So travelling back to things I still need to finish up about last year, I decided it was about time to finish my lists. I probably will do them in a more timely manner for this year, but who knows.
Antagonist is a very broad term. It could be the protagonist themselves, a villain, a rival, a force of nature, but the primary component of being an antagonist in a series is to be in direct opposition with the protagonist. The hardest thing to do though is to make the antagonist a worthwhile character in their own right rather than merely an obstacle in the path of the protagonist towards their goal. They need to have formulated enough personality and depth to be memorable, and sometimes the antagonist can easily walk away as the best character from their respective show. Char Aznable to this day is heavily considered one of the best antagonists by many people, mostly in the Gundam fanbase, creating tropes some still follow to this day in anime. The hero is only as good as their opposing force, so I am here to honour the top 10 antagonists I loved in 2016.
There are spoilers for the following anime: Iron-Blooded Orphans 2nd Season, Danganronpa, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, 91 Days and possibly some others. You have been warned!
10. Katsuki Bakugou from Boku no Hero Academia
Needless to say… I’ll be a hero that surpasses even you!
– Katsuki Bakugou
While I thought about putting Shigaraki on this list, he certainly didn’t have as much of a presence on Boku no Hero Academia as Bakugou did. Shigaraki may move on to do better more villainous things in the future, but as of the first season Bakugou is the only one I consider an intriguing antagonist for Midoriya. What makes Bakugou an interesting antagonist is that he is the polar opposite to Midoriya. Brash, spiteful, loud, obnoxious and most certainly talented in an instinctual sense, Bakugou manages to really shine when given the time of day on screen. His flashy and chaotic ability makes for some great fight sequences involving him and Midoriya, and while his stereotypical bully persona may run thin early on there is great potential to come from this relationship. We can certainly see the arc he and Midoriya will go on as Bakugou comes to terms with his inferiority complex.
9. Galan Mossa from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans 2nd Season
Like you said, those kids are nothing but animals. The same as dogs. You just have to feed them and pet them now and then, and they’ll obey their master without thinking.
– Galan Mossa
Galan Mossa is the closest thing to an antagonist the first half of Iron-Blooded Orphans Second Season can get. Even though Rustal is the one commanding things from behind the scenes, one could very much argue that the active component of Rustal in the first half of the season was Galan Mossa. He is the charismatic mercenary who easily earns his spot for his complex mind games he waged upon Tekkadan. He effectively created a “fake” war and convinced the Tekkadan group on the planet to be on his side against their own allies. Mossa never comes off as a horrible person though, often coming off as the charming rogue whose intellect is sorely unmatched when it came to fighting Tekkadan. He easily gives one of the best lines in the entire season, easily foreshadowing some events to come. One could say that for the small amount of time Mossa was given, he created the first shockwave that tore through Tekkadan’s unity and strength.
8. Kuzu-P from Girlish Number
No, no, no. I mean, I come from the music field. So, how do I put this? I can totally tell without hearing her.
Many will argue that Kuzu-P is merely a troll and not the antagonist of this series, yet I think that devalues his contribution to the trainwreck he was creating. Kuzu-P takes the active role of the anime being created inside Girlish Number, and many of his views are taken into account for it becoming what it was. There is a sense of neglect, a sense of cashing in on something possibly popular, a sense of disgusting sleaze that can corrode an industry all in this man. His inability to work in an effective manner and his lack of caring in the material is the reason why the show begins to bomb. As a Production manager, Kuzu-P is one of the worst representations of a boss I have seen in ages. Actively using the budget for his own private getaways and passing the blame onto someone else when he does something wrong. Kuzu-P earns his namesake and truly becomes an antagonist to the very production he is a part of.
7. Wakatoshi Ushijima from Haikyuu 3
When I heard about Karasuno’s first-year duo, and when he stole my ball at the school, I was anticipating…That he was like the other small yet talented players I have met. But I was wrong. I couldn’t feel the same talented techniques or intelligence in him. But…I see. Something about him annoys me. I haven’t doubted once that we would win. But right now, I am completely sure that I want to crush you.
– Wakatoshi Ushijima
Ushijima is more an obstacle than a full-fledged antagonist. Almost like a force of nature to the Karasuno volleyball team, Ushijima is the eagle that swoops from the sky to attack the murder of crows. He is a force that needs to be moved than a person, often executing inhuman feats of skill on the court. To Ushijima winning is a formality, he has never needed to work hard against his opponents before. When the realization of potentially losing kicks in Ushijima becomes a true monster on the court. Most antagonists are well done when they actively create an interesting contrast to the protagonist, yet Ushijima is just like Hinata in that they both have that natural ability. While there is something antagonistic to Ushijima’s personality in regards to Hinata, merely his presence in Hinata’s way can prove to be intimidating enough as a viewer. How does one fight against unbelievable talent?
6. Fango from 91 Days
You don’t seem to grasp the position you’re in, boy. (Places boot on bar counter) Lick it. Think of it as an appetizer. They’re made from fine Italian cows!
There hasn’t been an antagonist as energetically insane as Fango in 2016, nor one quite as entertaining. There are screws loose in that head of his, but the ones still needed to function and think logically are still there. He has this weird honour system of priding himself on being a man of action, a man who does what he wants when he wants. Need a guy to break into a local bar hunting for someone? He’s your man. Need a guy strangled to death? He’s your guy. Need a guy to cut up someone and turn them into food? He’s your chef! Fango has consistently been one of the driving points that make 91 Days an entertaining romp to sit through due to his unpredictability and brutality. While he may not have shown the greatest amount of depth, sometimes a fun antagonist to stir up chaos is all you need.
