He Who Fights Monsters / Anime and Manga

  • Dragon Ball Super: Zamasu of the Future Trunks Saga starts out a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants to protect the universe from the constant cycle of mortals fighting wars and destroying each other, but ends up becoming just as bad, if not even worse than the mortals he sought to protect the universe from. Present Zamasu tries to murder his own master so he can begin his quest to kill all mortals and Future Zamasu is helping Goku Black wreck Future Trunks' world. Goku Black (an alternative version of Present Zamasu) goes as far as to murder Goku's entire family after taking his body and then goes on to kill all the gods in the 12 universes.
  • One Piece: Rob Lucci's belief in "Dark Justice" makes him just as brutal and violent as the pirates he's supposed to be protecting the world from; Sanji and Franky even lampshade it after seeing Lucci brutally execute Nero for failure, outright declaring the so-called "agent of justice" to be more evil than they are.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!:
    • Haruna identifies Kurt Godel as being one of these. He was an undeniable good guy as a kid, only to grow up into a completely manipulative jerkass little better than his enemy.
    • In a flashback, Tsuruko uses the page quote as part of a lecture to a young Setsuna when showing her the Youto Hina.
  • Ken, the pilot of Blade Gainer in Shinkon Gattai Godannar!!, is one of these. His obsession with killing the Mimetic Beast that killed his wife causes him to mercilessly hunt every Mimetic Beast down, without regard to how much property damage or civilian casualties he causes. His last words before his death is for Lou to not become someone like him. Lou continues to fight off every single Mimetic Beast alone, but Ken's words prevent her from going down his brutal way.
  • Scar of Fullmetal Alchemist. His entire family is killed by alchemists and his brother gives up his life (and arm) to save him. Since his people have a quasi-religious reason to hate alchemy, he goes out hunting "In God's Name". Especially ironic since he uses a form of alchemy to destroy his targets: state alchemists.
    • A fact that he noted to himself when he gave the Nina/dog chimera a release. Essentially, his thought process was "Well, I'm already cursed... may as well put it to good use."
    • Comes up again when Colonel Mustang tracks down Envy and burns him nearly to death. It takes Ed, Scar, and Hawkeye to talk him down from dealing the final blow in a fit of vengeance. And then Envy, seeing how strong humanity can be, kills himself anyway.
  • Hellsing treats this trope in a very interesting way. Nothing is left to interpretation when Alucard shows clear disappointment and grief over Father Anderson's decision to turn himself into a literal monster in order to remove Alucard from the world. He fails, but only closely.
  • Afro Samurai. Reread the first paragraph. That describes, in a nutshell, the entire first season of Afro Samurai.
  • In Kaleido Star, Yuri Killian is convinced that his boss Kalos killed his father indirectly in order to achieve fame. During his long revenge scheme, he needs to win a competition in order to stay at Kaleido Stage and prove his stardom to Kalos. In doing so, he is indirectly responsible for the death of another performer, Sophie Oswald.
  • In the Meakashi chapter and by extension the Watanagashi chapter of Higurashi: When They Cry, Shion Sonozaki becomes convinced that her family kidnapped and/or murdered her Love Interest, Satoshi Honjou, and starts on a chain of murders of her own to avenge him, culminating in murdering his little sister when his very last request had been for Shion to protect her. This leads to a Heel Realization and Ignored Epiphany.
  • In Blue Exorcist Mephisto Johan Faust (with the german theme of him) actually does the whole quote and dedicates it to the exorcists fighting in the Kyoto saga. He adresses first to his brother Rin himself who has to resist the pulsion of his blue flames lest he might burn all of his friends but actually most of the protagonists qualify. Especially Yukio whose all character arc epitomizes this trope.
  • The monster hunters of Claymore use demonic power to increase their fighting strength. If they use too much, they transform and become living examples of this trope. Special note: here, it's more like "She who fights monsters".
    • Usually it's by accident, though, when they over-exceed their limit. However, there was one particular time when Clare was willing to give up her humanity in order to kill Priscilla when she encountered her at last.
  • Code Geass's Lelouch is fully aware of and, in fact, embraces this trope. "I choose to commit evil in order to destroy the greater evil!" At the very end of the series, he jumps off the slippery slope on purpose in order to execute a Genghis Gambit on the entire world.
  • Naruto is centered a lot around revenge, mainly on Sasuke's side. He wants to fight his supposedly evil brother and therefore joins the evil side. After finally getting his revenge in an antiheroic sort of way, he goes off the deep end, and begins lashing out at Konoha, starting with abandoning his allies in order to get even with Danzo.
