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Nineties Anti Hero / Anime & Manga

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  • The titular Angel Cop is this to the extreme. It helps that it was made at the tail end of the 80's.
  • Guts from Berserk, who debuted with the publication of the manga in 1989, has almost all the characteristics of a nineties anti-hero. He has a gritty but simple name, is missing an arm and an eye, has ridiculous muscles but relies on his lethal equipment instead of superpowers, wears a black costume with lots of bags and bandoliers, is a badass with a Dark and Troubled Past and sarcasm to boot, and uses a ludicrous BFS as his main weapon. During the early Black Swordsman Arc he tells Puck that he doesn't care about anything except Revenge, considering any bystanders who get caught up in his vengeance as weaklings who didn't deserve to live, and he brutally tortures any villains he defeats. Miura has even said that he based Guts' Implacable Man vibe during the Black Swordsman Arc on 80s Hollywood action movie characters like RoboCop and The Terminator—the same ones who had such an influence on the form the trope would take in The '90s. In spite of all this Guts turns out to be something of an Unbuilt Trope example, or at least a more subtle one, as the state we first see him in is when he's at his very worst and using a Jerkass Façade to hide from his pain. He goes through several shades of Anti-Hero through his Character Development, but always has some redeeming qualities such as loyalty to his friends and sympathy for those who have suffered like he has.
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  • Claire Stanfield from Baccano! is considered to be one due to his twisted sense of justice and his love of toying with his enemies in a cruel and sadistic manner something in contrast to that of Shizuo Heiwajima.
  • Revy from Black Lagoon. Rough but cool name, nihilistic outlook, stripperiffic outfit, sizable... tracts of land and a gun in every hand. To top it all off, the story is set in the mid-nineties. However, she's a full-on Villain Protagonist rather than an antihero.
  • Black★Rock Shooter: The eponymous heroine has the idiosyncratic name spelling, skimpy clothing, Badass Longcoat, fights without uttering a word with her humongous, morphing cannon and black katana and fights to kill. Add the ability to shrug off lethal wounds without blinking and a blue flame around her left eye. She's only missing one thing: The Most Common Superpower.
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  • Killy from Blame! is this trope — minus the "hip" clothing and ridiculous muscle mass. The series was even created in the mid-'90s.
  • Bleach has Kenpachi Zaraki, the captain of Gotei 13's Squad 11. With his wild, unkempt hair, scars, love of battle, being pretty much indestructible, a horrific past of growing up in poverty and violence and abilities that basically come down to "slash it til it stops moving", Zaraki is basically the Bleach equivalent of Guts mentioned above. His bloodthirsty nature is often played for laughs in the anime and some times in the manga. Also similar to Guts, Zaraki is capable of empathy.
    • Ikkaku Madarame, Kenpachi's subordinate, would also qualify, sharing Kenpachi's Blood Knight tendencies and his bankai being a ridiculously large weapon.
    • Shuhei Hisagi of Squad 9 looks like he fits this trope but is a subversion. He has three scars on his face, a tattoo on his left cheek, wears an outfit that shows off his arms and his shikai is a Sinister Scythe. However, Hisagu is a kind and disciplined man who strives to live up to the standards of being a good and noble member of the Gotei 13. He's basically an Ideal Hero who has the aesthetics of a 90s anti-hero but not the personality.
  • Code Geass has Lelouch who wages a war against Britannia by sacrificing innocent and non innocent live for the sake of his blind and crippled sister. Another is Suzaku who later on becomes as his view upon the world from the beginning of the series gets worser.
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  • Death Note has couple ranging from the likes of Light Yagami, Misa Amane, Teru Mikami, L, Near, and Mello. All serve as Knight Templar to do whatever it takes to bring justice.
  • Digimon is full of non-human examples (though many look humanoid), especially the early generations created during the nineties, reaching from Badass Furries to Hollywood Cyborg dinosaurs.
  • Vegeta of Dragon Ball started off as just another psychotic villain, but evolves into this trope during the Frieza and Cell sagas. Even after becoming a full-on good guy in the fight against Buu, he still retains a shred of his former badassery, such as punching out his opponent for mouthing off to him at the World Martial Art Tournament. Dragon Ball as a whole is a very Iron Age-ish anime, except it still doesn't take itself very seriously in that spot.
