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They kick a lot of ass and scar the viewers forever. Psychopaths are an interesting brand of character in anime and manga. They are also extremely versatile. They can be heroes, villains, creepy, brave, stoic, etc....
For this list, a psychopath can be a "hero" or a villain. Their mental issues may be well acknowledged or ignored by other characters (or even fans). To keep things balanced, I will try to include 1 character per series. Also, the simple definition of a psychopath will be recognized as "one who acts on their thoughts without realizing there usually damaging effects." Psychopathy cannot be cured.
In other words, they think what they are doing is normal, despite how abnormal their behaviour is. This behaviour often has dire consequences.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional. I paid special attention to characters who are often clearly and reasonably regarded as Psychopaths whether that acknowledgment comes from fans or other characters. Acknowledgement of Psychopathy by other characters is regarded higher than fan theories, as other characters pointing this out proves the author intended to write the character as a Psychopath (or with some other personality disorder). Finally: DO NOT TAKE MY WORD FOR THE REAL WORLD. You are not a psychopath, I am not a professional, I am simply writing a personal piece of my analysis of certain characters.
Also, this list can get complicated and has a lot of spoilers, so SPOILER ALERT! And when I say this list can get complicated, I mean it may make your brain hurt. Enjoy!
Lets also omit characters from animes and manga I have not seen or read. Now lets play a game of “Psychologist” and turn your brains inside out!
10. Haruhi Suzumiya and Kyon - Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
This may surprise a few of you, but I can explain. Haruhi Suzumiya appears to suffer from psychopathic behaviours at the beginning of the series. She lacks long term goals and fails to see the world as anything more than useless. This lack of empathy and compassion are common traits of a psychopath, but could also just be called part of the ups and downs of being a teenager, but Haruhi loses herself so much, that she even wishes the world would end just so an artificial and delusional one can appear.
As Haruhi is a God, she possesses extraordinary powers, but the ability to realize this makes this series interesting. She has a firm belief that things such as Aliens, Time travelers, Espers and Sliders all exist. She makes this statement blatantly clear in front of dozens of people without any question to the outcome, this lack of care is somewhat of a behaviour of psychopath, but only slightly. Haruhi also wishes to meet these beings, but never does. Now we have led ourselves to a new question: the Question of Kyon.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya can be summarized with one sentence: “Nothing is what it seems.” I have said before, and when it comes to this series, things can get deep: are you ready?
Although Haruhi wishes to meet these creatures and we know she definitely believes they exist, or else they wouldn't exist, from her perspective she has yet to meet anyone as an Alien, Time Traveler, Slider, or Esper. Those who have seen the first 4 episodes of this series know they are right in front of her, so why does she not know that they are there? According to the way her powers work, they should introduce themselves to her. Instead, they introduce themselves to Kyon, a regular human. Or is he? One of the many theories of this series is that Kyon is actually a manifestation of Haruhi's delusional personality. The part of Haruhi that wants that exciting life, and has broken off to live it. Or is it the other way around? Is Kyon the one who's crazy and Haruhi is the delusional, non-existent personality? There is also the theory that Kyon is Haruhi's “Superego,” in other words, the angel on her shoulder. This theory is very likely, as Kyon can influence her and often influences her to do the right thing. There is also a theory that Haruhi is the Id of the whole universe, also known as the devil on the shoulder of the universe, and Kyon is the angel on the shoulder of the universe. Together, they influence each other to act and create balance: like the Yin and Yang theory.
It is implied that someone has mental issues though, our resident Esper Koizumi is in fact investigating and monitoring Haruhi's personality and psychological activity so that she does not lose her mind and destroy the world. Accept he spends more time with Kyon. Is he watching Kyon then? Or is he watching both? Or is the theory that Kyon and Haruhi are the same person correct, and he therefore is watching one person, and therefore, both at the same time? Keep in mind, people with split-personality disorders are not often regarded as psychopaths in the academic world. They are usually diagnosed with a treatable disorder, such as Schizophrenia. This may explain, if this theory is correct, why Haruhi goes through states of melancholy, depression, and mania.
