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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 419.1k 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.

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  • Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni is another seemingly cheery anime about adorable high school girls being adorable - and if you look at some of the episodes, like the obligatory beach episode, it does seem to be that. If you didn't know it already, this show is one of the bloodiest shows in anime history. The true focus of this show is not cute girls doing cute things - it's Hinamizawa Syndrome, a psychiatric condition that impacts everyone in the village of Hinamizawa that causes a plethora of symptoms, the most noteworthy being a murderous rage. 

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  • Photo: White Fox

    Goblin Slayer seems like it's going to be a fun adventure series in a Dungeons & Dragons type setting. There's no reason to expect that it might be otherwise... but within the first episode, there's an assault scene involving a group of goblins attacking a woman. This scene has proved to be highly controversial within the anime community. Some feel that it establishes exactly how vicious the goblins are, and how justified the protagonist is for wanting to get rid of them, while others feel that the scene has little value outside of shock. Whether you thought the scene was successful or not, you probably weren't expecting it when you queued up the first episode. 

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  • CLANNAD is supposedly a slice of life anime that features Tomoya, a male protagonist who forms relationships with his female friends before ultimately settling on one of them. For the first season, that's essentially what it is, but in the second season, things get painfully real in a way that few viewers expected. Tomoya marries his childhood sweetheart Nagisa, and Nagisa gets pregnant. There are a number of complications that one just doesn't expect to see in an anime.

    Nagisa's already precarious health takes a nosedive during her pregnancy, so Tomoya works himself into the ground trying to support the family. He has bonding moments with a boss who once used drugs to cope with depression. When the baby is born, Nagisa doesn't survive the delivery, and Tomoya is so devastated that he drinks himself into a stupor and leaves his daughter Ushio with Nagisa's parents. When she's five years old, he finally gets his act together - just in time for Ushio to pass away from the same illness that claimed her mother.

    CLANNAD isn't an anime that looks like it's going to get this real, but the fact that it does is one of the reasons it is so highly acclaimed.

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  • Photo: TNK

    In the beginning, School Days starts off as a typical high school romance anime ridden with tropes. But it's not as innocent as it seems. The main protagonist, Makoto Itou, spends the majority of the series being a disgusting playboy and sleeping around with multiple girls. Sekai even reveals to him that she's possibly pregnant with his child. And that's not even the worst part. Things get absolutely bonkers when Makoto kisses Kotonoha in front of Sekai and asks her to get an abortion. Sekai snaps and stabs Makoto to death in a shocking and bloody scene. 

    The craziness doesn't stop there. Kotonoha kills Sekai out of revenge and slices her stomach to confirm that she lied about being pregnant. The anime ends with Kotonoha hugging Makoto's severed head while whispering that they can finally be together. 

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