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Anime, especially Shonen ones, have a lot of great battles but also several unfair victories. While it can be due to editorial input, a writer making a mistake, or a lack of inconsistency regarding the power system or a character’s abilities, the truth of the matter is that there are a lot of outcomes that don’t make sense.
Therefore, here are the ten most unfair victories in anime history. Of course, this list is entirely subjective and they are in no particular order.
Luffy vs. Lucci (One Piece)
One Piece is a great anime and it has wonderful characters, a vast world, and a lot of great moments. However, author Eiichiro Oda has often struggled with writing battles and while they are mostly logical based on his power scaling, Rob Lucci vs. Monkey D. Luffy in Enies Lobby definitely required some conveniences.
Lucci initially fought Luffy in Water 7 and made quick work of him, which showed that the Strawhats captain had no chance against the CP9 member. However, by the time the gang shows up in Enies Lobby to rescue Nico Robin, Luffy has learned the Gear 2 and Gear 3 abilities, giving him enough strength to defeat Lucci.
The series has never explained how or when Luffy learned these abilities, which are necessary to justify his victory in this fight. The timeline of events from Water 7 to their battle in Enies Lobby doesn’t give Luffy enough time to learn and develop techniques to the point he can use them the way he did in this arc, which seems like Oda trying to balance his protagonist’s strength with the main antagonist’s.
Obito vs. Konan (Naruto)
It’s no secret that author Masashi Kishimoto had been struggling with the final portion of Naruto’s manga and one of the biggest examples of that is his handling of the Uchiha clan. Once a decently powerful clan with members who could have a few strong abilities, their Sharingan became an all-purpose tool that could do whatever the plot required and Obito Uchiha’s battle against Konan is a testament to that.
Konan no longer had any reasons to be loyal to Akatsuki after Nagato’s death and wanted to honor his friend’s dying wish of supporting Naruto, which is why she went up against Obito. She had planned for years the perfect strategy to take him down, studying how his Kamui technique worked, and came up with a ploy that should have killed the Uchiha, given everything that was set up about the Sharingan and the character’s abilities.
Then Kishimoto pulled off the Izanagi technique, which makes no sense and was conveniently introduced in a context where it was the only ability that could have saved Obito. Simply put, Kishimoto had no use for Konan anymore and needed Obito alive, which is fair enough, but the way this was executed was extremely unfair and to this day still leaves a sour taste in people’s mouths.
Gohan vs. Super Buu (Dragon Ball Z)
When it comes to the most unfair anime victories, Gohan’s defeat against Super Buu in Dragon Ball Z is one of those that shows outside influence. It was during this time in the manga when Akira Toriyama was struggling with how to keep the plot advancing and he was never very comfortable with the character of Gohan as a protagonist, which led to this situation.
The issue is not Super Buu absorbing people to gain a power-up but rather how things led to that situation. For example, Gohan already had a traumatic experience of getting cocky while fighting Cell, which led to his father’s death and almost dooming the entire universe. The fact he was now older and everybody was counting on him and he still did the exact same thing against Buu was very poor writing on Toriyama’s part.
Gohan is not dumb and should have ended the story right there and then, but this was a very weird period in Dragon Ball history with many strange decisions.
Shinobu Sensui vs. Yusuke Urameshi (Yu Yu Hakusho)
Unfair anime victories often take place when the author doesn’t know how to keep the story going or when he or she is mentally exhausted. Well, Yoshihiro Togashi was both when writing Yusuke Urameshi’s fight with Shinobu Sensui in the Chapter Black arc of Yu Yu Hakusho.
Togashi was exhausted from writing manga at the time and it shows, the Chapter Black: the arc went from experimental, ambitious, and trying to subvert shonen conventions to ending with a situation of who punches harder. Yusuke had no means to defeat Sensui and the former was eventually killed by the latter, which leads to Raizen, the protagonist’s demon ancestor, taking over his body.
Raizen defeated Sensui with ease, which was anticlimactic and there was no buildup for that event to take place. And while this discovery set up the events for the Three Kings arc, it didn’t stop it from feeling like a copout at a time when the author was mentally checking out from the series.
Ichigo vs. Ulquiorra (Bleach)
Imagine being the villain, killing the main character, and seeing the guy still fighting and winning. That’s what Ulquiorra went through in Bleach’s Arrancar arc, and is one of the most unfair anime victories, especially considering how its talked about even to this very day.
