They say that TWO heads are better than ONE.
So I’ve joined forces with the one and only Johnny Varina (ready to blade brah?) to be able to bring you the first installment of many of the Leevis and Mutthead collaborative post series. For the first one, me and Johnny Lee got together to bring you our take on the Most Defining Moments from our favorite anime series. These moments are not only the most recognizable for their respective series but also set precedent for anime to follow. So check these out and let us know if we missed any! – Don’t forget to click the links to see first hand what we’re talking about.
Lee: It goes without saying that these are our opinionated posts and you can always provide comments in the appropriate section after reading (please don’t DM me to complain about my choices).
1) Dragon Ball Z
Manny: A transformation like this led to a whole new dynamic for the world of DBZ a new invincible power for the good guys. It also became a norm throughout the show which paved way for future transformations and more limits to bet for the Z fighters. Not only for the DBZ world but for the entire anime world transformations started becoming more and more frequent i.e. Yusuke’s demon mode, Naruto’s fox mode, Bleach’s BanKai, Gon’s Gode Mode, Claymore’s “awoken,” just to name a few. I mean cmon how many of us NEVER tried to charge up and hope our hair glowed gold after some real hardcore screaming?
M: Taking a page out of Young Goku’s book, Taijustu-Master-in-Training Rock Lee removes super heavy training weights mid battle to have super speed. The all powerful Sand Genin Gaara was not prepared for his immense speed and neither was the crowd watching the Chunin Exam bout. Lee proved his true abilities as a taijutsu specialist even though Gaara’s impenetrable sand wall barely broke, it had never been done before. This fight not only pumped all of us up because the cinematography/animation was just amazing but it showed us to a new world of characters and their abilities throughout the Chunin Exam.
3) Naruto Shippuuden
M: After years of separation and immense growth, the original team 7 reunites as the reincarnation of the Legendary Sannin, their respective teachers. As the three of them stand atop their own huge summoning animals, they launch an attack on Madara Uchiha. This is basically what the whole Shippuuden series was about, getting Sasuke back again. For whatever excuse Sasuke put up, he found himself teaming up with Sasuke and Naruto again almost 3 years later. The animation (as Naruto always delivers when it counts) was magnificent and the way the three just went back to working together with ease despite them all being much superior ninjas since they last worked together – epic.
4) Tokyo Ghoul
L+M: Kaneki Ken finally accepts what he is and embraces his Ghoul half and what better way to show it than giving him a meat bag to attack? That meat bag also happens to be the devilish ghoul Jason that has been torturing him. Why is this a defining moment? Because for an entire season we watched Kaneki lose every fight, including the fight with his ghoulish half. After being kidnapped by the hockey-masked ghoul, Kaneki is forced to experience wild torture that dramatically shapes his mentality, but this also brings him to know himself. By the time the battle has started, our boy Kaneki is ready to undertake the life of a ghoul (with the help of his projection of Rize). It was also a turning point for the character and it drives the rest of the anime forward; his original thoughts on humility and peace are quickly eradicated and we get a decision-making half-ghoul who has a thing for baristas and BDSM masks. Goes from reactive to proactive, thereby becoming our protagonist.
M: After almost dying at the hands of his own mother, Migi fuses parts of his body to keep Shinichi and him alive — which reaps new abilities for Shinichi. He has super strength, insane agility and endurance, and a new attitude to compliment his new resolve. This marks the beginning of a new life for Shinichi as he adapts to these badass abilities he also adopts a more serious and determined side. He finds his motivation to actually save the world and get rid of the Parasytes plaguing his town. It was a complete 180 for Shinichi as he literally went from
bitch to bull. After learning of his abilities, one his friends gets brutally murdered by a Parasyte, and new Shinichi isn’t as forgiving. One of the best character development lines I have ever seen without a doubt.
