Many of the top anime franchises feature a moment when something horrible happens and all of a sudden one fan-favorite character is in mortal danger. In order to resolve this precarious situation the character’s friends need to set out on a rescue mission post haste.
My Top 10 best anime rescue missions list features some of the greatest rescue missions of all time. Classics like the Sasuke Retrieval Arc from the anime Naruto where Sasuke’s fellow ninjas-in-training attempt to drag Sasuke back to Konoha after he left to study under Orochimaru to gain the strength to challenge his brother, as well as more recent rescues like the Katsuki Bakugo Rescue mission from My Hero Academia where the League of Villains captures the fiery hero-in-training and his friends try to get him back, are included in this list.
But what makes an anime rescue mission the “best”? These rescue missions are fast-paced and exciting. Oftentimes the stakes are high and they have the viewers on the edges of their seats due to the fact they’re invested in the outcome of these missions.
1. One Piece’s Enies Lobby Arc / Nico Robin’s Rescue Mission
In One Piece, Nico Robin has been on the run from the World Government ever since she was a young child due to reasons beyond her control. Every group she’s tried to join ends up being destroyed because of her haunting past.
Robin decides to leave the Straw Hats behind when the World Government is once again hot on her heels, and she’s ready to give up on the idea of having friends and allies. Despite the threat of death, she is mentally prepared to go at it alone once more.
However, Robin obviously underestimated the importance of being called “nakama” (a comrade) by Luffy. The Straw Hats won’t leave Robin to her fate and make it their mission to rescue her and even decide they will make an enemy of the World Government if they have to. This is a particularly emotional arc where Robin realizes she’s not a burden to the Straw Hats, but a key part of the group and their nakama.
2. Bleach’s Ryoka Invasion
At the beginning of Bleach, when Ichigo’s family is attacked by a Hollow Kuchiki Rukia tries to help but ends up gravely injured. Rukia then offers Ichigo a choice – he can borrow her Shinigami (Soul Reaper) powers or let his family be killed by the Hollow. Ichigo agrees to become a Shinigami and manages to defeat the Hollow. In the aftermath of this battle, however, Rukia is left without her Shinigami powers and Ichigo is forced to step up to the plate in order to protect his town from the threat of other Hollows.
What Ichigo was unaware of at the time, was that Ruka had committed a crime that was punishable by death when she gave Ichigo her powers. This crime ultimately leads to her arrest, but she is ready to face the consequences of her actions. Ichigo, on the other hand, isn’t willing to let Rukia, who has become one of his closest friends, get executed. Ichigo, along with his best friends, head to Soul Society in order to save her and begin by trying to break her out of prison.
Ultimately, they’re forced to show up at her execution where they face off against the Shinigami who stand in their way. Ichigo’s rescue mission caused a stir in Soul Society due to the fact it shouldn’t have even been possible. The 13 Court Guard Squads begin to distrust each other and this stirs chaos. Multiple Shinigami are suddenly defeated and then Sousuke Aizen is revealed to be a villain, who wants to become the next Soul King. Aizen’s crimes seem to put things into perspective making Rukia’s own crime seem petty in comparison.
3. Naruto’s Sasuke Recovery Arc
In Naruto, when Sasuke decides he’ll never gain the power he needs in order to confront his brother while in Konoha (The Hidden Leaf Village) he decides to leave in order to train under the villainous Orochimaru. As soon as his teammate Naruto discovers this he immediately wants to convince Sasuke to stay and save him from his new “allies”. However, Naruto cannot embark on this dangerous rescue mission alone because he is only a genin (trainee ninja).
A team is put together led by Shikamaru, who was recently promoted to chuunin, including Naruto, Kiba, Chouji, and Neji. Naruto and his friends must face off against the Sound Four, a group of powerful ninjas under Orochimaru’s command. Later, the Sand Siblings and Rock Lee show up to help by fighting against Kimimaro, one of Orochimaru’s most powerful underlings.
When Naruto finally comes face-to-face with Sasuke he is surprised and taken aback that he is unable to convince his teammate to return back to the village. Naruto is forced to fight Sasuke if he has any hope of taking his friend home. An epic fight between Naruto and Sasuke ensues, which is one of the most memorable fights in anime history. Unfortunately, Sasuke wins the fight against Naruto, and their rescue mission fails.
4. My Hero Academia’s Katsuki Bakugo Rescue Mission
In My Hero Academia, the League of Villains decided to kidnap Bakugo when they believed it might be possible to turn him to their side. As soon as Bakugo’s classmates learn of this, however, they decide they must rescue him. Unfortunately, due to the fact that they don’t have their hero licenses yet a rescue mission would be against the law. Not only that, but the mission is sure to be dangerous due to who they’re up against.
Some of Bakugo’s classmates, including Tsuyu, who was incredibly vocal about being against the rescue mission because breaking the rules made them like villains, decided they weren’t in favor of the mission. However, Deku, Kirishima, Shouto, Tenya, and Momo decided they couldn’t just stand around doing nothing while one of their friends was in danger and decided to set out to rescue Bakugo on their own.
In the end, Deku and his friends end up leaving most of the fighting to the Pro-Heroes, but Kirishima does come in handy when he has to convince Bakugo to go along with their plan. This rescue mission also set up the ultimate showdown of All Might versus All For One, and was the “end” of the number one hero, who’d finally exhausted the last of his power One For All, which had already been passed on to Deku. After these events, Bakugo can’t help but blame himself for All Might’s downfall and feels incredibly guilty that he needed rescuing at all.
