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Unreliable Narrator / Anime & Manga

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  • Taken to huge levels in Pandora Hearts, especially with the case of one...Jack Vessalius and all of the despicable deeds he has done-including twisting his story around numerous times-making it look like GLEN stabbed Gilbert when HE was the one to do so, making it look like Alice liked Jack when in fact she hated him and Alyss liked him, and even rewriting history to make it look like the Baskervilles were the bad guys. Oh, and also-watch for whenever they tell you about the Tragedy of Sablier and Alice's memories. Especially considering those were ALYSS'S memories she was remembering, not her own.... and that hooded figure who speaks to Lacie....It's not Glen, it's Jack.
  • As in the light novels, Kyon in the Haruhi Suzumiya Animated Adaptation certainly qualifies. At the end of each episode, in the original 2006 summer broadcast, Haruhi always indicates the number of the next episode by its chronological order, while Kyon corrects her every time with the episode number based on the broadcast order (and for the one episode where the numbers actually match up, he then corrects himself and apologizes). Both are replaced with Nagato delivering a deadpan tie-in to the next episode, in both the DVD release and expanded 2009 broadcast.
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    • There is also his stupefying habit of mixing narration with dialogue in language and terms that no high-schooler uses; and tendency not to tell the readers what he has figured out previously until the reveal.
    • His tendency in the novels not to differentiate between narration and things he says aloud which are included in the narration without indication of their being speech is preserved by either not showing his mouth or not showing it moving and having characters respond—or give what could be responses—anyway.
    • A favored theory is that he tries to present himself as an objective and respectful young man. When he's actually in love with all of them. Whenever scenes supporting this come up, his narration says nothing about it, or goes completely off-topic while we watch what happens.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, the episode Poker Face entirely takes place in a small shack at the side of some large event, where Cold Sniper Saito and some other police officers play poker during their break. When the other players ask him how he got so good at bluffing, he tells them the story how he met the Major while he was a mercenary sniper who killed most of her patrol during a UN mission in Mexico. Since both the plot and the story within the story are all about bluffing, it's entirely unclear if anything was true at all, and there are lots of small details that are inconsistent with information from other episodes.
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  • Genma Saotome from Ranma ½. Any time he tells a story you just know that isn't how it really happened. This goes double for Happōsai. And Cologne. And the principal. And Sōun (ESPECIALLY Sōun). Heck, point to just about any important adult in Ranma ½, and it'd be easier to list the things they claimed that weren't total BS.
  • Jack Rakan of Mahou Sensei Negima! is kind of like this whenever he relates any sort of Back Story, tending to massively exaggerate his own importance. That said, what he says is usually accurate... he just leaves out enormous chunks of the story because they don't involve him.
  • In Love Hina, Kitsune starts explaining Naru's past, and says that Naru and Seta were in a Teacher/Student Romance at the time. She then immediately states "If that had happened, it would have been interesting."
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  • In the Death Note anime, Mikami himself, rather than an omniscient narrator, narrates his flashbacks. He thus has an unfavorable view of his mother's advice to stop fighting against the bullies, whereas the manga's narrator noted that she was motivated by genuine concern for his welfare that was largely lost on him.
  • According to Word of God nearly every installment in the Macross franchise is in fact an in-universe dramatization of the events depicted made several years after the fact. While the Broad Strokes of what happened is usually correct, certain elements are tweaked somewhat due to Rule of Cool, Rule of Drama, or just the in-universe contemporary political climate.
  • In early episodes of Slayers, Lina's narration of the previous episode's events tends to paint herself in the best light possible, to the point of, say... practically ignoring destroying almost a whole village. Lina is no more reliable as the narrator of the novels.
  • School-Live! has a severely unreliable narrator in its heroine Yuki. The story at first largely follows her life as she sees it, living at school for fun and spending her days doing typical light-hearted school-life anime activities with her classmates and a small group of club members. When the perspective switches to one of her club members, however, it's revealed that the four club members are the only survivors left in the city after a Zombie Apocalypse, Yuki spends much of her time interacting with classmates who're long gone, and the beautiful school is in ruins, full of barricades designed to stop attacks.
  • In several of the first novels of Higurashi: When They Cry, due to the nature of the madness and paranoia-inducing parasite that infects all of the residents of Hinamizawa, it is unclear what actually takes place as the narrator for the arc ends up slaughtering several of their friends and others. There are hints throughout that the events may not be as perceived by the narrator, such as when the police report at the end of the first novel contradicts the narrator's belief of what happened. Keiichi's demise by clawing at his throat at the end of the first arc proves that he succumbed to the town's parasite, creating doubt with regards to his mental state.
  • Ii-chan of Zaregoto forgets important details, frequently. He even neglects to tell the readers how he disguised the second murder in The Kubishime Romanticist as a suicide.
  • Koimonogatari, one of the arcs in Bakemonogatari is narrated by Kaiki Deishu. He starts the story with a winded monologue on how the audience has no way of knowing whether the story he's about to tell is true or false, he ends it telling that he was murdered. Which audience already knows is a blatant lie because he is alive and well in another arc that chronologically happens later.