    • Sasuke now seems to have realized that he was manipulated by Obito after he listened to the First Hokage's story about Madara and his dreams for the village. To make matters worse, this is complete with Karin being Ok with the fact he tried to kill her immediately afterwards.
      • Not that it really made a difference. He's instead turns into a psychotic revolutionary who wants to kill the Kages, Naruto and the Tailed Beasts and create a new world order. So Naruto has to fight him one last time. But when Sasuke finally hears from Naruto's own mouth that he still believes Sasuke is worth saving, he steps away from the brink long enough to dare Naruto: if you want to save me, Bring It!
    • Strangely, Konoha itself. From how they treated Naruto in the beginning, it's pretty clear that they aren't the paragons of virtue. As a military government in a feudalistic world, they do pretty shady things to survive and keep peace, including kill the Uchiha Clan after, at least according to Obito, blaming the Fox Invasion on them and outcasting them, prompting them to try a coup. Danzo, most of all, claims to want Peace by any means necessary, but his main goal is promoting Konoha's power across the world, with him on top, naturally. Danzo is also personally responsible for creating many of Konoha's greatest enemies, by ruining people's lives to the point of wanting revenge on Konoha in the name of the village's safety. Itachi goes here as well, as he is willing to kill his family and go down in history as a murderer and psychopath just to keep the village safe AND protect Sasuke. Though this could be seen as a Sadistic Choice given to him by Danzo.
    • Hanzo of the Rain village is also implied to have fallen to this trope; in his youth, he was a Worthy Opponent of Mifune's who spared his life for fighting with honor and dreamed of uniting the ninja world; years later, he's a paranoid dictator whose endless warmongering has turned his country into a god-forsaken hellhole, and who crosses the Moral Event Horizon when he attacks Nagato and Yahiko's peaceful protest group out of fear that they'd try to usurp him. This results in Yahiko and dozens of others dying horribly, Konan being scarred for life into an emotionless Broken Bird, and Nagato being crippled for life, going insane, and becoming the aforementioned Pain.
    • Naruto himself almost fell into this trope; early Post-Time Skip, his fury at the douchebaggery of Orochimaru and Akatsuki causes him to go Biju-mode more and more, each time faster as he continually calls upon the Ninetails. Kabuto even points out that Naruto wants to save Sasuke so much that he's willingly turning himself into a monster to do so. Luckily, Yamato sets Naruto straight and our hero becomes far less willing to transform until he can do so without losing his mind.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, Toguro's disciples were killed by a demon named Kairen, who challenges him to fight in the Dark Tournament. Toguro fights and kills Kairen, and wishes to become a demon himself (his appearance when using his demonic powers is somewhat similar to Kairen). However, this is partly due to his guilt over his failure to protect his disciples, and he wishes for an opponent strong enough to defeat him.
  • In Last Exile, Alex Rowe skates dangerously close to this. Although he never makes the jump into full-out villain territory, his need for revenge against Maestro Delphine and the Guild is all-consuming, and at one point, he orders his ship to open fire on Delphine's at the coronation ceremony of the new Empress, even though if they did shoot her down, the wreckage would have fallen and killed the new Empress (who is also the closest thing to a friend he has) and the combined leadership of both Anatoray and Disith, shattering the tenuous peace that had just now been established between them. Fortunately, his helmsman, Campbell, countermands his orders, advising the gunnery crews that 'the Captain's not himself'.
  • Now and Then, Here and There: Poor Elamba. He was so devoted to killing King Hamdo he became as demented and twisted as he was.
  • In Berserk, Guts is every bit as cruel and sadistic as the Apostles he hunts (towards them at least) at the beginning of the series. He deliberately tortures the Baron and Count in the beginning chapters, and, after fighting with Rosine, doesn't stop trying to kill her even after an innocent girl who was tagging along threw herself in front of him. Currently, the only thing preventing him from completely going off the deep end is his need to protect Casca from the monsters he fights, and, occasionally, from himself.
    • And the worst part of this all? If he wasn't willing to sink to that level of depravity, he would have gotten killed a dozen times over. As bad as he is, everything else is worse.
    • As if that weren't enough, due to his unstable personality, which developed in the face of unreasonable adversity, coupled with the effects of this trope, Guts now struggles with a rather powerful inner demon.
