20 Best Anime Assassin Characters: Listing Our Lethal FavoritesThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
There have been some damn fine killers throughout anime history.
And they all have different reasons. Whether they efficiently murder due to a psychological atypicality, or because of the way they were raised, or to change the world… we just love our cold-blooded assassin types.
So we’ve gathered a bunch of the greatest assassins out there in anime land, ranking the best of ‘em one by one.
Expect violence, tragedy, and tons of complex characterisation. Let’s go!
20. Johan Liebert
The fact Johan is not technically an assassin by complete definition is what keeps him so far down this list.
That, and the fact his killings are justified – by him. Not politically, nor philosophically, but through hedonism and the desire to be the last man standing.
Johan is a tragically-written serial killer, with mature undertones and an uncomfortable presence. His methods of murder range from brutally crimson to silent and quick.
But it’s his manipulative, corrupted personality and charming charisma that’s truly his greatest weapon.
Anime: Akame ga Kill!
Sold at a young age alongside her sister, Akame was ridiculed and humiliated before being enlisted into the Elite Seven – a squad of assassins.
Proficient and deadly, Akame wields a katana that leaves supernaturally incurable wounds in the wake of its blade.
When her allies were falling one by one, Akame was the only one to remain. At the beginning of the anime we also discover she’s joined the assassination clan Night Raid, with the goal to stop the generals responsible for her previous group’s dismantlement.
She’s a true BA.
18. Suzuya Juuzou
Anime: Tokyo Ghoul
Unable to feel pain as a result of physiological treatment in childhood, Juuzou has always been an oddity.
A killer from a young age, he feels little remorse and is stunted psychologically. Big surprise.
No matter the opponent he’s up against, Suzuya is up for a fight.
Even if he knows it won’t end well for him.
Wielding blades, and later far deadlier weapons, his allegiance is always tested and his character growth always sharp.
17. Death Gun
Anime: Sword Art Online: Phantom Bullet
The ingame avatar of a serial killer, Death Gun is a reaper-like figure wielding two seemingly modified guns that have the ability to not only kill an avatar in one shot, but disconnect the player from life.
Welcome to SAO, right?
The second season of Sword Art Online follows Kirito, Asuna, and Asada, as they strive to end Death Gun’s stream of systematic assassination. All in an entertaining, if not flawed, animated shounen rife with bombast.
If you’ve never seen SAO, definitely check this one out.
16. Minene Uryuu
Anime: Future Diary
The ninth diary holder – and therefore ninth contestant of the battle royal plot – Minene Uryuu.
A wacky, self-righteous combatant who isn’t afraid to leave an impression when she terrorizes.
I mean, there aren’t many other characters that can hold up a high school with mines and explosives… then flee on a motorbike from beneath her dress.
So, she has to get a mention in this list for that stunt alone.
15. Motoko Kusanagi
Anime: Ghost in the Shell
The iconic Major herself is first seen during her assembly, where it’s proven through beautiful visuals and sound design that she is a weapon and foremost.
She spends the majority of the film series, Stand Alone Complex & Arise, engaging in acts of subterfuge and political operations for the state.
But in her time she has racked up a serious kill count due to her full-body prosthesis, which is an augmented cybernetic body and mind. It allows near-perfect combat skills, psychological planning, and hacking functions.
Motoko Kusanagi is a weapon, yes. Built by the state to enact violent deeds for pay.
So she’s about as assassin as it gets by my definition. Though, a gun isn’t an assassin…
But isn’t that the philosophical point behind Ghost in the Shell? Man, what a great anime.
14. Hei (DNB)
Anime: Darker Than Black
Referred to often as the Batman of anime, Hei wavers from that Dark Knight comparison when donning his Black Reaper getup and murdering for money.
Aiming primarily to kill in the name of justice and to protect, Hei possesses peak agility and dexterity. Not to mention fantastic hand-to-hand combat capabilities and a BatBelt of tactical weapons that he uses liberally.
You’ll find him whipping out that belt to swing around with, electrocute, and pacify.
Maybe someday we’ll receive a third season.
13. The Scarred Man
Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist
We don’t know his real name but refer to him as Scar – a serial killing vigilante hellbent on wiping out State Alchemists for revenge. And to parallel his spiritual/religious beliefs.
Before the Elric brothers encounter him at the beginning of the story, he had already consecutively murdered ten high ranking state alchemists.
This guy sure acts like an assassin, so let’s rank him like one!
Here’s an old well-spoken man, who absolutely does not hold any punches.
When he’s not playing video games for the challenge, he’s toppling towers into cities, and airplanes into towers… and society into itself.
For the challenge.
He’s a tactician who prefers mass-accumulative killings than selective.
To him, the greater the death count, the higher the score on the leader board. And Satō is a very competitive player.
Anime: Vinland Saga
Thorfinn Karlsefni – based heavily on the real Icelandic historic figure – is the protagonist of Wit Studio’s 2019 Viking Seinen anime.
This being only the adolescent prologue of a long epic spanning into Thorfinn’s adulthood.
As a child, Thorfinn always dreamed of fighting in war for glory and bloodlust. Just as his father had one upon a time.
And thanks to some tragedy, this wish quickly becomes his life. He turns into a jaded, broken murderer pretty fast.
The rest of the first season follows his descent into more and more wrongdoing, constantly defying his father’s wishes in order to kill.
10. Kotomine Kirei & Assassin
Anime: Fate/stay night & Fate/Zero
Master of Assassin in Fate/stay night, doubling down as his antagonist role in Fate/Zero, Kotomine is a complex combatant.
