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Shows With Significant Character Development (or regression)

Recommendations/reviews of shows which feature characters that change dramatically as the story unfolds. The description contains spoilers.
1 Aldnoah.Zero


There is impressive character development and regression in the second season.

2 Aldnoah.Zero 2nd Season

Aldnoah.Zero 2nd Season

Slaine is that one character I truly felt sorry for his misfortunes. He was a victim of discrimination all his life, so he fought it by working his way up. He fell in love with the princess who saved his life, so he gave his all to protect her, even waited all those years for her to wake up from her sleep. He did nothing wrong. But he lost everything in the end. 

Watching Slaine work his way up from scratch and dedicate himself to the princess, only to lose it all to some random guy drove me nuts, but I really enjoyed the character development (and regression) of Slaine.

3 A Silent Voice

A Silent Voice

The now grown-up MC owns up for the offenses he did to an hearing-impaired classmate as a kid.

He struggles a lot: with not knowing how to compensate for his offenses, not knowing how to behave before his former accomplices. Not to mention, the MC himself was bullied by those accomplices, and it hurts so much for the MC because it is then that he notices the pain he had inflicted on his former victim. 

4 Beastars


Studio orange appears to be interested in animating series with characters who struggle to change. 

5 Beastars 2

Beastars 2

The studio revisits the same theme (the first time they did in Houseki no Kuni) where the main character struggles against their own nature, only that in this show, Legoshi the MC, and more importantly Ibuki who is a key character in the 2nd season, come to realize that it is not about changing their core selves (of being a carnivor) but rather about using it for other people’s sake (namely, herbivores), as a way of becoming a better version of themselves.

6 Berserk


Griffith’s character regression was very very shocking. Who could’ve guessed that noble character to drop so low as get himself stripped of all the status he worked so hard to earn, from...adultary? And all because he couldn’t face Gut’s departure? 

7 Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

I enjoyed watching the brothers overcome their trauma and move on with their lives. There were also many scenes where I felt that the bond between the brothers was being tested.

8 Land of the Lustrous

Land of the Lustrous

Phos starts as a useless, helpless, and foolish character, then ends up becoming a totally different person.

The way Phos' change is dealt with is controversial. Some may not appreciate how it is achieved through Phos' physical losses (the replacement of several limbs), although I do not see how Phos could've changed in any other way. That is because Phos was born with fragile limbs. It was impossible for Phos to become physically stronger, no matter how much Phos wished to become stronger (physically and mentally), due to the nature of the gem she/he was made out of.

Perhaps, the message is that we are constrained, physically and mentally, by the traits we are born with. We can become a more mature version of ourselves, but we can’t really change who we are...unless we change the trait itself.

9 March Comes in like a Lion

March Comes in like a Lion

Greater character development in the second season.

10 March Comes in like a Lion 2nd Season

March Comes in like a Lion 2nd Season

Hinata Kawamoto's decision to fight for a bullied friend draws her into interpersonal challenges she did not imagine. 

The mental growth involved here is quite impressive. There is warmth in the way MC Kiriyama Rei reacts to this event.

11 Mobile Suit Gundam SEED

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED

I really enjoyed the human drama in this show, and how the spotlight was shed not just on the main characters, but on the side characters as well.

The characters change in their own way, but in general, I think they all became mature and more well-rounded in the end, which is nice because they started off as kiddish characters in the first half of the show.

12 Parasyte -the maxim-

Parasyte -the maxim-

I can't really tell if the change was triggered by Miggie replacing the MC’s wounds with monster meat or by the shock MC experienced from losing his mum, but the MC changes drastically, as a person. He grows stronger, but less sympathetic. 

13 Psycho-Pass


MC Tsunemori Akane learns what duty really means. I did not like the newbie Akane and her naivety, but she learns.

14 Run with the Wind

Run with the Wind

Kakeru used to be short-tempered, hot in the head. If he was provoked, he would resort to violence, even if that meant endangering other people's positions as a result. 

With the help of his new teammates, though, he gradually becomes aware of how his actions affect other people. He learns to control himself, for the sake of his team.

15 The Heroic Legend of Arslan

The Heroic Legend of Arslan

This was quite a nuanced show. It certainly shed some light on how human nature can't be described as either just good or bad. Take Etoile for example. She can be trusted for her words, she never decieves. But, she is unforgiving, stubborn and well...intolerant. Her refusal to change is actually quite frustrating to watch.

Perhaps that would be her downfall, unless she starts heeding Arslan's all-encompassing/forgiving attitude towards mankind. 

And yes. Arslan changes a lot (not his core self, but in his understanding of the world) throughout the show. He is first introduced as a naive little boy who doesn’t quite understand the harshness of the world he lives in. As he meets new comrades who educate him on what it takes to be a trusted king, and with his exposure to the unjust world where slavery is the norm and war is justified through religion, he finally begins to understand the complexity of what he would face if he were to become king.

16 Vinland Saga

Vinland Saga

This is a story about a boy who is stuck on vengeance, until the time comes when he must finally let go.

After the death of his father, the MC lives only to take vengeance. To be honest, everything up to the point where he’s forced to let go and move on is painfully slow and repetitive. The slow pacing makes sense though, because it did have the effect of making me think “get it over with and move on already” all the while, until that final episode where things happen that wrench his life objective away. It’s only through flashbacks that the audience is told that the MC has managed to move on after the event in the final episode, but kudos to the producer because this flashback is done very very well.

17 Welcome to the NHK!

Welcome to the NHK!

The MC is a shut in. That in itself is not the issue though. Rather, MC's life makes it all too clear that he remains a shut in unless he starts facing reality, making productive choices and taking responsibilty for his future. 

I really liked the way MC's transition from a shut in to a non-shut in was dealt with. It came about smooth, his decisions necessitated by ordinary life events. I don't think Miyuki's tutoring played any part in the MC's transition because 1. it was all hypothetical talk and 2. the problem could only be solved by the MC making changes by himself. (Also, it was Misaki who needed the MC, and not the other way round.)

18 Wolf Children

Wolf Children

Hana's love of her life is a wolf. What's worse is that he's gone, and Hana has half-wolf kids she has to raise on her own.

I am not a mother myself, but this show did make me imagine the struggles I will be going through if I ever were to raise my own children.

19 Yona of the Dawn

Yona of the Dawn

At the beginning of the story, Yona is that typical princess whose only concern is about her curls and her future prince. Then comes the tragedy of her father’s assassination, and the character development ensues.

The outcome of her change, driven by vengeance, is astonishing. By the end of the story, she’s more fit to be a queen ruler than a mere ‘wife to a king’.


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