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The 14 Greatest Anime Rescue Missions of All Time

Updated March 22, 2021 8.6k votes 1.6k voters 21.2k views14 items

Something terrible has happened, and an anime character is in mortal danger! What can possibly resolve this precarious situation? A rescue mission, of course! 

This list is a compilation of some of the best anime rescue missions of all time. It includes classics like the Sasuke Retrieval arc from Naruto, in which several young ninja attempt to drag Sasuke back to Konoha after he left to study under Orochimaru, as well as more recent rescues like Katsuki Bakugo Rescue mission from My Hero Academia, in which the League of Villains captures the young hero-in-training and his friends try to get him back.  

The best anime rescues are exciting, high stakes arcs and episodes that get you invested in the outcome. Which of these is your favorite?

  • Photo: Madhouse

    The Zoldyck Family Arc is almost entirely dedicated to retrieving Killua from his family home. Killua was raised by a family of strict mercenaries with strange, violent customs, and when Gon and company arrive, Killua is being tortured by his brother. To see Killua at all, they have to do battle with a variety of family butlers, who eventually grow willing to cooperate with them and allow them to communicate directly with Killua and his family. 

    However, none of that is what gets Killua out of the house. Actually, it's a frank discussion with his father in which he declares his desire to continue traveling with his friends - which his father permits him to do. After all that chaos, he rejoins them, ready for their next adventure.

    Was this a great rescue mission?
  • After Sasuke leaves Konoha to train under the villainous Orochimaru, his teammate Naruto wants nothing more than to bring him back home. But because he's a trainee ninja (known as a genin) he can't go by himself - he needs a team. That team is led by Shikamaru, who has recently been promoted to chuunin and includes himself, Kiba, Naruto, Chōji, and Neji. The five of them must battle the Sound Four, a group of powerful ninja that work under Orochimaru. and other ninja, like the Sand Siblings and Rock Lee show up to fight one of Orochimaru's most powerful underlings, Kimimaro. The mission ends with a climactic battle between Naruto and Sasuke, which Sasuke wins. 

    Ultimately, the mission ends in failure, not because they failed to take on their enemies, but because they failed to either defeat Sasuke and drag him back by force, or persuade him to return of his own volition.

    Was this a great rescue mission?
  • Photo: Sunrise

    While the Rescue Yukina arc is only about four episodes long, it still deserves some attention. When Yukina, an ice demon who happens to be Hiei's twin sister, is taken hostage by a group of unscrupulous humans who want to use her powers for financial gain, it's up to Yusuke and his friends to rescue her. On the way, they have to fight a wide variety of powerful demons who have been hired to stop them, but the ultimate enemy is human.

    This makes things difficult for Hiei to deal with, since while ending demon lives is typically fine, taking out humans is wildly illegal. However, they're able to subdue him without destroying him, and rescue Yukina - who Kuwabara promptly falls in love with. 

    Was this a great rescue mission?
  • Though currently on a mission to escort Salim Hapshass to the Heart Kingdom, Yuno abandons his mission when Sister Lily, the nun who works at the orphanage he grew up in, mysteriously disappears. Instead, he goes out in search of Lily, fighting anyone he finds who seems like they might be connected to her disappearance. He eventually finds her being guarded by two henchmen, who are holding her hostage in exchange for Yuno's grimoire. As it turns out, the whole situation was set up by Salim, who was angry with Yuno for defeating him during the Magic Knights Entrance exam. Yuno is able to defeat the henchmen and save Lily - but there's another twist. One of the henchmen was actually Julius Novachrono, the current Wizard King, who rewards Yuno and his friends with a Gold Star.

    Was this a great rescue mission?