Often in anime, the main character encounters an enemy who is either in deep inner turmoil or has abandoned his morals for a specific reason. These characters are still immoral, but they are not completely beyond saving. However, this depends entirely on the assumption that the hero spares them and helps them break free from the chain that binds them.
Such characters are mainly treated in two ways; either they disappear after their defeat and are never seen again, or they decide to befriend the heroes. The chance for redemption is often the preferred one, and that leads to extraordinary character development arcs. Over the years, many recognized enemies have changed their ways and become better people.
Before becoming a Z-fighter, Vegeta was a ferocious foe who had stood in Goku’s way many times. Vegeta bore an extremely ill will towards Goku and he wanted to destroy the latter at any cost. As the story progressed, Vegeta underwent a major transformation, which changed him a lot.
He became friendlier and the people living on earth no longer had to fear him. Vegeta even began to respect Goku and considered him a formidable rival. Eventually, Vegeta married Bulma and had two children, whom he loves very much. The most surprising thing about Vegeta is that he is undoubtedly a better father to his children than Goku.
6/7 Gaara (Naruto)
Gaara was introduced in the Chunin Exams arc and at the time he came off as an extremely threatening character. Throughout the arc, Gaara showed his dark side as he mercilessly killed his opponents one after another. He managed to seriously injure Rock Lee, and he would have killed him if Might Guy hadn’t stepped in to save his precious pupil. The injuries to Lee’s body were so severe that even Tsunade doubted the young ninja could ever fully recover.
Gaara’s behavior stemmed from the bad experiences he had when he was little. The people of Hidden Sand feared him, and his own father tried to assassinate Gaara several times. No one confronted Gaara as they thought he would kill them, but when he fought Naruto, everything changed. The Hidden Leaf ninja understood how difficult it was to be a jinchuuriki, and his words touched Gaara, who realized his mistakes. After their fight, Gaara was finally able to show kindness to his siblings and friends.
5/7 Kakyoin (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
Kakyoin is one of the most recognizable anime characters on the internet. The main reason behind his popularity is the iconic cherry-licking scene, which has become a template for countless memes. Apart from giving anime fans many incredible memes, Kakyoin was also a great character.
When he debuted in the series, Kakyoin was working as a henchman for DIO and his job was to get rid of Jotaro. However, Jotaro’s Star Platinum proved too powerful for Kakyoin and his Hierophant Green. After suffering a crushing defeat, Kakyoin joined Jotaro’s group as they made their way to Egypt.
4/7 Teruki (Mob Psycho 100)
Teruki used to be the head of Shadow Vinegar Middle School. He was an extremely skilled esper, who had no problem using his power to assert his superiority over other people. Before he met Mob, Teruki was quite full of himself and he considered himself to be the best esper.
Blinded by his folly, Teruki overestimated himself while fighting Mob, but it wasn’t long before the latter humiliated him. Seeing Mob’s power and humility, Teruki realized his folly and decided to befriend him.
3/7 Bon Clay (One Piece)
Originally, Bon Clay served under Crocodile in the Baroque Works, making him an enemy of the Straw Hat Pirates. After Luffy’s victory over Crocodile, Bon Clay was no longer bound to serve his boss and could do as he pleased. Bon Clay had developed a strong affection for Luffy and his crew, so he decided to befriend them.
To prove his friendship, Bon Clay helped the Straw Hats escape from the Marines in Alabasta, who landed him in Impel Down. When Luffy needed help to escape from Impel Down, it was Bon Clay who sacrificed himself again, enabling the prisoners to escape from the prison.
2/7 Thorkell (Vinland Saga)
Thorkell is an exceptional warrior, who lives only for the sake of battle. For most of the first season, Thorkell competed against Thorfinn and Askeladd’s group. He fought the two several times and on one occasion came close to killing them both.
To survive Thorkell’s attack, Thorfinn had to cooperate with Askeladd. The duo barely managed to stop Thorkell, but this was a turning point in the story, as Thorkell shortly afterwards joined Knut’s cause and became his loyal underling. The addition of Thorkell to the group made them significantly stronger.
1/7 Serpico (berserk)
Serpico is Farnese’s half-brother and a member of Guts’ group. Originally, Serpico was against Guts’ methods, and he only traveled with the group as he looked for an opportunity to kill Guts. When the chance finally came, Serpico was unable to defeat Guts, which made him realize it was futile, so he gave up on the goal and stopped trying altogether.
He is a very talented swordsman, who can fight monsters with no problem. Over time, Serpico has proven to be a very valuable member of the group.
MORE: Berserk: Characters whose power is still a mystery