Thursday, August 29, 2013

My Top Thirty Anime Villans

Last year I made a list of my Top Thirty Video Game Villains. I have now decided to do a list of my Top Thirty Anime Villains: the villains from Japanese animation whom I consider the best of the best. Before it starts, I'll mention the villains who were in the running but couldn't make it on, and why. 

The Contenders: Prince Sincline from "Go-Lion", who, unlike his US counterpart Prince Lotor the royal dolt, was one of the earliest examples of a compelling villain in anime. He didn't make it on because he was ultimately overshadowed by all the competition in my favor. Naraku and Sesshomaru from "InuYasha": they were both excellent villains at first but then Naraku refused to die and just kept getting less and less impressive, while Sesshomaru became a bland anti-hero. Obviously, neither of them could make the cut. Orochimaru from "Naruto": what's funny is that he's actually a fairly average villain rather than a great one. Gaara was a better villain than he was! He really comes off as nothing more than Ninja Voldemort. He was only in the running because damn if he doesn't somehow have one of the coolest theme musics ever given to an anime villain. It's far more epic than he deserved! Sosuke Aizen from "Bleach": I'm sure you all know why he didn't make the list. When he first outed himself as the villain, he was hailed as one of the best manga/anime villains in years for it. But that praise was too soon, for he devolved into a bland, nonsensically written Villain Sue afterwards, and is now seen as one of the worst villains out there. Shameful of you, Tite Kubo. Shameful. Then there's Ladd Russo from "Baccanno!" While I really enjoy the character and he's one of the best things about that series, he just comes off as a dumb thug and supporting bad guy rather than a major villain. This list is for big villains only. And as for the rest, mentioned in the comments section below,  they all just fell a little bit short of the mark. Sorry. 
Now without further delay, here we go through the list! 

30: Gankutsuou (Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo) - This evil alien parasite is the living embodiment of hatred, spite, and the desire for vengeance. It's name translates to "master of the cave", signifying where Edmund Dantes discovered it, and it's been consuming his life and his being ever since. As the Count of Monte Cristo, Edmund does everything in the name of taking revenge on those who wronged him, and Gankutsuou feeds off of those vengeful feelings, in turn driving the Count to more insane and villainous behavior. It's a relationship where the evil entity thrives while the host suffers. Yet it's hard to shake off, because the wants of the host are too strong, and the alien is what fulfills them. It, combined with it's vampiric host, was a great villain. 

29: Dilandau (Vision Of Escaflowne) - In a show with antagonists who do things under some sort of cause, this crazy kid stands out as the one who just wants to set fire to the world and watch it burn. Dilandau is a high ranking member of evil Emperor Dornkirk's army and is rather protective of his lovely face, but still not above going out to take care of his problems by himself. Not even close. In fact, he treats his soldiers worse than dirt and seems to prefer doing things on his own, in his way. He's a gleeful, grinning, cackling, stark raving madman who kills, tortures, and destroys for sport. And yet he's not as pure evil as he appears: he has a vulnerability and humanity to him that makes him pitiful and even a tad relateable in some respects. What really puts him on the list is the twist of his true self: who could have ever seen that coming?

28: Kagato (Tenchi Muyo!) - This was a decent, enjoyable harem anime OVA...and then he comes along. Shit gets real. Kagato is the greatest space pirate in the galaxy. He is at once calculating, charismatic, cultured, ruthless, greedy, and bloodthirsty. This man is responsible for most of what occurs in the story, is at the heart of Ryoko, Ayeka, Wasshu, and Tenchi's biggest problems, and outclasses just about every character when he hits the scene. The OVA continues into a second part after he's gone, but you might as well stop watching there. 

27: Izaya Orihara (Durarara!) - A mediocre light novel and anime series gave us an excellent villain in Izaya, the ultimate troll. This dude is in the business of messing the lives and minds of other human beings, raising Hell and turning society in his home city upside down simply for the fun of it. Due to a seriously messed up psychology, Izaya delights in tormenting others and seeing everything crumble apart around him. And he doesn't even do this out of genuine malice: he "loves humans", and this is his way of showing it. He exploits human nature to it's fullest and lives his life at the expense of everyone else in it. His personality is smooth, devious, wickedly playful, and even likable. A perfect dub performance by Johnny Yong Bosch helps to sell this character. While he can't place higher because his greatest plans ultimately went absolutely nowhere, Izaya should still be recognized as one of the most unique villains to come from Japan. 

26: Lord Ilpalazzo (Excel Saga) - The purple haired bishonen chief of the secret idealogical organization, ACROSS. His name means "the palace" in Italian, and he dresses in the most absurd way in an over-the-top attempt to look imposing. He also wears glasses much like those of Kagato's. This guy is a firm believer in how "this world...is corrupt!" and that villainous means are necessary for returning global society to a state of rightness and peace. If you wonder why Ilpalazzo does not place any higher, it's because he's a parody of evil overlords in anime. He plays it straight at first, but then you realize that his group is understaffed, his target is merely one city in one country, his voice and dialogue are ridiculous, and has these odd quirks and hobbies in his off time like reading trashy magazines, learning to play guitar, or playing dating sim video games. His psyche is delved into near the end and he becomes a true villain, but he's just plain fun either way. 

25: Lucy (Elfen Lied) - A psychologically damaged protagonist who invokes both horror and sorrow, both fear and sympathy. As the "Queen Diclonius" of the secret Diclonius Project, she was deposited at an old orphanage to be raised in, but this only led to her first exposure to hatred, prejudice, and the worst of humanity. This left Lucy with no idea how to deal with others, others whom she often killed and took the homes of. When one human boy introduced her to the better parts of life only to unintentionally betray her, Lucy snapped. The sum of all her traumas combined with her monstrous DNA created a pure evil persona inside of her, one that compels her to kill all lower lifeforms in order to make a better life for herself. But try as she might, things only get worse and worse for the poor girl. In trying to take her beloved Kouta all for herself, she crossed a line that puts her beyond forgiveness or redemption. Or does it? The story plays with the nature of this character, creating a truly tragic monster. Lucy cannot place higher because the narrative of the anime seemed to like playing her as a "good guy", which she is NOT. Still, she's one scary BAMF.

