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  • A Certain Magical Index: Accelerator. He killed thousands of the sisters simply for the purpose of making himself stronger, and constantly taunted them as he did so. However, killing them wasn't his idea, and a portion of the fanbase believes that the taunting wasn't to be mean, but rather an attempt to get the sisters to display some sort of emotion — since they didn't have a human response, he saw them as being emotionless robots instead of human, and thus didn't feel bad about killing them. This issue is rather polarizing. Another possible interpretation comes from a scene from the anime where Accelerator says that he doesn't understand someone who would throw away their life, and he wants power because his life is what's most important to him, and that's why no matter how many sisters he kills he'll just laugh and say "Like I care." One way to look at this is that he doesn't consider someone willing to throw away their own life to be worth anything, or possibly doesn't consider them to be a person at all. Discussed by the character himself in Volume 6 with a member of the hive mind, where he argues his own actions were monstrous and she answers, "If the Misakas told you "I don't want to fight anymore"... Would you have stopped?' He seems unsure.
  • Ai Kora: Maeda Hachibei, Chivalrous Pervert whose recklessness and Brutal Honesty gets him in over his head, or a stupid Jerkass who can't take no for an answer? Also, there are some fans who believe his "parts love" is less sexual and more like the obsessions of a fanatical art collector.
  • Ai Yori Aoshi: Miyabi Kagurazaki. Is her devotion to and protectiveness of Aoi simply a Mama Bear thing, or a Bodyguard Crush?
  • In the Area 88 manga and OVA, are the mercenaries tormented souls who became soldiers of fortune to escape their tragic pasts? Or are they hypocrites who are using their dark and troubled pasts as cheap excuses to engage in immoral warfare? Or was entering the Asran foreign legion more exciting that just getting therapy for their traumas?
    • Is Shin a reluctant warrior with a heartbreaking backstory, or a jerkass who abandoned his girlfriend and threw away his moral compass in the end?
    • Is Ryoko a beautiful example of undying loyalty and love, an immature idealist who is Loving a Shadow, or a disturbed young woman with a pathological obsession with her absentee boyfriend?
    • Is Saki a patriot who is defending his beloved homeland from his father's predation, or an angry son who would sacrifice his people to lash out at his father? Is he an elitist who refuses to relinquish his power, or a realist who understands why his backwards country is not yet ready for democracy?
    • Is Mickey naturally cheerful and charming, or is his friendliness a mask meant to hide his war trauma, cynicism, and regret?
  • Assassination Classroom:
    • Is Nagisa a bloodthirsty sociopath who constantly hides his true nature behind a gentle exterior? Or is he a genuinely kind student who unknowingly has the skills and mindset of a professional assassin? The series supports the latter interpretation, but after seeing what he's capable of, it's hard to be perfectly sure…
    • In a surprising turn of events, the former interpretation becomes true for another character: Kaede Kayano, also known as Akari Yukimura, at least while she was under the tentacles' influence. However, fan interpretations still vary because it's not entirely clear how much of her personality was an act and how much of it were her based on her true feelings.
    • Korosensei's past as the previous God of Death put a new spin on his motives for taking class E: a remorseful monster who would like to repay the only person who was nice to him or the Joker-esque psychopathic assassin who want to train a class full of teenagers into cold blooded killers to be his "legacy" to the world?
      • At the time of his assassination, his reason for having his students kill him seems to be something else entirely, with the purpose of teaching his students the value of life by having them kill someone they deeply care about.
    • Tomoya Seo and his excessive vanity and sense of superiority. Does he really feel himself to be superior to everyone, or is he only trying to convince everyone (and himself) that he truly belongs among the Five Virtuosos, knowing that he's only included in the group on account of Karma being exiled to Class 3-E as punishment?
    • The Valentine's Day episode heavily implies that Rio has a crush on Nagisa. Combine that with how much she seems to like seeing in Nagisa in drag, this has led some to believe she has a cross-dressing fetish.
  • Azumanga Daioh:
    • After a string of Fan Art pieces made their appearance (like so), Cloudcuckoolander Osaka has been seen as a puroresu goddess by the name of "The Osakan Destroyer" Ayumu Kasuga. Her nickname comes from her finishing move, the running, flipping pile-driver called the Canadian Osakan Destroyer.
    • It's also assumed that Yukari and Nyamo aren't married because they are lesbians (although same-sex marriage isn't performed in Japan, it is recognized, if performed abroad), and possibly together (though it's more often assumed they like each other but are not).
  • Is Kazuo Kiriyama from Battle Royale a mass murdering psychopath or did the brain damage he suffer ruin him? The Movie plays up the former by making him a random killer who signed up for the Program while the manga shows he Used to Be a Sweet Kid who lost his mother and brother in the accident that damaged him. In the novel, it's ambiguous since he got the brain damage while in the womb.
  • Quite a lot of characters from Berserk get this, but the obvious example is Griffith: An iredeemable Manipulative Bastard, or a Well-Intentioned Extremist Visionary Villain who believes that Utopia Justifies the Means? Or just a genuine, pretty-decent-but-not-perfect dude whose dream spiraled out of control, as well as being twisted by severe trauma? It's basically the Sliding Scale of Unavoidable vs. Unforgivable with the side question of whether or not Being Tortured Makes You Evil, with the added bonus of the Idea of Evil calling his free will into question, both before and after the event. Guts and Casca, being branded Sacrifices who [[Determinator refuse to die]], are able to Screw Destiny but it's implied that this is a quality unique to Guts, and Casca by extension. One of the few unambiguous things about Griffith's situation is that he was always destined to have that Behelit, it's only a matter of whether he ever truly had the option to refuse the sacrifice or not. Since the Idea of Evil doesn't operate in linear time, it can manipulate the events of the past and future (for instance, the sudden finding of Behelits) to get the results it wants, and what it wanted was Femto.
  • B Gata H Kei:
    • Yamada - a girl defined by her desire to acquire 100 sex partners by the end of high school. Clearly just a horny slut in an ecchi plot, right? NO - many see her as a "normal" innocent girl being forced into a world she knows nothing of by our over-sexualized post-feminist society.
    • Backed up by the fact that her quest for 100 men comes from a fear that she's weird "down there", i.e. a lack of self-esteem/self-confidence/poor body image.
    • Thanks to character development we see Yamada has more to her than a libido.
    • The concept of a girl (voiced by Nanoha, no less) who has an existent sex drive was too much for some otaku who wrote the show off based on the initial premise.
  • Black Butler's Alois Trancy: psychotically mood-swingy Enfant Terrible who deliberately engineers his innocent moments just to get at Ciel, or love-starved punching bag who simply snapped from his Dark and Troubled Past and is being manipulated by his butler? (To be honest, fangirls would love him either way...)
  • Bloom Into You
    • Koyomi's play coincidentally happens to match reality in a few ways, from Touko(who is desperate to maintain her façade as an ideal student) being cast as the amnesiac lead with an identity crisis to Sayaka(who is in love with Touko) being cast as the lead character's girlfriend. Since Yuu refused to disclose any personal details about Touko to Koyomi, did Koyomi simply make a lucky guess, or is she perhaps more knowledgeable about Sayaka and Touko than she lets on?
    • Touko's character in the play, being an amnesiac who learns about herself at the same time as the audience, naturally invites this. Did she distance herself from her brother and the rest of her family because she's naturally cold and distant, was she simply concerned about how the family would get along, or was something else the case? How accurate are the three perspectives on her, and how honest are the people giving them?
    • Ichigaya's claim that Mio Nanami wasn't the ideal Student Council President everyone thought of her has can inspire a few interpretations of her character, assuming that what he says is true. Was Mio a slacker who enjoyed the perks of being seen as a model student, or was it possible that she was like Touko- a relatively ordinary person who'd been desperate to become someone special, even if it meant not being true to herself?
  • Cardcaptor Sakura
    • Tomoyo:
      • Creepy Schoolgirl Lesbian who constantly videotapes her ten-year-old crush and dresses her in fetishy outfits...or poor little rich girl who showers Sakura with gifts and attention, going overboard because she's never really learned how to deal with having friends since other kids her age are either scared off by her bodyguards or only interested in her for her money.
      • And there there's this: Daidouji Tomoyo, Badass
    • Sakura:
      • Is Sakura merely a naive child that fails to notice the infatuations both Tomoyo and Syaoran have for her or deliberately trying to ignore their unsubtle showings of affection (and possibly her own) in fear of ruining her close friendship with them both. While her naivete and ditzy demeanor is pointed out many times over, it is worth noting her dispair when finally forced the face the truth about one of her friend's feelings (and how quickly she decides she feels the same way).
      • Alternatively Sakura is falling in love with Syaoran, just at the same progres rate as himself beforehand. Sakura is EXTREMELY affectionate and blissful around Syaoran, she constantly shows excitment upon his appearance, follows and blushes at him a couple odd occasions. Platonic or romantic, she certainly thinks the world of him. Her scenario is the same as Syaoran's prior to others leaning him towards the former however, both were Oblivious to Love and convinced they were infatuated with another that drawn them in with magic essence. Since Sakura did not get helped in their coupling she is becoming attached to Syaoran by herself (and may have even come to the same conclusion as he did ultimately), just at a more natural progression.
