While the protagonists in shonen anime tend to be on the younger side, their antagonists tend to be considerably older than one would expect.

When Kirito first entered the beta for Sword Art Online he was only 14 years old.

Shonen anime protagonists are often built with the intention of drawing in a younger audience. To do this, the creator’s behind the anime often build protagonists that a younger audience can relate to. For example, Sword Art Online stars a 14 year old protagonist by the name of Kirigaya Kazuto with the hope that the young protagonist will draw in younger viewers.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Kirito Is The Best Isekai Protagonist (& 5 It’s Shiroe)

Conversely, the antagonists in Shonen anime are often characters that a younger audience would have less in common with. Theoretically, that would mean most villains in Shonen anime are cast as adults. TTo test this theory out with SOA as the primary subject, we can look at the villains of SAO, ranking them oldest to youngest (based on their age when the Sword Art Online Beta launched in 2022.)

7 Quinella (360) Is Old In-Game, But As Of 2022, She Had Not Even Been Born Yet

Despite living inside of the Underworld Virtual Reality Program for more than 360 years, Quinella is technically the youngest villain. Due to the way time progresses in the Underworld program, Quinella was born and nearly died before anyone in the outside world had aged a single year.

Though the game itself wasn’t meant to give Quinella immortality, the young girl took it upon herself to explore the commands of the game and even dubbed herself the Administrator of the game after finding the command code for eternal life.

6 Shigemura Tetsuhiro (45) Is One Of The Oldest Antagonists In Sword Art, But That Doesn’t Prevent Him From Being A Threat

Shigemura Tetsuhiro - Sword Art Online

The Ordinal Scale arc introduced a new virtual reality gaming console meant to compete with the AmuSphere. Tetsuhiro designed the new gaming console and a new ARMMORPG called Ordinal Scale. To further list Tetsuhiro’s accomplishments, this man managed to create a fully functional artificially intelligent pop idol that he uses to market his new game.

RELATED: Sword Art Online VS Log Horizon: Which Is The Better RPG Based Anime?

If Tetsuhiro hadn’t used his game to try and steal the memories of a bunch of teenage gamers he would surely be remembered as a hero rather than a villain. Unfortunately, his obsession with saving his daughter pushed him to commit some truly heinous acts of villainy.

5 Heathcliff: Akihiko Kayaba Is 26 Years Old, Which Seems Pretty Young For A Game Producer

The creator of the Virtual Reality Experience that grants this anime series its name may not present himself as an evil-doer, but it is hard to overlook the fact that he trapped 10,000 people inside Sword Art Online. Still, in classic anime protagonist fashion, Kirito forgives Heathcliff after defeating him in the Aincrad Arc. After this, Heathcliff becomes one of Kirito’s most powerful allies.

At 26 years old, the player behind the System Name Heathcliff is an incredibly talented programmer and gamer. He certainly made some morally questionable decisions, but that doesn’t change the fact that he deserves some respect from fans of SAO.

4 Oberon: Sogou Nobuyuki Went To School With Akihiko Kayaba, So Fans Can Assume That He Is 25-26 Years Old In The Year 2022

The Fairy King himself is the main antagonist of the Fairy Dance arc. After hacking into the SAO servers and rerouting the consciousness of roughly three-hundred players into Alfheim Online, Oberon used these new players to conduct tests on human emotions and memories.

Oberon’s skill as a programmer makes him a terrifying foe in the world of Sword Art Online, especially considering his personal vendetta against Akihiko Kayaba. While Heathcliff uses his platform to test the will of those who enter his game, Oberon uses his for completely selfish reasons.

3 Subtilizer: Gabriel Miller (24) Doesn’t Demonstrate Their Villainy Until Gun Game Online And Project Alicization, Four Years After The SOA Beta Incident

Subtilizer, Sword Art Online

Gabriel Miller is one of the few main villains in this series to cast a shadow over two different VR games. As Subtilizer in Gun Game Online and Vecta in Project Alicization Gabriel proved that regardless of the platform, he is one of the best gamers in the series.

RELATED: When Did Kirito Get The Elucidator? & 9 Other Questions About His Weapons, Answered

In Gun Game Online, Miller won the first Bullet of Bullets tournament with only a knife and a handgun. His interest in the online gaming community has little to do with entertainment or accolades though. Miller is interested only in discovering the origin of the human soul and will do anything necessary to learn more about how the soul interacts with the human body.

2 Kuradeel (24) Doesn’t Originally Appear As A Villain But His Battle With The Protagonist Will Not Be Easily Forgotten

When Kuradeel is first trapped inside Sword Art Online at the beginning of the series, he is tasked with protecting the show’s main heroine as a member of the Knights of the Blood Guild. This guild’s name functions now as a bit of foreshadowing, setting Kuradeel up as a knight out for blood.

When it is finally revealed that Kuradeel is a member of Laughing Coffin, the infamous player-killing guild, Kirito is forced to confront him. Despite the fact that Kuradeel isn’t the main antagonist of any of the major arcs in SOA, viewers will never forget the moment he called Kirito a murderer for driving a sword through his digital body.

1 Death Gun: Shinkawa Shouichi (16) Is Trapped In SOA At The Same Time As The Protagonist, But Doesn’t Really Hit His Stride As A Villain Until Gun Game Online

It makes sense for the youngest main villain in Sword Art Online to have the coolest character design of the bunch. That comment isn’t meant as an insult to the other villains, but readers have to admit that the skull mask and glowing red eyes is an incredibly cool design.

Furthermore, despite being the youngest entry on this list Shouichi and his brother concoct one of the most villainous plots of all the main villains. While trapping a bunch of kids in a video game is dastardly, convincing them that their deaths in-game will also kill them IRL is just straight-up evil.

NEXT: Sword Art Online: Every Main Character’s Age

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