24: Lelouch Vi Britannia (Code Geass) - The Byronic Hero 
of "Code Geass", Lelouch can best be described as a mashup of Light Yagami, V from "V For Vendetta", and Hamlet. A Britannian prince banished to Area 11 for not getting with his father's program, he starts out with the self-interested intentions of taking revenge on the empire that has wronged him and his family, and with the pure intentions of making the world a better, more peaceful place for his beloved sister Nunnally. But his only means of doing this start with accepting the dark contract of an evil eye that becomes a corrupting influence for his actions and behavior with every time he uses it to violate and control the wills of others. He is also massively arrogant, self-centered, self-serving, vengeful, manipulative, diabolical and eventually psychotic. With him we see the tragic self destruction of a person in the name of his goals and ideals, or what he thinks are his goals and ideals. But Lelouch is thus the only person who can bring about an age of peace, because he's given himself that purpose. It's all a matter of finding the right way. This is a complex, richly developed character with several moments of evil awesomeness. He's also got a flare for hammy theatrics, and is a fabulous Magnificent Bastard if there ever was one. This is another great villain performance by Johnny Yong Bosch in the US. He doesn't place higher because, like Lucy, the anime's narrative, mainly in R2, plays him as a designated "good guy" far too often. But he's cool enough to make it. 

23: Ryoko Asakura (Haruhi Suzumiya) - If you're looking for a great psychotic killer, this is one of the most original you'll ever find anywhere. Asakura first appears to be a kind, cheerful, well mannered, warm-hearted and lovely schoolgirl: the best in her class. But then we learn, out of freaking nowhere, that she's not what she appeared to be. She is actually an alien interface sent to shadow the Yuki Nagato unit on Earth and carry out the function that the data integrated thought entity deems her suitable for. She's cold, unemphatic, single-minded, ruthless, and crazed. And yet she's still not an evil person! She's genuinely pleasant and upbeat about the whole attempted murder thing, incapable of feeling any real human emotions outside of her programming and incapable of understanding real human emotions that her victims display in the moments of her attack. Her weapon of choice is a knife, which is appropriate in so many ways. Asakura is a girl who can knife you in the back and twist it. She can appear to be a sweet, thoughtful friend, and then turn into a cruel, calculating enemy when you least expect it. And since she is the shadow of Yuki, she will always be around so long as Yuki is alive. And the series is a much more interesting one for it. 

22: Giovanni (Pokemon) - The big boss of the Team Rocket gang, Giovanni is kind of the evil criminal mastermind that the likes of Dr. Claw should have been. First seen sitting in the shadows, stroking his Persian like a James Bond villain, and giving his henchmen orders in a booming, deeply altered voice, he immediately came off as a menacing villain to be reckoned with. And by the time he at last stepped out of the shadows, he did not disappoint. Giovanni's a ruthless but suave man of great wealth, status, power, and intelligence, and yet he's always wanting more. He wants nothing more than to create an army of the strongest and most valuable Pokemon in order to take over the world. Through world domination, he can control almost everything. He has a sadistic streak and fancies himself as a great ruler due to him always wanting to prove himself to his mother in childhood (it's all there in a Japanese radio drama, folks). What really separates him from some other villains like him is that he doesn't give a shit about what his minions do and how they deal with the good guys. He's always focused on his own plans, which is his number one priority. His Rocket underlings are only means to his ends. Because he prefers to keep focus on fulfilling his needs, he's rarely seen in the show but it was always great whenever he did show up, particularly in the Mewtwo story arc that concluded in the TV special where he showed just what a badass bad guy he truly is. He was brought back into main villain role for the "Best Wishes" series and was as fiendish there as ever, even facing Ash one-on-one and coming dangerously close to claiming Unova. But the impact he had on the original series is what I like to remember most of him.

21: Legato Bluesummers (Trigun) - The ultimate antithesis 
to Vash the Stampedes' ideals of honor, love, and justice. Legato is a stone cold killer who, once he dedicates himself to an agenda, will follow through with it no matter what the cost. And his agenda just happens to be making Vash's life Hell. This villain is a strange paradox in that he is self-serving, yet at the same time completely disinterested in humanity, himself included. He is both a sadist and a nihilist who resorts to the cruelest means possible to toy with other people's lives, and eventually rubbing them out completely. It reaches the point where he is literally willing to die at his enemy's hand just to scar said enemy for life. And he succeeds at it! With his sleek design, dark presence, ominous voice, and psychopathic nature, Legato's a villain whose depravity haunts you long after. 

20: Rezo The Red Priest (The Slayers) - The clanging sound of his staff and his spooky theme music signals the coming of this nefarious villain. Rezo first appears to be an ally of good, but his ulterior motives reveal him to be the exact opposite. He is in truth an ambitious, selfish, scheming, power-mad priest who has been delving into the dark arts of the evil Mazoku world and will go to any lengths necessary in order to find a cure for the blindness that has ailed him for so long. Rezo is a key pawn for the Dark Lord Shabranigdo, but he remains unaware of this until it's too late. His vile actions and thoughtless attitude make Rezo the definitive bad guy of the Slayers series. His design is superb, his role in the story well executed and thought out, and he leaves a lasting impact on the remainder of the narrative even after he's passed away.

19: Lord Darcia (Wolf's Rain) - A handsome, long haired Noble with the eye of a wolf. This guy is a great example of a tragic villain: you feel for him at first but then his humanity starts to deteriorate more and more until you're left with nothing but fear, disgust, and contempt for him and his actions. And yet you can still understand where his madness came from, and then you feel for him all over again. Darcia is just a beautifully designed character in all respects. He's got a magnificent voice in the original anime, and the dub replicates it perfectly with the casting of Steve Blum in the role. You feel a passion for what he does in his first appearances in the series, and this is contrasted with the emptiness you feel from him as he's killing everyone off at the end of the series. When he lost his beloved Harmona, he lost his mind and soul. He's the embodiment of what is wrong and evil in the world, as shown by how his corrupting presence lingers even after he's been destroyed. Darcia truly shows that everyone seeks Paradise to find peace, even the bad guys.