And he partners with even stronger personalities.
Devoutly religious and always troubled by the nature of his existence and being, Kirei is incapable of happiness and feels only pity and fear for the world.
Just what I’d expect of an assassin.
9. Himura Kenshin
Anime: Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal
Kenshin’s adventures as a pacifist samurai in war-torn Japan are exciting on their own.
But it’s his journey to that state of pacifism that reveals Kenshin’s tenacity for proficient, deliberate, and brutal murder.
And this makes him such a fascinating character.
Sold into slavery after losing his parents, then losing those owners, Kenshin eventually finds a father figure in a roaming swordmaster that’s bitter from warfare.
Though only nine years later, he leaves him too. Only to become an assassin for the Ishin Shishi to aid a revolution.
Within half a year he had become the feared Hitokiri Battosai upon murdering his 100th target. Well done.
8. Levi Ackerman
Anime: Attack on Titan
Captain Levi ain’t got time for your s—!
With dark, narrow eyes and a piercing stare that could kill by itself, you’d expect a ruthless unstoppable killing machine here.
And you would be correct.
The strongest soldier humanity has to offer in Attack on Titan, Levi hates casualties and will do anything to prevent them.
Fast, violent, and agile, Levi will be spinning for the nape of your neck like a Beyblade before you know it.
7. Shiki Ryougi
Anime: The Garden of Sinners (Kara no Kyoukai)
Able to see the innate mortality dominant in all things, Ryougi is a woman suffering from a dichotomy of self.
Literally split in two, psychologically.
One side of her is cold, distant, and scared. The other side is remorseless, cynical, and apathetic.
She lives with an impulse to murder, but harnesses those psychotic urges to battle serial killers and supernatural entities. Good on her, eh?
Her tale is one of training her darker side to do good. Gorgeously adapted by Studio Ufotable, with one of the greatest soundtracks out there, Kara no Kyoukai is an underappreciated masterpiece of morally ambiguous criminality.
If you like assassin themes in general, check out this anime.
Eternally bound into service to the Hellsing Organization, the absurdly powerful vampire Alucard is their most formidable weapon to combat the supernatural entities they aim to destroy.
Able to take any appearance, regrow his limbs in moments, or save himself from the brink of complete decimation, this guy is a badass.
He’s a snide, cocky, beautiful mass murder with a damn fine cannon to boot.
5. Lelouch vi Britannia
Anime: Code Geass
Studio Sunrise’s futuristic retelling of Hamlet introduced the world to everyone’s favourite fabulous prince. He’s looking for vengeance and to topple a dynasty.
Lelouch is extra “everything” in every way.
Wielding a power of absolute obedience, able to manipulate any & all to do his bidding, Lelouch prefers to let his pawns commit his violence.
That doesn’t mean he won’t to get his hands dirty, however.
Whether it be soldier, brother, sister, father – Lelouch refuses to let any obstacle stand before the new world he’s hoping to create for his disabled little sister.
Wait, is this guy an honorable killer? There’s a lot to unpack here…
4. Risota Nero
Anime: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Figurehead of La Squadra Esecuzioni (basically an assassin organization), Risoto Nero is a formidable opponent.
Tall, muscular, and only 28-years old, Risoto cares deeply for his team and will do anything to avenge them.
Not what you’d expect considering his cold exterior and subdued personality.
His stand, Metallica, gives him the ability to manipulate metal. That sounds decent, until you realise that blood contains iron.
Now what if he were to transform that iron into razerblades or scissors? Yeah, Risoto is bloody ruthless.
3. Light Yagami
Anime: Death Note
Everyone’s favorite maniacal, God-complex vigilante.
With the power of the Death Note at hand, Light can – and does – murder anybody. As long as he knows the person’s face and birthname.
He uses this to topple the world and change the system by killing politicians, criminals, adversaries, police, and anybody he deems undeserved in the new world he’s aiming to craft.
This fits the mold of an insane assassin, right?
While Death Note holds incredible power, Light’s greatest strength is his mental fortitude, capable of outwitting and predicting at breakneck speeds.
We got Light over here playing 4D chess, and I just tried to drink out of my phone. Now my bed is covered in my drink, too.
2. Killua Zoldyck
Anime: Hunter x Hunter
Third child of the Zolyck family(a group of world-famous assassins capable of shady snuffing), Killua’s looks betray his true potential as a fighter and heartfelt killer.
He’s a boy filled with contrasts. He’s able to murder efficiently, but also fighting with himself to become a more humble person.
So used to being the best, Killua’s story concerns humility and moral growth. His greatest enemy being his bloodlust and overwhelming abilities.
Almost like an assassin fighting himself. An assassin fighting to… assassinate his assassin behaviors?
Anime: Assassination Classroom
When you find an anime with a name like “Assassination Classrom”, it better live up to its name.
Meet Korosensei, a mysterious octopus homeroom teacher with a complex backstory and grand ambitions.
We’re first told that Korosensei has blown up the moon, permanently reducing it to a crescent shape. Then we’re told that he’s training his students to kill him.
Yes, Korosensei is so undefeatable and supreme in power – and charm and wit and rugged handsomeness, of course – that he’s convinced the world that he’ll hold off on decimating the remainder of the moon under one condition.
That the students of Class 3-E become able to murder him. Not too high stakes, right?
Quicker than light, stronger than gravity. That’s what you’re up against.
He’s capable of traveling the circumference of the planet IN ONLY A SECOND, and hellbent on training a group of masterclass murderers.
Korosensei is the undefeated Sensei of Assassination, and easily the king of this list.