Fans eagerly await the second season of Tokyo Revengers. It’s technically a time-travel action story, but it’s also a gangland drama about middle schoolers doing truly vicious things to one another for control of Tokyo’s criminal underground. Yet as intimidating as those kids are, there are way creepier children in the world of anime.
From burgeoning world-enders such as Trigun‘s Knives to children fully embracing a destructive power like Bungou Stray Dogs’ Q, anime has some terrifying kids lurking around. Which are the creepiest?
10/10 Young Knives Millions – Trigun
One of the best sibling rivalries in anime started quite young. Like his twin, Vash, Knives was friendly and kind as a very small child, but unlike Vash, he cast these qualities off as useless as he grew older. As a Plant, he comes to view humans as worthless compared to him and Vash, to the point of killing their foster mother Rem and the shipful of humans who had raised them from birth.
Young Knives is already deeply unsettling and controlling of his brother. Even if Rem could never have anticipated him trying to commit genocide, watching Knives argue with Vash over how it’s stupid to try and save both a spider and a butterfly from death, she can already tell something is going to go horribly wrong between them one day.
9/10 Reisuke Houjou – Future Diary
Killer high schoolers Yukiteru and Yuno are scary enough, but the episode “Answering Machine” pits them against someone even creepier: a murder-happy 4-year-old. He’s actually got no problem with Yuki and Yuno (despite the fact that they indirectly orphaned him), but they’re his opponents in God’s survival game, so they’ve got to go.
He happily turns Yuki’s home into a house of horrors, trying to kill him and Yuno by poison, nerve gas, and electrocution. He’s not even bothered when Yuno overpowers him, smiling even as he dies.
8/10 Young Zabuza Momochi – Naruto
Naruto’s cast has some of the most tragic backstories in anime, leading several characters to be fairly creepy as children. However, it’s Zabuza’s blink-and-you’ll-miss it background that takes the cake: as a little kid, he interrupted the Mist Village Academy’s graduation ritual of having students fight to the death, and massacred all 100 graduates himself.
Zabuza was and continued to be a product of the shinobi system, which devalued human life and glorified only strength, but even the famously brutal Mist Village was horrified by his actions to the point that they changed their traditions in a big hurry.
7/10 Young Dio Brando – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Some fans dislike Phantom Blood‘s fairly basic pure good versus pure evil matchup and prefer the more nuanced characters of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure‘s later parts. Others insist that newcomers absolutely cannot skip Part 1, if only to see how absolutely pedal-to-the-metal evil Dio is from his very first minutes onscreen.
Dio is no less over-the-top and egotistical as a child than he is as an adult, and his actions are made no less despicable by the attention paid to the abusive background that made him this way. He’s ruthless in crushing those in his way to power or simply hurting others for his own amusement: relentlessly bullying Jonathan, forcibly kissing Erina, and incinerating Jonathan’s dog, all before hitting his teens.
6/10 Q – Bungou Stray Dogs
As one of the best mafia groups in anime, the members of Yokohama’s Port Mafia boast some terrifying powers. But it’s the Ability of Kyuusaku “Q” Yumeno that has people running for the hills: they can control the mind of anyone who injures them, able to drive them irreparably insane with hallucinations. They are so dangerous that even the Port Mafia agreed that they had to be locked away for everyone’s safety.
They never asked to have their Ability, but if they can’t have a normal life, they’ll embrace their nightmarish power for all it’s worth. They’re delighted when even the adult mafiosos are afraid of them and dread bringing them out. However, Q is not infallible. Trying to drive the very inhuman Lovecraft to madness backfires horribly on them.
5/10 Alluka Zoldyck – Hunter x Hunter
Now, Alluka is one of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet. She’s cheerful, sweet, and adores her older brother Killua. There’s just the problem of her other half, Nanika. The Dark Continent creature that gives her the power to grant any wish, but only at the cost of equivalent death and dismemberment, both if the wish is granted and if the asker can’t give Alluka what she demands in return.
Being a child of the Zoldyck assassin family, Alluka thinks very little of death, and absolutely nothing of asking people for their organs and bones in exchange for a wish. Her parents, for their part, don’t object on principle either: it’s only because they can’t control Alluka’s power and use it for themselves that they deem her a monster and lock her in a basement vault.
4/10 Kid Buu – Dragon Ball Z
One of the best villains in Dragon Ball is Majin Buu, the malicious magical creature with astronomical strength and the ability to absorb any opponent he pleases into himself. He goes through several forms, the final one being Kid Buu, or, as he’s known in Japanese, “Pure Majin Buu”: the logical extreme of a child’s pure egocentrism and impulsivity.
Kid Buu doesn’t speak much and doesn’t think too deeply, either. He is one hundred percent focused on his own amusement, which takes the form of as much death and destruction as he can cause. Though it’s debatable as to how aware he is that other beings are real, and he is causing them pain, his utter lack of restraint makes him the most dangerous of all Buu’s forms.
3/10 Dr. Londes – Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop has no shortage of characters who turn childishness into a nightmare, but the decades-old Wen and stunted Tongpu don’t quite qualify here. Conversely and maybe ironically, the only truly scary child in the show is the one who disguises himself as an elderly man to manipulate his victims.
Rosny Spranggen is paralyzed, unable to move or speak on his own, but connected to the Internet he can assume the alias of Dr. Londes and do both. The boy draws dozens if not hundreds of people into the suicide cult Brain Scratch, brainwashing them into thinking that they’ll pass into a higher state of being outside their physical bodies, when really he’s just bitter and angry: if he can’t live a life outside a hospital bed, no one can.
2/10 Hansel and Gretel – Black Lagoon
One would be hard-pressed to find two kids that are simultaneously as frightening and as tragic as these two. Trafficked and abused as younger children, these twins were forced to kill other children in snuff films to keep from being murdered themselves, and then to kill their captors to escape.
Now free, but still unable to do anything with their lives but kill, they are two of the creepiest mercenaries Rock has ever encountered. They were robbed of the chance to gain any sense of morality, personal identity, or ability to connect with people outside each other, and can only find pleasure through murder, which they carry out with axes and guns bigger than themselves.
1/10 Johan Liebert – Monster
Johan gives this anime its name and sure lives up to it. It’s always impossible to tell what’s going on inside his head. One of the driving questions of the show is whether Johan was born a monster or made one by the experimentation he and his twin Nina were subjected to, but whichever it was, he made an intensely frightening impression from a very young age.
By the time he was ten and resolving to kill everyone responsible for harming Dr. Tenma, he already had several murders under his belt. Every time he and Nina were taken in by a new family, after Johan had massacred the cult responsible for their situation, Johan would very bloodily kill them. He is obsessed with Nina above all other humans, but that doesn’t stop him from wildly traumatizing his sister, ultimately goading her into shooting him once she finally caught him in the act of murder.