Any amount of intrigue and mystery behind an anime character can be a huge plus in terms of how interesting they are.
After all, the thrill of seeing how well they keep their secrets while also maintaining a double life can be somewhat enticing for us viewers.
And the excitement we feel for that “mystery element” holds true even when it comes to other genres.
Case in point, we’ve got a list here of the most notable anime characters that are burdened with the task of maintaining two or more identities in their respective series.
Either by choice, or not.
20. William James Moriarty
Anime: Moriarty the Patriot
You’ve probably heard his name outside of anime before, and yes he is that guy.
Professor Moriarty, hence his title, is a professor in Mathematics who also works as a crime consultant by trade.
Naturally gifted with charisma and genius-level intellect, Moriarty formulated a grand scheme in his childhood that would have him live as a secret insurgent in his adult years.
And as we all know, this ambition of his would eventually lead him on a collision course with Sherlock Holmes — our very own favorite high functioning sociopath/detective.
19. Howl Jenkins Pendragon
Anime: Howl’s Moving Castle
Here’s someone who’s practically an expert when it comes to running away from his problems.
Even before his stint as one of the strongest wizards in Ingary, he was already well-versed in keeping his identity a secret back on Earth because of his flirty nature.
Both in the novels and the anime film, he’s been shown to be a very cautious man who faked a lot of identities just to make sure he isn’t bothered by anybody.
He also moves from place to place much often, which is pretty easy for him considering he has a literal moving castle.
18. Shinichi Izumi
Shinichi is just your typical awkward and shy high school student. Someone we’d normally see in every school-themed anime ever.
Until he assimilated with Migi, that is.
Put in a situation much similar to Eddie Brock’s with Venom, it became a necessity for Shinichi to keep his predicament from everyone else around him.
Unfortunately, this includes even the people closest to him like his parents and his very own childhood friend/love interest.
17. Saiki Kusuo
Anime: Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan
Much like Shinichi who was listed right before him, Saiki’s troubles mostly come from keeping his identity as a psychic a secret in school.
The only difference is, he got the much better end of the bargain.
Because his series falls into the comedy genre, duh.
As someone who’s basically a godlike being with world-ending powers, it’s safe to expect that there will be huge repercussions if his true identity ever came out nevertheless.
Knowing this, he takes keeping his secret very seriously.
And to date, there are only eight people who know he’s a psychic.
16. Sadao Maou
Anime: Hataraku Maou Sama!
If you’re from a fantasy world, lost your powers, and landed somewhere in modern-day Japan, it’s probably for the best that you don’t go around calling yourself the demon lord.
Sadao gets it.
That’s why he took a job at the world-famous fast-food chain — MgRonald’s — to blend in among us mere mortals.
In fact, he does it so well that it seems like he’s even enjoying himself.
But then again, we can only speculate the demon lord-like things he’d do once he rises at the top of the corporate ladder. (Good luck with that by the way)
Let’s just hope he won’t jack up the prices on those Big Mags once he’s in charge.
15. Kaito Kuroba
Anime: Magic Kaito 1412
Who else can hide their secret identity better than someone who’s a magician, a thief, and a master trickster all at once?
Barely a few, I’d imagine.
At a glance, Kaito might just be your run-off-the-mill popular high school kid who likes getting into trouble – but he’s not.
In actuality, he’s the only true inheritor of the “Phantom Thief” persona his father created.
Unsurprisingly, him taking up his father’s mantle made him lead another life of exciting heists, police chases, and outsmarting duels with a certain rival.
Anime: Akame ga Kill!
Unlike most of the people on this list, Tatsumi is kind of bad when it comes to keeping his secret identity as a rebel.
At one point in the story, he joined a tournament run by the Empire he was trying to fight and got a little too chatty with an enemy general.
But then again, who can blame him when the said enemy general is a beautiful blue-haired ice waifu?
His insistence and failure to turn Esdeath to his cause aside, it did turn out okay in the end since the rebellion won.
Although at a tear-jerkingly high cost.
13. Usagi Tsukino
Anime: Sailor Moon
In another episode of “How can someone not recognize them without a mask on?”, we have Usagi Tsukino – who borders on Clark Kent’s level of caution when it comes to her secret identity.
Sporting just several outfit changes here and there, it’s a bit suspect why her Sailor Moon persona hasn’t been found out by more people than it already has.
But hey, maybe the power of love and hope comes with amnesic brain waves or something like that.
Guess we’ll never know.
12. Kaneki Ken
Anime: Tokyo Ghoul
Now this guy gets it.
Although equipped with one of the most badass mask designs in anime, Kaneki’s insane drip is for more than just style.
It’s more of a necessity for him and the other ghouls rather than just a fashion statement.
After all, he most definitely needs to keep his true identity a secret since he’s being hunted by the government and all.
Not to mention even by his fellow ghouls.
Man, our boy Kaneki just can’t catch a damn break.
11. Iruma Suzuki
Anime: Mairimashita! Iruma-kun
What could be a greater motivator to keep your true identity a secret than being a literal appetizer for demons if they ever found out?
While I seriously doubt the anime would go that far, Iruma is nevertheless stuck between a rock and a hard place by being the only human in an all-demons school.
But when you look at it, it’s not all that bad.
