In the vibrant anime world, manipulative characters often steal the show with their cunning and intriguing stratagems. Armed with their sharp wits and strategic minds, these characters twist the plot in unforeseen ways and compel us to question every action and motive.
They can be villains orchestrating chaos or heroes moving the pieces behind the scenes; regardless of their role, they consistently keep us on our toes.
This exploration of the top manipulative anime characters will delve into their distinctive traits, manipulative tactics, and their spellbinding impact on their respective narratives.
So, get ready to step into the labyrinth of cunning and guile as we unveil some of the most compelling manipulative minds in anime.
Manipulative Anime Characters
In this section, we’ll unearth the cunning and compelling profiles of 20 manipulative anime characters.
Each of these characters will captivate you with their elaborate schemes and compelling complexities, shaping the narratives they inhabit with their intriguing machinations and veiled intentions. Let’s dive into this captivating realm of anime subterfuge.
1. Malty Melcromarc (The Rising of the Shield Hero)
Malty Melcromarc, introduced initially as a benevolent princess, quickly reveals her true colors as one of the most manipulative figures in “The Rising of the Shield Hero.” Using her royal status and innocent facade, she consistently exploits people to her advantage. She masterminds false allegations against Naofumi, the protagonist, turning the entire kingdom against him.
Malty’s manipulative tactics are fueled by her selfish desires and complete disregard for others. Her actions are not limited to deceit; she willfully influences her younger sister’s actions and the King’s decisions to satisfy her ambitions. Malty’s manipulative nature drives the series, significantly impacting the main characters and shaping the narrative.
2. Zetsu (Naruto)
In the “Naruto” series, Zetsu, a member of the Akatsuki, stands out as an exemplar of manipulation. His dual personality, black and white Zetsu, allows him to excel at espionage and deception.
Zetsu is best known for his long con, manipulating events over decades to bring about the Fourth Great Ninja War. He effectively uses misinformation, breeds conflict, and stirs chaos while maintaining a low profile. The subtle nature of his influence makes him one of the most dangerous and manipulative characters in the series.
3. Sosuke Aizen (Bleach)
Sosuke Aizen, from “Bleach,” is a character whose manipulative abilities are as legendary as his power. Initially portrayed as a mild-mannered captain, Aizen later unveils his true intentions when he betrays the Soul Society. His intellect and strategic thinking make him a master manipulator, often using others as pawns to fulfill his ambitions.
He profoundly understands the human psyche, exploiting fears and desires to bend others to his will. Aizen’s deceptive nature and his skill at playing the long game make him one of the most manipulative figures in anime.
4. Angelo Lagusa (91 Days)
Angelo Lagusa, the protagonist of “91 Days,” embodies manipulation as a tool for vengeance. After witnessing his family’s murder by the Vanetti mafia, Angelo infiltrates their ranks under a new identity, Avilio Bruno. His entire existence becomes a finely-crafted lie designed to bring down the Vanetti family from within.
Angelo exhibits cold calculation and strategic manipulation, often pitting enemies against each other while remaining in the shadows. His manipulative tactics are a testament to his determination for revenge and survival in the underworld of lawlessness and betrayal.
5. Dio Brando (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
Dio Brando from “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” is a master manipulator whose charisma is as potent as his ruthless ambition. Dio strategically manipulates those around him from his first appearance to achieve power and immortality. He deceives, betrays, and utilizes everyone around him as stepping stones toward his goal of dominating the world.
Dio’s manipulation extends beyond mere psychological tactics; his vampire abilities allow him to control his victims’ minds, making them puppets of his will. Dio’s unapologetic manipulation and pursuit of power make him a captivating antagonist throughout the series.
6. Illumi Zoldyck (Hunter x Hunter)
A cornerstone of the Zoldyck family in “Hunter x Hunter”, Illumi Zoldyck is an exceptional manipulator in terms of his Nen abilities and his psychological control over others. He exhibits a peculiar form of affection, often manipulating his younger brother, Killua, through deeply ingrained fear and guilt.
