ve followed it. No problem. I understand.

      5 Overrated anime protagonists would be sweet! I’d say go for it!

      Like

  5. Yeah I was shocked to see the Disney knocked off that movie after I read your post I told a bunch of people and show them your post and told them how Disney knocked off the movie Simba! They Call themselves creators of content and movies and other stuff but yet they knocked off something as simple as Simba nearly to a T pretty pathetic good job on your post I liked that I learned some stuff!
    I’m still up for doing a collaboration if you are have an awesome day or whatever time it is where you are!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is mind-blowing, right? Thanks for showing and telling your friends about Claw let alone the existence of Kimba the White Lion. Disney totally stole from it and I do talk about those things in more detail from my Kimba and JEL reviews on this blog if you want to know more. It certainly is pathetic even with some of the differences and I’m frustrated for Mickey Mouse STILL hasn’t owned up to it to this day. Thanks!

      Thank you so much, Bluesanime!

      Like

      • When You reply to me feel free to use my real name I share it freely! It’s Noah I mean why have a name if you’re not going to use it LOL! But also don’t feel like you have to. And you’re welcome I believe in giving people credit when they deserve it and you definitely deserve it good job thanks for the awesome post it was interesting!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sure thing. Sorry about that, Noah.

        Thanks. I really care about originality and for crediting others. Funny enough, my last review is about a long-form music video that also got ripped off by Beyonce for that NOT live-action remake. Hahaha! Yeah, the level of thievery is insane and don’t even get me started how that Disney movie is guilty as sin for cultural appropriation and for misrepresenting Africa as a whole.

        Of course, and I’m glad you appreciate the post!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. No need to be sorry some people might of wanted to be addressed the other way. Me I’m just how, how should i put this, i guess I just let my self be free everyday I Work to unrestrained myself from the chains in this world! Basically I try to be more free everyday and my name may be part of this world but it’s apart of ME AND THE PEOPLE who have put work into me it represents everything I AM! 🙂👍 and THOSE WHO CARE! That’s a heck of a way for 20 year old to look at the world lol! All GOOD!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. That’s good how you don’t want to be chained and wanting to feel liberated. Blogging has helped me in that regard. I felt great expressing myself through multiple blogs with my music, poetry, fiction, and my reviews. Being able to mention my opinions or even facts has been cathartic. To be honest, I thought I was going to get death threats after posting reviews for Kimba the White Lion and Hate Crimes In the Heartland (albeit for different and more severe reasons), but I’m thankful that I didn’t hinder myself in those posts as I mentioned uncomfortable truths out there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • If people can’t handle the truth they shouldn’t look for it I was born with bipolar and ADHD diagnosed at age 6 unable to control myself I was restrained by my teachers my parents even the cops in the principals office my entire life represents a chain down world no matter how many times. I was told I’m not good enough and I never do what I am dreaming those disorders are they the same things they gave me salvation those disorders give me a defiant attitude of this world when the world that told me you don’t have a chance and sorry for the language Ahead of time My mental state told me to tell the World fuck you just because 1000 people told me I can’t doesn’t mean I can’t just because those people may know me better than anybody else doesn’t mean I can’t it means I just have to work 1 million times harder than everyone else. In second grade I was kicked out of my School and sent to a learning center because my school do not wanna deal with me I scratched and Claude my way from the bottom all the way to the top the same principle who told me I would not graduate would not Pass state testing and will never get a job basically guy has ass Handed to do him Three times over my life has been a life of restraints and struggles it’s just now that I’m starting to realize how much I have accomplished and how much I’m capable of doing take for example 14 years later I am trying to turn my blog into a business because I love anime but I also would love to be able to make that my living!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Noah. I wasn’t aware about all of what you went through and I’m really sorry to hear about that. I know the feeling about being severely underestimated myself whether it was because of my (geeky) hobbies, some of my emotional issues at the time, and even racial cases with various dog whistle terms against me. I hope you can rise above the negative and to be successful.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Very cool list! Naturally I came for Johan, but the rest of the list gives me new watch ideas and a deeper curiosity about the characters I don’t know out there. It’s one of the most rewarding parts in covering animation- finding the gems hidden out there, be it characters or shows!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for checking it out! Totally understandable for Johan. Which other villains have you heard of on this list? I’m glad you were exposed to new series and characters. Any of them you want to see the most? I actually reviewed most of the series mentioned on this list as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well truthfully, not many, though I have read through most of the One Piece manga! Really interested in Claw, as well as Queen Delphine, given my enjoyment of political intrigue and royalty as themes. The whole list catches my attention though!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gotcha and that’s fine. I lost track of One Piece, but I still remember watching some of the TV series and a few of the movies. Those are good choices. Last Exile was a fun series to watch. I haven’t seen the sequel yet though. That was one of Gonzo’s better series in the 00s. Yeah, my jaw dropped when I first saw pictures of Claw for obvious reasons. He has a good balance of being threatening, but can be funny at times, too. In the Hon-O-Ji short film which came out in the year 2000, he even parodies a certain scene that his Disney counterpart does. I would check out Kimba if you want to see some old-school anime. You know that’s from the creator of Astro Boy, right? I’m glad you enjoyed this list.

        Liked by 1 person

      • So am I! Last Exile is definitely a series I’ll check out, and I do appreciate old-school anime (regarding Claw), in part because to really understand the medium, you have to have an idea where it came from. Kimba’s from Astro Boy’s creator? Very interesting.

        The Kimba discussion also makes me think a piece sometime on how the West and the East plagiarize each other might be fun at some point. A lot of the hard-core anime fans refuse to admit Western influence, but as you pointed out with the Lion King, it goes both ways!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nice! Last Exile was a fun watch and I’d like to review it sometime. Good point about old-school works. That’s right. Osamu Tezuka created both Astro Boy and Kimba. Kimba the White Lion is also the first Japanese animated series to be created and broadcast in color, so that’s a big first from an animation history standpoint. To give you more context, that series predates Speed Racer by two years.

        That could be a discussion worth having. I won’t deny the Western influence in multiple anime series. It does bug me how Disney still never owned up to knowing about Kimba or the other things involved in that controversy like the attempted cease and desist with JEL 1997, the Roy E. Disney transcript, or even how Simba was originally going to be a white lion in pre-production. I’m glad you still want to check out that anime series regardless, but expect multiple cases of Lion King deja vu when you watch the original series especially the scene where the spirit of Caesar (Kimba’s murdered father) talks to his son in the night sky.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. When I saw Kano on your list, my blood froze. His final speech at the end solidified the hopelessness of it all; his presence ensured the death of a prophet. His nihilistic attitude reminded me of the villain from Osamu Tezuka’s MW.

    Props for adding Queen Delphine, too. That lady was pure evil.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Kano is just straight up evil to say the least. I’m glad you know about Texhnolyze as well. That’s my 2nd favorite ABe work next to Haibane Renmei. That final speech was quite chilling. I haven’t checked out MW, but I’ll keep a look out for it.

      No problem. I agree with that.

      Liked by 1 person

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