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Took A Level In Kindness / Anime & Manga

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  • Meruem of Hunter × Hunter. He starts as a genocidal monster, who murdered his own mother right out of the womb by tearing his way out of her. He viewed humanity as something to crush, destroy and consume for his own amusement. As he plays Gungi with Komugi, he undergoes giant changes in his world view, admittingly still being a Social Darwinist near the end, but believed certain humans are worth saving and truly wanted to make a perfect world where those special people could live happily. He dies peacefully with the woman he loves, realizing in the end he was born entirely to be with Komugi in his final moments, nothing else.
  • Naruto:
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    • Sakura Haruno goes from a Jerkass Tsundere who beats up Naruto and swoons over Sasuke, to a more vulnerable but rather more kind-hearted Combat Medic. She'll still dish out the punishment on Naruto every now and then, though.
    • Kakashi goes from an arrogant, selfish brat who is angry with the world to the much kinder and humble person he is today because of what Obito taught him.
    • After his defeat by Naruto, Neji goes from an Jerkass Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy who harshly beat his cousin Hinata to a generally nice guy who shows concern when she is injured and supports her crush on Naruto.
    • There's also Neji's uncle, Hiashi Hyuuga. He started off treating Hinata as The Un Favourite, due to the family believing her to be a failure because of her kind and gentle personality, in comparison to her more aggressive younger sister. By Part II, he and Hinata are on better terms, to the point where he allows her to participate in the Fourth Shinobi War and then help him and Neji protect Naruto against Obito and Madara.
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    • Kankuro also qualifies, starting off as an arrogant, Hot-Blooded Jerkass and becoming noticeably kinder in Shippuuden, partly due to his improving relationship with Gaara.
    • Many people overlook it, but Sasuke did this for a short period. Team 7 managed to bring him out of his shell to the point that he was willing to die to defend them. Then Itachi scrambled his brains and he ended up power-levelling in Jerkass.
      • In the second half of the Shinobi World War, he gets this after having decided to go from avenger of the Uchiha Clan to protector of the Hidden Leaf Village (well, or so it seems at first).
    • Gaara himself is also one, thanks to his defeat from Naruto; as he goes from a cold-blooded, murderous sociopathic serial killer to a kind, gentle, shy and charismatic Kazekage.
    • While he already was Naruto's ally, Kurama takes a big level after Neji's death by going out of his way to remind a distressed Naruto of the sacrifices others made for him also because of what he means to them, even those that were caused by Kurama himself. It wasn't too long ago that a similar incident was used to the Kyuubi's advantage to persuade Naruto to release the seal...
  • Dragon Ball has a ton of these:
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    • Bulma in the early series goes from just using Goku to get all the Dragon Balls to actually caring about him and seeing him as a dear friend. By the King Piccolo Saga, she's truly concerned about the state of the world and not just herself.
    • Chi-Chi was an overbearing mother and a hard person to be around for most of Dragon Ball Z. During the Buu Saga however, she does not get upset as much and she's less harsh on Goten than she was on Gohan, allowing him to play and not study all the time. She even trained Goten in martial arts and allowed Gohan to skip school so he could get ready to enter the World Martial Arts Tournament. Part of this was because she took Goku's death very hard, and decided to ease up on them in honor of him.
    • Also in the original Dragon Ball series, Piccolo was a raving, sadistic psychopath and a literal Demon prince. Years later in Z, he became one of the most levelheaded characters, all thanks to the kindness of a single child! Granted, this is probably because he only turned after he fulfilled his revenge against Goku.
    • Z introduces the alien tyrant Vegeta, the last remaining pure-blood Saiyan who retains their nature and pride. Once he finally turns against the one responsible for their genocide, he relocates to earth (with little choice) and grows soft in the presence of the other Z Fighters...and, after a decade or so, his wife and son. But even though his Heel–Face Turn is made official near the end of the series (because it took that long), he doesn't make it past Jerk with a Heart of Gold. He comes about as close as is possible, but he never sheds his Saiyan nature.