5. Attack on Titan’s Survey Corps Rescue Kidnapped Eren
In Attack on Titan, an intense fight results in Eren temporarily losing the ability to transform into a Titan. Bertholdt and Reiner, who have revealed themselves to be the Titans that destroyed Eren’s hometown, kidnap both Eren and Ymir and hold them captive in a forest of extremely tall trees.
The Survey Corps immediately set out to rescue Eren, but Eren doesn’t plan to take his captivity lying down. The ensuing fight is one of the most chaotic and dramatic to take place in the story. The rest of the Survey Corps find out the truth behind Bertholdt and Reiner’s actions and are left stunned by these revelations. Ultimately, Eren’s ability to command other Titans is revealed and the rescue mission is a success.
6. Hunter X Hunter’s Zoldyck Family Arc
In Hunter X Hunter, the Zoldyck Family Arc revolves around the need to retrieve Killua from his family home. Killua was raised in a loveless family of mercenaries, who aren’t just strict but have strange, violent customs. When Gon and his friends arrive at Killua’s home it’s to find that Killua is being tortured by his brother.
In order to even reach Killua, Gon and his friends are forced to face off with several family butlers, who are also skilled fighters. Eventually, the butlers grow willing to cooperate and allow them to communicate directly with Killua and his family.
In the end, it takes a frank conversation between father and son to get Killua out of the house, where Killua boldly tells his father that he wants to continue journeying with Gon and his friends. His father surprisingly allows Killua to do so, and after all that chaos he rejoins Gon and the others so that they can continue to have adventures together.
7. Fairy Tail’s Lucy Heartfilia’s Rescue
When the Kingdom of Fiore captures Lucy Heartfilia, as soon as the Fairy Tail Guild discovers this, their rescue team makes it their mission to save her and bring her back. In order to rescue Lucy the rescue team will have to break into the palace of the King of Fiore. Complicating matters is that the Grand Magic Games is occurring at the same time.
The group manages to rescue Lucy, along with Yukino Agria, but just when they see the light at the end of the tunnel escaping the castle becomes much more difficult than they anticipated. Lucy and her friends trigger a trap that sends them plummeting into the Abyss Palace. There they are forced to face off against the powerful fighters of the Fiore castle. Lucy’s future self even appears in order to warn her friends of a bleak possible future and the dangers that lie ahead. With the possibility of death looming over their heads Lucy and her friends fight with their backs to the wall. In the end, Lucy and her friends manage to make it out alive, however, Lucy’s future self doesn’t, which makes the success of the rescue mission bittersweet.
8. Yu Yu Hakusho’s Rescue of Yukina
In Yu Yu Hakusho, when Yukina is taken hostage by a group of unscrupulous humans, who want to use her powers for their financial gain, it’s up to Yusuke and his friends to rescue her. Yukina is an ice demon that happens to be Hiei’s twin sister and has the unique ability to cry gemstones. Basically, her tears harden into crystallized beads that have the same value as a gemstone.
Although, this rescue mission only lasts four episodes it had viewers on the edges of their seats due to the fact Yukina was being tortured to procure gems. Fans were worried about what nefarious methods the humans may come up with as they forced the girl to cry. The humans hired a wide variety of powerful demons to stand in Yusuke and his friends’ way, and they were forced to fight them.
The final enemy is human, however. This makes things complicated for Hiei due to the fact ending demon lives is fine, but killing a human is considered illegal. Luckily, they’re able to subdue the human and not kill him. After Yukina is rescued and meets her hero Kuwabara immediately falls in love with her at first sight.
9. Gintama’s Farewell, Shinsengumi Arc
Gintama is most known for being a comedy, but it definitely has its serious moments, which end up seeming that much more intense. The Farewell, Shinsengumi Arc is a perfect example of one of those rare serious moments in Gintama. After Nobu Nobu becomes the new shogun, he becomes worried about the power the Shinsengumi possesses. Nobu Nobu decides to arrest the Shinsengumi’s leaders, Matsudaira and Kondou, and sentences them to death.
Predictably, as soon as the members of the Shinsengumi learn of this they are unable to accept Kondou’s fate. The Shinsengumi decide to enlist the help of the Yorozuya (Gintoki, Shinpachi and Kagura), and even get the help of Katsura’s terrorist faction to rescue Matsudaira and Kondou.
This rescue mission is known for being one of the story’s best arcs and features intense battles, heart-breaking deaths, and shocking plot twists that show how many layers Gintama has.
10. Sword Art Online’s Fairy Dance Arc
Although Kirito manages to escape the world of Sword Art Online, his girlfriend Asuna isn’t so lucky. Asuna’s body remains comatose and her spirit is trapped in a virtual world. Nobuyuki Sugou, a slimy coworker of Asuna’s father, is secretly holding Asuna hostage in-game in order to break her down psychologically and force her to agree to marry him in real life. There’s also the added threat that he can do pervy things to her while she’s asleep.
As soon as Kirito discovers this he makes it his mission to rescue her, but in order to do so must master a completely new virtual reality game called Alfheim Online. Kirito learns that Asuna is being kept in an isolated location that is impossible to fly to. Kirito doesn’t give up and eventually manages to get there. Once there he has to fight against Sugou’s in-game avatar Oberon.
Oberon seems invincible at first, but Kirito is able to defeat him using some last-minute god-modding, and he manages to rescue Asuna. But the conflict doesn’t end there. In the real world, Kirito is forced to fight real-world Sugou in the parking lot of the hospital, but luckily he’s easily defeated there too.
Which anime rescue mission is your favorite? Let us know in the comment section below!