Sounds strange, but sometimes defeat can be more beneficial than victory. I remember very well one of the moments in Dragon Ball, when Goku is seriously training under the guidance of Master Roshi to participate in the tournament. It all ends with Roshi himself changing into another person and himself defeating Goku in the tournament, letting him know that he must train even more.
Anime characters have to lose from time to time, even though they may have great strength. The backstory, the development of the plot, the character and much more may require the main character to lose. The outcome of whoever wins important battles can affect many characters or even all heroes. When there is such a lot of pressure on one competition, you may face situations where the victory of the main character does not change anything, so it loses its significance. But the loss of the main character in the anime may open up new boundaries for the series.
The second example that comes to mind is the battle between Midoriya and Todoroka at the UA Sports Festival. Both characters are favorites, both want to win and both of them have complexes that they have to overcome. The difference between Midoriya is that he is our hero and for collective victory he must lose.
Izuki himself still does not know how to use "One for All" and in order to win the battle, he needs to torture himself. However, only defeat helped him realize the disastrous consequences of his recklessness and imprudence. If he won, he would continue to hurt himself by breaking bones.
On the other hand, Todoroki, who hates his father and rejects his power. However, Izuki pushes Todoroki not to be afraid to use fire to win. In the end, Midoriya lost the battle, but both characters won spiritually.
While some examples of failures in such arcs can complement the plot, it is also common to see a character lose because of his personal weaknesses rather than his strength. Ryo, Soma and Akira are on an equal footing in the Shokugeki No Soma Fall elections.
All had equally incredible performances on previous tours, these three were unparalleled in their skills. In the final battle, none of the three participants has an advantage. We got a ton of backstory through flashbacks of Soma, Ryo, and Akira, especially their childhoods. The only surprising difference between the two is their motivation. Soma, Ryo, and Akira ended up in the finals thanks to Joichiro, Alice, and Jun, respectively. However, Akira fights for Jun, while Soma and Ryo fight to compete. Soma and Ryo find it hard to admit that there are those who are better than them, in large part due to the fact that they are surrounded by people who are not so skillful. However, Akira intends to always fight for June. After June saved him from poverty and homelessness, he devoted his entire cooking to her. Soma and Ryo's loss serves as a beacon for them
But apart from the battles in the tournaments and reasons for improvement, the loss of characters in the anime can just push the plot further. In the second season of Death Note, there is a moment when the two sides of the conflict, Light and Nia, lose to the third party - Mello.
Mello with his group organizes the kidnapping of the daughter of the police chief Yagami with the requirement to exchange her for the Death Note. The plan was so ingenious that Near and Light failed. So, Light lost the death note, and Nia lost half of his group, whose names ended up in the stolen notebook. However, this loss will later become the key factor in Nia's victory.
Although in the future Light still managed to eliminate Mello, in the very last episode Nia will tell Kira that it was thanks to the very theft of the notebook and Mello's further actions that he was able to figure out how to beat the killer.
Taking into account that Light is an anti-hero, and at the end of the second season he even goes a little crazy with his ambitions, we can say that it is Nia who is the hero, and his loss helped him win the global war.
Also in cases like this, losing a lot of anime characters can be a powerful way to grow above themselves, allowing them to fully understand the cost of victory. In The Promised Neverland, one of the biggest losses of children occurs in the middle of the season - Norman is taken away. In fact, he was in charge of them and directed the escape. Alas, he had to sacrifice himself so the others could escape.
Until the very end, the heroes realize what a heavy sacrifice they had to make, so they have no other choice - they must escape at any cost. And they eventually succeed.
Side characters like Todoroki can find it incredibly rewarding to progress through victory. While the main character can be developed more easily by losing to this very side character.
Hence, when the side character wins frequently, the overall heroes of the story get more development. Many main characters are overly confident in their abilities, unaware of how much more they need to grow, struggle to find motivation, etc. Losing, both in a tournament and in a battle, can make a character understand how much he needs grow and in what areas. The loss of a character can not only affect him, but also those around him. Sometimes, the loss of a protagonist can create a butterfly effect to tune the plot to bring it to its logical conclusion. There are many ways to make losing the main character much more profitable than winning.
This can be seen both in the examples above and in many others that I have not mentioned. And while we love the moments when our favorite hero wins, we need to accept the fact that losing is not the end, but only the beginning.
The Topic of Article: Why do anime protagonists have to lose sometimes?.