    • Guts' Dragonslayer was originally "just" a huge sword that looked more like a slab of iron. Over the course of the series, the Dragonslayer has slain so many Apostles that it has become demonic as well.
    • And he still comes across as much better than his adversaries, which showcases how bad they are. He is slightly more fettered than them and reluctant at hurting others first.
    • The PV for the anime beginning in July 2016 makes the theme explicit by actually quoting Nietzsche's "He who fights monsters" passage from Beyond Good and Evil, in the original German no less!
  • Ray Lundgren from GUN×SWORD. At least the protagonist Van, while skirting this line, still had standards about not ruining property, taking innocent lives, etc. Ray, on the other hand, will gladly kill anyone, innocents included, if they stand between him and The Claw. He even claims that, as long as he can kill The Claw, he doesn't mind becoming a murderer himself.
  • Howl, from Howl's Moving Castle (the movie, not the book), is becoming a monster in his efforts to combat both sides of the war. It's outright stated that only Sophie breaking his contract with Calcifer will prevent this. Considering her methods, Suliman might qualify, too.
  • Used in One Piece, where one of the Big Bads, Arlong and his crew of fishmen, oppress humans with the Social Darwinist explanation that since they are physically more powerful than humans, they deserve to rule over them. Flip ahead several hundred chapters and it's revealed that they behave this way because they were once horrendously oppressed and enslaved themselves by humans that considered them subhuman and treated them accordingly.
    • Akainu in particular needs to be mentioned. His very first appearance is in a 20 year flashback where he destroys a massive ship of innocent refugees because there might, just might have been one of his targets on board. For God's sake, even Blackbeard has more empathy than this man.
    • Not just him, but the World Government as a whole. Shortly after Gold Roger was executed, they found out that he had a child with an unknown young woman. Their solution? hunt every young mother or soon-to-be-mother they believed to be suspect, and kill them and their children. Pretty damn cruel. Not to mention it didn't even work anyway: the young woman who actually was pregnant with Roger's child held off on giving birth for 20 months, until the hunt had stopped, leading to her Death by Childbirth.
  • This trope is given a bit of a workout in Monster: Johan's antagonizing of Tenma and Nina is, in many ways, because he wants them to chase him and make this trope come into effect. In some ways, he actually succeeded with Nina, who shot him during the events of the first episode; however, he utterly fails to break Tenma.
  • In Shakugan no Shana, all flame Hazes aside from the titular character have some elements of this, and it is stated that most of them became flames because they have a personal hatred of the Crimson Denizens.
    • It's the clearest with Margery Daw when she is first introduced trying to kill a Denizen that she knows is not only restricting his harvesting to protect the balance among Friendly Neighborhood Vampires and humans, but is also under Shana's protection, thus resulting in fighting someone who should be her ally.
  • Char Aznable of Mobile Suit Gundam fits this nicely, up until he acknowledges to his sister that revenge wasn't the best idea later on in the series. However, he turns back to being this in Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Louise Halevy becomes this as she turns into a Dark Action Girl to get revenge for her family's death and the loss of her hand. She does get to kill the girl who caused her disgrace, but by that point, she's so far gone that her ex-boyfriend, Saji, has to dive over the Despair Event Horizon to stop her from hurting herself any more.
      • Speaking of murdering the killer, Setsuna F. Seiei almost crossed this point of no return, too, by trying to kill Ali Al-Saachez, the man who fooled him into murdering his own parents in the name of God. Thank to Marina Ismail's spiritual intervention with Awesome Music by Kenji Kawai, he was saved from becoming a monster like Saachez in time.
      • In fact, Celestial Being as a whole qualifies for this trope in the first season.
    • The same thing happens in Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, heartbreakingly. Flit has been a Messiah who worked to make humans understand each other while defending themselves against the Unknown Enemies — until his love Yurin dies in the hands of the child Saachez clone, Desil Galette, at which point Flit lost all his idealism and became a murderous monster just like the UE. It got worse after Yark Dole reveals that the UE are Human All Along, as Flit refuses to recognize them as fellow humans who are also suffering in the hands of the evil Earth Federation.
  • Death Note:
    • Light Yagami begins using the supernatural notebook to rid society of criminals, but soon his black list expands to include anyone who stands in his way for any reason, starting with the FBI, and he even intends to eliminate other "useless" people who aren't outright heinous criminals through accidents and disease. Along the way, he coolly manipulates the feelings of both people and shinigami. Repeatedly stating that he plans to become the god of the new world he is trying to create doesn't help matters, either. Ryuk even lampshades this, wondering aloud if Light will ultimately be the only bad person left, but he's just in for the spectacle.
