TV Lists

Top 9 Best Anime Villains, RANKED

Who doesn't LOVE a good villain?

Shueisha

An anime series is only as good as its villains.

Great villains can make or break any story, and anime just so happens to have some of the best. From over-the-top galactic conquerors to sociopathic high schoolers and psychotic fathers, anime villains are a diverse bunch.

So as an anime fan with a useless screenwriting degree, I'm ranking the best anime villains based on how complex they feel as characters and how well they function within the larger narrative.

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TV Features

Why Yu Yu Hakusho Still Holds Up Better Than Any Other Old School Anime

Even to this day, "Dark Tournament" remains the defining shonen "Tournament Arc."

Shueisha

Oftentimes, it's impossible to separate the quality of the anime we grew up watching from the sense of nostalgia those series evoke.

Case in point: Dragon Ball Z. Historically, DBZ is likely the most influential anime series of all time, both redefining the shonen genre for every series that came after it and introducing an entire generation of Western kids to Japanese animation through the legendary Funimation dub on Cartoon Network's Toonami block. Chances are high that if you meet someone who loves anime and grew up in the late '90s or early 2000s, they'll have a deeply personal bond with DBZ.

At the same time, it's hard to argue that DBZ holds up in the modern day, especially for new viewers coming in with fresh eyes. The pacing of the original series is super slow, the fights drag out forever, and while DBZ created so many of shonen's most prevalent tropes ("This isn't even my final form!"), almost everything DBZ ever did has since been done better by other series.

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CULTURE

Why the Global Release of the New "Captain Tsubasa" Game Is a Big Deal

The days of Tecmo Cup Soccer Game are long gone. Robin Field is dead. Long live Captain Tsubasa.

While anime and manga have certainly become more mainstream over the past few years, most people in the West mainly stick to seasonal releases and the big name series like Dragon Ball and Naruto.

Younger anime fans might venture out to more obscure '90s series like Yu Yu Hakusho, but by and large, '80s anime gets the shaft. This is a real shame, considering plenty of '80s anime series have great stories, compelling characters, distinct music, and a unique aesthetic specific to the era. Of course, some '80s series still possess a certain degree of global clout. Saint Seiya remains incredibly popular in Europe and South America, with a big enough following that most of its video games still get released globally.

Captain Tsubasa Rise of New Champions Bandai Namco

Captain Tsubasa, on the other hand, has never received the same degree of recognition. The series follows Tsubasa Oozora, a young boy who loves association football (soccer) and dreams of one day winning the FIFA World Cup for Japan, from the time he's 11 through his pro career. Despite its status as one of the most influential sports series, largely credited for the popularity of association football (soccer) in Japan, Captain Tsubasa never made a big enough impact in the West. Even with dedicated fan bases in Europe and South America, the series remains largely unknown within the larger anime community.

Then this dropped:

www.youtube.com

In 2020, it may not be particularly surprising to see anime games like Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot getting major hype, but there's still something special about an '80s series video game like Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions getting a proper worldwide release for the first time.

Strangely enough, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions isn't technically the first Captain Tsubasa game to get a worldwide release. The first Captain Tsubasa game, which was released for Japanese audiences on the NES in 1988, was also released in the United States and Europe in 1992. Unfortunately, the game was westernized to an unseemly degree, with the title changed to Tecmo Cup Soccer Game and the main character, Tsubasa, replaced with a blonde man named Robin Field. Of course, all the other anime characters were replaced, too.

Tsubasa and Robin Field

A worldwide release of a proper Captain Tsubasa game is definitely long-overdue, but it's also wonderful that we've reached a point where such a thing is possible. Gatekeeping might be a natural instinct for anime fans who grew up in the '80s and early '90s, passing around VHS tapes of series nobody else knew existed, but the mainstream-ization of anime is a gift to everyone. The anime community is finally large enough and diverse enough that companies are willing to take a chance on globally releasing a Captain Tsubasa game because, at long last, a large enough audience finally exists. One can only hope that other classic '80s series will follow suit.