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Old 2010-04-04, 14:42   Link #1
The GAP Man
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what makes a good villain?

They are villains and antagonists in most stories but what makes for a good villain that you love to hate and even pity? I wonder what characters like say Frieza, Dio Brando, Legato Bluesummers and Raoh so good that they make you want to hate them yet at the same time, they are so magnificent and charimatic you cannot help but be impressed. What amkles a good villain in anime and manga?
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Old 2010-04-04, 14:49   Link #2
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Charisma is the most important, also plausible backstory and absolutely NO INSANE LAUGH.
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Old 2010-04-04, 15:22   Link #3
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I guess it varies for people. For me it would have to be someone doing it because they're bored. They have nothing to do so they go on a killing spree just for the fun of it.
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Old 2010-04-04, 15:28   Link #4
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A good motivation for what they're doing is one way for them to look like a good villain. While it's hard to come by a reason that's unique anymore (e.x. loss of an important person/thing or just absolute hatred for the world and what it has done to them are quite cliched) it's mostly how the character is presented to the viewer nowadays.

While complete and utter insanity and loss of reasoning is okay, it'll feel incredibly repetitive and tired after being done too much, so I believe a villain should only reach this level of mental degradation at the climax of the plot.

Also it depends on what kind of an anime/manga it is too, if I have one set in a more realistic world, then a villain with charisma, cunning, cleverness and high intelligence is a thumbs up. When it comes to a more fantasy or sci-fi world, the villain doesn't always have to be intelligent or clever and can be reduced to having just absoulute raw and immesurable power as well as the belief that noone can defeat him or her and thus have the desire to control the world or whatever it is the setting takes place in.

Lastly, I'm sorry but I'm a guy who loves maniacal laughs when it comes to my villains too, as long as it's not done too often. They just gotta have that one moment where they belt out this memorable laugh accompanied by a speech that solidifies just how evil they really are.
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Old 2010-04-04, 17:14   Link #5
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When the villain's ideals and goals weight the same as the protagonist's in the eyes of the viewer. It is quite simple actually. If you like the bad guy as much as the good guy.

If the Big Bad simply wants to destroy the world, you don't like him. You want him to lose and cheer the hero; a very one-sided situation. But if he has a justification which is as important as the hero's side for saving the world, then he is indeed a worthy adverssary.
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Old 2010-04-04, 17:48   Link #6
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Originally Posted by Guernsey View Post
They are villains and antagonists in most stories but what makes for a good villain that you love to hate and even pity? I wonder what characters like say Frieza, Dio Brando, Legato Bluesummers and Raoh so good that they make you want to hate them yet at the same time, they are so magnificent and charimatic you cannot help but be impressed. What amkles a good villain in anime and manga?
It depends, there quite a few types of villains like unexpected villains, asahina in Raxephon, villains that make a plant heel turn, Virus, in TTGL, or Heroes that become villains, Tuxedo Mask, in Sailor Moon, and then straight villains which can be then sub categorized into how they "arch" their enemies. I actually enjoy unexpected villains, or villains who don't know they are the villain as it adds a tragic twist to the general villain nature, in Raxephon, it's pretty painful considering the intereaction between Ayato and asahina is really complex, or in Soul Eater's case Corona not truly understanding her position as a villain, or even the possibility of Black star's dark nature. All these villains/heroes with villainous type characteristics have a tragic twist to their lives, their desires which creates a more realistic, less good vs evil, and more of human quality in them. But for villains in general they must be interesting, and somewhat relataeable to the reader/veiwer to be truly effective, their villainy must be convincing.
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Old 2010-04-04, 19:02   Link #7
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I think the villains I tend to find the most interesting are the ones who have a strong personal relationship to the hero or the ones who really push the heroes to their limits.

Suigintou from Rozen Maiden series is a great example of the former. Her relationship with the heroine Shinku is rather complicated and adds a lot of emotional depth to their confrontations, especially after watching Rozen Maiden Ouverture, which elaborates on their history.

Pretty much all the main villains and many of the minor antagonists in Jojo's Bizarre Adventure fall in the latter category, which is largely why the fight scenes are so exciting. The heroes are really pushed to the limits of their physical strength and intelligence, and they only are able to win with a combination of sheer determination, balls of steel, and clever thinking. And because Hirohiko Araki is skilled at making the situations the villains put the heroes through seem impossible to escape, it ends up making the heroes' victories more satisfying.
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Old 2010-04-04, 20:22   Link #8
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I think the best villains are the villains trying to do the exact same thing the hero is trying to do with different methods. They both want to achieve peace, one wants to do it through destruction the other through understanding, both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Also I like complete and utter assholes, the type of villain that don't just kick a puppy, they kick the puppy then burn the puppy's family out of pure boredom and even admit to having no justification for it. Also I like trolling magnificent bastard villans, basically it's their personality.

Take Black Mage or Sarda from 8 bit Theater or Aizen from Bleach those are the type of villains I like.

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Old 2010-04-05, 00:15   Link #9
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Black Mage? Well, he does make for an interesting villain, but I kind of prefer it when he gets screwed over.

