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Villainous Valour / Anime & Manga

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  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Greed's chimeras are unswervingly loyal to him since he not only freed them from prison but is also surprisingly good to them. Two of them end up taking on Wrath knowing full well they won't last a minute just so Greed can escape, a third attempts a sneak attack to kill him (and fails), and the rest are killed taking on the State Military for pretty much the same reason.
    • The soldier taken hostage by Olivier to get the city gates open, who shouts at his men to keep them closed no matter what. Olivier, who'd earlier chastised him for being an armchair general with no thought to what real soldiers go through, is impressed despite herself.
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    • When King Bradley/Wrath's purpose in the Big Bad's plan is finished, and he is left badly wounded and dying, he challenges the heroes and inflicts some major damage before going out, all so that he could meet his death the only way he could respect it.
  • In the early engagements against the Combat Cyborgs in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers, we're presented with a small group of specialists carrying out a daring mission against a whole world full of mages led by a pair of warriors who could mop the floor with them in a straight fight. (The Numbers who can stand up to Fate and Nanoha are introduced later.) Nevertheless, through a series of hair-raising encounters and desperate escapes, they finally win through and make off with the Macguffin's box.
    • Mitigated by the fact that they are backed up by a very literal army of robotic drones armed with state-of-the-art antimagic technology and show no compunctions about being willing to open fire on an unarmed transport carrying, among other things, a helpless child; later revelations about said child's nigh invulnerability notwithstanding.
    • For instance, and before switching to the good side, Fate Testarossa shows an exceptional amount of bravey, particularly when it becomes evident the Time-Space Administration Bureau is going after her and her own mother and boss using the girl almost like an expendable soldier, she still presses on in finding the Jewel Seeds.
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    • This is one of the lesser-observed common threads often found in Nanoha. The Wolkenritter in A's start out stronger on an individual basis than the protagonists, but they're massively outnumbered and, by the middle of the series, outgunned as well. They still carry on their fight, though, until The Reveal.
  • This appears many times in the Gundam series. Given the nature of the universe, it makes sense.
    • Several versions feature enemy aces piloting machines that are no match for the Gundams, but able to hold their own thanks to superior skill.
      • Early on, Zechs Marquise of Gundam Wing managed to disrupt Heero's descent despite him being in a 15-year-old mech while Heero was in what may have been the most powerful Gundam at the time and just curb stomped his two wingmen. Then there are the characters like Walker and Otto, who perform Heroic Sacrifices because they're that loyal to Zechs.
      • And then there's the final battle, where the Earth's forces exclusively use said 15-year-old mech despite the fact that their enemies are state-of-the-art Mecha-Mooks that give even the Gundams a hard time.
      • Char was introduced this way: the Gundam had been shown invulnerable to the Zaku II used by Zeon at that time, then Char arrives in another Zaku and makes clear the only thing SAVING Amuro is said invulnerability of the Gundam. Later lampshaded by Ramba Ral, who, upon having his Gouf destroyed by the Gundam, remarks that Amuro only won because the Gundam was more powerful. Later inverted in the final battle: Char finally has a mobile suit that is superior to the Gundam, but the only reason Char pulls a draw is that Amuro dragged the fight so the rest of the Federation armada would be able to attack Zeon's space fortress without having to deal with Zeon's most capable shipkiller.
      • Another UC example, from the original series: right after Ramba Ral's introduction, the White Base is sighted by a group of Zeon soldiers who, knowing that the Gundam was on board and hoping to be allowed to return home, decided to take on the Gundam in spite of knowing well they were underequipped. They nearly destroy the Gundam after nearly dying placing time bombs on it, and after Amuro narrowly disarms the last they decide to be good sports and, dressed as civilians, come to the White Base to say hi (Bright sees right through it but allows them to leave). Nobody will ever be more successful than them against the Gundam until Amuro use it as a bait to take down Char.
      • Garma Zabi kamikaze-ing his ship into the White Base and Dozle Zabi's One-Man Army attack with the Big Zam on The Federation.
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    • The early parts of Gundam 00 have this in spades, as the pilots of Celestial Being crash around invincibly and the rest of the world scrambles to keep up. You even see Mooks making Heroic Sacrifices.
