Throughout most anime there is always that one character, or maybe a few, that you just outright detest. Sometimes, those characters that you hate manage to pull off a redemption arc that tricks you into liking them so much, that you’ll catch yourself cheering for them and remembering “Hey wait! I hate this character right??” So let’s have a look at some of the characters that redeemed themselves, or are currently in the process of doing so.
Spoilers ahead! I will be talking about the moments these characters became a subject of hate and also their points of redemption…
First up, Makoto Itou from School Days… I’m joking. I hated him from the beginning, I hated him after I finished the series and I still hate him now. This here, is a perfect example of a character you hate that never ever redeemed themselves. I hate him so much.
Endeavor – My Hero Academia
Let’s start off with a controversial one, shall we? Now, I wouldn’t say that Endeavor is a character who has completely redeemed himself. However, since being named the new number 1 hero, he has started to take the steps necessary on his path of redemption. Where the anime stands right now, we see glimpses of Endeavor beginning to mature and want to become more understanding, not just of his family, but of what it truly means to be a hero and a symbol of peace.
Endeavor has done some seriously despicable things: He mentally tortured his wife, was cruel to his children and he even refers to Todoroki as being some kind of offspring that he has perfected or created, rather than referring to him as his son. Endeavor is not in pursuit of forgiveness though, he wants to redeem himself even if that means ostracising himself from his family. As manga readers will know, we have a lot to look forward to when it comes to Endeavor’s path of development.
Gaara – Naruto Shippuden
Gaara starts out being this angry, demonic looking little sand-boy harbouring a lot of hatred. Gaara’s childhood was miserable and filled with isolation due to the one-tailed beast being planted inside of him. He was feared by all those around him because of this as well, even his siblings were on edge as his sand would cause a constant threat to those close to him. The only person he believed to care for him turned out to be set up by Gaara’s father to test Gaara’s abilities by attempting to take his life. As you could imagine, when every single person around you is either ostracising you or trying to take your life, you can understand why he is so filled with hate.
During the skip to Shippuden, Gaara trained hard, earned the trust of his siblings and the villagers of the Hidden Sand, eventually being appointed as the 5th Kazekage. He became a person that not only his close allies rely upon, but the entire village is confident in entrusting their safety to.
Scar – FullMetal Alchemist Brotherhood
Originally appearing as an antagonist in the series, Scar is a man with a dark past who is given a second chance after uncovering the truth surrounding the origins of the Ishval war. After being majorly injured in an explosion caused by Kimblee, Scar gained his namesake wound to his face alongside the loss of his right arm. Two doctors, Yuriy and Sarah Rockbell, saved Scars life by applying emergency surgery. After discovering that his entire family had been killed in the explosion and that his brother sacrificed his own life to save Scar, he flies into a rage and kills the two innocent doctors who had just saved his life. From this point on, Scar existed solely to get revenge on the Amestrians and State Alchemists whom he believed were responsible for the previous attack.
Scar’s redemption begins when he allies with Ed, Mustang, and the other members of the rebellion group. Scar’s goal has transformed from being a serial killer solely after revenge on a false enemy, into a pursuit to stomp out the corruption that is causing all the pain. Scar is now a man working towards the goal of doing the right thing.
Askeladd – Vinland Saga
Man, this character… I HATED Askeladd at the beginning of Vinland Saga. Absolutely hated his guts and I lived to see Thorfinn finally grow strong enough to kill him. After being drafted into the war with England – Thors, Thorfinn’s father, was journeying to visit the King. On his way, he was ambushed by Askeladd and his men. Thors single-handedly beat a ton of Askeladd’s men, followed by Thors challenging Askeladd to single combat. Just as Thors was on the brink of victory, one of Askeladd’s men takes a young Thorfinn hostage, allowing Askeladd to claim an un-honourable victory and killing Thors. From this point on, Thorfinn exists with the sole purpose of killing Askeladd in single combat.
As you can imagine, Askeladd seems like an impossibly redeemable character after doing all of that to our main character’s father. Slowly, you begin to understand Askeladd’s backstory, discover his Welsh heritage, and we uncover his hatred for the Danish. Askeladd realizes that no good will come from the current ruling King Sweyn, especially when the King announces that they will invade Wales before moving to attack Ireland. In order to protect Wales and Prince Canute, Askladd feigns madness and kills the corrupt King Sweyn. Canute understands what Askeladd is doing and takes a hold of the opportunity that has been given to him.
With great redemption arcs, you end up cheering for the character you hate without even realising it. That is exactly what happens in Vinland Saga.
Vegeta – DragonBall Z
When I think of a character who started off as a villain and redeems themselves, I can think of no one who that applies more to than Vegeta. Not only does Vegeta redeem himself, he becomes one of the most beloved characters in all of Shounen and even anime history.
Vegeta is introduced as one of the villains called on by Raditz after being defeated by Goku and Piccolo after arriving on Earth. Vegeta is a Saiyan under the employment of the tyrannical Frieza. Vegeta’s original intention for travelling to Earth was to wish for immortality using the dragon balls. After a tough battle, Goku manages to defeat Vegata and save Earth from the Saiyan invasion. It’s during the next arc that we begin to see Vegeta become something more than a villain, and this is taken even further during the Android and Cell Saga.
Falling in love and having a child with Bulma, Vegeta begins to show signs of softening, while keeping up his cold exterior. When you think about it, Vegeta is just a big ol’ tsundere.
Vegeta’s crowning moment on his path of redemption however, is during the Buu saga. He allows himself to be controlled by the wizard Babidi, allowing him to gain a significant increase in power. Realising that the only way to destroy Majin Buu is by completely vaporizing him, Vegeta makes the ultimate sacrifice. By burning himself up in his own explosive energy, Vegeta attempts to remove this seemingly unbeatable threat. Just before he passes, he talks to himself, saying his thank you’s and goodbye’s to those whom he cares for. It’s here that you really realise just how far Vegeta has come. From this monstrous warrior in the pursuit of selfish gains, to a father who is willing to give up his own life to save his family.
Which other anime characters have redeemed themselves?