Top 13 Best Manga With Anti-Hero MCsThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
While it’s undeniable that do-no-evil main characters are the standard, anti-hero MCs are finally starting to catch on.
We see them more often in movies, novels, anime, and certainly manga.
But then again, with so many new releases it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle.
Well I’ve curated some of the best manga titles that feature compelling anti-heroes as their main characters – so there’s plenty to dive into and start reading!
13. Vinland Saga
First on our list is Vinland Saga — one of the best action series that’s set in the medieval ages.
And guess what, this one’s actually based (albeit loosely) on a true story.
This beautifully-drawn and structured manga follows the tale of a young boy named Thorfinn Karlsefni, who unfortunately witnessed his own father’s death.
And that traumatic experience turns him into a bitter and irritable warrior who’d kill anyone who gets in the way of his vengeance.
You know, kind of like a less forgiving version of Batman!
12. Ultimate Antihero
If this title doesn’t make it obvious already, I don’t know what will…
Ultimate Antihero is a relatively short manga title about a young man and former hero named Kamishiro Homura.
In case you’re wondering why there’s an emphasis on the word “former”, it’s because Kamishiro was shunned and betrayed by the very people he saved.
As anyone would expect, this didn’t exactly go over well for Homura.
He distanced himself from the world until his resurgence at the beginning of the manga.
While this one does indeed lack length compared to other mangas, it sure makes up for it by giving us one of the most OP and badass MCs you’ll ever see.
11. Ubel Blatt
In addition to being one of the best revenge plotlines around, Ubel Blatt is also known for its masterful and slightly gratuitous depictions of violence and other mature themes.
This manga is about an elf-human hybrid (not the kind with wheels) named Koinzell, who seeks revenge against every single person that has wronged him in the past.
The only catch is that the people he wants revenge against are all well-respected heroes who, unbeknownst to the common folk, betrayed him several years ago.
Honestly, the way this story plays out really makes him a true anti-hero — someone who prioritizes his quest for vengeance above all else.
In addition to its compelling plotlines, this series also has a distinctive art style that improves in quality as the chapters keep piling on.
10. The Rising of the Shield Hero
Hell hath no fury like an isekai MC betrayed.
These are the words that any isekai antagonists must live by, as they all end up getting face-slapped by the main character sooner or later.
The Rising Shield Hero is no exception.
It’s about a once naive character named Naofumi who gets betrayed, then wisens up and becomes a completely different person.
More specifically, he became a badass and stubborn guy who’d do anything to get stronger – though he still does have a moral code he keeps to.
Objectively, I would say this manga is one of the stronger titles on this list in terms of the artwork’s quality, and in terms of the plot’s overall entertainment factor.
9. Tokyo Ghoul
Here we have a manga series whose anime adaptation has arguably the most recognizable piano opening of all time.
But of course, that’s not only what Tokyo Ghoul is most known for.
Set in a world where man-eating beings called “ghouls” live among humans, Tokyo Ghoul shows us the story of Kaneki Ken — our primary protagonist whose life is turned upside down just because of one bad date.
Like the anime, the manga is chock-full of well-drawn & high quality action scenes, that are accompanied by excellent dialogue between its characters
Although I’d say the “main attraction” here is Kaneki himself, seeing as he’s one of the most compelling anti-hero MCs out there.
8. Darker than Black
Featuring an archetypal silent and badass assassin character MC, let’s move onto Darker than Black.
This follows a story about a largely mysterious man named Hei, whose main goal is to find his missing sister by any means necessary.
To that end, he doesn’t hesitate to use more ruthless methods in order to kill other characters who would dare get in his way.
Along with having a fantastic anime adaptation, I’d say that Darker than Black also has one of the most timeless mangas out there.
Here we have a manga that’s centered around gambling.
How’s that for a unique main concept?
Kakegurui is centered on Yumeko Jabami — everyone’s favorite gambler waifu who enjoys nothing more than humiliating her opponents and seeing them suffer.