    • Is Syaoran Li an initially arrogant Tsundere gradually softened by Sakura's kindness or a naturally meek and gentle character who hides behind a facade(which he gradually drops as he becomes more confident around his new found friends). Sakura herself notes later on how transparent she has come to realise his harsh demeanor is, after which Syaoran's arrogant attitude towards her more or less completely fades permanently.
    Sakura: Syaoran-kun, you always act like that, but you never mean it.
    Syaoran: Why do you say that?
    Sakura: I know you, Syaoran-kun, you're a kind person.
    *Syaoran blushes bright red*
  • Citrus:
    • Mei Aihara - How much does Mei truly care for Yuzu? Does she truly value her for contributing to her development, or does she merely love her because she serves as an emotional crutch for her personal issues?
    • Chairman - Does Mei's grandfather have at least some suspicions when it comes with Mei and Yuzu? If so, is his pushing of another arranged marriage his way of ensuring that she would inherit the school without a hitch?
  • Both of the Fujibayashi sisters in CLANNAD.
    • Ryou - Is she a timid Class Representative who has a crush on Tomoya and can't express herself freely to him or is she a self-centered person who manipulated her own sister into helping her get Tomoya as a boyfriend, knowing that said sister also likes Tomoya.
    • Kyou - Is she a Tsundere in denial of her crush on Tomoya or is she a Manipulative Bitch who used her own sister to get opportunities to get Tomoya to fall in love with her even when he was already dating said sister. Then when she finally hooks Tomoya in, Ryou is left high and dry. Good thing Kappei existed to date Ryou after Kyou hooked Tomoya in.
  • Code Geass:
    • Interpretations of Lelouch Lamperouge range from a troubled revolutionary fighting the good fight but brought down by bad luck, down to an egomaniac Villain Protagonist who manipulates everyone around him and covers it up with a thin veneer of self-deluded ideals, whose karmic backlash was not even half of what he deserved. You can also consider him what happens when Well-Intentioned Extremist is both Deconstructed and taken to its logical extreme.
    • Similarly, interpretations of his best friend Suzaku covers the range from a tragic Knight in Shining Armor with a devotion to a more idealistic view of social change and several tragic losses to back him up, to a hypocritical and cynical Knight Templar who is at best dangerously deluded. The general tendency amongst the fandom seems to be that the more you embrace the romantic view of one character, the more you embrace the negative view of the other. Lelouch's status as a Magnificent Bastard, however, is usually not contested.
    • Nunnally Lamperouge:
      • She seems simple on the surface: The Pollyanna Ill Girl Morality Pet for her big brother. But popular speculation abounds that she uses her almost unbelievable niceness and her condition (which may be less severe than implied or even faked) to manipulate everyone around her. This interpretation, nicknamed "Dark Nunnally", can either be villainous (as the name implies) or well-intentioned (as shown in one fan-comic where she admits to the telepathic Mao that she's faking the whole thing, is completely aware that Lelouch is Zero, and is okay with being his raison d'être).
      • The Dark!Nunnally interpretation is supported by three facts: One, it is apparently All There in the Manual that Nunnally's blindness is psychosomatic. Two, an AU manga exists in which she obtains a Geass rather than her brother, and it is revealed that she has been suppressing her negative emotions regarding her past and present suffering. Three, there's episode 22 of R2...
    • C.C. Virtuous paragon bringing light and hope to a world desperately in need of a hero; Faustian temptress actively seeking to corrupt the heroes with demonic powers; or a sad little girl who desperately wanted to be loved and was willing to do anything (including sell her soul) to get other people to acknowledge her existence?
    • Charles zi Britannia: Well-intentioned Emperor who can't control the many inbred, parasitic, racist nobles he rules; or a lazy old man who puts his self-stated beloved children not only in harm's way, but also in the middle of a war, who forces many of his third class citizens - that he considers every bit as worthy as his first class citizens - to suffer simply because he can't be bothered killing the treacherous sibling who murdered his favourite wife, and who controls the Secret Guild Of Psychics himself? Not that either of those are good things to be.
    • Mao: Psychotic villain who deserves what he got, or Troubled, but Cute Jerkass Woobie Anti-Villain just trying to save his beloved C.C. from her Death Seeker status. Code Geass: Mao of the Deliverance presents a compelling basis for the latter!
    • Diethard: Smug Snake who joins the Black Knights in order to get closer to his muse Zero and then betrays him to Schneizel when things get dicey before ultimately betraying the Black Knights as well and joining up with Schneizel for good, as he's the new interesting thing, or loyal supporter to Zero who was forced to betray him or be killed alongside him, and only did so in the end because the situation was beyond salvation, and decided that without Zero he would no longer follow the cause of the Black Knights and joined the only other person who he was intrigued with, only to tragically be killed by his new idol at the orders of his old idol, who considers him not even worth finishing off himself.
    • The exact level of benevolence Marianne actually has is a topic of some debate, even within canonical sources.

  • The ending to Deadman Wonderland is very vague on Shiro's nature. Was she Evil All Along and faked both her cute "Shiro" persona and her murderous "Wretched Egg" persona? Or is it a case of a Split-Personality Takeover?
  • Detective Conan:
    • ''Shinichi Kudo: Genius, or selfish, immature Jerkass who places himself above the others and doesn't really get the meaning of death and for whom each dead person is nothing but challenge?
    • Kogoro Mouri has been interpreted as having actually figured out Conan is actually solving the crimes for him and after awhile, just let him solve it for him while he receives the credit for it. Kogoro already isn't a bad detective; he's just got an extreme case of Tunnel Vision and wants things to be done as fast as possible, so he'll come to one conclusion a detective would, but then insist he's right until proven wrong. Whenever Ran or Conan are threatened, he actually becomes scarily competent. (Kinda like Inspector Gadget whenever he knows Penny & Brain are threatened) There have been several other times where he actually got it mostly right, and several times where he solved the case and only needed a couple hints from Conan, or in one occasion, not only solved it but got a couple details that Conan missed. (It also helps that he tends to be more streetsmart while conan is more booksmart - Kogoro has more insight into peoples' emotions)
  • Digimon:
    • It used to be that every time you turned around in Digimon fandom, someone had come up with a new interpretation of Ken's psyche.
    • Arukenimon: cold-natured heartless bitch, or secret Kuudere who is reluctant to reveal her true feelings for Mummymon?
    • Mimi: spoiled, sheltered, naive, exasperating in-verse ditz...or a master troll? Seriously. Watch Adventure from the beginning, and it's amazing how much more sense her character makes if her every word and action comes from the desire to make her friends facepalm. She has no pity, teams up with Sora occasionally (who catches on and enjoys joining in to a less extreme level), and is recognized and disapproved of by resident buttmonkey Jou. Bonus points for the sheer irony of her receiving the Crest of Sincerity. Extra bonus points since Tai's out of the loop and makes statements about how sincere and innocent she is. Mimi could be a sadistic genius.
  • This seems to be happening more and more in the Durarara!! fandom now, particularly in regards to Izaya Orihara. Since Izaya's a lying liar who lies, it's hard to take anything he says seriously in the first place. This is not helped by the fact that we never know what he's thinking and his permanent expression is only Technically a Smile, which is generally written as a 'smile to hide his emotions'. The fandom is divided in their opinions about him. Is he a hedonistic, sociopathic Manipulative Bastard who only does things For the Evulz and doesn't give a damn about anyone - not even his own family or Shinra? Or is he a sympathetic loner who just wants to know what true feelings are, genuinely cares for his family, and his desire to create Ragnarok should be pitied, because he's only like that since he's 'lonely'? And for that matter, what are his real thoughts about Shinra? Did Izaya really become an informant because of that incident in middle school, or for his own benefits? Is Izaya really trying to avenge Shinra, or is he just using it as an excuse so he can have someone (Nakura) to use?
    • There are also many fans that seem to genuinely think his inherent hate for Shizuo means that he sees Shzuo on a higher level than all his precious humans and therefore, secretly loves him. Despite Word of God saying otherwise on many an occasion.
    • That goes for Shizuo too, apparently.
    • Lately, partly due to No Export for You, Mikado of all people is getting this.
  • Elfen Lied:
    • Every single diclonius, especially Lucy. One can interpret their murder sprees as innate genetic drives to wipe out the human race, desperate attempts to protect themselves from the sadistic xenophobia of the human race, or a simple genetic predisposition towards certain kinds of mental disorders. Or all the Diclonius are simply children who happen to get incredibly effective and deadly weapons at a young age without discipline or skill in using them. Thus, whenever they get angry or frightened, somebody's going to get chopped. After living with that a while and being hunted with proverbial Torches and Pitchforks, anybody's worldview would be rather bleak.
    • The orphan girl from Lucy's childhood flashback. Was she really a malicious False Friend who took pleasure in the puppy being brutally murdered, and seeing Lucy pushed off the edge? Or was she a naive child who was honestly sorry and didn't realize the boys were going to murder the puppy? It's left ambiguous if her smile was real or Lucy's imagination.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Zeref. Was he once a Jerkass before something changed him into the meek person he is today? Does he have a Superpowered Evil Side that forced him to do it or did The Black Dragon, Acnologia, make him do these things while Zeref was powerless to resist?
      • Or is he a mentally-disturbed sociopathic human-weapon whose vast powers have forced a disconnect with his conscience such that he has to forcefully remind himself that a human life has value or he can wipe out half a continent absent-mindedly without the "human life" Power Limiter?
