Even if you think you know all the tropes, a particularly clever anime can still hit you with an anime plot twists that you just did not see coming. Sometimes, you look back on a show and realize that the big twist was hinted at, but other times there’s no way you could have possibly predicted what the show had in store.
While anime plot twists can be both infuriating and satisfying, they always make a show more interesting. Twists commonly involve a single character or group, but occasionally, a good series will drop in a massive twist that changes everything about the plot. When viewers find out that Assassination Classroom’s Koro-Sensei never planned to destroy the Earth, the whole premise of the show suddenly changes. Even if you hated a particular plot twist, it’s hard to stop thinking about them once they’ve dropped.
Anime Plot Twists – WARNING: MAJOR STORY LINE SPOILERS BELOW
The Government forced Itachi Uchiha to kill his clan in Naruto
While today’s Naruto fans are comfortably aware of the whole “Itachi is actually a good guy” thing, when the news first dropped, it was utterly shocking.
At the beginning of the series, Sasuke swears to take revenge on his older brother, who he believes is responsible for slaughtering their entire clan. While Itachi actually did do this, he didn’t have a choice in the matter. When Itachi was 13, Danzo — a power-hungry Konoha official who secretly wanted to harvest the Uchiha clan’s powerful eyes for his own use — approached him with a choice. Itachi could kill his own clan, sparing the life of himself and his brother, or the city would kill them all.
While some argue that Itachi had a third choice (warning his family and getting them out of there), that would have undoubtedly sparked another war. Itachi was already traumatized from years of warfare, and felt that killing his family was the only way to protect his community. Tragically, Sasuke doesn’t learn the truth until after he exacts his vengeance and kills his brother.
Some of the Heroes in Attack On Titan are secretly Titans
Attack on Titan drops plot twists from the very start, but the biggest plot twist of all comes when Reiner and Bertholdt — members of the Survey Corps, a group dedicated to destroying Titans — straight up admit to being the Colossal Titan and the Armored Titan. These Titans are horrifying, man-eating monsters who helped kill thousands of humans, including the main character’s mother.
What left a lot of viewers particularly shook was the understated way in which this information is revealed. Reiner simply tells Eren the truth with no warning or buildup.
L Dies in Deathnote
While character death doesn’t automatically constitute a plot twist, L’s death in Death Note is definitely unexpected. Although Light Yagami had been attempting to kill L since the beginning of the series, few people expected him to succeed, and even fewer expected that he would do so 12 episodes prior to the end of the story. Even more surprising is that, as he lays dying, L expresses genuine emotional depth; that’s a twist in its own right.
Bleach‘s Sosuke Aizen has been a villain the whole time
As far as the rest of the cast knows, Sōsuke Aizen of Bleach is a loyal member of Soul Society. He’s a bit of a dork, and he likes to play by the rules. He’s not the type of person one would expect to go rogue, as he’s known for being dependable and kind.
Suddenly, he is mysteriously “murdered,” and the blame falls on Ichigo and his friends. This is shocking enough on its own, but what happens next is one of the greatest plot twists in anime history; it is revealed that Aizen faked his own death in order to escape Soul Society, which he fully intends to destroy.
The Philosopher’s Stones in FMA use human souls
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood boasts a complex plot with plenty of twists, but one of the most alarming is the one about the philosopher’s stone, a powerful magical item at the core of the story.
At first, the philosopher’s stone is seen as the apex of the alchemist’s craft; it can allegedly bypass the law of equivalent exchange, and basically produce anything its user desires. While the philosopher’s stone is indeed quite powerful, its origin is horrifying. The stones are created through a fusion of souls from people who have been violently killed. One of the stones was created via the genocide of the Ishbalan people.
This nauseating revelation is made even worse by the fact that Roy Mustang — who claims that he wanted to protect the remaining Ishbalan people from further military abuse — uses this philosopher’s stone to restore his own lost sight. While Mustang’s morals were never perfect, this is still unexpected, given his character trajectory up until that point.
