Demons & Titans: Villains or Victims?

While victimizing villains isn’t a new trope, attack on Titan and Demon Hunter are exemplary anime series that use this trope tastefully. Through the use of foreshadowing, flashbacks, and revelations, both of these stories portray their villains as the consequences of their circumstances rather than the protagonists of their actions.

attack on Titan takes place in a world where titans roam free and humanity is imprisoned behind three walls. Eren Yeager, the main protagonist, vows to slaughter all Titans since the day the Colossal Titan and Armored Titan destroyed Wall Maria and killed his mother, Carla Yeager. However, finding out the true identities of the Titans confuses Eren and drives him down a destructive path. Demon Hunter takes place in a world where demons attack in the middle of the night. Tanjiro Kamado, the main character, seeks revenge on the demon that slaughtered his family and seeks answers for his sister Nezuko Kamado, who turned into a demon herself. Being a demon slayer is more difficult than he thought, however, as his heart sympathizes with them more than any other demon slayer in his organization.


TIED TOGETHER: Eren and Lelouch: Heroes or Villains?

Attack on Titan: Who Are the Good Guys?

At the start of the series, the forces of Eldia, particularly the Recon Corps, are set up as the good guys. As a child, Eren admired the Explorers’ Corps, which ventured beyond the walls to battle titans and uncover mysteries. As a teenager, after passing the final training test in the Training Corps and earning a spot as one of the top ten graduate students, he decided to join the Survey Corps. Killing the Titans is all he ever wanted, but that decision comes with a price.

As the truth unfolds, the Titans become harder to hate. As the series spans multiple seasons, the internal corruption of the Military Police Brigade is one of the first times Eren reevaluates his loyalty to the military. Another shocking revelation is the story of King Fritz the Coward, who lived on through his royal descendants and erased his people’s memories to maintain a false sense of peace.

During the final season, Eren is exposed to the reality that the people of Paradis Island are not the good guys since his ancestors were responsible for the mass slaughter of the Marleyans. From start to finish, Eren finds that the good guys weren’t very good at all.

Attack on Titan: Who Are the Baddies?

The story places the enemies on the titans. Whether it’s the Nine Titans who can transform at will, or the pure Titans who retain little to nothing of their original personalities, Eren treats them as enemies to be defeated. Examples of the nine Titans featured in the series are the Colossal Titan, Female Titan, Armored Titan, Assault Titan, and Founding Titan. Each Titan has their own unique abilities and forms.

As the series progresses, Eren discovers that the Titans are Eldians who have been injected with a titanium serum. To keep the Eldians in check on the Isle of Paradis, the Marleyans restricted the movement of Eldians within their borders in what appeared to be refugee camps, and regularly transported the Eldian Titans by boat. When Eren found out the truth about the Titans, his perception of them changed greatly. All along he had been wrong about them.

TIED TOGETHER: Attack on Titan: Is Eren Yeager a Hero or a Villain?

Comrades in the corps, Reiner, Annie, and Bertolt, were revealed to be Marleyan spies ordered to recover the Founding Titan from Eren Yeager. Using the titans to their advantage, the Marleyan military did not hesitate to rule the world with the power they hated most. Brainwashed by the Marleyan military, the heirs to the Nine Titans other than Eren Yeager and Ymir have no choice but to spy, cheat, and kill for the sake of their families, friends, and themselves. What looked like an evil plot by the traitors turned out to be a struggle for survival.

Attack on Titan: Who is the Real Villain?

Tracing back to the origins of attack on Titan, the series introduces two villains: one homemade and one real. The self-made villain is Eren Yeager himself. Choosing between the world and his friends, he chooses his friends, especially Mikasa. With his time limited due to the curse of Ymir, the first Founding Titan, he has only 13 years to live after his first Titan shift. In the end he decides to sacrifice his life for his friends.

The true villain of the series is undeniably King Fritz, also known as King Reiss, and the 145th King of Eldia. After Ymir is revealed to have the ability to transform into a titan, he uses her as a weapon and marries her to create more titans. After her death, he forces his daughters to feed on their mother’s body parts in order to gain access to this mysterious power. The Titans become a world-class threat capable of destroying entire nations in a matter of minutes.

