Hey folks! It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of my top 10 lists. But now they’re back yet again, and this time with a bit of a twist! As many of you might be aware, our website caters to fandoms, both gaming and anime. So I figured why restrict the love to just one facet? We here at Capsule Computers enjoy our anime just as much as we do gaming. So to kick start this first ANIME top 10 list, I thought it would be good to start by counting down a list of characters that tend to be the most loved in their own respective series. Besides the main hero characters themselves, anime fans have always had an affinity for the anti-hero character type because they are different, and challenge the classic notions of good vs. evil. And here will count down the top 10 of them!
10) Crona from Soul Eater
Crona is without doubt the most tortured character in the entire Soul Eater anime. Never mind Soul and Maka’s personal troubles with demonic forces, Crona’s mother is a sadistic psycho who experimented on her from a young age, manipulated her, played on her fears and turned her into a living weapon, fused with the demon sword Ragnarok. To Medusa, that is all she ever was, simply a tool to be used for her own evil ends. It should be noted that Crona’s actual gender is never actually disclosed to viewers, but many fans interpret the character as female. When first introduced to her, she is seen hunting down and killing civilians on Medusa’s say-so, simply to build Ragnarok’s strength for a later plan in the works. It is not until after facing Maka in combat a second time that Crona develops her own free will and chooses to reject her mother and the destructive path intended for her. From that point on, her allegiances swing to and fro in both manga and anime adaptations as she is pulled in virtually every direction possible, between friends, kinship, fear and duty.
9) Gary Oak from Pokémon
The anime adaptation of Blue, the rival from the 1st generation Pokémon games. Even all these years later, Gary Oak still presents himself (albeit less frequently) as a rival to the anime hero Ash Ketchum. It is particularly interesting to see how his character has evolved over the years from being an uptight arrogant ass to a goal-driven individualistic and mature trainer. When he started out, he only showed up during the anime to give Ash and company a difficult time, showing off the number of Pokémon he had already caught and being followed around by his own harem of cheerleaders. Later he decides to devote himself to Pokémon research like his grandfather, but he still appears every now and then to keep Ash’s ego in check. He’s never really considered a villain, but the two have clashed on multiple occasions either in the Pokémon league, or in a casual battle.
8 ) Seto Kaiba from Yu Gi Oh
Seto Kaiba is a classic case of a character who starts out as an enemy and evolves into a not-so-friendly rival. He has an unrelenting obsession with defeating his rival Yugi Moto in a card game, but his plans to defeat him are often undermined by his brother being kidnapped or through some act of villainy where the two must work together to save the world. As one of the most popular characters in the series, many of the story aspect revolve around not only his origins, but also events that occur as a direct result of his rivalry (such as planning a whole tournament to fight 1 particular person). Kaiba flaunts his own material wealth, and is portrayed as a ruthless businessman and strategist. He is also unmatched in terms of pride and raw arrogance. Although his attitude to aspects of everyday life are cold and appear to be self-centred, at the core he is a good person with a strict moral compass. Though he would never admit it.
7) Graham Aker from Gundam 00
Graham Aker, who also takes on the name of Mr Bushido in the Gundam 00 series is the main rival character to the protagonist Setsuna F Seiei. Despite the fact that he is often placed in a story position where he fights against the Gundam Pilots of Celestial Being, this is a role that is more so required of him due to his station as a Union Soldier. He simply follows his orders, regardless of whether or not the action is good or evil. Despite this, he also holds a strict moral compass to do what is right, which is shown in scenes like when he allowed the Gundam Exia to escape after it single handedly stopped a war, despite his orders to capture it. At one point in the second season, he also refuses to finish off Setsuna’s downed 00 Gundam because of the Gundam’s own mechanical failure. The manga adaptation even shows Graham coming to Setsuna’s aid when the Gundam pilot was being attacked in the streets by locals, describing their actions as shameful for ganging up on a kid. Like Seto Kaiba, Graham is also a man bound by an obsession to defeat the protagonist rather than kill him. His obsession with this rivalry passes through phases of” love, hatred and destiny”, as he describes it. While characters like Char Aznable and Zechs Marquise may be more iconic rivals, both were portrayed primarily as villains as opposed to anti-heroes. Because unlike either of them, Graham never tried to drop a gigantic space station on the Earth for the purposes of mass murder.
6) Captain Smoker from One Piece
Captain Smoker is a force that constantly hounds the Straw Hat pirate crew. As a Captain in the Navy, he is widely respected among his peers for being a relentless pirate hunter, and he is considered one of the strongest men in all of East Blue, courtesy of his Smoke powers that he obtained from eating a devil’s fruit. His original mission when first introduced to viewers was to capture the protagonist character Luffy in Loguetown. After escaping his grasp, Smoker makes it his mission to hunt down Luffy and his crew and to have them arrested, rather than killed. Unlike many members of the Marine Corps, he believes in his own sense of justice, which would have pirates judged accordingly based on what action’s they have taken and what crimes they have committed, as opposed to the traditional zero tolerance policy to piracy. Like Graham, he is a man bound by duty, but he is also willing to compromise, such as when he allows Luffy to escape after the Straw Hat pirates saved his life. With the Saga of One piece still ongoing, Smoker’s place in the grand scheme of things is still yet to be determined.
