Anime Cliches 6: Defeat=Friendship

Type: Plot cliche

What made it popular: Dragon Ball series again, early sports anime

Cliche Level: High

Where can you find it: Most battle-shounen and sports anime, but it may also appear in different demographics and genres.


Congratulations, you successfully managed to create an interesting or badass villain for your protagonist to fight. His popularity surges as the audience loves him/her, outgrowing even the main characters in terms of popularity.

However you are unfortunately finished with the arc/season of the villain, your protagonist has defeated him and he no longer has a reason to stick around. It becomes obvious that your audience would be saddened/angry if you just put the character to the sideline and would cause your sales to plummet. What do you do in this situation?

Make him the protagonist friend of course! From enemy to best friend/comrade!

Defeat=Friendship is usually used in long running series that have multiple arcs, as there is obviously no reason to do this if your show is about to end. It is a tool to keep the audience around, or rather, the respective fanbase of the character.There are multiple methods of how a character can switch from the side of the villain to the side of the heroes, such as

1. Villain was revealed to be good all along ( Even though it was never foreshadowed or implied previously)
2. Realized that he was wrong the entire time and tries to redeem himself by joining the main characters
3. After witnessing the main characters comradely, the villain may decide that it must be nice to have friends and a place he can belong to, joins the main characters.
4. The villain becomes the rival to the protagonist who occasionally helps him out. (Bleach for example)
5. It is revealed that the villain was actually controlled by a larger group of villains, previously unmentioned
6. The protagonist kicked the ‘good’ into them
7. Or for simply no reason at all! (I’m looking at you fairy tail)

Whatever method is used, it is still essentially the same shit, that we have seen over a hundred times. Some series pretty much make this their entire theme and repeat it every arc, I’m talking about shows like Lyrical Nanoha and Mahou Sensei Negima.


Why it’s bad:
This is the typical example of a writer falling to either the pull of the audience or good old greed, instead of doing the story as they originally planned and wanted to be. This cliche is especially corny in shounen’s as you can already see it coming from a mile away, and if repeated a number of times, it will simply create a bloat of characters, a.k.a. more characters than you need and can actually work with at the same time. And because these things are usually done due to the pull of money or the audience, they just happen too suddenly and without any prior base building to be seen as a legit form of character development, its very obvious when a writer didn’t make plans for this kind of development.


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