18: Rosemary Applefield (Tomorrow's Nadja) - There is 
no greater menace than a broken, envious, amoral 13 year old orphan girl in a space and series that allows her to be such. This is such a series and Rosemary is such a girl. She's so idealistic, sweet, and innocent when we first see her and it's only after watching closely that we begin to suspect she's masking pain and insecurity. Her greatest dream was to become a princess: she'd often roleplay this with her friend Nadja, who'd pretend to be her knight. So when Nadja turned out to be nobility, thus more of a princess than Rosemary, something inside Rosemary just snapped. We then see what this girl is capable of and has the potential to do as she transforms from this cute, innocent child into this absolute evil genius. Spiteful, underhanded, manipulative, cunning, devious and cruel, she will stop at nothing to claim the crown she thinks should be hers, and ruin Nadja's entire life and future in the process! And yet she keeps a certain elegance, class, and charm about her at all times and is so good at what she does, I enjoy and admire her more than I hate her. This is a very creepy character. She's the second best example next to Princess Azula you'll find of a young girl who is a dangerous and formidable magnificent bitch. Rosie's a truly awesome villainess: one of the best ever conceived

17: Zofis and Koko (Zatch Bell) - Take DBZ's Freeza, de-age him into a preteen, put him into a position where he'd have to claw his way to absolute power rather than already having it, and you get Zofis, the first and best major villain of Zatch Bell. He's a nasty little shit who seeks a relatively quick and easy way to eliminate all his competition and become the Mamodo King. To do this, he uses his special ability to control, manipulate, and break the minds and hearts of others, something he takes sadistic joy in doing. His master plan was to raise an army of 1000-year old demons whom he released from their fossilization, and to control them through the power of the Moon Stone, and through fear of being sent back to their cold, lonely prison. Zofis is very much a king wannabe, setting base at a castle built above ruins in South America, living like a king, styling himself like royalty, and speaking in a faux-regal tone. But deep down he's both a heartless monster and a slimy, dirty coward who fears those who have more strength than he does, particularly Brago. His human partner Koko deserved mention here too. Zofis controls her through a personality he created for her from the darkness in her heart. In this persona, Koko is as vile, cold-hearted and sadistic as Zofis, saying and doing horrible things and yet still maintaining a cute, affable, pleasant demeanor. Easily the coolest and creepiest evil human/mamodo team in the series

16: Katsuhiko Jinnai (El Hazard) - This guy would have to 
be the funniest villain on the list. There are many other comedic anime bad guys, but Jinnai just has 
a special something that all the rest lack. Despite being a high school student, Jinnai is a brilliant tactician and a business genius. Too bad he used those skills to run a corrupt administration as class president. While he seems like a jerk and a bully, scratch the surface and you find out he's also a HUGE egomaniac, a jealous grudge bearer, a power-hungry megalomaniac, and a delusional madman in general. In his own mind he's a legend, but with one great rival: Makoto Mizuhara, who's always bested him at everything without even trying. This enrages Jinnai to no end, so he does whatever he can to finally beat Makoto and prove the superiority he believes he has. His hatred for Makoto is so strong that it carries over when Jinnai is made general of the Bugrom race in the world of El Hazard. In this position, he leads the Bugrom forces in trying to take the capitol kingdom of Roshtaria and take over this entire world. While Jinnai could have easily been a bumbling villain who has little success in this role (and is often portrayed as such in spin-offs), in the original OVA he's actually a very competent menace who is both diabolical and surprisingly threatening. His trademark is of course his high-pitched maniacal laughter, which he does alot of. I'll just leave it at this now.

15: The Major (Hellsing) - The zombie-cyborg Neo Nazi leader from this gothic horror anime/manga series who leads the Millennium organization. He's a perfect combination of the Red Skull and Heath Ledger's Joker: a Nazi who does not have much attachment to Nazi ideals, instead just living for the chaos, carnage, destruction, and death that war brings. His only motivation for doing anything is to wage a grand war that will leave the entire world in a state of ruin. Or as he puts it "Our purpose is the total absence of purpose!" So going into this plot, this guy has pretty much already won. He has absolutely nothing to lose here, but everything to gain the longer the war goes on and people suffer. The Major is a seriously depraved, heartless, monstrous enemy who does nothing to conceal how despicable he is and yet still comes off as a charming and sophisticated man with a wicked sense of humor. He's always smiling, always enjoying every second of his life. You love to hate him, but enjoy his presence as well. I could say more, but honestly his famous "I love war" speech pretty much sums up his entire character: My friends, it has often been said that I like war. Friends, I like war. No, friends, I love war! I love holocausts. I love blitzkriegs. I love defensive lines. I love sieges, charges, I love mop-up operations, and retreats.Wars across prairies, in streets, in trenches, in grasslands, in frozen tundras, through deserts, on the sea, in the air, I love every act of war that can occur upon this earth. I love blasting the enemy to smithereens with artillery salvos that thunder across the lines of battle. My heart leaps with joy whenever a soldier is tossed into the air and cut to pieces by well placed sniper rounds. And there is nothing like a tank operator using a Tiger 88 to destroy enemy tanks. And the feeling that comes when a soldier runs screaming from his blazing tank only to be mowed down by heavy machine gun fire, is such an exquisite feeling. Like when ranks of infantry brandish their bayonets rushing into the enemy line. It moves me deep within my heart to watch a fresh recruit stabbing over and over into the bloated chest of a long-dead enemy. The sight of deserters being strung up from a street lamp is an irresistible pleasure. And there is nothing more arousing, than the sounds made by prisoners of war dropping like flies, screaming in agony as they're mowed down by ear piercing schmeissers! When a band of pitiful resistance fighters makes their final stand with nothing but small arms, only to have their city smashed to atoms block by block by 4.8 ton bombshells, I'm in ecstasy.I love it when my forces are ravaged by a Russian armored division. It's so sad to see towns and villages that were supposed to be defended at all costs being laid to waste, their women and children being raped and killed. I love to be squashed under the heel of the British and American war machines. The humiliation, as my men crawl around like vermin, ducking the yark bombers flying overhead. Gentlemen... All I ask for is war, a war so grand as to make Hell itself tremble. Gentlemen, I ask you as fellow brothers in arms, what is it you really want? Do you wish for further war as I do? Do you wish for a merciless, bloody war? A war whose fury is built with iron, and lightning, and fire? Do you ask for war to sweep in like a tempest, leaving not even ravens to scavenge, from this Earth!? Very well. Then war is what you shall have. We are a clenched fist, ready to strike down all who oppose us, with our might. But... After enduring over half a century wallowing in the darkness, for us, a simple "ordinary" war will no longer be sufficient. We need a MASSIVE war! A war beyond any other that man's history has ever known! We are but a single battalion... The remnants of a defeated army numbering less than a thousand strong. However, I believe that each of you old warriors is worth a thousand of their sickly soft children! We represent a force that could easily defeat an army of a million and one men! It is time for us to awake the ones who sent us screaming into oblivion, and who now lie sleeping. Let's drag them out of bed by the hair, and remind them of what we are! We will remind them of what it feels like to live in fear. We will remind them of the sound our jackboots make against their throats. We will remind them, that there are more things between Heaven and Hell than are dreamt of in their philosophy. Our Kampfgruppe of one thousand battle-hardened warriors will burn this world down to ash. Yes, my friends! Soon, Europe's charred remains will illuminate the night sky! I have brought you all back just as I promised I would. Back to our favorite battlefield. Back to our beloved war! At last, the sea lion has crossed the ocean and is heading up the hill! Attention soldiers of the Millennium battalion, this is a message from your commander: Friends, let's bring them Hell!

