So, You Want to Befriend the Bad Guy? A Shounen Anime Guide to Friendship

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Sean Aitchisonhttp://seanaitchison.com
Sean is a writer/researcher with a big love of anime and dumb shounen protagonists and a lot of opinions about both. You can find his writing and research work on his website and catch him streaming on Twitch twice a week.

By Sean Aitchison

Listen up, because I’m about to give you some relationship advice. Not romantic, of course, but for that mortal enemy you’ve now found yourself saddled with. What’s the best way to deal with an anime bad guy?

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There’s only one clear way to deal with this kind of situation: befriend them! Yes, the tried-and-true way to rid yourself of an anime baddie is by turning them into a good guy and making a friendly rival along the way.

I’ve seen it time and time again, so I’m going to show you how it’s done.


Step 1: Fight, fight, fight!

Bon Clay Luffy Team Up

It might sound obvious, but before you can turn your enemy into a friend, they have to first be your enemy. And as it goes with enemies, you usually have to fight them—not necessarily with your fists, but if it does comes to blows (and also you’re a character in an anime), you send that bad guy flying with a crater impact!

Not only is confrontation inevitable, but it’s the first step toward turning that enemy into an ally and possibly…a friend. Just look at Luffy and Bon Clay!

See, part of this process is wounding their anger-filled spirit! The most surefire way to do this is to best them in battle, otherwise known as “The Vegeta Method.” This can apply to intellectual or other noncombat battles, of course, and all it takes is a metaphorical handshake of respect!

After all, you can both get stronger, together!


Step 2: Become rivals

Hiei Yu Yu

The second step in gaining a friend from the dark side is a step that will likely occur naturally! While your opponent might scoff at your proverbial olive branch after besting them in battle, there’s a promise to return. After all, they’ll want to eventually beat you! This is a positive step. At least, it was for Yusuke and Hiei.

As rivals, you and your enemy will be in a never-ending contest to one-up each other. In the case of combat, they’ll work to get stronger, just as you will, and it will be an everlong race within a hair of one another! Now that sounds like a budding friendship.

During this phase, it might seem like nothing has changed and your opponent is still angry, but I’ll address that soon enough.


Step 3: Common ground

Goku Vegeta Friends (Header)

As your rivalry progresses, you’ll find that you and your enemy will become more familiar with each other, and the best way to turn this familiarity into a full-fledged friendship is to find some common ground!

This can be through anything from your shared love of fighting, sports or hobbies, but the best form of common ground is a common enemy! For Goku and Vegeta, it was fighting Frieza and Cell that helped them find common ground, and for the many sports anime out there, rival characters tend to work together when the other team proves to be a tough challenge.

Whatever common ground you and your rival find, it will prove immensely helpful in moving toward being allies, just one little tiny step away from becoming friends.


Step 4: Stop trying to kill each other

fullmetal alchemist ed

Up until now, your enemy-turned-rival (looking at you, Greed) has mostly just tolerated your existence—meaning they probably still want to stand over your defeated body and claim themselves victor. However, if you’ve bonded enough over common ground or fought alongside each other enough against even more evil enemies, those sharp edges have likely dulled.

With enough luck, they may stop trying to kill you, or at the very least attempt to kill you less often. This is often a remnant of that tough exterior! Maybe they never wanted to really hurt you in the first place.

This step can be tricky. While it’s true you could consider yourself allies at this point, you’re one quip or pride-wounding attack away from undoing all of your hard work! But if all goes well…


Step 5: Friendship (?)

OK, so I know I promised that you’d be friends by this point, and, well, you’re not not friends! Maybe your rival will never stop trying to surpass you. Maybe they’re Gajeel from Fairy Tail or Viral from Gurren Lagann. That’s OK, it happens!

What you have now is a friendly rivalry, and these folks will have your back more often than not.

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You’ll find that even if they might say they want to kill you from time to time, they’re probably just posturing. Regardless, taking these lessons from anime (and I cannot stress this enough, only if you’re an anime character) can help you turn a vicious rival into an ally and maybe even into a friend!

Hey, it’s worth a shot!


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