It’s impossible to truly tell what’s going on in someone else’s mind. No matter how well you think you know someone, you’re bound to misunderstand them at some point. And just like reality, anime has its fair share of misunderstandings between characters. But while your slip-ups in real life may just cause a small argument or a missed appointment, improper communication in anime has been known to destroy friendships, ruin complex political strategies, and even bring about the end of the world.
Today, we’re here to examine the Top 10 Misunderstandings in Anime. Why did they happen and what could’ve been done to prevent or fix them? Were they just innocent accidents gone horribly wrong? Or were they deliberately manufactured by calculating villains? By the way, since these misunderstandings are usually very important plot points, we’ll be venturing into pretty big spoiler territory. Let’s explore this intricate web together!
10. Love Stage!!
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: July 2014 – September 2014
Movie star Ryouma has ladies falling all over him, but he hasn’t been able to get one particular girl out of his head for years - Izumi. She’s charmingly shy, and has the most beautiful iridescent eyes he’s ever seen. Years later, he meets her again and declares his love for her. But, to his surprise, his beloved Izumi is actually... a boy in drag!
It takes Ryouma and Izumi a long time to face each other and start to get along but, eventually, they begin a cute little romance together. The situation that entangled the threads of their lives wasn’t ideal, but it let them both realize that they don’t need to judge each other at face value. It’s their relationship that counts in the end.
9. JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 2012 – April 2013
The final battle of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 2 takes place at the summit of a volcano and ends with Joseph Joestar and his enemy Kars being launched into the sky on a chunk of rock from an eruption. The hilarious Nazi scientist Von Stroheim, who was the only other person at the scene, couldn’t see that Joseph had actually survived the rest of the fight. He reported to Joseph’s friends that the hero had died and they planned to hold a funeral in his honor.
But, much to everyone’s horrified surprise, Joseph shows up alive and well at his own funeral! It turns out that Suzi Q, who had nursed him back to health and married him shortly after, had forgotten to send a telegram to inform everyone that he wasn’t dead. Oops. As Joseph says in the English dub, “You had one job, woman! One job!”
8. Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2006 – July 2007
All Lelouch wants to do with his Geass power is create a better world for his sister Nunnally. He’s been using underhanded methods so far, but when Princess Euphemia comes along and proposes a peaceful solution, he relents to her wishes out of respect for his sister. But, just as Euphemia’s special zone for the Japanese citizens is about to be opened, Lelouch accidentally uses his mind-controlling Geass to force her to commit a massacre.
Naturally, this ruins any hope of peaceful relations between the Britannians and the Japanese people and Euphemia goes down in history as a devil. Perhaps her killing spree and eventual death couldn’t have been avoided, but if Lelouch had actually explained to anyone what really happened, he could’ve saved her legacy. Instead, he takes all the blame onto himself and makes his dream of a better world that much more difficult to achieve.
7. Noragami Aragoto
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: October 2015 – December 2015
Bishamon and Yato don’t get along. She’s a serious war goddess with a mansion full of regalia souls that she’s saved, while Yato is just a stray delivery god with only one delinquent regalia and a human girl at his side. But while Yato’s unsophisticated attitude does get on Bishamon’s nerves, the real reason that she hates him is because he killed her previous clan of souls several years ago.
Knowing Yato’s cheerful personality, it seems impossible that he would willingly murder dozens of innocent people. And, as Bishamon eventually finds out, he didn’t do it because he wanted to. Her most trusted advisor, Kazuma, begged Yato to do the deed. The effort of maintaining all of those souls was wearing down his master Bishamon and could kill her if left unchecked. Kazuma could’ve told her the truth earlier, but it was better for her to learn it herself.
6. Angel Beats!
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2010 – June 2010
Kanade (better known as “Angel” to the other students) is a mysterious presence in the afterlife. Anyone who stays around her for too long disappears, never to be seen again. In retaliation and fear, the students organize an Afterlife Battlefront to wage war on Kanade and save their classmates from her vile clutches.
Unfortunately, Kanade is very shy and has never been able to tell the manic students that she’s not actually evil. The world they inhabit is essentially purgatory, and her role is to help the trapped souls achieve peace and move on to heaven. The Afterlife Battlefront is definitely a pushy bunch, but we wish Kanade had spoken her mind just a bit earlier so that she could save everyone a lot of heartbreak.
