Being mysterious isn’t simply a matter of being tall, dark, and handsome (though that never hurts). What truly matters is the sense of something unusual or hidden in a character. We love to ask questions about our heroes and heroines:
Why does he carry that briefcase everywhere he goes?
How can she eat so many dumplings at once??
In today’s anime, it’s almost a requirement for at least one character to be a puzzle. They can be heroes, sidekicks, or even bit parts that make appearances every other episode. When we have questions, we keep returning to find answers.
In short, mysterious characters are the ones we can’t stop thinking about.
Here’s a list of the top five mysterious men in recent anime:
Attack on Titan
The action/horror hit Attack on Titan is all mystery. From the world outside the wall to the politics within it, this is a show that gets our brains working.
Of course, main characters are easy to peg as the most mysterious in any show, but we’re giving Eren a break today. For this one, we’ll go in a different direction:
Armin’s a walking contradiction. He’s kind but analytical, weak but powerful. Most of all, he – one of the smartest people in the Attack on Titan world – embodies hope about the outside. In many ways, Armin feels like the glue that holds things together and the unassuming key to their salvation.
Re:ZERO – Starting Life in Another World –
Here’s another show that focuses on mystery. Is it a comedy? A gruesome horror? Maybe it’s an action show. Seriously… what is even happening, here? Whatever it is, we love it.
For this show’s mysterious man, we’re turning to a smaller part of the crazy but addictive world that poor Subaru can’t seem to escape:
Roswaal L. Mathers
Roswaal is the jester-like lord of the mansion where Subaru spends much of his time. An eccentric man with an unexplained affection for oni girls, his back story gets provided in snippets just tiny enough to make fan theories go crazy.
Sword Art Online
Chances are you’ve seen Sword Art Online, and you probably either love it or love to hate on it. It may be a somewhat divisive show, but it does have some pretty good characters that both fans and critics alike enjoy.
In the first season, there are plenty of mysteries to get us hooked. Our choice for the top mysterious man might surprise you, though:
This goofball sidekick hardly seems mysterious at first. He starts off as a lovable ally in the first season, and then he leaves to form his own guild, presumably becoming a hero in his own right. By the time we find him again, he’s still the fun-loving Klein we remember, but he carries the emotional weight of battles we’ve never seen.
DRAMAtical Murder takes us to a world where gangs fight their wars in the streets, but within virtual “game” battles that have high stakes.
Mysterious back stories exist for nearly every character, and yet there is one who stands out:
Clear would a “clear” winner based on his costume alone. However, it’s not only his penchant for gas masks and trench coats that makes Clear so mysterious. He isn’t human, and yet his kindness, paired with his overwhelming fear of death, often make his humanity more evident than anyone else’s.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
Here’s another show where mystery plays a major role. When the main element of the plot involves a mysterious virus, then there’s a fair chance the audience will have a few questions!
One of the greatest things about Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is the use of a mysterious story for a character we aren’t supposed to love:
A ruthless man, Biba is easy to dislike. The best part about him, though, is the lack of hand holding we get about his past. Hints appear here and there, and we gather he’s been mistreated by his own family. Are his actions all the tragic result of hidden pain and insecurity?
Breaking down today’s anime into the top five mysterious men proved almost impossible. Nearly every great show has some element of mystery. That’s what keeps us coming back, after all!
Often this sense of the unknown gets personified in our favorite leading and supporting guys. Either these men themselves are part of the plot’s mystery, or they’re mysterious characters in other, more personal ways. We love to watch them develop, and we love to figure things out along with them.
Mysterious men show up in horror, comedy, shoujo, josei/seinen, yuri/yaoi, mecha… and basically every other genre you can imagine. (Including, obviously, mystery).
So, with that in mind, there are tons of awesome men we’ve missed. What are your thoughts? Who should be on this list?