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Villain Protagonist / Anime & Manga

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  • The eponymous Lupin III and his gang are the longest-running, most successful, and still one of the most popular examples of the trope. Whether it's the television series, or the annual Made-for-TV movies, the plot always centers on Lupin's pursuit of his next big score, with Inspector Zenigata always hot on his trail to slap the cuffs on 'em.

    In the first anime series, Masaaki Osumi, the original director, made Lupin a cynical and morally ambiguous character that wouldn't hesitate to kill those who stand in his way, but tries to kill as less as possible to keep his family name reputation to the best. The first seven episodes reflect this as well, as the atmosphere is dark and mature with sometimes a melanchonic tone that hide a strong message.

    In the first series, he murders a group of rival gang members by flooding their base with water, then threw high tension cables in the water, causing them a slow,painful death. In the second episode, he smirks while his rival in love Pycal burns to death.
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  • Light Yagami in Death Note. He kills people using the eponymous notebook for his Knight Templar dreams of a better world, and believes himself to be a god. Light consistently sees himself as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, and is either ignorant or apathetic to the fact that he's crossing Moral Event Horizons left and right. During his Motive Rant at the end of the series, he still legitimately believes that he's doing the right thing. Light is a purer example of this trope than most, as he is explicitly the Big Bad of his series (something backed up by Word of God), rather than a Nominal Hero fighting a greater menace. The series ends with his defeat right as he's on the verge of world domination, although this hasn't stopped many fans thinking he was in the right.
  • As it turns out, Judge has this with Hiro and Hikari, too. He and Hikari created the Judge game as a sadistic Revenge by Proxy towards the jury and judge, who gave the drunk driver who ran over and killed Atsuya a milder sentence.
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  • Lucy from Elfen Lied is a cold-blooded killer. She has killed armed men and innocent children, for reasons ranging from "trying to kill me" to "You killed my dog" to "I envy your happy, normal life, and I need a place to crash." She kicks people quite sadistically when they are down. She hears voices and tries to infest humans with her diclonius genes, which will lead to the extinction of mankind. No effort is spared to let the viewer feel sympathy for her plight, not even after sacrificing herself in the end, where it was only to save the one guy she liked - without ever learning that being a sadistic mass-murderer is wrong.
  • The main character of Fire Punch, Agni, straddles the line between this and antihero for much of the story. There are multiple arguable points where he crosses over the line into straight up villain, but the most definite moment would be when he murders a repentant Doma and all the children Doma is taking care of in the frozen wasteland that is the setting. Even though he is hit with a massive Heel Realization moments afterward, his slipping sanity causes him to do other terrible things as well.
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  • Haruko Haruhara is very much the face and Big Bad of FLCL, acting as one of the premier Manic Pixie Dream Girls in all of media. Energetic, spontaneous and hammy as hell, but manipulative, selfish and ruthless, to the point where there's a distinct Lack of Empathy. Haruko cements it by trying to feed Naota into the Terminal Core and endangering the Earth's existence out of her desire to absorb Amtosk's infinite power. By the end, however, Haruko has mellowed out considerably, or at least acknowledged defeat this round. By FLCL Progressive the more heroic (initially trying to kill Hidomi not-withstanding) Jinyu's taken the protagonist role while Haruko becomes more of a proper Big Bad.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion elevates Akemi Homura into the position of a God of Evil, due to her belief that Utopia Justifies the Means partly due to her love for her friends. She's also the most proactive character in the movie and the one with the most focus. As Puella is well-known for its deconstruction of the Magical Girl genre, Homura's promotion to protagonist... unfortunately means that she actually succeeds in her goal and has to brainwash her friends to get it to work. Even she's not happy over it, even though she fully believes it was justified and necessary.
  • Transformers Armada: Starscream was this in Armada and to a lesser extent, Cybertron.
  • MD Geist is revealed to be a Villain Protagonist (or Sociopathic Hero) when it turns out he's such a Blood Knight that he's willing to start the Robot War he was sent to prevent, just to ensured he'll always have strong opponents to fight. The second OAV gives strong implications he's still following orders from the Earth Government, who have decided to wipe out the colonists on Jerra and start over.
