Anime characters who came back strong can be super satisfying to watch. While it's great to see a favorite character develop their fighting prowess over time, it's also a sweet surprise when they disappear for a while and then come back stronger than ever. Seriously, who didn't love it when Usopp from One Piece reappeared after the time skip totally ripped and ready to kick butt?
Sometimes when an anime character reappears after some insane training, it's a good thing - Naruto coming back to fight Pain with Sage Mode in his back pocket is exactly what he needs to save Konoha. But when it's a villain who comes back way stronger, it might be fun for the audience, but the heroes definitely wish that the villain had stayed the way they were. Dio Brando was a lot easier to deal with before he became a Stand user!
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Naruto Uzumaki's skills grow in leaps and bounds over the course of Naruto, but he makes some some of his biggest strides after training on Mount Myōboku. There, he learns Sage Mode, an ability that allows him to blend natural energy with his own chakra that enhances his strength and grants him a range of new abilities.
But Sage Mode doesn't just make Naruto more powerful - it also makes him a lot more cool and collected. Prior to this training, Naruto would never have been able to sit still long enough to actually take in natural energy, but the training forces him to be patient and concentrate on self-improvement. While his hyped-up personality doesn't fully disappear, the Naruto who shows up to battle Pain is worlds away from the Naruto at the beginning of the series.
The first season of Tokyo Ghoul is primarily focused on Ken Kaneki's struggle to accept his new identity as a ghoul. His transformation is both physically and psychologically devastating, and while it does make him physically stronger, he is emotionally the same mild-mannered college kid who would rather read a book than engage in any form of conflict.
All of that changes after he's kidnapped and tortured by Yakumo Oomori. The pain of that experience causes his personality to completely change. Rather than meekly accept his fate, Ken is ready to destroy anybody who messes with him.
Don't get us wrong, Tōshirō Hitsugaya was always pretty cool - he wasn't the most integral part of the fight against the espada, but Hitsugaya held his own. That said, he truly leveled up after the time skip. Not only is he sporting a fresh new haircut, (and a scarf that shows his admiration for Byakuya), his powers have also amped up. That moment where he uses his ice abilities to almost freeze somebody's entire body was one of the coolest - no pun intended - moments of the series.
When Gohan first enteres the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, he's pretty strong for a little kid, but he's nowhere near as awesome as he becomes when he gets out of it. Time flows differently inside the chamber - one day is the equivelent of one year. What's more, there are gravity and temperature differences that can put strain on the body and increase training efficiency. That's how he was able to gain so much experience in such a short time.
When he leaves the chamber with his father, he's managed to become a Super Saiyan. In fact, he's the youngest person in history to achieve this powerful form.