The anime world is populated with a dazzling assortment of truly terrifying and brutal villains who cast a long shadow over their respective series. Big names such as Madara Uchiha, Sosuke Aizen, Dio Brando, and All For One can send shivers down the spine of any anime fan, but there are also villains with their wholesome side.
Surprisingly, “healthy villain” isn’t an oxymoron at all. Many anime antagonists are actually decent people who simply oppose the protagonist, often for sympathetic reasons, such as protecting a loved one or trying to overcome societal prejudice. Unsurprisingly, many of these wholesome villains are only temporary or circumstantial, and some might even become heroes down the road. Rarely, if ever, do wholesome anime villains pursue a career in crime or violence.
ten Reiner Braun fought for his family (Attack on Titan)
In the world of The attack of the Titans, heroes and villains are only loosely defined, but overall Reiner Braun the Armored Titan can be categorized as a villain. It’s true that Reiner has said and done some pretty nasty things, but deep down he’s not a monster. He only follows orders and reluctantly.
Reiner’s top priority is keeping his family safe and happy in the Marley Empire’s Eldian Internment Zone, and he also doesn’t like taking lives if he can help it. He also can’t bring himself to hate the citizens of Paradis Island like demons, and he might even help them at times. All he wants is to see true justice done, one way or another.
9 Funny puts his people first (The Seven Deadly Sins)
At first, the Ten Commandments were introduced as a gang of deadly and gruesome villains, but only some of them, like Galand and Melascula, are truly evil at heart. Monspeet and Derieri were partially redeemed, and the giant Funny was never mean at all. He simply sided with the strongest warriors he could find.
Drole was the first giant king, and eventually he left the Ten Commandments to return to his kind. He is sympathetic to Diane and wishes her luck, although he does not tolerate any cowardice in her. He may be polite, but he only respects warriors, whether he acts as a hero or a villain.
8 Konan protects his friends (Naruto)
The Akatsuki is home to some really brutal villains such as Hidan, Kakuzu, and Sasori, but a few members are actually pretty sane deep down. This includes the group’s only female member, Konan with blue hair. She was a childhood friend of Yahiko and Nagato, and she never forgot the time they spent together.
Konan may be stern and humorless, but she is by no means cruel or emotionless. She only protects her comrades, viewing the Akatsuki as a kind of found family. It’s pretty healthy, and later she agreed with Nagato that it was time to believe in hope instead of pain.
seven La Brava Just Wanted Love (My Hero Academia)
Unlike twisted villains like Overhaul or Tomura Shigraki, minor villain La Brava is pretty wholesome and she never had any really bad intentions. Growing up, she was terribly lonely, which hurt her heart, and she became a shut-in. Then she discovered Gentle Criminal online and vowed to meet him.
Now, La Brava is Gentle’s happy and loyal sidekick, and she couldn’t ask for more. She knows that Gentle breaks the laws, but the two have never done anything particularly bad, at least. La Brava does not want to demolish society; she just wants someone to accept her and love her.
6 Ty Lee is like a Genki girl (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
Acrobatic chi blocker Ty Lee is like a ray of sunshine in the darkest days of the Hundred Years War. She is indeed a villain as a loyal member of Princess Azula’s team, and she did not regret helping Azula capture the city of Ba Sing Se. Still, on a personal level, Ty Lee isn’t so bad after all.
Ty Lee is a genki girl, a happy and fun person who loves making friends and relishing everyday life. She’s a kind and helpful person who sees the best in everyone, and she even helped Azula practice talking to boys. She is also rather sensitive and never takes it out on anyone.
5 L’Arc Berg is just doing his duty (The Rising Of The Shield Hero)
The scythe-wielding warrior L’Arc Berg has been cast as an antagonist, and even now he’s Naofumi’s unofficial ally at best, with the two calling for a temporary truce. At this rate, The Arc might actually become a hero, though his and Naofumi’s duties conflict with each other.
The Arc fought fiercely against Naofumi’s team off the Cal Mira Archipelago, but ever since Kyo Ethnina showed up, The Arc has embraced his wholesome side more than ever, and it’s a good look. . The Arc is naturally supportive, optimistic and cheerful, and he also loves meeting new people.
4 Coyote Starrk Craved Friends (Bleach)
Unlike bloodthirsty Arrancars like Grimmjow and Yammy, the highest ranked Espada, Coyote Starrk, is downright cuddly. Despite his immense power, he was surprisingly lazy and had no intention of fighting anyone. Even under orders to fight, he simply hoped to simulate combat with his Soul Reaper opponents.
Coyote Starrk joined the Espadas for one reason: to make friends. He had been terribly alone in the vast desert of Hueco Mundo, and he considered the other Espadas dear friends, even if they didn’t feel that for him. He didn’t have a bad bone in his body, so his opponents almost seemed to regret defeating him in the end.
3 Eishi Tsukasa was only loyal to the kitchen itself (Food Wars!)
Eishi Tsukasa is remarkably similar to Coyote Starrk as wholesome villains. They’re both easy-going yet talented fighters who rank first in their respective villain teams and hold no malice towards anyone, not even their bosses’ enemies. Eishi even became a friendly rival to Soma later on and lost his villainous status.
Eishi joined Azami Nakiri’s group named Central, and he opposed Soma and the other rebel protagonists. Eishi fought hard for Azami’s sake, but in the end, he’s a noble knight of a chef who is most loyal to his ingredients, not scheming chefs like Azami.
2 Yukinori Shinohara is a better dad (Tokyo Ghoul)
In the brutal seinen series tokyo ghoul, the villains aren’t so much “villains” as antagonists of the likeable ghoul protagonists. Among these villains is the incredibly wholesome Yukinori Shinohara who, unlike Kureo Mado and Juzo, is not at all cruel in his work. He only fights to protect the innocent.
Yukinori is almost like an adoptive father figure to the feral orphan Juzo, and he takes that duty seriously as well. He is a great role model as a caring professional and is quick to apologize if anyone is hurt on his behalf. Even Kotaro Amon and Kisho Arima aren’t half as heroic as Yukinori.
1 Desumi is a wicked lover (love after world domination)
Desumi belongs to the cartoonish evil organization called Gekko, and she is widely feared and respected as a Grim Reaper Princess. Despite her villainous antics, Desumi is actually a kind-hearted girl who has found true love with her former nemesis, hero Fudo Aikawa.
Desumi can get angry at times, but overall she’s a cheerful, generous, and optimistic person who could easily have been a superhero if she hadn’t been born into a family dedicated to Gekko. She is the perfect girlfriend for Fudo and a good friend to all of his classmates and all of his Gekko colleagues, often putting their needs before her own.
NEXT: Top 10 Cutest Anime Villains, Ranked