  • Mireille Bouquet from Noir who never questions her job of killing people (although she's more Nominal Hero).
  • The very end of Katanagatari shows that Togame always intended to sacrifice people, swords, friends, even her own feelings in a mindless pursuit for revenge. Period, end of story. She still genuinely loves Shichika, and she has a very good reason for her behavior, but she never managed to let go of her desire for Revenge Before Reason, to the point where she often goes against her very nature in order to achieve it.
  • Future Diary is interesting as the true protagonist is reasonably moral (though not truly heroic), but all of his allies seem to have rather questionable morals. One is a terrorist who thinks nothing of blowing up a school while it's occupied, while his closest ally and potential girlfriend is dangerous. Over the course of the series, he does eventually become more immoral and becomes as nutty as his girlfriend. Many characters call him out on his villainous behaviour as he gets worse and worse.
  • Princess Punie Tanaka of Dai Mahou Touge is definitely not as good as her "princess of Magical Land" persona makes her appear to be. Her incantation says it all: "Lyrical Tokarev, kill them all!"
  • Yuuhi and Sami, the main duo of The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer. Sami has vowed to destroy the Earth herself after saving it from the eponymous hammer, and Yuuhi is extremely loyal to her for that end. The other Knights besides Yuuhi don't know about Sami's intention; Yuuhi and Sami plot to turn against them as soon as the world is saved. After much Character Development for both of them, they get better. Yuuhi eventually 'defeats' Sami, who didn't really want to destroy the Earth at that point, and the two go on to live Happily Ever After.
  • Aur from Maou no Hajimekata is a cold and nefarious man who made a point in his introduction that he absolutely loathes humanity and will do whatever it takes to make them bend over to his will through all kinds of evil plans. Throughout the series we see he wasn’t joking: he goes on to enact genocide, enslave human settlements, and rape women to submission until they start liking it.
  • The protagonist, Ryo Narushima, in Shamo. He murders his parents in the first 3 pages of the book, and throughout the series commits (or at least attempts to commit) multiple acts of murder and rape.
  • Mayo Sasaki in Fushigi Yuugi: Eikoden. While she's not truly evil, she is extremely selfish and unsympathetic, and her obsession with stealing Miaka's beloved husband Taka/Tamahome, coupled with her irresponsible behavior, causes a lot of trouble for the warriors of Suzaku.
  • Yoshitaka, the male lead of He Is My Master is a sociopathic pervert with little to no redeeming qualities.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED CE.73: Stargazer does this with the pilot of the Strike Noir, Sven Cal Vayan. He is the character with the most focus and the only one that (due to the length of the story) got any degree of backstory. He's also shown to be extremely cold, more than willing to gun down entire crowds of refugees on the off-chance that one is a terrorist, and shows no trace of remorse or grief when a wingman gets killed. He does eventually get better, but not before getting into a Chained Heat situation with the Hero Antagonist of the series and the pilot of the Stargazer.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo aka Edmond Dantes from Gankutsuou. Especially when the title monster is in control of him.
  • Alucard from Hellsing. The first anime leans towards Anti-Hero, but the manga and OVA series depict him as more of a self-declared monster: terrifying, vicious, and wholly in the business because he loves killing people.
    • This is especially prominent in the first four episodes, with Alucard's vicious slaughtering of both Millennium vampires AND an unfortunate Brazilian SWAT team that effectively got thrown at his mercy by corrupt police officials who were bribed by one of those vampires. However, to be fair, in the later episodes, Alucard's more sympathetic and redeeming qualities do come to light.
  • Wolfsmund begins as a series of tragic stories only connected by the presence of sadistic bailiff Wolfram and the eponymous border pass that he oversees. Virtually no one has gotten past Wolfsmund alive or unscathed thanks to him. However, it eventually becomes clear that the story is really about the formation of the Old Swiss Confederacy; Wolfram himself is merely an embodiment of why the Swiss hate Habsburg rule so much, and ends up being a Decoy Protagonist who is executed 3/4s of the way through the story.
