In anime, a well-written, complex villain carries a crucial narrative role as a foil character, opposing the hero’s righteous quest through wretched, destructive means. The shonen genre perfected the art of creating antagonists that balance between being lovable and resentful. Shonen villains are memorable, ambitious, and often much more compelling than their respective heroes.
Yet, even the genre’s most well-established and popular magazine, Shonen Jump, features incredible villains with major narrative flaws. Some of the greatest characters in media can have shortcomings readers struggle to ignore. These negative things make some of Shonen Jump’s best antagonists just a bit less awesome.
10. The Serponians
The rising star of Shonen Jump+, the wacky action comedy Dandadan, introduces an antagonist suitable for the manga’s surreal narrative. The Serponians are an all-male alien race who come to Earth to steal reproductive organs from people to aid their biological evolution.
For all their uniqueness and threatening ambitions, the Serpo are presented as much more intelligent than their actions suggest. For such a technologically and mentally advanced race, they can’t comprehend how their actions hurt people and often make silly mistakes from the lack of foresight.
Chainsaw Man is a rare shonen series that offers audiences very well-written, compelling female characters, both on the side of good and evil. Makima, the enigmatic Public Safety leader, is an incredibly enticing antagonist, luring the audience into trusting her the same way she does with Denji.
Yet, many fans are willing to forgive her repulsive actions, including the humiliation and manipulation of Denji, just because of her striking looks and alluring personality. Fans’ neglect of Makima’s evil deeds pushes her powers of control even further.
8. Sosuke Aizen
It’s easy to see the appeal Bleach‘s legendary antagonist Aizen has to the fandom. After his initial bombshell of a reveal as the villain, Aizen has proven himself as the series’ smartest, most strategically advanced character. His confident, charming demeanor makes it even easier to bite into his allure.
However, the issue with Aizen lies in just how overpowered and exceedingly prepared he always is. Aizen’s potential seems limitless, and whenever the story needs a new villain, a powered-up version of him is bound to reveal itself.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
One of Shonen Jump’s most iconic villains, the charismatic vampire Dio Brando from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure began haunting the Joestar family back in Part 1, starting with his adopted brother Jonathan.
And while the conclusion of the part indicated that Dio would be leaving the story for good, he returned as DIO, the main antagonist in Part 3 to torment Jotaro. Up to Part 6, in which Dio directs Father Pucci’s actions from beyond the grave, Joestar’s arch nemesis never lets other villains shine, ending up the mastermind of every evil plan.
6. Himiko Toga
My Hero Academia
Despite being just a minor member of My Hero Academia‘s League of Villains, Himiko Toga captured the hearts of fans like no other antagonist in the show. Her unique shapeshifting powers combined with a wild, unpredictable personality make Toga a clear fan favorite.
Unfortunately, Toga also embodies one of anime’s oldest and most problematic character archetypes: an impulsive love-maniac yandere. She gets infatuated to the point of obsession easily and doesn’t mind killing everyone who dares stand in the way of her twisted love.
5. Light Yagami
Anime’s most notorious villain protagonist, Light Yagami from Death Note, is an unusual main character for Shonen Jump. His weapon was not his fists but his cunning mind and the titular supernatural tool he used to bring absolute justice to the world.
These traits made Light an iconic shonen villain and helped him to defeat his most formidable opponent, genius detective L, halfway through the series. From then on, things went downhill, as Light started making obvious mistakes and lost much of his charm as a conniving mastermind.
4. Ryomen Sukuna
In the rise of Shonen Jump’s “Dark Trio,” fans expect more depth, maturity, and nuance from their shonen media. Jujutsu Kaisen hits the mark with most of its complex and flawed secondary villains. However, the series’ main antagonist, King of Curses Sukuna, who resides in Itadori’s body, is an exception.
It’s not shocking that fans still adore Sukuna, intrigued by his mystique, strength, and cunning selfishness. Yet, he feels too much like a stereotypical shonen Big Bad, unoriginal in his evil plans and simplistic in personality.
3. Takasugi Shinsuke
For all of its goofy comedic lightheartedness, Gintama features some impeccable villains, including the show’s most prominent antagonist, the Kiheitai leader Takasugi Shinsuke. His complexity and nuanced backstory won countless over, and his popularity even became a running gag in the series.
However, as a comedy, Gintama rarely had the need for Shinsuke outside of the few serious arcs. The scarce appearances really took the bite out of Shinsuke’s most merciless actions, often reducing him to a background threat or a target for backhanded jokes.
Hunter X Hunter
Hunter x Hunter‘s Hisoka Morow is one of Shonen Jump’s most iconic villains, in part because of his uniqueness. Unlike most shonen antagonists, Hisoka lacks grandiose evil plans, simply searching for strong opponents for the thrill of defeating them. He sees Gon, the show’s young hero, as someone with the potential to rival him in the future.
Yet, that’s where Hisoka crosses some lines. For all of his merits, most fans find his all-encompassing obsession with Gon disturbing, especially in the context of Gon being a literal child.
Among all the countless villains in One Piece, Marshall D. Teach, more commonly known as Blackbeard, stands out as the most likely candidate to be Luffy’s final rival. He’s cunning, powerful, ruthless, and disturbingly secretive, all traits of an incredible antagonist.
Yet, it’s Blackbeard’s mysteriousness that raises the most questions in the audience. As the presumed final boss, Blackbeard seldom makes appearances in One Piece, and many fans are tired of waiting for his secrets, such as the truth behind his double Devil Fruit powers, to be revealed.