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Welcome back, Vice-patrol! These guys and gals have earned our love and admiration despite being seriously troubled sociopaths, murderous aliens and even literal monsters.
Leave your morals at the door, because these are the top five anime anti-heroes...!
Schneider is a self-obsessed, horn-ball wizard from the wrong side of the Earth’s crust. He's got a god complex and contempt for all things ugly. It’s not a stretch to imagine that he is the titular “bastard” in this franchise full of men worthy of that title. He is the infamous “exploder wizard,” a nickname so cool/stupid that I can’t help but admire it.
D. Schneider (get it?) is also a terrible boyfriend/father figure to his dark elf side-piece, Arches Nei. After raising her since she was a little girl, he goes all Woody Allen on her and sleeps with her for a while; then decides he’d be willing to kill her to protect his new girlfriend, Yoko. So many dick moves…
Oh, and he also wants to rule the world.
Bonus points for all the very clumsy, not-at-all-subtle metal references throughout the show. Dark Schneider could be seamlessly integrated into the GUILTY GEAR cast.
Lets be honest... Revy is a foul-mouthed, murderous psychopath who shoots her feelings and gets worked up without much provocation. She lives to kill and doesn’t see the problem in that.
Of course, this is exactly the kind of scumbag that we, as anime fans, love.
Revy is an unrepentant nihilist who seems to revel in violence. She’s pushed from "badass" into the “borderline horrifying” category at numerous points, and that’s what elevates her beyond the usual "tough chick with guns" cliché. She's something a bit harder to like and ultimately more interesting. I can forgive her murderous tempter tantrums, but that lame tribal tattoo… that’s a rough one.
I’m sure you all saw this coming, but no list of anti-heroes is complete without this jerk. DBZ is full of “reformed” badguys, but Vegeta’s Earth-smashing intentions early in the series coupled with his eventually closeness to the central cast is hilarious and baffling.
This angry little alien introduced himself to most of the characters in the show by either trying to kill them or succeeding at kill them. Vegeta has his buddy/subordinate Nappa (whom he later kills for disappointing him, of course) release the saibamen, who eventually kill Yamcha - - then, a few costume changes later, Vegeta marries Yamcha's girlfriend. There is no greater dick move in the galaxy than that one.
And even when the Saiyan prince puts on the khakis and pink shirt, and is uncomfortably “allied” with our protagonists, he still seems mostly motivated by spite and competition. He doesn't want to become a Super Saiyan to save the day, but to prove he is Goku’s equal.
This is pretty unforgivable stuff, but I wont pretend it doesn’t make me laugh. He's just so awful.
Ah yes, every fan’s favorite morally-ambiguous pretty boy. Light is kind of the anime equivalent to DEXTER. We identify with him, and we partially justify his actions because he kills people who “deserve it,” but there is no question that he is a sociopath and murderer. That uncomfortable balance is what keeps fans coming back for more.
And, of course, when the police get involved, things only get better. Light does what he has to in order to protect himself, making more and more moral compromises as he goes. Part of the joy of DEATH NOTE is in seeing just how far Light will go, how far he’ll sink, and whom he’s willing to hurt in order to get what he wants.
Light, like Dark Schneider and Vegeta, has a god complex - - believing himself to be no less than the savior of the world. He thinks that only be purging the world of sin, immorality and crime can things improve. Of course, he frequently (and without hesitation) does plenty of immoral, sinful, and illegal things over the course of the series.
He is a horrifying nut-job on the same level as some of history's greatest monsters but, for some reason, we want him to win. That’s just good writing, and smart character development, and it earns him a high spot on this list.
I know a lot of you will call bullshit on this choice, but I’m not going to bother apologizing to you. Devilman is literally a monster mixed with the consciousness of a young boy. He wants to kill demons; supposedly to keep them from taking back the Earth, but mostly for the thrill of violence.
"The only way to kill a demon is to BECOME a demon!"
Akira starts as a kind of meek kid, though strongly moral and totally willing to stand up for what he thinks is right. His transformation into Devilman is part of what's so great about this show/franchise. He is very quickly convinced that the only way to save the world is to invite a bunch of weirdos over to his friend Ryo’s dad’s house, insight a hedonistic Sabbath of drugs, sex and violence (and disco lights), then hope to combine with a strong enough demon to kill everyone.
This is already an absolutely insane turn of events, and it’s just the beginning.
As time passes, Akira starts to become more crass, more dickish, more like Amon (the demon with whom he shares a body/consciousness). He starts off as a pretty typical anime hero, and eventually becomes more of a monster - - both physically and in terms of his manors. The best part is he’s 100% more entertaining as the rough, crazy-eyed, part-demon than he ever was as a strong-willed, young do-gooder.
For those of you unfamiliar with the two-part OVA put out by Manga Video, drop whatever you’re doing right now and find a copy. This is the real-deal-good-shit. I’ll probably be writing more about that particular iteration of DEVILMAN in coming weeks, so stay tuned.
There they are, the five finest in anti-heroism. I’m sure there are plenty of you who are upset that your favorite character from YU-GI-OH, or HELLSING didn’t make the list. Well, I want to hear about it, so don’t hesitate to write an impassioned speech about why its an injustice that I neglected TEAM ROCKET and post it in the comments section bellow.
Alex Eckman-Lawn is an illustrator and comic artists from Philadelphia. Check out his site - - alexeckmanlawn.com - - rumble with his Tumblr - -dudenukem.tumblr.com - - and hit up his Twitter: @alexeckmanlawn