      • It's to the point where in Dragon Ball Super, some fans consider him a bigger good than series protagonist Goku who doesn't always recognize the consequences of looking for stronger opponents to challenge.
    • Videl, at least towards Gohan who she stalked and bullied before falling in love with him.
    • Perhaps the most ridiculous example is Majin Buu. He was fully prepared to just destroy the Earth and kill everyone on it... but then Hercule told him that killing is wrong. And that was all it took! Apparently, between his two previous masters telling him nothing but "kill" and "destroy", he just hadn't considered that it was immoral.
    • Hercule himself also became more humble around the Z Warriors after taking in Buu, to the point where the first episode of Dragon Ball Super has him receiving a 100 million Zeni reward for saving the world...and he gives the whole thing to Gokunote .
    • During the Buu Saga, Android #18 was often shown to be very mercenary and money-grubbing, bossy and short-tempered to her husband Krillin and didn't seem to be much of a mother towards Marron, either. Her character softened a good deal in The New '10s, with Dragon Ball Super in particular having several episodes that reaffirm her love for her family and have her show real empathy for others.
    • It happened before the beginning of the original Dragon Ball, but Goku was once a terrible toddler who terrorized Grandpa despite the latter's best efforts to raise him. It is not completely clear thanks to new information if it was the head-injury alone, Gohan's kindness, or a little bit of both that caused Goku to become the good-hearted boy we know and love.
    • According to Minus, Goku and Raditz's father Bardock became quite the Family Man after marrying Gine (Goku and Raditz's mother). Put things into perspective, apparently, the typical Saiyan starts a family solely to reproduce.
    • In Super, once his saga is finished, Beerus starts mellowing out and becomes more friendly towards Goku and Vegeta-the whole crew, in fact. He likes them so much that he sees no problem letting them train on his planet. He does find them unbearably noisy, however, so he has Whis warp them somewhere that will make them stronger without bothering him. He seems to tolerate them because he wants them to become stronger so he can fight them again. He also sets up Monaka as the greatest fighter in Universe 7 to encourages Goku and Vegeta to become stronger, while in reality Monaka is much weaker than them.
      • When the pair of Saiyans eat his stash of pizzas, he throws a comical fit and doesn't really make them suffer the way he would've done earlier on.
      • His kinder side comes out much more during the Tournament of Power; as Universe 7 starts losing more fighters, Beerus begins complimenting his defeated team and cheering on those that remain. He does berate the "baldies" (Krillin, Roshi and Tien) for being eliminated, but then adds they still did well all the same. By the time Gohan is sitting in the stands with him, he begins to compliment him starting with the words "Goku's kid"- before stopping short and correcting himself by using his name instead, and telling him he did well with a genuine, respectful smile.
    • Beerus' brother, Champa. Although still a bit of a Jerkass, he's softened up by the time the Tournament of Power rolls around, being more accepting of his fighters getting eliminated despite the much higher stakes involved. He's still freaking out about it, but he doesn't lash out against them.
    • Frost, maybe. When Hit comes to recruit him for the Tournament of Power, Frost displays some un-Frieza-ish traits such as accepting imminent death and acknowledging he could never beat Hit. He also says he sees the tournament as a chance to restore his honor. Whether he's honest or just trying to rebuild his image is left ambiguous.
    • Jiren from Dragon Ball Super. Like so many before him, meeting Goku and seeing him and his teammates' faith in each other changes him for the better. After Frieza, 17, and Goku beautifully and flawlessly work together to defeat him, Jiren realizes he was wrong about trust and people and is even surprised at Toppo’s last words of thanks. After being revived by 17’s wish, he converses with Toppo about wanting to meet and battle Goku again and admits to his inability to trust people. Toppo rejects this, pointing out how Jiren fought for everyone in the end and now they’re true comrades who together will face down Universe 7 again and win. Jiren calmly but happily agrees to this sentiment, vowing to stop living in the past and start forming friendships in the present. It’s not massive, but it seems Jiren is truly changing for better and finally allowing himself to believe in others and open up to his comrades and see them as friends.
