- Predictability often undermines great storylines, prompting the use of misdirection and red herrings to captivate anime audiences.
- Characters like Mechamaru and Baji Keisuke successfully deceived viewers by initially appearing untrustworthy, only to later reveal their unwavering loyalty.
- Betrayal, whether temporary or unintentional, is a recurring theme, as demonstrated by characters like Itachi and Sasuke Uchiha in Naruto, who ultimately redeemed themselves or clarified their true intentions.
Frequently, exceptional storylines suffer from the curse of predictability. It's inevitable for audiences to speculate and form theories as a series unfolds. Enter misdirection and red herrings—the perfect antidote, guiding viewers down one path while the narrative takes an unexpected turn.
In the anime realm, the portrayal of a character as untrustworthy or suspicious, only to unveil their steadfast loyalty, is a familiar and effective trope. Here are some notable anime characters who skillfully maintained the illusion of mistrust until the very end, remaining true to their allies.
An Unintentional Betrayal
Mechamaru (real name Kokichi Muta) mainly took a backseat during season one of Jujutsu Kaisen as yet another student at Kyoto Jujutsu High that protagonist Yuji meets along his journey. However, by season two it is revealed that there may have been a traitor among the students. While Mechamaru did indeed act as a traitor by providing Geto and Mahito with the information they wanted, he merely did it as a means to have Mahito heal his frail body and lift the curse of his painful Heavenly Restriction; not because his true motives lay with Mahito.
Mechamaru did technically betray the others, but his heart was not in it; his betrayal was simply a step in his plan to help Yuji and the others. Immediately after completing the binding contract between the two, Mechamaru sets out on his plan to reach Gojo to inform him of Geto's plans, known as the Shibuya Incident.
During protagonist Takemichi's quest to save his sweetheart Hina's life in the current day, he must travel to the past where he meets the Tokyo Manji Gang (a.k.a. Toman). Among the gang members was Baji Keisuke, who was first introduced in Tokyo Revengers as Chifuyu's best buddy, former Toman captain, and Valhalla defector.
Initially, Takemichi believes that Baji abandoned his childhood friends out of anger. However, he later uncovers the truth that Baji was feigning allegiance to the opposing side. Baji's intention was to infiltrate Valhalla to gather information about Kisaki, suspecting him and his motives towards Mikey from the start. Baji assumed the role of a traitor externally, all with the aim of safeguarding his friends to the best of his ability.
A Change Of Heart
Trigun Stampede's mysterious Nicholas D. Wolfwood (a.k.a. The Punisher) kept viewers guessing. While Trigun Stampede does generally follow the same story as the original Trigun series, there are bits and pieces of lore that have been slightly tweaked or changed completely for the 2023 reboot.
The stark contrast between Vash's "ultimate pacifist" philosophy and Wolfwood's colder, often pessimistic demeanor is no secret. As season one reached its climax, the complexities of what Vash was fighting for proved too burdensome for Wolfwood, leading them to part ways when Vash needed him the most. However, in a crucial moment, Wolfwood had a change of heart, overcoming his pessimism and extending his support to Vash. He recognized the deep bond of friendship that had developed during their arduous journey together.
4 Katsuki Bakugo (My Hero Academia)
An Incorruptible Hero
My Hero Academia
During the Hideout Raid of My Hero Academia, Bakugo is captured by the League of Villains. By the third season, it was clear that Bakugo wasn't the average/typical hero that the rest of his classmates strove to be. Bakugo often had rather selfish goals, motives, and overall attitudes about becoming the number one hero.
Following his abduction by the League of Villains, numerous fans anxiously speculated that Bakugo might align with the League, given the apparent surface-level similarities in their ideals. Much to the surprise of many, Bakugo vehemently rejected any association with them, emphatically articulating his stance. He clarified that while he revels in victory, defeating foes, and emerging triumphant, his commitment lies solely in being a hero.
Rivalry Turned Friendship
It's no secret that Power and Denji are best buds by the end of the Chainsaw Man anime, but they did have a rather rough start to their friendship. In the beginning of Denji and Power's relationship as coworkers, Power intentionally lead Denji into what she thought was a simple trap, all for the sake of saving her beloved feline friend, Meowy. At that juncture, it appeared that Power would emerge as one of Denji's foremost adversaries and the primary antagonist in the series. However, events took an unexpected turn.
Denji not only survived but also successfully extricated himself, Power, and Meowy from the lethal clutches of the Bat Devil. Despite Power's conscious and willing attempt to sacrifice Denji, the aftermath of the incident brought them closer than ever. Since that pivotal moment, Power has steadfastly remained by Denji's side.
An Impossible Choice
One of the longest cons in anime history has to be Naruto framing Itachi as the most heartless bad guy. Itachi, Sasuke's older brother, was seen as a major antagonist in the series after mercilessly murdering his family as well as the rest of the Uchiha clan. For years, fans saw Itachi through Sasuke's lens: the traitor who murdered his entire clan, accidentally letting his younger brother slip through the cracks.
However, in later years, it came to light that Itachi was compelled to commit the heinous act and bore the weight of it heavily. Faced with a harrowing choice, Itachi had to decide between allowing his entire clan to perish in their planned coup against Konoha and its leaders or personally executing his own kin, with the condition of sparing his younger brother. Driven by the prospect of safeguarding Sasuke, Itachi reluctantly carried out the orders, deliberately casting himself as the villain in Sasuke's eyes. This elaborate charade was orchestrated to motivate Sasuke to grow stronger, eventually reaching a point where he could avenge Itachi and absolve him of his perceived sins.
Coming Around In The End
While Sasuke Uchiha initially harbored intentions of betraying his friends in Konoha during the original Naruto series, he managed to redeem himself upon his eventual return. The question of whether the ends justify the means in Sasuke's case remains divisive among fans.
Some still view Sasuke as a traitor due to his attempted defection, which persisted for a considerable period. On the other hand, there are those who argue that, in the grand scheme of things, Sasuke's prolonged and anguished conflict with his elder brother, Itachi, may be seen as inconsequential. This perspective contends that Sasuke's ultimate transformation, where he dedicates his life to his loving family and vows to protect Konoha, ultimately outweighs his earlier transgressions. The debate among fans persists over whether Sasuke's redemption sufficiently justifies his previous actions.