10 Best Anime Antagonists of 2021

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Last month, Sanrio announced their second collaboration with Funimation’s My hero academia, and this time, Dabi and Shigaraki made the list of characters included. How these villains made the cut for such an incredibly cute collab is unclear, but their significance to the fandom is certainly as fans anticipate the Sanrio x My Hero Academia drop on July 1, 2022. It’s been another stellar year for fans, as the two new series like the Yakuza-centric anime Tokyo Avengers, as well as longtime favorites like MHA, continued to explore the age-old conflict between good and evil.

Examining what makes an anime antagonist the “best” isn’t always determined by their physical strength, but rather how low they will stoop to destroy the happiness and future of others. The best antagonists become the characters that frustrate but intrigue viewers who just want to see their best boys and girls succeed. The anime just wouldn’t be the same without the antagonists – the villains who try their best to be the absolute worst.

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Medea Pideth Machina: Rise of the Shield Hero


Medea Pideth Machina using her powers in The Rising of Shield Hero

Protagonist Naofumi hasn’t had it easy ever since he was summoned as the world’s cardinal hero and all of his misfortunes can be traced to the overriding antagonist of The rise of the shield hero, Medea Piedth Machina, aptly called “the goddess of betrayal”, who spends her days causing death and destruction in the eight worlds solely for her pleasure.

Related: 10 Best Anime Protagonists Of 2021

Naofumi’s denunciation as a hero after false sexual assault allegations early in the show set the stage for Medea’s apathy. His cruel tactic of bringing back the souls of the deceased, including Queen Miriella Q. Melocarc, and then fooling their former allies into thinking they had survived, created some of the most heartbreaking moments this season. Medea’s complete lack of remorse and suffocating selfishness make her an unforgettable antagonist.


Kai Chisaki “Review”: My Hero Academia


Overhail as seen in My Hero Academia

In the world of my hero academia, living with pro heroes and those in training, villains are to be expected. However, there are some whose villainous ways outshine the average villain looking to get their way. Kai Chisaki, known to society as “Overhaul”, is a terrifying example of the evil within Musutasfu, Japan.

Chisaki’s child abuse, through his attempt to create oddity-destroying bullets, forced Eri’s body to be taken apart and reassembled at will – a despicable act, even for a yakuza leader. In the scenes that followed, he would light up Eri, making her feel like her mistreatment was her fault, illustrating her complete lack of empathy. Chisaki’s misanthropic nature is reminiscent of Dabi, another MHA villain who shares the same goal of ruling the underworld.


Akito Sohma: fruit basket


Shigure and Akito in a Fruit Basket

The story of Fruit basket, which is adapted from its much-loved shoujo manga, showcases the beauty of life in rural Japan, and since the 2019 anime remaster, this classic has gotten even more aesthetically pleasing. However, within the idyllic exterior of the Sohma Domain is Akito Sohma, the god of the zodiac who seeks to disrupt the happiness of her fellow zodiac members however she can.

Where Akito’s physical strength is lacking, his psychological manipulation shines. She torments Kyo with her impending threat of lifelong solitary confinement, a gamble Akito happily watches him struggle against. However Fruit basket concluded this spring, there’s more for fans to look forward to with the release of Basket of Fruits: Prelude.


Mahito: Jujutsu Kaisen


Mahito in Jujutsu Kaisen

Jujutsu Kaisen is a shonen true to its roots, featuring hordes of monsters pitted against teenagers trying to save the world. Despite its predictability, the series forged its unique path through the use of horror-inspired antagonists such as Mahito, the self-proclaimed manifestation of humanity’s transgressions and hatred.

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Mahito longs to extinguish humanity and rule the world with cursed spirits like himself. After assassinating Junpei, he laughed at Yuji’s desperation, as he doesn’t just want to kill, but mentally break Yuji first, a chilling distinction that sets him apart from antagonists like MHA‘s Chisaki, who does his dirty work as neatly as possible.


