For a hero to exist, there needs to be something to overcome. It can be something obvious like a villain, or something more subtle, such as a disease or drought. So what makes a good villain for the hero to overcome?
My pick for today is Isabella from The Promised Neverland. I will only be discussing season 1, but I will be including spoilers.
The premise of The Promised Neverland is simple. Children are being raised as food for a race of carnivorous creatures. Humans are best enjoyed early, so they’re bred and raised in “Orphanages” with a trusted caretaker who raises and certifies them ready for consumption. When three of the smarter children catch on, they hatch a plan to escape.
Gruesome, I know.
Isabella is a house mom of one of those orphanages. It’s her job to act as “mama” to these children, feeding them, educating them, making sure they get enough exercise; all things you would expect from someone in her position. Of course, only someone truly vile would do that to other humans, especially children. Right?
In my opinion, the best villains are multifaceted. Simple black and white motivations are boring and unimaginative. Sure, some people are evil because they love being evil, but in general, people are more complicated than that. They have real lives, real people that they love, and complicated feelings that all drive them to who they become. Isabella exemplifies this type of villain.
As it turns out, her life has been rather tragic. Not only was she forced to give birth to a child that she knows will be eaten, she is also forced to raise that child (though he cannot know who she is). If she rejects the appointment of house mom, she will be executed like the rest, leaving her son’s fate to chance.
Isabella does leave small “clues” as to her true identity with her son, and when we as the viewers finally see that, that’s when you can see her pain beginning to show.
Her emotional attachment to her son (and to her own life) force her into her position as the villain, and she will do what she must to fulfill her duty, even if that means physically maiming the children. Mama is unable to sacrifice her own life for the sake of morality, and she crosses the line to become a villain.
Of course, Isabella’s story isn’t finished here. There is a lot more to her story that I won’t cover. If you’re interested, I recommend either reading more or watching the two seasons that have been adapted into anime.
Who is your favorite anime villain?
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