The Supreme Master of the Fist

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Translating his name would mean "Devil", a change made in localization.
At first glance that change is obvious, the brutal character with crazy super powers and blood red energy is pretty far up on the "Evil" ladder.
But Akuma is more than just a brute "Devil", his character has some nuances.

First his basic design gives us some tips that he is a bit more than what meets the eye. For one, the Buddhist beads that adorn his neck is a look shared by the "Nio", a type of heavenly beast said to guard Buddhist temples in your mythology. His beast-like face and hair also evoke the presence of the "Asura" creature from Indian folklore.

Akuma is clearly unstable, angry even. You can tell him by his voice as well taunts in the games.

Pairing it with the fact that his design is a mix of heavenly yet brutish mythological beasts as well colors and energy to represent a "Evil" and we got a character that transcends your regular villain in the series like Balrog (the Boxer) or M.Bison (The Dictator).

Akuma's evil is more about losing yourself in violence. He mastered his style beyond Ryu and his older brother and reached the pinnacle of his combat art. And what did he find there? "Satsu no Hadou" or "Murderous Intent".

Yet the same Murderous Intent is something the character controls. Several times in the series, Akuma holds back to test new fighters (Such as Ryu and Oro) or flat out stops fighting when he finds out that it isn't a "pure" fight (How Akuma spares and leaves Gen when he finds out the kung fu master is terminally ill).

We also see him clearly jumping over Bison (in Street Fighter II) and Gill (Street Fighter III) before a match and using his strongest move to beat them in one hit.

If anything, Akuma found on top of the martial art mountain he climbed the most pure violent of intents as well god-like strength. Inside of that shell lies a martial artist that has about the same passion for fighting as Ryu, however he is lost among his own violent feelings.

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