Being the bad guy takes a lot of work, which is probably why it's often the smartest and strongest people who do it. Villains may be killing people or breaking laws, but a surprising amount of pre-planning goes into ensuring villains can achieve their goals.
Even if a villain allows their lackeys to do all the dirty work, that doesn't mean they're just sitting back and doing nothing. Running the show requires a lot of hard work, and the villains in anime are certainly hard-working. From Reiner Braun in Attack on Titan to Code Geass' Lelouch Lamperouge, several anime villains have a lot on their plate.
10 Light Spends Hours Killing Criminals (Death Note)
Light from Death Note is a diligent student and a genius, so it only makes sense that his hard-working attitude would bleed over into his work as the serial killer Kira. He comes up with some of the most elaborate plans. Even booby-trapping his room comes with several steps.
However, Light's most intense moment in Death Note is when he spends hours writing names in the Death Note. He even hides that he's doing it by studying with one hand and secretly writing names with the other. It's too bad Light uses his ability to multitask for evil.
9 Akihiko Creates New Tech To Enslave People (Sword Art Online)
Kayaba Akihiko is the most intelligent person in Sword Art Online. He is not just a scientist, but also the man who developed the original NerveGear to transport people into the Sword Art Online video game.
Unfortunately, Akihiko uses his creation for evil by trapping unsuspecting gamers in his video game, which must have taken a lot of effort. To bring his plan to fruition, he had to research and create advanced technology that no one else could have dreamed of. Unfortunately, Akihiko lacked empathy for people since he could have done great things from his hard work.
8 All For One Uses Manipulation To Gain A Following (My Hero Academia)
All For One from My Hero Academia is one of the evilest men in anime. At one point, he ruled the world, which is pretty impressive considering how hard that had to have been. All For One may be powerful, but it's not his power that he used to control people; it's his manipulation.
All For One presented himself as a messiah and grew a large enough following that allowed him to control everything. It helps that he has a quirk that could freely give and take away quirks, but getting his personality and beliefs out to the public helped him get his power.
7 Crocodile Controls A Whole Country By Himself (One Piece)
Crocodile from One Piece doesn't seem like a hard-working villain, but ruling an entire country from its underbelly doesn't exactly happen overnight. Not only did he completely control the government of Arabasta from the shadows, but he also ran an organization of strong pirates.
Defeating Crocodile in battle may have saved Arabasta for the most part, but removing all traces of Crocodile from their government would have taken years. This demonstrates the amount of effort Crocodile put into remaining in power.
6 Frieza Builds An Army (Dragon Ball Z)
It's not unusual for fans to think that Frieza from Dragon Ball Z is lazy. He spends most of his time on Namek sitting in a floating chair, and he usually relies on others to do his dirty work.
However, everyone around Frieza fears him for a reason. Not only is he super powerful, but he's able to use that power to control dozens of planets. By the time he arrives on Namek, he's amassed an entire army of loyal followers. Getting as much power as he would have taken years of hard work, so it makes that he likes to take a break once in a while and let his followers do his bidding.
5 Aizen Hides His True Intentions For Decades (Bleach)
Tricking the entire Gotei 13 into believing Aizen is on their side had to have taken a lot of work. He didn't just hide among their ranks for a few months; he pretended to be their ally for decades. This allows him to completely infiltrate the Soul Society in Bleach and gives him the tools to create his own army once he betrays them.
Even when Aizen's no longer a part of the Gotei 13, he's still working hard. He's the leader of many powerful Arrancar who even have their own followers. He comes incredibly close to destroying the living world, which is a testament to his hard work to bring his goals to fruition.
4 Reiner Pushed Through His Losses (Attack On Titan)
Reiner from Attack on Titan may struggle when he's the villain to the people living in the walls, but that doesn't mean he isn't a hard worker. He's a child soldier who has to push himself to extreme limits to achieve his dream of being one of the chosen Warrior candidates.
Even when they lose Marcel, and their plans fall apart, Reiner pushes through because he knows quitting now means certain death. The fact that a child had to take on such a heavy burden is astounding and explains why he suffers mentally as an adult.
3 King Bradley Works In The Shadows & The Light (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
As the leader of Amestris, Bradley from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has a lot on his plate. Not only does he have to act as the perfect Fuhrer, but he needs to do Father's bidding from the shadows. While the rest of the Homunculi are doing whatever they feel like, Bradley is amassing followers among his ranks and training to be the most powerful soldier.
Becoming a powerful homunculus also takes a load of effort, considering Bradley has to beat hundreds of other candidates to become the chosen one. Bradley is the only Homunculi that is originally a human, so getting to his place of power takes much more work than it does for the other homunculi.
2 Pain Comes The Closest To Success (Naruto Shippuden)
Pain is one of the best villains from Naruto Shippuden for a reason. He forms an organization full of the most powerful Shinobi, and he probably would have succeeded with his plans if he hadn't changed his mind and restored the Leaf Village at the end of the Pain Arc.
As the man behind Pain, Nagato has one of the most powerful jutsu, which he takes years to master. Controlling six different bodies and keeping an eye on what each of them is doing requires a lot of effort. Naruto struggles with a single Pain; it's no wonder he only manages to beat Nagato by using his words and not his fists.
1 Lelouch Gains Control Of The World (Code Geass)
Lelouch from Code Geass isn't physically strong, but he makes up for it with his intelligence. He's an excellent student, but the moments he pushes himself the hardest are when he's acting as Zero.
Lelouch can control an entire battle like a chess game, and his strategy leads the Black Knights to victory. Even after losing a fight, Lelouch can pick himself back up and re-strategize. It's hard to believe Lelouch is a teenager, considering he can amass a legion of followers and gain control of all Britannia.
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