14: Kyubey (Puella Magi Madoka Magica) - Fitting for a villain in a series that is a deconstruction of the "magical girl" shoujo genre, Kyubey is a subversion of the typical cute pet mentor/team mascot character found in such series and is also a deconstruction of magical girl villains. Kyubey at first appears as a kind, benevolent creature with pure intentions who wants these random girls to become magical girls in order to combat evil forces. But his insistence that the girls "make a contract with him" gets one suspicious, and his smile becomes harder and harder to trust. He turns out to be a cosmic Devil of an entity who manipulates these girls into making deals with him so that he may give them magical girl powers and grant a wish of their choosing...in exchange for their souls. With a complete hold over their souls, Kyubey puts the girls through despair and psyche breaking situations so that they may turn into Witches, the very enemy they're made to fight, and keep the cycle going through different realities. And why does he do this? So that he can draw energy from the witches and use it to keep the special power of his species alive: the power that protects the universe. So his goal of consuming energy is the standard one for such villains, but he does it for good intentions, which makes his deplorable actions justified to him. Kyubey is a terrifying villain because not only does he have a valid point on many things and lacks a humane morality, but he is also very, very calculating. He never lies, he always keeps his word, he grants every wish a girl asks for exactly as they want it, he bears no ill will or malice towards anyone, and though he's not truthful about his intentions, he's never untruthful about them either. He makes it so that he is never directly at fault for anything that befalls the heroines. And yet he is. He's a fascinating villain indeed. 

13: Queen Beryl (Sailor Moon) - Speaking of magical girl villains, here is perhaps the most famous villainess in all of anime. Before Beryl was ruler of the Dark Kingdom, she was a beautiful maiden of Earth who developed feelings for Prince Endymion. When she learned of the princes' love affair and planned engagement to Princess Serenity of the Silver Moon Kingdom, she was overcome with jealousy and fury. In her rage, Beryl released the Chaos spawn Metalia, who bestowed upon her the power to destroy the Moon Kingdom and kill everyone, which she did once it was clear that Endymion would never love her back. Queen Serenity, using the last of her power, sealed Beryl and the army of Earthlings she'd brainwashed away into the darkest depths. From there Beryl created the Dark Kingdom and ruled it as queen. She now seeks a way to restore power to Metalia so that they may destroy and rule the entire world. Whatever decency she once has is now nonexistent since she is so far gone into corruption and wickedness. She is cruel, merciless, petty and tyrannical despot who wants nothing standing in her way of claiming what she wants, what she thinks she deserves. Her hatred of others knows no bounds, particularly her resentment towards Serenity, the girl whom Endymion loved instead of her. What makes Beryl stand above the other main villains in the series is that she is Sailor Moon's most personal enemy. She destroyed her previous life and is now actively trying to destroy it again to deprive her of happiness. In the anime, the end of Beryl (and Metalia) was a most satisfying defeat for these reasons. She was a memorably evil bitch. 

12: Makoto Shishio (Rurouni Kenshin) - While he may look like a Japanese mummy, Shishio is a warlord and a mastermind. He was the main antagonist of the series in the Kyoto arc. Much like with Zofis in Zatch Bell, the series was never better after his time as the villain was up. A man with a burned body, a broken mind, and a blackened heart, Shishio feels he's been wronged by the Meiji government, so he seeks to overthrow it for revenge and power. His desire is supreme conquest of Japan and the rest of Asia, for a rule dominated by Shishio's beliefs of Social Darwanism. Cruel and ruthless, he lives by the belief that weaker beings only exist to benefit the strong, so they deserve no compassion. He fiercely believes in his code, unwilling to ever under any circumstances compromise his beliefs. He also has no objections to using others as stepping stones to absolute power. Such a man should be despicable, and yet Shishio is a very appealing individual. He's so sincere in his beliefs and we see where he's coming from and why he thinks and acts the way he does. We're drawn into his lifestyle as he leads the Ten Swords in their operation tto sack Kyoto. Shishio is his own ideal: he's the good guy in his own mind. And he is an epic villain, the ultimate enemy for Himura Kenshin to face. His design, motives, and general demeanor are great, and the dub caps it off by having Steve Blum as his voice. One of the finest anime villains for sure.

11: Shinobu Sensui (Yu Yu Hakusho) - Since Yusuke Urameshi is a Spirit Detective, this guy is definitely his Moriarty. Formerly a Spirit Detective himself, Shinobu was a pure hearted, idealistic young man who saw the world in black and white: humans were the good race worth protecting, while demons were the evil race he had to defeat. But upon meeting the demon Itsuki, who became his friend and partner, he learned that not all demons were bad. And then one traumatic experience showed him that humans could not only be just as bad as demons, but even more monstrous! Having his worldview shattered caused Sensui to snap, and he killed all the human criminals he could. In the wake of this, Sensui developed multiple personality disorder, which contributed to his growing misanthropy and nihilism. Retreating into the depths of his own mind, Shinobu formed a plan to carve open a tunnel to Demon World so that he may enter, live 
a day in the life of a demon there, and then be killed by a strong demon as atonement for his sins. However, opening the tunnel would also mean the death of all mankind, which is what his other personalities most desired. Sensui is not only a total madman, but is also a very deep, tragic and psychologically complex figure. The stakes were raised when he was brought in, and the moral issues he raised stuck with the series to it's end, for better or for worse. Getting inside his head is tough but ultimately fascinating and insightful. Sensui embodies the darkest parts of the human psychosis, and is a cautionary study of humanity, both good and bad. With a tragic backstory, memorable design, and excellent dub performance by Robet McCollum, he is truly a Black Angel. 

