Top 10 Former Anime Badasses
Written by: ClayDragon & Shiggins
There are no shortages of badasses in anime. Deities, reality warpers, time travellers… it’s almost a guarantee that regardless of what series you’re watching, there will always be one character who is far and away the coolest person in the show. Sadly, due to one reason or another, some characters fall from the spotlight and stop being badasses. This list celebrates (if that’s the right word to use in this situation) the characters who started off awesome, but began to exponentially decay as the series went on.
Thanks to the anonymous ask.fm user who requested this list! (Sorry about the wait).
As is this the case with many of these lists, SPOILER ALERT. You have been warned.
10.) Medusa (Soul Eater (Manga Version)) (Written by ClayDragon)
If you read our Top 10 Anime Antagonists list, you’d know that we like Medusa. An unhinged scientist, Medusa exposed her child Crona to the insanity-inducing Black Blood at a young age, warping the child’s mind and personality. Her ultimate goal was to introduce the Black Blood into a completely insane mind, thus ‘completing’ it. To this end, she used Crona as a test subject, making the poor kid kill defenseless animals for virtually no reason.
|Now that is a glare that you'd expect from a major villain!|
Whilst there was always the greater threat of the Kishin in Soul Eater, Medusa was the villain with the most focus. She was fleshed out, and defeating her was always a top priority even when other dangers were present. Given the numerous evil acts she committed, it was expected that she and one of the main characters (like Maka, for example) would have a huge, climactic fight towards the end of the series. Sadly, this did not happen.
|This...is not something you'd expect (and neither did Crona).|
Medusa was killed quickly and unceremoniously by Crona with almost no buildup. In order to drive Crona over the edge of insanity, Medusa suddenly began acting like a proper, loving mother. This had the desired effect, as Crona butchers the witch, believing that the real Medusa would never act like that. Granted, this did have the desired effect, so it could be said that Medusa’s plan went off perfectly, but given how quickly it happened, plus the fact that Medusa was previously shown to be very hard to kill, we were left feeling more than a little underwhelmed.
9.) Jessie & James (Pokémon) (Written by ClayDragon)
No, wait! Come back! Hear me out on this one. Yes, Jessie and James are complete and utter failures at pretty much everything they do, but that wasn’t always the case. During the second episode of the anime, they were presented as tough, competent opponents who were infamous enough to have their own wanted posters. I mean sure, this only lasted until they got blasted off, but having a wanted poster is still pretty badass.
|How come they get jetpacks and I don't?|
For a more concrete example, the Team Rocket Trio got a promotion at the start of the Black & White story arc, and actually became a serious threat again. They stopped blasting off, instead using jetpacks and smoke screens to escape, underwent important missions for their boss, and put a lot more effort into their plans. They took a number of steps to make sure that Ash and Pikachu didn’t interfere, such as planting Meowth into Ash’s team as a temporary double agent. They were so effective that Giovanni’s plan almost went off without a hitch, and even when things went pear-shaped, they were the ones that saved him, as well as the entire region.
Of course, old habits die hard, and by the time the XY series rolled around, Jessie and James went back to their standard personalities. They’re still more of a threat than they were in the past, but it’s still a step back when compared to Black & White. It’s a shame, because they don’t need to be losers for the audience to love them. If the Team Rocket Trio become more competent in the future, then that can only be a good thing.
8.) Grell Sutcliff (Black Butler (Anime Version)) (Written by ClayDragon)
When you think of a Shinigami, what’s the first image that pops into your head? Is it Ryuk? Or Rukia? Or Lord Death? Despite being from three different series, they all have some similarities. They carry themselves with dignity (for the most part), and are all perfectly capable of being serious characters when they want to be. Grell, on the other hand, does not conform to that image of a Shinigami.
First introduced as Ciel’s aunt’s butler, Grell was revealed to be Jack the Ripper, and had spent a good amount of time prior to the reveal murdering prostitutes. When Ciel and Sebastian found this out, Grell attacked the pair and had an epic battle with Sebastian on the rooftops of London, and even managed to injure the demon butler. As soon as she was defeated though, her badassery began to plummet.
She was kicked in the face by another Shinigami, had her Death Scythe chainsaw replaced with safety scissors, and got dragged back to work. Every one of her appearances afterwards focused on her crush on Sebastian, and played it for laughs. Of course, this only applies in the anime, since Grell in the manga is still not to be taken lightly. Sure, we prefer Grell the way she is now, but it’s hard to imagine her giving Sebastian a run for his money now.
