Anime has a reputation for relying heavily on particular tropes. Usually, the plot twists in anime are pretty easy to see coming. Yet, some use these tropes to expertly mislead their audience before throwing a massive bombshell at them with plot twists that completely shake up the story and, sometimes, devastate their viewers.
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Whether it’s something terrible happening to a beloved character or a twist in the plot that is not at all what fans thought was going to happen, plot twists in anime, as painful as they can sometimes be, are what keep audiences hooked. Warning: If you aren’t fully caught up with these series, spoilers may lie ahead!
10 One Piece
One Piece had a pretty good reputation for not letting characters die, so when Ace was captured by the World Government, every fan knew he was going to be rescued. Even when Luffy made it to Ace’s cell late fans knew Ace was going to be rescued. When Luffy finally makes it to Ace’s platform, every fan was so excited because he did it! Luffy saved his bother!
But, in a completely unexpected move that changed the entire tone of the narrative, Ace sacrifices himself to save Luffy and it hurt, a lot.
9 Attack On Titan
Attack on Titan has many plot twists strung throughout it, but the plot twist that no one saw coming? Erin becoming a cold, heartless villain-esque character and seemingly betraying the friends he held so dear.
This plot twist completely changes the narrative and becomes the source for some major heartaches and upsets in season 4 of the anime.
8 Angel Beats
Angel Beats is a strange anime that starts out with a very upbeat and silly vibe. Yet, as the characters learn more about the world in which they dwell, due to Otonashi befriending Angel, the anime takes a turn towards becoming a tear-jerker.
The plot twist comes right at the end of the anime, as Otonashi confesses his love for Angel, stating that he wants to stay in the Afterworld with Angel and help others be reincarnated. Turns out, Angel is another lost soul with regrets, and that regret was never being able to thank her heart donor, Otonashi, so she thanks him and passes on, leaving viewers balling and Otonashi alone. What a twist!
DECA-DENCE is one of those post-apocalyptic stories where the last of humanity is surviving on a giant moving ship and are fighting crazy alien bug things. Except, a bunch of robots seems to think the humans and the fight against the bug things, called Gadol, are actually just part of a video game they can log into, and thus viewers, for the majority of the anime, are under the impression that the robots, that are apparently actually cyborgs, are actually the fake ones meant to control humanity for destroying the world.
If this wasn’t enough, at the end of episode 9, it turns out that the world actually is all designed by the system and the cyborgs. It’s a pretty crazy plot twist, but it’s just the beginning, as the three following episodes contain a series of mini-plot twists in the form of seemingly common knowledge held by the cyborgs that the viewer is just then being introduced to that ultimately leads viewers into an existential rollercoaster of emotions where, in the end, viewers think they know what happened … maybe.
6 Code Geass
Code Geass is another anime known for its surprising plot twists. The end of season 1 of the anime is the first, when Lelouche not only loses his fight to reclaim Japan but also has his memories completely rewritten!
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Yet the greatest plot twist in the anime comes right before the final battle. Lelouche’s identity and Geass are brought to the Black Knight’s attention and it results in some major alliance reversals so, in the final battle, Lelouche is actually fighting the very organization he built to recreate the world. Ouch.
5 Assassination Classroom
Assassination Classroom’s homeroom teacher is wrapped in mystery. Is he an alien? Why is he teaching a class of perceived failures? Thus, when fans learned he was originally a human assassin who fell in love with their former teacher, minds are completely blown!
On top of this, a fan-favorite character comes out as being a sleeper agent, as well as the younger sister to their former teacher bent on revenge and with a completely different personality than originally assumed.
4 The World Ends With You: The Animation
Every fan knew that after Neku and Shiki beat the first Reaper Game, they weren’t just going to come back to life and there was no way it would be that easy. Yet the way it happens is the real surprise.
Shiki gets taken as Neku’s new entrance fee AND Neku has to compete in the Reapers Game, again, without his amazing partner! Any fan of this brilliantly created anime can easily remember the heartache associated with this plot twist, as Neku was just beginning to overcome his trust issues.
3 Fairy Tail
Fairy Tail had a pretty set formula for the way its plot developed. A group of evil wizards appears and Natsu and his friends beat them with perseverance and friendship, while viewers learn more about every character’s back story and plot progression. Thus, when a gigantic dragon randomly appears after an epic battle and completely wipes the floor with all the key members of Fairy Tail, ultimately leading to a seven-year time skip, fans were pretty surprised.
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Unfortunately, this plot twist really didn’t change the narrative of the anime much, it just set up a few romances and a cool come-back story for Fairy Tail, and that’s about it.
2 Bungo Stray Dogs
Bungo Stray Dogs starts out in a way that completely villainizes the Port Mafia. There are many clashes between them and the Armed Detective Agency as the plot progresses.
Thus, when the two organizations not only have to team up to save the day but are also revealed to be sister organizations originally created to protect the city, it was a complete surprise to fans.
1 Darwin’s Game
Kaname is the main protagonist of Darwin’s Game and, initially, viewers think he’s a Vash-like character, meaning he is going to be put in all these horrible situations, yet find a way to get out of them without killing anyone.
That is until the death of his final pregame friend makes him snap and we see a completely new side of Kaname. And this side is brutally cold and is really good at killing.
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About The Author
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Forrest Brandenburg is a list writer for Screen Rant specializing in anime nerdism. Forrest graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in English Creative Writing and Communications and has backgrounds in Education and Leadership. His past work experiences include window washing, MMA personal training, Chinese food delivery, national communications coordinating, and more. Yet his real passions include fantasy novels, anime, beat boxing, electronic music, PC and Xbox gaming, and various outdoor activities specific to places like Colorado.
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