Before I begin, I’d like to state a big, massive spoiler warning. I am going to be ruthless with spoilers here, so if you haven’t seen or read the entirety of Baccano!, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Fate/Stay Night, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle and Umineko no Naku Koro Ni, tread with caution. You’ve been warned.
This is a good one to start the list with. If you’ve seen Baccano, it should be obvious why he made the list. He has no supernatural or preternatural powers to speak of, but he is still the most intimidating character in the show – even among those with supernatural powers. His one asset is his incredible acrobatic skills, but what really makes Claire so intimidating is his mind. He is SCARY. A serial killer with an extreme sense of justice, a solipsist who believe it is impossible for him to die (and proves it through his actions), and has the power to strike impossible fear in the hearts of his enemies. He’s the ultimate ally, but you don’t want to get on his bad side. Immortals fear this guy. Claire Stanfield is a special kind of crazy.
Anti-Spiral isn’t a new idea. An super-intelligent nigh-omnipotent interdimensional cosmic entity which rules over the universe with suppressive force. But Anti-Spiral does it so perfectly, and in the face of the Spirals of Earth, the conflict is unparalleled. Anti-Spiral’s only motivation is to use it’s power to protect the universe from being destroyed, to prevent the evolution of spirals to reach a point where the universe is reduced to zero, a big crunch. It uses it’s ultimate power to halt the spirals indefinitely, and uses the tactic of absolute despair to keep the spirals under control. When facing the Spirals of Earth, it didn’t seek their absolute destruction, but rather sought to teach them the lesson of despair, and to return to where they came from. Even in the end, the Anti-Spiral refused to go all-out, and only used enough power to match Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, so that they would fight and win on even grounds, to inflict even maximum despair. That’s deep.
This guy is under-rated as hell. Easily one of my favourite villains, just because he’s so flawless. “Just as planned” always comes to mind when thinking of Fei Wong Reed. Throughout the story, just about every single event that happens is part of Fei Wong Reed’s design; a design he’s been acting out for years before the characters were even born. He is the ultimate puppet master, pulling all the strings without any of the characters being aware, save for maybe Yuuko or Fai. He will stop at nothing to grant his wish, not caring how much he stains his hands, and the hands of others with blood. He’s pretty much willing to destroy the universe to grant his wish. And what is his motivation? What is his story? Fei Wong Reed is a fragment of an emotion, the fleeting emotion of Clow Reed to prevent Yuuko from dying. It only lasted for a moment, but through it Fei Wong Reed was born, and so too did Yuuko remain in a state before death, with Fei Wong existing after Clow to fulfil his undesired wish of saving Yuuko’s life. Fei Wong Reed wasn’t even human, he was just a fragment of emotion which grew strong enough to control the multiverse, and break it. Fei Wong Reed is the destructive potential of love, manifested in the most extreme manner possible.
Archer’s existence itself is a paradox. The future incarnation of Emiya Shirou, born of his desire to become a hero and save people’s lives. Archer, or ‘Heroic Spirit EMIYA’,
is a callous man who has learned of the pain and suffering that comes with trying to become a hero, and has entered the holy grail war with the sole intention of killing his former self, to prevent his suffering from ever happening. His existence itself arises many philosophical questions, and questions about the self. The clash between Emiya and Archer is not just any battle, it’s an internal struggle between the past and future, a battle to determine whether Emiya deserves to exist or not. I could talk about it for hours, but there’s no doubting that Archer’s existence is one that is full of depth and intrigue. Heroism in despair.
The Voyager of the kakera herself. There’s just so much to say about Bernkastel. If common speculation is to be believed, then Bernkastel is the future incarnation of Furude Rika from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Flashing back to that, Rika was a young girl who was burdened by an unavoidable fate of being murdered, and forced to repeat it over and over again in a time loop, searching for a way to escape her fate. After innumerable attempts, she was finally able to escape her labyrinth of despair by creating a ‘miracle’ through her will, and defeated Takano Miyo. It’s not clear what happened after this, but somehow, we are reintroduced to this incarnation of Rika named ‘Frederica Bernkastel’ in Umineko no Naku Koro ni. However, if it weren’t for her appearance, you wouldn’t be able to make any connection between Bernkastel and Rika. You see, Bernkastel’s personality is just about the opposite of Rika. This is a Rika who has lived for an eternity, a being who has forgotten what it means to be alive and simply continues to ‘exist’; her only objective to find different ways to escape from boredom. For the first half of the story, Bernkastel remains a quiet observer, spectating the game between Battler and Beatrice and offering the occasional hint where necessary, but rarely getting involved. When you enter Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru, however, she takes a far more active role, and you begin to see her true colours. She becomes preoccupied by toying with people’s emotions, baiting them with a glimmer of hope before tearing it all away, just to see the look on their face when they’ve lost everything. In Episode 5, you see her expressing her bitter resentment of her double Erika Furudo when she displeases her, and Erika vents her hatred toward her own underling, Dlanor A. Knox. Both Bernkastel and Lambdadelta are haunted by their pasts, of ‘being stuck in a labyrinth with no escape’, experiencing the endless depths of despair. Bernkastel is an old and broken Rika, who has lost all humanity, and takes joy in defiling the humanity of others. Compared to Beatrice, who manipulated Battler into fighting her by pretending to be heartless, Bernkastel has completely forgotten what a heart is. It all becomes painfully clear in Episode 7, where Bernkastel appears to be almost likable toward the end of the episode, until that infamous Tea Party occurs and our opinion of her is once again flipped 180 degrees. Defiling Beatrice’s story just for her amusement and showing it to Ange and Lion, just to destroy Ange and reduce Lion and Will to hopeless sobbing in a sea of despair before ripping them apart as well. Where Erika is an intellectual rapist, Bernkastel is a rapist of the soul. And she scares the living hell out of me. Rika was for me one of my favourite and most motivational characters in Anime, and to see her reduced to the ultimate despair of Bernkastel is chilling. Bernkastel IS despair, and the way she will rip apart your soul for fun is nothing short of absolutely terrifying.
Although, most of this is just my interpretation. I still await the conclusion of Episode 8.