I understand things are getting complicated, and some questions are better off unanswered. Point is, someone has a few screws loose. We have yet to discover the answer to these questions, and these are just crazy fan theories. Evidence points to it being a possibility though. All we can do is read and watch, and we will with a intriguing smile on our face every time.
9. Nina Einstein - Code Geass
And the award for most spectacular mental breakdown on this list goes to Ms. Nina Einstein! Her emotional stability is one of the most questionable pieces of her character. Nina suffers from an insecure personality disorder. She lives under high stress, ethnocentrism, and xenophobia. This upbringing instills a behaviour of scapegoating and an impressive lack of responsibility.
Nina's lifestyle proves that she may lack sympathy and empathy for those that do not agree with her. It shows why being so close-minded can be so unhealthy for your mind. I'm not going to assume anything, but I am going to guess most people reading this have a reasonably acceptable lifestyle. Nina's lifestyle is one of stereotyping. Not positive stereotyping, or satirical stereotyping, nope. She believes whatever she is told, and appears to lack a sense of self and a sense of leadership. Something that is strange since she becomes a high ranking figure in her job, but enough minor spoilers!
Eventually, her upbringing and general uncomfortable feelings press her from stereotyping and prejudice to discrimination and hatred. She begins to lose her empathy and conscious, creating devices intended to specifically kill large amounts of people. What kind of sane-minded person thinks of this? It's like wondering what kind of person creates new chemical weapons. It is pure evil. That may be what makes her the worst, she may very well know what she is doing is wrong, but does it anyway, but if that is the case, she is not a psychopath. Either way, it is implied that she simply lost her mind. The evidence shows it.
8. Xerxes Break - Pandora Hearts
The “Superstitious Smile” is a tendency many psychopaths share. The smile and cheerful behaviour that hides severe trauma. In Pandora Hearts, many characters show this this, but none more than the series' ultimate bad ass: Xerxes Break.
Although Break's mental state is often unregarded in Pandora Hearts, it is obvious that he suffers from Psychopathy. At any moment in the series, one can notice Break's need to control and manipulate those around him, though he often controls himself and does this ironically. This does not coincide with his behaviour on the battlefield. He often attacks his enemies with joy and that smile I was talking about first. He sees no issues with his actions or thoughts. Even though his job is to hunt down the enemies of the series, Break's mindset is clearly unbalanced. The story is going to get long, you ready for it?
This unbalance can, once again, be traced back to a troubled past. Break's difficulties began when he swore allegiance to a noble family, that was then killed when he was escorting their young daughter around town. This situation caused him to become stricken with extreme guilt, leading him to contract a powerful “chain” known as Albus the White Knight, who in a nut shell, promised to give the ability for Break to change the past and save the noble family he worked for. This goal would be achieved if Break killed in order to feed the power of Albus long enough for the two to travel to a being powerful enough to change the past (Still able to follow me here?). In the end, Break succeeded in his goal, but only to a degree. Break went missing from the world after he in fact now prevented the deaths of his master. 4 Years after going missing, his master was killed again. The daughter who was originally safe was in the end corrupted, and caused the deaths of her whole family. Break felt worse than before.
In common psychopathic tendencies, Break blamed his misfortune on the intention of the abyss, an antagonist who Break met through Albus. The intention was the being responsible for granting Break's wish, which the intention did ironically: saving Break's master from death, only for their whole family to perish 4 years later.
Break's past is still mysterious. He refers to Albus as “the devil” and carries what appears to be an artificial conscious on his shoulder: A doll named Emily. Their relationship is unknown, but Emily usually rests on his left shoulder, indicating that Emily may be a devil persona, while Break lacks a conscious, or “angel” on his right shoulder.
It is still difficult to call Break a psychopath. The Intention of the Abyss mentions outright that most people who do what Break does go mad, but then says Break is different, implying he is not insane. However, Duke Barma calls break a mad man and has plenty of evidence to back it. Break then proceeds to agree with him and state that he is aware of this. Break also has no issues acknowledging his past, though he would wish not to talk about it. Most psychopaths are unaware that they are mad, and will deny it.