  • Sheila of Superior wants to achieve a future where humans will never again slaughter demons. However, she believes that the war will never end so long as both humans and demons continue to exist. Naturally, her solution is a bit . . . final. (Exa's near-absolute pacifism provides the jolt she needs to stop killing, at least temporarily, but matters aren't helped by the fact that she's the one person Exa wants to kill, as vengeance for slaughtering his entire village.)
  • Tentai Senshi Sunred focuses mainly on day-to-day life of the title character's Arch-Enemy Vamp of Florsheim and all his Evil Minions. Vamp is a Harmless Villain (and his minions moreso) and obeys Contractual Genre Blindness, and the whole thing is one long string of Villains Out Shopping. It's very much Played for Laughs.
  • The Rise of Scourge focuses on bloodthirsty murderer Scourge, as he commits murder, murderously.
  • Ling Xiaoyu from Tekken: Blood Vengeance is probably the most heroic example of this trope ever, seeing that she was only in it because her target is a hottie. After her opponent goes out of her way to save her life following a showdown, she pulls a Heel–Face Turn and allies herself with her so they can get to the bottom of what their superiors are really up to.
  • Excel Saga is a humorous take on this that can be argued to be an outright parody. The eponymous Excel willingly serves Il Palazzo and his "ideological" organization ACROSS, whose express goal is to Take Over the World, but is in ACROSS because of Il Palazzo. Excel's services to ACROSS are marked by her Genki Girl status mixing with her cheerful and often loud proclamations that ACROSS will subjugate the ignorant masses under their will, alongside her incompetence usually preventing ACROSS from achieving anything substantial towards reaching their goal, all the while showcasing its incredibly quirky humor consisting of attempting to fit in Il Palazzo's plans amidst her and her partner Hyatt's part-time jobs due to living in Perpetual Poverty. The humor is, however, toned down quite a lot during the last episodes of the anime, and is in lower quantity in general in the manga (compared to the anime, which is even titled 'Quack Experimental Anime: Excel Saga'). In the anime, however, it's more the fact that Excel was kicked out of ACROSS without her knowing then shot by Il Palazzo, then lost her memory than her becoming truly evil. It doesn't stop Excel from totting a large blade down the middle of a street in plain sight in the night while cheerfully singing about murdering the author.
  • Natsuo of Teppu definitely qualifies. The realistic high school setting of the manga means that she's probably not going to be murdering anyone, but she has demonstrated herself to be ruthless, selfish, arrogant and frequently sadistic. For example, she initiates a fight with her future rival just because she's bored, and her rival's cheerfulness and self-confidence pisses her off. Natsuo has gotten a little less arrogant over the course of the series so far, but otherwise she's still just as much of a bitch as she was at the start.
  • Sasuke Uchiha of Naruto was this for a majority of the series after the first Time Skip. Despite abandoning and turning against his fellow protagonist Naruto, half the story would still dedicate entire arcs solely about him and his endeavors.
  • In Black Lagoon almost all the main characters are villainous, and some arcs (like the first arc, and the initial Roberta arc) sees them take the actual villain's role by doing stuff like kidnapping, or doing stuff like supporting Balalaika, who is the Big Bad of the Yakuza arc (with the Washimine clan and Yukio being the closest thing to 'the hero', up until the point where The Bad Guy Wins).
  • In Canaan the main character Canaan is a gun-for-hire that kills mercilessly, even when her innocent soul mate Maria lays witness to her line of work. Albeit, her cold personality is softened in Maria's presence, and her enemy Alphard is much worse.
  • Iason Mink of Ai no Kusabi while the Deuteragonist, is the initial villain of the story because of his kidnapping and brutal abuse of Riki but is ultimately an Anti-Villain with Tragic Villain traits.
  • Michio Yuki from MW. He is the main focus on the manga as he spends his time committing murder, not to mention collecting ransom money on his victims. He also crossdress women in his plot. His goal is to find MW and use it to end the world in vengeance for his own mortality.
