feature Film/TV

The 5 Most Ridiculous Antagonists in Anime


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Never actually completing anything? Being a total scatterbrain? Failing before even getting started? Anime is awash with all different sorts of ridiculous antagonists, but there are five that stand out to me above the rest. And to be honest, I love all of them (except one or two). But sometimes we need to be honest with ourselves and admit that our favourites might just be complete fuck ups that never accomplish anything. Well, at least I need to be.

5. Numemon from Digimon
“Now will you go out with me, huh?!”

Digimon was probably the first “anime” that I really subscribed to fandom for. Sure, I’d watched Pokemon and Sailor Moon, but Digimon had me on Homestead co-running a website and writing bad fan fiction about (and yes, I have checked the Wayback machine and have all of my old fan fiction bookmarked).

I was obsessed with Digimon. I had a friend, named Krystal, who I would regularly “chat” with as if we were roleplaying. Both of us had Digimon partners and were on our own little quest, and our time together was spent pretending and living in an imaginary world. I loved Digimon and still do (in some ways).

But real talk for a moment: Numemon. The pink-crap throwing Digimon that become obsessed with Mimi in season one, episode six: ‘Togemon in Toy Town’. Basically, the Digidestined smell the Numemon from a mile away while walking in the sewer and are overrun with them while being chased. The entire time the Numemon are throwing their pink poop (known as Nume-sludge) and warbling about who knows what while the gang sprint for their lives. Finally, they find the sewer exit and cheer, being told by Agumon (Tai’s Digimon sidekick) that the Numemon dislike the sunlight.

But, much to their bewilderment, while wandering in a desert-like environment, the gang stumble upon a whole group of what looks to be like abandoned vending machines. Mimi, in her selfish want for snacks, runs toward the soda vending machine to retrieve a drink and SLAM! Out pops the Numemon leader, calling her “cutie pie” and trying to court her. Upon rejecting him with a horde of insults, the sun hides away behind the clouds and a whole gaggle of Numemon pop up to fight on their leader’s command.

In my opinion, the Numemon leader is the Digimon-embodiment of dudes who cry about being “friendzoned”. A smelly sludge-monster with giant human-sized teeth who throws pink poop and really wants a date? What is more pathetic than that? Later on in the series the Numemon help the Digidestined out a bit but as far as I am concerned this is the worst “gank” attack in anime to date. I mean, seriously… all that rage over Mimi? MIMI?

4. Tatewaki Kuno from Ranma 1/2
“What colour are your underpants? What colour would you like them to be?!

Ah, Ranma 1/2. The fun gender-bending anime of 1989 by Rumiko Takahashi, also the creator of InuYasha, Mermaid Saga and various other series. Ranma 1/2 features Ranma Saotome, a talented young boy who can mysteriously change into a woman when splashed with cold water.

While traveling to the mountains for martial arts training, both Ranma and Genma fall into two different cursed springs, causing them to be cursed and change into the forms of the things that had drowned there. Genma fell into the “Spring of the Drowned Panda”, causing him to transform into a panda. Ramna fell into the “Spring of the Drowned Girl”, causing him to transform into a girl with red hair. Curses can be temporarily removed by splashing the cursed person with hot water. Later on in the series we meet other characters that are cursed: Shampoo’s cursed to be a Cat, Ryoga’s cursed to be a piglet, Taro’s cursed to be a minotaur and so on.

Kuno is a “love rival” in Ranma 1/2 for Akane, Ranma’s fianceé. Although, throughout the entire series Kuno is unaware that Ranma is cursed and he ends up falling in love with Ranma in his female form. He obsessively pursues both Akane and the “pig-tailed girl” (which he calls Ranma in his cursed form) despite the fact that they both make it very clear that they despise him. Regardless, Kuno blindly believes they are both in love with him and goes to seemingly extreme lengths to win their hearts.

Kuno is so stupid. I love him as a character, I really do, but his ignorance never ceases to amaze me. He speaks in a flowery, superfluous-like prose and is often seen with a rose in between his teeth. He can’t “take a hint” and regularly buys sexy photos of Akane and the pig-tailed girl off of Akane’s sister, Nabiki, like the true pervert he is.

I can honestly say I’ve never seen a more ignorant and egotistical character in anime than Tatewaki Kuno and trust me: there are a lot of them. He believes himself to be some sort of great warrior, yet is easily defeated by Ranma on a regular basis, and seems to be completely blind to the fact that all the women of Furinkan High School despise him. Kuno gave himself a nickname, “The Blue Thunder of Furinkan High”, which only he uses and even named one of his sword-fighting techniques after it.

I love Kuno, mostly because I find his stupidity hilarious, but a part of me wishes he would snap out of it. SNAP OUT OF IT, KUNO (she said to the character created in the 80′s).

3. Nephrite from Sailor Moon
“I don’t think we’ll get to eat a chocolate parfait together.” 

The Sailor Moon universe is filled with lots of “silly” characters that can’t be taken seriously. In general, the colourful palette of the series promotes quirky villain designs that range from unbelievable to just plain stupid.

I’m actually doing a re-watch of the whole Sailor Moon series right now and I have to say, Nephrite is probably the most annoying of all of the villains (thanks to various friends of mine for pointing me down this path). Everything from his mullet-hair, his failed plans to gather energy for the Dark Kingdom (neé Negaverse) and his weird relationship with Naru (also known as Molly), everything Nephrite does straight up fails.

