It is soon to be Halloween, so I thought it might be a frightfully good idea to explore the offerings of manga and anime. From them comes a lot of nightmare fuel, and some disturbing and scary villains. So in honour of Halloween, I’m counting down thirteen of the creepiest villains to grace manga and anime, and that have left quite the impression on myself and fellow otakus. So grab your Death Notes and watch out for Japan’s most wanted. Let’s take a look.
Warning – This list has spoilers for numerous anime and manga.
13. The Titans (Attack on Titan)
The first time I saw a picture of the titular monsters of Attack on Titan, I was very disturbed by it. So much that I didn’t watch the series or read the manga for a year. But I finally watched the anime, and it is very epic. Humanity hide behind huge walls after enormous deformed giants called Titans appeared and started eating everyone. Huge in size, their faces usually set in one expression, and able to hide and leap out of nowhere despite their heights, they are terrifying monsters. The ones that leave the most impact are the Titan Shifters, humans who can transform into Titans and destroy humanity from the inside out. The shifters also bring a huge amount of paranoia to them, the most closest of friends could be revealed traitors and monsters.
12. The Entire Cast of Higurashi
I have never watched Higurashi apart from a few clips, and those were enough to leave a lasting impression on me. The protagonist Keiichi Maebara moves to a peaceful rural village in 1983, and befriends a small clique of girls. However, when the annual festival rolls around, Keiichi discovers the village has a dark secret that involves induced paranoia, madness and eventual murder.
The series then goes into a number of alternate timelines where Keiichi and the other characters go through a number of scenarios that usually ends in one or two of them going mad and murdering each other in a time loop. From what I’ve seen, each character has gone quite crazy and resorted to violence, usually ending in bloody murder. But the most shocking had to be one of the twins Mion (or possibly Shion) crucifying another character while laughing like a maniac. It’s very disturbing stuff.
11. Vicious (Cowboy Bebop)
To my shame, I have not watched or read Cowboy Bebop, but I will some day. Looking at other lists, I noticed the villain named Vicious is quite high, so I will honour the character here. A particularly cruel, heartless, and sociopathic criminal, Vicious was once friends with hero Spike Spiegel but they became enemies when Spike fell in love with Vicious’ lover Julia. However, Vicious seems to be not care for anyone or anything, killing for the hell of it, but gets mad when Spike threatens his claim on Julia. He has quite the presence, haunting Spike as a symbol of his past, and even a bird he keeps with him is creepy. Most people would find a guy named “Vicious” silly, but this badguy is definitely one to be afraid of.
10. Shou Tucker (Fullmetal Alchemist)
Picking a villain from Fullmetal Alchemist was a tricky one, as all of the main villains are great fun and delightfully evil. But a minor villain stole the slot for what he has done. Shou Tucker is the Sewing Life Alchemist, who works for the state military to perform bio-alchemy to create fused creatures called Chimeras. He seems friendly and kind, caring for his young daughter Nina after his wife left them.
But it turns out that Tucker earned his status as a State Alchemist by secretly turning his wife into a chimera, but now he has to do it again. Take three guesses who he uses this time. Yep, he turns Nina and her dog Alexander into a talking chimera. It is extremely harrowing and Tucker attempts to justify his actions in the name of science, even trying to compare his methods to those of the protagonists Edward and Alphonse Elric. Tucker did not kill anyone in the show like the other badguys do, but he did hurt just about everyone who followed the Elrics.
09. Griffith (Berserk)
Griffith may be pretty to the point of his gender becoming ambiguous, but he has a heart as black as the night. The leader of some mercenaries called the Band of the Hawk, Griffith wants to do good and become a great leader in a war torn world. He meets the main characters Guts, and they become best friends. Years later when Griffith and his band look set to live the high life, Guts chickens out and leaves.
Griffith takes it pretty badly, so much that he sleeps with a princess, gets tortured by her nutty father, and sells his soul to a group of demons called the God Hand to become a powerful evil demon himself named Femto to invoke the apocalypse. The price is all of his loyal soldiers including a returning Guts. Guts and his girlfriend Casca survive, albeit in horrific states after Femto has his way with them. Sociopathic and disturbing, Griffith allowed demons to conquer the world, thus somehow achieving a twisted version of his dream to be the leader of the greatest kingdom in the world.
08. Sosuke Aizen (Bleach)
Bleach has had its up and down over the years, but has some great characters. Among them was its main villain Sosuke Aizen, a manipulative and charismatic monster. Initially introduced as a warm, friendly captain of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads that help transport spirits to the Soul Society. However, he is actually a manipulative genius hellbent on destroying Soul Society by evolving into a “perfect being” and killing the world’s Soul King. Aizen is a smooth talker and very polite, but he is such a jerk.
He always plans ahead, anticipates moves, and is shown to be very powerful, able to suffocate an opponent with his sheer presence. Aizen wields a sword which can trick a person’s senses with realistic illusions that cause some major shocks during the story, and that makes him very creepy. Smug, a little overpowered, but having a great presence, Aizen really got into your head and enjoyed every second of it.
07. Cell (Dragon Ball Z)
The legendary Dragon Ball series has brought many iconic and disturbing villains, but I think Cell is the creepiest. Created by genius Dr. Gero to be the ultimate lifeform, Cell turned out to be evil and wanted to destroy everything in the world. He goes about this by attacking people and slowly absorb everyone using a syringe like tail, which can immediately grow back if chopped off.
He is pretty much invincible and nothing can stop him, and those who try to are mere amusement or irritations to him. Cell has a number of pretty freaky forms, including an “Imperfect Form”, which is made up of the souls of those he has absorbed and they scream in horror. This guy is so powerful and terrifying that Piccolo is petrified with fear, and badass Vegeta chickens out of fighting him. What a monster.