  • Hachimaki from Planetes is a hot-headed and less-than-ideal mentor for the overly enthusiastic Ai Tanabe. But Tanabe's virtuousness and upbeat attitude eventually rubs off her colleagues, even with Hachimaki. Their mutual respect as co-workers gradually forms into a romantic relationship, and getting married just before the end of the series.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba:
    • Inosuke's first appearance turns into a far cry of how he behaves later in the series, in the beginning Inosuke was an extremely fight hungry guy, who didn’t seem to care for actually protecting people against demons, he was more about the thrill of the fight, be a demon or even a fellow demon slayer; not long after however Inosuke faces a few battles where he feels threatened by stronger foes for the first time in his life, he feels completely useless for one quick moment after the battle but his friends, Tanjiro and Zenitsu, manage to cheer him just as fast, from there on Inosuke begins to act quite reliably in that he starts to listen for battle plans and to save people in the crossfire against demons, yet stll remaining quite battle crazed guy but a more reliable one.
    • Genya at first seemed even more rough than Inosuke, while the latter was just more of a socially impaired guy due living alone in the mountains for his entire life till he joined the Demon Slayer Corps, the former was just an angry asshole in the beginning, however even Genya mellows a bit after his past and the reason why he acted like such a thug is revealed, the ever loving protagonist, Tanjiro, manages to finaly befriend him.
  • Digimon:
    • Ken from Digimon Adventure 02 after his Heel–Face Turn. Particularly appropriate in that Kindness was always intended to be his Crest from the beginning.
    • Also Rika from Digimon Tamers gradually becomes less cold-hearted and friendlier towards Takato, Henry, and the other Tamers.
      • But only in the dub. That is, Chiaki J. Konaka apparently went out of his way to avoid depicting Rika/Ruki as 'cold' because 'coldness' is often attached to female characters to convey strength. She's mature and stoic, but she's not cold.
    • Rika's partner, Renamon, qualifies as well. Originally ruthless, she goes to a general Mama Bear, mostly from her relationship with Rika improving.
    • Yamaki is also one from the said series. From a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants to wipe out Digimon to supporter of the Tamers in battling evil Digimon.
    • While not a complete jerkass but a lone wolf, Kouji from Digimon Frontier joins the group after his Big Brother Instinct awakens when Tomoki gives him cotton candy.
  • Syaoran Li of Cardcaptor Sakura evolves from an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy with Tsundere qualities to meek and soft natured Dogged Nice Guy for Sakura. Meiling of the anime adaption goes through a similar evolution. Both cases are largely due to Sakura's own increasingly empathic and innocent aspects (though granted, she was already rather sweet natured by the start of the series' run).
  • In Haibane Renmei, this is an important part of Reki's character development. Realizing that she has done this is what allows her to escape the Epiphanic Prison.
  • Kyouko from Puella Magi Madoka Magica starts as an Ax-Crazy Jerkass. But after learning the Awful Truth about what ultimately happens to magical girls, she starts showing her Hidden Heart of Gold, more specifically towards Sayaka Miki.
  • Berserk:
    • Guts, upon finding Casca again and gaining new True Companions, has begun abandoning his cold, ruthless and vengeful Black Swordsman persona in favor of something resembling his original nature for the first time since the Eclipse. Mind you, he still has a rather nasty Enemy Within to deal with due to the vendetta that he was on for two years.
    • Even better would be Farnese, who was once a cold, Knight Templar, Pyro Maniac who wanted nothing more than to burn people at the stake for her own satisfaction and to see Guts dead. But after the events at the Tower of Conviction, and wanting to atone for her past actions by following Guts, she has grown considerably kinder and is even shown to being sort of naive and manipulable.