      • Or, in light of Chapter 436, is it the opposite; was his threat to wipe out all of humanity genuine, or is he actually forcing himself to think that way, as a last-ditch effort to keep his powers under control, in the hopes that his brother, Natsu, kills him?
    • Is Natsu really the Idiot Hero who only fights, eats, sleeps, and annoys his guildmates, or is he a Stepford Smiler with abandonment issues who only willingly shows glee or burning rage? The scene in chapter 338 where he arrives at the banquet after having stolen the King's crown was very over-the-top, even for Natsu, and he had experienced a great deal of trauma during the Eclipse arc.
      • In regards to his relationship with Lucy, is he really a Chaste Hero Not Distracted by the Sexy who doesn't understand the implications of getting too close with her (namely of groping her while she's naked), or he does it on purpose because he enjoys touching her?
  • The Familiar of Zero:
  • Are the Homunculi of Fullmetal Alchemist simply the horrible results of centuries of child abuse at the hands of creator who never gave them a proper upbringing and never showed them any love?
    • Envy is a particularly significant case due to the EdxEnvy pairing, mostly in 2003 works. Especially in High School AUs, he's been painted as hyper and crazy, homicidal, suicidal, sad, crazy, a rapist, a victim, popular, unpopular - in fact, the only thing that seems to remain the same is his femininity and that he is definitely not normal. Beauty and the Beast: Edvy 100 Themes is chock full of this - for all that it's an Edvy collection, in one story he'll be hunting Ed down ruthlessly and in the next he'll be abandoning him for his own good.
    • Father. The homunculi are individual portions of his very soul. Though they don't share the same experiences and development, their basic demeanor and motivations are the deep-seated desires of his heart. Greed's desire for friends? Envy's jealousy of humans? Wrath's anger at being out of control of the circumstances of his life? All of these can also apply to Father.
  • Full Metal Panic!:
    • There are even in-depth debates on Sousuke's "true" character. Namely, when he joined Kalinin in the organization in the past, had Kalinin been working for Amalgam instead of Mithril, would he just continue to "follow orders" and kill indiscriminately? Or is he actually truly a "nice boy at heart," and would his true, kind nature from when he was 2-3 years old eventually show through? Is he truly such an oblivious dunce that has no clue whatsoever that so many people are lusting after him? Or perhaps he's actively turning up his obliviousness due to intimacy issues? Maybe the reason why the Power of Trust gets his heart fluttering and makes him so incredibly flustered is because he himself finds it near impossible to place complete trust in others, and therefore values it so much when he receives it from others?
    • In-universe, Kalinin's interpretation is that Sousuke is a lamb raised among wolves, and thus forced to become one; toddler Sousuke was a curious and happy child who called him "An-oji", post assassin-school Sousuke is a hardened killer. The glimpses Kaname has of the other world, where Sousuke is a shy and gentle boy, support this.
    • As for the love-related issues, the novels show that he is simply terribly inexperienced (even on a purely theoretical level), and quite possibly has never been given as much as a passing advice (from someone who was not Kurz), let alone an education on such matters (beyond say, the many ways prostitues can be used in assassination plots, and how it would be best to stay away from such frivolities altoghether). The extent of his knowledge is related to his instincts (which usually confuse him, but seem to be working quite normally), and also the strictly social aspects of marriage, which he learned in a Muslim country (how many sheeps/camels is Mao worth should Kurz choose to seriously pursue her?). That said, he does seem to have some basic understanding of the word "sex", once Kurz decides he needs to spell it out for him (he even compares Kurz's bragging to a man having a feast versus a starving man — Sousuke himself, feeling that this is something that he wants, even he doesn't fully comprehend it. Also, he kisses Kaname first in the last novel. Gently, but passionately.) He also understands enough of Gauron's intentions to protest that "It can't possibly feel good!" in the TSR Radio Comedy Show.
  • Fushigi Yuugi: Nakago, genuinely pitiable Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds with a tragic past which makes his actions understandable, or beyond all redemption who just enjoys author bias?

  • Girls und Panzer
    • Erika's mean-spiritedness toward Miho is sometimes indicated as the result of an unrequited love for Maho. She even comes off as a Jerkass Woobie in some fan comics about this.
    • Sodoko is often portrayed as a Tsundere toward Mako, whom she continually nags about her chronic lateness, and one alternate interpretation along those lines is that she cares about Mako and doesn't want to see her get held back.
    • Maho Nishizumi's secret support for Miho. Is it simply a selfless sacrifice for her younger sister, or does she have an imoutou complex?
    • While many conclude that Miho's mother Shiho's plans to disown her are simply proof that she judges Miho only by her ability to live up to her family's standards, others believe that if Miho is disowned, Shiho is essentially doing her a favor by freeing her from the family's standards. Shiho's reasons and motivation for sighing in resignation and clapping for Miho after she defeats Maho in the finals are also under interpretation.
    • Kuromorimine. Is it a school full of tankers who see it as their calling in life to crush "weak" teams and value victory over fun? Or are they arguably no worse than most in that attitude, with Erika a Token Evil Teammate of sorts? The fact that Maho, their commander, is ultimately motivated by sisterly love, can be interpreted as her hiding her true nature to fit in, or proof that most Kuromorimine tankers are decent people at heart.
  • Mimi Kitagami, protagonist of the obscure shoujo anime Gokujou!! Mecha Mote Iinchou: Is she a genuinely nice girl (bordering on Mary Sue) who genuinely wants to help the girls of her school, a shallow Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who only cares about beauty, or a Stepford Smiler?
  • Ryuichi Sakuma from Gravitation is well-known for his shifting between the innocent, hyper buddy and the serious, suave singer. Some fans treat his dual behavior as a case of multiple personality disorder. Others interpret his singer persona as the real Ryuichi, who deliberately acts naive and childish off-stage to give the public an image they can relate to more than his actual aloof self. (Face it, having the true persona be the innocent hyper buddy defies known psychology.)
  • In Great Pretender, due to her Small Role, Big Impact status, many fans speculate on the true motives of Dorothy. Did she really love Laurent as much as he loved her, or was she just taking advantage of his affections? And directly related to that: Was her miraculous survival of her attempted murder real, or was it just another case of Faking the Dead done to escape her engagement with Laurent?
  • Guilty Crown has some - Shu is suspected for having aspergers syndrome and Inori of having some unknown, serious social issues.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Is Madoka just being nice to make up for her self esteem issues? Is Sayaka a naive fool, or a noble victim? Is Mami a selfish loner masquerading as a hero of justice? Does Kyoko have the right idea about the magical girl world? How much of kyubey's claims can be trusted? Then there's Homura, probably the worst culprit, and interpretations of her have only increased since Rebellion...
  • Gundam:
    • Let's start with the one and only Char. Manipulative bastard? Disillusioned extremist? Heartless warmonger? Does anyone but Tomino really know?
      • Add smug rapist to the list, courtesy of the inimitable Yoshikazu Yasuhiko.
      • On the subject of his portrayal in Origin, did Char become a jerkass because of his upbringing or was he a natural-born asshole? On one hand, he lost his parents at a young age, was nearly killed in several assassination attempts by the Zabi family, and his mentor was Jimba Ral. Conversely, he did have a Creepy Child vibe and his sister Sayla Mass had a kind-hearted personality even though she shared much of Char's volatile experiences.
      • Char's buddy Garma Zabi is the source of a canon ACI. In the original series he's generally a good guy who's maybe a little out of his depth but ultimately wants to prove that he deserves his position of leadership and didn't just earn it because his dad is in charge. The updated retelling Gundam: The Origin, however, paints Garma as a Spoiled Brat who cried to Big Brother Dozle about how Char was upstaging him and that he wanted an important job so he could show how great he was, and then proceeded to be a complete Neidermeyer who only cared about his own image.
    • Jerid Massah. A self loving overly confident bastard? Or a sad loser who gets used and betrayed and kicked over and over by life and everyone?
    • 08th MS Team's Ginias Sakhalin. He can be viewed as everything from a Tragic Villain to even a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
    • Very good examples are Mobile Suit Gundam Wing's main antagonists. Is Treize The Chessmaster who planned every thing within the series to happen as it did including his own death? Or was his intention to rule the world with force and therefore manipulate everyone even those closest to him? Zechs Merquise is the chivalrous knight who does not want to fight and longs for only peace. To others he's a born fighter who seeks battle and sees no purpose in a life without wars. (Though, the sequel movie answers some things discussions are still ongoing.)
    • After War Gundam X has its antagonist as well. Are the Frosts poor unwanted people who seek righteous revenge on those denying them? Or are they warmongers who try to destroy humanity because of their hurt ego?
    • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is full of them. One of the most discussed: Fllay Alster. I won't even start the different views various people have of her. Also, some consider Lacus a manipulative bitch trying to reach her (entirely good) goals with all means neccessary. Also Kira's self righteousness is often considered over the top even if he is Jesus.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 is pretty clear with most characters, but Nena Trinity invokes the most radical of opinions. Let's say either you hate her with a burning passion or sympathize with her as a tragic victim of circumstance. Ali al-Saachez is either regarded as a monster since he lives only to kill and fight in wars because he can or as a Colonel Badass for his ability to fight the Gundam Meisters, most of the time with inferior machinery. Graham Aker got this in the second season when he took the guise "Mr. Bushido". Either you viewed him as a Samurai who fights for only his honor or as a Jerkass who fights for no real reason whatsoever. And, then there's Regene Regetta: childish prankster, ambitious megalomaniac mastermind, or well-intentioned schemer intent on helping his twin brother Tieria advance the human race?
