There is nothing more satisfying than food that has reached perfection after long hours of cooking and a character who has grown into a better version of themselves over many, many episodes. There is just something so realistic, so human about an anime character who has many flaws but through various experiences and influences, learns to deal with those flaws. It makes them seem that much closer to us. I mean, would you believe if a real-life person was facing a mental breakdown one day and became completely happy and successful the next day? No, that would only make them shallow and irritating. Subtle character development is absolutely the key to a good anime, and these characters prove my point.
Princess Yona- Akatsuki No Yona
This is an anime (and manga) with an incredibly well thought-out story, beautiful designs, and dialogues that leave your jaw hanging open. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that character development peaks in the protagonist of this story. Her first appearance makes us relegate her to the position of the weak, whimpering damsel in distress, who doesn’t have a care in the world and is an entitled princess, though you might start sympathising with her a bit into the story. But as she goes through a lot of pain, gets inspired from others, and learns the hardships of life herself, she matures into an emotionally-receptive and sincere leader, slowly. Remember, the keyword is slowly.
It is not an overnight transformation of a weak MC into an all-powerful creature. Instead, you can really see the impact of each of her scars and experiences not only on her appearance, but in her personality too. I highly recommend reading the manga for this one, because this character becomes truly worthy of our respect as the story progresses.
Katsuki Bakugo- Boku No Hero Academia
I have no regrets when I say this, I hated Bakugo for the most part of season 1. He seems to be an extremely aggressive bully, who has no reason to but still violently asserts his superiority just because he can, especially when it comes to Izuku. His inflated ego leads him to say and do so much problematic stuff, and even if you try to convince yourself that he might have a justification for his actions, you can’t. But then you see his character develop, in a unique way too.
Of course, years of aggressiveness and god complex don’t go away at once, and he still remains the hot-headed blonde of the show. Instead he learns to think in a better way, slowly, maybe even just one thought per episode. But he starts to understand the essence of being a hero, and no matter how much he seems to hate Izuku, he is inspired by the latter’s crazy resilience. The true unbottling of his pent up emotions happens in season 3, a major turning point for his character that gives him so much depth in our eyes. For me, his relationship with Izuku was the best change of all, where they are still rivals, but also like two halves that complete each other.
Killua Zoldyck- Hunter x Hunter
There’s always that bad-guy-turned-good in such lists, and I couldn’t resist it either. I mean he’s an assassin who has killed indiscriminately. He is a certified cool guy who is unamused and intimidating, and doesn’t keep friends when we meet him. But he has an inner desire to be good, to change, and this desire is manifested realistically, considering the harsh conditions and upbringing he had.
He becomes more relatable for the fans because of his moments of vulnerability. Developing values of friendship, respect, and selflessness one by one, his emotional development is a treat to the soul. Leaving behind the dark aspects of one’s personality is one of the most difficult things to do, and Killua is shown to struggle with it, but he conquers it with his will. This dynamic development is what makes him a very well-written character.
Chise Hatori- The Ancient Magnus’ Bride
Chise is a character who is so utterly emotionally broken, that she places no value in her life or ability anymore, and it’s heartbreaking to see. Stuck in major depression, she seems to have no thoughts or agency of herself, and is willing to be a slave just to feel ‘loved’- however warped it may be. She is deeply traumatised to the point of being suicidal. But her journey towards self-love and acceptance is almost a healing sight to see.
The characters around her and the experiences she has make her feel a sense of purpose, confidence, and control over her own life. She is able to make her own choices, to feel her emotions freely, and to finally confront her traumatic memories that weighed her down. The most important of all has to be her increased empathy towards others, which is a sign of amazing emotional development. Chise is an inspiring example of overcoming such suffering realistically.
Nagisa Shiota- Assassination Classroom
In more ways than one, I adore Nagisa, and I’m terrified of him. This is one of those characters who don’t go through such character development in the actual story; they are just revealed to us in a layered manner. He appears in the beginning as a sweet, shy boy who is friendly, polite, and nervous. He is often taken lightly, apparently because of his somewhat feminine appearance, but as is slowly discovered, Nagisa is special. I love the way he is not directly presented as a powerful skilled assassin who is destined to kill the so-called “villain” (Koro-sensei is anything but the villain).
Instead, hints are dropped about his personality. He is unusually observant, isn’t scared of things that would scare other people, and excels at stealth and silent manipulation. The best part- he isn’t even conscious of his talents. Another layer is added as we find out about his toxic mother, and the environment he faces at home. I just think it is genius, the way his character pans out in the story.
Whew! Can’t believe I managed to get through that without giving you any spoilers. Tell us which of these good anime characters’ growth is your favorite and the most relatable to you!
If you liked reading this, you will love: 7 Beautiful Places That Were Animated In These Iconic Anime!