10: Griffith (Berserk) - The leader of the Silver Hawks band of warriors can lay claim to being one of the most evil, frightening, revolting, malignant and disturbing villains ever created for manga and anime. He's kind of an uncomfortable subject to talk about, so I'll make this one pretty brief. Griffith was a young man who always had the ambition of creating and ruling over the greatest kingdom ever. To start on his way towards his dream, he became a warrior and a knight. His closest comrades were his best friend Guts and his lieutenant Caska. One day 
he forced himself into a forbidden affair with a princess. He got caught, imprisoned, and graphically tortured for it. His friends rescued him and it seemed liked he'd have to live the rest of his life as a crippled shell of a man living at his friends' place, never able to achieve his dream. Griffith would not have that. So when the God's Hand demons called out to him and chose him to be the instigator of freaking Armageddon, what does he do? Accepts their offer without a shred of hesitation or remorse, sells out everyone and everything that mattered to him or whom he mattered to, sacrificed the souls of all his men in order to be reborn as the winged, lipstick-wearing Femto, tortured Guts and raped Caska right in front of him, and initiated the end and rebirth of the world during the eclipse: a world where he would be revered as a hero and hold absolute power. And that's what he did all of this for: absolute power over everything that lives. Griffith is the most nightmarish portrayal of a sociopath. 
If this list were ranking villains by their evilness, then he'd be right there at the top! But as it is, I put him in the top 10, but only at number 10, since he disturbs me. Plus, the anime ended right when the manga was really getting going, so we never saw the remaining extent of his villainy animated, though we saw enough to know what matters. Plus, we hear his lovely singing voice in the bloopers! 

9: Yami Bakura (Yu-Gi-Oh!) - A masterful villain of the shonen genre. Bakura was known as the king of thieves in ancient Egypt. His family and entire village was massacred by the Pharaoh's priests in order to sacrifice their dead souls to make the Millennium items. Because of this, the mad thief sought revenge on Pharaoh Atem. But stealing the Millennium ring had dark consequences, as Bakura fell under the spell of Zorc the Dark One, who had a shard of his soul sealed inside the ring. Bakura lost his soul to the ring, which joined with Zorc's soul and became the pure evil entity known as Yami Bakura. Reawakened in the modern day by the thief's descendant Ryou Bakura, who'd gotten hold of the Millennium Ring, Yami Bakura seeks to destroy Atem and his friends, claim all seven of the Millennium items, and use their dark mystical power to resurrect Zorc completely so that he may destroy the world! Bakura could have been a very simple villain, but he's actually an interesting, layered character. He loves a good game more than anything else, always wanting to be the game master and set the board, pieces, and events in his favor. He doesn't lose often and does not like to lose, but playing the game in itself makes anything worth it for him. He's very precise and charismatic, but also incredibly bloodthirsty, hot blooded, and psychotic. Gleefully so, which makes him so much fun to watch. And he's very scheming and intelligent as well. Halfway into the series, he sets in motion a grand plan that takes chapters and episodes to be fully fulfilled. He makes all the right precautions and it ends up going exactly according to his ultimate game design. Bakura's incredible portrayal of villainy also owes alot to his voice actors in the anime, Rica Matsumoto in Japanese and Ted Lewis (who voices Giovanni) in the US dub. He sounds so perfectly crazed and malicious with these performances. He's also a great character in LittleKuriboh's Abridged Series, where he's given many hilarious moments of interaction with Marik Ishtar. 

8: Sir Crocodile (One Piece) - Another epic shonen villain. Bakura got a big plan going throughout five arcs? Crocodile ignited a civil war in just one. This is a completely evil, amoral character who's also a prime example of a Magnificent Bastard. Crocodile used to an adventurous and idealistic young man like our protagonist Luffy until his dreams got broken on the Grand Line, and he came to the conclusion that one has to destroy the dreams of others in order to get anywhere in life. Crocodile grew up to become one of the seven warlords of the seas, but also "Mr. 0", leader of the Baroque Works criminal society. He became a hero in the nation of Alabasta while secretly using it for his group's base of operations. From his position of power, he began a conspiracy within the capitol monarchy of Alabasta, which led to a rebellion amongst the people. With both sides of the nation at war, Crocodile was free to investigate the secrets of it's Pluton, which he'd use to nuke the place and the rest of the Grand Line until the World Government submitted to his power, making him supreme ruler. The royal family's daughter, Princess Vivi, eluded him and joined with the Straw Hat pirates in order to bring him down and restore peace to Alabasta. Crocodile is not just a brilliant and nefarious villain, but an intriguing one too. He gets a handful of development and depth that most of the other villains in the series lack. He's an irredeemable, hateful scumbag but there's just a certain charm in how sleazy and stylish he is. He is also a very powerful foe, being the first villain in the series to truly outmatch Luffy and defeat him in battle twice! The scope of his villainy is just epic, and you are really cheering once you see him taken out. Crocodile was a incredibly solid villain, and the series was never better than when he was the villain.

7: Dewey Novak (Eureka 7) - Number 7 is from "Eureka 7!" Lt. Colonel Dewey Novak, leader of the imperial federation's militia, has to be the closest thing an anime has ever had to Adolf Hitler. He has everything from the complicated, disturbing family history, to the positions of power he keeps clawing his way up to, to the ability to exude charisma and sincerity as he makes grand speeches to sway the minds and manipulate the hearts of the masses, to the vile prejudice against a race of beings who he has persecuted, and even the self justification that he is doing what needs to be done to make the world a pure and righteous place where humanity can be better off. Dewey is a bad ass villain. He's completely detestable, but compellingly so. He's power hungry, self-important, barbaric, pitiless, manipulative, and crazed. But they make him complex. He truly believes in his cause and in being the savior of humankind all so he can rationalize away his actions that stem from the subconscious sociopathic desire to kill everything on the planet. He really wants to eradicate everyone and everything that's better them him, in a way and for a cause that makes him look superior. That is pure evil and insane, but also so fascinating. That's a great villain! We are drawn to Dewey due to his facade of sophistication and compassion, only to see his revolting true nature shine through. We witness all the horrific atrocities he's had committed and the disturbing lengths he's willing to go to in order to achieve his selfish desires. He is a complex human being who has brushed aside what it truly means to be humane, like many despotic dictators, corrupt officials, and psychotic killers out there in the world. He's a true to life villain, and that makes him horrifying. Special props to Kim Strauss as his voice in the US dub: his voice and performance was just perfect for the part. This might not be one of my favorite anime series' out there, but it had a standout villain in Dewey. Now let's ignore that shit sequel series that claimed Dewey was right and move on! 

