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* In the case of the ''[[Manga/AhMyGoddess Oh My Goddess!]]'' manga, it's "Growing The Ponytail". The series began somewhat crude and crass, and the main cast was comprised of only Keiichi and Belldandy, who then had long, silvery hair. As the series evolved and more characters were added, Kösuke Fujishima started making her (and her sister goddesses, Urd and Skuld, when they joined) look less Asian and more European. By the time Fujishima had gotten a firm handle on the character designs (with Belldandy in blonde hair in a bun and ponytail, with some dangling for good measure), the series had more or less become a light-hearted romantic-comedy.
** Interestingly enough, the OVA (which debuted while the manga was still GrowingTheBeard) and the TV series (which debuted well after the manga had settled down) have Belldandy in a more European-style blue, gold, and white outfit the first time she appears, and with blonde hair in a bun and ponytail, and both series follow the light-hearted romantic-comedy formula to a "T". In other words, the "beard" had already been grown.
* The ''Manga/{{Akira}}'' manga picks up a lot of steam at the point where [[spoiler: Akira demolishes Neo-Tokyo]], transforming from an edgy cyberpunk story about unravelling the mystery behind a group of psychic kids to an intricate, psychologically and politically riveting [[spoiler: post-apocalpyse epic]]. The animé ends just at the point where the manga gets much richer and more involved. This may have been a wise filmmaking choice, since it would have taken what, four, five hours to even dent the plot of the last half of ''Manga/{{Akira}}''?
* The ''Manga/AxisPowersHetalia'' was always a light hearted and cute Anime, but the third season (Named independently from the first three as ''"World Series"'') has a distinct DarkerAndEdgier feel, with darker colouring, more visible lines, better quality and more fluid animations, along with more original plots to go alongside the ones from the manga, it's also much funnier than the first two seasons.
** Not to mention it now contains [[EnsembleDarkhorse PRUSSIA!]] Which probably adds to the humour department.
--> '''Prussia:''' [[BreakingTheFourthWall Stupid animation department, not letting me be in the anime just because I'm not an official country any more...]]
** The fifth season seems to be repeating this process. It's got a new name again (''"The Beautiful World"'') and a new team with a [[ArtEvolution noticeably more polished art style]] and has become a bit more focused (generally adapting only one story per episode, where episodes in earlier seasons would skip around between multiple storiess).
* ''{{Manga/Berserk}}'': around volume 9 where stuff starts hitting the fan.
** The Manga's first arc (which looks like shallow torture porn at first) starts to grow the beard when [[spoiler: the snail count visits his daughter.]] It's the first sign of the layered storytelling that the manga currently is known for.
** Speaking of ''Berserk'', the anime had a well-written but very slow start. It really gets interesting at episode 15.
* ''{{Manga/Bleach}}'': [[BrokenBase According to about half the fandom,]] the beard grows in when Rukia gets arrested, which is when the story stops being MonsterOfTheWeek as the MythArc first kicks in, the stakes get much higher, and the TrueCompanions really come together for the first time. According to the OTHER half of the fandom, that's when the massive influx of [[SpotlightStealingSquad Shinigami characters]] saps the story of focus, [[FightingSeries action]] overtakes plot development, and "good guys never die" robs the story of dramatic tension. Pretty much everyone agrees, however, that the beard is firmly in place for the final arc: [[spoiler:within the first 5 chapters, shinigami have begun to be killed off, [[CombatPragmatist the standard rules of shonen combat are out the window]], and plot questions that have been open for 7 YEARS are finally being answered.]]
* ''BloodPlus'' gets a bit better around the time Saya grows her hair out. It makes sense since so many things happened right before her hair style changed: [[spoiler:Her younger foster brother is killed, Red Shield's HQ is destroyed, its leader crippled, and her angst filled QuestForIdentity is finally completed]]. Not that there wasn't more angst, but the second half of the series was both more entertaining and more memorable.
* ''BlueGender''. The first ten episodes or so, out of twenty-six, are set on Earth. They're relatively lackluster, feeling more like a [[FollowTheLeader rip-off]] of ''Literature/StarshipTroopers'' with a touch of ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'' than anything else. They're also very episodic, and you can easily skip most of the first half... then Marlene and Yuji get to Second Earth, and the series takes a sharp turn towards fucking awesome. The introduction of Yuji's EvilCounterpart, [[spoiler:ManipulativeBastard Tony]], helps. The introduction of [[PsychicPowers B-cells]] helps too.
* ''CandyBoy'' turns more and more into an emotional {{slice of life}} series with each subsequent episode, especially from the introduction of Kanade and Yukino's little sister Shizuku onward. Not bad for a show that was originally a one-time affair based around the gimmick of [[{{twincest}} twin sisters who like each other much more than average]].
