10 anime protagonists who are anti-heroes

Kaede, Light, and Alucard as seen in the anime (Image credits: Sportskeeda)
Kaede, Light, and Alucard as seen in the anime (Image credits: Sportskeeda)

Most anime put up protagonists who are kind, brave, honest, and bear good intentions despite being powerful. However, there are a few that have introduced protagonists who are far from being ethical and moral.

As the protagonist of the show, they receive most of the screen time, so the viewers can explore their life and learn what makes them an anti-hero. Sometimes, their philosophies are so deceptively convincing that fans don’t consider them bad characters, as one can’t accurately discern between ethical and despicable.

Eren Yeager and nine other anime protagonists have ventured into the dark side

1) Eren Yeager (Anime: Attack on Titan)

Throughout the series, Eren’s goals changed from one to another. After witnessing the death of his mother by a Titan, Eren resolved to eradicate the entire species from the face of the earth. However, as he started to see the real face of humanity and the atrocities committed by Marley, his entire goal shifted towards destroying the country.

Later, he wanted to annihilate the whole of humanity, except Paradis. Eren didn’t want to hurt the people inside the walls whom he deemed to be his family. He is portrayed as the antagonist of Attack on Titan, which is completely wrong, as he’s the protagonist from the start.

A character can’t play the role of protagonist and antagonist at once, which is why he’s the perfect anti-hero.

2) Light Yagami (Anime: Death Note)

Light was a perfect high school student with exceptional credibility until he picked up the Death Note. Light wanted a perfect world, so he started killing people who didn’t deserve to live in society. With the newfound powers, he started developing a god complex, pretending to be the physical manifestation of justice.

However, his actions were condemned as evil as he passed on his judgment on the basis of mere accusations. Also, whoever became an obstacle in his path, he killed them remorselessly. Light became a nefarious megalomaniac, without even a shred of conscience.

3) Angelo Lagusa (Anime: 91 Days)

Angelo had a good childhood and was living happily with his family. However, one fated day, his family gets brutally slaughtered in a dispute by a Mafiosi named Vincent Vanetti.

To save his life, Angelo went into hiding and even changed his identity as Avilio Bruno. Sometime later, he returned to his hometown to take revenge against the Vanetti family.

Although walking the path of retribution doesn’t make anyone evil, Angelo’s actions made him the villain of his own story. He regretted that he was not murdered along with his family, which made him a convoluted cynic.

He also turned into a cold-blooded murderer who liked to enjoy torturing his victims, especially anyone related to the massacre of the Lagusa family.

4) Tanya von Degurechaff (Anime: The Saga of Tanya the Evil)

In her previous life, Tanya was just an ordinary Japanese salaryman who got murdered, but after his death, he was reborn as a girl. Furthermore, he was thrown into an alternate universe or namely, in a nation called Empire. At the tender age of nine, Tanya managed to assert a position in the Empire’s Mages troops and was promoted to Second Lieutenant in no time.

Tanya carries a cold and callous attitude and sees others as mere objects, whom she can use to her advantage. As Tanya wasn’t hindered by her emotions, she doesn’t hesitate to use her own subordinates as toys.

Her cruelty and barbarity earned her the moniker “Devil of the Rhine.” Even the title of the anime affirms the nature of Tanya.

5) Keyaru - (Anime: Redo of a Healer)

Keyaru was a kind person living in the small town village named Alban. One fated day, Magical Hero Flare saw Keyaru and brought him to the Jioral kingdom. There, he discovered his magical Healing powers and became a part of the heroes. Soon Keyaru discovered the dark side of the Heroes, who tortured him in countless ways and even drugged him.

After breaking free from the tyranny of the Heroes, Keyaru returned to the kingdom as Keyaruga and took his revenge on each of them. Unlike others, he didn’t simply kill them but instead tortured them and even broke the boundaries of extremity. Keyaru wiped out Flare’s memories after torturing her and kept the reborn version of the latter as a slave.

6) Rachel “Ray” Gardener (Anime: Angel of Death)

Ray may seem like an extremely calm and collected girl, but in reality, she suffers from a lack of empathy and has difficulty expressing and understanding emotions. Every floor master is afraid of Ray and considers her ruthless and selfish.

Tagging along with Zack, who is regarded as a sadistic killer, Ray blitzes through each floor, killing each master mercilessly.

Both Ray and Zack are trying their best to escape the building, and they won’t hesitate from slaughtering those who come in their way. Although it would be Zack who seems like the villain in the series, as the story progresses, Ray’s true intentions and dark secrets will get unveiled, which ultimately will give the answer as to why she is an anti-hero.

7) Lelouch Lamperouge (Anime - Code:Geass)

Lelouch was the eleventh prince of the Holy Britannian Empire, but he was exiled from the throne by his own father. He wanted to take down the Empire to free Japan from its shackles, which eventually made him a gallant character.

Despite having noble intentions, he always got stuck by moral and ethical challenges which turned him into a villainous individual.

To accomplish his goals, Lelouch is willing to do anything, regardless of its effect, like using his own army as tools and executing genocides in Brittania and Japan alike. In the pursuit of creating an ideal world, he became an anti-hero in no time.

8) Hei (Anime: Darker Than Black)

Hei is one of the Contractors in the underground world, who completes the task given to him in exchange for powers. Unlike other Contractors, Hei retains his humanity, even though he exchanged it with powers like everyone else. Despite having little humanity left within him, Hei continued assassinating the targets given to him remorselessly.

Hei is also short-tempered as seen in the series, where he usually lashes out at Suou whenever the latter tries to bring forth Yin’s name. Being the renowned "Black Reaper," Hei has killed many people since becoming a Contractor and working for the Syndicate.

9) Alucard (Anime: Hellsing Ultimate)

Alucard is the greatest asset of the Hellsing organization, who can also be called the Ultimate Weapon of Sir Integra. Despite being a vampire, Alucard kills his own kind and even enjoys ripping them apart. He even won’t back off from slaying humans if that became a necessity. Alucard may seem like an ally to humanity, but he kills for his own pleasure.

Being a battle freak individual, the Millennium organization is scared and infuriated with Alucard and wants to end his life, which would be the greatest accomplishment for them if they could do so.

10) Kaede/Lucy (Anime: Elfen Lied)

Kaede’s Dissociative Identity Disorder gave her three different personalities, and out of the three, the most wicked one is Lucy. As a child, Kaede had to go through several traumatic incidents which made her depressed and distrustful, especially towards humans. She was bullied and ostracized for being a Diclonius and having horns.

Lucy has slaughtered many humans without regret and even killed those close to her like her childhood friend’s father and sister. Moreover, her Diclonii instincts consumed her, so she could keep slaughtering humans to her heart’s content.

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