The Marley Massacre and the Fear of the Titans all trace back to King Fritz. If Ymir, the Founding Titan, had not been exploited and manipulated, nothing of death and destruction would have happened. The Marleyans would not have been massacred, so they would not have taken revenge on the Eldians in the same way. All in all, the series shows that behind surface-level villains, there lurks a bigger villain. In this case it was one man who caused the collapse of nations and the destruction of his people.

Demon Slayer: Who are the good guys?

Similar to attack on Titan Series, Demon Hunter introduces the good guys in the form of the Demon Slayer Corps. Armed with a special sword that can decapitate and kill demons, the Nichirin Sword, and a special Total Concentration Breathing Technique that can increase the user’s physical abilities, the Demon Slayers are established as allies of humans and enemies of demons. In particular, the Hahiras, the crème de la crème of the Demon Slayers.

As the strongest members of the Demon Slayer Corps, the Hashiras are tasked with taking out the Twelve Kizuki, or the Twelve Moons, who are demons serving directly under Muzan. Almost all despise the demons and show no mercy. As shown in one of the last episodes of the first season, since traveling with a demon is forbidden by law, Tanjiro and Nezuko are scrutinized and threatened by the Hashiras. Since she has never eaten a human, Nezuko is accepted as an exception; However, the Hashiras are still suspicious of her.

Unlike the military corps in attack on Titan, the Hashiras are good-natured people. They sacrifice themselves for their cause and their friends, fighting the demons day and night to restore some semblance of peace to humanity in exchange for their lives. Through flashbacks and dialogue, the members of the Hashiras appear to be constantly changing as the members of the Twelve Kizuki are strong enough to overpower them.

Demon Slayer: Who are the bad guys?

As already mentioned, the demons in Demon Hunter are set up as the wicked, particularly the Twelve Moons. Throughout the series, demons are portrayed as hideous villains who not only devour people but kill them for fun. As in the case of the Hand Demon, his only mission was to get revenge on Urodaki, who imprisoned him in the final selection training area. As shown through flashbacks, the hand demon specifically sought out Urodaki’s disciples and killed 13 of them during his 47 years trapped in the mountain.

Empathy towards the demons begins early in the series, however, when Tanjiro holds the hand of the dying hand demon, who regains memories of his past life. Beginning with this encounter, the series continues this trend with each demon defeated by Tanjiro remembering their human life and reaching out to him in one way or another. The spider family in particular is an important example of this case, as each of the members has some sort of tragic backstory that makes Tanjiro and the audience feel sorry for them. While their actions make them villains, they are also victims.

For example, Daki and Gyutaro, who are collectively the Upper Tier 6 Demon, were brutally murdered during their human lives. Poor from birth, Gyutaro took odd jobs to support himself and his sister. Because of her beauty, Daki was often sought out by older men who wanted to marry her. After she has rejected one of the suitors rather violently, he takes revenge on her and burns her. Gyutaro is also murdered by them after finding them.

Demon Slayer: Who is the real villain?

In the first few episodes, the true villain of the series, Muzan Kibutsuji, is revealed. He is presented as the origin of all demons as well as the creator of the Twelve Moons. By drinking his blood, any human can turn into a demon depending on whether they are compatible with him. The worst case scenario in demon creation is when the blood is expelled from the human body due to the amount ingested and explodes. The best scenario in creating demons is when the blood is accepted and the body absorbs a large amount of it as a strong demon is born.

Muzan is the main villain as his quest for eternal life drives him to lie and kill. When he became a demon, he supposedly gave up his humanity, allowing him to easily manipulate humans and demons alike. So laid out in the story, Muzan is a ruthless ruler, showing no mercy even to the demons who serve him faithfully.

For such a powerful demon, he too succumbs to many fears: fear of death, fear of Yoriichi Tsugikuni, and fear of betrayal. Although in the case of Daki, the Upper Rank 6 Demon, he sometimes poses as a caring master for certain members of the Twelve Moons, he only treats them kindly because he wants to manipulate and use them to work harder on him. Knowing that she cares about her beauty, he takes advantage of her by endlessly praising her looks and other superficial aspects of herself. At his core, he is a selfish demon who only cares about himself and will sacrifice anyone and everyone for his survival.

MORE: Berserker: The Dragon Slayer Explained Demons & Titans: Villains or Victims?


TaraSubramaniam is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. TaraSubramaniam joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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