* ''ChocottoSister'' makes an almost seamless transition from a {{fanservice}}-laden {{moe}}-vehicle to an emotional rollercoaster-ride, leading to some very well-executed {{tear jerker}}s near the end.
* ''VisualNovel/{{CLANNAD}}'' was always a decent high school romance comedy, but it REALLY proved its depth at the end of episode 18 when the other girls realised they had to give up on Tomoya because he loved Nagisa, and in episode 19 when Tomoya ran away from his broken home and moved in with Nagisa's family.
** Similarly, after ''~After Story~'' trimmed its beard by falling back into high school filler for the first eight episodes, it came back with a vengeance in episode 10 when -get this- Tomoya ''graduates and gets a job!'' Not the kind of thing normally seen in high school romance comedy, is it? The beard grows even longer in episode 12 when [[spoiler:Tomoya asks Nagisa to marry him]] and by the end of episode 16 [[spoiler:when Nagisa dies in childbirth]] this series has the kind of beard you expect to see in The Guinness Book of Records.
* Though the episodes before it had had their highlights, the conflict at Narita in episodes 10 & 11 of ''Anime/CodeGeass'' marked the point at which the plot hit its stride and entertaining plotlines were produced both for Zero's rebellion and Lelouch's life at Ashford.
* ''Anime/DigimonAdventure'' started out as a fun, if typical, TrappedInAnotherWorld {{Mons}} series. Things picked up at around episode 21, but it wasn't until the introduction of Vamdemon/Myotismon (an incredibly iconic villain for children's anime, even after a decade) that the series really hit its stride.
** ''Anime/DigimonTamers'': After some slow, character-building episodes, the show grew its beard with episodes 13 and 14, as the Director finally reveals the breadth of his roots in Horror to give a whole new kind of ''Digimon'' anime that's heartwrenching, terrifying, and ''awesome''.
** ''Anime/DigimonSavers'' starts off as "[=GeoGreymon=] victim of the week" series but starts to pick up with the introduction of Falcomon. Then [[MadScientist Kurata]] shows his hand and the fun [[spoiler:and genocide]] begins...
** ''Anime/DigimonXrosWars'' showed great improvement by the introduction of [=DarkKnightmon=] and began to really hit its' stride with the commencement of the Death Generals arc, the reintroduction of traditional evolution and the conflict with Yuu Amano.
*** Majorly subverts after said arcs with the late [[SeasonalRot Hunters]] season; plagued with MonsterOfTheWeek {{Filler}} and a badly executed crossover [[TheyWastedAPerfectlyGoodPlot consisting of all the Digidestined leaders throughout the franchise]].
* ''Anime/DragonBallZ'' grew its beard from its ''Manga/DragonBall'' origins by undergoing a CerebusSyndrome with the WhamEpisode of Goku's death and TheReveal of his alien origins. The show itself truly becomes its own with Goku becomes a Super Saiyan, and the action escalates to the high levels it's known for today.
* ''EurekaSeven'' was a quirky but tepid mecha anime for most of its first half, and most of its watchers were rather ambivalent towards it on its first Creator/AdultSwim airing. Then came the first-season finale, which, along with a marked increase in animation quality, set the stage for the rest of the show and was a wonderful CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming in its own right. Then the ''real'' fun began...
** Some saw the improvement of the series purely in the fact that Renton wasn't [[AbusiveParents beaten up]] [[ButtMonkey every other episode]] anymore.
** According to the WordOfGod and ThatOtherWiki, this was planned by the writers in advance: first give us a {{shonen}}-y love drama and then without a warning, turn the whole show into an epic of mind-blowing proportions.
* ''Manga/{{Fairy Tail}}'' got way more serious and darker in the Tartarus Arc. [[spoiler: Just to make a point, up until Tartarus Arc, only a few characters got killed during the series, and Hiro Mashima was widely recognized as being an author that did not kill his characters. Five chapters into the Tartarus Arc, and one of the [[MadBomber members]] of Tartarus made an attack at the Council, killing all members but one, and a few chapters later, defeats even [[TheHero Natsu]]. Another one used her powers to kill possibly all the members of all dark guilds associated with Tartarus. Not much later, another member kills more than 100 people, and incapacitates the entire Raijinshuu Tribe. Another member was able to freeze and defeat a [[TheJuggernaut dragon]], something not even the Dragon Slayers themselves were able to do. The guild master is also the strongest demon ever made by [[BigBad Zeref]], which not even the king of the aftermentioned dragon was able to defeat.]] It's safe to assume that the overwhelmingly high praises for the arc are not misplaced.
* ''Manga/FateKaleidLinerPrismaIllya'' starts out as a fairly comedic, GenreSavvy series about Illya as a MagicalGirl. It then steadily becomes more serious. The CharacterDevelopment and ArtEvolution become more apparent in its second season, and the gentle amounts of FanService and heavier action clearly show it's a {{Seinen}} series.