  • The Claw in GUN×SWORD: Well-Intentioned Extremist, Omnicidal Maniac, or senile old man who has no idea what he plans to do? The series supports all three of these possibilities.
  • In Guyver:
    • The brave and self sacrificing Proto-Zoaloard Masaki Murakami gave his life to stop Chronos. Or so he said, he did indeed give his life to stop the traitor Richard Guyot from usurping Archanfel's power. A year later and he's filled in Guyot's position, power and is now Imakarum and now against Sho Fukamachi, the hero of the story. Imakarum explains that his eyes have been open and will show no mercy to Sho. Most of the characters have determined he's been brain washed. However if one considers that perhaps Archanfel just might have been pulling the strings all along that Imakarum may have been a hidden agent in stopping Guyot. It would certa hor explain A LOT of things that Takaya did not make clearer. Such as how a prototype like Murakami survived for so long. It's pretty scary that a lot of things add up.
    • Is Archanfel a hero fighting for humanity the only way he can, a villian with a God complex, or a hero that lost his way. He kills the first Guyver out of loyalty to his creators and to stop him from killing zoanoids, okay understandable. He saves the Earth after the Creators betray and abandon humanity and throw a planetoid at us, yay. He concocts a scheme to get revenge on Uranus by uniting humanity and having it wage a war against aliens, alright. Then he goes through with the scheme by brainwashing humans, killing them when experiments fail, mutating them agianst their will, and destroying the nation states of the world, What the Hell, Hero??! He couldn't have told humanity about any of this, asked people if they wanted to become zoanoids, or got elected Emperor of Humanity because he saved the planet and is offering the human race a future as rulers of the universe? Given his previous actions it just seems like he got real jaded after awhile.
    • Similarly, Agito Makishima: Well-Intentioned Extremist who opposes Chronos' tyranny, or simply a tyrant himself? Recent events seem to point to the later.
  • Happy Sugar Life: Does Satou truly love Shio, or does she love her primarily because she was still confused on what love was. Shio herself questions Satou on this, taking offense that Satou told her that she needed her to simply smile for her.
  • It's not clear whether Alucard of Hellsing is a vile monster rejoicing in bloody slaughter that he himself precipitates while attempting to corrupt his master, a Death Seeker cursed with immortality and hoping to get closer to The Grim Reaper, or a man hoping to repent for his many past sins. Or all three, or none of the above. Arthur Hellsing says In-Universe that it's the second.
  • Inuyasha:
  • Justy Ueki Tylor — Genius tactician and employer of Obfuscating Stupidity, or just plain lucky idiot? This debate was cultivated in-show.
    • The greatest ammo the "genius" camp have is one episode where he agrees to be serious for a while — he suddenly becomes an inspirational and incredibly effective captain. Additionally, when he is brainwashed into acting more naturally, he is very perceptive and able to read into Wang's plans instantly..
    • On the flip side, a couple of his plans don't even make sense if you assume he is a genius and some of his actions wouldn't fit into the Obfuscating Stupidity argument.
  • Most readers of Kaguya-sama: Love is War are convinced that the ditzy secretary, Chika Fujiwara, is secretly a Magnificent Bastard who is manipulating Kaguya and Miyuki for her own amusement. Evidence includes repeat circumstances of her causing the status quo to be maintained whenever one of them seems close to confessing, her coming from a family that ruled Japan from behind the scenes for hundreds of years, and she's the only one with a consistent positive score in the end-of-chapter win/loss results.
  • One could think that Yasuna, from Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, falls in love with Tomari near the end of the manga, due to a number of moments and reactions after they make a friendship truce after Yasuna faints.
  • Kill la Kill
    • The finale has caused a lot of bickering over whether any of the ships were made canon. On one hand, Mako asks Ryuko on a date and straight up kisses her; Gamagoori is shown with a bouquet of flowers during the epilogue, implying that they're about to confess to someone — very likely Mako — but the episode ends without showing who they gave them to, if they successfully make their intentions known, if that person fully accepts the gesture or not, or even if the flowers were meant to be given romantically.
    • A similar function also happens with Ragyo, specifically her death and the motives thereof. Did she kill herself just for the hell of it, out of pride, rather than take the redemption offered, or was death her redemption?
    • Due to some of Nui's backstory and characterization, some wonder if she was truly a monster or, rather, deep within, she's a very broken soul who knows nothing else.
    • Satsuki Kiryuuin. Was she Conditioned to Accept Horror or is she a case of Angst? What Angst??
  • Kashiwa's girlfriend in Kyou Kara Yonshimai doesn't want her to get gender confirmation surgery. Is it due to her secretly not supporting Kashiwa's want to transition and wishing she was a Wholesome Crossdresser, or is she worried that the transition will make it harder for them to get married?
  • Manami from Life is a complicated character. She's introduced as a Spoiled Sweet, popular girl who befriends the troubled and depressed Ayumu. After several chapters that is revealed to be a lie and she's really a huge Alpha Bitch and a bully. The issue is: Was Manami faking from the start or was she a nice girl who turned bad after she thought her boyfriend was cheating and after she began hanging around the same crowd? Was her Interrupted Suicide genuine or was she manipulating Ayumu?
  • Lucky Star has a few:
    • Like does Kagami like Konata?
    • Does Konata suffer from the same illness as her mom? Is her mouth a deformity?
    • Is Miyuki completely Japanese?
    • Is Tsukasa secretly evil?
    • Does Nanako like Yui, if so does she even know it?
    • Ayano oddly she has a few, mostly involving her relationship with Misao . Does Ayano really have a boyfriend? If she doesn't, is she hiding it because she likes Misao? Is Misao her girlfriend then, if so does she act like a boyfriend when in public? Or is she oblivious to her friends crush? Does she harbor feelings for Ayano?
    • Given she's a common target for Comedic Sociopathy and seems to have an inferiority complex, one wonders if Tsukasa might wind up as the group Yandere or Cute and Psycho. At the very least, she may be a Type A Stepford Smiler.
    • This fanfic portrays Miyuki's personality as nothing more than an act. Her real self, portrayed through inner dialogue, is a bit of a bitch. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Miyuki Takara, Grand Dragon Master of the Five Seasonal Winds!
    • Fans also have Kurokona, a deconstruction of Konata's Otaku Surrogate tendencies, portraying her disheveled with black hair, pale skin, glasses for bad eyesight after hours of video games and an isolated, bored and depressed demeanor. Many have theorized this is what could happen in Konata if she didn't have her friends.

  • Macross Frontier has two in-universe examples in the form of Grace O'Connor. In the TV show Grace is an outright villain, manipulating Sheryl and Ranka for her own goals of controlling the Vajra and taking over the Galaxy. In the movie its revealed that she, like Brera, is only being controlled by Galaxy's implants against her will, and she actually deeply cares for Sheryl.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha:
  • Johan Liebert. Is he truly heartless? Or is he just broken? Or is he heartless because he was broken?
    • And, even if he represents one of the latter two, can he still be exonerated for his actions or has he crossed the Moral Event Horizon one too many times? Tenma (and Nina) ultimately decide on the former, in spite of everything, but the viewers are left to ponder on it themselves.
  • Michiko & Hatchin: Hiroshi. Besides being a deadbeat, is it possible that he abandoned Hatchin because that was the most nicest/responsible thing he could do for her? Given what we know about him (he's a jerkass, Really Gets Around, and a criminal) and how the story became a "Shaggy Dog" Story at the end when looking for him became pointless, as he just ups and leaves, one could make the argument that, perhaps, Hatchin would be better off.
  • My Hero Academia has a few examples:
    • Is Endeavor a hero that simply let his own envy get the better of him? Or is he just as bad as any of the other villains in the series?
    • Bakugo's reaction to finding out about Endeavor's actions. Was he just horrified at what he learned on the surface about Todoroki's home life? Or was he horrified at the possibility of becoming like Endeavor with his own desire for being number 1? Or is it a combination of both?
    • Is Shigaraki a sociopathic manchild with dangerous ambitions, or is he someone with a tragic past who was saved and exploited by a villain trying to find a successor? Or is he BOTH at this point?
    • Whether All For One's relationship with Shigaraki is genuine or just manipulative (or even both) is still debated. The Reveal in Chapter 92 that Shigaraki is in fact the grandson of All Might's mentor doesn't help matters. Also, in-universe, All Might still wonders if All For One gave his younger brother a power-storing Quirk either out of pity or to make him submit to his will.
    • How does Midoriya feel about Bakugo? Some interpret it as if he doesn't hold a grudge towards his former bully, but doesn't really like him. Others perceive their relationship as Midoriya hating Bakugo wholeheartedly but respecting him enough to control that hatred. The biggest camp, however, seems to believe that Midoriya still sees Bakugo as the friend he used to be during their childhood years, and wants to foster a healthier relationship between the two of them in the present. More cynical viewers/readers believe that Midoriya is suffering from a form of Stockholm Syndrome, given how it sometimes seems like he excuses Bakugo's actions.
