A rescue arc is practically a mandated trope in anime. A friend, family member, or lover is taken, and it’s the hero’s job to save them. This trope is a great way to add stakes to any series and also introduce a band of villains for the heroes to fight.
Some anime will subvert what’s typically expected during a normal rescue arc, but for the most part, the rescue is played straight, which is what fans love about them. With all the rescue arcs out there, it’s normal for fans to have a favorite. That also means it’s easy to tell when a rescue arc isn’t as good as the others because there are so many to compare it to.
This article contains mention of suicide.
10 The Arrancar Arc (Bleach)
The Arrancar Arc is the best of the worst rescue ars. The fights are fantastic, and fans have grown to love most of the Arrancar. However, this arc has a lot of flaws. Bleach already has a rescue arc, so this arc feels repetitive.
Plus, there doesn’t seem to be a reason for Aizen to want Orihime, which makes her kidnapping pointless. Although Arrancars like Ulquiorra and Grimmjow are some of the best villains in Bleach, fans were disappointed when it was revealed that Yammy was the strongest Arrancar. This rescue arc has great moments, but it doesn’t compare to the Soul Society Arc.
9 Rescue Yukina Arc (Yu Yu Hakusho)
Yu Yu Hakusho is a beloved series with one of the best tournament arcs in anime. However, Yukina’s rescue doesn’t compare to other rescue arcs. Besides the Toguro brothers, none of the villains are very memorable.
Yukina is a great character, and fans love that she’s Hiei’s secret sister, but it’s clear Yukina’s rescue arc is a setup for the Dark Tournament. A good rescue arc should be able to stand out on its own, but Yukina’s rescue arc needed the Dark Tournament to be a complete story.
8 Rescue Kaoru Arc (Rurouni Kenshin)
Rurouni Kenshin may be a popular series from the early 2000s, but most fans probably forgot it has several rescue arcs. The most memorable of the two is Megumi’s rescue, but even Kaoru had to be saved when she was captured by the killer Jin-e.
This rescue arc is pretty short and uneventful. Kenshin’s fight with Jin-e only lasts a few episodes, and he doesn’t even defeat him in the end; Jin-e takes his own life. Jin-e is a clear starter villain, so he’s forgettable compared to other villains like Shishio. If this arc were removed from Rurouni Kenshin entirely, it wouldn’t be missed.
7 Sasuke Retrieval Arc (Naruto)
Most anime fans believe Sasuke’s Retrieval Arc from Naruto is one of the best rescue arcs. However, just like Bleach, this rescue arc has a lot of problems. The fights are slow, and the characters spend most of the arc chasing the sound ninjas rather than fighting.
The story picks up when the sand siblings appear, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that the villains are pretty forgettable. The end fight between Naruto and Sasuke is the only reason why this arc is so highly praised. The fight definitely deserves that praise, but if only the last few episodes of the arc are actually good, then it’s not a good rescue arc.
6 Haru Rescue Arc (Beastars)
Beastars isn’t a typical shonen anime, but even this series isn’t immune from the rescue arc trope. Haru is captured by a gang of lions, and Legosi charges in to rescue her. The arc is pretty straightforward, but what makes it one of the worst rescue arcs is the ending.
When Legosi finally confronts Riz after rescuing Haru, he eats Louis’ leg to gain strength. The fact that Legosi relies on meat, in the end, makes all his training pointless. Legosi could have proven he was strong without meat by rescuing Haru and defeating Riz, but that didn’t happen.
5 Fairy Dance Arc (Sword Art Online)
Isekai anime existed before Sword Art Online, but this series greatly revitalized the genre. Most fans agree that the series’ first arc is entertaining and unique, but the story takes a nosedive during the second half, especially during the Fairy Dance Arc.
Even though Asuna is being held captive, there isn’t any tension. The villain Oberon isn’t interesting, and his perverted actions go a step too far for fans. Most rescue arcs function the same way; however, the best rescue arcs bring something new. Sword Art Online fails to do that, which is why fans prefer the first arc over the second one.
4 Kingdom Invasion Arc (Saving 80,000 Gold In Another World For My Retirement)
Saving 80,000 Gold In Another World For My Retirement is a new addition to the isekai genre, and even this short series manages to have a rescue arc. Unlike most rescue arcs, Mitsuha is tasked with saving an entire Kingdom from an army of goblins and a giant dragon.
Even though the stakes for this rescue arc are higher than most, it isn’t interesting. The dragon is the only villain with any personality, but it’s shallow and uninteresting. The kingdom’s residents are just as boring, leaving most fans to wonder why they should care about Mitsuha’s fight with the dragon’s army.
3 Tokyo Revengers Series (Tokyo Revengers)
Tokyo Revengers is unique because it doesn’t just have a rescue arc but a rescue series. Takemichi’s reason for traveling back in time is to save his middle school girlfriend’s life. Unfortunately, Tokyo Revengers fails to properly execute its story.
Takemichi’s goal is to save Hinata, but he makes the worst decisions at every turn, which is incredibly frustrating for most fans. He also tends to forget the main reason he’s gone back in time, which is ridiculous, considering he claims to love his former girlfriend. It’s hard for fans to enjoy a rescue story when the protagonist isn’t interesting.
2 Phantom Lord Arc (Fairy Tail)
The biggest criticism anime fans have toward Fairy Tail is its tendency to overuse the power of friendship. This is especially clear when Lucy is taken by the members of the Phantom Lord guild, and her friends from Fairy Tail have to rescue her.
The love and loyalty Fairy Tail shows Lucy is heartwarming but comes across as corny. The characters make grand declarations that they would die before giving her up, which feels performative. Bonds between friends can be a powerful element for any good rescue arc, but Fairy Tail overdoes it.
1 Rescue Claude Arc (I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss)
I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss attempts to do a rescue arc but fails at it. After getting attacked, Claude forgets who Aileen is, and his family does everything to end their engagement.
The plot feels like an excuse to create drama, especially since the reason for Claude’s memory loss doesn’t make any sense. He’s stabbed in the abdomen, which shouldn’t affect his memory or his demon powers. It only takes one of his friends being attacked for him to regain his memory, which is anti-climatic. Compared to the best rescue arcs, this one lacks substance.
NEXT: 20 Shonen Anime With Surprisingly Sad Endings