* ''Manga/{{Fist of the North Star}}'' starts off as a series of loosely connected story arcs where one thing leads to another. It isn't until the introduction of Kenshiro's three honorary brothers in the ways of Hokuto Shinken and their dispute over who will become the successor is where the main story truly begins.
* ''[[Manga/FullmetalAlchemist Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood]]'' did this when it departed from material covered already in the [[Anime/FullmetalAlchemist 2003 series]], but particularly in episode 19 when [[spoiler: Mustang killed Lust in an [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome absolute blaze of glory]]]]
** The manga itself did this quite early. The manga's first book seems to set the series as a MysteryOfTheWeek format, where the two brothers journey around and solve various problems via alchemy. As soon as Edward and Alphonse reach Central and meet up with Mustang, the story turns into a longer single arc.
** [[Anime/FullmetalAlchemist The 2003 anime]] also started off as a very high-quality though fairly typical MysteryOfTheWeek series where AdventureTowns were the main source of the plot. However, around the time of [[spoiler:Hughes' death]], it finally started to evolve into a truly dark and compelling drama. By the time Ed fought [[spoiler:and killed]] Greed, its beard had grown out to roughly ZZTop proportions.
* ''Anime/FullMoonOSagashite'' does this in the anime. It takes a good 30 episodes of happy fluffy fun times (if you forget the protagonist is going to eventually become mute due to a throat tumour or, alternatively, die) before things start getting serious and very emotionally hard-hitting. The second half of the anime is very nearly unrecognisable from the first.
* The first season of ''Manga/FushigiYuugi'' leads one to think it will be a HappilyEverAfter MagicalGirl story. It's slightly violent, a few deaths of Mooks and the like, but the main characters always survive unscathed... until the first season finale, where [[spoiler:the male lead's entire family is brutally murdered.]] From that point on, the series takes a much darker turn, [[spoiler:and most of the main characters die]].
* ''{{Gantz}}'', for the first nine volumes (and the whole anime series), consists of senseless killings; gory, horrific violence; {{Fanservice}}; and sex scenes. Thanks to the introduction of [[LoveInterest Tae Kojima]] and impressive CharacterDevelopment for Kurono, however, the manga has since improved ''immeasurably.''
* For the first 20 or so episodes, ''{{GaoGaiGar}}'' was not particularly impressive and seemed to be a simple, poorly constructed {{Transformers}} ripoff like its predecessors... around episode 26, however, the first BigBad reveals his hand, the truly epic fights begin, and the animation budget grows notably more robust. Then episode 31 occurs and [[LensmanArmsRace the handbrake is removed from the wheels of badassery.]]
* The original ''GetterRobo'' manga, despite being an [[CombiningMecha influential]] and important series for the HumongousMecha genre, is still a fairly typical shonen action comic with some shaky art. When the series was revived 15 years later in ''Getter Robo Go'', now under the full creative control of Ken Ishikawa, things ''really'' started to take off.
* ''{{Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex}}'' has a few rather unremarkable episodes at the beginning, basically introducing the members of Section 9 and the technology they use. With the fourth episode, the Laughing Man story arc kicks in.
* ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'':
** ''Anime/{{Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ}}'' has one of these around episode 20. Up until then, the show had been incredibly light-hearted and silly, to the point where enemy {{elite mook}}s were painting roses in the sky with their mecha before going out to get shot to death. But [[spoiler:during the short arc with Cecilia at Granada, Gottn tries to blow up a shuttle full of poor people in order to trap the Argama. This backfires when Cecilia discovers she has the bomb needed for this, and sacrifices herself to blow up Gottn's ship.]] Mainly considered to be CerebusSyndrome, though.
** ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEED'' is rather slow-paced for the first 30 or so episodes (basically, every episode generally follows the ZAFT-attacks-Kira-saves-the-day routine; that these episodes are more or less a {{Remake}} of the [[Anime/MobileSuitGundam original Gundam series]] doesn't exactly help), but after a few {{Wham Episode}}s ''SEED'' finally escapes this routine and sets off on a path to its own original, epic GrandFinale. To its defense, the first episodes do a good job of familiarizing and endearing the characters to the audience.
* The Anime adaptation of ''GunGrave'' opens with the universally acknowledged shithouse episode 1. However the episode is important as it is in medias res and gives an idea of where Brandon, Harry, Harry's friends/followers, Big Daddy, Maria and the Necrolyze research ended up but not HOW. Episode 2 begins a flashback that takes up more than HALF of the series consiting of seriously epic drama.
* ''Anime/GunXSword'' starts a bit slow and episodic... and then at the end of the sixth episode, [[spoiler:Van asks a waiter if he's seen a man with a claw - a question to which [[FailureIsTheOnlyOption the answer has always been "no."]] The response is as follows: "Yes. He's right over there."]] That moment starts the show's momentum going, and it never loses it until the end.
