Anime is home to a number of conniving evil-doers who achieve their goals through deceit and subterfuge. Their actions tend to affect a show’s story on a large scale, and despite most of these characters hardly ever engaging in direct confrontation, they pose a significant threat to their respective opponents.
While some of these individuals might be known for operating in secret, they possess great charisma, which is usually instrumental in getting others to do as they please. They are also careful planners who rarely ever fail to consider crucial factors that would serve to derail their efforts. With all these fitting characteristics, it’s no wonder these characters manage to entrance their audiences despite being antagonistic figures.
10/10 Dio Brando – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Known for employing loyal minions to do his bidding, Dio is a power-hungry vampire who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. Ever since his introduction, he consistently employed underhanded methods in his battles against the Joestars, one of which was manipulation.
Even without special abilities, he was a dangerous young man who ruthlessly orchestrated the suffering of Jonathan Joestar in his early life. Furthermore, after gaining supernatural powers, he manifested an ability to place flesh buds into his target’s brain, compelling them to heed his orders. On other occasions, however, he can also force fealty through hypnosis or the promise of power.
9/10 Askeladd – Vinland Saga
Despite being the killer of Thors and the reason for one of Thorfinn’s greatest traumas, Askeladd is a character many viewers don’t exactly hate. This is mainly because of his overwhelming charisma and meaningful actions facilitated by a tremendous understanding of other people. As a Viking, he is also an impressive tactician, showing extraordinary resourcefulness whenever the situation requires it.
He is a man with an agenda and is not afraid of using people to realize his ambitions. His involvement with Canute is the most prominent example, fostering the young prince’s growth and staging a situation where death by his hand would serve as the catalyst for greater things.
8/10 Shogo Makishima – Psycho-Pass
Operating in a world with a system in place for stopping criminal activity at its source, Shogo Makishima’s main aim was to expose the hypocrisy and inefficiency of said system. He believed his intentions were proper but did not refrain from committing heinous acts in order to achieve his goals.
As a unique individual with the ability to deceive the governing system, he not only killed, but also manipulated others so he could draw out the human factor he believed the system was eradicating. He didn’t possess a large number of consistent companions, and after tiring of different characters—like Rikako Oryo—he wastes no time in abandoning them.
7/10 Griffith – Berserk
In his early years, Griffith was a poor yet ambitious child with the dream of someday obtaining his own kingdom. That ambition followed him into adulthood as he formed the Band of Falcon group and conducted himself in a manner befitting of royalty.
However, the less honorable characteristic of Griffith’s personality is how much he values his dream over his companions.
Though this wasn’t always the case, he is mostly devoid of emotion and doesn’t care much for others, making it easier for him to use them. This was most apparent during the ritual of The Eclipse, where he sacrificed his entire group in exchange for becoming a member of the God Hand.
6/10 Zetsu – Naruto
Zetsu is a sentient offshoot of Kaguya Ōtsutsuki and the main figure behind some of the most significant events in the Naruto series. It existed much prior to the beginning of the anime and has manipulated many influential individuals with the aim of reviving its progenitor.
Zetsu’s actions are known for influencing a large group of people and, in some cases, have even incited full-on wars. He also became a member of the Akatsuki, and even while working for the organization, only acted with the interests of Kaguya in mind
5/10 Lelouch Lamperouge – Code Geass
This forsaken prince of Britannia may act as a hero to some, but he has only ever shown genuine concern for his sister and his relentless quest for vengeance. He is an unparalleled mastermind who, despite being aided by his powerful Geass, can still perform effectively without it.
His most impressive exploits while powerless include deceiving the Geass-powered Rolo and inciting multiple rebellions throughout the Chinese Federation. When his Geass does come into play, however, he reaches an entirely different level, as is able to command absolute obedience from anyone who looks directly into his eyes.
4/10 Eren Yeager – Attack on Titan
Originally a hotheaded boy with dreams of one day exploring the outside world, Eren was perfectly set up as a regular protagonist with lighthearted aspirations. However, as the series progressed, this ambition devolved into something with much more devastating implications.
After being exposed to the groundbreaking truths of his world, he assumed a more antagonistic role and resorted to several distasteful actions, some of which even transcended time. For example, he was revealed to have played a part in his father’s decision to eat Frieda Reiss, resulting in him eventually inheriting the Founding Titan. He also manipulated the young Falco Grice over an extended period of time, presenting an opening for him to steal the Warhammer Titan.
3/10 Sōsuke Aizen – Bleach
A man with grand ambitions, Sōsuke Aizen desired to occupy the “vacancy on the world’s throne.” He aimed to do this by overthrowing the Soul King, and he had been planning to do so for over a hundred years. For most of this planning period, however, he acted as a reserved member of the Gotei 13, even ascending to the rank of Captain in that time.
He carefully operated behind the scenes and conspired with two fellow captains to realize his ambitions. Even after setting his plan in motion, he continued to manipulate those who believed they were close to him, holding no regard for them whatsoever.
2/10 Light Yagami – Death Note
Aided by a supernatural notebook with the power to kill whoever’s name is written within it, Light Yagami embarked on a journey to become the “god of the new world.” He was determined to cement this title into the minds of all who lived, ruthlessly massacring criminals and troublesome individuals who posed a significant threat to him.
Light is also extremely intelligent, excelling academically with little effort and tussling with great detectives. He is cautious in his planning and is astoundingly resourceful when backed into a corner. Throughout the series, he killed under an alias, which made it possible for him to work with the people tasked with capturing him. He repeatedly misled these groups while also manipulating different figures like Rem and Misa to work with his interests in mind.
1/10 Johan Liebert – Monster
Johan is an individual with characteristics synonymous with that of the series’ title. He displayed his talents as a puppet master from a very young age and moved to cause chaos and destruction wherever he went. Furthermore, he has a way of infiltrating the minds of his targets in such a way that usually results in their interests coinciding with his, making them do the dirty work for him.
He assumed multiple aliases over the course of his life, and he is known to have caused the deaths of different individuals while doing so. He holds some reservations for the series’ protagonist Kenzo Tenma however, as he owes the talented surgeon greatly for saving his life.
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