    • Teru Mikami uses the notebook to eliminate minor and reformed criminals.
  • Bleach gives us Kaname Tousen, who joins the Big Bad because he wants to seek "justice". Turns out all he really wanted was revenge.
  • In The Tower of Druaga, whoever reaches the top of the tower, defeats the monster Druaga, and gains the Blue Crystal Rod, by the very nature of the tower, is in danger of becoming Druaga's next incarnation. Fortunately, how fast this happens also depends on the person's nature. Fallen Hero Gilgamesh held out for a century before making his Face–Heel Turn, and then, he retained his humanity. Neeba, however, made his Face–Heel Turn BEFORE he got the rod and wasted no time going One-Winged Angel.
  • The El Baile De La Muerte arc of Black Lagoon is an exploration of this trope in regards to Roberta, who sets out on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the people responsible for the kaboom that killed her master, a rampage that has her going Ax-Crazy during the course of it. It turns out that Caxton, the guy who ordered the attack, is not the monster that Roberta believes he is, but someone whose well intentions resulted in innocent people getting hurt because he and his military are locked in the eponymous "dance of death", using violence as their main means to deal with violence. Only Garcia, Fabiola, and a plan by Rock are enough to snap Roberta out of psycho-mode so that she can return home to those she loves.
    • Rock himself, throughout the series, but particularly during Roberta's Blood Trail where he develops a sadistic side due to Revy and Roanapur's environment, manipulating major players in the city and gambling with peoples lives, including Garcia, a mere child. Fabiola even states that Rock is now considered by her to be "the biggest number 1 bastard in Roanapur".
  • In the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, this was the reason for Kaiba's ruthlessness: he and his little brother Mokuba had been abandoned at an orphanage, and subsequently adopted by the very ruthless Gozaburo. In order to survive and take over his business, Seto adopted his adopted father's cutthroat tactics. After he loses the Battle City tournament and orders Mokuba to prematurely begin the detonation of the island, Mokuba gives him a much needed What the Hell, Hero? over how he changed for the worse.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Judai takes revenge on the Dark World monsters for Johan's supposed death, and ultimately embraces the concept of being evil in order to fight evil, and then proceeds to burn entire villages to the ground, while part of him sits trapped in his own mind, muttering It's All My Fault. It is. If he had not rushed into Brron's castle without O'Brien and Jim, everything would've turned out differently. Well, if he also failed to be so supremely focused on "I'll do absolutely anything to get my revenge, no matter who or what I have to sacrifice." anyways.
  • Aporia is like this in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's. After surviving the Bad Future where humanity was wiped out by the Meklord Emperors, he tried to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, but barely cared about how many innocents had to die in the process, becoming as much a machine as the things that had caused him so much grief and using the Meklords himself in his goal.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL: While not obsessed with revenge, Shark was unaware that the Barians he were fighting were his own people and that he is in fact their leader. In the end, he joins them.
  • Even after his semi-Heel–Face Turn, Accelerator in A Certain Magical Index will mercilessly kill anyone who harms innocents, or even worse, try to harm Last Order or any of the Misaka clones. Granted, he calls himself a villain despite saving innocents, since he knows his rather violent methods are not "heroic", especially compared to Touma, the one Accelerator considers fits "the hero" type.
  • In his first appearance in Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, Knuckle Joe was consumed by hatred in his quest to get revenge on the Star Warrior who killed his dad. This led him to do terrible things, such as trying to kill poor Kirby who wouldn't even fight back. Then cue the appearance of Meta Knight, who reveals that he was the one who killed his father and calls him a Demon Beast/monster for the awful acts he committed, as well as his abandoning of reason. This was the perfect opportunity for Nightmare, who later turned Joe into a monster that could fire spikes at the cute pink spud. See? Not all monsters are made by Nightmare himself - it's also possible to become one by abandoning reason rather than listen to it as well as living only by hatred.
  • Very often in the subtext in Ghost in the Shell. Even though he lacks cybernetic enhancements and has no special forces background, Togusa is a very valuable member of the team, as with his former career as a street cop and a wife and daughter at home, he often serves as the voice of reason and urges the others to restrain themselves from using excessive violence and illegal methods.