6) Death Note
M: This is where we truly see how menacing and crazed Light became upon receiving the power of the Death Note. He could have simply stopped the murders when the feds (including a task force involving HIS FATHER) got involved. But no, he decided he wanted to prove his intelligence and go up against the authorities and devise a plan to beat the surveillance put into his room. He was able to maneuver and figure out to pre-write names in the Death Note. So literally all he did was sit in his room and write while eating potato chips but the way the animators presented was beyond surreal and solidified Lights character evolving into the real villain he was even though he was doing this for y’know…justice.
7) Hunter x Hunter
M: After being constantly reminded that Hisoka was far superior than him, Gon finally managed to stand in the ring with Hisoka. Hisoka mocked Gon that because he did not know Nen there was no way he could take him on, despite showing promise during the Hunter Exam. The sick way Hisoka got turned on by Gon’s new abilities was frightening in a way. Not to mention, Gon knew the whole time he couldn’t beat him but used this battle to measure his abilities against the fighting genius. After the introduction to Nen into the series, we really dive deep into the world of the series and how much Nen really plays a part into all these crazy powers the characters have.
M: Throughout the entire series, Yukine is nothing but a troublesome regalia for Yato God and eventually ends up crippling Yato due to his mischief. After a devious plan that places War Goddess Bishamonten on a full-scale hunt to kill Yato, he’s faced with no choice but to fight back. The fight rages on and Bishamonten sets her sights on destroying Yato once and for all when Yukine throws himself to protect his master. That awakens Yukine to become a Blessed Vessel and then takes the shape of twin katanas rather than a single one. Obviously, that swings the fight into Yato’s favor and eventually leads to a resolution and the real enemy is soon discovered as Kugaha, Bishamonten’s healer in her kingdom. This fight packed with great visuals also solidifies the relationship between Yato and Yukine as they resolve all their issues. Besides, two swords are always better than one right?
9) Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
M: The whole show there was an uneasy feeling of Bradley and his intentions despite by the leader of the military. A leader called the Fuhrer at that. Anyways, as the homunculi start becoming a problem for the State Alchemists, Bradley shows up and wrecks them with his amazing sword abilities – all to reveal that he, in fact, is a homunculus. This brings about a whole new plot twist that we as watchers don’t how the hell Ed and Alphonse were supposed to take down the figurehead of their whole country.
10) Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Lee: Talk about the perfect ending to one of the most complete anime of all time. It’s a fantastic contrast to the Fullmetal Alchemist’s first transmutation when he lost his brother’s body. For him to barter alchemy for his brother’s soul is a worthy sacrifice. Why is it defining? Because it was alchemy that propelled the entirety of the story and then it is readily given up to show the viewer that the real driving force behind the story was the bond between these two brothers. It’s well-timed too, Ed gave up his gift up after having his arm returned along with near limitless abilities. It also does a good job of tying in that philosophical aspect of anime, with the Gate of Truth and the “Kami” shadow that lives in the white space. It brings one of the best anime to close, remember the Elric Brothers quest was to get their original forms back and with this last act, they succeed.
11) Psycho Pass
L: This entire situation is tense. It’s the first time our protagonist, Akane encounters the antagonist, Makishima, and boy is he a threat (plus, if your villain sounds badass in dub then they’re real AF) . Aside from his philosophical and intellectual rant (which surprisingly makes complete sense), Makishima gives Akane a lesson on her entire existence and the Sibyl system. What also stands out about this is the choice presented. It’s a defining moment because we finally see that a character’s inaction can lead to permanent consequences. Your friend is held hostage and you hold the means to save them; and yet, you choose to obey the order of the justice system you work for, which leads to irreversible results. Also the fact that the crime coefficient is substantially lowered during the encounter is even more terrifying because as we reach the climax, he is considered a “good citizen”. I mean, my man Makishima quoted Rene Descartes. You know any anime villain that has said anything cooler? I’ll wait.