  • Pokémon:
    • Gary becomes much nicer to Ash around the Johto arc after his Break the Haughty phase in the Kanto arc. By the end of the Johto arc, he and Ash finally become friends again after so many years of being rivals (which sticks when they meet again in Sinnoh).
    • Georgia, Iris's rival from the Unova arc, has been slowly improving, and has been consistently taking levels from Jerkass to Jerk with a Heart of Gold as the arc continues. (Her rivalry with Iris has also eased a little bit, with their bickering starting to sound more good-natured than either of them would probably admit.) When she shows back up for the Pokemon World Tournament Junior Cup she's improved even more, only being bitter about her loss to Iris because Iris's Dragonite beat her when it wasn't listening to commands, so technically Georgia and Iris weren't even the ones fighting.
    • Bianca practically drives herself (and everyone else) crazy trying to get at Luke's Zorua during the Club Battle arc. Fortunately for all parties involved, she finally ends up getting to spend some time alone with Zorua and undergoes some Character Development a few episodes later that turns her into a more selfless, charitable person.
    • According to "Training Daze" Jessie and James were considerably more somber than they are in the current time.
  • This is the driving force behind the plot of Onani Master Kurosawa: A cynical jerk who sequesters himself from the rest of the world softens over time, beginning with his falling in love for the first time and ultimately culminating in him becoming The Atoner after he realizes that he's badly hurt one of his few friends.
  • One Piece:
    • Nami. Gradually as the series has gone on, but especially after the timeskip. From forgiving Hachi, to immediately hugging Usopp and Chopper when they reunite, to even immediately forgiving Jinbei for letting Arlong loose on East Blue, she's come a pretty long way from the jerkass facade she started out with.
      • Not to mention, she almost never hits her crewmates anymore, starting after the timeskip. Though this maybe because of her crewmates beating her to the punch.
    • As seen in his flashback, Jimbei was previously quite brutal when fighting against humans and couldn't care less about humans in general. His interactions with his captain Fisher Tiger and the human girl Koala and being inspired by Queen Otohime helped to change his outlook and become a more kinder person. This was very notable in that he is so far the only Shichibukai whose past changed him for the better.
    • Capone Bege was pretty dickish before the timeskip, considering murder over bad table manners and even gouging someone's eye with a fork for suggesting he shouldn't. Later, we learn he used to decapitate animals just to watch their bodies flail mindlessly, and then moved on to try the same thing on entire organizations, always going for the Boss so everything else would fall apart before his eyes. After the timeskip, it'd seem marrying and having a son has softened him up considerably: While he's still quite ruthless and ambitious, with no real problem executing people who get in the way, he's a lot more reasonable and forgiving, and frequently shows his fatherly side in public (even if part of it is teaching his son lessons about how a Don lives, like bringing him to watch one of the aforementioned executions). Even his most ambitious assassination plan was made partly to keep his wife safe (and to avenge several attacks done against her).
    • St. Mjosgard was your typical Celestial Dragon. He was a living Hate Sink who cruelly abused his servants and slaves, acted like an Ungrateful Bastard to Queen Otohime and her people, (when his own life depended on when he was nearly killed in a shipwreck). When he returns years later, he is virtually unrecognizable in his behavior. He now genuinely protects and sponsors the same fishmen and merfolk that he initially persecuted, praises Otohime for showing him kindness when he didn't deserve it, and it's even remarked that he's currently the only Celestial Dragon that refuses to own a single slave.
  • InuYasha: Inuyasha, Sesshoumaru, Kouga, and Kagura all experience this at varying speeds and to varying degrees.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • After Laxus Dreyar's failed attempt to take over the title guild, he Walks The Earth and Tames His Anger. He returns without his trademark Social Darwinist attitude, but he hasn't completely lost his edge.
    • This is also a huge part of Mirajane's backstory. She was an Enfant Terrible in her younger days, but the shock of losing her little sister caused a massive shift in her personality, and she evolved into the guild's beloved Team Mom.