    • Zeta Gundam has Captain Ben Wooder an Elite Mook and Mauve Shirt who appeared in episodes 17-20. Initially little more than a Smug Snake, Wooder quickly proved to have an intense dedication to carrying out his orders, no matter what he had to do to make them possible. When supremely powerful Cyber-Newtype Four Murasame deserted, leaving the Tsudori without a pilot for the Psyco Gundam, Wooder climbed into the cockpit himself, despite having no experience with it and no Newtype powers. That alone would probably qualify him, but it's his exit in Episode 20 that really cements his status. With Four defeated, and the rest of his ship's mobile suits out of commission, Wooder orders the rest of his crew off the Tsudori and prepares to ram the Audhumla with it. When Four returns and tries to stop him, he shoots her himself. When Kamille tries to stop the Tsudori and steal a rocket booster off of it, Wooder climbs into a gun turret and tries to shoot the Mark II Gundam down himself, despite the danger this presents to the ship. His bravery is such that it inspires a number of his men to stay behind and make the Heroic Sacrifice with him.
      • Given that he's a Badass Normal in a mook suit facing down a telepathic and telekenetic hero in a Super Prototype with whom he Can't Catch Up, Villainous Valor is Jerid Messa's entire shtick. Yazan Gable, who while unsympathetic, earns the respect of the audience and the undying hatred of the main cast for the ingenuity that he brings to his attempts at taking them down. Like Jerid, he's a Badass Normal, yet he still manages to be a Hero Killer in a show full of psychics.
    • Deconstructed in Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Carta Issue along with her bodyguards are honourable soldiers who sought to defeat their foes in a honourable duel, which fell into deaf ears when Mikazuki Augus indiscriminately kills every last one of them when they are outside their mechs as brutal as he can without giving a damn. They had it coming for killing Biscuit.
  • Fights in Hellsing are often shown more from the villains' perspective, and we get to see their horror/resolve while Alucard goes One-Winged Angel and cackles like a madman. You may even feel a whisper of sympathy for the Nazi Vampires as a SR-71 Blackbird crashes down on their heads and a shadowy Eldritch Abomination bursts out of the flames to destroy them.
    • Sure, some bad guys keep their cool and go out like protagonists, but others, such as Lief and Jessica or Luke Valentine can't quite manage it. While Anderson seems to be a triumphal example in Volume 8, he equalizes the power difference by using the Nail.
  • Take a look at the opening scene of the third Inuyasha movie. Setsunano Takemaru, a normal samurai with a simple sword, charges into a flaming castle missing one of his arms to confront a powerful Demon Lord wielding freakin' Sounga. He was unquestionably a wretched punk who deserved everything that was coming to him, but damn.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Cell shows this from time to time, as he's pitted against near impossible odds, yet finds ways to still outsmart his opponents. When he finally reaches perfection and realizes he's no longer the underdog, he gives the heroes more time to prepare as a concession that someone may prove to be a Worthy Opponent. It's later subverted when Cell breaks down and runs out of all his tricks but one to defeat Gohan.
    • At times, this might apply to Majin Buu as well. In terms of raw power, he frequently ends up outclassed, and there's often a back-and-forth between the protagonists and Buu over who is actually stronger. Come to think of it, that's what much of the battles in Dragon Ball Z revolves around. Even matches are rare.
    • Much of Vegeta's popularity and various trips around the Heel–Face Revolving Door are fuelled by the fact that he is genuinely courageous in a fight, and is a true Determinator when it comes to pushing himself harder and further to achieve the standards he sets himself.
    • Deconstructed with Frieza. While Frieza is a true Determinator, refusing to give up and continuing to try to fight Goku even after being dismembered by his own attack, his defeat is ultimately brought about because of his inability to Know When to Fold 'Em.
  • Here's a simple one. In the final episode of Noir, Kirika is attacked in close-quarters by a knife-wielding battle nun. After her first attack is dodged, the nun finds a gun in her face while her knife is poised too far away to stand a chance of killing Kirika first. Does she give up and beg for her life? No. She steels herself, moves to flip the knife downwards again and promptly gets shot in the face.
  • In Naruto when Gaara and Rock Lee fight Kimimaro, the latter displays a respectable sense of honor throughout the fight. In the end he is trapped underground, outmatched, when in a final dramatic effort he is stopped dead inches away from killing Gaara by his own disease.
    • Actually a lot of the bad guys in the Naruto universe show traces of this. Bad guys like Haku, Zabuza, Nagato, etc all fight with a level of determination that earns the respect of the good guys.