5. Kenpuu Denki Berserk (Berserk)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 1997 – April 1998
Guts and Griffith have issues. They started out as best friends who always had each other’s back and Guts did everything he could to support Griffith’s dream of creating his own kingdom. But that all fell apart when Guts misinterpreted Griffith’s declaration that “a true friend would have his own dream” and he left Griffith’s army to pursue his own goals. Griffith, feeling that Guts had abandoned him, spiraled into hatred and eventually murdered his entire army to attain true power as an archdemon. Well, that escalated quickly.
If Guts had explained to Griffith why he was leaving or if Griffith had tracked down Guts before ruining his own life in despair, a lot of promising young soldiers wouldn’t have been ripped apart and eaten by demons. Little things count for a lot sometimes.
4. Devilman: Crybaby
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: January 2018
Speaking of best friends, betrayals, and demons, let’s take a look at Devilman: Crybaby. The original Devilman from 1972 was one of the biggest inspirations for Berserk, and this new interpretation from 2018 certainly keeps the theme of destroyed friendships intact. But, in this case, it all happened as part of a carefully calculated plan.
Ryo’s main goal in life is to have his best friend Akira all to himself. So, when humans start turning into demons all of a sudden, Ryo uses his media influence to incite paranoia and pit people against each other. He even exposes Akira as a devilman to force Akira’s remaining friends away from him. By manipulating misinformation in just the right way, Ryo forces all of human society to destroy itself from the inside out. And, at the very end, he gets what he always wanted.
3. Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2011 – April 2011
Kyubey isn’t necessarily evil, at least from his own point of view. His species needs to stave off the heat death of the universe, and he can use preteen human girls’ emotions to accomplish that goal. He doesn’t know anything about human values, but he’s figured out exactly what works best to wring the most despair out of the magical girls under contract with him – willful misinformation.
The cute little alien intentionally waits until the last possible minute to tell magical girls about their horrible fate – that their souls have been ripped out of them, and that they’ll eventually fall into darkness and become the very witches that they risk their lives to kill every single day. On the surface, becoming a magical girl sounds like a tough, but rewarding job that can make the world a better place. But in reality, it’s all just a scheme to crush the hearts of innocent little girls.
2. Mirai Nikki (The Future Diary)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 2011 – April 2012
Yuno Gasai loves Yuki so much that she would do anything to be with him – follow him around, kidnap him, or even kill anyone who gets in the way of their love. She’s the very definition of a yandere but, what caused her fixation on Yuki in the first place?
Several years ago, Yuki and Yuno were in class filling out a form about their future goals. Yuki made an offhanded joke about marrying Yuno, which gave her something to live for amongst the rampant abuse she was dealing with from her parents. And, with that one glimmer of hope, she grabbed onto the idea of marrying Yuki and never let it go. Yuki never had a chance to live a normal life after that – after everything he goes through during the series, he becomes an empty shell who only lives for Yuno.
1. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When They Cry)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2006 – September 2006
The events of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni take place over a number of time loops, where small changes in a character’s actions or attitude make the difference between who lives and who dies. If it seems odd that the protagonist giving a doll to one girl instead of another causes the spurned girl to become a murderous psychopath, it’s because everyone in town is infected with a psychological phenomenon known as Hinamizawa Syndrome.
This mysterious disease causes hallucinations, paranoia, and even self-harm and murderous behavior in its victims. While under its effects, nothing is as it seems and nobody can think rationally enough to explain what’s really going on. Even the sordid history of the town is a gross misinterpretation of a benign event, and it takes countless deaths and time loops before the cast can break free of the syndrome that repeatedly ruins their lives. When everyone misunderstands, it’s impossible to tell what’s real.
Speaking indirectly and putting on a brave face are both deeply integrated into Japanese culture, so perhaps they have something to do with anime characters’ notoriously poor communication skills. But more often than not, a misunderstanding is used as a writing tool to whip up a tense situation that we as humans know all too well. It can create gut-busting comedy, heartbreaking drama, or just an excuse for the plot to move forward, but it’s always interesting.
Did you enjoy our list? What’s your favorite anime misunderstanding? What was your reaction when you saw these anime? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!