  • Ayaka from Stellvia of the Universe qualifies as she goes from a Go-Getter Girl who's prone to giving people who are better than her accidents to a kind girl who not only has a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship with Yayoi, but also acts as an adviser of some sort to Kouta when it comes to being with Shima.
  • Tomoe from Kamisama Kiss starts out as a 100% pure Jerkass but it doesn't take long before we start to see hints of a hidden heart of gold.
  • Garai in MW goes from teenage delinquent to atoner priest after having witnessed many people killed at Mafune Island.
  • Yui in Fushigi Yuugi goes from Psycho Lesbian to Rival Turned Evil in the series, but at the end redeems herself and spends the OVAs as The Atoner.
  • Ojamajo Doremi:
  • Satsuki in Kill la Kill becomes friendlier with the people around her when she starts seeing them as friends and not just as soldiers.
  • Purple-themed Pretty Cure Yuri, Makoto and Iona greatly mellow out after they get over their hang ups.
  • Perrine H. Clostermann of Strike Witches starts out as a Clingy Jealous Girl madly in love with Mio and openly resenting Yoshika because of how friendly the two are with each other to not only a really kind person who grows to view Yoshika as a friend and a comrade but also a really generous person more than willing to give all her funds to rebuilding her homeland of Gallia.
  • Initial D fans know Shingo as an asshole driver who deliberately bumps into his opponents' cars to provoke them and tried to run Takumi off the mountain pass in a last-ditch move. After said last-ditch move fails and leads to Shingo getting into an accident instead, he becomes a lot more polite when Iketani and Itsuki see him again, and in Initial D Extra Stage he's very buddy-buddy with his fellow drivers.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist gives us Edward Elric, who starts his series a bit of a jerk. Not greedy or cruel, but rather selfish and myopic about his goal of curing himself and his brother, due to the crushing guilt he feels over making them the way they were. However, repeated exposure to the plight of others and the atrocities committed by the villains gradually make him more open and kind, so much that he's practically unrecognizable by the end of the series. This Character Development also makes him a Foil to the Big Bad of the series, who is essentially myopic selfishness personified.
  • This is one of the major Character Development arcs in Yu-Gi-Oh!, where Yugi's Superpowered Evil Side starts out as a borderline psychopath who uses terrifying shadow illusions to Mind Rape anyone who hurts Yugi, and gradually mellows into a mysterious and brooding but far more heroic and honorable protector of Yugi and his friends.
  • Ilulu from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid becomes significantly nicer following her Heel–Face Turn (though it was technically regaining lost levels rather than taking new ones). She goes from being an Ax-Crazy Evil Redhead who tried to blow up the city, to a Rose-Haired Sweetie Friend to All Children who spent an entire chapter trying to find the owner of a lost doll.
  • In Destruction Flag Otome the plot starts off with what should have been an otome game villain hitting her head and realizing she's the reincarnation of a normal schoolgirl, after which she turns really sweet overnight, if perhaps a little dim. This sets off something of a chain reaction that makes all the people around her a lot nicer and more well adjusted as well. Her brother would have become a playboy, for example, but thanks to his sister being friendlier he becomes a perfect gentleman instead.
  • Bakuman。: Aoki Ko started as a ice queen, she was rather cold and distant to the other rivals, and refused to make any adjustement in her manga to make it more appealing to Shonen Jump/Jack audience because she was Doing It for the Art. As time pass, she progressively start to be nicer and more open with the others character until she become good friend with them, and learn to question her own work and listen to the advices of her editor or her fellow mangakas.
  • In My Hero Academia, Katsuki Bakugou is slowly getting better at this, as it has to do with his Character Development. He is quite caring towards Kirishima. Kirishima is the only classmate Bakugo is willing to be rescued by without hurting his pride, and Bakugo has been shown multiple times giving Kirishima good advice without insulting him. After Bakugo and Midoriya's rematch, he seems to be taking steps towards this again, even offering a genuine critique of Midoriya's Shoot Style:
    All Might: Unlike before, the two of them have become proper rivals.

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