Are we there yet? Almost, as we’re in the final stretch of the challenge. The challenge this go-around is one that can be viewed on a lot of levels with different types of villains, but I found myself always coming back to the same thing. What makes a good villain? We talked about that briefly before, knowing that the 25th question would be to pick out your favorite anime villain, and I do love the villains who don’t see themselves as that. Villains that aren’t just cardboard cutouts. That can be said about some of those that populate my answer, but there’s more to it in general.
When it comes down to it, I love the Zentraedi from Robotech/Macross as villains. Because even though they’re viewed as the big bad invading aliens who cause nothing but death and destruction, they’re really just doing what they’re told and it’s not exactly personal. They’re following orders. Over the course of the series, we see these villains that go through their normal lives, knowing only the life of a military person, and then they discover culture. Music, food, the opposite sex. It’s all good. They’re a complicated villain that can really be explored as they start to adapt, become friends and allies and a segment just can’t handle it all and try to go back to the old ways. Some are won over hard to being humanity’s friends while others get their blood lust on.
And really, you have to give credit where credit is due because as a race overall, the Zentraedi went big by destroying the entire planet. Wiping out the majority of humanity is a pretty good thing to tick off on a resume when being a villain. Though they didn’t achieve their goal of capturing the SDF-1, they put their all into it, especially hamstrung as they were by orders not to damage it. But as villains, we got to see a lot of layers to them. We saw the first interspecies romance and birth that resulted from it, we saw people becomes friends and we saw both sides working to protect a common goal from those that could not be swayed. The Zentraedi play up all the bogeyman fears that they’re expected to be at the start of the series, especially when we only see that they must be huge based on the interiors of the SDF-1, but as time goes on, we learn that they’re not much different in a lot of ways. And for me, a good villain is one that never really sees themselves in that way.