6: Myotismon (Digimon Adventure) - Ah, an old favorite. Myotismon was for this anime what Zofis and Shishio were for their's, and is one of the most devious, frightening, and memorable villain of any kids' cartoon show. A phantom Digimon spawned from Apocalymon, Myotismon resembles a vampire, right down to using blood and bat based attacks, which instantly earns him awesome points in my book. Well dressed, well groomed, and with an intimidating presence, he is characterized primarily by his thirst for power. Though he was made to rule the Server continent from his castle, he wanted to spread his evil farther. And he could never be satisfied with just taking over the Digital World, so he seeks to conquer the real world as well. He is supremely arrogant and believes that he is destined to have such power so that he could fuse the two worlds together as his own personal underworld kindgom. With his nightmarish Digi underlings, he opened the gate out of the Digital World and invaded the real world in search of the Chosen Child of Light. Sending his henchmen after the citizens of Odibah, including the kids' families and friends, he made things very, very personal. Though he has charisma and style, Myotismon was quite literally a monster. Not only was he dangerous and continuously ahead of the game, but he was despicable. There was no evil deed he wouldn't commit for the sake of power, and not only was he unrepentant, but sadistic as well: he enjoyed the screams and suffering of others. All of this was brought out incredibly well by his voice actor in the dub, Richard Epcar, who made him both imposing and interesting to watch. Myotismon was pure evil and played it to perfection. At least until he was taken out for good as the butt-ugly MaloMyotismon in the sequel series, but let's forget all about that!

5: Vicious (Cowboy Bebop) - The deadliest gangster in the syndicate. This is a dude with no other name given than simply "Vicious." That name and his very presence strikes fear into the hearts of even the bravest of people. An ex-soldier turned hired thug for the criminal underworld, Vicious used to be a friend and partner of Spike Speigel, and the lover of the woman Julia. But it's all too apparent that this man is and always was a cruel, cold-blooded, nihilistic sociopath. He kills others without regret because to him there's no true value in life, nothing in this world to believe in. He cares for no one, not even his comrades or supposed lovers. Everyone is 
a disposable tool to him. When Vicious learned that Spike was threatening his "claim" on Julia by falling in love with her, he blackmailed Julia with an ultimatum to either kill Spike or be killed herself. This is what led to the series' starting point, with Spike faking his death, splitting from Julia, and beginning life as a bounty hunter. But Vicious is without mercy: he lets nothing go. For his five episodes and limited screen time in the show, Vicious represented Spike's past pursuing him and haunting him, pushing him into settling the score. And he made the most of every moment he was on screen. This guy is an evil, fearsome, chilling villain. He's got a sinister design, a low, hushed, creepy monotone voice, a sword that can seemingly disarm any other weapon, and even that bird of his is freaky as all Hell. He's referred to as "the snake" by his superiors, and there really couldn't be a more fitting comparison, since he's much more serpent than human. He slinks and slithers in the dark, very quietly, is filled with venom, and strikes when you don't expect it. Knowing Vicious is around is cause for loss of sleep, and even after he's gone, he never leaves you. One of THE scariest anime villains. 

4: Gendo Ikari (Neon Genesis Evangelion) - Commander of NERV, the military organization dedicated to fighting the Angels and preventing Third Impact. At first glance, Gendo might seem like an unpleasant man and a big jerk to the people closest to him, even his own son. It takes some re-watching to really see that he's more than that: he's a flat out villain! Born from a bad family and abusive parents, Gendo was always something of a budding psychopath. But upon meeting Yui Ikari, who became his wife, Gendo found a cause and a person to truly live for. While at first using the woman and her ideals for his own selfish ends, Gendo grew to really love her and want to have a family with her. They had a son together, whom they named Shinji. But a few years later, tragedy struck when Yui's soul was lost to the Eva project. Gendo was so devastated by this that he became cold, bitter, and socially withdrawn. He seems almost detached from humanity now and engages in unscrupulous behavior, mistreating other people and using them as his tools
of war. And while that war appears to be with the Angels, to Ikari, it's with God Himself. Gendo is a psychologically broken man who yearns to be with his beloved again and curses God for taking her away from him. So he secretly works on a plan counteractive to SEELE's conspiracy, one in which he could use Rei to hijack the Human Instrumentality Project and give all of Adam's power to him, which he'd use to cause Third Impact rather than prevent it like he was originally working towards. He'd knowingly kill all life on Earth and meld their souls together to create a new reality, a brand new existence that he would be God of. This could give him both revenge on God and the power to reunite with the soul of his wife Yui. For these plans, he uses even his own son Shinji by making him Unit 01's pilot. Gendo is one of the worst fathers ever towards his son, abandoning him, neglecting him, emotionally abusing him, and making him as psychologically damaged as he is. The tragic irony
is that he does love his son but does all this out of fear of getting too close to him, in fear that one
might hurt the other. This makes him as big a coward as he's always calling Shinji, and his actions to distance himself only caused what he wished to prevent. Throughout the series you detest Gendo for his selfishness and cruelty, respect him for his boldness and intelligence, pity him for all his issues, and commend him for being a complex character and a very effective villain: one of anime's best.