  • This happens to Sayaka in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, though part of it is due to her despair at slowly losing the boy she's in love with, and being powerless to stop it. As she fights more and more witches, she starts to become blood-lustful, reaching the point where she seems more insane than the witches, even before she turns into one herself.
    • This is the fate of every Puella Magi. If their Soul Gem ever becomes fully corrupted, they are doomed to become witches themselves. The final episode has Madoka find a way to stop this cycle, at the cost of her existence.
    • In the Rebellion Story Homura, who had spent many timelines fighting Kyubey to prevent Madoka's contract, ends up hijacking his plan (and literally becoming a Luciferlike figure) to circumvent the Law of Cycles Madoka created.
  • Muteki Kanban Musume: When Megumi accuses Miki (a prototype of The Bully seen on fiction, incredible strong and dumb) of bullying her, Megumi is truly surprised when Miki retorts that Megumi is the true bully – by using Malicious Slander, sabotaging Miki’s work and setting tramps against Miki – a realistic depiction of The Bully in Real Life.
  • In Fairy Tail, it's been stated that those who use too much dragon slayer magic take the risk of becoming a dragon themselves.
  • Kurapika from Hunter × Hunter seems to be turning into this...
  • Ian deals with this in A Cruel God Reigns. He struggles with being angered at Jeremy's failed attempts to recover from being a Hooker with a Heart of Gold and Functional Addict and falling in love with him, but he worries that if he acts upon either of these, he will become like his Archnemesis Dad who caused all of Jeremy's problems in the first place.
  • Yuu from Holyland fears that his taking the fight to delinquents and gangsters as a Bully Hunter makes him little better. Various characters try to assure him that it doesn't.
  • Discussed extensively within Attack on Titan, both by the narrative itself and the characters. Leaders such as Erwin Smith and Dot Pixis embody the belief that throwing away human compassion is necessary to win against the Titans, ruthlessly sacrificing the lives of their soldiers for even the smallest chance of victory. Armin comes to believe that throwing away one's humanity is the only way to win against monsters, while Jean expresses to him doubt over whether such methods are truly worth it. Mikasa has honed herself into a ruthless fighter for the sake of Eren, even going so far as to threaten the lives of her own comrades. On the other hand, Eren is a far more literal example: becoming a Titan in order to fight against the Titans, but also struggling to embrace the ruthless actions others ask of him. Finally, there are the other Titan Shifters, who play with this trope in an interesting fashion: their own humanity comes back to haunt them, causing them to make critical mistakes. Annie spares Armin, and finds her mercy repaid with being exposed and trapped by the military. Reiner is unable to cope with the guilt of his actions, suppressing his memories and creating a false persona in order to function. Bertolt internalizes considerable remorse and self-loathing, unable to act on his own even to prevent Reiner's Sanity Slippage and when his own emotions boil over, he makes reckless mistakes that allow Eren to be rescued. Finally, Ymir fell In Love with the Mark, and is successfully blackmailed using her feelings for Krista.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, several Ghoul Investigators are shown to have become just as sadistic and cruel as the worst Ghouls. In particular, the revenge-driven Kureo Mado takes pleasure in the suffering he inflicts on Ghouls and is responsible for some of the most vile actions within the series. When he corners the gentle Ryoko Fueguchi, he delights in showing her the weapon he has made from her murdered husband and taunts her before using it to kill her. Later on, he uses one of her arms as bait to lure in her 14-year old daughter — this time he has weapons made from both parents, and taunts the little girl with them extensively.
    • After deciding that hurting others is the only way to protect the people he loves, Ken Kaneki slowly becomes just as brutal as the Ghouls he considers to be monsters. He engages in Monstrous Cannibalism to increase his strength as quickly as possible, and even threatens to torture people for information on multiple occasions. It takes him nearly killing his friends to make him realize how far gone he is.
  • In Cross Ange, Jill, leader of the Norma of Arzenal and Libertus, once cared deeply about her subordinates, but since the failure of the first Libertus, she had become cold, ruthless and manipulative, and only cares about killing Embryo, and will use anyone as pawns, and keep secrets and trust nobody else. Ange immediately grows to distrust her, and when Jill tries likening herself to Ange (both disinherited princesses) after attempting to use her maid and closest friend as collateral to follow her plan to use everyone else as a distraction, Ange angrily rebuts her by calling her as bad as everyone they're fighting. Turns out the first Libertus failed because Embryo raped Jill in both mind and body. Jill comes out of this after being forced into fessing up and having her leadership relinquished.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/HeWhoFightsMonsters/AnimeAndManga