I’m going to let you in on a secret – I know that sometimes, you want the bad guys to win.
And you know what? That’s okay.
I feel the same way too if I’m honest!
Sometimes you get a villain who’s so dastardly and evil that you want to see how far they’ll go without the hero interrupting…
Or maybe it’s a multi-dimensional baddie who demands your attention, but doesn’t follow your moral code?
We’ve got all that and more in this ranking of the most notable seinen anime villains of all time. Let’s start things off with…
10. Dio Brando
Anime: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
I think you’d be hard pushed to find anyone who Dio Brando doesn’t appeal to, to be honest with you.
Yes, he’s evil – he’s committed crimes across multiple generations, for starters. Murder, poisoning, kidnapping, torture – it’s a real laundry list of unspeakable acts that many have suffered from either first-hand or by proxy.
Also, he’s a vampire, just to really hammer the point home.
He’d have probably still been on the list if he wasn’t, that’s how bad he is!
But still, there’s just something about his remarkably charismatic character that draws people in, both in reality and the universe of the show.
Anime: One Punch Man
You aren’t going to find many villains who hate the very idea of heroes quite as much as this guy right here.
Garou is the embodiment of a ferocious & relentless monster. Very few heroes have stood against him and retained their ability to walk away afterwards.
He’s cold, calculating, and nearly merciless.
That’s right, nearly merciless.
You see, he does have a different side to him, too – especially when it comes to protecting children. That second dimension to him is what makes the character so interesting and therefore gains him a spot on the list.
We’re looking at what boils down to being a magical mob boss in this entry.
But not just either of those things; the most powerful magic user, in the most powerful family in the entire world of Dorohedoro.
This masked sociopath will do anything to get what he wants – kill, torture, you name it and he’s done it.
Yet, there’s a lot of care for his family shown, too. He even tends a little mushroom garden, giving us an idea of the person he could be if he wasn’t so busy murdering people who crossed him.
An excellent villain, and an even better character.
He’s even got a bad guy facial hair set under his bad guy mask!
7. Tetsuo Shima
This is possibly one of the most well-known entries on this ranking. And Tetsuo is a tragic character with a deep, interesting backstory that’s well worth exploring.
An exploration of power gone way beyond his control and how his potential didn’t match his final actions, Tetsuo is a walking inferiority complex that will hurt anyone who gets in his way.
But there’s so much more to the character than the bad and we see his once normal(ish) relationship with Akira in such detail, it’s hard to not feel sorry for the way his life has spiralled out of control.
He’s a bad guy, there’s no doubt about that.
But it’s his journey to getting there and the consequences of it that make him such a memorable bad guy.
6. The Major
Anime: Hellsing Series
It feels like putting a literal Nazi on this list might have been a little too obvious, in hindsight.
His title is literally “Supreme Commander”, we’re talking levels of Saturday morning cartoon evil that shouldn’t even be possible!
But Hellsing is anything but a Saturday morning cartoon – and The Major shows this better than anyone.
His complete and utter obsession with war and all its awful facets provide us with a character that is so beyond most definitions of evil it’s hard to quantify it.
He starts wars for fun. Endless death and destruction for his own personal amusement. Calling him a bad guy seems like he’s getting away lightly!
5. Lelouch Lamperouge
Anime: Code Geass
As the second coming of the character Lelouch vi Britannia after his exile, there aren’t many bad guys out there who are as cold and indifferent to the suffering they cause like this one.
Wiping out civilian towns in a landslide? A “mathematical overestimate”, that’s all it is to him.
Destroying Tokyo and killing countless people, innocents and children among them? Straight-up necessary for his plan to achieve what he needs to as Emperor.
He’s a real piece of work.
But Lelouch is also a devastatingly intelligent and highly interesting character who’s developed well 1as the series goes on. “Developed” as in he gets worse, but technically that’s still development!
4. Shougo Makashima
Hyper-intelligent, a skilled fighter, and the savior of the world (that last one is in his own head), Shougo is the most brutal kind of liberator.
His fight to “free” the people from the Sibyl System is one that really only takes his own selfish idea of the human race into account, however.
And his method of that liberation?
Let’s just say it’s a little too messy to be considered wholly effective.
If only Shougo had picked a different path to follow with his determination. There would have been a lot less death and destruction left in his wake if he’d decided to be an ice cream man or something instead.
3. Johan Liebert
Handsome, charismatic, and charming – you’d be forgiven for thinking that Johan Liebert was anything but a model citizen.
That’s what everyone in the show thinks, too.
Which makes it all the easier for Johan to manipulate and then eventually murder them.
Given his passion for brutality, it’s a wonder Johan has gotten away with it as long as he has.
But he’s got his façade down to a fine art. And while he does target some awful characters later on as part of his machinations, Johan simply can’t be considered a good guy by any stretch of the phrase.
2. Nui Harime
Anime: Kill la Kill
Cute little child she is not.
Because Nui Harime is one twisted, sadistic little monster.
Any little girl who murders her own father is going to be a cause for concern straight off the bat, let’s be honest.
But violence is so ingrained in her nature that it even starts to bore her after a short period of time, dropping her child-like, playful front to reveal the aggressive and dangerous killer within.
So don’t ever let your guard down around Nui Harime. You won’t live long to regret it, that’s for sure.
Griffith had it all.
A savior, a survivor of endless battles, loved by all, he was about as close to the top as it gets.
But none of it compared to the dream that he followed – the one he held in his heart even as he was tortured to near death.
So when he’s confronted with all the death that has followed in his wake while trying to achieve his dream, does he show remorse? No.
He decides that stopping now would mean giving it all up.
And everyone who loved him is slaughtered, without exception.
Damn, Griffith. That’s some cold stuff right there.