  • The protagonist to the manga Kami no Kodomo; a sociopathic serial killer who depicts himself as a messiah-like figure.
  • Played for Laughs in Tenchi Universe. During the series, both Ayeka and Ryoko give different versions of how they met and interacted with each other in the past, which resulted in them becoming enemies. Both girls tell stories that make the other look bad. It's up to the viewing audience to decide if Ayeka or Ryoko is telling the truth. By the end of the series, Washu concludes that they're both telling the truth and both girls were cruel to each other.
  • One Piece (the manga, not the anime) doesn't have an actual narrator except for in a few info boxes, and when characters recount their memories, it is usually done in the form of an objective Flashback, even making use of the Third-Person Flashback trope to show all details. There is, however, a first example of an unreliable narrator in the Dressrosa arc: When Rebecca's flashback is shown, it looks like she was raised by only her mother, Scarlet, and didn't meet her father, Kyros, before he appeared as a toy soldier carrying her dead mother in his arms. However, as Kyros' flashback shows, he lived with them and was an important part of Rebecca's early childhood. But then Kyros was turned into a toy, effectively making him an Un-person. This is why Rebecca's flashback was unreliable: She cannot remember a thing about her father, so she genuinely thought that she only lived with her mother. This unreliability makes all the Third Person Flashbacks seem a little weird in hindsight, but it was probably a handy excuse to avoid spoiling that the toy soldier was Rebecca's real father and Kyros, since that wasn't known by the readers back then.
    • In a similar vein, the Tontatta dwarf Leo describes Mansherry, princess of the Tontatta that he's trying to rescue, as "selfish, mean, capricious, and short-tempered". When the manga finally shows her in person, it's shown that she's incredibly sweet and kind-hearted, but acts that way around Leo because she has a giant crush on him and he's too dense to see it.
  • In The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, in order to clear up a repeated misunderstanding, Ashiya tries to explain the relationship between himself, his roommate Sadao Maō, and Emi Yusa to some people. However, the people he's talking to don't know that all three hail from a Heroic Fantasy universe where Maō was the Demon King, Ashiya was his top general, and Emi was the fated hero who almost slew them both. So instead Ashiya makes up a story about Maō being the head of an upstart construction company that was driven out of business by a rival, for whom Emi worked as an intern. In this case, the viewer already knows that the story is made up, but it's interesting to note that his cover-up story offers an interesting perspective on the real events he's masking: for example, he sees the armies of humanity not as mortal enemies or insects to be crushed, but simply as rivals competing over limited resources, and he doesn't seem to hate Emi personally for her role in their defeat, instead regarding it as a case of Just Following Orders. In retrospect, this interpretation would explain why a pair of demons who seemed hell-bent on conquering humanity in their world would be able to fit in so comfortably with humans in this world.
  • In episode 8 of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Yuuki dies. However the viewers don't know this until two episodes later. We see him die however it's treated like a nightmare that his sister had. For the entirety of episode nine and most of episode ten we see Yuuki alive and normal because that's what Mirai thought happened. There are clues that Yuuki isn't "really" there, like shots where he is missing and him constantly disappearing.
  • Lupin III: Episode 0: First Contact is the Origin Story to Lupin III, except the narrator Jigen admits to altering some things. Also, he's actually Lupin in disguise. The credits sequence shows that some of it is true, but it's clear, and even stated, that other parts were changed. Why? Why not?
  • The titular character of Yuri!!! on Ice, Yuri Katsuki, is this, since he is the main character and often narrates the earlier episodes from his point-of-view. It's not intentional or done out of malice to the viewer, but due to his self-esteem issues and a severe and awful case of Heroic Self-Deprecation, Yuri states that he is a mediocre figure skater at best who is unable to skate good programs, doesn't have much support and that Victor will eventually tire of him and leave. This trope is masterfully used to heartwarming degrees, as later episodes make clear that Yuri is the best male figure skater in Japan (even though he came in last in the Grand Prix Finals, it still makes him the sixth best male figure skater in the world), has the support of his whole country and is looked up to by his fellow Japanese skaters, capable of skating programs that even his Living Legend coach whistles to and Victor is absolutely smitten and in love with him, and has been since the beginning, especially since they are an engaged couple as of Episode 10.
  • Serial Experiments Lain is notoriously hard to follow, as the main character lies to others, herself, and the viewer, and reality may (or may not) change during the series (assuming reality even exists). Fortunately there's an apparently impartial non-character narrator, who explains at the start of each episode what's really going on. However, the oblique and obfuscated exposition frequently does little to help and much to confuse - and to make things worse, the few solid facts he gives often turn out to be flat out lies later in the series...
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters the two sides of Alexander the Great's soul give opposite accounts of what happened when he faced Shadi's challenge. Alexander's good half says he failed the five trials, while his evil half says he completed the five trials, but the doorway refused to open. It's implied the latter is correct, as otherwise the final battle couldn't have happened.
  • Jose from Gunslinger Girl puts his deceased younger sister on a pedestal and sees her as Purity Personified. Enrica, however, was just like any kid. In fact, she was quite clingy over their other brother Jean.

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