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16 Anime Characters Who Had Traumatic Power Awakenings

Updated August 13, 2020 12.9k votes 2.8k voters 113.3k views16 items

Gaining a new ability isn't always fun and games. In fact, many anime characters awaken their true potential through truly horrifying means. Some gain a new ability when pushed to dangerous extremes that leave them with no choice but to power up or pass away, while others create chaos with terrifying abilities that they have no idea how to control. 

Anime characters who went through traumatic power awakenings include Goku of Dragon Ball Z, who went Super Saiyan after Frieza eliminated his friend and threatened his son. There's also Escanor of The Seven Deadly Sins, whose strange abilities led him to accidentally injure his brother, only to be wholly rejected by his entire community afterward. Meanwhile, Ayumi Otosaka of Charlotte perished the moment her power was activated.

No matter how these characters came into their power, they endured some serious trauma. Vote up the ones whose stories you find the most compelling.

  • Photo: Madhouse

    After Kite is brutally destroyed at Neferpitou's hands, Gon is more devastated than he's ever been in his life. When he finds out that it might be possible to bring Kite back, he insists that Neferpitou do so, threatening his life in the process. When it turns out that Neferpitou can do no such thing, Gon absolutely loses his mind - and gains a massive boost in power.

    He assumes an 'adult form' that not only makes him appear massive and muscular but also gives him access to all of the Nen he will ever have. He becomes more powerful than he's ever been in his life, but also more brutal - he takes Neferpitou's life with little regret. He's a far cry from the cheerful boy he once was.

    Is this a rude awakening?
  • The Uchiha clan's eye-based ability is literally fueled by trauma. To awaken the sharingan, a person has to be in significant peril - and to awaken the mangekyo, they need to experience severe trauma. 

    There are countless examples of this throughout the family's history, but one of the most gripping involves Obito Uchiha. Obito's life was already pretty nightmarish before his mangekyo awakened - half of his body had been crushed in a landslide and he was recovering in an underground cavern under the supervision of his not-especially-nice ancestor, Madara. 

    In order to trigger his young relatives' latent powers, Madara seals a tailed beast into the body of Rin, Obito's former teammate. In order to stop the beast from wreaking havoc, Kakashi is forced to take Rin's life. Witnessing what appears to be one of his best friends callously taking out another friend is so upsetting for Obito that he awakens his mangekyo - and warms toward Madara's bleak vision of the world.

    Is this a rude awakening?
  • This trope has happened so many times in the Dragon Ball universe that it's practically a defining feature of the show. That being said, lets zero in on one of the most noteworthy examples.

    Frieza takes Krillin's life and threatens to do the same to Gohan, Goku is flooded with rage. This triggers his first transformation into a Super Saiyan - a state that not only makes him blond but also dramatically enhances his fighting capabilities.

    Is this a rude awakening?
  • Photo: Wit Studio

    There's not a lot in the world of anime that's worse than what Eren when through when his Titan-shifting abilities made themselves known. He'd lost two of his limbs and was in the process of being swallowed by a Titan - a sequence that made some first time viewers think that Eren had kicked the bucket. But he survives thanks to his ability to transform into a gigantic, man-eating monster himself. Further developments, including his Coordinate ability, would emerge under similarly miserable circumstances.

    Is this a rude awakening?