Assassination Classroom’s Koro-Sensei did not blow up the moon
The premise of Assassination Classroom is that class 3-E — a group of middle school students who are constantly looked down on for being “low level”— are tasked with assassinating their teacher, a tentacle monster who claims to have destroyed the moon, and who allegedly has plans to destroy the Earth, unless someone stops him.
In a surprising twist, it turns out that Koro-sensei didn’t blow up the moon, and has no intention whatsoever of destroying the Earth. In reality, he intends to die no matter what, because his body is infused with powerful antimatter that will explode and take out most of the planet if nothing is done.
Koro-sensei asked 3-E to try and take him out for two reasons. First off, he wanted to spend his last months on Earth attempting to inspire and care for his friend dead Aguri’s students. Secondly, he’s genuinely hoping that they’ll be able to figure out how to kill him, because he has no desire to destroy the Earth.
The Sybil System in Psycho-Pass is run by floating brains
Most viewers of Psycho-Pass could tell that there was something weird going on with the Sybil system, but that weird thing is still one Hell of a surprise, even for the viewers who read Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber and therefore might have gotten the reference. The Sybil system — which decides whether or not Japanese citizens are “latent criminals” and punishes them before they can commit any crimes — is not the perfect computer algorithm that everyone believes it is.
In truth, the Sybil system is made up of a linked system of human brains, most of which were harvested from true criminals who were smart enough to outthink the system. When Akane Tsunemori discovers this, it makes her realize that she’s living in a dangerously flawed society that she is now obligated to fix.
Rei Ayanami of Neon Genesis Evangelion is secretly a clone
At first, Rei Ayanami of Neon Genesis Evangelion seems like an ordinary — if slightly socially stunted — teenage girl. For most of the series, viewers assume that she’s like Shinji and Asuka: a kid risking her life by piloting a mecha. Actually, Rei is nothing like her friends; she’s one of countless clones created as a byproduct of Gendo Ikari and Kozo Fuyutsuki’s attempt to revive Shinji’s mother, who died during a contact experiment. Because she isn’t fully human, her body has a tendency to break down and disappear, and most of her clones have been destroyed. Despite this, Rei does experience human emotion, and each individual clone can feel physical pain.
Future Diary’s Yuno Gasai has an absolutely insane secret plan
Future Diary is always a pretty weird show, but things get drastically more bizarre when Yuno Gasai’s plan — as well as the extent of her love for Yukiteru — is revealed. As it turns out, Yuno is actually from the future, and she’s been intentionally going back in time to relive the Survival Games, a brutal experience that most people wouldn’t even want to endure once.
Yuno consigns herself to this fate so that she can spend as much time as possible with her beloved Yukiteru. Not only that, but in order to reset the time travel cycle, Yuno has to insure that she dies. She elects to experience an endless cycle of death and suffering just to spend time with a boy. This strange plot twist is a lot for both Yukiteru and the audience to take in.
Ryuko Matoi and Satsuki in Kill la Kill are actually long lost sisters
During the first part of Kill la Kill, protagonist Ryuko Matoi is dead-set on destroying the student council president Satsuki Kiryuin, who runs her school like a dictatorship. On top of that, she appears to be under the thumb of her mother Ragyo, who wants to destroy humanity using fibers from space. As Ryuko prepares to defeat her in an exaggerated battle, viewers are ready to see the prim president get clobbered.
As it turns out, Satsuki and Ryuko are actually on the same side. Satsuki has been slowly stockpiling her resources and honing her skills to stop her mother’s evil plan, and now she needs Ryuko’s help. Unbeknownst to her (or to the audience), Ryuko and Satsuki are actually sisters. Oh, and also Ryuko is a human/alien fusion. That’s also a pretty big surprise, one that Ryuko takes so hard that she turns evil for an episode or two before agreeing to join forces with Satsuki.