What Makes A Truly Great Villain?

When it comes to fictional forms of media, there is nothing I love more than a good villain. A truly memorable antagonist stands in the way or our heroes and acts as an ever-constant threat against our protagonists. That begs the question though, what makes a truly great villain? What makes an antagonist not only a truly evil force, but also into something that we love to hate?

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I can’t stay mad at that face!

The answer to this may depend on the form of media the villain is associated with, but I’ve decided to give my own thoughts on what makes a truly great villain. I also have to thank Super Eyepatch Wolf on Youtube for giving me inspiration to make this post on my blog. So, for a villain to be something I can truly get behind, it needs a number of things:

Memorable Design

It’s not enough that a villain is intimidating, but he also needs to look intimidating and have a design that makes him appealing (or not so appealing) to look at. A good example of this is the original Green Goblin, who dresses in a truly gaudy green and purple outfit. Even if this original design is somewhat outdated, it’s still memorable enough to let you easily pick him out from a crowd. He’s not some generic pretty-boy with a sword, or some giant monster wielding a hammer. No, he’s this gaudily-dressed imp of destruction, raining pumpkin bombs down onto hapless citizens.

Good Voice-Acting

This next section is highly dependent upon the form of media the villain is depicted in. For things like television, film, and video-games (depending on if the game has voice-acting or not), then how the villain sounds is a great factor in determining the appeal of a character. For example, Mako playing Aku in Samurai Jack is often sited as one of the best portrayals of a villain in cartoons.

Mako knows how to ham it up as Aku, delivering a voice dripping with both comedic value and intimidation. Mako is able to portray Aku, this Japanese demon of death and destruction, as a character that one can enjoy. Greg Baldwin, who is Aku’s new voice actor, also does an amazing job. He isn’t as good as the original, but manages to capture the energy and cheesiness of Mako’s portrayal very well.

It’s not always necessary to cast someone well-known or famous to play a villain. As long as the person playing said villain can inside the head of the character and portray him the way the creator intends, while still keeping the role their own. A voice is everything in a villain. A bad voice actor can truly destroy what makes a great villain great.

Being An Actual Threat

Having a villain who looks and sounds great is one thing, but you need a villain who can actually get the job done. A villain who can’t achieve their goals, or pose much of a threat to our heroes becomes a joke after a while. A good (or rather, bad) example of this is Corypheus from Dragon Age: Inquisition. Corypheus is foiled easily at every turn by your chosen protagonist.

Corypheus very rarely does much to be a thorn in your side, and a lot of his attempts to stop you reach Dick Dastardly levels of pathetic. A good example of a villain who manages to threaten our heroes at every turn is Etemon, from the cult classic anime Digimon. Despite Etemon seeming like an incompetent goofball, he was able to trounce the Digi-Destined most of the time. Not only that, but he also devised a “Dark Network”, that he can use to attack his enemies from afar.

Etemon’s seemingly silly design and behaviors masked his truly power and potential. This mischievous monkey of magnified malice ended up being a true threat to our heroes. A villain who isn’t able to be a challenge to our protagonists in any way ends up feeling lame and hollow. A villain can’t just talk the talk, he/she needs to also be able to walk the walk.

The Villain Needs To Be More Than A Villain

Super Eyepatch Wolf discussed this as well, but it bares repeating. A villain who feels more like a person, is better than one who doesn’t. A villain needs to have weaknesses as well as strengths, needs to have dreams beyond his current goal, and needs to feel like a real part of the world. Most Marvel villains end up just kind of showing up, usually with little development.

Again, a villain needs to be a part of the world. Not just antagonist no. 125 who happens to co-exist in the universe, but hasn’t been mentioned or established until now. Now I know most villains are not like that, but sometimes establishing an antagonist beforehand can really work wonders for your property.

In Conclusion

A villain doesn’t need to have all of these properties to be a great villain, but it certainly helps. Having a strong voice, memorable design, good backstory and development, fantastic characterization, and a threatening persona can actually make for both a great character and an amazing villain. Examples are out there, there’s a ton in fact. Coming with a great and memorable villain isn’t easy, but having one can make or break a series. At least, that’s my opinion on the whole thing.

Is Joseph Joestar the best Jojo?