7.) Kurapika Kurta (Hunter x Hunter) (Written by Shiggins)
Oh Kurapika. I know when you first appeared, you were the angsty cool dude who could do everything when his eyes turned red and we were all impressed by that. Then you got hiatuses and Sasuke Uchiha took that role from you, so in many ways you probably had a right to steal from him. Unfortunately, I don’t think anybody told you that Hunter x Hunter is a series capable of far more than that, and the last thing we all wanted was the feminine Kurapika turning into a Sasuke-clone.
|His blonde hair kept him from being too high on this list though (feels my own fabulous blondeness).|
Then… he took a turn. Suddenly, Kurapika could never smile or focus on anything else but his revenge. He acted predictably sour, growling and wanting revenge on his clan. It’s a story we’ve seen a million times before and honestly, did any of us really want to see it happen again? The final image of him in the 2011 anime is in a black suit, sucked of any joy or compassion. How is that Hunter x Hunter? It’s boring. It’s dull. It’s obvious. Wouldn’t it have been more twisted and unique for Kurapika to start enjoying himself maybe? Also, he killed one of my favourite characters. So… Hmph!
6.) Erza Scarlet (Fairy Tail) (Written by ClayDragon)
Erza is a somewhat unique entry on this list, in that her behaviour, abilities and general competence don’t change much over the course of the series. Her character doesn’t decay at all, in the sense that she doesn’t get pushed to the side or suffer from a personality change. However, ever since the Tenrou Island arc, Erza began to stagnate, for want of a better word. Before then, she had shown a wide variety of armours and weapons, and she was well-known for her immense skill and fighting prowess.
|In hindsight, the introduction of this armour is where the problems began...|
And then she fought Azuma. She was outclassed in every way, and for once it looked as though she was actually going to lose a fight and prove to the readers that no, Erza Scarlet is not unbeatable. Even when she used her Hakama armour (which reduces her defense to zero whilst maximising her attack), she was losing. Then somehow she could hear the thoughts and feelings of her friends, regardless of how far away they actually were, and she pulls a victory out of nowhere. Sadly, things don’t stop there.
When she fought against Minerva during the Grand Magic Games, she used a completely new armour that had never been foreshadowed, and won against all odds. During the Tartaros Arc, she (in order): fought a group of goons, got drugged and kidnapped, got repeatedly tortured, fought Kyouka, fought Demon!Minerva, fought an even stronger Kyouka, had all five of her senses removed, and still won. Why? “Because she’s Erza.” She’s gone from being a genuine badass to a boring character who pulls victories out of nowhere and preaches on about the power of friendship, and her character hasn’t really developed for a long time. Maybe she should take a page out of Wendy’s book…
5.) Morgiana (Magi) (Written by Shiggins)
As I write this list, I cry. The majority of these characters are still good, and I remember some of the great moments and development they had. My body screams angrily at me, ordering me not to open fire on certain characters but… I have no choice. And though it pains me to say it, Morgiana lost something along the way.
Looking back on Magi, I remember it losing its own way too. The story got swept up in politics and wars and other crap while trying to balance out the characters themselves. In a way, I think it got too big and felt it needed to accomplish more. There were dozens of new characters introduced every arc, and characters like Morgiana almost completely disappeared for volumes at a time. When Morgiana first appeared, she was the tritagonist who literally kicked through walls and broke people apart in her rampage. We once saw her beat mutant tigers to death to protect a slave girl. That’s really great stuff!
These days, Morgiana might as well be considered Stan Lee. She appears for an obligatory cameo, says maybe three lines, and then pisses off again because we have to focus on the wars of faceless people nobody gives a fuck about. However, it gets more tragic. A character who once got so much development and focus due to her backstory about being a slave has degraded down to an action-less passive lovesick teenager who keeps focusing on Alibaba to the point where even I, a fellow shipper, gets bored of it. Morgiana got boring and that is something I never thought I’d say.
4.) Simon (Gurren Lagann) (Written by Shiggins)
Yes. I am actually criticising something about Tengen Toppen Gurren Lagann. If you still want to beat me to death after this, go ahead. I probably deserve it but…. Dear god, what did they do to Simon!? In a way, this perfectly captures the main problem I have with Gurren Lagann. The first half is almost flawless and I don’t say that lightly, considering how many flaws a series can and should probably have. I consider the second half of Gurren Lagann utter piss!
Okay, that was a bit harsh but I’m sorry, I really didn’t like the second half of Gurren Lagann! The action and final climax are great, and the ending itself made me cry like a bitch but the characters are so degraded and boring. Since the timeskip was so big, we didn’t see half the developments the characters went through! One character in particular went from this shy dorky girl to this emotionless bitch that was basically a new character! No explanation! However, why does Simon get the special attention here?
Simon was a great kid. He was funny, goofy, clumsy and utterly overflowing with personality. We saw him go through heartbreak, loss, love, friendship, danger and all the good stuff that made the first half such a treat. Then he suddenly got a timeskip and I’ve never seen a character more boring, two-dimensional and cliché in my life. He looks handsome and is so brave and he’s just so perfect because he’s a big hero! How is this fun? How is this interesting? It’s not! It feels like they overcompensated and were scared people disliked the fun kid so they gave us this… cardboard man!