Illumi’s control over his victims extends to mind control; thanks to his needle men ability, creating puppets that act under his command. His calculated and cold personality and his proficiency in manipulation make him a force to be reckoned with. While he may not be the primary antagonist, Illumi’s influence subtly yet significantly shapes the narrative.
7. Laurent Thierry (Great Pretender)
Laurent Thierry from “Great Pretender” is a master con artist with an uncanny ability to manipulate people and situations. He can turn the tides of any circumstance in his favor with his charm, quick wit, and strategic planning. Laurent is constantly plotting and scheming, using intricate webs of deceit to trap his targets.
Despite being a con artist, Laurent’s manipulation is often geared towards exposing the corrupt and delivering justice, adding a layer of complexity to his character. His manipulative prowess, along with his charismatic persona, make him an enthralling character.
8. Natsuki Subaru (Re: Zero)
Natsuki Subaru, the protagonist of “Re: Zero”, offers an unusual take on manipulation. Armed to return from death, Subaru uses his knowledge of future events to manipulate situations in his favor. Despite his genuine intentions, his actions often result in unforeseen consequences, causing turmoil for those around him.
Over time, Subaru learns to navigate his power more responsibly, manipulating scenarios to protect those he cares about. His struggles with his manipulative capabilities present a unique exploration of the moral implications of such power.
9. Misaki Nakahara (Welcome to the N.H.K.)
Misaki Nakahara from “Welcome to the N.H.K.” is a character who skillfully uses emotional manipulation. Presenting herself as a caring and devoted individual, Misaki manipulates Sato, the protagonist, under the guise of helping him overcome his hikikomori (social withdrawal) status.
However, Her manipulative tactics stem from her loneliness and self-deprecating beliefs. Misaki’s character offers an intriguing look into how manipulation can be used as a coping mechanism for personal insecurities.
10. Eren Yeager (Attack on Titan)
As the series progresses, Eren Yeager, the central character of Attack on Titan, evolves into a powerful manipulator. Originally a hot-headed and straightforward character, Eren eventually gains the ability to manipulate memories and, through strategic planning, changes the course of history.
His manipulation often serves a grand purpose: freeing his people from oppression. However, the cost of his actions presents a moral dilemma, contributing to the complexity of his character. Eren’s transformation into a manipulator is integral to the series’ gripping plot twists and turns.
11. Takumi Ichinose (Nana)
In the music-filled drama “Nana,” Takumi Ichinose is a prime example of a manipulative character. As the charismatic bassist of the popular band Trapnest, he uses his fame and charm to control situations to his liking. He is often shown manipulating his relationships, particularly with Nana and Hachi, using their affection for his personal gain or to maintain his image.
His manipulations are not out of pure malice but seem to stem from a complex blend of ambition, insecurity, and self-preservation. Takumi’s machinations add layers of complexity to the relationships and conflicts within the series.
12. Ougi Oshino (Monogatari Series)
In the “Monogatari” series, Ougi Oshino is an enigmatic character whose manipulative tactics often drive the story’s events. Ougi presents herself as a mere observer but subtly influences others, leading them to question their perceptions and decisions. She excels at exploiting individuals’ insecurities and doubts, creating discord and confusion.
Her true identity and motives are shrouded in mystery, adding to her manipulative aura. Ougi’s interventions and manipulations significantly contribute to the suspense and intrigue.
13. Ryou Asuka (Devilman Crybaby)
Ryou Asuka from “Devilman Crybaby” is a highly manipulative character with a devastating impact. Ryou uses his close friendship with Akira to push him into becoming a Devilman, setting off an explosive chain of events.
His manipulative tactics don’t stop there; he masterfully manipulates media and public sentiment to induce chaos and fear. Ryou’s manipulations are driven by his hidden identity and forgotten mission, creating a tragic narrative of manipulation, betrayal, and destruction.