    • How does Midoriya really feel about Uraraka? In the beginning, he seemed to be a bit of a Covert Pervert, given his tendency to blow any positive interactions with her out of proportion, as young boys do. As the series goes on, his feelings for her are rarely mentioned explicitly, while the narrative focused much more on her developing feelings for him(which she attempts to put aside for now and enjoy their friendship). On the other hand, the two tend to blush around each other, and he still gets flustered around her (like when she called his cellphone and when she went into his dorm room), while their classmates, Mina especially, seem to have picked up on their chemistry and how well the two support each other.
    • Bakugo refusing to let Midoriya rescue him during the Forest Training Camp Arc. Was that Bakugo prioritizing his ego even in such a dire situation and refusing his rival's help or was it him realizing that Midoriya would probably die in the process and trying to stop him from doing it?
    • Fuyumi's actions in the Pro Hero Arc: Has she fully forgiven Endeavor for the way he treated his family or is she just not dealing with her own feelings as a desperate attempt to put everyone together in the family she so desires? Or maybe even a combination of both?
    • Mitsuki hitting her son in the head: is it just a gag and the only way she can make her hot-headed son listen to her or a sign of abuse and the reason why Bakugo is so angry and prone to violence in the first place? Bakugo claims that using violence to keep people in line was "how (he) was raised," which might lend credence to the idea that Mitsuki's discipline methods rubbed off on him, although it is possible that Mitsuki only used corporeal punishment when Bakugo started getting out of control.
    • Did Quirk counseling really drive Toga to insanity, or was her killing birds at a young age a sign of existing sociopathy?
    • How much of Shoto's story about his father is reliable? He says that Endeavor only married his mother for her Quirk and to produce offspring, but some calculations imply that he was as young as 19-21 when his first son was born. Was he already obsessed with overcoming All Might so early on his life and career(as he says, he became the #2 Hero at 20, and realized he couldn't surpass All Might) or did he marry and have his first kid out of love and desire to start a family, only later having this desire twisted? Is Shoto telling a reliable story about his family, or is his grudge against his father coloring that story, especially considering that his oldest brother would be anywhere from 9-12 when Shoto was just born? Two Heroes reveals that All Might spent his early hero years in America. Assuming they're the same age, this means Endeavor probably didn't actually compete against All Might until at least his first two children were born.
    • Was Best Jeanist's mentoring of Bakugo an attempt to correct the flaws in a talented but troubled young hero, or was he simply pushing his values on Bakugo? Or perhaps some combination of the two?
    • When you consider that Aizawa re-enrolled the students he expelled, what does that say about his claim that he'd have expelled both the students who went to save Bakugo and the students who didn't do anything about the first group if not for All Might's retirement? Did he honestly mean it, or was this another rational deception to get the students to behave themselves and apply themselves to their studies in order to become model heroes?
    • It's up to reader interpretation of just how much of Shirakumo is left in Kurogiri.
    • After Eri accidentally killed her father, her mother disowned her, called her a cursed child, and gave her up to the yakuza. However, the Season 4 ending shows that Eri's childhood before the incident was a happy and, seemingly, loving one, even including an image of a baby Eri being held tenderly by her mother. Although it doesn't excuse her actions, could Eri's mother disowning her have been a Moment of Weakness, similar to the incident in Todoroki's childhood when his mother burned him despite being a loving parent before?
    • Was a young Gentle's ill-fated attempt to help the falling worker more motivated by a desire to be a hero or to get attention? More specifically, there's his decision in the manga to use his Quirk to create a trampoline to reach the man, rather than to cushion his fall. Was that a mistake made in the heat of the moment, not to mention possibly due to inexperience with his Quirk, or was it because Gentle wanted to be seen saving the man? It's worth noting that in the anime, he tries to cushion the man's fall, but the outcome remains the same.
    • Many readers like to interpret Bakugo's politeness during his visit to the Todoroki household as him falling in Love at First Sight with Fuyumi.
  • A few from My-HiME
    • The Blu-Ray special shows sides of Reito that were never seen before, such as him having a devious smile when it appears that Mai has lost interest in Yuuichi, and anger when he's tricked into burying himself in the sand so the HiME can feed him spicy food in revenge for the carnival. This may suggest that hosting the Obsidian Lord may have had some impact on his personality, if such traits were not there all along.
    • There is the possibility that Shizuru was mind-controlled or somehow Brainwashed during her rampage, as her personality was the most dramatically altered of all the "antagonist" HiME, she once appears with what appear to be Mind-Control Eyes, and immediately after coming back to life, she breaks down crying and apologizes to Natsuki, which might indicate she only just realized what she had done.
  • Was Nina of My-Otome a hard-working and dutiful girl who ended up as an enemy as a result of being from the wrong country, following the duties of an Otome and the love of her father being used to guarantee her obedience? Or was she always obsessively pursuing her father, seeing her Otome career as a means to that end?
  • Neo Human Casshern: Is Casshern a righteous youngman who gave up his humanity (and thus, his identity as Tetsuya Azuma) for justice, and genuinely wants to save the world? Or a celf-sentered jerk whose only reason to become a Neo-Human was to avenge his dog Lucky and (later) save his parents? Or is he traumatized by the fact it is his father who unwillingly became the architect of mankind's doom, and thus all his acts are wrath-driven, as some kind of psychotic atoner? Depending on the Writer, Casshern is all these AT THE SAME TIME. Need a drink?
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • While many of the villains count, an unusual case would have to be Konoka Konoe. Some Fan Fiction depicts her as The Ditz and Cheerful Child; others lean towards her being incredibly sly to almost Chess Master level. It can be hard to tell whether she's a Genius Ditz or just watching the others calmly and quietly while behaving childish when she's mature inside. She's almost never been given a thought bubble in the 275-chapter course of the series, which makes things all the more confusing, which justifies the fanfiction authors' confusion. We may get some idea of what goes on in her head in one of the later chapters, when we get to see her fantasy of an ideal world vis a vis Cosmo Entelechaia. In it, she's a child playing with child-Setsuna. Setsuna's fantasy is noticeably more... adult.
    • While the differences are less dramatic, Evangeline in the same series can be interpreted in different ways, since she's a literal go master to begin with. On one axis, she's somewhere between "villain past her prime who's being slowly subjugated to the effects of Defeat Means Friendship" and "always was a Noble Demon who simply grew up in a rough place and needed a vicious reputation for protection." On an independent axis, she could be an eternally spoiled little girl whose Villain Ball and Stalker with a Crush behavior got her Brought Down to Normal and staring into space for fifteen years until Negi "rescued" her... or an accomplished Chessmaster Go Master and Stealth Mentor and the prime mover behind most major events of the last thirty or so years, with her current position and relationships exactly what she wanted all along. Enough of Eva's surface personality is arguably fake that any point in that plane could be the real her.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Shinji Ikari can be seen as a Tragic Hero, a hero willing to put his life on the line to protect humanity but crippled by some severe psychological trauma; a Designated Hero, a pansy who's unwilling to take risks until the fate of humanity is on the line, or a deconstruction of The Kid with the Remote Control.
    • Asuka Langley Sohryu can be seen like The Woobie and a Broken Ace who suffers of Inferiority Superiority Complex, masks her huge insecurities, neurosis and abandonment issues behind a front of false arrogance, and pushes everybody away because she thinks nobody would love her if they knew her real self, or they just would hurt her right like her parents, hurting herself further with it, but she is still a brave hero risks her life for the humanity and for giving her life some worth and got mind-raped and awfully murdered by it... or like a bratty, loudmouthed, conceited Jerkass... or like an Expy from Tetsuya Tsurugi and a deconstruction of the Hotblooded Ace Pilot, right like he was.
    • Some believe that Yui Ikari wasn't as innocent — or sane — as she appeared at first glance. After all, she was involved with GEHIRN (the proto-NERV) before she met Gendo Rokubungi. She deliberately arranged for Shinji to see her during the test that caused Eva Unit 1 to absorb her; and judging from her dialogue in End of Evangelion, that may not have been an accident. People debates whether she anticipated Gendo going crazy after she 'died' and trying anything to get her back.
    • Is Rei a real person or a brain-washed, emotionless child soldier?
    • Is Kaji a lovable tramp who only wants to help Misato, or is he evil and only in it for personal gain?
    • Kaworu Nagisa: an Angel redeemed who gave up his own existence for Shinji? Or a monster just human enough to understand cruelty, manipulating Shinji's feelings to try to succeed and then lashing out in a psychological attack to make his destruction a Pyrrhic Victory?
    • Gendo Ikari: a Magnificent Bastard who's manipulating everyone for the entire series? Or just someone who's made one relatively simple plan and had a lot of things work out in his favor? Did he plan to implement Instrumentality for the good of mankind, for some other reason, or was it just because he wanted to see Yui again? Is he really as bad as people think he is? Maybe he's just a deeply flawed person trying to save his Morality Chain of social relationships, as the few glimpses in his past make it seem similar to Shinji's present.
    • Seele: Monsters trying to become gods? Trying to help out humanity through Instrumentality? Or are they just crazy cultists?
  • One Piece:
    • Luffy:
      • He may just pretend to be dumber than a rock because he likes to challenge himself, as evidenced by a number of overly convenient flashes of insight. The marine commodore Smoker even calls him out on this at one point. Luffy's reaction? A mysterious smile.