    • Kisame is possibly the best example of this trope. Ax-Crazy kidnapper that thinks nothing of cutting limbs off Jinchuriki so they can't get away he may be, but when backed into a corner, rather than let his enemies forcibly read his mind, he bites off his own tongue to end the mind reading, and commits suicide. Say what you will about the cause itself, Kisame was ready to die for it.
    • Obito regains control of his body and mind from a potential world-destroying Eldritch Abomination through The Power of Love. If his status as Big Bad wasn't so cemented through all the horrible things he's done, this could be mistaken for the hero's climax.
  • Seen in episode 4 of Katanagatari with the Maniwa Insect Squad and Nanami. Sort of. It was quite scary.
  • Almost certainly intentional, at the end of the first season of Code Geass, Lelouch finally gets the upper hand over the arrogant, racist Cornelia... in the most douchy way possible, and inspires her and her men to put up a valiant defence against overwhelming odds that ends up making her look like the hero. Cornelia might qualify as this before as her greatest virtue is her valour, but this is the first time she's truly outmatched.
    • One of the reasons Jeremiah Gottwald became so ridiculously popular was that, much like Cornelia, his racism and arrogance was tempered by genuine courage on the battlefield, and his loyalty to those he served. Consequently, his Butt-Monkey Chew Toy status at the start of the series seemed somewhat unfair, and fan demand turned him into something much more.
  • It's possible to overlook the fact that Shirabe is actually the bad guy for her fight in Mahou Sensei Negima! considering A. she has a legitimate reason for her behavior B. was outnumbered six to one C. has good intentions and D. showed some awesome Plucky Girl and Undying Loyalty credentials since she was fighting for the guy whom she owes her life to. The fact that this resulted in Asuna being put back on the ritual altar without any means of getting her back off of it only hits you a moment later.
    • Made even better by the fact that the good guys' victory would have resulted in the magic ritual activating improperly, which would have wiped out almost all life on Magicus Mundus, as it's implied the ritual had gone too far for even the bad guys to stop it.
    • There's also Fate's first fight with Jack Rakan. Going into the fight, Jack is clearly show to be much stronger than Fate, but Fate keeps fighting despite clearly losing, and actually managed to hurt him, which is definitely impressive since outside of flashbacks to the war and Negi absorbing one the energy from one of his attacks, everything thrown at Jack is treated as No-Sell.
  • Viral in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Constantly.
  • Space Battleship Yamato has some, starting from Domel, who, after his master plan to destroy the Yamato backfires at the last moment, try to stop it and the doom it brings for Gamilas by blowing up himself with the ship, to Deslar, who, in spite of being the Big Bad of the first series and The Dragon in the second, is an extremely brave character (and, in spite of inferior technology, much more effective against the Yamato than the generals of the White Comet Empire) who later pulls a Heel–Face Turn. Later the third season gives us one combined with Rooting for the Empire: we are first introduced to the Bolar Federation as one of their fleets try and fails to fight a Galman fleet (shown crewed by Gamilas people, usually the villains), and, later, one of their officers, Ram, is shown as a sympathetic character who dies in battle after apologizing for unwillingly involving Earth in the war between Bolar and Galman. Only later we find out that the Bolar are space Nazis, and then that the Galman soldiers that attacked the Yamato are Well Intentioned Extremists working for the post-Heel–Face Turn Deslar.
  • In One Piece: Hannyabal versus Luffy in the Impel Down Arc. Hannyabal knew he was outmatched by Luffy but never gave up trying to prevent Luffy from escaping Impel Down. The touching "World of Cardboard" Speech he gave during the fight certainly helped too!
    • Before then, during the Enie Lobby arc, when Chopper was fighting Kumadori, Chopper went into his Monster Point and started kicking Kumadori's ass all over the room. Even though he was up against a 30ft tall monster who was No Selling any of Kumadori's previously dominant moves and was terrifying Kumadori on a subconscious level so he lost control of his Prehensile Hair, Kumadori still stood and fought to the end. Kumadori even stated that it was a man's duty to fight against impossible odds. Of course, Kumadori, despite his occupation as a Professional Killer, was always portrayed as Laughably Evil and a ridiculous if honor-obsessed ham, and considering that he's working for the the legitimate (if corrupt) government in a completely legitimate manner (defending a government facility against pirates) it's hard to call Kumadori evil in the first place.
    • Bellamy post Time Skip is considerably friendlier towards Luffy but still fights him when forced to by Doflamingo. Even after Doflamingo stops controlling him, Bellamy keeps fighting him because he wants to be acknowledged by his boss.