5. Junko Enoshima from Danganronpa 3
Hope is harmony. A just heart, moving toward the light. That is all. Despair is hope’s polar opposite. It is messy and confusing. Despair swallows up love, hatred, and everything else. Because not knowing where you will end up is despair. Despair is what even you cannot predict. Only despair’s unpredictability will save you from a boring future.
– Junko Enoshima
What else can be said about Junko Enoshima that already hasn’t been said? She is a psychopath who gets off on causing despair in any way she can, often opting for a more soul-crushing version than the garden variety. What was lacking from the entire Danganronpa trilogy up until this point was seeing how effective Junko is at causing despair, and luckily we are given that in spades in the Zetsubou-hen half of Danganronpa 3. What really makes Junko a chilling character is that she doesn’t have a reason to cause despair except for that she is bored with peace and prefers chaos. We watch her turn the world upside down as she breaks down the minds of many into almost a cult following her. Junko can be known by many titles: cult leader, mass murderer, sociopath, sadist, masochist, executioner, and manipulator. All of these titles accurately depict Junko’s effect on Danganronpa’s world and Zetsubou-hen gives many reasons as to why Junko Enoshima should be feared.
4. Hakumen no Mono from Ushio to Tora 2nd Season
Humans, look upon me. Look, and know fear. Your fear…Your fear of me is my strength.
– Hakumen no Mono
Have you ever wondered what a being of pure malice and malcontent looks like? Well look no further than the creature feared by both humans and monsters alike. A creature so powerful that it took all the other powerful beings of the world in order to just seal it away. Hakumen no Mono is a true being of terror from its breathy echoing voice to its pure elation from killing countless lives. Hakumen no Mono is merely the title given to this creature by others, the name meaning “the white-faced one”. Its very presence sends shockwaves through the world as it uses its minions born from its flesh to corrupt the world of humans and monsters into creating mass fear. It is hard to think of an icon of fear and malice as strongly conceived as Hakumen no Mono is, the very look of it sending chills down one’s spine as it takes pleasure in causing pain on both a physical and emotional level.
3. Nero Vanetti from 91 Days
You don’t need a reason to live. You just live.
– Nero Vanetti
I tried my best to keep it one antagonist per series, but I am willing to bend my own rules for this character (especially since there is a short supply of good antagonists in 2016). Nero Vanetti is the definition of the “good” antagonist. We all know the legacy of the Vanetti family and their misdeeds. We all know why Avilio wants to seek revenge on them. Yet Nero makes you question the very point behind the revenge. There is this kind and gentle side to Nero, hidden behind all his bravado and talk about upholding the Vanetti name. Nero’s family has done some horrible things to people, and Nero is not clean himself. Though in the back of your mind you can’t help but feel pity for this man who loses everything for Avilio’s revenge. Obsessed with family only to see it fall apart by a single man’s ambition. The moments of pure unbridled anger hurt to see on Nero’s face, especially since you know he no longer has anything left to lose. He shows that not every villain ponders about their life choices on a daily basis, showing a level of depth that I didn’t think this show could have.
2. Miyokichi from Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
The next time I see you will be in Hell.
Miyokichi is the unwilling antagonist of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. The girl closest to Kikuhiko’s heart, Miyokichi loved him with all her heart. There is this emptiness inside her when you first see her, a smile the hides the pain of being a prostitute. When she is abruptly tossed aside by Kikuhiko that is when I would say she becomes the architect of all their demises. She becomes obsessed with not being alone, dragging Sukeroku into a never-ending spiral of hatred towards rakugo. The tragedy of her character is in how she feels that she needs to depend upon others, seducing them and becoming something that they would desire. “If someone wants me, I can be anything they like.” Is a haunting line she says to Sukeroku, one that truly shows how broken an individual she becomes. Miyokichi in another life would have possibly have lived a happy life with Kikuhiko, but in the end she was merely the one who drag all three of them to hell.
1. Kira Yoshikage from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable
I still have about a minute before your friends arrive. So I’ll torture you to death now. If I don’t, I’ll never be able to get over the public disgrace you’ve inflicted me today.
– Kira Yoshikage
It should be obvious that to all who have watched Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, that Kira is one of the main reasons why it works so well. Kira is a careful serial killer, who is obsessed with the human hand. That is his trophy he takes from his female victims, nothing but a hand. That he uses to caress and dine with…talk about creepy and reprehensible. Kira is exactly the right type of antagonist this small town centered show needs, a villain more akin to real life. Someone hiding in plain sight, wanting nothing more than to be left alone to his own devices and fetish. A truly terrifying individual who will stop at nothing to live the life he wants, someone who is intelligent and underhanded enough to get his way.
Kira is terrifying because he considers his life average, the life of murder and mutilation is average to him. He is not a fighter, but merely a crafty survivor whose uses intellect to fight. Essentially he is the opposite of Dio, and in a lot of ways that makes him one the better characters in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure for the very complexity he exhibits. Dio is the grandiose villain who wants to take over the world, essentially having grand aspirations. Kira is someone who wants the personal victory of living his life how he wants, no matter how twisted it is. In a way, this small scale goal makes him a far more interesting character that doesn’t adhere to stereotype. It makes him a very compelling antagonist that I only wish we had gotten more time with, and one that I will certainly hold other antagonists up against in future Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure seasons to come.
Well that was a fun list to make, especially finding all those quotes and rewatching scenes in order to find them. While 2016 doesn’t have a lot of truly memorable antagonists, I certainly have a few that I will remember for probably the rest of my life. So what did you think of the antagonists of 2016? Who was your favourite? Feel free to leave a comment down below and have yourself a great day!