      • He's the grandson of a famous Vice Admiral and the son of a widely feared revolutionary leader. He's also the adoptive brother of one of the strongest pirate in the world's right hand men. Some of their intelligence must have made its way down to him. His "stupidity" often resembles an inability to focus. Maybe Luffy just has ADD?
      • On the other hand, Luffy does make mistakes at critical points, including when the lives of his friends are on the line, such as when he seems ready to start a fight with the Drum Island militia even while Nami is deathly ill, or attacking Blackbeard while trying to go after Ace on his way out of Impel Down.
      • During the Impel Down breakout, Luffy rejects Crocodile's offer of help because of what he did to Vivi's country. Was he disgusted at the death and destruction Crocodile caused, or was he just angry at the guy for messing with one of his friends?
    • Zoro: Hard-boiled badass who simply keeps his promises, or a Heartbroken Badass who still longs for his long gone best friend?
    • Blackbeard: Eventual Big Bad who's a deliberate Evil Counterpart to Luffy, or a disturbing presentation of what piracy truly is and a deliberate send-up of the real Blackbeard? Perhaps it's both: Blackbeard demonstrates how bad piracy truly is, while Luffy is a deliberate good conterpart meant to show how good it could be.
    • Kuma: A guy just doing his job? Or a Chessmaster Stealth Mentor for the Straw Hats?
      • It turns out that he is part of the Revolutionary Army, and has been slowly roboticized, even his brain, but managed to get programmed with a "mission" to protect the Straw Hats' ship. Franky says they owe him a great debt, but the next time they meet, they will be enemies.
    • Crocodile in the Marineford Arc: is he in the process of pulling a Heel–Face Turn? Is he using the situation solely to his advantage to rise in the ranks of pirates once again? Is he projecting his one-sided rivalry against Whitebeard on Luffy, or is he going to become Piccolo to Luffy's Goku? Or maybe he's just doing it for the lulz?
    • Hancock: Is she naturally Tsun Tsun or Dere Dere? Is she a cold-hearted woman who only spares kindness for Luffy, or a nice woman who tends to go a bit nuts when Luffy's in danger?
    • Doflamingo: Does he see Dressrosa's citizens as pawns, or does he truly care for them?
      • Later events in the manga indicate that it's the former; he threatens to kill them all once his toy transformation scheme was revealed unless they help him catch his enemies. Though with his crew, it's completely the latter.
    • One for a variety of crew members during the Thriller Bark Arc: The Slasher Smiles every crew member (Bar Luffy, Nami, and the yet to fully join Brook) give Oars when he is trapped by his horns in the ground, followed by the offscreen beat down given, may be less about fighting the enemy and more the fact that Oars, having Luffy's shadow, sounds and somewhat acts like Luffy. Thus beating the giant mercilessly allows them to vent off steam from having to deal with Luffy constantly (while they all love him, Luffy is hard to deal with sometimes).
  • One-Punch Man: Is Saitama's "being a hero is just my hobby" thing him playing off a genuine desire to help as I Was Just Passing Through, or does he genuinely not care about the big picture as long as he gets the immediate gratification of fighting a monster and saving the day? He's clearly a decent person in many respects, but it's possible to read the setting as a Crapsack World and Saitama as someone who genuinely doesn't really think or care about the horrific damage wrecked by the constant monster attacks it faces as long as he gets good fights out of it.
  • Ranma ½
    • Ranma Saotome is a slightly immature but decent young man trying to do right by various friends, family, and rivals without causing massive loss of honor for all... or he's an egotistical, emotionally stunted Jerkass who's too screwed up to know what the right thing is, let alone have the strength to do it. All the lockfics, where Ranma is locked more or less permanently into his girl form, or other fics where there's a reason for Ranma to seriously reconsider his opinion on girls and eventually even become one in mind as well as body.
    • A third interpretation is that, while he's generally an honorable guy, all he knows is combat. This explains why he's always arguing with Akane
    • Akane Tendo, his fiancée, is shown in fanwork as one of these: an evil, murderous, misandrist psycho who wants to downright murder Ranma for any of his screw-ups; a genuinely kind girl with identity issues who happens to have a huge Berserk Button that Ranma pushes often; or a saintly little victim who snaps only because of Ranma's constant and abusive Jerkassitude.
    • Every character in Ranma gets this treatment at some point, from Ranma and Akane to their families (does Genma have an honorable side deep down, or is he completely irredeemable? And just how sweet is Kasumi, really?) to the Amazons (Cologne ranges from a cold warrior woman determined to drag Ranma back to China to a snarky old lady who enjoys watching Nerima's chaos)... Considering the massive amount of Fanon and Fanfic that exist for the series, it would be more surprising if there weren't this many interpretations.
    • An in-canon example; the anime treats many characters differently from the original manga, though precisely who, how differently, and whether this is good or bad is a matter of personal opinion. Example changes:
      1. Ranma and Akane are more prone to juvenile arguments and bickering in the anime; in the manga, they more or less get along with occasional bouts of surprisingly extreme arguing. At least they get plenty of moments of camaradrie, teamwork and generally enjoying being around each other in both media.
      2. Shampoo is less violent and more devoted in the anime, getting an episode in which she proves willing to defend Ranma even from her own family, no matter if it takes death (hers or theirs) to do it. Her faith in Ranma and desire to be with him is played up more; for instance, the story where Maomolin attempts to turn her into a cat so he can marry her is changed to include a scene where she threatens to slit her own throat if he won't let her go. She seems to get on better with her rivals, or at least respect them more. Most notably, she saves Akane from a dangerous fall in the Immortal Phoenix OAV — with a zinger about Akane's weight, but she does it.
      3. Ukyo is more passionate about martial arts. In one late manga story, she loses a duel to a Forgotten Rival from her childhood and is quite blase about it — she's just glad he'll leave and stop bothering her. In the anime, one episode is centered on her being defeated by a rival in the art of Martial Arts Cookery, which leaves her horrorstruck, guilty and and outraged at her "weakness". She even chews Ranma out for a thoughtless but well-meaning comment that she thought was him saying martial arts shouldn't matter so much to her because she's a woman. She also genuinely values her friendship with him in the anime; though she in the depths of her heart wants him to return her romantic feelings, she is willing to back down from her schemes if they are putting their friendship at risk. (See the "Great Girly-Girl Gambit" episode).
      4. The Kuno siblings are treated more sympathetically in the anime. Kodachi grew up without any parental figure except Tatewaki; she is several times implied to be a well-meaning but (very) strange who is quite lonely and who clings to Ranma because he's the closest thing to a real friend she has. Tatewaki, meanwhile, was cruelly abused by their father before he bogged off to Hawaii; he has been caring for himself, his sister, and their estate on his own ever since.
      5. Ryoga's connection to Akane is depicted as more intense in the anime, making him either more sympathetic or more pathetic, depending on your feelings about him. He deliberately tries to save Ranma from being permanently enchanted to love Shampoo with a Red String of Fate because seeing him acting so loving to her is upsetting Akane. Granted, he collapses into an indecisive panic when he realises that letting Shampoo win means he can have Akane by default; but at least he tries. He makes a passionate speech about how he will always love Akane and watch over her from the shadows in the OAV adaptation of the Ryugenzawa story. In an anime-unique OAV, he leaves in the middle of the night because he knows he'll be tempted to sabotage Akane's upcoming battle to win back the rights to be the official Tendo Dojo heir (and Ranma's fiancee), and he can't bear to hurt her by doing that. In one episode, he absently contemplates staying as P-chan all the time to be Akane's pet 24/7. Finally, the an anime episode that introduced Anna Brown, who would be an Expy of Akari if she hadn't come first, he admits that he could fall in love with her and may never be this happy again if he leaves... and yet he is still unable to resist telling her that he can't stay and going back to Akane.
      6. In the anime, Mousse is depicted as a very creepy Stalker with a Crush. In the final arc of the manga, Shampoo gets mind controlled, and he gets the opportunity to make her his slave. He instead frees her... only for her to go right back to stalking Ranma. He remarks that he's going to be kicking himself for years.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena:
    • Anthy:
      • While no one thinks she isn't The Woobie, many people think she is a Manipulative Bastard worse than her brother, having turned cruel and spiteful after how many years of her in a state of And I Must Scream. Mostly she seems to think she has no choice in the matter. People who support the interpretation believe she's just being a coward, although the "pure Woobie" interpretation says that she's so broken she didn't realize that she had the capacity to take a stand.
      • There are definitely people who don't see her as The Woobie, and refuse to consider her as anything other than a "wimp" or a "passive-aggressive bitch." This mentality is less common among people who've been fans of the series for a reasonable time, but it can be frustrating to see the casual dismissal of her character among those who really, really have no idea what they're talking about.
    • What about movie Anthy? She's just badass.
    • Our protagonist. Most fans see Utena as a noble Determinator who manages to fight off the negative influences of the broken and deluded people around her. However, a small subset of the fandom don't see steadfast uprightness so much as just another, albeit more resilient, form of her fellow students' misconceptions. After all, she is maninpulated by Akio in the end, just like everyone else, including Anthy. Who's to say that her worldview was not just as simplistic, selfish, and/or flat-out delusional as those she shatters in other people (rather painfully, it must be added) over the course of the series?
