In a world where we usually expect heroes to triumph, there are moments in action anime when the bad guys win, and it can be quite a shock, reminding us of life’s harsh realities. This has happened in various action anime shows.
When executed effectively, these dark endings where the villain succeeds in their mission can be emotionally powerful, especially when the series has a captivating main antagonist. It doesn’t always follow, but it’s worth recognizing the anime that takes this bold risk.
In most entertainment, villains typically face defeat, but there are exceptions, as demonstrated by these action anime titles.
Anime Where The Villain Wins
1. Yu Yu Hakusho
The ending of the classic anime Yu Yu Hakusho is a bit different. Sensui, the antagonist, has a unique goal – he seeks his own death. It’s somewhat like the Joker wanting Batman to break his one rule and kill him.
Sensui desires a battle with someone powerful enough to end his life, and that someone is Yusuke, the show’s main character.
Their fight was both intense and melancholic. Sensui thanks Yusuke for allowing him to experience such a battle before his death, fulfilling his ultimate desire.
2. Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
Treize is a standout villain in the Gundam series. Like many other antagonists in Gundam, he’s an extremist, but he has noble intentions behind his actions.
His main goal was to initiate a massive and more devastating war, believing it was the only path to achieve lasting peace.
Treize managed to accomplish this goal, all the while fulfilling his secondary objective of meeting his end in a battle.
3. Neon Genesis Evangelion
There’s a reason for the critical acclaim the series has gotten Evangelion, and part of that is being unafraid to take risks with the ending, although this is somewhat controversial.
Ada Seele, a mysterious plot pulling the strings behind the scenes, still achieves their goal by triggering the Human Instrumentality Project—a mind-blowing ending.
The 1997 anime adaptation of Berserk concluded with a shocking victory for Griffith. He becomes the fifth member of Godhand and completely severs his connections with his former comrades.
This betrayal is considered one of the most intense and brutal in anime. Griffith’s actions towards his once dear friends, particularly Casca, are difficult to fathom and portray him as the ultimate antagonist.
Although the manga goes beyond this point, most adaptations of Berserk conclude with Griffith’s triumph in some form.
5. Hellsing Ultimate
After Hellsing Ultimate, The Major successfully starts a major war and even defeats Alucard in a complex manner. Although Integra ultimately kills The Major and he criticizes her for being more machine than human, he achieves all his goals.
Some of this is subverted as Alucard is later instructed to return to life, but it doesn’t alter the fact that The Major achieved his objectives.
6. Speed Grapher
Out of all the villains who achieved success, Suitengu stands out with a clear victory. He gathers all the money in Japan in one building, which also serves as the Roppongi club.
With everything he wants in one place, he triggers an explosion that not only kills him but also everything around him. As if that’s not enough, he blinds his rival, Saiga. It’s an absolute and decisive win for Suitengu.
While not the series’ conclusion, Naruto marks the start of the initial part, and Shippuden feels like a distinct phase due to the time jump.
In the Naruto part, the main focus is on Sasuke’s quest for vengeance and Naruto’s determination to bring his friend back.
In a sense, Naruto failed in this portion since he couldn’t rescue Sasuke from Orochimaru’s control.
8. Fairy Tail
This is perhaps one of the most typical anime moments of an antagonist triumphing, but that’s because Zeref isn’t necessarily a villain. He does terrible things, but once we know his background, it’s hard not to want to see him succeed.
In the end, that was what happened, albeit under different circumstances than he expected. Acnologia is defeated, and his curse is lifted, allowing him to live his life with his true love, Mavis.
9. Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphan
In the Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans series, there are some morally complex characters, but it’s quite evident that Gjallarhorn plays the antagonist role.
What’s striking is that the main antagonist, Rustal Elion, achieves all his goals by the end of season two. He disbands the McGillis fleet, dismantles Tekkadan, and transforms Gjallarhorn into a democratic entity.
10. Devilman Crybaby
Devilman Crybaby is a brutally honest anime that doesn’t give us hope for a happy ending.
We’re caught off guard by one of the darkest conclusions in anime. Not only does the hero fail, but the entire world gets destroyed after God purges the hellish chaos that was unleashed on Earth.
These anime stories all have antagonists who, in their own ways, succeed in their objectives, and the outcomes are heart-wrenching.
However, it’s the very darkness and uncertainty in these shows that make them so unforgettable and thought-provoking. They challenge our beliefs about heroism and villainy, and they make us face the uncomfortable truth that sometimes, evil can prevail.