Good villains... I say 1. Good connection to hero 2. Ability to give the hero lots of trouble in a fight 3. Personality.
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Old 2010-04-05, 03:35   Link #10
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I think the best villains are those that you sympathize with a tiny bit. Too much and there's a chance it will hurt the hero's appeal though. It is a very fine line. There's an old list online about what not do as an evil overlord...that helps alot if they avoid the cliche stupid villain things. I think the villain has to come off as sincerely dangerous to the hero as well but not too powerful either. It really is a juggling act.
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Old 2010-04-05, 07:29   Link #11
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Join Date: Jan 2006
in order of importance to me:

1. Capability. The villain must be more powerful and capable than the good guys, else it's trivial.
2. Insanity. Must be unpredictable.
3. Charisma. Must be cool enough to make some people root for the villain rather than the good guys. An ending where the villain wins must be acceptable even if it doesn't happen.
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Old 2010-04-05, 21:03   Link #12
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L is the best antagonist, and Light is the best villian
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Old 2010-04-06, 00:58   Link #13
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Old 2010-04-06, 01:34   Link #14
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To me what makes a good villain would depend on various characteristics and abilities. First and foremost I agree with the charisma. If a person does not have it, they can not successfully lead whatever organization they are heading. Second would be capability. The villain has to know what they are doing. Third would be how many fanatics/zelots they have for their cause. The best villain are the ones that have underlings that will die for their boss. Also a villain must be able to sacrifice their underlings at a moments notice without feelings or hesitations. Income must be an important aspect for being a good/great villian. The majority of the villains that I have seen run an organization or army with almost unlimited resourses at their disposal.
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Old 2010-04-06, 03:35   Link #15
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Hate to go against the flow here, but a good villain does not need to be particularly charismatic. In fact, a true mastermind would never blow his cover, because that makes him a target. He could be the next guy on the street and you would never know.

And since he could be anyone, he would also have understandable reasons as to why he does what he does. No, blowing up the planet just for the giggles isn't a reason. Those guys never make it past the footmen. If he has reasons then he is also a human and not some typical evil genius from Hollywood.
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Old 2010-04-06, 12:58   Link #16
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I prefer my villains to be memorable. They need not be sympathetic (though that can be good), nor even charismatic (that can be useful as well), rather they have to be an extreme of some sort, either having an extreme emotional response (like Dilandau from Escaflowne), an extreme philosophical response (Kefka/Cefca from Final Fantasy 6) or some other extreme personality that stops them from being mere thugs and lowlifes and turns them into monsters. Johan from Monster and the Joker from Batman exemplify this beautifully. Both are definitely charismatic and extremely intelligent, and even a little pitiful, but what makes them great villains is not their ideas/ideals or their obsessions, but rather their ability to go beyond every reasonable action into worlds of pure chaos and insanity (as Jaden and others have mentioned). They are not just villains (because good and bad, and evil and just no longer exist for them, or at least they do not exist as a normal human would view them), they are no longer humans, but they are not mindless killing machines, rather there is a method to their madness that only they know. There extreme nature is incomprehensible, thus more terrifying due to the fact that it is completely alien and unknown. These are the villains I remember and like to dicuss...though there's always room for discussions concerning Char, Nagato, Aizen and other good villains .

edit: in the end, it is all about the series. A villain like Johan wouldn't make sense in, say, a Magical Girl series, and villains like Team Rocket wouldn't reall make sense in a mature series. The villain is supposed to reflect the world they live in much the same as the hero, so a good villain is more about good world creation than anything else, I guess...

Last edited by james0246; 2010-04-06 at 13:20.
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Old 2010-04-06, 13:00   Link #17
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Villain has to have a reason you sympathize with but do not agree with.
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Old 2010-04-06, 13:12   Link #18
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I personally like villians to be intelligent and unpredictable. The stupid ones tend to annoy me.
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Old 2010-04-06, 14:27   Link #19
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Something else that makes a great villain is their ability to exist outside the framework of how they are presented in a given story…Think about Shinobu Sensui from YuYu Hakusho and The great Legato Bluesummers from Trigun…These are villains who are so intangible in their overall epicness that conceptually they can exist outside of their storylines…They can stand alone IMO, outside of the confines the story they are in (Vicious from Cowboy bebop also falls into this category IMO)….

I mean you leave Shinobu thinking about how awesome and l33t he had to be to cultivate 7 separate personalities…And about all the intense training he had to put himself thru to learn the power of the sacred-light (Which coincidentally he learned in 6 years as opposed to “40 years atleast” because of his mental break)…When you leave the absolutely once in a lifetime villain of Legato Bluesummers, your brain kinda just freezes thinking about all the different components of his stunning character design (WTF he went through to get that body) and what he went through to achieve his place as Knives’ top messenger…He was so much greater than Knives yet he died in his service…But why are they more than there storied tales?

Because they personify what a villain truly is, and that’s a character who isn’t very much removed from anyone else (At least at some point)…That he or she was or wants, or is just a man, woman, etc.,…To me the greatest villains are those who can easily exist and be found intrinsically interesting outside of their relationship to the main character…The greatest villains are those who occupy as much space in your personal psyche than what they even supply in the tale of their relevance…
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Old 2010-04-06, 21:52   Link #20
Xion Valkyrie
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I think the best villains are those you can actually do an independent series/manga on, with them as the main character.
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