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Several of the biggest anime story arcs that broke status quo in big anime (Image via Sportskeeda)

10 anime story arcs that break the status quo

Every anime has a status quo that it usually follows very strictly. Whether it's the idea of Goku from Dragon Ball rescuing everyone, or the Straw Hat crew sticking together in One Piece, every anime has its own version of normalcy for the characters involved, until it is disrupted by a certain course of events.

Maybe the lead character is put out of action, like Goku was during the Android/Cell Saga of Dragon Ball Z, or the protagonist's home gets attacked like the fair few times it did in Naruto.


Whatever the case may be, this article will examine 10 anime story arcs that fundamentally break or shake the status quo in their anime.

Disclaimer: This article is subjective and contains spoilers for all anime listed.


10 anime story arcs, like The Summit War saga of One Piece, that broke the status quo

1) The Android Saga (Dragon Ball Z)


Goku in Dragon Ball Z had been saving people since Dragon Ball, usually from big threats like the Red Ribbon Army or King Piccolo. Z's anime may have started with Goku's death, but he eventually came back and battled Nappa and Vegeta.

During the Android Saga, Goku was out of action due to a heart disease. While he managed to live through it thanks to Future Trunks' medicine, the Z fighters had to step up against the Androids. The resulting saga was then a race against time, first to keep Goku away from the androids, and then to beat Cell before he destroyed the planet.

When the time came, the Androids were absorbed by Cell. Subsequently, during the Cell Games, Cell was defeated by Gohan. This was meant to change Dragon Ball's status quo and have Gohan as the lead, as Gohan had constantly been a deuteragonist of sorts. The problem was that the Majin Buu saga then happened and the status quo reasserted itself.


2) Chunin Exams/Pain Assault Arc (Naruto)

The Chunin Exams and Pain Assault (Image via Sportskeeda)

These story arcs changed the ninja anime Naruto in major ways.

The Chunin Exam arc ushered in a flurry of changes in its aftermath, including planting the seeds for Sasuke leaving Konoha, Orochimaru's debut as a villain, the death of the 3rd Hokage, and eventually Naruto learning the Rasengan and Summoning technique.

The aftermath saw Tsunade instituted as Hokage, Itachi debuting, and Sasuke leaving. In the time-skip anime, Naruto Shippuden, a similar break to the status quo happened during Pain's Assault/Two Saviors arc. In it, Pain/Nagato invaded Konoha, destroyed a lot of it, and died fighting a newly trained Naruto.

The ripple effects of the latter story arc led to the assault on the five Kage summit, where Danzo died, and was the opening salvo in the Fourth Great Ninja War. The Akatsuki was decimated, Sasuke was once again on his own after abandoning Team Hawk and would eventually aid the Shinobi Allied Forces against Madara, and Naruto was finally treated as a hero in addition to learning how to control Kurama.


3) Forest Training Camp/Paranormal Liberation War (My Hero Academia)

Highlights from both arcs (Image via Sportskeeda)

My Hero Academia usually sticks to its status quo of All Might showing up, saving the day, following which the U.A. kids go to class as normal. Then the Forest Training Camp Arc happened and the kids of 1-A and 1-B found themselves under direct attack by the League of Villains, with Bakugo getting kidnapped and Deku leveling up, and Toga making her debut.

While everyone was ultimately saved by the end, including Bakugo being rescued, All Might was forced into retirement. The League of Villains was fractured, and All for One was finally behind bars. Flash forward to the Paranormal Liberation War arc, and things changed again, this time in the villains' favor.

Prior to that, the heroes had something to celebrate despite All Mights' retirement, but the Paranormal Liberation War sent everything crashing down. Heroes died or retired, All for One alongside hundreds of criminals broke out of prison, the League of Villains and Metahuman Liberation Front joined forces, and Deku left U.A. to try hunting All for One on his own. The final war currently raging in the manga was a result of these two arcs.


4) The Summit War Saga (One Piece)

The Summit War arc, in summary (Image via Sportskeeda)

One Piece's sagas tend to change things up quite a lot, but one of the main ones and most famous is arguably the Summit War Saga. That's where plenty of things happen, including the Straw Hat Crew being split up. This is grouped into one massive saga since plenty of things happen in it that disrupt the overall status quo set at the beginning.

The first is that at the end of the Sabody Archipelago Arc, the straw hats are all flung across the world. Boa Hancock joins the Straw Hats post-Amazon Lily, the raid on Impel Dawn sees a massive prison break of major villains including Blackbeard, and Marineford sees the biggest and most famous change.

During the Marineford part of the saga, Ace and Whitebeard died. Following these two deaths, the balance of the world drastically shifted in favor of the World Government, as many pirates sought the New World. Buggy and Trafalgar Law became Sea Warlords, and the Straw Hats separated for two years to train.


5) Soul society arc/Thousand Year Blood War (Bleach)


Bleach's introductory arc brought forth the concept of Shinigami, Hollows, and everything else the anime needed to get the audience invested. The Soul Society arc then added onto this by showcasing other Shinigami like Byakuya, Renji, Kenpachi, and others. Things also escalated, as Ichigo and friends now had to fight Shinigami and not just Hollows.

Along the way, after saving Rukia, many things happen that add on to the story being told. The Gotei 13 add a command structure, Soul Society itself is expanded upon, and it sets up Aizen's eventual betrayal. It also sets Ichigo up as an official Shinigami.

