With anime producing insurmountable characters like Goku and Saitama, the next great threat is often waiting in the shadows. All too often, these antagonists are light work and eliminated just as fast as they arrived. But just when it seems like these God-tier heroes have everything under control, that is when their biggest challenge arrives in the form of a villainous faction. My Hero Academia’s “League of Villains” is the latest example of this in their quest to overcome the all too mighty All Might but below are the top five teams that mastered the maliciousness.
5. The Espada
The Espada are comprised of the top ten-ranked arrancar in Aizen’s army. During their run on the show they were the only characters with power comparable to Soul Society’s 13 Captains. Members of The Espada are assigned numbers 0-9 to order them based on strength. Their cache allowed them to command Aizen’s other forces within Las Noches. Nearly each member has an impressive battle on the show but the most noteworthy has to be Ichigo vs the fourth ranked member, Ulquiorra Cifer. It’s a must watch! The Espada are comprised of members with big personalities that were developed in a way that made them feel more relatable than the average antagonist. Their powerful run combined with character development lands them in the number five spot.
The Androids are a group of cyborgs that were created by the evil scientist, Dr Gero. A majority of them were thought to have eternal life and energy that knows no bounds. Androids 17 and 18 proved this to be true in the “History of trunks” by killing the other worldly Adult Gohan, forcing future trunks to go Super Saiyan for the first time. But even with his gut-wrenching transformation, his power paled in comparison to the dynamic duo. Androids 17 and 18 were just as powerful in the main timeline of Dragonball Z and were only bested by the Bio-Android, Cell, who is a different beast all together. Cell was Dr. Gero’s ultimate creation. The “Perfect Warrior” was made by combining the cells of the strongest warriors to grace the Earth’s surface to include Goku and Piccolo. Cells’ strength was so paramount that it took the Z-fighters three Sagas to defeat him and even then, it took a Teen Gohan reaching a Power level yet to be seen in the show. The androids made their mark on the DBZ universe with their unrivaled power and would be at the top of this list if pure strength was the only factor. But the next three groups made their respective shows what they were and took the anime world by storm.
3. The Phantom Troupe
Meteor City’s Phantom Troupe, also known as The Spider, was founded by Chrollo Lucifer. Each member is a master nen user with a knack for slaughter. Once Chrollo gathered all twelve members or “legs” of the spider they set out on their mission of mayhem. Although the Phantom Troupe often committed heinous crimes like annihilating Kurapika’s entire Clan and removing their eye’s, they would occasionally have a change of heart and save lives. Though acts like these could be confusing for some, for me it really helped solidify just how multifaceted the members of the Spider could be. From the cool, calm and mysterious Chrollo to the explosively powerful Uvogin, each leg brought us moments that would never be forgotten. Especially since they helped shape the main characters of the show in such important ways. Observing Hisoka’s battle with Chrollo and cheering on Kurapika as he got revenge for his fallen lineage were moments that had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. The Phantom Troupe Earned this ranking even with Hunter X Hunter being incomplete and that is an impressive feat. If the show was to ever continue airing they would without a doubt shoot to the top of this list but with the state of the franchise, one can only hope.
Team Toguro is a group of Upper B-Class Demons and the final boss of Yuyu Hakusho’s Dark Tournament Saga. The team easily swept through every round of the tournament leading into the finals in a stint reminiscent of the ’16-’17 Warriors. They were all-powerful from the beginning of the arc; their character development icreased in a way that mirrored Team Urameshi’s rise in strength, making their ultimate clash in the end my favorite Shounen moment. From the character driven fight between Kuwabara and Elder Toguro to the beautiful ending of Kurasu vs. Kurama, each battle gave Yu Yu fans moments that would live on forever. And the all-out war between the two team captains turned out to be surprisingly deep on many levels. The Dark tournament is widely accepted as the best Tournament Arc in anime and it’s safe to say that there would be no Dark Tournament without the Team Toguro. They simply had to be near the top of the list but the following team is the consensus number one villainous faction in all of anime.
1. The Akatsuki
There are many iterations of the Akatsuki in Naruto but Tobi’s Akatsuki is the greatest group of villians to ever grace the anime community. Composed of an eclectic assortment of characters, their interactions could range from chilling to fun and quirky. But make no mistake; they are no joke. Their ideological fingerprints were on over 300 episodes of Naruto Shippuden, giving The Akatsuki the highest impact of any team on this list. Members would often go out in pairs when executing missions and between interactions with their partner and their show-stopping battles we would learn that even though they were taking countless lives, each one was doing good in their own right. One could talk forever about the Akatsuki but to sum it all up: impact, strength, character design and the ability of each member to be the standalone antagonist of any show gives them the number one spot. The Akatsuki are simply the best to ever do it.