When it comes to anime, everyone seems to have the genres and series they enjoy, which range from action to romance and everything in between. Because the medium is animation-based, creators have a lot of creative freedom to express their characters’ emotions in interesting and bold ways. From Hunter x Hunter to Jujutsu Kaisen, there are plenty of intriguing and memorable characters.


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Smiling is often seen as a pleasant and welcoming gesture, but in anime, there are more than a handful of times when smiles can be fear-inducing. It’s often the villainous or evil characters that sport scary and horrific smiles, but there are some specific cases in which it comes from a beloved source.

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8/8 Sukuna – Jujutsu Kaisen

Anime as a medium is fascinating because it’s home to a variety of genres viewers love. With Shonen series like Jujutsu Kaisen, a go-to moment that always pumps up viewers is when one character exudes unrelenting confidence and smiles heading into an impossible fight. The frightening thing about Jujutsu Kaisen is that when the main character Yuji Itadori smiles in a fight, it’s likely not him.

Sukuna is a legendary cursed spirit that resides inside Yuji and happens to have a grin stretching from ear to ear. Anyone who witnesses Sukuna’s smile likely didn’t live long enough to tell anyone just how frightening it was.

7/8 Dimple – Mob Psycho 100

Now, Dimple may serve as comedic relief in his spirit form for most of Mob Psycho 100, but fans may forget just how creepy he was as a cult leader of sorts. His followers wore masks that sported dead hollow smiles. He had a mask that also included red circle cheeks, which matches the rosy red cheeks on his face.

They often say cult leaders are charismatic and likable leaders, but his smile comes across like someone exposed to the Joker’s laughing gas from a randomBatmancomic book. Following his death, he turns into a floating green ball of mist that still includes his signature red cheeks, but thankfully he rarely puts on the smile that helped him develop a cult following.

6/8 Ryuk – Death Note

In the Death Note anime, viewers are introduced to a deathly god creature often referred to as the Shinigami named Ryuk. He serves as the catalyst of the anime and is indirectly responsible for Light’s journey with the death note. Ryuk is a large greyish-blue entity sporting hair one would see on a Dragon Ball character.

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His eyes are discomforting to look at, which isn’t helped by the fact that his mouth full of razor-sharp teeth feels like it’s always half smiling. It’s similar to when someone in public is shy but wants to seem nice, so they half smile across the room. Only this time it’s being done by a seven-foot-tall demon-looking thing.

5/8 Caster – Fate/Zero

The Fate series is a very vast and complex narrative world full of dozens of stories. In Fate/Zero audiences are introduced to the Caster class of the Fourth Holy Grail War. It happened to be a man named Gilles de Rais, whose pervasive need for violence perfectly matched the serial killer tendencies of his master, Ryuunosuke Uryuu.

The facial expressions of Caster are often discussed among the fandom due to their off-putting nature, one of which is his smile. It’s not the expression someone makes when welcoming another, but rather the type of elation something feels when they’ve targeted prey.

4/8 Tomura Shigaraki – My Hero Academia

From his introduction in My Hero Academia, the villain known as Tomura Shigaraki has always come across as a bit of a creep. As he grows in both maturity and power, though, his once cringy smile has turned into a scary signature of his.

Partly why his smile comes off so horrifically is due to the decaying nature of his face. He tends to smile with a hand covering his face, but it’s so iconic that it can be seen clearly as day, regardless. When he starts to smile everyone understands he has nothing else on his mind other than causing ill intent to whoever he sees fit.

3/8 Smiling Titan – Attack On Titan

This entry will include spoilers for Attack on Titan, so beware. As an anime full of terrifying giant creatures known as Titans, there are many cases in which a smile is nothing short of terrifying. The most notable case, though, has to be the Titan specifically named for its facial expression, one known as the Smiling Titan or Abnormal Titan.

When it attacks the Jaeger family and Eren must watch his mother die it’s assumed the Titan was just a random attacker. It turns out that this specific Titan was the first wife of Eren’s father, who was turned into a Titan when she was caught and charged with treason. Attack on Titan has a way of making things interconnected in the most emotionally draining way possible.

2/8 Mad Pierrot – Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop is considered a gold-tier anime because it did such a good job of delivering a story filled with comedy and drama, navigating a line between serious and lighter tones. Little did anyone know that the episode titled “Pierrot le Fou” would welcome a nightmare-fueling entertainer turned lab experiment known as Mad Pierrot.

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He sports a straight smile that reads like a man trapped in his own body. A key part of making a smile scarier has a lot to do with a character’s eyes, and for Mad Pierrot, it feels as if his glaring red eyes never so much as blink, as he’s caught in a never-ending stare.

1/8 Nanika – Hunter x Hunter

The Zoldyck family is full of a bunch of weird characters that each played a role in Killua’s life. Many of them aren’t good people, but the most interesting of the bunch isn’t introduced until the final arc of the 2011 Hunter x Hunter anime. Her name is Alluka Zoldyck and she’s the possessed younger sister of Killua.

She happens to have an entity inside of her called Nanika that acts as both a blessing and a curse. Anyone familiar with horror knows that children can very easily be creepy and Nanika sports an emotionless dead smile that is both unnerving and anxiety-inducing.

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