Suppose you are sitting in your sofa, enjoying your favorite anime series and eating popcorn. “Life is just perfect”, you think, but all of a sudden, something unexpected happens in the screen and you almost die choking. Now you’re just like “WTF? I didn’t see that coming. Wait, what? Why?”. Yes, that’s life. Sometimes it’s cruel and sometimes it’s beautiful, and the plot twists in anime can tip the scales towards any of two sides.
This list is about the best anime plot twists I have ever seen. I must warn you that there are going to be a lot of spoilers here. Basically the whole article is about spoilers because I’m going to describe the anime scenes that made my brain explode.
10. 11 eyes
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct 2009 – Dec 2009
Kakeru and his friend Yuka are suddenly transported to a not so friendly parallel world. They manage to escape, but soon they discover that four other students can also travel between worlds and they must figure out why they have been sent to this Red Night. Things get worse when six shadows appear in front of them.
The plot twist comes after many chapters, when you are totally hooked with the storyline. You were thinking the leading group is doing the right thing, but the plot hits you in the face and turns out that you were wrong the whole time. The good ones are actually the bad ones, and vice versa. And then you find out that it’s also too late to change the course of the events and everything turns out a complete mess.
9. Angel Beats!
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr 2010 – Jun 2010
The main storyline of this anime is quite original: a group of students are stuck in the afterlife because they still have unfinished business with the world and with themselves. Angel Beats! also knew how to combine music, humor and action perfectly. The main character of this anime is a boy who has lost his memories and can only remember his last name: Otonashi.
By the end of the anime, when everyone except Kanade and Otonashi have already moved on, it’s revealed that Otonashi’s heart is inside of Kanade. She confesses that the reason she was in the Afterlife, is because she wanted to thank the person who had donated her heart. This plot twist is really good, but there’s something that doesn’t fit right, and it’s that Otanashi should have been in the school before Kanade. In addition, the plot doesn’t explain why Kanade isn’t alive.
8. Mahou Soujo Madoka Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 2011 – Apr 2011
Don’t judge a book by its cover! At a first glance you may think that this is the typical kawaii magical girl show with a cute protagonist and a sweet story, but no… it isn’t, it’s a very dark and crazy anime actually. Kaname Madoka is a normal student whose life takes an unexpected turn after rescuing a “cat-like animal” named Kyuubey. As a reward, Kyuubey offers Madoka and Sayaka (a friend of hers) to become Magical Girls. Wait… no, you aren’t watching Sailor Moon. The whole ambience changes in episode 3.
When Mami is fighting an enemy horde, she looks so confident, proud and smiling that she makes you think everything is going to be all right. But then Charlotte appears, opens her big mouth and decapitates her with her sharp teeth. Mami’s lifeless body falls on the ground and Charlotte eats her. Many viewers start to take the anime seriously from this chapter and find in Madoka Magica an anime unique in its kind. Fun fact, Charlotte’s second form is inspired by Takashi Murakami’s art.
7. Persona 4: The Animation
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct 2011 – Mar 2012
In the quiet town of Naraba, a series of mysterious deaths are happening. The corpses are found hanging from TV antennae and telephone poles. At the same time, the “Midnight Channel” is growing in popularity among high school students because it is said that when you watch it, your soulmate is revealed on the screen. Yuu Narukami is a transfer student who discovers that he and his friends can travel through the TV into another world.
Throughout the whole anime, Tohru Adachi was the clumsy and cheerful new cop, messing things up because of his inexperience and getting on Ryotaro Dojima’s nerves. It’s only by the end of the anime, when everything seems lost, that the team ties up all the loose ends and Adachi becomes the main suspect of the murders. Once unmasked, he confesses he has been manipulating the Investigation Team and withholding information from the beginning just for fun.
6. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
- Episodes: 27
- Aired: Apr 2007 – Sep 2007
This anime has roused opposite emotions, you may love it or you may hate it, but it’s hard to remain impartial. And that’s because it’s wildly exaggerated. Simon and Kamina live in the underground village of Jeeha under the rule of The Spiral King. They are like day and night: Simon is timid, mediocre and plain; while Kamina is a cool free-spirit. One day, Kamina finds a big robot which is an ancient artifact of war: a Laggan. Using the Laggan, they manage to escape to the surface world.
In episode 8, Kamina, the guy who seems to be the protagonist, dies from his injuries after winning a battle. This death is quite surprising and really affects the rest of the cast, because now the crew is left with the worthless Simon and a downhearted Yoko. And this may sound paradoxical, but the show gets better from here.
5. Death Note
- Episodes: 37
- Aired: Oct 2006 – Jun 2007
This anime is already a classic, and if you are an anime fan, I’m sure you’ve already watched it. If you haven’t… what are you doing with your life? Go and watch it NOW! The story begins when the bright student, Light Yagami finds a notebook called the Death Note. If you write a name on the Death Note, this person will die immediately. Light realizes how great the power of the Death Note could be. But you know, with great power comes great responsibility.
