Watch out, Villains! Behold the Power of Friendship in Manga and Anime

The power of friendship; overused cliche or a true classic? Manga and Anime are notorious for using this friendship trope, but is it really effective in the storyline? Read on to find out my take.

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There is no greater power than the power of friendship or at least that’s what anime and manga teach us. Most of us have strong friendships present in our lives, but manga takes this concept to a whole new level. If you’re a fan of anime or manga you can likely name at least one powered-up friendship duo or group. Their friendship is often responsible for saving the day and sending the villain to their doom. It may seem cheesy, but we just can’t help going back for more! We have to ask why is this trope so popular and is it really effective. Read on to find out my take on this heartwarming trope.

What is the power of friendship?

This particular trope can be found in a lot of action anime or manga, because of its tendency to appear during epic battles or emotional showdowns. The trope enables characters to go through unimaginable transformations fueled by the strength of their bonds. What seems like playful camaraderie between characters turns into a driving force capable of defeating even the most powerful of foes. We witness our favorite characters reach new heights physically and mentally as they channel the power of friendship.

How is the Power of Friendship used?

The power of friendship isn’t a one-track attack sequence, it has a few different ways it manifests in stories. Sometimes the power of friendship is depicted through transformation, other times it is a state of mind that enables victory. Here are 4 ways that the power of friendship is displayed in manga.

“This is for ____”

DBZ_Man with glowing yellow hair faces alien image in manga / anime Dragon Ball Z.

This is the most common representation of this trope, as it depicts characters gaining the power to avenge their friends. Popular mangas like Dragon Ball Z or Fairy Tail show their characters powering up to the max because a dear friend was hurt or killed. The character’s rage over the incident, combined with their desire to get revenge for their friend, causes them to have an intense surge of power. This throws off the power dynamic between the hero and the villain. Just remember, an earth-shattering scream gives the power-up a flare we just can’t forget.

“They’re Counting on me!”

Manga Fairy-Tail woman with blonde hair holding a glowing golden key.

The execution of this one can be portrayed in either an internal monologue or shown through action. The power of friendship enables the character to push past their limits for the sake of their friends. This may entail a character completing an impossible mission or simply fighting an uphill battle. The character acknowledges that their friends are counting on them to succeed and that failure may lead them to a worse fate. This is often seen in anime like Bleach where there is a large cast of supporting characters surrounding the hero.


Naruto 2 fight sequence in black and white manga drawings.

The powers of your favorite characters combined can pack quite a punch. This may be considered the ultimate form of friendship power as it shows friends teaming up for a combined attack. This scenario depicts characters carrying out a united strike powered by the bond they share. Whether it is a blend of their powers or a well-coordinated attack move, this is often the final blow dealt to the villain. To top it off, some characters are even seen holding hands while carrying out a joint attack. Perfect examples of this can be found in Fairy Tail and Naruto.

“Because of You”

Manga man talks toa blank silhouette before a large door.

While most depictions of the power of friendship are primarily physical, this one focuses on mental strength. Characters look to their friends for guidance and are inspired to make choices they may not have made at the beginning of the series. Characters gain a newfound mental strength thanks to the presence of their friends. This could be side characters following the example of the main characters or the main character developing because of their connection with the side characters. If you’re looking for an example of this, check out manga like Fullmetal Alchemist.

A Villain’s Take

Black haired manga man in high collared rob in a front view.

Most manga villains are incapable of using this power as they don’t deem friendship as worth their time. They choose to rely solely on their own strength or allow henchmen to do their bidding. Villains are set up to foil the main characters and show the difference between leaning on friends and the absence of them. The villains believe the bonds of friendship inspire weakness and, therefore; cast them aside in favor of solitude. This allows the heroes to acquire victory through the bonds which villains deem unnecessary. Check out Inuyasha to see a villain who depicts this concept very well.

Why is it so effective?

As cliche as the trope may seem, it is more effective than you may think. Anime and Manga always teach us about how irreplaceable our bonds are and how they give us strength in our weakest moments. This method of victory is effective because it puts a clear separation between the motives of the heroes and the villains. There is no shortage of powerful characters, which means there sometimes needs to be a deciding factor. The hero’s ability to conjure up more strength based on love will always overcome the villain who receives power from a darker place.

We can still admit there are moments when this trope does annoy us, especially when it’s used as a quick way to resolve everything. Despite that, we know we’ll still be grinning every time the power of friendship shines its light in our favorite anime or manga.

If you’re feeling inspired by the power of friendship, it may be time for an anime marathon with your own powerful group of friends.

If you enjoyed learning about this trope and want to read more about manga, click here and here for more fun content.