06. Orochimaru (Naruto)
If there was one creepy villain who needed to be on this list, it was Orochimaru. The first major villain of Naruto, Orochimaru was one of the three Legendary Sannin ninjas, but his desire to become the greatest ninja of all time led to him becoming a criminal. A right creep but great fun, Orochimaru is pasty-faced, and a snake fetish going on, able to do really disturbing things with his body – like vomiting out snakes, a ridiculously long tongue, turning into snakes, and stealing other bodies and wearing them in the literal sense.
For most of the series he seeks to possess the body of anti-hero Sasuke Uchiha to obtain his unique empowered Sharingan eyes to learn every ninja move in the world quickly. Orochimaru is basically immortal due to swapping bodies so often, and leaves a very gruesome but lasting impression on readers and viewers. He is one creepy guy and great at it.
05. Light Yagami (Death Note)
I’m not very fond of Light Yagami, but he is considered one of the greatest villains to emerge from manga. And yet he is classified as the hero of Death Note. An ordinary high school student, Light comes across a Death Note, a book which is used by reapers to kill those who are meant to die. Any name written in the book will die in a matter of minutes, and Light uses that to start mass murdering criminals in the name of justice.
It ends up going to his head and he becomes extremely arrogant and gains a god complex, planning to wipe out every criminal in the world and lord over everyone else as their new god named “Kira”. But he becomes way too powerhungry, murdering innocent people and police officers who get in his way or discover his secret. Light is a very intelligent, calculating and ruthless person, and the story takes great time exploring his psychosis and tumble into a world of madness. He goes toe to toe against the equally intelligent detective L, and participates in an inventive game of cat and mouse with him.
04. Yuno Gasai (Future Diary)
If I were to look up the word “Stalker” in the dictionary, I would find the definition as “Yuno Gasai”. This pink-haired psycho is the secondary protagonist of Future Diary, a thrilling manga about twelve people who are given phones that can predict the future and are asked to kill each other to become god. The story’s protagonist is wimpy Yukiteru Amano, who Yuno has an obsessive crush on after he convinced her life was worth living after an abusive childhood.
Yuno can change her mood on a dime, going from sweet and cute to overprotective, violent, and psychotic. Yuno genuinely loves Yukiteru, but is very clingy and protective, contemplating to kill anyone who gets near them, even Yuki’s own parents. Give her something that could double as a weapon and she will use it. Yuno is a very disturbed person, her world revolving around Yuki, to the point her phone only predicts what will happen to him. It is revealed as the series progresses just how far Yuno is willing to go and how far she had gone to be with Yuki. Why are all pink-haired girls in anime kind of crazy? Speaking of which…
03. Lucy (Elfen Lied)
Elfen Lied is a heartbreaking, tragic, and bloody anime, focusing on an evolved subspecies of humans called Diclonius. They are usually female, have pink hair, visible horns, and possess psychic powers in the form of transparent tendrils called “vectors” which can cut through anything. Our designated hero and villain is Lucy, who has led a very unpleasant life and decides to escape the horrific research centre she is trapped in by going on a gruesome rampage in the anime’s opening minutes. She is shot on the way out, survives, but develops a secondary personality named Nyu who is childlike and innocent.
She ends up living with a boy named Kohta and his cousin, and it turns out Lucy and Kohta may have known each other in the past. The series explores their relationship and Lucy’s tragic past. Seriously, I’ve never hated fictional kids more than I have watching this. The question is whether or not Lucy is a hero or a villain, since she does both good and bad. She can be extremely dangerous and psychotic, unleashing hell upon those who harm her, and limbs are sure to fly.
02. Johan Liebert (Monster)
The antagonist of Monster, Jonah Liebert is pretty popular. A sociopathic serial killer, Johan is the embodiment of aimless evil and wants to prove that doing good is a hopeless form of morality. And yet he comes off as a calm, charismatic young man. His actions can be justified by a horrific childhood, and despite being rescued by the good-intentioned Dr. Tenma (not the one from Astro Boy), Johan was too far gone and made it his mission in life to prove to his former saviour that trying to be good is pointless in such a harsh world. Heck, everything he does, even when it appears kind, is to cause misery and spread his nihilistic beliefs. Despite his average appearance, he is devoid of humanity, and knows it all too well, yet cannot find his own happiness because he is too consumed by his own nihilistic mindset.
01. Kyubey (Madoka Magica)
There was no one else who was going to be number one then this little abomination. I hate Kyubey so much and wish to destroy him if it weren’t for the fact he is fictional. Madoka Magica is a deconstructive look on the magical girl genre (i.e. Sailor Moon) and a very brutal and harsh one at that, and right at the heart of the misery is this deceptively cute monstrosity. Kyubey approaches young teenage girls, offering to make a contract with them. By granting them a wish, Kyubey transforms them into a magical girl so they can defeat evil creatures called Witches. And while he smiles and looks cute, he is a vile, deceitful, emotionless little monster.
I won’t give away what happens since it would give away the whole story, but Kyubey’s actions are for the greater good in his mind, and he is doing nothing wrong. Lacking emotions, he finds human morality and emotions to be very odd and a hindrance. He is very calculating and quietly cunning, he never lies, keeps his word, never holds grudges, and though he lies and hides the truth, he is never untruthful about it. Kyubey makes it so that something has gone wrong is never his fault, and even when he is, he can find a way of turning it around on another person. What a monster!
Do you read any manga or watch anime? Who are you favourite villains and what makes a good one? Sound off in the comment section below or visit our page on Twitter!