Fast forward to the Thousand Year Blood War arc and the places that Ichigo discovered are all now under attack. Each dimension and place and person he knows, has fought, or cares for is now being threatened. The entirety of Soul Society and status quo of Bleach is practically shattered by those events.


6) Naturals Election/School raid trip arc (Kill la Kill)

First appearance of Nui and Ryuko repairing Senketsu (Image via Sportskeeda)

Kill la Kill's status quo was that Satsuki was the queen of Honnoji Academy and Ryuko was resisting her. The Naturals Election and subsequent School Raid trip arc shattered this anime's status quo in several major ways. Ragyo Kiriyuin was introduced, Ryuko Matoi was out of action when Senketsu was torn to shreds, and Nui Harime became one of the main threats.

In the School Raid arc, Honnoji Academy took over other schools, to lure Nudist Beach out and wreck their base, which they did. In the immediate aftermath, several major reveals happened in rapid succession, changing the course of the series.

Viewers learned that Senketsu is an alien and Life Fibers are alien parasites. Satsuki betrays Ragyo and was never the villain, but just playing a role. Ryuko is Ragyo's other child and Satsuki's long-lost sister. She and Satsuki start working together by the latter half of the anime.

7) Rebuild of Evangelion 3 and 3.0+1.0 (Rebuild of Evangelion)

Posters for both movies, showing key cast members (Image via Sportskeeda)

While the anime films Rebuild of Evangelion 1 and 2 followed Neon Genesis Evangelion's story to a T, with minor changes such as adding a new character, things vastly changed in part 2. Long story short, Shinji Ikari attempted to save Rei Ayanami from an Angel possessing her EVA and unknowingly nearly caused the Third Impact in doing so.


The events of the third film, aka You Can (Not) Redo, take place roughly 14 years after the events of You Can (Not) Advance. The story told is a complete break from the original continuity, as Shinji awakens from a coma to a vastly changed world. To sum up, half of humanity died, the Earth was majorly messed up, NERV split into two factions, and poor Shinji is further mind broken by his uncaring father.

The events of the final film, aka Thrice Upon a Time, is a conclusion to the story. In it, Shinji is snapped out of a depressive spiral and the final conflict between the two NERV factions is settled. It also finally settled Shinji and Gendo's conflict, albeit in a very trippy way that involved resetting the entire world into a better one without Angels.

8) Stardust Crusaders/Stone Ocean (Jojo's Bizarre Adventure)

The main casts of each anime (Image via Sportskeeda)

If anyone wanted to describe Jojo's Bizarre Adventure anime before part 3, they'd have vampires and heat-based powers. The status quo of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure was disrupted twice: Once via Stardust Crusaders and the second time via Stone Ocean.

What happened was that Stands fundamentally altered the status quo of that universe. Instead of having vampire zombies to deal with, it became about having spirits. Stands would become the norm for every Jojo post Stardust Crusaders, thanks to the prevalence of Stand Arrows, that were introduced in Diamond is Unbreakable.

Stone Ocean, meanwhile, is more problematic to explain. Basically, what Father Pucci does is he uses the suped-up powers of his Stand to attempt to erase the Joestar line from existence. He's stopped by Emperio, who erases him instead. The new timeline only affects the events of Stone Ocean, not everything else according to Araki, despite Steel Ball Run rebooting the series.


9) Initial D Stage 4 (Initial D)

Initial D Stage Four eye catch (Image via Studio A.C.G.T)

Since even racing anime can and does have status quo changes, Initial D is on this list for its fourth stage. The first three stages have main character Takumi Fujuwara racing for himself and being incredibly apathetic about the whole idea of facing, even if he has very impressive driving skills.

As he develops into a racer, there's plenty of pressure on him to continue to succeed. From stage 3 and onward, Takumi works as part of Project D. Why is this a status quo breaker? It is because Project D is largely comprised of former members of the street gang the Akagi Red Suns, and they all form together to challenge racers outside of the Gunma prefecture.

This essentially changes up the entire anime from a solo race to a team racing series, as Takumi has to work alongside people he used to race against, like Ryosuke. That, and the Project D team members are all technical in nature: Having a convoy of support vans and tuners for the race cars, while support staff scout and record the next course ahead of the racers.


10) Death Note, part II/The America Arc (Death Note)

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The second part of the Death Note anime is rather controversial, since L's death was seen as the perfect ending point for the thriller shonen anime. So, how does L's death affect Death Note? Well, Kira aka Light Yagami is nearly untouchable after five years, and thus a lot of events began to slot into place in order to finally have him meet his match.

Though Light as Kira has effectively won at that point, that doesn't mean people simply lie down and take it. While Mello organizes several crime syndicates to take Kira on, Near organizes the task force to keep fighting. Basically, in lieu of a genius detective, Light has to fight organized crime, governments, and the rest of the anti-Kira task force and others.

Basically, a lot of people take up the Kira ideals and mantle, but in the end, it's all for naught. Light is left dying and so are his allies. Ryuk turned on him, and generally speaking, he died alone and abandoned and bleeding to death. It took a lot for him to be put down, with mind games being played that the fandom wasn't quite receptive to.


These are 10 anime story arcs where the status quo is completely broken. All of these story arcs affect the status quo in one form or another, usually in the sense that they add something to shake things up, as Bleach did.

A status quo change is usually a major turning point in the anime's story, as many of these examples surely demonstrate. If any story arc from an anime was missed, readers are encouraged to add them in the comments.

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Edited by
Upasya Bhowal
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