I mean, the only demoness who figured out that he’s actually a human not only didn’t eat him – she even fell in love with him!
Not bad for being caught slippin’ once.
Anime: Nanatsu no Taizai
For our tenth spot, we have Meliodas, who hilariously passed off as a completely different person than who he was years ago because of his eternal youth.
I could still remember that I was mildly surprised that he was revealed to be the Dragon’s Sin of Wrath in the earlier episodes.
Emphasis on mildly because come on, he was practically oozing main character vibes in his first appearance alone.
Well that, and maybe seeing the cover art for the anime before watching back then helped me figure out who he was beforehand.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case for Twigo.
This guy really thought he had a chance…
9. Kenshin Himura
Anime: Rurouni Kenshin
Now, I have a lot to say about Kenshin only having a scar on his cheek. And this scar is meant to separate him appearance-wise from who he once was. Just calling it a day with that.
I mean, he isn’t even attempting to make a disguise.
But I gotta admit, his scar looks pretty dang cool on him.
Most of all, it serves as a reminder that he already left his identity as “Battousai the Manslayer” behind and that he’s made a vow never to kill again.
Which is a very hard vow to uphold considering how many enemies he has, but still, hats off to this legend.
8. Izuku Midoriya
Anime: Boku no Hero Academia
Strangely enough, most heroes in the Academiaverse don’t seem to feel a need to cover up their real identities.
Maybe Batman who spent millions to keep his true identity a secret got it all wrong.
Nevertheless, Izuku still has a “secret identity” that he must protect at any cost unless he wants the whole world gunning for his quirk.
Of course, I’m talking about him being his generation’s inheritor of One for All and the predecessor to All Might — one of the greatest heroes to ever do it.
7. Ren Amamiya
Anime: Persona 5: The Animation
While Ren’s secret identity is cool and all, his need to keep up his second persona mostly arises from necessity rather than choice.
Every time he dons his mask as “Joker”, Ren Amamiya almost becomes a completely different person.
Well, the same is also true whenever he takes off his glasses, but that’s another story.
In addition to that, he’s also the leader of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts — a group that eventually became a well-known secret organization throughout the world.
Which I guess technically means they aren’t a “secret” organization anymore. Bummer.
Anime: Darker Than Black
Hei is your textbook example of an anime character with a dark secret identity, plain and simple.
But there are probably very few characters that fall into the same archetype as him that are as notorious and feared as “The Black Reaper” in their respective series.
True to his nickname, Hei has no qualms about killing and would do whatever it takes to achieve his goals.
Not to mention, of course, going through several false identities in addition to his most well-known one.
Anime: Dragon Ball
I know the Great Saiyaman’s arc was pretty short-lived, just like Gohan being the strongest fighter on earth, but it was pretty great.
It’s been fun seeing Gohan trying hard to juggle school and his hero work for some time.
And given how bad he was at keeping his secret back then, it even led to him being hitched with Videl.
Again, not bad for being caught slippin’ once.
Well, more than once really.
Too bad Gohan’s smarts didn’t help him out in that regard.
4. Haruhi Suzumiya
Anime: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
We’ve seen anime characters who live double lives as assassins, wizards, rebels, and many more on this list.
But what about a literal god?
And no, I’m not talking about someone who’s like a god.
But the god of her own series.
Moreover, Haruhi didn’t even know that she had this secret identity for a time, which was pretty odd.
Anime gods can self-induce amnesia, apparently.
Must be a nice power to have if you want to rewatch any anime series over and over again.
3. Conan Edogawa
Anime: Detective Conan
Conan Edogawa is like Sherlock Holmes to Kaito Kuroba’s Moriarty. Only their rivalry is a bit friendlier than their counterparts.
And interestingly, three of them are on this list. How about that?
On a related note, if people like Holmes and Moriarty knew who this kid truly is then they’ll definitely not take him lightly.
After all, beneath Conan’s innocent, child-like appearance hides Shinichi Kudo — a brilliant detective with 700 solved cases under his belt.
This is the same guy who managed to hide from his girlfriend for hundreds upon hundreds of episodes now.
A true anti-simp if I ever saw one.
2. Lelouch Vi Britannia
Anime: Code Geass
If there’s an anime character that deserves mad respect, it’s none other than Lelouch.
After all, he did make a secret identity (Zero) in addition to his secret identity as a former member of Brittania’s royal family.
He then used his persona as Zero, which was eventually taken on by Suzaku, to kill himself off while playing the part of an evil ruler — his other formerly secret identity.
Poetically, this plan of his was named “Zero Requiem, which to me symbolizes the death of one of his two secret identities – and essentially the triumph of the other.
1. Yagami Light
Anime: Death Note
Yagami might have had questionable morals and tendencies as Kira.
But no one can deny that he got the job done while keeping his secret better than anyone ever could.
For a while, at least.
Not only is this guy smart enough to stay under L’s nose for so long before killing him off, he even almost got away with everything in the end if it weren’t for Near and Mello joining forces to beat him.
What’s even more impressive is the fact that Light was just 17 when his whole crusade against the world’s criminals started.
And while most of the things he’s done along the way are inexcusable, it’s pretty much obvious that he was destined to take on the alter-ego of Kira from start to finish.