    • Goku is also this, albeit to a much lesser degree than Vegeta. Goku isn't so much a good guy as he is a guy who does good things. This aspect of him was not adapted very well in the Dragon Ball Z anime, where every dub, including the original Japanese, basically projects heroic qualities onto him but Dragon Ball Super emphasizes Goku's purest motivation is to be stronger than he was before. Things like theft and murder do bother him, but if he is not around when it happens Goku can't be counted on to do anything about it. And then there are the primal instincts all saiyans such as Goku have that, among other things, push them to challenge strong opponents. To wit: he's ecstatic to be able to fight his doppelganger Black just because he seemed like a pretty strong guy, even though future Trunks has made it clear that Black is an Omnicidal Maniac just like Frieza, whom Goku despised for this exact reason. What's the difference? Goku saw Frieza kill Vegeta and Krillin. "Black is a bad guy" just didn't register with him until it was hammered in.
  • Kiritsugu Emiya from Fate/Zero qualifies this trope due to sacrificing minority over the majority and is shown bombing buildings that involve civilians and performs crueler methods to achieve whatever costs to gain the Holy Grail.
  • The general characterization of Kurei from Flame of Recca after the Tournament Arc. Despite separating himself and his loyal followers from the Uruha, and pursuing the same quarry as Recca and his allies, his vicious and ruthless nature remains unchanged, even until the end of the series.
  • Depending on continuity, the protagonists from Getter Robo may be portrayed as such. The early cartoons tried to remove this aspect, but it's back in newer adaptations.
  • Alucard from Hellsing - minus the ridiculous muscle mass. Not to mention, he was born in the nineties.
  • Following in the footsteps of Kouta Hirano's above mentioned Hellsing. His new series, Drifters gives us an entire team of these. They include one of the most feared Samurai of all time, a bloodthirsty maniac with a penchant for collecting the heads of fallen foes, and an archer who gives both of them a run for their money in terms of bloodlust and body count.
  • This is a common criticism of Jotaro Kujo, the protagonist of Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Stardust Crusaders, although he ends up being more of a subversion. He's a stoic, aloof, badass delinquent who delivers one-liners and punches his enemies senseless, who is as ripped as anyone at the time and wears a modified uniform with a giant, pointless chain hanging off of it. This is all in stark contrast to his gentleman of an ancestor and his Guile Hero grandfather. However, his Establishing Character Moment is him putting himself in jail to protect others from a power he doesn't understand while he researches it as a result of him also being a Badass Bookworm. He doesn't kill every villain he encounters, and explains that he is going to kill DIO specifically because of what an utter monster he is. Further, the edgier traits he does have are toned down in later parts of JoJo, coming off as more of a Big Brother Mentor in Diamond is Unbreakable and being given a Decon-Recon Switch as a flawed but well-meaning father in Stone Ocean.
  • Ogami Itto from Lone Wolf and Cub might be oldest example, being first published in 1970. If you think about it he has all the tropes of the typical dark age anti-hero. His katana is heavier and more ungainly than others since it was designed for cutting the heads of people who committed Seppuku, thus qualifying it as a BFS. He pushes around a baby cart bristling with weaponry, including but not limited to: a naginata, James Bond style wheel-blades, and (at least in the movies) a freaking makeshift cannon! Framed for a crime he didn't commit and sentenced to commit Seppuku, he is rebelling against authority by his mere existence. He's constantly brooding and frowning and he will kill anyone who gets in his way without a moments notice. In fact, since he makes a living as an Assassin he will kill anyone who DOESN'T get in his way also, if the money is right.
  • MD Geist, despite being from the 80's.
  • Fon Spaak from Mobile Suit Gundam 00 manga side story and Sven Cal Bayang from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED CE.73: Stargazer have a very strong Nineties Anti-Hero vibe to them. They are both savage and brutal Gundam pilots with a sadistic streak. They are a contrast to characters like Setsuna F Seiei and Kira Yamato.
  • Being a series about American-style superheroes, My Hero Academia has a couple of characters based on this archetype:
    • Endeavor is a man who became a hero solely for the prestige and attention. Otherwise, he has absolutely no regard for anyone else, is always moody and surly, uses a lot of force when in battle, and is emotionally consumed by rage. He is particularly furious that All Might, an idealistic Silver Age-style hero, always seems to one-up him in the public eye. He has since become a father, bringing his anti-hero morality into parenthood. His son, Shouto, absolutely hates him with every ounce of his being, and refuses to use the powers he inherited from him to spite him before it finally gets through to him that he's not going to get far as a Hero if he intentionally limits himself to half of his available moves and that his father is the best person to learn how to use them properly from.
    • Stain is a Hero Killer who, ironically, is doing so because he believes so strongly in what a hero should be that very few live up to his standards besides All Might. Stain also not only has a name that would fit in with other 90's Anti-Heroes, but a power activated by consuming someone else's blood (which complements his sadistic joy in seeing others in pain) and an arsenal of knives he keeps on his person via a lot of belts and bandoliers.
