In general, anime heroes are perceived as paragons of morality and fair play. This allows audiences from all walks of life to rally behind them on account of their propensity to treat others well and do the right thing.
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However, there are some heroes who are surprisingly manipulative. Rather than relying on strength and integrity to get what they want, they exploit the trust of others. Some are so consequential that their misleading words may determine the success or demise of entire empires. Their actions illustrate that there’s more than one way to save the world.
Alucard Manipulated Seras After Her Resurrection
The relationship between Alucard and Seras was a highlight of Hellsing. However, there was also a profound element of manipulation and a power imbalance between the two individuals.
Alucard may have transformed Seras into a vampire in order to save her life, though he did not respect her wishes to refuse the vampire lifestyle. To the contrary, he understood blood’s addictive nature and repeatedly suggested it to her. Although Seras valiantly resisted for a time, the Millennium Organization’s attack left her no other option than to accept his offer.
Sakura Tried To Manipulate Naruto For Sasuke
Sakura’s attempt at manipulation was one of the most underhanded moments in Naruto. She hoped that by telling Naruto that she loved him, that it would release him from the promise he made to her and stop him from pursuing Sasuke at the expense of his own safety.
This conveyed Sakura’s complete ignorance of Naruto’s priorities both for how much he valued Sasuke and got over his early crush for her. Sakura’s failed attempt at manipulation illustrated that although she was interested in using others, her actual skills in that regard could have been improved.
Nami Manipulates Her Crew
One Piece’s Nami is a notorious manipulator. Although deceiving all enemies she can, her exploitation of Sanji is one of the most recurring themes in the series. She realizes the chef’s adulation and exploits it for certain perks, such as an extra voice in arguments or the best caliber of food.
Nami also manipulates her enemies. This was seen in Whole Cake Island when deceptively feeding Zeus bubbles so that he could not adequately serve Big Mom’s needs. In the end, the homunculus was ousted from his previous master and had no other choice than to serve under Nami.
L Held His Own Against Light
Despite lacking supernatural powers, L posed a greater threat to Light’s mission than anyone else in Death Note. He immediately realized the young man’s true intentions and invited him to his investigatory team in hopes of keeping a closer eye on him.
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An early example of L’s manipulative genius was when he played a tennis match against Light. Although presumed a friendly competition, he used it as an opportunity to gauge how diligently Light competed and considered his technique when making inferences about his personality. This illustrated how L’s every action had hidden motives.
Shinso Manipulates Others In Battle
My Hero Academia
My Hero Academia‘s Shinso is a manipulator by necessity. His Quirk allows him to brainwash those who answer verbal commands, meaning that he can’t help the heroes without literally taking over an opponent’s body. Shinso is particularly devious and creative toward this end.
Although his Quirk and its rules are now common knowledge, he uses a voice modulator to impersonate an enemy’s teammates. This makes communication between them dangerous given Shinso’s tech. One wrong answer could turn them against their own mission.
Erwin Constantly Played The Government For Fools
Attack On Titan
Despite presenting himself as an honest and valiant man, Erwin was one of the most manipulative people in Attack On Titan. This was first seen when swapping Eren for Jean when he was ordered to be delivered to Paradis’ officials. Such treason saved all of Trost when Annie Leonhart got forced from hiding.
Additionally, Erwin staged a titan breach so that the Eldian monarchy tipped their hand about protecting their own interests. Disgusted by the cowardice, it encouraged the Garrison Unit to join the Scouts for a long overdue coup.
Joseph Joestar Constantly Deceived Others
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Joseph Joestar constantly manipulated others in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. This was seen as early as Battle Tendency, where he dressed up as a woman in order to “infiltrate” a Nazi compound. He played up Wamuu’s sense of honor to spare his life in the same arc, which ultimately resulted in Kars’ defeat.
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Age did not make Joseph more honest. He also cheated in Jotaro’s gaming competition against D’arby by rigging the machine and had an affair with a resident of Morioh. In the end, Joseph was a manipulator throughout his entire life.
Chelsea Was Night Raid’s Deceptive Spy
Akame Ga Kill!
Chelsea was Night Raid’s finest spy in Akame Ga Kill!. Her Imperial Arms allowed her to assume the form and voice of whoever she wanted, and she perfected a technique capable of killing opponents instantly.
As a result, Chelsea was capable of identifying gaps in an enemy’s defense, slipping in, and disguising herself as a powerful lieutenant. She would then exploit a villain’s established trust of their comrade so that she could lure them into a place where their bodies were never found.
Merlin Manipulated Her Friends & Even Gods
Seven Deadly Sins
Merlin was the most intelligent manipulator in Seven Deadly Sins. She became the most powerful mage in history by accepting gifts from the Supreme Deity and Demon King without actually serving of them. Enraged, they destroyed her home city.
Merlin also deceived her friends by pretending that her sole interest was to liberate Britannia from the Demon Clan. In reality, she saw the demons as obstacles to the forces of chaos and wanted to make as clean of a path for them as possible. Meliodas was stung by her betrayal though forgave her after defeating Cath.
Lelouch Treated Others Like Toys
Lelouch was the main protagonist and manipulative mastermind of Code Geass. He used his ability to brainwash others in order to defeat Britannia and, most importantly, save Nunnally. In the end, protecting his sister was such a priority that Lelouch proved willing to sacrifice the Black Knights on her behalf.
When the Knights finally realized Lelouch’s identity and that he was using them, they joined forces with Britannia in hopes that his defeat would usher peace between both factions. However, Lelouch’s clever strategies and brainwashing of the enemy commander plunged their forces into total disarray.
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