3: Cell (Dragon Ball Z) - The "Dragon Ball" series had many entertaining and powerful villains such as Piccolo, Vegeta, and Freeza. But when this scary insectoid abomination came along, he topped them all. He was quite literally the perfect villain. An evil android organism created by the mad Dr Gero, Cell was made from the cells of the most powerful fighters on the planet Earth. The cells in his nucleus gives him everything that those warriors have but his design could not be completed until he had absorbed Androids 17 and 18, two other creations of Dr. Gero. Before he died, Gero left Cell with this knowledge, so Cell's only goal was to fulfill his design and be complete; to reach his perfect form. But since 17 and 18 had been slain in his universe, he had to travel to an alternate timeline in order to find them, which is the present timeline of "Dragonball Z". There he absorbed the androids and reached his perfect form shown above. He has a superb design, a magnificent voice (by Norio Wakamoto in Japan and perfectly replicated by Dameon Clarke in the US dub), and a kick-ass theme music (in the US dub only). He was not only strong and smart, but was a spirited competitor with a charismatic personality too. He wanted to show the entire world his perfect power, so he proposed a tournament in which he would fight and defeat all of Earth's greatest champions and afterwards, blow up the Earth. Being a sadist, Cell even had this announcement get broadcast on national television just so he could see the earthlings' terrified reactions. Cell thought of nothing but himself and how he could flaunt his perfection. When he realized the full extent of his design, he determined it was his destiny to lay waste to the entire universe and live forever. Overall, Cell was much more of a menace than Freeza ever was: when Freeza got outclassed, he stayed outclassed. When Cell got outclassed, he blew himself up only to come back with new power and seemingly unstoppable! He put the entire world in panic and it took everything the heroes had to finally vanquish him. He was definitely the series' ultimate villain and a favorite of mine to this day.

2: Light Yagami (Death Note) - Byfar the greatest villain to emerge from shonen manga/anime. Why is this? Because this guy is the series protagonist! He's
a highly intelligent young man with a strong sense of justice, but a childish view of what's right and wrong in the world. When one day he finds the Death Note notebook lying on the ground and reads the rules, he writes down a name out of curiosity and boredom. When it turns out that the person whose name he wrote did indeed die, he tries it out again on a low-life criminal. It works. Then he got a visit from Ryuk, the Shinigami who dropped the notebook down to Earth deliberately so he could relieve his boredom by watching a human dealing with it. It turns out Light is thankful for the gift, so he and the Shinigami enter an alliance as Light starts his new career. After a self righteous person like Light kills, he has to keep killing and find some ideal to justify it. With the power of the notebook in his hands and the guilt of killing in his conscience mixed with his desire to rid the world of crime and sin, Light becomes an arrogant sociopath with a God complex. His plan is to kill every criminal in existence and then lord over everyone else with the Death Note's power, thus becoming God of a new world. In his sick, warped mind, he's the righteous deliverer of absolute justice that the world needs. But when his killings of criminals makes him known as the serial killer "Kira", enforcers of the law from the police, the FBI, and the great detective L go after him. What does the pure and righteous Light do? Kills everyone who stands in his way, even if they're good guys! He shows himself to be cruel, spiteful, manipulative, devious, malicious, and supremely narcissistic: the last person you'd want to have power over life and death of other human beings. Light is not only an engaging study of a villain protagonist's psychosis, but also a case of how absolute power corrupts absolutely. Even Ryuk is impressed by just how evil he is and how far he's willing to take murder in the name of his cause. And yet even as he becomes more corrupted and more monstrous as the series progresses, Light maintains a charisma that we're drawn to. He raises some seriously good ethical and moral issues on the nature of injustice in modern society and how it should be rectified, but goes about it the wrong way and for the wrong reasons. By the end, he's more focused on becoming God than on the state of the "perfect" new world he seeks to create. It's really all a big ego-trip to him. But that there are people, in the story and out of it, who think his views were right and believe him to be a tragic hero worth rooting for and supporting shows how brilliant and charismatic this character is. It's all sold by complex writing and great voice acting by Mamoru Miyano in Japan and Brad Swaile in the US dub. An ingenious Magnificent Bastard if there ever was one, "Kira" is a villain who's left behind a legacy.

1: Johan Liebert (Monster) - And I saw a beast rising out of the sea having ten horns and seven heads. And on it's horns were ten diadems, and on it's heads were blasphemous names. And the dragon gave it his power and his throne and his great authority...they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast saying "Who is like the beast? Who can fight against it?" This passage from the book of Revelations accurately describes what is perhaps the greatest villain to come from Japan. Johan Liebert, the titular Monster of this story, is the living, breathing, walking embodiment of evil. He has embraced all the darkest aspects of human nature, and lives to inflict that on other people. To show the whole word that evil can never be conquered, and that it's useless to cling to any ideals of good. His personal target and enemy is Kenzo Tenma, the good doctor who saved his life when he was just a child. Tenma had thought he was doing the right thing when he saved the boy, not knowing that he was a psychopathic monster even then. So in saving this one life because the nature of his ideals told him he should, Tenma unwittingly doomed countless others. And Johan wants to hammer this point in to make Tenma see how flawed his ideology is. By Johan's logic, Tenma should have let him die back then and now must compromise his principles and kill him now, or else he will go on killing, torturing, raping, and destroying innocent lives. Johan and Tenma's conflict becomes the ultimate allegory for the two sides of morality, for the eternal struggle between the good and evil in the hearts of humans. By all means, Johan should be nothing more than a cipher. And yet there's a fascinating character here too! It's in his nature to be pure evil and devoid of humanity, and nobody, not even he himself, seems to know why this is. There's a good deal of childhood trauma in his backstory, but that only serves to explain how his monstrosity got brought out rather than created. Every time you think you've got him figured out, some new info reveals that he's more messed up than you'd thought and has been so for as long as he's been alive! While Johan seems to revel in his fiendish nature, it's only because he knows and understands nothing else, and this fact has not eluded him. One gets the sense that he yearns for love and the better things in life, but doesn't think it's truly possible to have such things due to his nihilistic views. In this sense, he's both the poster child for and deconstruction of a Complete Monster, showing what sort of pitiful psyche someone would have to have in order to be such a monster at all. What's also striking about Johan is...well, look at him. The guy dresses like an average Joe and has a gentle, beautiful face. Rarely ever does he "look" like a bad guy! Is this truly the epitome of evil? Yes, he is. Thus Johan is the scariest, evilest and most compelling anime villain of all time.

 - The Dark Gundam from "G Gundam" could have also been at the number 14 spot, but I went with Kyubey instead. Therefore, it gets honorable mention here too.