    • Subverted and parodied with Gang Orca. He is a hero with a thuggish, brutal appearance and uses large amounts of angry force when in battle, but he is actually a nice guy and a good sport. Parodied in that he's said to be 4th on the official list of "Top Heroes Who Look Like Villains," indicating that there are enough people like him for there to be a sub-category of heroes.
    • The Vigilante: My Hero Academia Illegals spin-off has Knuckle Duster, a non-powered vigilante who looks like Marv from Sin City and prowls the alleyways beating up criminals.
  • The Anarchy Sisters of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt are crude and snarky Fallen Angels who spend most of their time lazing around, indulging in their own vices, or acting as the sex symbols of Daten City. They have simple yet cool names, with their first names representing where their hyper-destructive weapons come from, and their surname pretty much summing up what they cause. They don't care about what lengths they go to in order to achieve their goals, and to top it off, their designs are heavily inspired by nineties cartoons.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Saito Hajime is basically what The Punisher (mentioned below under Comics) would be if he were a late Nineteenth century Japanese Sword wielding policeman. While he does not have the physical appearance of this archetype, his brutal nature and lack of regard for those that he believed to be scum certainly fit it.
  • Skull Man, prototype of the Lighter and Softer, but still rather edgy Kamen Rider, is another good example from the 1970's.
  • Texhnolyze: Ichise is a coolheaded prize fighter who becomes one of these, granted a more subdued example along the lines of the aforementioned Killy, through the course of the show's twenty-two episodes. He becomes increasingly violent and psychotic after acquiring his cybernetic limbs, the eponymous Texhnolyze, both as he becomes more corrupted by the power he has to take out his pent up rage and also in response the increasingly dire circumstances as he and others face in-universe Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, the inhabitants of Sternbild City are introduced to the concept of the Nineties Anti-Hero with Lunatic, a menacing vigilante who unhesitatingly kills criminals, racks up the property damage like nobody's business, and mocks the established superheroes for their idealistic 'weakness'. Given what end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism the show occupies, he serves as both a villain and a Knight of Cerebus during his introduction. Though later episodes in the series put him in a more sympathetic light.
  • Violence Jack: Jack is possibly one of the oldest examples having been created in 1973. The setting of the story is already a nightmarish, gory Post-apocalyptic wasteland, but the moment the titular character appears on the scene, it goes From Bad to Worse after that. Jack is a Villain Protagonist whose only motivation for engaging in the bloody battles he gets involved in is out of mere curiosity or boredom.
  • The main character of the Witchblade anime is more of a subversion than in the comic book. She may be an extremely scantily-clad woman who's fight scenes are the epitome of Orgasmic Combat, but out of costume she's a very amiable single mom.
  • Shun Kurosaki of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V is something of a minor deconstruction. While he's badass on his own, his inability to work well with others gets him in trouble once or twice, and he creates or escalates conflict in situations where he doesn't need to because of his attitude and attack-first mentality.
  • Ryo Marufuji and Edo Phoenix of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX counts as well as both show no mercy to their victims and perform crueler methods upon them at the same time.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho: Hiei, originally a one-off villain, is a demon with a jigon eye who doesn't just use any fire but Hellfire and couldn't care less what happened to humanity as long as it didn't involve him, and won't hesitate to cut anyone deep who was in the way of his goals. Though unlike most of the examples on this page, he prefers speed over bulky strength. He also has a soft spot for his younger sister Yukina, but that is more of a reminder of why one shouldn't get on his bad side.
    • One particular incident that demonstrates this is in the Chapter Black arc. When he learns about Shinobu Sensui's plan to bring about an apocalypse by way of opening a portal to Demonworld, Hiei seems entertains to the idea of the Human world turned into Demon's paradise. Though it is only a ruse to bait Yusuke Urameshi into fighting him and test his strength, but his belief that Humans Are the Real Monsters is one that he very much holds as true. They only reason he finally decides to help out Yusuke and friends prevent Sensui allowing any demon "tourists" to come as they please is based on two demons who expressed a desire to rape human women, and as Yukina was journeying throughout the Human world at the time and thus would potentially become a victim in a demon overran world, is one thing he would not tolerate.
  • Killer Killer has Takumi Hijirihara, a one-man murder machine that doesn't kill serial killers because it's right, but because they don't do it right enough. He has the grim but simple codename, the one-liners, the morally unscrupulous background, and the love of killing all down. Quite notably, he's the only Danganronpa protagonist to kill the culprits himself rather than a separate party like Monokuma do it for him.
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