10 Anime Heroes Who Had To Be Cruel To Be Kind – CBR – Comic Book Resources

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Whether an anime hero’s behavior is well-received or not, it’s sometimes necessary for them to carry out cruel acts for the greater good.
Anime heroes are expected to be perfect examples for society, but they don't always perform heroic duties flawlessly. There are cases where heroes may need to get their hands dirty or behave cruelly in order to protect others. It's no secret that when heroes act, they sometimes need to get inventive.
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Protecting and saving people isn't as simple as it seems. Whether an anime hero's behavior is well-received or not, it's sometimes necessary for them to carry out cruel acts for the greater good. While their cruel actions can sometimes be difficult to forgive, it's important to remember that these anime heroes' intentions were always in the right place.
Early in Demon Slayer, Tanjiro found out that demons were once human. This changed Tanjiro's perspective of what demons were and the purpose they held.
When Tanjiro kills a demon, he often feels sympathetic toward it because he doesn't just see it as an ignorant, bloodthirsty monster. He values a demon's previous life as a human and honors that life by releasing them from the prison of being a demon. Tanjiro's choice to kill may seem cruel, but it's his way of setting demons free from a life where they must constantly take innocent lives.
In order for Ichigo to regain his Soul Reaper powers in Bleach, Urahara had to put Ichigo through an intense process that could've killed him. Ichigo had to learn how to restore his powers after the chain holding his soul and human body together had been severed. If Ichigo couldn't regain his powers in 72 hours, he'd die.
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Urahara stood by fully prepared to kill Ichigo if he turned into a Hollow. Although Ichigo wanted to get his powers back, he didn't realize he'd have to undergo such suffering. Urahara showed tough love, but he did it to help Ichigo restore his power.
Whether Eren's decision to start the Rumbling in Attack on Titan is viewed as wrong or justified, Eren believed it was necessary. Eren feels that the Rumbling is something he must do to protect his friends and ensure they live a peaceful life.
While the lives of countless innocent people will be taken, Eren decides it must be done to save his homeland, Paradis. If he hadn't gone forward with the Rumbling, the fight between the people of his homeland and those without Titan powers would continue. Although some fans believe the Rumbling is an extreme measure, Eren's committing such a heinous act for those he cares about.
In My Hero Academia, both #1 and 2 Pro Heroes, Hawks and Endeavor, went through an intense battle with a High-End Nomu. It seemingly came out of nowhere and Endeavor ended up with a pretty nasty scar because of it.
It turned out that the High-End Nomu didn't appear by accident. Hawks had secretly infiltrated the League of Villains, and when Dabi said they needed a hero to test their High-End Nomu out on, Hawks decided it should be Endeavor. It was cruel for Hawks to set Endeavor up, but Hawks' infiltration was key to finding out about the Liberation Army's plans.
Immediately after Jonathan married Erina in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, he learned that Dio was still alive. Now a severed head, Dio wanted to kill Jonathan and take his body. After being injured when confronting Dio, Jonathan made a significant choice.
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Rather than trying to escape in the hopes that he could survive, Jonathan decided to sacrifice himself along with Dio's severed head. It was cruel for Erina to witness her new husband sacrifice himself, but Jonathan did so to ensure Erina's survival and rid the world of Dio. Unfortunately, Jonathan's sacrifice was in vain because Dio survived.
When the Straw Hats arrived at Water 7 in One Piece, Robin betrayed the Straw Hats and went with the secret government organization known as CP9. It happened so suddenly that the Straw Hats were completely blindsided.
It was soon revealed that Robin actually went with CP9 in order to protect the Straw Hats. She acted as if she no longer cared for Luffy and his crew so that they wouldn't pursue her. Robin was willing to be captured by the government so that the Straw Hats could be free. Robin acted cruelly toward her crew mates when she actually cared for them deeply.
Kageyama, also known as Mob in Mob Psycho 100, isn't an average teenager. With psychic abilities, Mob is capable of unleashing otherworldly power that can cause mass destruction.
When Mob gets into a situation with a classmate who's also an esper, he loses control and unleashes a huge amount of strength that not only defeated his classmate, but also destroyed his school. Once Mob awoke and realized what happened, he used his ability to repair the school. Mob had to unleash an immeasurable amount of destructive power to demonstrate his ability to make things right.
Levi's not one for sentiments seeing as how he's so straightforward in Attack on Titan. In a rare moment, however, fans got to see Levi show his sympathetic side when he chose between saving Erwin or Armin.
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Levi chose to save Armin and while it was essentially cruel to let Erwin die, Levi did it out of the goodness of his heart. Letting Erwin die meant setting him free. Erwin had lost everyone dear to him and had been fighting the war against Titans longer than any of the Scouts. Levi was kind to Erwin by finally letting him rest.
Although Light didn't turn out so heroic toward the end of Death Note, he definitely tried to start out that way. It was only until seeing what power he held that Light's world forever changed.
Light began eliminating criminals so that innocent people could live in peace. He was a vigilante bent on punishing those for their wrongdoings. However, with that power came threats and paranoia. What started out as a boy cruelly taking the lives of others to kindly rid the world of evil spiraled tremendously. Light ultimately let that power go to his head.
When Usopp decided to leave the Straw Hats early on in One Piece, it was an emotional turn of events. Usopp challenged Luffy to a duel for their ship, the Going Merry, and the winner would get to keep the ship and continue sailing toward their dreams.
Usopp held true to using his wits and gadgets to fight Luffy, but Luffy ultimately won. As cruel as it seemed for Luffy to fight Usopp, since he's much stronger, Luffy didn't hold back to honor Usopp's challenge. Usopp wanted a fair fight, and as difficult as it was to watch, Luffy fought fairly for his friend.
NEXT: 10 Anime Villains Who Had To Be Cruel To Be Kind
Kristina Forst is an avid anime and manga fan, who enjoys cosplaying and attending conventions. She received her Master of Arts in English in 2020, and has been writing for CBR since 2022. Her favorite anime to date are Psycho-Pass and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
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