3.) Yasutora “Chad” Sato (Bleach) (Written by Shiggins)
Oh Chad no! Not you, Chad! No… Oh Chad. Chad Chad Chad… Why Chad? Why do you make me hit you!? I love you but you keep making mistakes and fucking up and losing all charisma and charm that you had! And if there are any fans of Bleach out there, I know you agree with me. The first arc of Bleach was so good to Yasutora Sado but the future was nothing but pain.
Bleach has a tendency to do too much. It tries to have a billion characters, good characters mind, and often many others get thrown to the sidelines for special occasions. Chad is one such character, who was quite central during the Soul Society arc… slightly… but the Arrancar Saga didn’t even want to acknowledge he existed. Which is a damn shame because Chad has a great history with his grandfather, a likable personality that contrasted well with the bright loud characters all around him and of course, he was a badass that took on anything in his way.
Did Chad ever win a fight worth winning? I remember he went to Hueco Mundo with Ichigo and Uryu but all he did was fight two generic Arrancars then get wiped off the planet by his fight with anybody noteworthy. Even though many of the other characters do fall in the Soul Society and Hueco Mundo arcs, Chad does it in a special way. He fails so badly and so quickly, it’s actually tragic. He’s a character with a lot of heart… but not much else.
2.) Sakura Haruno (Naruto: Shippuden) (Written by ClayDragon)
This is a very specific example. All throughout Part 1 of Naruto, Sakura was, well, pretty pathetic. All she did was pine over Sasuke and abuse Naruto for petty reasons. She may have had one or two memorable moments, but for the most part she didn’t have much impact on the plot. So imagine our surprise when we first watched Shippuden. Our thoughts were thus – “Holy shit, is Sakura actually kicking ass?!”
It’s true. During the Kazekage Rescue arc, Sakura suddenly became awesome. She cured Kankuro from an otherwise-fatal poison, created a number of portable antidotes, and joined Naruto on the mission to rescue Gaara from the clutches of the Akatsuki. When they confronted the kidnappers, Sakura and Chiyo fought Sasori, and even when their opponent used his ‘Hundred Puppets’ technique, Sakura still held her own. Despite being poisoned and needing Chiyo to save her life, we were willing to overlook this, since the aforementioned fight was so awesome.
And then the rest of the series happened. Sakura was promptly thrown into the background in order to make room for Naruto and Sasuke, and she went on to make a string of poor decisions including, but not limited to, not attacking Sasuke when she had the chance, giving a false love confession to Naruto, trying to poison Sasuke on her own with no help (which resulted in her accidently poisoning Naruto instead), and attacking Madara Uchiha head-on with no weapons. Even though she did get some good moments during the series, they were nowhere near enough to pull her back up.
1.) Z-Fighters (Dragon Ball Z) (Written by Shiggins)
…..I am scum. I am criticising what I consider the “Guardians of the Galaxy” of manga/anime. It’s filled with clichés and can be very predictable at times but it has so much heart, humour, good writing, good action and good designs that you don’t mind and instead you love it. With that being said, Dragon Ball Z was not kind to anybody that wasn’t a Saiyan or villain. It’s basically the best example of my new catchphrase: It sucks to be human.
When Yamcha first appeared, he was… a bit of an idiot. Okay, bad example. However, when Tien first appeared, he was one of the most powerful antagonists yet! He even defeated Roshi in a battle, and had insane powers that made people fear him. Krillin was almost on Goku’s level once, able to fight him head-on! Oh and Gohan… Poor Gohan. How did he go from being able to turn into Super Saiyan 2 to defeat Cell in one of the greatest moments of all time… into this?
Yes, the Z-Fighters just couldn’t keep up with the Saiyans and were soon nothing but cannon fodder. Tien did try to stay in the game by attacking Cell and Buu, but those lasted maybe two minutes and didn’t do much but delay the oncoming doom that was bound to happen. I’d say the only one of them that managed to stay “badass” was Piccolo, who saw how below the others he was and took the role of teacher for Goten and Trunks instead. “Those who can, do. And those who can’t, teach”.
|Akune Kouki (Medaka Box)|
|Kaori Kanzaki (A Certain Magical Index)|
|Brook (One Piece)|
Is there an entry you feel we missed out? Or do you have any suggestions for another Top 10 list? Let us know in the comments below!
|Villain of the Year, everyone.|
Thanks for reading!
ClayDragon is currently studying Physics at university, and is constantly bewildered by it. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at email@example.com. He has an ask.fm account at ask.fm/ClayDragon. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to understand quantum physics. He keeps his promises...eventually.
Shiggins enjoys many strange forms of communication, especially those including cosplayers or presents or videos. However, until that wonderful day comes when people care enough to give him things for being him, you can contact him on his Skype; shigginsishere. He can also respond to you if you contact him through GMails at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can find out about him or ask him stuff on ask.fm/shigginsishere.