* Watanagashi-hen (the 2nd novel) of HigurashiNoNakuKoroNi is commonly refered to as the point where the quality improves.
** For the anime, it could probably be said that this happens in either Tsumihoroboshi-hen, or Kai. During the former, the series finally stops making its protagonists turn into [[AxCrazy insane,]] [[HatePlague paranoid]] [[VillainProtagonist villains]] who [[KillEmAll murder the remaining characters before either killing themselves due to the hate plague or being killed by some outside force.]] For once it stops focusing on paranoia and murder mysteries and focuses more on the theme of [[ThePowerOfFriendship friendship,]] which leads to the first happy ending in the entire series, not that it lasts long. The latter moment of growing the beard answers several unanswered questions of the previous arcs, while finally giving the show more [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming uplifting moments,]] the characters no longer at each others' throats. While the arcs still have the characters dying in the end for the most part, they usually get in some awesome or heartwarming moments which, unlike in the previous season, seem to be more heartfelt than just plain silly. The true villain and the reason behind the time resets are revealed to the audience, and the group seems more passionate about their friendship, giving the viewer more hope.
* While {{Inuyasha}} does get a lot of flack for its ArcFatigue, many fans believe that the rebirth of Kikyo and the introduction of Naraku is when the series began to shift away from a simple quest for the {{Macguffin}} with MonsterOfTheWeek elements and focus on a more complex story involving the band of heroes facing off against a powerful and seemingly impossible to kill enemy, while experiencing developments as a characters.
* ''ItazuraNaKiss'' does this in tandem with TheyDo - the [[spoiler: HappilyEverAfter end]] of the first season is in many ways the real ''beginning'', because it drops most of the exaggerated RomCom {{Dead Horse Trope}}s in favor of a more grown-up plot.
* ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure'' begins as what could best be described as ''Manga/{{Fist of the North Star}}'' with vampires for its first two arcs (''Phantom Blood'' and ''Battle Tendency''). With the ''Stardust Crusaders'' arc it really comes into its own with the introduction of [[FightingSpirit battle]] [[PsychicPowers spirits]] called "Stands" and does away with the Hokuto Shinken-esque martial arts used in the previous storylines. And in Part 4, the art noticeably begins to shift away from looking like ''Fist of the North Star'' and develops a completely unique style. Not to mention that, in Part 3, Joseph literally grows a beard.
** The animated adaptation also improves during the adaptation of ''Battle Tendency'', with a better pacing compared to ''Phantom Blood'', better animation and a better soundtrack.
* ''{{Jubei-chan}}'' had about 7/10 comedy and 3/10 action. Then the sequel came, improved animation quality and turned that ratio on its head.
* Okay, ''KannazukiNoMiko'' is a TwelveEpisodeAnime, but it still grows a definite beard halfway through. Be patient with the silly mechas and shonen anime clichés -- when Chikane's issues take centre stage, that's when things are about to get way the hell more interesting.
* ''Manga/KatekyoHitmanReborn'' had a basically stagnant plot until Volume 9 with [[spoiler: the arrival of Mukuro]]. The story and plot got a lot more interesting, hitting its stride during the [[spoiler: Varia Arc]] and kept getting better from there (except the 'Future' arc which had many drop the series). Even the art got better.
* After numerous false starts, ''Anime/KiddyGirlAnd'' manages to find its stride halfway through the series. True, it never reaches the emotional heights of its [[Anime/KiddyGrade predecessor]], but the story becomes much more serious and digestible--although [[TheScrappy Ascoeur's perpetually childish demeanor]] remains an ... uhm ... acquired taste.
* {{Kinnikuman}} starts off as a parody of superheroes with a goofy MonsterOfTheWeek gimmick until the Choujin Olympics start and by the end [[ArtEvolution the art starts to get more detailed]] and the series becomes the ProfessionalWrestling epic with imaginative villains it's best known for.
* The later chapters of ''Kodomo No Jikan'' tone back the overaggressive lolicon antics in favor of much darker storylines deconstructing the ''reasons'' behind Rin's behavior, as well as changing the relationship between Rin and Aoki such that the latter is actually concerned for the former rather than annoyed by the unwanted attention.
* ''Anime/LastExile'' spends the first three episodes with next to no plot development, only going into high gear around episode 4. Some fans push this ahead further to episode 7, when Dio is introduced.
* The anime version of ''Manga/LuckyStar'' suffered from a very poor director in its first four episodes. It was bad enough that the producers actually canned him and had him replaced, after which the series takes a noticeable turn for the better, with the sixth episode being a BeachEpisode. Unfortunately, this is like many other cases in that it's hard to get your friends into it when the first episode spends twenty minutes talking about how to eat a pastry.