When it comes to the anime known as “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure”, I’m really only a fan in passing. I watched through parts 1 and 2, as well as the first half of part 3. I sadly have yet to touch the anime version of part 4, and I’ve only read a small portion of part 5. For those of you who don’t know what Jojo is, it’s an anime and manga that series that’s been running for over 30 years. Jojo is divided into multiple parts and is currently on part 8 at the moment. Each part focuses on a different protagonist in a different scenario.

One common occurrence is that our heroes are usually going up against supernatural foes, fighting psychopaths with weird fetishes or god complexes, or just having all around bizarre adventures. With each new story we got a new “Jojo”. What is a Jojo? It’s one of the protagonists of any given arc who has the word “Jojo” somewhere in there first and last name. Some examples include Johnathon Joestar or Jotaro Kujo.

So, with a history of differing protagonists, which one is the best? Which is the ultimate Jojo, the most memorable hero the series has ever produced? Well, this opinion will differ from person to person, depending on who you ask. However, in my eyes, the ultimate Jojo is the one that debuted in the second part of the story. This man is Joseph Joestar, the hero of Battle Tendency.

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Don’t let the crazy hair fool you, this man is a walking weapon!

So, who’s Joseph? Well, he’s the grandson of the protagonist of part 1, the man known as Johnathon Joestar. Sadly, John is barely worth mentioning, as I found the character to be immensely boring. A lot of Johnathon’s personality and backstory is built upon him avenging his family’s pride and trying to stop Dio. Due to the short length of part 1, there just wasn’t enough time to build Johnathon into a truly likable and believable character.

If that’s the case, what makes Joseph so special? Well, Joseph is a lot more hot-headed than Johnathon ever was. Joseph has a tendency to get into fights that are well over his head, yet he manages to come out on top. Despite Joseph appearing to be an idiot, he often tends to out-think his opponent. This is showcased very well in the fact that he almost always accurately predicts what his opponent will say next, right before they say it.

Joseph’s combat abilities come down to the use of a special technique called “Hamon”. This allows the user to channel the energy of the sun through their body, allowing them to kill vampires or do any manner of special attacks. Joseph’s abilities are pretty unique when compared to Johnathon. Johnathon used Hamon mainly for straightforward attacks, while Joseph uses them insanely creative ways. Joseph can use Hamon to stick his bolas (which is a type of throwing weapon) to walls or even fling them back at an enemy.

Despite Joseph often been outclassed, he still manages to win due to the unique and interesting ways he approaches combat. He comes slight of hand, his own wit, his ability to think on the fly, along with his raw supernatural abilities to trump his opponents almost every time. Joseph goes from fighting low-level vampires and random street thugs at the start of the series, to defeating a god by accident right near the end of the series. The power-progression feels natural, and it doesn’t feel rushed or forced in the slightest.

Something I liked most about Joseph was his bombastic personality and general attitude about things. Joseph is a goofball and a bit of a jerk at times, but he honestly cares for the people around him. While he doesn’t think much about his lineage, he still goes into battle each time. Sure, he runs away most of the time, but still manages to pull victory out of nowhere most of the time.

Joseph doesn’t stop being interesting after his story arc ends, however. Joseph returns in parts 3 and 4, as an old man. Despite being much older and slightly more mature, Joseph is still the goofball at heart that he always was. Joseph manages to defeat powerful opponents despite his age, and gains new abilities along the way. While he isn’t the main hero anymore, he’s still a supporting character that manages to feel fairly interesting.

Joseph feels like a real person, despite his eccentric quirks. Unlike a lot of anime heroes, Joseph actually has flaws and manages to overcome them. While other Jojos have come along, they just haven’t matched Joseph in terms of memorability. While I did enjoy the thoughtful Jotaro, and the goofball Josuke, they just couldn’t compare to their predecessor.

Those are my reasons why I like Joseph. I respect that everyone has their own favorite Jojo, but for me Joseph will always be number one. Now I ask you, what’s your favorite Jojo? Feel free to reply to this post and tell me who’s your favorite and why, I’d love to hear about it! Try to avoid spoilers though, keep in mind I’ve only watched parts 1 and 2 and most of 3. I have yet to tackle parts 4 and beyond. Anyway, thanks for reading and have a great day!