Anime heroes are very good at knocking down whatever enemy happens to be standing in front of them. Sometimes however, they have a difficult time looking at the entire picture. It’s this one-track mindset that can allow their enemies to seize an opportunity to take the advantage.
When this happens, heroes can learn an important lesson; winning the battle doesn’t matter if the enemy still achieves their goals. Even allowing the villain to gain a secondary objective could potentially have grave consequences later on. Whether thanks to their own mistakes or their opponents’ craftiness, plenty of anime heroes have achieved victories that later turned out to be hollow at best.
10/10 Vegeta Let Cell Absorb The Androids
Like other full-blooded Saiyans in Dragon Ball, Vegeta’s largest motivation in life is finding a challenging battle to improve his own strength. Under normal circumstances, the desire for self-improvement may be considered noble. But for Vegeta, it usually results in deadly repercussions.
Most notably, Vegeta easily defeated Semi-Perfect Cell, but his arrogance and his desire for a challenge led to him allowing Cell to escape and absorb Android 18. Now in his Perfect Form, Cell almost as easily crushed Vegeta, teaching the Saiyan Prince that allowing an Android bent on global destruction to power up may not have been the best idea.
9/10 Korra Takes Years To Recover From Her Fight With Zaheer
With the help of the newly founded Air Nation Legend of Korra’s third season, Korra and her allies are able to defeat Zaheer and prevent him from destroying the Avatar’s reincarnation cycle. Sadly Korra was horribly poisoned during the battle, leading to a recovery process that would take years.
As a result of this battle Korra was unable to fulfill her role as the Avatar, allowing the anarchy Zaheer created around the world to run rampant. In her absence, a new villain Kuvira was able to seize power in the Earth Kingdom, establishing a dictatorship. Korra may have beaten Zaheer, but she could not prevent the consequences of his actions.
8/10 The Scouts Saved Eren, But Not Ymir
When Reinher and Bertholdt abduct Eren and Ymir in Attack on Titan, the Scout Regiment launches a desperate pursuit. Commander Erwin follows the warriors relentlessly, and the Regiment manages to save Eren, despite their typical horrific number of casualties. However, Ymir leaves with Reinher and Bertholdt, who take her back to Marley.
Saving Eren was definitely the primary objective of the mission, but the Scouts unknowingly allowed Marley to recover one of their most powerful weapons in the Jaw Titan. This would come back to bite them, as the Jaw Titan played a key role in a future Marley attack on Paradis.
7/10 Saitama Destroyed Elder Centipede, But Garou Escaped
The Hero Hunter Garou quickly takes center stage in the war between the Hero and Monster Associations in One Punch Man. When he is corned by Bang, Genos, and Bomb, the Monster Association sends several monsters, most notably Elder Centipede, to rescue their potential recruit.
Saitama is able to destroy the giant monster with a Serious Punch, but the Monster Association succeeds in absconding with Garou thanks to the distraction. Even with the loss of one of the Monster Association’s most powerful Cadres, they were still able to take control of a being with far more destructive potential.
6/10 Midoriya Can’t Prevent Bakugo From Getting Kidnaped
When the League of Villains attacks U.A.’s Training Camp, Midoriya takes an important step in his growth as a hero, defeating the powerhouse Muscular all by himself. But while he and the other My Hero Academia students are busy with their battles, the League of Villains accomplishes their real goal of kidnapping Bakugou.
When Midoriya and his classmates learn this, they quickly pursue the League’s top members, but they’re unable to save Bakugou. This provided Midoriya his first real failure, teaching him to focus on learning his enemies’ true objectives.
5/10 Naruto Is Delayed By Itachi’s Clone
When Gaara is kidnaped by the Naruto villain group the Akatuski, Naruto, Kakashi, Sakura, and Chiyo pursue them against a racing clock. Before they can arrive at the Akatasuki hideout, they’re confronted by an Itachi clone with a portion of his power.
The team manages to defeat Itachi with Naruto’s first use of the Giant Rasengan, but they are delayed long enough for the Akatsuki to extract the Shukaku from Gaara. Naruto simply wasted too much time with this battle, allowing the Akatasuki to gain another tailed beast and kill Gaara in the process.
4/10 Joey Beats Marik On Paper
Joey’s duel against Marik is one of his finest displays of skill and luck. Against all odds, he manages to take on one of the most powerful monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Wing Dragon of Ra, and stands ready to finish off Marik with his last monster.
However, Marik’s shadow magic takes too much out of Joey and he collapses before he can launch his final attack. When it came down to their actual dueling skills, Joey proved himself the winner, but lost as a result of Marik’s outside influence affecting the game.
3/10 Cheadle Becomes Chairman While Being Humiliated
The Hunter Association’s election ends with Cheadle being declared the 14th chairman, though she’d be the first to acknowledge the whole mess as a complete defeat. Throughout the whole arc Pariston runs circles around her and the other Zodiacs, winning the election while making a mockery out of his competitors.
Cheadle achieves her goal and becomes chairman, but only because Pariston immediately resigns after winning. His goal the whole time was to simply have a bit of a lark, mess with everyone, and remind people that the Hunter Association should be fun. Even a success can be a failure if the enemy essentially gets everything he wants in the process.
2/10 Luffy’s Breakout Allows Blackbeard To Assemble The Ultimate Crew
Luffy’s successful breakout from Impel Down has some severe consequences for both him and One Piece’s world. He manages to gain several important allies for his subsequent attempt to save his brother Ace at Marineford, but in the process creates so much chaos that his main rival Blackbeard is able to infiltrate the prison.
Thanks to Luffy blowing through most of the security, Blackbeard is able to make it to the lowest level of the prison and recruit the most dangerous prisoners for his own crew. Luffy’s actions turned him into a pawn in Teach’s scheme to become one of the most powerful pirates in the world.
1/10 Soma Gains Ground Too Late To Defeat Kuga
Soma’s first attempt at challenging one of the Totsuki Council of 10 in Food Wars! is a bit of mixed bag. Soma attempts to outdo the 8th seat Kuga at the Moon Festival, challenging him in the council member’s own specialty; Chinese cuisine.
After several days of competition, Soma manages to outsell Kuga on the fourth day in an impressive victory showing his cooking skills and business acumen. However, Kuga had already significantly outpaced Soma on the first three days of the festival and managed to win their unofficial competition with higher total sales.
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