* ''{{Macross}} 7'' picks up around episode 17, with the separation of City 7 from the fleet, and picks up once again in episode 27 with the creation of Sound Force.
* The first four episodes of ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha'' are decidedly episodic. Girl gets powers, fights MonsterOfTheWeek, rinse, repeat, and the animation style jumps about quite a bit. Then the plot does a turnaround, removes the MonsterOfTheWeek entirely, and adds the DarkMagicalGirl and the space battle cruiser staffed by [[BlingOfWar military-uniform]] garbed mages.
** The trend is continued in the following seasons, ''[[Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaAs A's]]'' and ''[[Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaStrikerS StrikerS]]'', as the story transforms into a psychologically complex, multi-dimensional saga.
* ''MagicalProjectS'': Although it parodies the magical girl genre, never takes itself seriously and taking into account that this is a subjective trope from episode 19 you can see that besides the ever present jokes, there is an actual change of the status quo thanks to character development. It goes beyond being a parody show and adds psychological complexity to some characters (particularly Misao/Misa) that lead and from this point the characters were taken seriously beyond (but retaining) comic relief.
* The ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'' manga does this around volume three, when it begins to switch from an UnwantedHarem comedy to an action series with the arrival of Evangeline. It really hits its stride at the end of the Kyoto Arc, around volume 6. Unfortunately, the anime adaptation [[GeckoEnding didn't get that far]].
* Fans of ''Anime/{{Mai-HiME}}'' believe that it grew its beard at its eighth episode, with events ([[spoiler:the killing of Harry by Miyu and subsequent "death" of Kazuya]]) that kick off an AncientConspiracy's intervention and cause a breakaway from the hitherto-formulaic plot.
* ''Manga/MedakaBox'' starts off as a SliceOfLife story of the absolutely flawless student president, Medaka Kurokami going on quirky tasks of helping students with their issues, but once [[KnightOfCerebus Unzen]] the head of the Student Disciplinary Corps shows up, the story and [[ArtEvolution art]] drastically improved with its GenreShift to {{Shonen}}.
* ''Manga/MajinTanteiNougamiNeuro'' was a SerialKiller [[MonsterOfTheWeek of the week]] mystery solving case till Sai shows up and the mysteries become much more emotionally investing. It takes another leap with the HAL arc brings forth far more dramatic tension that what it had before.
* ''{{Manga/Monster}}'' really takes its time setting up its characters and situations, so that for its first 20-some episodes it appears to be a warmed-over ''Fugitive'' knockoff with a doctor on the run from the law helping people he meets while trying to find the real perpetrator. Then we get a complete shift in focus to Dr. Reichwein and some other new characters being affected by Johan's plans, with the series taking on a much stronger focus on uncovering Johan's backstory rather than simply chronicling Tenma's travels.
* ''{{Muhyo and Roji}}'' gets quite a bit more interesting than a [[MonsterOftheWeek Ghost Of The Week]] series when Enchu is revealed as a BigBad, but the series truly gets interesting after [[spoiler:Rio]] is revealed as a traitor, when the plot shifts to the war against the evil Ark organization.
* While the first arc of ''{{Manga/Naruto}}'' was well-received, the series started growing with the Chunin Exam Arc. We're introduced to the BigBad of part 1 as well as many [[EnsembleDarkhorse Ensemble Darkhorses]], and characters such as Naruto and Sakura start showing their signs of CharacterDevelopment.
** Regarding the Shippuden anime, after the tragedy of bad animation throughout ''Pain's Invasion arc'', and after the subsequent Filler Hell before and after the ''Kage Summit arc'', the series started picking the hell up. First was [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome Naruto vs. Kyuubi]], an incredible climax to a lifelong battle. Then came [[TearJerker Naruto's birth story]], which had movie-quality animation and a new OST to boot. After that came the Fourth Great Ninja War, complete with new [[ConspicuousCG CG rendering]] in scenes (due to the ''tens of thousands'' of people/Zetsus).
*** Speaking of {{Filler}}s, while once very clumsy in execution, have gradually gained more and more HiddenDepths, CharacterDevelopment and flowing story starting with the 4th Fourth Ninja War, especially with the new "Power" arc which has great movie quality animation and the use of subtle writing, along with CharacterDevelopment and fighting sequences, with each episode bringing a new [[WhamEpisode surprisingly shocking]], but foreshadowed developments that turn the story in a better direction with each episode; especially if you compare it to the {{Filler}} of Part 1 and almost all the filler episodes prior the 4th Great Shinobi War.
