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15 Deceiving Anime That Prove You Shouldn't Judge A Book By Its Cover

Updated January 22, 2021 31.8k votes 8.4k voters 419.2k views15 items

List RulesVote up the most shocking anime that's the least like you'd expect it to be.

Not every anime is what it appears to be - in fact, there are some shows that are so outlandishly different from what viewers expect that it almost seems like they're trying to trick viewers.

These days, everyone knows how brutal Puella Magi Madoka Magica is, but when it first debuted in 2011, it shocked viewers to their core by combining an adorable aesthetic with a macabre concept. Magical Girl Raising Project achieved a similar effect in 2016, and Made In Abyss did the same in 2017. But cute girls suffering a whole lot isn't the only way that anime can take you by surprise. Sometimes, an anime can seem like it will be completely ridiculous, like Punch Line, an anime about a guy who will destroy the world if he sees a pair of panties - but will turn out to be an intricately plotted work of art. Other anime are like My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU - they seem like they'll be a shallow slice of life anime, but turn out to feature one of the deepest and most complex characters in anime history. 

Deceiving anime can be frustrating, but they're also fascinating. They prove that just because you've read a summary or watched a few clips on Youtube, you don't really know what you're getting until you actually watch the series. If a friend tells you that Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is secretly terrifying or that My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is deep af, you shouldn't dismiss them out of hand. Watch the show for yourself and find out.

  • Made In Abyss tells the story of a spunky little girl named Riko who wants to be the greatest Diver the world has ever seen. Divers are responsible for exploring the Abyss, a strange gaping hole in the earth that's full of mysterious creatures and hidden secrets. In the first episodes, these secrets sound a little dangerous but mostly magical and fun. However, the dangers of the Abyss turn out to be far more dangerous and grotesque than viewers expected. The Curse of the Abyss can transform formerly normal humans into immortal monsters that are in terrible pain and can't think or reason. All this suffering is portrayed in the most gruesome way possible - something you likely aren't expecting based on the adorable art and warm atmosphere of the first few episodes. 

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  • Photo: Shaft

    By now, most anime fans know what to expect out of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, but that was not at always the case when the series first aired. What begins as an adorable magical girl anime filled with transformation sequences, pink, and glitter quickly becomes something much more dire. Over the course of the series, viewers get to watch the characters grapple with the reality that not only are the wishes they make in exchange for becoming magical girls likely to completely destroy their lives, but the witches that they're sworn to defeat were once girls just like themselves. The only thing that's cute about this show is the aesthetic - the content is anything but.

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  • The first episode of The Promised Neverland will have you believe that it's a story about adorable orphans being raised by a loving and kind caretaker named Isabella. But the episode ends on a dark and shocking revelation: Grace Field House is actually a human farm that slaughters children and sells them as meat for demons. And Isabella is much more cunning and evil than she appears. The rest of the series is a thrilling and intense race against time as Emma, Ray, and Norman try to escape before anyone else becomes a victim. 

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  • Photo: Lerche

    School-Live goes out of its way to try and lull viewers into a false sense of security. At first, it focuses on the cheerful adventures of the School Living Club, a group of girls who live at their school. It's not until later that viewers find out the reason behind this unusual arrangement - the girls are the last survivors of a zombie apocalypse, and are hiding out in the school to avoid becoming the zombies' next meal. This is lost on Yuki Takeya, who is under the same illusion that the audience is in the beginning, but for the rest of the club, life is an utter nightmare. 

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