As Ulquiorra kills Ichigo by destroying his heart, his Hollow side takes over and becomes a Vasto Lorde, having enough power to destroy the Espada. Now, while some fans have argued that Hollow Ichigo told his human counterpart that he was going to take over in a moment of weakness, this reasoning breaks the plot of the series a bit.
If Ichigo dies and his Hollow side takes over, then he has no risk of dying in battle. Because Ulquiorra eventually destroyed his horn and he went back to his human form, he is no longer dead. It doesn’t make a lot of sense and author Tite Kubo seems to agree because he never had Ichigo go back to his Hollow form ever again in the story.
Doppio vs. Risotto (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure part 5: Golden Wind)
It was very clear that Doppio/Diavolo was going to be the final boss in the fifth part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Golden Wind, but author Hirohiko Araki did something very cool and at the same time very problematic: he set up Doppio in a battle against the leader of La Squadra, Risotto Nero.
The fight itself is amazing and serves to show a lot more details about Diavolo and his abilities but it ranks here as one of the most unfair anime victories because the plot needed Doppio to win. Due to the nature of Risotto’s Stand, Metallica, he could have killed Doppio in many different instances but failed to do so because of plot conveniences.
This is further emphasized by how he was defeated at the end: by a distraction that led to Narancia’s Aerosmith Stand to take him down. It was a very unfortunate resolution to what was a very good fight.
Adam vs. Zeus (Record of Ragnarok)
Considering that Record of Ragnarok is a battle-centric series, it was bound to have at least one unfair victory. And if there was one where it seemed that the plot was demanding a character to win, that was the second combat, which took place with Adam and Zeus.
Due to Adam’s ability to mimic every single attack he could see, he was able to fight evenly with Zeus and hurt him massively, suggesting that the first human was going to win. However, by the third act of the battle, it was revealed that Adam’s body couldn’t withstand the technique, thus leading to him slowly breaking down.
The fact Brunhilde, Adam, or no one else had knowledge of this limitation and didn’t come up with a contingency plan was a massive case of plot convenience. It was the only way Adam could lose in this context and, in a way, did a disservice to the character of Zeus and his power levels.
Joey vs. Marik (Yu-Gi-Oh)
There are few instances regarding unfair anime victories where it was so blatant that the outcome took place because they needed certain events to happen. Joey vs. Marik is a prime example of this notion.
They were facing each other in the semifinals of the Battle City tournament and, by the end of the duel, Joey had Marik by the throat of his neck. It seemed that Wheeler had everything to win and only needed to call one attack to win… only for him to pass out because of the damage he withstood during the duel.
It was such a blatant way to set Marik’s duel with Yugi that felt extremely forced. If there was a need for a duel between the main character and the main antagonist, let Joey win, pass out, and then have Marik go crazy, so Yugi has to step in. That way everybody wins.
It was a disappointing resolution to what was one of the best duels in the history of the franchise.
Deku vs. Overhaul (My Hero Academia)
The problem with this battle is not that Deku won but rather how he was given the context to win. It makes perfect sense that him using One for All at 100% could destroy Overhaul but the way they got to that point is what is puzzling.
Simply put, Deku was allowed to use One for All at 100% because Eri used her Quirk to rewind his body before the point his body broke. Therefore, Deku could fight at full power without the ramifications of such use. However, this only took place because Eri managed to use her powers properly, which is something she struggles with even to this very day in the manga.
It was one of the most unfair anime victories because Deku was given enough power to win at a time when it wasn’t viable.
Seiya vs. Saga in the Anime (Saint Seiya)
This is the only one among these unfair anime victories where the anime actually changed the outcome. In the manga, during the end of the Sanctuary arc, Gemini Saga defeats all the Bronze Saints and ends up being purified by Athena’s Shield, which leads to him taking his own life to repent for his sins.
However, the anime adaptation by Toei Animation decided to add an extra sequence for the five Bronze Saints power up and Seiya gets enough power to defeat Saga, which makes no sense considering the context. After all, Saga was unscathed after fighting Seiya and Ikki, so him being defeated by just one punch, albeit a powerful one, made no sense.
Saint Seiya had a lot of different moments like this one but this battle was perhaps the most egregious example because of how it played out differently in the source material.