* Starting about halfway through the series (roughly around the 14th episode), the legendary anime ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' abruptly swaps over from a light[[note]]-ish[[/note]]-hearted scifi {{shonen}} series about [[HumongousMecha super robots]] fighting [[CosmicHorrorStory towering, nightmarish creatures]], with special focus on its characters' relationships and insecurities, to a noticeably more {{postmodern}}, existential, and [[FreudWasRight psychoanalytical]] work of character drama and art-text-mystery play. The robot-vs-creature fights, fewer and further between, become substantially [[DarkerAndEdgier darker and more traumatic]], increasing emphasis is placed upon disquieting mysteries seemingly surrounding everything, and beloved characters who had been shown to be emotionally fragile and dependant are gradually revealed to be downright psychologically broken, or are emotionally tortured until they break. Eventually, around the last two episodes, the series grows its beard out to truly impressive lengths and [[WorldOfSymbolism abandons all its own narrative precedents]] to become a kaleidoscopic investigation into the psychology of the main character, thereby [[{{TropeCodifier}} codifying]] the GainaxEnding. It ultimately becomes an experimental deconstruction of {{shonen}} anime and escapist fantasy fiction, exploring the symbolic relationships between the HumongousMecha, the characters, [[MonsterOfTheWeek creatures they fight]], the organization that created the mecha, and the audience and creators of the show itself. It was these changes in tone that would provide Evangelion with much of its most rabid and enduringly massive fanbase, and bring it unprecedented levels of cultural respect both generally and, especially, within the humanities crowd, which at the time was extremely rare for a {{shonen}} anime.
* ''Anime/{{Noir}}''. The first few episodes were basically filler. The sixth episode "Lost Kitten" was a truly touching moral dilemma. After that it was crime thrillers and ancient conspiracy and female gunslinging action to the climax.
* ''NurarihyonNoMago'' started off as a fairly average shounen manga, about a quarter-youkai boy who's meant to be the next head of a youkai clan but just wants to [[IJustWantToBeNormal live a normal life]]. But once [[spoiler:he stepped up to accept his role as their leader,]] much of its fandom agrees that the story took a sharp turn upwards.
* ''Manga/NurseAngelRirikaSOS'' centers on a [[PluckyGirl plucky]] young MagicalGirlWarrior who doesn't take her duty very seriously at first. StatusQuoIsGod for the first chunk of the show, but after a while [[spoiler:(around the point when the heroine's {{mentor}} dies)]] this stops being true. Events in the show aren't just fun and games anymore; there are lasting consequences.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'' was always fairly unique as a shonen manga with its blend of action and humor. The first few arcs are decent, but not terribly notable. This changed with the Arlong Arc, combining great action scenes, suspense and character development that captivated the audience and made them really want to see Arlong rightfully ground into the dirt. And it's only gone up from there. This is the source of a common advice for people considering if they want to read it or not is "Read it up to the Arlong Arc. If you don't like it after that, it's not the series for you."
** For that matter, throughout the series the BigBad [[spoiler: Blackbeard]] himself has been growing a beard.
** The OnePiece TimeSkip, starting with the ''Return to Sabaody arc'', is seen as a restart of the Straw Hat's adventuring; being subject to yet another GrowingTheBeard moment as they start their journey through the New World. Many fans agree that the TimeSkip era started to gain epicness during the ''Punk Hazard'' arc due to it's unpredictability and because the primary side-characters are finally getting involved. It helps that it's occurring just after the ''Fishman Island'' arc which many fans agree is perhaps one of the weakest arcs in all of OnePiece. Fishman Island not only consisted of a fodder group (Hody's Pirates) that posed no threat to the Straw Hats what-so-ever, but was subject to a lot of {{Padding}} in the anime in which nothing got accomplished. Just how long were we going to have to watch the Noah fall towards Fishman Island or sit by as the Straw Hats beat the living pulp out of random fishmen {{Mooks}}?
* ''OuranHighSchoolHostClub'' does this in the manga. It starts off as an AffectionateParody and slowly begins to grow the beard as we learn more about the characters and their past. As the story has gone on we've seen considerable character development, particularly with Hikaru and Kaoru. Tamaki also matures a bit (while still remaining the lovable idiot), and [[spoiler: Honey and Mori finally graduate as the series falls out of ComicBookTime]]. Despite the story turning more toward [[CerebusSyndrome drama]], it hasn't sacrificed the humor.
* The first few episodes of ''Anime/PantyAndStockingWithGarterbelt'' were by no means bad, but the show found its true balance between action, comedy, drama, and pop-culture references when Scanty and Kneesocks arrive in episode 6.
* ''{{Pretear}}'' starts out as a rather lighthearted, episodic Magical Girl Show, at least until [[spoiler:Takako]] shows up. Afterwards it [[spoiler: takes a huge turn and shifts into darker territory before the lightheartedness returns at the end.]]