12) Neon Genesis, End of Evangelion
L: What? You didn’t know that animes could induce psychedelic-like hallucinations? Because that’s what this entire scene is. The event that was foreshadowed in the original Evangelion series finally happens during the climax of End of Evangelion. I say, with confidence, that it might be the single most “WTF” worthy moment on this list and possibly anime in general. Just to give you a bit of clarification, it starts with scenes from the previous episodes then goes to our main antagonist, Gendo Ikari, having a moment, the entire world is eradicated while glowing crosses extend into space, then a giant naked being arrives out of the earth and grows a va…well there’s so many strange things that occur in this seven minute cinematic masterpiece that some fans have created entire YouTube careers dedicated to the dissection of it. Evangelion is known to be one of the most controversial anime (it’s either the best or the worst), but aside from this argument, viewers cannot deny that it is original. Evangelion gave birth to nearly all forms of acceptable anime, and, yet it was able to get away with a scene this bizarre. I can’t begin to explain it but the reason this scene is so defining is because it was one that made a viewer think about something beyond the story; it’s very rare that an anime can have such a profound effect on us. I’d argue that this is one of the most unforgettable scenes, and after witnessing all the other wild-ish that happens in this anime, it really does transcend into the realm of art…or it’s the greatest mindf*ck.
Kei Kurono’s vs. Bird Boss (1:50-3:02)
L: Badass. This is by far one of the most badass displays of heroism and will to survive. When we are first introduced to Kurono, he’s a teenager who cares for nothing but porn magazines, but by the end of the first season, his drive to survive has pushed him into full-player mode. Enter Seiji Tanaka, the boss of the second mission given by Gantz. Bad luck finds our protagonist an ideal target: Kurono has no special suit, is separated from the group, and is only armed with a Gantz pistol; somehow, he happens to stumble upon the final boss. He uses quick wit to bring down the building, but it’s his next action that puts him on this list. With nothing but the will to survive, he starts madly cursing and jumps on the giant bird, eventually brings the beast down, screaming more obscenities as he falls from the sky. In this defining moment, we see the physical manifestations of our character’s changed mental state; you can actually see that Kurono is starting to enjoy the adrenaline rush of fighting. Not only is this an amazing display of badassery, but this is the moment when Kurono stops playing the victim and becomes the hero of the anime, while winning at any cost.
L: Everything in the world of Berserk changes after this moment and it could be considered one of the most traumatic pieces of anime history. For the entire season (or trilogy of movies, which I’d recommend) we watched Guts open up and become part of the Band of the Hawk; but in this single moment, they are all sacrificed by…Griffith, their leader and Guts closest friend. It’s a defining moment because while Guts is losing almost everything he’s worked to create (including his arm), Griffith/Femto is gaining everything that he’s wanted. He now has the power to pursue his goal and has sacrificed his band of mercenaries for his goal. Casca is caught in the crossfire and becomes a crutch for our hero for the rest of the season; and, the world also becomes infested by demons, which further adds to the craziness of this event. Its another character driven choice that has irreversible consequences, however, this time it is also a case where the protagonist becomes the antagonist. We all knew Griffith was driven, but did we expect him to sacrifice the lives of his men in order to gain power? And let us not forget that grueling moment he shares with Casca.
15) Your Lie in April
L: This defining moment will tug at your heartstrings. Our boy Kousei Arima (AKA Friend A) has gotten back on the piano again, and he’s tasked with performing a solo piece for a competition. Halfway throughout the performance he has another existential crisis and is reverted to his childhood self. Flashbacks of his mother haunt him as he tries to continue the piece and it all manages to form a variety of emotions. Although he bombs it, because of his creativity and improvisation, it’s a masterpiece because it’s his way of falling in love with the piano. The concert is also a cathartic release and removes that anguish built up from his tumultuous past with his mother. This is defining because have you ever watch an anime with a pianist playing “Liebesleid” by Kreisler-Rachmaninov? Not only is this one of the most beautiful pieces of music but it’s paired with a truly emotional moment. Our protagonist has a bittersweet relationship with the piano, and it is from this performance that he learns to love it; he also realizes his mother’s love for him in the end (they also do a great job of visually representing this moment of recognition). I personally included this one on the list to show the versatility of decisive moments in anime, they don’t all have to include epic scale battles and deranged monologues…however, you can’t go wrong with them either.
