In storytelling, a hero’s goal is the driving force behind their actions, motivating them to move along the story. Identifying the antagonist’s goals is equally crucial to an immersive narrative. A villain with a well-developed and understandable goal is much easier to relate to.
Still, not every anime clearly outlines the antagonist’s agenda. Sometimes villains are left without defined goals due to poor writing. Other times, the creators intentionally let the antagonist be evil for the sake of being evil. Anyway, some anime villains simply don’t have a goal, but this doesn’t stop them from committing to their evil ways.
10/10 Ladd Russo loves to see fear in the eyes of his victims
The outrageously violent hitman Ladd Russo from Bacchano! commits countless heinous acts. Still, remorse is a foreign concept to him. His killing spree aboard the Flying Pussyfoot showed Ladd as a sadist devoid of empathy. He marvels at the victims’ pain and fear.
While some might assume that such a monstrous villain must have a greater goal in mind, Ladd openly admits that he simply enjoys killing people. Death and danger get his blood flowing, and nothing excites Ladd more than an opportunity to wreak havoc.
9/10 Dio Brando’s goals are impossible to define
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure most iconic villain, Dio Brando, is rightly considered the series’ most beloved antagonist. Charismatic and formidably powerful, Dio started the Joestar bloodline’s generational struggle against evil, setting the entire plot to JJBA in motion.
Still, understanding Dio’s motivation for his evil plans is no easy task. He never strives to achieve anything special. Dio simply wants to gain as much control and power as possible or taunt his opponents to prove his superiority. Even without clear goals, fans still love Dio.
8/10 Major just wants to watch the world burn
The ultra-violent seinen cult classic, Hellsing, marveling at the genre’s reckless clichés. So a war-obsessed maniac with no clear goal in mind fits the series’ tone perfectly. As the supreme commander of Millennium and the former SS lieutenant, Major openly admits to being in love with war.
Winning or losing doesn’t make much difference to him as long as he can cause universal destruction. While not serving a noble cause, Major sticks to the show’s roots and executes his role as a villain with charming flare.
7/10 Hänsel and Gretel are sadistic to the core
Hänsel and Gretel are the twin killers from Black Lagoon. Their sadistic tendencies can be traced back to their violent childhood with the Romanian mob. The traumatic experiences of serving as mafia pets fractured their psyches, causing them to develop dissociative identity disorder and become ruthless killers.
While Hänsel and Gretel have a reason to be internally damaged and violent, their evil deeds serve no purpose. Years of abuse simply crushed their personalities to the point where killing became a joyful activity for the twins.
6/10 Milverton’s lack of a clear goal makes him an underwhelming villain
Moriarty The Patriot
Reworking classic literature into anime is a common practice, and The Patriot Moriarty is one of this trend’s better examples. Still, the show’s main antagonist, Charles Augustus Milverton, disappointed the sizable fan base.
Unlike his well-rounded and convincing partners in crime, Milverton simply likes to cause mayhem for the sake of it. It’s hard to take this pretentious but non-threatening villain seriously because of his lack of motivation. But even Sherlock Holmes never directly goes after Milverton, deeming his cases too difficult to solve even for the greatest detective.
5/10 Ryuunosuke is a serial killer obsessed with death
The Fate franchise always gives its characters well-defined, justifiable goals. However, Master of Caster in Fate/Zero, Ryuunosuke Uryuu, has a much simpler mindset than his competitors. He is purely fascinated by death, and sees it as forbidden knowledge that all humans ultimately desire.
Unlike other participants in the Holy Grail War, Ryuunosuke has no interest in obtaining the powerful item. He’s ecstatic as long as he can kill innocent women and children, and Caster’s ability to extend people’s lives only adds more fun to his sadistic game.
4/10 Lovecraft wants nothing to do with the Guild’s plans
Bungou stray dogs
Bungou stray dogs is filled to the brim with complex, morally ambiguous characters. One of the strangest antagonists, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, is unmotivated to do the evil acts he is forced to engage in. Trapped by an unknown contract with the Guild’s leader Fitzgerald, Lovecraft reluctantly uses his mystical eldritch powers to help the malicious organization.
Yet he derives no personal benefit or pleasure from fighting and is not upset when he eventually loses. Lovecraft wants to be left alone, and wants to sleep for eternity more than anything else.
3/10 Eliza abuses her adoptive sister’s candy for fun
Old school shoujo Candy Candy draws inspiration from classic adventure archetypes, which aren’t exactly known for well-developed antagonists. Candy is a kind-hearted orphan girl who is adopted into the wealthy Leagan family. However, her life doesn’t get much brighter in her new home.
Her adoptive sister Eliza immediately targets Candy for aggressive bullying and torment. The stuck-up Leagan heir has no reason to be mean to the poor girl. She despises Candy for being an orphan and takes pleasure in belittling people she considers inferior.
2/10 The hand of God serves the all-encompassing idea of evil
The existential nature of Berserk mainly revolves around the ideas of abstract good and evil, insofar as the collective human subconscious manifests itself in an entity known as the Idea of Evil. The sovereign demon acting on behalf of the Idea of Evil is the Hand of God.
They are a powerful group of former Crimson Beherit owners who once rejected their humanity for the promise of the world. Responsible for countless catastrophic events, the God Hand is not guided by a clear goal or ambition, and represents the all-encompassing concept of pure evil.
1/10 Johan Liebert’s speechlessness makes him truly frightening
A villain audiences can understand and relate to is ultimately far less terrifying than a being who lacks moral conviction, driven by an almost instinctive urge to violence. The absolute lack of humanity turns Johan Liebert off Pattern a fearsome and menacing antagonist.
Unlike most villains, he does not resort to evil for the greater good. Johan could not care less about his victims, and saw life as something insignificant and not worthy of protection. Johan’s lack of purpose makes him an incredible antagonist.
NEXT: 10 Anime Characters Who Represent Death