Anime & Manga’s Most Controversial Endings, From Attack on Titan to Evangelion

Some anime and manga can be a mess from start to finish, but perhaps worse are the ones that simply don't know how to stick the landing. Though they will always have their defenders, these otherwise acclaimed works arguably flopped their way over the finish line and kicked up some controversy along the way. From imperialism to instrumentality, here are some conclusions that never seemed to fit just right. (Beware of spoilers from this point on.)

A Happily Ever After Didn't Fit the Rest of Evangelion

Shinji Ikari Ending Neon Genesis Evangelion

While the Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series constantly involved character introspection, the complete tonal shift in the final two episodes to a philosophical study of its cast was jarring. Episode 24 introduced Kaworu and subsequently beheaded him for attempting to initiate Third Impact, leaving the show hurtling toward an epic conclusion.

However, everything jolted to a stop for the two last episodes of intense psychological evaluation as the characters were faced with the Human Instrumentality Project, which would combine all human souls into one. When Shinji stood smiling among the characters who congratulated his decision to reject instrumentality at the end of Episode 26, it was hard to believe this was Evangelion. 

It's no wonder this simple, vague and happy ending led to uproar, and it wasn't long before The End of Evangelion came along to deliver on a more action-packed conclusion. The recent rebuild films leave it up to fans to decide which of Evangelion's endings best fit their tastes.

Erased Was Too Good For Its Own Good

Satoru Fujinuma Erased

Erased was smart, suspenseful, impactful and just plain good. In fact, it was too good. With something this well done, perhaps the anime ending could never have mustered quite the same impact as the rest of the show. The conclusion was rushed into two episodes, and a rather jaunty wink from Satoru after he outwits his would-be murderer made fans feel it was too much of a cop-out.

This ending also led to a sense of betrayal. Everything Satoru knew had always been out in the open, trusting viewers to make their own conclusions based on his thoughts and experiences. It broke the formula for Satoru to organize an entire circus to survive falling off a building without ever letting the viewers know, changing the very essence of Satoru as a protagonist.

The manga had more time to properly stretch out its own ending, and both Satoru and Yashiro were given more of a chance to settle the score and reveal just how complicated their game could get.

Attack on Titan Was All Over the Place

Attack on Titan Chapter 139

The beginning of the Attack on Titan manga was as promising as it was gory. It set up some groundwork for the 104th squad to grow and triumph over the years with roles each main character would fall into. Every death had a meaning, even if it was to display an enemy's ruthlessness. There were some mysteries, but the goal of reaching the basement to find answers was tangible and gave the story solid direction.

However, as the manga went on, a flood of new characters, politics, Titan lore, and deaths for nothing more than shock value began to plague nearly every update. The quality of the story declined as the number of elements affecting it skyrocketed, and issues that should have been addressed with care, such as racism and abuse, were ignored. Even after Eren's death, the story had to continue with a time skip to show how more conflict was on the horizon. The final panels of rampant imperialism left many fans with a bad aftertaste.

Why Did The Promised Neverland Stray From Its Course?

Emma looks determined

The Promised Neverland anime seemed to have it made, with a complete manga series to draw from and a carefully paced Season 1 leaving Emma and the kids poised to escape their fate as monster snacks. Season 2 took all that potential and threw it out the nearest window, condensing the entire rest of the manga into one season that cut out huge swathes of content and even neglected to introduce the main villains of the series.

Fan-favorite Norman was meant to eliminate the evil royal family as part of his arc, but instead, the anime created new content for him that sent his character off in spirals. Isabella's fate and Emma's sacrifice were altered as well, with Emma's fate compiled into a screenshot montage -- a huge dismissal of her character and story. Many studios had slowed production due to COVID-19 while the show was in the works, but is this really a decent explanation for why The Promised Neverland became so bad or was something else happening behind the scenes?

Some fans are holding out hope for a reboot, but the negative branding for the title is intense after Season 2 and a reboot would likely be many years from now, if ever.

The End of the Future Diary Was a Mess, and a Mess and a Mess

Yuno Gasai Future Diary Yandere

The Future Diary was riding high on its battle royale for diary holders to become the god of this world. However, just when everything seems squared away with Yukiteru and Yuno the only contenders left, Yukiteru's refusal to kill Yuno changes everything. Yuno reveals that she is actually from another timeline where she became God and then traveled to this timeline, killed her double, and took her place in order to relive her romance with Yukiteru -- and is now going to kill him to do it all over again. Confusing enough?

The show was soon juggling three different timelines, and although an OVA helped alleviate some confusion, it was too much, too fast. Although the time jump was ultimately good for many of the characters in timeline three, it's up to fans to decide whether the characters' happiness or the integrity of the show is more important. The general conclusion seems to be that a different end for Yukiteru and Yuno would have been much more satisfying.

It's a rare ending that isn't the source of some contention. There will nearly always be at least one character left underdeveloped, a romantic relationship unfulfilled or some symbolism not made clear. However, some endings seem to exist to cause confusion and controversy, with arguments flying every which way as to how it was good, how it was bad or how it shouldn't even exist. While Evangelion took two more shots at an ending and the Attack on Titan anime ending is yet to come, some manga and anime messed up their shot at a satisfactory conclusion, leaving only the what-could-have-beens to dwell on.

astroboy in front of akira and speed race anime
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