L: I won’t spoil this phenomenal scene (just kidding, it’s a review) but it’s the perfect combination of action, suspense, and “WTF just happened” drama. I found this on one of those “Top Ten Anime Deaths” when I was in high school, and this alone prompted me to watch Claymore (for the first out of three times). Our protagonist Clare has been recruited to conduct a special operation with other Claymores, and after beating back a wave of awakened beings (with minimal casualties) we have a glimpse of hope…until Rigardo cooly walks onto the scene. From that point, the battle becomes a frenzy fueled by blood, loss, and unchained rage. Why was it defining? Because I’ve never felt more hopelessness for my character in an anime. Not only are her comrades lost with ease, but they are also the strongest. Remember, Clare is one of the “weakest”, and at this stage in the series she is still at the bottom tier. But this fight with one of the five strongest warriors in the Claymore universe (Rigardo is topped only by the Abyssal Ones & Priscilla), is a turning point for Clare and her journey. It forces her to make a decision that alters the rest of her story, (which is continued in the manga). Rigardo himself also commands the scene after his transformation. After hinting at his power, we’re finally able to witness this monstrosity that sits at the right hand of Isley (who happened to only gain his loyalty by fighting). Rigardo essentially captures that essence of that battle-driven warrior or Berserker; he solely lives for a worthy fight. There are plenty of anime who have characters similar to this archetype, but I think he does the role justice because he initially chooses to ignore Clare. Only when she increases her strength does he take an interest and exchange blows with her; and to see Clare push herself past awakening to go toe to toe with him is just badass.
Okabe’s Traumatic Time-Loop (Beginning to 2:24)
L: Literally the entire anime is a defining moment *Hyohuin Kyomaaaa*. But, specifically, the episode when Okabe is caught in a time loop trying to save Mayuri from her fate. Why is this defining? Because we are witness to a tragedy that is a direct result of our characters action and it causes him to suffer. And boy does our normally comedic hero suffer. Yes, the initial scene where Mayuri is lost is tragic but what sets things off is Okabe’s relentless pursuit to try and correct the past, which is literally impossible. Imagine having to relive the moment where your best friend is (spoilers) and you try to save them through a different means each time, only to have the same grisly conclusion. The other characters on this list may have the blood of someone else on their hands, but Okabe is the only one who has to experience this countless times. It also introduces a dark tone to the, up to this point, hilarious and intriguing anime; this is a worthy reward for those who have been patient with the buildup of the plot.
L: I would argue and say that Fate/Zero is one of the top action anime, and may have the best visuals when it comes to a fight scene. Not only does it have a compelling storyline with rich and fleshed out individuals, but it also does a fantastic job by combining this supernatural with the seemingly ordinary. I mean there’s sections where Saber chauffeurs her pseudo-master around the city and then you have Caster’s tentacled beast destroying a city. But before we were graced with the joyful laugh of Iskander or babyfaced Rin, we witnessed the summoning of each of these heroes. This scene is defining because it is the first step that really kickstarts the story and rarely do anime pop like this in the beginning. The initial episode is roughly forty minutes, and in that time we are introduced to key players; we are also able to see their motivations and what drives them, so when there is a climactic duel between masters and their servants, we are fully engaged because we watched them spring to life. This moment right here gives birth to everything that we are about to witness in the anime. We see the passion of the masters and then we are graced with the first images of four servants and boy do they look immaculate. Plus, that soundtrack is just legendary.
20) Naruto: Shippuuden
L: After having a discussion with my sister (who is a Japanese minor), she expressed that the most defining moment in the Naruto series was the Pain fight, and I realized that she was right. So, readers, you have my sister to thank for this addition and here are the reasons why (mind the list):
- Pain/Nagato is the true antagonist of the Shippuuden series. He is the character who brings the most change aside from our hero. It’s a decisive final battle against the leader of the Akatsuki, an organization that was introduced in the first series and cast as the main villains. Also, there are two important details associated with Pain that add to this moment: he was once the apprentice of Jiraiya and he’s also the one who ended the ninja’s life; Jiraiya was also the closest thing Naruto had to a family at the start of Shippuuden, which makes this fight a battle of revenge.