Muzan Kibutsuji: Demon Slayer


A tragic story? Check. Archnemesis to heroes? Check. Lord of all demons? Check! demon slayerMuzan Kibutsuji yearns to bring death upon the Demon Slayers and devour their beloved member Nezuko, becoming the driving dark force behind the series’ entertainment arc, as well as the demon slayer film.

demon slayer became one of the most popular anime of the decade, so fan loyalty to the Kamado family makes Muzan an antagonist viewers take seriously, despite the Michael Jackson memes he inspired. As the originator of all demons in existence, the demise of this antagonist has brought a great sense of satisfaction to viewers of the 2021 season.

Dabi: my hero university


Hiro Shimono voices Dabi in My Hero Academia anime

The universe of my hero academia There’s no shortage of villains that exist to threaten the lives and actions of heroes, both professionals and those in training. One of the most menacing members of the League of Villains, Dabi is an antagonist only the bravest heroes dare to face.

Using his Quirk, which matches his destructive behavior, Dabi can set anything on fire, explaining the Japanese translation of his name, “Cremation”. He is fully invested in destroying heroes, caring very little about the damage he inflicts on himself in battle. Due to this weakness, Dabi uses psychological warfare in addition to his physical power. He chose the path of destruction while watching his family become heroes, symbolizing what happens to those who defy justice rather than protect it.


Tetta Kisaki: Tokyo Avengers


Tetta Kisaki from Tokyo Revenge

Tokyo avengers was a welcome addition to Crunchyroll’s 2021 lineup where antagonist Tetta Kisaki has plenty of opportunities to prove himself as a villain, through murder, manipulation, or any shady operation that will bring him closer to his selfish pursuit of power.

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Kisaki’s villainy depends on his time-jumping abilities, which means that the suffering he causes is multiplied through the timelines he interferes with. Unlike MHA’s Dabi and Chisaki who, despite being villains, still manage to stay loyal to their villainous gang, Kisaki is the epitome of deception, caring very little about maintaining such loyalty. Kisaki is an antagonist to be feared with his power and influence over the criminals he commands.

Rice: Beastars


Rice smiling slightly in Beastars.

The world of Beastars is packed with drama and violence, much of which can be tied to the series’ cute but deadly antagonist, Rice. Initially a kind supporting character, Riz is revealed to have murdered his best friend Tem, sparking a conflict with the main non-human Beastars characters.

Unlike most anime antagonists, Riz was a really good bear before he murdered Tem and made the decision to hide his crime. He loses his taste buds and resorts to self-harm out of guilt over killing Tem, who many fans suspect is also his love interest. This sets him apart from the majority of 2021’s antagonists who sought to influence humanity, as all Riz wanted was to protect others from himself.

Echidna: Re:ZERO


Echidna from Re:Zero

The Witch of Greed, Echidna has been fully fleshed out in the 2021 season of Re: ZERO. Her mastery of magic allows her to teleport and heal, making her an almost unstoppable antagonist who, despite her poised appearance, had a major impact on the show’s fourth season.

Like Muzan from Demon Slayer, Echidna desires immortality and will commit any atrocity to achieve it, and through their goals are the same, she never proves to be so malevolent. She is the only antagonist seen in a school uniform, and certainly the only antagonist who calmly serves the protagonist’s unidentified “body fluid” tea. Regardless of her crimes, she’s a unique antihero who defied conventional tropes.


Hitogami: Mushoku Tensei


Smiling Hitogami in Mushoku Tensei

In Mushoku Tensei, the antagonist is a literal god known as Hitogami, the “God of Mankind”. Initially introduced as a minor character who aids the protagonist, Hitogami becomes the biggest threat to the colorful cast of wizards and magicians.

It is Hitogami’s behavior that defines him as more than the faceless entity he appears as. He takes pleasure in getting people to destroy what they value most, an admittedly original hobby. Hitogami’s fate was one of the few pending storylines, confirming that this antagonist will cause more conflict in the next season.

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