Most anime have clear-cut heroes and villains. A lot of stories make it clear who we should be rooting for based on character design, how the story progresses, or just by telling us at the start.
But, there are some works that eschew this writing mechanic. These anime are morally ambiguous and are more interested in having the viewer chose their own side.
1Shinsekai Yori (From the New World)
© Yusuke Kishi / Kodansha Ltd. / A-1 Pictures Inc. / From the New World Production Committee
From the New World will screw with your moral compass harder than any other anime. The series follows Saki Watanabe and her life living in Kamisu 66. Humans have developed psych powers and live in a peaceful agrarian society, but Saki soon learns that her peaceful life maybe a lie.
2Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
© Sunrise / CLAMP / Project Geass
Code Geass follows a revolutionary war that Lelouch Lamperouge leads against the Holy Britannian Empire. Instead of taking the idealistic route, Lelouch commits atrocities on par with the Empire, all in the name of “peace.”
© Tsugumi Ohba / Takeshi Obata / Shueisha Inc. / Madhouse Inc.
When Light Yagami discovers a Death Note, he vows to rule as a god after cleansing the world of criminals. However, Light quickly becomes corrupted by his own sense of justice and triggers an Interpol investigation into his actions.
4Mobile Suit Gundam
© Yoshiyuki Tomino / Sunrise Inc. / Bandai Visual Co., Ltd.
The Gundam franchise loves to play with morality, especially within the Universal Century timeline. The two main players, The Earth Federation and The Principality of Zeon, have their own valid reasons for being at war. To make things even shakier is that both sides have equally good and evil members participating in the war.
© Rei Hiroe / Shogakukan Inc. / Madhouse Inc. / Black Lagoon Production Team
Black Lagoon wastes no time establishing that its world is filled with vicious pirates, mercenaries, and terrorists. The Lagoon Company is a group of mercenaries that specialize in smuggling goods, but they will happily take on contracts that involve killing dangerous targets.
© Production I.G., Inc. / Nitroplus Co., Ltd. / Psycho-Pass Production Committee
Wouldn’t society be grand if an all-knowing and a neutral supercomputer ran things? No, it wouldn’t. Psycho-Pass takes a look just how screwy things can get if you try to strip society of human judgment.
7Legend of the Galactic Heroes
© Yoshiki Tanaka / Naoyuki Kato / Yukihisa Kamoshita / Tokuma Japan Corporation
Legend of the Galactic Heroes is basically Game of Thrones in space. It’s filled with political maneuvering, betrayals, and epic battles. You won’t know who to cheer for, but you’ll still feel sad witnessing some of the deaths.
© Nisio Isin / Take / Kodansha Inc. / White Fox Co., Ltd.
On the surface, Katanagatari looks like a generic adventure series about a warrior trying to collect 12 legendary swords. But as the story progresses, we find that Togame has a selfish reason for using Shichika for collecting the swords.
© Gen Urobuchi / Takashi Takeuchi / Type-Moon / Ufotable, Inc. / FZPC
Fate/Zero takes place during the Fourth Holy Grail War. The Einzbern family will not accept another failure, so they elect to bring Kiritsugu Emiya into their ranks. Emiya is a hated magus hunter and will do anything to accomplish his goals, even if that means destroying his own family.
What are your favorite morally ambiguous anime?