Unlike his predecessor, Jadeite, Nephrite targets individual people to sap energy from instead of mobs of people in flash attacks. And how does he target said victims, you ask? Well, if you guessed “doing research”, you are wrong. He literally uses astrology in his remote cabin in the woods to help him seek out individuals who are at “peak energy levels”. Once done, he creates a special crest and places it on an object that is meaningful towards the target, causing a Youma (a monster or demon used to drain human energy or kill sailor senshi) to appear inside the object. Once the victim reaches max energy levels, Nephrite releases the Youma, sucking all of their energy and leaving them in a coma-like state.

Nephrite has maybe one partial success, but for the most part everything he tries is intercepted by the Sailor Senshi before it is even considered a “partial success” by Queen Beryl. In the end, his random and unexplained love for Usagi’s best friend, Naru, is his downfall. He sacrifices himself to save her, even though only moments before he manipulated her into telling him who Sailor Moon’s true identity was and had set a trap to kill her, and she swoons all over him. Oh, did I forget to tell you that he initially thought Naru was Sailor Moon? Because, nah, not the best friend with the exact same odango-style pigtails as Sailor Moon… the girl with the short auburn hair. With no magical powers at all.

But, mostly, Nephrite will forever be remembered as a total meathead with his dying words, “I don’t think we’ll get to eat a chocolate parfait together.”

2. King Cold from Dragon Ball Z
“Wait, you dirty little Saiyan!”

Ah, King Cold. Father of Frieza, secret head of the Planet Trade Organization and complete bonehead. King Cold has got to be one of the most useless characters in all of anime. Unlike his sons Frieza and Coola, King Cold does not have the ability to shapeshift and although King Cold is the head of the PTO, nobody knows except for a few henchmen and his family.

What the heck is the point of being the literal head of a intergalactic organization if nobody knows you’re the head? What kind of power seriously can this dude hold?! If he was out trotting about planets alone and was threatened, not only would he be instantly killed because he is weak as hell (despite his size), but his name wouldn’t hold any clout.

“I’m King Cold, head of the Planet Trade Organization! I’m an important person!” King Cold says as his back is against the wall. Random Super Saiyajin laughs, “That’s Frieza, you idiot! Who are you?!” Boom. Dead. Gone. Well, after about twelve-episodes of intense stares and throbbing chests, maybe.

Upon seeing Future Trunks kill his son, Frieza, using a large sword, King Cold assumes his power comes directly from the blade. He offers Trunks the spot which Frieza forfeited with his death and, in an effort to avenge his son, he asks Trunks to examine the sword, planning on killing him with it. Much to his shock, when King Cold swipes the sword down on Trunks’ head, Trunks stops it with one hand and God Breaker blasts (an energy attack used by Trunks in his Super Saiyajin form) him through the chest. Pinned against a wall with a giant gaping hole in his chest, King Cold begs for his life. Trunks cooly rejects him by shooting another God Breaker blast, killing him on the spot.

Basically, Trunks is awesome and King Cold is a delusional turd.

1. Jesse & James of Team Rocket from Pokemon
“We have a proud tradition of failure to uphold!” 

This one is a little predictable. I think if you asked any anime fan who they think the most unsuccessful antagonist they know is, the response would be, “Team Rocket, duh.” But, to be honest, their failures will always set my little heart a-flutter! They may never accomplish anything and they may be the least productive villains I’ve ever seen, but Jesse & James are probably the most endearing “villains” in all of anime. I love them, despite their multiple failures, and will continue to love them until the end of time.

Jesse & James are pure comic relief and have been since Pokemon first aired in Japan in April of 1997. Right now there are 773 anime series episodes (excluding episodes that don’t really focus on the main cast) and 15 movies. Jesse and James have appeared in practically every single episode up until “Best Wishes”, the fourth season that followed the “Diamond & Pearl” series, and even now they still occasionally appear.

Jesse and James started off as just run-of-the-mill Team Rocket members, trying to capture all the pokemon in the world to hand off to their boss, Giovanni. Until, of course, they glimpse Ash’s Pikachu in Season One, Episode Two (“Pokemon Emergency!”) and become single-mindedly obsessed with capturing it. At this point Pikachu is probably somewhere between level 2 and level 10, but still, Jesse and James are in awe of its “great power”. And from that point on, they pop up almost every single episode and try to capture it.

A Pikachu. That’s it, that’s their goal: capturing Ash’s Pikachu. If I were Ash, I would have caught another Pikachu and “surrendered” it to them, fake tears in my eyes, so that they would leave me alone. Even when Ash trades off party members, Jesse and James still stalk him like the creepy, fabulous predators they are, trying to steal his beloved Pikachu.

Lots of funny tidbits are revealed about them as the series develops: in one episode banned in the US, a beach beauty contest is being held which Misty wants to enter (to win the prize money and help an old restaurant owner out with his debt) and Jesse and James sees this as an opportunity to best the gang and attempt to steal Pikachu once more. We learn that James has a set of inflatable boobies just for such an occasion, which he pumps up in front of Misty to taunt her.

There have been all sorts of hijinks crafted by Team Rocket’s Jesse and James, each one more creative than the next, but have they worked? No. Are they entertaining? Yes. Therefore, these two Team Rocket cuties will remain in my fangirl heart forever as King and Queen of the “Ridiculous Antagonist Kingdom”.