* ''Anime/PrincessTutu'' is a good, but fairly typical MagicalGirl series -- until Kraehe shows up. And if THAT doesn't convince you, wait until after the HappilyEverAfter ending of episode 13. It doesn't stay that way for long.
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'' starts off as a thoughtful, if somewhat ominous MagicalGirl series. Then, come [[WhamEpisode episode 3]], viewers were left screaming [[spoiler:"Did Mami's head just get bitten off by that cakeworm!?"]], at which point it became clear just what sort of [[DarkerAndEdgier ser]][[CosmicHorrorStory ies]] they were dealing with. Word spread out of the mahou shoujo/general anime viewership with intense speed and it is now considered one of the best anime of recent years.
** Matt Kamen wrote, "With its...daring approach to a dated genre, Puella Magi Madoka Magica essentially does for magical girls what Neon Genesis Evangelion did for giant robots." (From the other wiki)
* ''QueensBlade'' probably scares potential viewers off with its {{hentai}}-inspired character designs, {{fan service}} up the wazoo. After a few episodes it begins presenting a rather gripping story and compelling characters, even though a lot of people may still be [[DistractedByTheSexy distracted by the show's huge focus on well-endowed female bodies]]. Specifically, the turnaround seems to come with Reina's first confrontation with [[AloofBigBrother Aloof Big Sister]] Claudette, which helps plumb the depths of her motives and really gets viewers caring about what happens to her.
* ''Manga/RaveMaster'' had been a VillainOfTheWeek plot with Haru and co getting into different situations while helping the civilian of the week. Then Sieg shows up, bringing much more drama and overreaching plot and the introduction of Aetherion, it goes full throttle with the Tower of Din, which sets the epic tone of the story [[ArtEvolution in addition to greatly improved art]].
* The end of the first season of ''Anime/RevolutionaryGirlUtena'' doesn't quite mark the point where the series becomes [[DarkerAndEdgier dark]] ... it's just the point where [[DramaticIrony the viewer realizes how dark it's been]].
* ''RosarioToVampire'' started as a lighthearted, MonsterOfTheWeek, UnwantedHarem comedy with relatively little depth to the characters. Starting somewhere around the Witch Hill arc and introduction of Ruby, the series had already started to develop a more realistic artistic style and more dangerous villains. With Witch Hill, the series took a huge swerve by entirely chucking the whole MonsterOfTheWeek thing in favor of significant character development, the ongoing backstory of Tsukune's ghoul transformation, multi-issue story arcs, blurring the line on how "evil" many of the bad guys are and focusing on some truly depressing subjects. Season 2 is flat-out {{seinen}} with little resemblance to the series start.
* ''RurouniKenshin'''s first season, while mostly good, is more episodic, occasionally silly, and bogged down with filler. The drama and character development ramp way up with the onset of the Kyoto Arc. Which starts with episode 28, so it's actually quite a lot of silliness and [[MonsterOfTheWeek villain of the week]] that you're being asked to sit through before you even get a whiff of the real plot. The drama, character development and plot begin during the first Aoshi/Kanryu arc. It does take a break later before coming back in full in the Kyoto arc though.
* ''[[RODTheTV R.O.D. The TV]]'' starts off very slow and episodic, with only the most superficial of connections to ''Anime/ReadOrDie'' and a strange amount of time spent on Anita going to school. Then the show gets a kick in the rear [[spoiler: when the entire AncientConspiracy of the British Library comes into play beginning with kidnapping Nenene and the destruction of the entire island of Hong Kong, and the main plotline becomes the focus and not the subplot]].
* ''Manga/SailorMoon'' spends its first volume on episodic mystery stories whilst gathering its main characters, mainly in the flavor of a superhero/detective story and then begins to grow its beard with [[spoiler:Sailor Venus' entry into the story, Sailor Moon's revealed status as the Moon Princess, and Mamoru's subsequent capture and FaceHeelTurn. Aside from these three major characters bringing full focus to the story's plot, the manga also does a GenreShift on the whole taking itself completely away from episodic superhero/detective stories and becomes a full-fledged mystery/fantasy story for the rest of its run.]] Rather humorously, Usagi's hair grows rather long [[spoiler:as a result of her awakened identity]] parallel to the story's grown beard.
* ''Manga/SaintSeiya'':
** The main series gets this treatment when the Silver Saints make their appearance.
** ''{{Anime/Saint Seiya Omega}}'' Grew a beard in episode 8, when the bearded Iolias, Golden Saint of Capricorn revealed himself as a Villain and a traitor, he is pretty damn badass for his age beating the snot out of Pegassus Koga.
* ''{{Shuffle}}!'' really got better and more dramatic with the beginning of Nerine and Lycoris' arc.
* ''TenchiInTokyo'''s low point has to be the thirteenth episode, 'Moon Mission'. Starting on the next episode however, the series takes a turn for the better, going exploring the family dynamic as the girls go their separate ways due to Yugi's plans.
* ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'': The end of the first part with [[spoiler:Kamina's death]].
* ''Manga/TheWorldGodOnlyKnows'': The first 113 chapters / two seasons of the anime adaptation are quite light-hearted and fun, mostly comedic with very little lasting character growth. Then in the 114th chapter / beginning of the Goddess Arc of the anime, [[spoiler:Kanon/Apollo is stabbed with a cursed magical blade]] and the story takes a turn for the serious. Keima [[TheGlassesComeOff pushes up his glasses]] in a signature character move and declares that it's time to [[LetsGetDangerous Get Dangerous]]. What follows is the buildup to one of the best [[TearJerker Tear Jerker]] moments of 2013.
* ''TransformersArmada'' started out as a sub-par GottaCatchEmAll series, not improving at all until midway through the show's run when they did a heel-face turn with Starscream (who became a much more shades of grey character as far as honor went) as well as introducing Armada's surrogate Starscream, the villainous, backstabbing Thrust.
** The improvement first began with "Rebellion", when Sidways really starts to manipulate. By Starscream's HeelFaceTurn, the beard is full and bushy. By his SECOND HeelFaceTurn, it's like the show's face is one bristly hedgehog full of beard hair. Then Unicron showed up, also giving us the first Unicron toy ever to reach mass release.
** Also applies to TransformersCybertron. After Armada had finished its run and been replaced by the dismal series known as TransformersEnergon, fans were pleased to see humans who weren't annoying, a plot that made sense while staying strong throughout its run, a decent dub and enough [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome CMOA's]] to make a very decently sized page.
* ''{{Manga/Trigun}}'''s first few episodes can be accurately described as "The Wacky Adventures Of Vash & Friends". That all changed in the twelfth episode, which set up an overarching plot to a previously fillerish show. [[note]]This marks the point where the manga moved from a {{shonen}} to a {{seinen}} magazine.[[/note]]
* ''Manga/TsubasaReservoirChronicle'' changed from a lighthearted series full of {{ShoutOut}}s to past Creator/{{CLAMP}} series into a much darker story once the group arrived in Acid Tokyo and several startling character revelations took place. Main character Fay also physically exemplified this trope by [[ExpositoryHairstyleChange allowing his hair to grow out]] after this story arc. ''IF'' you consider DarkerAndEdgier to be better. Some fans were put off by the unrelenting gloominess of the next three arcs, but the complexity of the plot and characterization certainly mushroomed.
* ''Anime/UmiMonogatari'' starts rather formulaic, with a fair amount of fanservice (especially surrounding [[InnocentFanserviceGirl Marin]]) and a {{monster of the week}} pattern--until the {{mood whiplash}} halfway through, when the story becomes much darker and laden with symbolism about intimacy and separation. The excellent music helps too.
* There are several things about early episodes of ''UruseiYatsura'' that make them less well liked by fans of the series than subsequent ones. The art style is very primitive, the scripts contain primarily simplistic slapstick humor, and the majority of the episodes consisted of [[ThreeShorts two separate stories]] (each occupying half of the episode's running time). After about 20 episodes, the [[ArtEvolution drawing style began to improve noticeably]], the two-part episode structure was dropped, the humor became more subtle and sophisticated, and there were occasionally more serious stories.
* ''Anime/WitchHunterRobin'' was rather blah through its first twelve episodes or so, featuring a rather episodic plot involving the protagonists hunting down random witches in an almost MonsterOfTheWeek format. All that changed during "Loaded Guns", when [[spoiler:Robin's organization betrayed her, using her roommate Toko as bait for a trap that nearly led the titular character to her death, an action which kicked off the main plotline of the series.]] Since ''Anime/WitchHunterRobin'' was a single-season show it's probable that this was deliberate.
* The ''Manga/YuGiOh'' manga originally is a fairly episodic series where Yami Yugi plays various dangerous games against one-shot bad guys to punish them for their evil natures. However, when [[BreakoutVillain former one-shot bad guy Seto Kaiba returned as a]] BigBad and started an AmusementParkOfDoom, it resulted in a story arc in which Yugi's friends finally learn of Yami Yugi's existence. From then on, things became much more story-oriented and dramatic.
** The anime focusing on Duel Monsters, starts off as a MonsterOfTheWeek kind of duel, which lasts till the Battle City. At this point, the story becomes much more arc-reaching and more complex and the animation drastically improves. It helped, of course, that the duels began to become closer to their TCG counterparts in playstyle.
* ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'' goes through this twice: the first notable increase in quality is when Yusuke comes back to life and becomes a Spirit Detective resulting in the series becoming more action-oriented, and the second is later on when the Toguro Bros. and Sakyo first appear, thus giving the series its first major over-arching villains.