5) Father Alexander Anderson from Hellsing
Throw together a hardcore faith following in Catholicism, a raging bloodlust, unnatural regeneration abilities, brutal blade skills and an Irish accent, and you have the anti-hero character of Hellsing: Father Alexander Anderson, ‘The Paladin’. As a member of Organisation XIII Iscariot, Father Anderson’s duties, besides spreading the word of God and peace and love type stuff is to hunt down and brutally main, slash and kill all things occult in the world, whether they be werewolves, zombies, demons or vampires. Naturally, when the main character of an anime is a sarcastic honour bound vampire, this makes for a volatile clash of heads. More than once, we see Anderson cross paths violently with Alucard, particularly when the objectives of Iscariot and the Hellsing organisation conflict. Both act as the trump card of their respective organisations. However, despite a treaty designed to minimise conflict between the two, both have, on numerous occasions clashed with one another either due to conflicting mission objectives, or simply on principle. However, through their multiple clashes with one another, both eventually develop a respect for the other, as their objectives begin to align further and further, and when the real enemy comes into view.
4) Scar from Full Metal Alchemist
A survivor of the Ishval war that tore his home country asunder, Scar is presented to viewers of both Full Metal Alchemist animes as the first real “super villain”, bent on murdering every state alchemist he can find as part of his own particular brand of revenge. It was state alchemists like Roy Mustang who destroyed his homeland through means which are heretical in his eyes. He believes that using alchemy is an affront to God and all that is natural, and as such, he desires to stamp out the corruption that such a power can cause in people. More than once, Scar is found to be at odds with the Elric brothers, especially when Edward finds out that Scar was responsible for the deaths of Winry’s parents. However, as the series progresses, both the Elrics and the viewers learn about Scar’s origins and the motivations behind Scar’s actions. Scar eventually learns that his destructive power can be put to better use against people who corrupt and spread war around the world, just as was done to his country. He is one of the few individuals powerful enough to stand up to a Homunculus in a 1 on 1 fight.
3) Raven from Zoids: Chaotic Century/Guardian Force
For a majority of the Zoids Chaotic Century and Guardian Force series, Raven was portrayed as a primary villain, piloting machines only intended for mass destruction. His back story is never explored until the last few episodes of the show, where it is shown that he was kidnapped and brainwashed at a young age to become an assassin for an imperial minister. Raven is shown to have an intense hatred for “weaklings”, and he genuinely believes everyone else to be below him in terms of ability. He proves to be more than a match for the series protagonist Van. Like Van, Raven introduces another Organoid machine named Shadow, contrasting Van’s ownership of his own Organoid Zeke. However, unlike Van, Raven is shown to be a degree more destructive and brutal in nature. It is not until Shadow is destroyed that Raven begins to change his attitude to life, swearing revenge on the people that destroyed him. His heart eventually opens up, and he decides that his old attitudes were twisted and wrong. He eventually develops a strong respect for Van and the two enter the final battle as allies against a monstrous Death Saurer.
2) Viral from Gurren Lagann
Viral started out as the commander of a small brigade of beastmen tasked with the removal of human beings from the surface of the world. In a world were humans are forced to live in underground caves and forbidden from venturing to the surface, Viral acts as the enforcers to that law. He initially clashes with the two series protagonists Kamina and Simon, but is eventually defeated each time in combat. No matter how good he is at being a Ganmen pilot, he cannot match the strength of the combined Gurren Lagann. Initially, it seems that Viral is utterly convinced in the superiority of Beastmen as a race compared to the humans. He is eventually artificially imbued with agelessness by the Helix King, and thus never ages throughout the series. In the second half of the series, Viral is captured by human forces and imprisoned, where he and Simon both clash with one another, but the two eventually set aside their differences for the greater good when they realise that both of their races are in jeopardy. Without Kamina or Roshiu to act as a second pilot, Simon offers Viral to become the pilot of Gurren, which he accepts. Viral eventually becomes a member of the Gurren Brigade and a full time ally of the humans. His changes in attitude towards his former enemies, as well as bringing his own unique brand of brutality to the battlefield wins Viral the number 2 spot on the anti-hero list.
And as for number 1:
1) Vegeta from Dragonball Z
When you think “anti-hero” or “rival”, Prince Vegeta stands out as the quintessential anti-hero and rival to Goku as the protagonist of Dragonball Z. While Vegeta was first introduced as an ambitious Saiyan warrior determined to gain immortality for himself, through a series of shared goals and battles, Vegeta eventually becomes an ally of the Z fighters of Earth, though his grouchy attitude and reluctance to take part in social events still persist. Despite his supposed alliance with Goku, he never lets him forget that he will be the one to defeat him in battle. His refusal to let go of this obsession drives him to save Goku from several near-death situations, such as the battles against Cooler and the Androids. He is also clearly a man weighed down by his “Saiyan Pride”, shown in his refusal to deny a challenge as well as his insistence in calling Goku by his Saiyan name: Kakarot. Being of royal blood, he still continues to refer to himself as the Prince of Saiyans, as though it were some form of justification for his level of power. However, it is in this pride where we see his greatest character flaws. Even after starting his own family on Earth, in the Majin Buu saga, the audience sees Vegeta revert to his evil ways in a bid to take down Goku and prove himself as the strongest fighter in the universe. In the final episodes of Dragonball Z, we see Vegeta finally come to the realisation that Goku will always be better than him, and he gives him his respect for it. It is clear throughout the entire series that it is more than just obsession that drives him. It is a combination of many things, ambition, pride, power, responsibility, love, control and even survival that pushes Vegeta to be the strongest fighter around.
If you know of an anti-hero or anime rival worth mentioning too, please comment below!