In many ways, Xerxes Break is like Bruce Wayne/Batman. Clearly he has some issues to work out, but is not a full psychopath. And, of course, we cheer him on as he kicks a lot of ass.
7. Hansel and Gretel – Black Lagoon
The youngest members of this list, both Hansel and Gretel developed into psychopaths based on their upbringing. Normally, people so young would not be diagnosed with any personality disorder (which is why Haruhi Suzumiya and Kyon are only #10). The most obvious issue with Hansel and Gretel is this: they're two different people. However, both are connected so inherently that they must be regarded together. This is not like the case of Haruhi Suzumiya and Kyon, who may be the same person.
Hansel and Gretel suffer from Dissociate Identity Disorder, also known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), not to be confused with Split Personality Disorder (SPD). This is brought on by their difficult childhood. Dissociative Identity Disorder is a clear and evident display of multiple personalities, both children share the same two personalities, known as Hansel and Gretel, either one of them could be Hansel or Gretel. Their childhood difficulties began when they were abandoned at an abusive orphanage by their parents, who could no longer afford them. In order to survive in the orphanage, both were forced to participate in snuff films, where they would need to kill in order to survive. Being siblings, they assisted each other and made sure they both survived. Due to this upbringing, they began to believe that in order to live, they must kill others. No other intent, other than the will to live. Eventually, they began to associate themselves with German folk characters Hansel and Gretel. It is also unknown what gender either of them are. It is implied that both had their genitalia mutilated, as they also switch between “Hansel” and “Gretel” personalities. They may both be male, female, or one is male and the other female: It is purposefully left ambiguous. They are basically the same persons with two bodies, and two personalities. Always being played out.
What makes them psychopaths is not their multiple personalities, as I want to make it clear that multiple personalities is an illness and not a state, it's the fact that those personalities are both so sadistic, lacking in complete empathy and sympathy. Most people with MPD or SPD or Schizophrenia tend to have a Angel vs. Devil complex, meaning they have a good side and a bad side (Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde is a good example). It can also be treated and controlled with medication. Both of these two have sadistic, murderous personalities. Their upbringing, lack of emotion, and general actions are all symptoms of psychopathy.
I understand this is somewhat complicated, but it is important to acknowledge that Split personalities do not equal psychopathy, a personality with complete lack of empathy (among other things) is one thing we associate with psychopaths, but in this case, all of “Hansel” and “Gretel's” personalities are developed psychopaths.
6. Vincent Nightray - Pandora Hearts
If Xerxes Break is Batman, then Vincent Nightray is the Joker. Unlike Xerxes Break, there is no doubt in my mind that Vincent Nightray is a psychopath. One of the main reasons is sheer evidence. Unlike Break, we know of Vincent's whole history, including his role in the past and his current role.
Psychopathic tendencies often begin at a young age, and without spoiling anything, you can be told that Vincent Nightray has had a difficult childhood. He was born with Heterochromia, meaning his eyes are two different colours. His left eye is golden, which means nothing, but his right eye is red. In Pandora Hearts, people with red eyes are considered “children of ill omen.” Interesting note, this discrimination ends by the time line for the bulk of the story and Xerxes Break has red eyes also. Vincent is subject to discrimination as a child because of his red eye, creating a rough upbringing. His only real source of salvation is his brother, Gilbert.
As you guessed, he becomes obsessed with keeping his brother safe, and in turn loses part of his sanity. His childhood included torturing animals (he gouged out the eyes of the family cat) and manipulating his family. All common traits of a psychopath.
His childhood also included a severely dark secret which, unlike Break, Vincent refuses to acknowledge. He goes to the greatest ends possible to make sure absolutely nobody learns this secret. As an adult, he continues to manipulate those around him without any consideration for their feelings (so he lacks empathy), he kills indiscriminately and without remorse, and denies his mental psychopathy. He is very much the opposite of Xerxes Break, both have their issues, but Vincent Nightray is the epitome of madness in Pandora Hearts, much more than Break.
Continued in Part 2 due to character count issues.
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