  • My Bride is a Mermaid: It's quite easy to forget that Sun and the rest of her family are Yakuza, albeit Yakuza who aren't seen doing any villainy aside from trying to ruin Nagasumi's life.
  • Yes she's adorable, but Ika Musume from Squid Girl is trying to conquer the surface world. She's just really, really bad at it.
  • The main protagonists in the WWII comedy Axis Powers Hetalia are Germany, Italy, and Japan.
  • While Kurosu in Ana Satsujin may not be a perfect example of this, he does count solely because of who his girlfriend is: Miyaichi, a not only unrepentant, but proud serial killer, who definitely does count. He counts because he finds this out before he decides to start dating her, and while not agreeing with her activities, doesn't do much to stop her and sticks with her after she starts roping him into helping her with her kills.
  • Two of the protagonists in Terror in Resonance are terrorists who are planting bombs all over Tokyo. Granted they aren't trying to actually kill anyone .
  • Afro from Afro Samurai practically embodies this trope; while he is always motivated by some narrow view of "justice," nearly every interaction he has with other characters including his own conscience makes it exceedingly clear that he is flat-out in the wrong when it comes to his killing sprees, which only serve to further throw off the balance of an already Crapsack World.
  • Momonga/Ainz Ooal Gown from Overlord, upon entering the New World, finds himself with basically limitless power, no rivals or higher authorities and a large group of even eviler minions about as strong as he is that assume he wants to take over the world and take achieving it as their mission. While Ainz himself is mostly uninterested in world domination, he doesn't shy away from cold blooded murder, torture, slaughtering the innocent, blackmail, running crime organizations from behind the scenes and letting the truly reprehensible Demiurge do whatever he pleases. As time goes by, his morals slip more and more and his crimes are mostly kept at manageable levels by the fact that he's incompetent, bad at planning ahead and severely lacking in ambition. The anime downplays this as much as possible to make him look like an antihero, so when later story arcs came around that made it impossible to hide some viewers were shocked that the story had been following the bad guy the whole time.
  • Michiko & Hatchin is about a woman who breaks out of jail and kidnaps the daughter of her old lover so she can lead them to him. Michiko and Hana develop a strong familial bond over the story but she still took her from her (abusive) foster parents and is on the run.
  • Kasane's title character starts out as just a very desperate girl who wants to escape her crappy life by using the face of another woman to become an actress, but as her fame rises, and with Habuta's "help", she undergoes some serious Sanity Slippage. She completely breaks after her last Morality Chain, her little sister Nogiku, tries to betray her by exposing her secret.
  • Tanya Degurechaff from Saga Of Tanya The Evil. She's a black-hearted, vicious, utterly ruthless loli Child Soldier sorceress in an alt-universe World War I where warfare is supplemented by magic.
  • Attack on Titan uses this trope to full drama after the Time Skip. Anti-Villain Reiner Braun serves as the protagonist throughout much of the initial arc, before series protagonist Eren Yeager makes his brutal re-entrance into the narrative. Labeled the "Enemy of Peace" by the rest of humanity, Eren slaughters military officials and civilians alike in the nation of Marley and forces his old friends to rescue him. After returning to Paradis, he turns against the government and becomes the leader of a "Yeagerist" faction devoted to installing him as the supreme leader of humanity. The group assists in poisoning important members of the military, uses a bomb to assassinate Commander Zackley, and even take Eren's former comrades prisoner on his orders. The lack of insight into Eren's actual mindset or goals leaves considerable ambiguity, but his actions are definitely villainous.
  • Sgt. Frog: Keroro half the time, though he's not a very effective one.
  • Korosensei from Assassination Classroom is an Affably Evil artificial octopus who encourages the students of E-Class to kill him before he destroys the world, while he is teaching them some valuable lessons as their teacher. Then it's revealed later on that he didn't actually reduced the moon to the way it is, and that he wanted his students to kill him before the same structure that made him finishes the job in destroying the world.


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