  • In the final episode of Robotech, the use of the Neutron-S missiles was said to be ordered by Admiral Rick Hunter. Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles (as well as the Prelude comic) attempts to avert this by showing his hesitation. It was discovered that the missile warheads cause the formation of a black hole, so he tried to warn Vince Grant that the missiles should not be used against Earth but that's neither here nor there. The original plan was a "Scorched Earth Tactic" which would have killed millions of humans as well as hopefully destroyed Invid Reflex Point. Despite the fact that the comic attempts to give the impression that Rick Hunter simply agreed with a committee decision, the Shadow Chronicles film once again simply indicates that he is the originator of the order. Your opinion of Hunter will depend on whether you've read the Prelude Comic or not.
  • Sailor Moon
    • Someone explained that Chibi-Usa looks nothing like her mother Usagi because she was the lovechild of Mamoru and Rei, with her hair dyed and contacts added to disguise her resemblance to her actual mother.
    • There were at least two more versions: Chibi-Usa's real mother is either Luna or Sailor Pluto (all three characters have red eyes in the anime). The latter idea was supported by the fact that Chibi-Usa is attached to Pluto even after they both end up in the present maintaining Secret Identities.
    • On the other side of her parentage, one fic has Chibi-Usa's real father be Rubeus because he has red hair and Usagi has blonde, which combine to make pink; and he and Chibi-Usa both have red eyes.
    • All of Chibi-Usa's earlier quirks (besides being a Bratty Half-Pint, wielding weapons that no five-to-eight year old should be wielding, wetting herself, chasing after her father, etc.) makes more sense when you consider these things:
      1. She's arguably 900 years old in a world that either has a longer average lifespan or has completely overcome death.
      2. She's a half breed of human and Moon Person (or whatever you care to call them), and most of them are out for her blood.
      3. She is screwed up from the backstory for R for sitting in the shadow of her parents and eventually ensuring the destruction of the future world.
      4. She is Usagi's biological child, and she inherited her problems but has not had her character growth!
    • Word of God stated that Chibi-Usa is pink out of a reference to how albino rabbits have pink eyes.
    • Sailor Pluto — silent guardian of time, or engineer of dystopian future?
    • Neo Queen Serenity can easily come across as a dictator, depending on whether you're willing to take it on faith that "purification" and "brainwashing" aren't the same thing.
  • Saki:
    • Saki is either an optimistic young girl doing her best to reconcile with her sister or an unstoppable demon who gleefully destroys the dreams of other young girls just so she can get back at Teru. To be fair in this game there's always loser and winner, and Saki is determined to win all the way to final when she saw Shiraitodai is in different block.
    • Teru has several, since she has almost no screentime outside of Saki's flashbacks and dreams, at least until Achiga-Hen
      • Teru's saying that she has no sister is typically seen as a cruel act that is proof that she's a Jerkass who is not the sister Saki remembers. But implications at a tragedy in the Miyanaga family's past suggest that Teru might have been emotionally affected in some way, and their estrangement may not be due to her hating Saki.
      • It's indicated in Achiga-Hen that Teru puts on a polite and cheerful act for the press, while she is privately a colder and more aloof individual. However, after Toki collapses in front of her after their match, she is completely shocked, and later expresses concern about Toki's well-being under her breath, which could indicate a kinder side of Teru she may not even be aware of herself.
      • Another alternate interpretation suggests that whenever Teru's giving off an imposing aura, she, like her sister, is secretly scared or desperate to find the bathroom.
    • Nodoka's father. Is he willing to give Nodoka a chance to prove herself at Mahjong despite not thinking much of it, and likely to change his mind? Or was his offer to "consider" letting her stay if she wins the national tournament- a small concession with a difficult to achieve condition- made in the belief that Nodoka won't be able to succeed, and possibly insincere at that?
    • Is Coach Kubo of Kazekoshi a tough, but fair mahjong coach, or does she excessively punish her players for minor mistakes? Additionally, has she been like this all along, or is this in response to Kazekoshi losing to Ryuumonbuchi in the prefecturals last year, which caused her to believe that Kazekoshi had become complacent and needs to take their games more seriously?
  • In School Days, this often happens with the main characters — Makoto, Sekai, and Kotonoha:
    • For Makoto, it's whether he's truly a cold-hearted Casanova or just a regular person who is having a normal reaction to being surrounded by hot women who want to have sex with him. He is a hormonal teenager, after all. Doesn't help that the manga and the anime seem to have different versions of Makoto.
    • In Sekai's case, it's whether she's an innocent girl overcome with passion from her Matchmaker's Crush, or a manipulative bitch who tried to win her man by offering herself to him despite his already having a girlfriend.
    • For Kotonoha, there's the ongoing debate over whether she was a normal girl who was broken by the abuse she suffered over the series, or if she had a mental disorder from the beginning.
  • The interpretations of the main characters in Science Ninja Team Gatchaman are not only a subject of many debates in the fandom, but have basis in canon:
    • Ken: Rebellious Jerkass who only cares about himself, frustrated and lonely guy struggling to carry the weight of being The Hero on his shoulders, or upstanding moral boy scout? His feelings for Jun seem to change an awful lot. Does he ignore her, see her as "one of the guys" or could he return the affections she holds for him? And then there are fans who think he's gay due to his utter cluelessness when it comes to women.
    • Joe: Sociopathic Hero who just wants to blow stuff up and fight, overtly tragic woobie or fast-driving flirt? His own feelings towards Ken are subject to debate as well.
    • Jun: Depending on the Writer, she's either smart, capable Action Girl with good business sense or a victim of 1970s Japanese sexism. Her feelings for Ken also vary in their intensity from girlish crush to real love...and to some fanfic writers angsty pining.
    • Jinpei: His young age makes him subject to a lot of changes in his maturity level and role as The Smart Guy; sometimes he shows great skill and insight for someone his age and other times he's a Mouthy Kid whose inability to sit still gets him in trouble.
    • Ryu is either the pudgy Plucky Comic Relief Big Eater or the Gentle Giant, though most of the time they overlap. Fan Fic tends to Flanderize the former, though. Also, his Book Dumb country boy tendencies vary from episode to episode.
    • Some folks consider Dr. Nambu to be a manipulative Trickster Mentor (or just a manipulative ass), but others see him as a bona fide Team Dad.
    • Red Impulse: Abusive asshole or a man torn between being a good father vs his life's work? And let's not even go into Battle of the Planets, especially for Mark and Jason vs Ken and Joe...
  • An in universe example in Skip Beat!: Kyouko is cast as the villain in a remake of a late 80's drama. The character is a Rich Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who has a huge resentment towards the heroine and uses a facial scar she got from an accident where both were involved to emotionally blackmailing her. The original actress interpreted the character as a apparently timid girl who was not ashamed of use the Wounded Gazelle Gambit near constantly, using Peek-a-Bangs to conceal her Evil Scars. Kyouko instead plays the character as a bitter, resentful teen in perpetual Passive-Aggressive Kombat mode, openly showing her scar and having a more "in your face" attitude. Kyouko's justification is that, while the original interpretation was valid and all, she couldn't see the daughter of a rich family spotting such a big facial scar: if you had get such damage twenty years ago you should have had to live with it, but nowdays you can get a plastic surgeon to erase or minimize it. Since the scar blackmailing is fundamental to the character and the plot, Kyouko decided to play her as the kind of person that would have kept such a scar in purpose.
  • Soul Eater:
    • Many fanfics present Soul as being an awkward teenager who is head-over-heels for his best friend, Maka, despite all her nerdiness; Just as many present him as a complete Jerkass who has to watch Maka nearly die before he gets any amount of Character Development.
    • Maka is either a Cute Bruiser and the Only Sane Man or a complete Alpha Bitch and Mary Sue. Fanfics will also present her as such - she's usually either a School Girl With A Crush on Soul and is completely incapable of hiding her feelings for him, or is an extraordinarily violent young girl in complete denial about her feelings.
    • Spirit, Maka's father. Seeing all the suffering he goes through on the show makes him far more sympathetic than Maka's mother, who has not made any appearances in any media. One could easily think that she isn't that good of a person if she never visited Maka.
  • Adélie from Space Dandy is a very confusing character to make a final judgement on. Most fans would be torn between the fact the she is a Tsundere brat who traps Dandy's soul inside of a stuffed penguin twice and verbally lashes out at him and the fact that she is an orphan girl with no one to turn to.
  • Tenchi Muyo! is rife with these:
    • Ryoko is one of these: (A) a troubled soul who was forced to do evil (see below), who is the only one that truly loves Tenchi (most commonly because she watched him grow up), and who also knows every character (particularly Tenchi and Ayeka) better than they know themselves; (B) an evil sociopathic slut who just wants Tenchi for his lower organs; C) a cruel sociopath who only wants Tenchi because she will do anything to hurt Ayeka; D) an alien whose instinctive ways of displaying emotion clash with normal humans/Jurians'.
    • The OVA continuity has fans debating about the nature of Kagato's control of Ryoko, both in the past and at the end of the first arc, to determine how traumatized she might have been. Was Ryoko a pure mindless killing machine? Or was she aware of her actions but still unable to stop herself due to Kagato's overwhelming control? Series creator Masaki Kajishima's Tie In Novels established Ryoko as a Tyke-Bomb who was kept on a short leash emotionally but who was still largely in control of her actions before her imprisonment, and so it's impossible for her to be entirely innocent — or entirely guilty.