14. Clayman (That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime)
Clayman, one of the Demon Lords in “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime,” is a cunning manipulator. He skillfully pulls strings behind the scenes, manipulating monsters and humans alike to serve his ends.
His control over his minions and his ability to instigate conflict between nations attest to his manipulative prowess. Clayman’s machinations often pose significant challenges for the protagonist Rimuru and his allies, marking him as a substantial antagonist in the series.
15. Yoshino Takigawa (Blast of Tempest)
Yoshino Takigawa from “Blast of Tempest” is an intriguing character with a knack for manipulation. Yoshino excels at reading situations and people, adjusting his actions and words to manipulate outcomes subtly. His intelligence and calm demeanor often mask his true intentions, making his manipulative tactics hard to discern.
He uses this ability to protect his friends and navigate the complex conflicts surrounding him. Yoshino’s manipulative skills and rational mindset make him a captivating character in this tale of magic, revenge, and intrigue.
16. Izaya Orihara (Durarara!!)
Izaya Orihara, a cunning information broker from “Durarara!!”, is a character who revels in chaos. His knowledge of human psychology and his knack for manipulation enables him to instigate conflicts to observe the outcomes. Izaya sees people as pawns, manipulating their actions and emotions for his entertainment.
Yet, his charm and wit often disguise his true intentions, making him a captivating character. His manipulative tactics and his love for human unpredictability make Izaya a driving force behind many of the series’ most exciting plot twists.
17. Shougo Makishima (Psycho-Pass)
Shougo Makishima, the primary antagonist of “Psycho-Pass,” uses manipulation to disrupt society’s order. With a deep understanding of human nature, he nudges people toward their darkest desires, leading them to commit horrific acts. Yet, he remains untouchable by the law, thanks to his unique ability to maintain a clear Psycho-Pass.
His manipulations challenge the societal structure, forcing the characters, particularly Inspector Akane Tsunemori, into moral and ethical dilemmas. Makishima’s manipulative nature and philosophical inclinations make him a fascinating character.
18. Lelouch Lamperouge (Code Geass)
Lelouch Lamperouge, the protagonist of “Code Geass,” is a master manipulator on and off the battlefield. Gifted with the power of Geass, which allows him to command anyone to do his bidding, Lelouch manipulates countless individuals to reach his goal of overthrowing Britannia.
His strategic mind and charismatic personality also enable him to gather a significant following. Lelouch’s manipulations are not purely self-serving; he aims to create a peaceful world for his sister. His manipulative tactics and noble intentions make Lelouch’s character journey one of the most compelling in anime.
19. Light Yagami (Death Note)
In “Death Note,” Light Yagami is a character whose manipulative abilities are as deadly as the supernatural notebook he possesses. With the ability to kill anyone by writing their name in the Death Note, Light uses this power to enact his vision of a crime-free world.
He manipulates people and situations with cold calculation, maintaining his image as a model student to avoid suspicion. Light’s manipulative nature is further intensified by his strategic mind and his lack of hesitation to use anyone for his justice-driven mission.
20. Johan Liebert (Monster)
Johan Liebert, the antagonist of “Monster,” is a manipulator who leaves a chilling impression. Johan has a terrifying ability to influence people, driving them to commit crimes and even suicide. He is a master of manipulation and deceit, often using his innocent appearance to mask his true, dark nature.
His manipulations stem from a complex web of trauma, identity issues, and nihilistic views. Johan’s character provides a profound exploration of the terrifying extent to which manipulation can lead, making him one of the most unsettling and manipulative characters in anime.
As we’ve delved into the world of manipulative anime characters, we’ve explored diverse personalities – from charismatic leaders like Lelouch Lamperouge to terrifying masterminds like Johan Liebert. These characters have driven the plots of their respective series and challenged us to think about manipulation’s moral complexities.
Whether their manipulations stem from ambition, survival, or sheer amusement, each character provides a unique and gripping perspective. As we conclude this journey, we see how these characters’ intricate maneuvers have indelibly shaped their narratives, proving that a touch of manipulation indeed makes for captivating storytelling.