I know this isn’t an innocent anime, and I probably should’ve seen it coming, but I really didn’t expect L‘s death. The whole show revolved around the battle between Light Yagami and the eccentric L. Even though Light was brilliant, and one of my favorite anime characters, I was expecting L to win, because the good ones, or at least the less evil ones, always win. Right? Well, silly me. When L dies in episode 25 I was shocked, mainly because I knew there was more series to come. So basically, after L’s death the fans had no clue how the anime was going to continue.
4. School Days
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul 2007 – Sep 2007
When you first watch this anime, you may think it’s a classic harem anime, but as the story progresses you find out that the main character, is a complete bastard and you come to hate him. The anime is an adaptation of a visual novel, telling the story of Makoto who is in love with Kotonoha. Makoto’s friend Sekai is in love with Makoto but helps him to pick up Kotonoha. And a complex love triangle begins. The problem is that of all the possible endings of the visual novel, they just picked the worst one.
As you get to know Makoto, you realize he’s a horny boy who took advantage of girls anytime he could. So when Makoto dies stabbed by Sekai, you can feel a sort of satisfaction. But then, things go too far, and a romance harem anime turns into a gore psycho one. When Kotonoha returns from shopping, she finds Makoto’s body. Then, she texts Sekai asking to meet her in the school roof. Once there, Kotonoha pointing at a bag, states that Makoto is there with them. Of course, inside the bag is Makoto’s head. Kotonoha kills Sekai and slices her stomach, just to check if she was really pregnant. The anime ends with Kotonoha on a yacht cuddling Makoto’s head and mumbling they are finally alone.
3. Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct 2006 – Jul 2007
In the year 2010, Japan, now renamed Area 11, was under the dominion of the Britannian Empire. Lelouch Lamperouge, is an exiled prince of Britannia that in a middle of a terrorist attack comes across a mysterious girl named C.C. Then, she grants Lelouch the “Power of the King,” also known as the power of Geass. This power allows him to make people obey him without questioning. With Geass, Lelouch stars a rebellion against the empire.
The big surprise in this anime comes when Lelouch joking with Euphemia, his half sister and one of the people he cares about the most, accidentally gives her the Geass to kill all the Japanese. This joke turns to an order to Euphemia, and she leads the Britannian Army to a brutal killing of innocent Japanese. Trying to protect himself from the terrible mistake he made, Lelouch commands to stop the Britannians, to save the Japanese, and to kill Euphemia.
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Apr 2011 – Sep 2011
This anime is about time travel and parallel timelines, so it’s basically one plot twist after another. The mad scientist Rintarou Okabe and his fellow lab members spend most of the time inventing useless things. Their last invention, the “Phone Microwave” surprisingly works and it can send emails to the past and change the flow of time.
Eventually, they discover that playing with time is not harmless, and they must repair the mess they caused. But to set things back to normal implies the sacrifice of one of their friends. And then you are reminded that Kurisu died in the beta timeline, her father took her research, failed, and started World War III. But she is still alive in Steins;Gate and World War III never happens. Okabe finally manages to fake Kurisu’s death and somehow cheat time. I strongly recommend this anime, it’s like The Butterfly Effect turns into an anime.
1. Mirai Nikki (The Future Diary)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Oct 2011 – Apr 2012
This plot twist is just amazing, it reveals how “twisted” a human being can be and that’s why it’s in the top position of the list. Mirai Nikki is also an anime about time travelling so there are a few plot twists during the show. But when we discover the truth about Yuno Gasai, it’s definitely one of the greatest shocks you can receive.
Yuno’s obsession with Yukiteru Amano, the main character, is gradually revealed throughout the anime, but then you discover that she has already won the survival game. Of course, in order to win she had to kill Yukiteru and everyone else. The point is, that she is so fixated on Yuki, that her plan is to reset time and go back to her final days with him in a full circle. But to do so, she has not only to go back in time, but also to find and kill the current Yuno in that timeline, and thus take her place. That, ladies and gentlemen is what I call a yandere, and the rest is nonsense.
An unexpected plot twist is one of the characteristics of the best Japanese Anime. This is a surprising turn on the plot that completely changes the direction of the story. The use of plot twists in a storyboard is not that easy, some anime rely too much on them or overuse them, with the final result of a nonsense story. One of the best tactics is to use an unexpected plot twist in the end which leaves the viewers with a bittersweet flavor.
I want to make a special mention to Neon Genesis Evangelion. This series has a lot of plot twists and each new turn is better than the previous one. Let’s just remember a few: Touji and the Unit-03 tragedy, the mindrape of Asuka, the truth about Rei, Ritsuko being in a relationship with the same man her mother was… and the list goes on.
What do you think about plot twists? Do you love them or hate them? Please leave a comment below and tell us about your favorite plot twist in anime. We are looking forward to reading it!