The 15 Greatest Anime Rescue Missions of All Time

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?

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  • For reasons that are beyond her control, Nico Robin has been on the run from the World Government for most of her life. Because of this, every group she's tried to ally herself with has been destroyed. With the World Government hot on her heels, she's just about ready to give up and go at it alone, leaving the Straw Hats behind and possibly facing her own demise. The Straw Hats aren't going to stand for that and they make it their mission to rescue her and help take down the World Government if need be. This arc is an emotionally resonant one in which Nico finally sees that she isn't a burden to her new friends, but an integral part of the group. 

  • When Rukia gave Ichigo her powers at the beginning of Bleach, she was committing a crime punishable by execution. This ultimately leads to her arrest. While Rukia is prepared to face the consequences, Ichigo isn't quite so willing. He and his friends try repeatedly to save her, starting by trying to break her out of prison before ultimately showing up at the execution itself to fight off the people carrying it out. 

    The fact that Ichigo and friends were even able to infiltrate Soul Society in the first place creates a sense of distrust and chaos on the Gotei 13 - and that gets worse when multiple members are defeated and Sousuke Aizen is revealed to be villainous. Rukia's crimes seem petty in comparison.

  • 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.

  • Katsuki Bakugo Rescue Mission - 'My Hero Academia'
    Photo: Bones

    After Katsuki is taken hostage by the League of Villains, his classmates take it upon themselves to rescue him. Given that it's against the law for them to fight villains without hero licenses, and given the dangerous nature of the mission, many members of Class 1-A are in favor of leaving the rescue to professionals. Eijiro, Izuku, Shoto, Tenya, and Momo decide that they can't wait around when their classmate is in danger, and they set out on a covert mission to save him.

    Ultimately, they end up providing support while the professionals handle the bulk of the work. Katsuki's rescue also leads to the ultimate showdown of the season - the fight between All Might and his nemesis, All For One.