It can be deeply satisfying when a character who starts off as an awful person realizes the error of their ways and commits to doing better. The road to redemption isn't always easy - sometimes it's painfully hard - but for anime characters who were redeemed, it's worth it.
One of the most famous examples of a character who goes through a major redemption arc is Vegeta from DBZ. He starts off as a dangerous enemy, but eventually becomes one of Goku's closest allies and friends - even if he still wants to defeat him. More recently, there's Isabella from The Promised Neverland, who does the right thing for her kids in the end. There's also Endeavor from My Hero Academia, who hasn't been fully redeemed yet, but has started on a long and complicated path to make up for abusing his family.
Which of these redemption stories stands out to you as powerful?
- Photo: Studio Pierrot
You can't have a list about redemption arcs without including the gold standard, Itachi Uchiha.
When viewers first meet Itachi, most find him pretty detestable - after all, he eliminated his entire family on what sounded like a whim. It turns out that while he is responsible for the Uchiha's demise, he did it for a tragic but understandable reason. At age thirteen, he was given a terrible choice: eliminate his clan and save himself and his brother, or be destroyed along with them. While he technically could have told his family about the upcoming attack to allow them to prepare, he was so afraid of civil war breaking out that he didn't consider that an option.
Once his backstory is revealed, he's redeemed in the eyes of most viewers - but he also tries to make up for the harm he caused by putting Sasuke in a position where he could develop the powerful Mangekyo shanringan. Sure, that also involves traumatizing the heck out of Sasuke, but it's the only thing he feels he can do for him.1,12285A powerful redemption?
- Photo: Studio Bones
Greed is a homunculus who spends most of the first half of the series reminding everybody how greedy he is. But eventually, he gets tired of reveling in his own selfishness and actually does something that helps another person. Specifically, he lets himself get absorbed by Father in order to protect Ling, the person whose body he'd been camping out in for most of the series.
This turns out to be a heroic move outside of just Ling. When Father absorbs Greed, his molecular composition changes, turning him into something brittle and easily destroyed.71851A powerful redemption?
'A Silent Voice' Is Totally Focused On Shouya Ishida's RedemptionPhoto: Kyoto Animation
A Silent Voice is basically one gigantic redemption arc. When Shouya Ishida was a child, he bullied a deaf classmate named Shouko Nishimiya. As a teenager, he's tormented by guilt and wants desperately to make up for his previous cruelty. He tries to become friends with Shouko, and though she doesn't wish him ill, the scars from how he treated her have not completely faded. Over the course of the film, he tries both to make it up to her and change his behavior, and to forgive himself for his past.60538A powerful redemption?
Meruem Discovers Love In 'Hunter x Hunter'Photo: Madhouse
When we first meet Meruem, he a power-hungry, bloodthirsty chimera ant who devours his own mother as soon as he's born. He takes lives as easily as breathing, and he has no genuine connections with anyone he meets. That all changes when he meets Komugi, a blind Gungi player who he forms a unexpectedly deep bond with. Initially, he sees her - and humans in general - as stupid and worthless, but his interactions with Komugi lead him to believe otherwise. He respects her because she's the only person he can't defeat. No one has ever treated Komugi with respect before, so she develops positive feelings for him too.
By the end of his arc, he loves her wholeheartedly and genuinely, something he never seemed capable of before.72775A powerful redemption?