Protagonists are the core of any story, and the protagonist is expected to drive the story forward with their actions and decisions until they achieve their end goal, which sometimes involves defeating a villain or an antagonist. That’s usually the case in Japanese animation, too, and the anime world is packed with exciting hero-vs-villain stories of the ages.
However, it’s not always the hero who lands the final blow. Sometimes, the hero might fall short, and a friend or ally must finish the fight for them. Or, the hero and villain come to an understanding, or the hero completely loses in the end. That’s rare, but it happens, and these anime characters know it better than anyone.
10.Jonathan Joestar Didn’t Finish Off Dio Brando (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
It’s true that the hero Jonathan Joestar defeated his nemesis, Dio Brando, during the Phantom Blood story arc, but Jonathan didn’t quite finish the job. Dio survived as a severed head despite the beating he took, and he terrorized Jonathan and Erina aboard a steamship at sea.
Jonathan saved Erina’s life during this battle, but he couldn’t save himself, and the ship went down in flames. Jonathan perished, while Dio crawled into a casket and survived to see the 1980s. Jonathan merely bought the Joestar family some time where Dio was concerned.
9.Natsu Dragneel Didn’t Defeat Zeref (Fairy Tail)
Natsu Dragneel, the fire dragon slayer, believed he had no family left. His dragon “father” Igneel was missing, and he seemed to have no siblings or mother, either. In truth, the villainous dark wizard Zeref was his brother, and the two Dragneels come from centuries in the past.
Now, Zeref would do anything to reunite his fractured family, including antagonizing the Fairy Tail guild, something that Natsu could not accept. But in the end, it wasn’t Natsu who put an end to Zeref’s rampage, but his lover, Mavis Vermillion. Natsu had other battles to fight.
8.Yuji Couldn’t Slay Mahito (Jujutsu Kaisen)
In the first season of Jujutsu Kaisen, it soon became clear exactly who protagonist Yuji Itadori’s enemies were: a small group of intelligent curses who treat human beings like toys or science experiments. Junpei Yoshino was used and manipulated by the villainous Mahito, then killed.
Enraged, Yuji fought back with all his strength and vowed to see Mahito dead no matter what. Mahito was impressed by Yuji’s resolve, but even with Kento Nanami’s help, Yuji couldn’t finish off Mahito, and the villain escaped to live another day.
7.Light Yagami Lost To Near (Death Note)
In the first major story arc of Death Note, the super-detective L was Light Yagami’s worst enemy, and Light won that particular battle of wits. Five years later, Light faced a brand-new archenemy: the young but brilliant Near, who had sworn to avenge the original L.
Light might have won this battle too, but his loyal minion Teru Mikami went off-script, and it cost Light everything. In the end, Teru was arrested, and Light, exposed as Kira, was helpless. Near survived, while Ryuk the shinigami finished off Light himself.
6.Guts Hasn’t Defeated Griffith Yet (Berserk)
Guts the mercenary is known for many things, from his cool name to his giant dragon slayer sword and his long-standing grudge against his nemesis, the charismatic and ambitious Griffith. For years, they were friends and allies in the Band of the Hawk, but then Griffith made his move, and everyone else paid for it.
Guts is determined to make Griffith pay for his many heinous crimes, but not yet has Guts defeated his main enemy, and at this rate, he never will. It seems the story of Berserk has ended prematurely, and Guts’ revenge never came. Griffith is still out there somewhere.
5.Thorfinn Lost His Chance To Kill Askeladd (Vinland Saga)
In many ways, Vinland Saga is like Berserk, a dark medieval seinen series where the protagonist is motivated not to save the world, but to get bloody revenge. The hero is Thorfinn Karlsefni, a cheerful boy who lost his beloved father, Thors, to the scheming Askeladd.
Thorfinn has dedicated his life to vengeance, but even if he got it, his life would soon be empty and meaningless. In the end, it was prince Canute who slew Askeladd, and Thorfinn’s mind broke at the sight of his worst enemy dying at someone else’s hands. This laid the groundwork for Thorfinn’s redemption.
4.Ken Kaneki Lost To Kisho Arima (Tokyo Ghoul)
In the story of Tokyo Ghoul, it’s not always clear who’s a hero or a villain, and as for who the main villain is, that all depends on perspective. In Ken Kaneki’s eyes, it could be said that his worst enemy is Kisho Arima, a wildly talented and disciplined CCG investigator who shows no mercy to ghouls.
To Ken, Kisho Arima was like a final boss, an even stronger investigator than Kotaro Amon. But even with his kakuja, Ken was outmatched, and he got stabbed in the head with Kisho’s quinque. Ken’s mind was broken, and he later became an investigator himself, named Sasaki.
3.Eren Yeager Actually Became The Main Villain (Attack On Titan)
When it comes to heroes vs. villains, allies and enemies, Attack on Titan blurs all kinds of lines and often shifts these things around to create a bloody and unpredictable plot. Nothing is cut and dry in this story, and it’s not always clear who the primary villain is.
Eren opposed the pure Titans first, then had to contend with the Reiss family and then the Marley Empire. In the end, Eren became the final villain himself, and his former friends risked everything to stop him and the Rumbling.
2.Avatar Korra Didn’t Defeat Zaheer (The Legend Of Korra)
Avatar Korra personally defeated Amon the revolutionary and later took down her spirit-loving uncle Unalaq, but her victory streak ended when she faced Zaheer and the Red Lotus organization. Zaheer poisoned Korra with mercury, intending to kill her in the Avatar state.
Korra broke free and fought back, which was impressive, but she couldn’t finish the job. Zaheer might have won, but then Jinora and her allies captured Zaheer in a giant air funnel, and some earthbending finished the job. Korra, for her part, was lucky to even survive.
1.Yusuke Urameshi Lost To Yomi In The End (Yu Yu Hakusho)
The final story arc of Yu Yu Hakusho provided hero Yusuke Urameshi with a brand-new archrival, the demon lord Yomi. During that arc, Yomi, Mukuro and Raizen were rivals for rulership of the demon plane, and then Raizen died. Yusuke fought on the fallen Raizen’s behalf during the final tournament.
Yusuke fought Yomi with all his might, and according to him, the fight lasted an astonishing 60 hours. Yusuke lost to Yomi, but he didn’t feel bad about it, and he was looking forward to the rematch. Yomi was looking forward to it, too.