Despite her sadistic streak, it must be noted that she still abides by a strict moral code. And she does help other characters from time to time (mainly the good ones).
Are you perhaps looking for a well-written, well-drawn, and highly thrilling school-life manga with an anti-heroic MC who really enjoys what she’s good at even though it’s not entirely moral?
Well congrats, this one’s especially for you!
6. Attack on Titan
Since we’re talking about mangas that have anti-heroes as the main lead, we might as well get Attack on Titan out of the way.
It’s easily one of the most well-crafted subversive masterpieces of all time.
I’m talking about both the anime and the manga!
While I’m sure a lot of you know this already, it’s led by Eren Yeager — a once hopeful boy whose entire life is changed upon being attacked by buck-naked, man-eating giants known as “titans”.
From there, we see Eren’s gradual descent into being a more cold and calculating character who’d do anything to eradicate titans from the world.
5. Death Note
Surely a lot of you knew this manga was coming, no?
Atleast I hope so!
Death Note is one of the most polarizing and critically-acclaimed manga in history. Most manga fans consider this as a bonafide magnum opus.
By extension, the main character (Light Yagami) is also one of the most famous anti-hero anime characters of all time.
And while I personally believe that he leans more towards the villain side instead of being an actual anti-hero, it’s pretty easy to see why most manga fans think otherwise.
After all, his character and motivations are just so complex that debates and character studies about him are still being discussed to this day.
4. Code Geass
Yep, another legendary title that’s sure to be remembered in the pop culture history books.
Code Geass’ manga, much like its anime adaptation, is a masterpiece that features one of the most “human” and noble anti-hero characters of all time.
I’m talking of course about Lelouch vi Britannia — our favorite “the ends justify the means” type of MC who did everything in his power to reach the “good ending” for the entire world.
Trust me when I say it’ll most likely be one of the best manga featuring anti-hero MC that you’ll ever read.
And while I do believe that its anime adaptation is superior in every way, I still think the manga deserves some recognition and praise.
Has the mainstream media destroyed your faith towards any work of fiction with a vampire among its main characters?
Well I’m here to restore that faith with Hellsing — a personal favorite of mine that you’ll most likely enjoy as well.
Instead of a cliché pretty-boy vampire who sparkles under sunlight, we have Gigachad Alucard – the first among his race, and the most overpowered vampire in all of fiction.
As if that isn’t a hell of a character introduction already, keep in mind that Alucard is also a very compelling anti-hero.
And despite not killing innocents, he’s a hardcore sadist who enjoys humiliating his enemies.
Again, this is one of those cases where I believe the anime adaptation is better than the manga. But the manga is still leagues better than most similar manga you’ll find nowadays.
Speaking of overpowered anti-hero main characters…
Here we now have Overlord — an isekai manga that really pushes on the OP part.
The story is about Ainz (a.k.a. Momonga) — an isekai’d human-turned-undead skeleton who commands one of the most influential guilds in the game he’s been isekai’d into.
While he remains largely “good” throughout the manga, Ainz does commit several acts that he admits are “unheroic” and “unbecoming of a human”.
Bolstered by its visually-satisfying artwork and intriguing storyline, it’s admittedly one of my favorite isekai to date.
I definitely recommend this one.
10 dancing skeletons out of 10.
As a fan of Kentaro Miura’s work, I have a lot of great things to say about him and what he’s done (rest his soul).
But those words have already been written plenty of times by other fans — so let’s cover the manga here.
Instead, I’m going to tell you more about Berserk — which is the story of a man named Guts who’d earn your sympathy and respect pretty fast, despite being a pretty dark character.
Guts is not your average anti-hero MC — he’s the very personification of it.
The actions he takes (both in the anime and the manga) are not necessarily borne out of his desire to be good or evil, but instead out of necessity and instinct most of the time.
This is what makes Guts’ character so good, in my opinion.
And it’s also why this particular manga is among the best to ever represent a true anti-hero main character.