- Hinata’s sacrifice. Hinata Hyuga, the shy wide-eyed girl who’s been a part of Naruto’s childhood finally steps up to the plate and what a way to do it. She gives it her all to protect the hero of the village, but also her future mans. Then the confession of feelings right before being attacked…whew. This sequence alone is enough to tug at the heartstrings of any Naru-Hina fan and also validated Hinata as a real match for Naruto and not just an anime trope.
- Kyuubi’s Revival. From episode 16 of the original Naruto, we’ve known him to rely on the chakra of the Nine-Tails fox, and occasionally this surge of power has overtaken his rationality; this particular scene is the culmination of all these isolated events. Our protagonist gives into his suffering and allows the beast full control of his body, and what do we get? A fight scene so wild that the animators had to switch art styles to keep up with it. Then…
- The Reveal of Naruto’s Family. During this climactic battle, where Kohana has been destroyed and its ninjas have exhausted their chakras, Naruto has an epiphany right before he becomes the living incarnation of the Nine-Tails; he casually meets his father’s entity and has a heartwarming moment in the midst of this turmoil (genius move). Not only does Minato stop his son from losing control, he also gives him hope. Plus, his pops is Hokage. It doesn’t get much cooler than knowing Naruto comes from one of the best ninjas.
- Respect. Finally, our knuckleheaded prankster ninja has now become the hero of the village that once shunned him. After going through every single experience, every fight, and every loss, Naruto beats Pain and is revered as the savior. His power level has increased, even unlocking Sage mode, and his mentality finally matches up with his skill.*
Now, I would argue that Naruto Shippuuden could’ve ended at this point (and it did for me) because this sequence covers everything I needed in a resolution. I got my badass fight with a worthy antagonist, my tears and feelings, and I got my cathartic release after seeing him become the hero we, the viewer, have always known him to be.
*Text Message from Manny: “from the moment Naruto jumps in with his robe and scroll it’s OV”.
Code Geass (Season 1+2)
Lelouch v Brittania commands you. That might be one of the catchiest phrases from an anime (dattebayo is a close second). Coming in as an honorable mention is Code Geass. What can be said about this anime that isn’t already known by viewers? It’s safe to say that when I think of “god-complex” as a personality trait, Lelouch is the one who comes to mind. Throughout the entire two seasons, he is constantly one-upping the entire game and giving us defining moments. Beginning with the first episode to the finale, he keeps the viewer engaged with his ever-changing schemes and dialogue (dramatic monologues and god-complexes are a package deal). Some of my notable favorites are when he regains his memories at the beginning of season two, the elaborate plan to free the Japanese from the rule of Brittania using the exile of Zero as a decoy, and the showdown with Prince Schneizel will have viewers hitting the rewind button. It seemed that Lelouch and Geass were a match made in heaven and it’s rare that we have a character play both hero of the state and enemy of the world. And with the third season in development, it will be interesting to see what other schemes this chess master will bring to the table. If you think I’m overhyping a character (which I probably am), then watch the clip to see the epicness of Code Geass (and it’s plot armor*)
*Plot armor is a term to describe a phenomenon where there are no understood means of escape for a protagonist, but somehow the story develops in a way that miraculously saves them from their impending fate. Other examples include Eren Yeager, Goku, Kaneki Ken, Edward Elric…and nearly every other protagonist, save for Spike Spiegel.
So there you have it! Of course, we know there are much more moments out there – so remember we said this isn’t our only team up. For now, stay tuned for more from the both of us either here on NES or check out Johnny’s writing at thenuclearcottage.wordpress.com and his photography at thegoldenmoment.net.
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@manny_NES + @johnny_varina
@neverendingsitcom + @thegoldenmoments
Until next time.
Under-promising and Over-delivering,
The Talent-San + Johnny Varina