    • Ayeka is one of these: (A) a calm, understanding, proud, powerful woman who wants what's best for everybody; (B) an evil lazy bitch who only wants Tenchi because she will do anything to hurt Ryoko; or (C) The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask because her position in life requires her to conceal that deep down she's an insecure Tsundere.
    • Interestingly, unless Ayeka and Ryoko are being portrayed with the "we destroy the house every week by fighting" mentality, Ayeka's fighting prowess is usually forgotten, which makes her a Damsel in Distress. It's assumed that Ayeka cannot fight on even ground with even their lower fighters (such as Mihoshi). This is Flanderization of the plot point in the OVAs that Ryoko was much more powerful in a serious fight.
    • None of these consider "Call Me Princess", Ayeka's Image Song, which depicts her as a whip-happy, leather clad sadist... explaining that it's "traditional royal bridegroom training". Is she lying, or is BDSM one of the pillars of Juraian culture?
    • There is the occasional fanfic which runs with the Marry Them All solution by giving both of the ladies positive interpretations and enough maturity or mutual affection to go the Polyamorous Route(tm). This is the Word of God.
    • Washu: a) a cute geek who, thanks to being very old, is unable to realize the stress she puts the 20- or couple-hundred-year-old younglings through? b) a psychopathic Mad Scientist who will do anything For Science!, up to and including emotional (and probably literal) rape of Tenchi?; c) A goddess with an Omniscient Morality License coming from having lived waaaaaaaay too long, thus having her morality seriously whacked and/or practically non-existent?
    • Mihoshi. She is one of these: (a) The Fool, and thus both The Rival and The Load for Kiyone; (b) a brilliant actor pulling off the greatest case of Obfuscating Stupidity ever; (c) a Genius Ditz who achieved a Bunny-Ears Lawyer reputation; (d) The Cape and Broken Bird who has seen so such trauma that she has burned out and is dealing with it by becoming a Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
  • In Uta Kata, does Satsuki get upset because her best friend Keiko kisses the guy who just stood her up moments before, or because her beloved Keiko is making out with someone else? It could go either way, but the fact remains that Satsuki never showed any overt interest in the guy before that, and she is shown to be extremely close with Keiko throughout the series.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters series has quite a few:
    • Yugi Mutou: cute innocent boy who's been picked on for being small, or a weakling who relies too much on his alter ego and happily takes credit for duelling wins he barely contributed towards?
    • The other Yugi / Yami Yugi / The Pharaoh: Secretly still the Sociopathic Hero he was in the manga and season 0? Or simply, as some have put it, a self-righteous prick with a pole up his ass? Is he just a guy who has extremely bad luck and covers it by acting big? Just a devoted aibou for Yugi, or a guy who only pretends to care for his host? Speaking of aibou, is he straight, gay or asexual? Is he just a cool face while Yugi comes up with all the winning strategies, do they work together equally, or is he the one doing all the work? Does he really believe in the Power of Friendship and the Heart of the Cards and care for his True Companions, or is Yugi the only one he really cares for?
      • It's also been popular in fanfiction to interpret him as a Yandere for Yugi (particularly with the season 0 version of him).
      • It's also popular in fanfiction to depict him as a cruel monarch or despot, despite there being no canon backup for this. Goes hand in hand with lionizing the Thief King Bakura, or Yugi being a wallflower slave in that era.
    • Katsuya Jounouchi: Badass Normal? Butt-Monkey? Boring Failure Hero? Too Dumb to Live? All of the above?
    • Seto Kaiba: Does he need a hug for his troubled past for which he is misunderstood — not that he wants the hug? Should he be fawned upon for his angst, snark, supreme power (in both Duel Monsters and business), and intelligence, especially considering his path from orphanhood? Or is he just a jerk who likes to mouth off on his superiority? And is his constant losing to destiny an unfair break, given how he wants to duel for himself where Yami Yugi seems to have gotten into games as a means of protecting people?
      • How about his Ancient Egyptian persona (mostly the manga incarnation)? Did he really love Kisara, or did he just admire her power (made worse when they have little page time together)? Was his reluctance to overthrow the Pharaoh as Akhenaden wanted him to a sign of reluctant respect for the Pharaoh, or just a sense of duty? And if Executive Meddling hadn't shortened his fight with the Pharaoh, would he have been rebelling because he favours the survival of the dynasty where Atem favoured the common people, or just because he wanted to rule and defeat the Pharaoh at last?
    • Ryou Bakura: Adorable innocent Shrinking Violet teenage boy who happens to be possessed by a spirit that lives in a piece of ancient jewelery given to him by his neglectful father who's never around, or creepy Nightmare Fetishist Stepford Smiler?
    • What About Yami Bakura? Is he really a Jerkass who needs to be destroyed, or is he an extreme case of Troubled, but Cute who just needs a hug? Or is he evil, but only because he's being manipulated by Zorc?
    • Akhenaden. Was he driven to his actions and justified by having the realism to Akhenamkhanen's detached idealism? Is he ultimately not responsible for Zorc using him, leading to him being allowed to reach the Afterlife, or was his spirit controlling Bakura's the entire time?
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:
    • Fan interpretation of Judai's relationship with Johan in flip-flops between just two duel-obsessed guys finding a niche with each other and Ho Yay. Also, whether Yubel should be considered male or female has been heavily debated.
    • Judai Yuki of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX has been seen both as the type of person who is calm under pressure even when dueling evil aliens or demonic Clingy Jealous Girls and the like, and as a clueless dolt who never understands the severity of a situation and who has no idea exactly what he duels for. He himself wrestles with this question in season 3. Ironically, the first time he tries taking a duel seriously, he does it too well and snaps.
  • Yuki Yuna is a Hero:
    • Were Togo's multiple suicide attempts in episodes 8 and 10 simply her experimenting with the fairies' powers, or did she really intend to kill herself?
    • Following The Reveal in Episode 8 that the Sange is permanent, are the Taisha Kyubey-level Magnificent Bastards who are willing to throw the lives of innocent girls into a Fate Worse than Death just to preserve their world a while longer, or are they just Well-Intentioned Extremists who had no other choice to preserve the world and sincerely worship the girls that they sacrifice?
    • What exactly were Sonoko's intentions when she told Togo the truth about the outside world? Did she simply want her old friend to know what she was really fighting for before Togo ended up like her? Or was she a Magnificent Bastard who used Togo to destroy the world and end her own suffering?
    • It's commonly believed that Togo initially refused to become a Hero because she was afraid of her disability holding everyone back. However, upon reading what she went through as Sumi Washio in the prequel LN, some theorized that she was actually suffering from PTSD. Word of God confirms that Togo reacted that way because even though her mind didn't remember fighting the Vertex before, her body and soul did.
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • Yukina:
      • Interpretations of Yukina, Hiei's sister, run the gamut from Naïve Everygirl who is happy just to be with her human friends even if she can't find her brother, to Emotionless Girl who wants her brother to commit genocide on the Koorime for throwing him away, and everything in between. Also, has she figured out Hiei is her brother? She does call him brother once, but immediately backtracked and said she would like her brother to be like him. There's also debate over her sexuality, as Koorime ("Ice Maidens") are all female and reproduce asexually, but her mother, Hina, clearly had some kind of sexual relationship with a man in order to produce Hiei. There's even a certain level of debate towards whether or not Yukina is a product of the sexual encounters between Hina and Hiei's father, or if Yukina was the asexually reproduced daughter a Koorime has every hundred years. So could she fall in love and have a sexual relationship with Kuwabara? Is she a lesbian? Or is she 100% asexual?
      • In the manga, after Hiei tells Yukina that if she wants to see the Ice Maidens wiped out, she should do it herself rather than rely on her brother, she says "I believe... my brother would tell me the same thing," giving no indication that she knows that Hiei is her brother, but leaving open the possibility that she could find out. The manga translation also seems to indicate that she sees destroying the Koorime as a species-wide Mercy Kill, since she doesn't think people can or should suppress their emotions (which takes on more meaning when you consider that she was imprisoned in Tarukane's mansion and had to force herself not to cry so he couldn't harvest her tears).
      • Adding to the speculation would be a scene from Eizou Hakusho, where Hiei attempts to return Yukina's Hiruiseki stone claiming her brother is dead, but she smiles and says he should keep it before leaving. Genkai proceeds to tell Hiei that Yukina is not the child he thinks she is, possibly further implying she has already figured it out.
      • Is Yukina really as harmless as she acts, or is she actually a Hidden Badass who nonetheless gets others to fight for her? Hiei told her to kill the Koorime herself; would he have said that to her if he didn't think she could actually do it? Hiei's been a prodigious powerhouse from literally before he was born, so it's perfectly possible that Yukina is the same way.
    • Kurama is also the subject of much debate, largely because of changes made in the slightly Bowdlerised English dub, which featured a scene where his transformed demon-self spoke to his more human-like self as if they were separate entities. Thus, some fans have come to believe that he has a borderline (or even full-on) Split Personality. Other fans believe that he has a single identity, and has merely experienced Character Development as a result of his human facade.
    • Is Yaminade no Itsuki a simple love-struck Psycho Supporter, or is there something more to it?

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