10 comments:

  1. Cell over Frieza? Lol in what way? In terms of villain and overall character quality Frieza was the best written villain in the series with Saiyan Saga Vegeta coming second.. And please explain how Cell was more of a menace than Frieza who caused mass genocide on a daily basis/killed most of the main cast in the Namek saga/broke Vegeta physically and mentally/sold planets and slaves on the black market?

    He also had the most human characteristics than most villains and caused most of the events of the series to happen hell Cell was programmed to be evil.. Frieza wasn't and didn't have deus ex machina regeneration

    Frieza>DB series villains

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    1. Not saying that Freeza wasn't well written as a villain and a character, but remember, he's also Mister "I've only BEGUN to show you my TRUE power!" and "In 5 minutes, this planet will explode and the fight will end!" There were some writing problems with him and his story. Perhaps I meant more of a threat rather than menace. Freeza menaced the whole galaxy on a larger scale, but Cell's threat level felt greater: like he had the potential to be as bad, or worse, than Freeza. He even says that's what he's going to do after he blows up Earth: going to different planets and toying with them all before annihilating them, just to show his perfection.

      Freeza is probably the series' Biggest Bad in story terms, but Cell was a more worthy Final Boss. The "dues ex machina regeneration" was exactly what put Cell above Freeza. The moment Freeza killed Krillin and Goku went Super Saiyan with rage, you KNEW Freeza was done. Even when he threw a blast into Namek's core and went 100%, he was thoroughly outclassed by the warrior he feared. When Gohan went Super Saiyan 2, they made it look like the same thing would happen, and yet Cell caused Goku's death with Gohan powerless to stop it and then came back EVEN STRONGER. He stayed a threat from start to finish, whereas you almost ceased to take Freeza seriously once Goku was Super Saiyan and kicking his ass. Also, Freeza did have his own dues ex machina moments. Namely surviving a large-ass spirit bomb made up of energy from the entire freaking solar system, and when his father just happened to come along with he was drifting in space on the verge of death.

      Cell>all DB series villains. Freeza is second best. And stop calling him "Frieza."

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    2. 1) Cell coming back was a total PIS/bad writing from Toriyama
      2) Frieza's breakdown showed he had more character than Cell who became boring and stale after he became perfect
      3) lol how is Frieza tanking the spirit bomb a deus ex machina moment? It isn't unlike cell who had his upper half and nucleus vaporized and still came back even more powerful
      3) "Cell> all DB villains" uh no
      4) "and stop calling him "Frieza"

      Stop trolling

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    3. 1) And how is Freeza's "five minutes" claim not bad writing too?
      2) And indeed, he was an interesting character. But I just kind of stopped taking him seriously as a villain the more he got his ass handed to him without landing much blows on Goku, and then the series stopped taking him seriously every other time they had him show up. And right, because deciding to hold a tournament rather than blow the Earth up right there and then is so boring.
      3) Goku said it was a spirit bomb made from the energy of every living being in the entire solar system around Namek. We're expected to believe a guy is THAT powerful that he can live through that? Granted it's saved by the fact that even Freeza thought he was dead for a second and is majorly pissed even though he survived. But still, not saying that Cell DIDN'T have asspull moments: only that he was not the first to have them.
      4) You said 3) twice, y'know. And in my opinion, yes, Cell>all DB series villains.
      5) No trolling. I just don't like that weird spelling of his name. And it's my blog, pal. If anything, you're the one trolling me.

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    4. It actually is spelled Frieza.

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    5. No, that's Funimation's official US spelling of the name, but an alternate spelling that was actually used by Viz in the manga is "Freeza." That's the spelling I prefer given that it gets the "Freezer" pun name across better.

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  2. interesting list. i see you've gathered the whole anime villains squad. WTG

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    1. Thanks. Though now I'd like to add a lot more to my runner ups/contenders for the list: Tetsuo from "Akira", Rumi from "Perfect Blue", Cob from "Tales From Earthsea", Creed Diskenth from "Black Cat", Millennium Earl from "D-Gray Man", Akito Sohma from "Fruits Basket", Envy from "Fullmetal Alchemist", Yuno Gasai from "Future Diary", Muruta Azrael from "Gundam SEED", Shion Sonozaki from "Higurashi", Ragyo Kiryuin from "Kill La Kill", Dr. Grace O'Connor from "Macross Frontier", Medusa from "Soul Eater", Chouji Suitengu from "Speed Grapher", and Dr. Muraki from "Yami No Matsuei." And if she counts, Junko Enoshima from the "Dangan Ronpa" anime adaptation.

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  3. I would also agree with Frieza over cell but I believe both are too high on the list (well technically low) I see them both being around the 7 spot. Also I would have Younger Toguro somewhere on this list even though it would be 2 Yu Yu villains on the list and honorable mention for him would please me also

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    1. Freeza is an absolutely terrific villain and I love his character, but the fact still stands that following his crowning act of evil (killing Krillin, thus driving Goku to so much rage that he went SS), he was repeatedly reduced to desperation, cowardice, whining, easiness to overcome, and just plain patheticness to the point he becomes something of a joke. Even in the "Resurrection F" story, which promised to set him back to being a powerful threat, he's STILL a pitiful sore loser beneath everything. I prefer Cell largely because he subverted that. After killing Android 16 and making Gohan go SS2, it looked like he was going to go the exact same direction (complete with blowing himself up similar to how Freeza tried to blow up Namek), but then he DIDN'T - he came back an even greater threat than he was before and for a moment it really seemed like he had WON. Aside from Piccolo in the 23rd Budokai, no other Dragon Ball villain gave me that feeling. Plus, Freeza was never so creative as to hold a tournament to both show the full extent of his power and scare the planet's population with it before blowing the planet up.

      Younger Toguro was a great villain, but I feel that Sensui just overshadowed him in every area, even the sympathetic send-off (while Toguro was never just pure evil like his brother, we were given next to no backstory on him until after he'd died, meaning that much of our reasons to feel sorry for him came out of left field, which was thankfully not the case with Sensui), and he was also THE primary antagonist of his arc, whereas Toguro was The Heavy working for Sakyo and in fact ended up derailing Sakyo's entire plan in the end, making his villain status a lot more blurry.

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