    • Katakuri is a terrifying, brutal warrior who absolutely destroys any enemy he’s pitted against and loyally serves Big Mom... but he is also brave, intelligent, respectful to those who earn it, and follows a strict code of honor. He’s also the only Big Mom pirate who isn’t a Smug Snake Jerkass and actually worked to get strong instead of coasting off powers or influence. He fights Luffy with remarkable determination and courage, even wounding himself to make the battle more evenly matched after Luffy is injured by Unwanted Assistance from Katakuri’s siblings. By the end of their battle, he and Luffy have nothing but admiration and respect for one another, with Katakuri gracefully accepting his defeat.
  • Kunzite in the anime version of Sailor Moon. He's shown to be stronger than the main five Sailor Senshi, and is arguably stronger than Queen Beryl (unlike the manga which clearly showed her to be stronger than him), but when Usagi gets the Silver Crystal, she clearly has Kunzite overpowered and he has no chance of beating her, but despite that show an amount of determination rivaling the series' heroes' when things are hopeless for them.
  • Yami Bakura in the Memory World Arc of Yu-Gi-Oh! isn't facing that bad a disadvantage in the RPG they were playing. He only has a handful of characters against Yami Yugi's entire army, all seven Millennium Items, and all three Egyptian Gods. Bakura's only advantages were a handful of one shot gamebreakers and knowledge of what was actually going on, but considering one mistake would have led to a quick defeat and it was well known he was evil at that point, it was still a delicate operation until Zork was finally summoned.
  • Marco of Eyeshield 21. Unlike most villains in the series, Marco is fully aware of his own limitations, and of the fact that the opposing teams pose a serious threat to his own continued health. Yet he continues to risk his neck, operating as both safety and quarterback, because he refueses to make his team do anything he wouldn't do himself.
  • Starscream of Transformers Cybertron initially frequently opts for a "tactical retreat", but later grows to almost embody this trope. Notable moments include taking on the entire good guys' team, growing to giant size and takes on everybody at once soon after in an Awesome Moment of Crowning, growing even bigger (to the size of a planet) to take on a Physical God, and living up to his name in a massive Beam-O-War-turned-Punch Parry against his former boss Galvatron as a Dying Moment of Awesome.
  • Haguro from Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest. Morality aside, he fights off and kills a horrifically transformed Chiba with a katana. His goal is to kill a super-powered werewolf after crying like a baby the first time seeing it.
  • A humorous moment in Digimon Xros Wars occurs after FlameWizardmon absorbs Tagiru's energy, and then proceeds to throw out every hot-blooded shounen quote in the book, because that's the spirit that empowers him now. Doubles as an example of Not So Different.
  • Binolt from Hunter × Hunter, a minor (Anti) villain in the Greed Island arc, has the power to analyze the whole body of his enemies by eating their hair. When he analyzes Biscuit's hair, he knows he will lose, but he still challenges her as a fighter. Biscuit acknowledges this valor and that he isn't just scum.
  • Reiner Braun from Attack on Titan is pretty much made of this trope, being a Tragic Anti-Villain with a strong sense of duty. He's noted for his great determination and courage, as well as always thinking of others before himself. When faced twice with large hordes of Titans, his only thought is for the well-being of his partner and he willingly places himself at a disadvantage to protect them.
  • Pops up from time to time in Kinnikuman. One of the most famous being when Ashuraman and Sunshine acknowledge The Power of Friendship for one another and even forfeit their fight against the Muscle Brothers tag team.
  • Say what you will about Evil Prince Ruu-Kain in Blue Comet SPT Layzner, but he will NOT cheat if he fights you and he will NOT tolerate anyone cheating in front of him. i.e, when one of his men cheats during a fight, Ru-Kain disapproves and has him jailed.
  • In Saint Seiya, almost every single villain, but the cake goes to Deathmask, who fought on even with a broken arm and leg. Justified because their training was so bad they had to be this to survive it.
  • As with Saint Seiya above, Tiger Mask' villains have gone through such a hellish training they had to possess immense strength in body and mind to survive. This is shown best by Red Death Mask, who reacted to his broken knee by grabbing the journalists' bench and using it to catapult the journalists on Tiger Mask (wrestling legend Giant Baba flat-out admitted that, in his place, he would have given up at the broken knee), and Tiger the Great, who not only continued fighting through the worst No-Holds-Barred Beatdown in the series, but as he laid dying he was still trying to rise up and fight.


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