Death may sound like a bit of a dark topic, but that’s not what this post is about. I’m here to break down the different forms of Death in anime that has inspired all sorts of different emotions within me.
After watching a ton of anime, I’ve both been inspired and at times disappointed by the use of Death scenes in anime. Death in anime is always something to pay attention to, in fact, Death in almost any form of art is actually a powerful artistic tool. Whether it be paintings, poems, theatre or anime, the concept of Death when employed strategically can effectively evoke strong emotions in the audience. Let’s first dissect the nature of death in general terms.
What is Death?
I’m sure we all know what Death is, but for the sake of my silly obsession for structure, I feel like I have to briefly define death and its nature. Death is simply the fact of dying or being killed. But what’s more important is that in death, strong emotions often follow. Rage, empathy, torment, insanity and even relief. With such a wide range of strong emotional effect, it is no wonder that it plays a massive role in various works of art. Anime is no exception.
Types of Death in Anime
So have you ever watched an anime and wondered, why didn’t this character die? Or maybe, why did they have to die? I have, and I’ve thought about it quite a bit. So let’s take a look at the various ways anime have used death and its effect in their works.
*The following section contains some spoilers from Your Lie In April and Akame ga Kill*
What better a platform to explore the intricacies of comical deaths than an anime itself? Of course, most of the time, these “Deaths” aren’t actual deaths but just the hypothetical death. These moments help to exaggerate the situation, giving it that extra bit of comedy to make things appear more comedic.
This form of Death in anime is the most commonplace. Since Death is intrinsically a tragedy, many shows use its powerful emotional value to elevate a certain moment and evoke various painful emotions that let us empathise with the character. When our dear Arima Kousei had to confront such a tragic Death, us viewers were also led to feel his pain. Which is why anime like Your Lie In April really did well in building up the characters and their stories to make the effect of death much more impactful.
Pointless Deaths (The tasteless kind)
Yes, Death is indeed a tragedy. Or at least it should be. That’s what Akame ga Kill believes, and is why it uses the theme of death so abundantly and nonchalantly such that it severely nullifies its true sentimental value. As such, it failed to gain empathy from its audience. This is a tragedy in itself. The act of Death alone isn’t enough to inspire empathy or tragedy. As insensitive as that may sound, you would only be able to experience the emotional weight of Death when you have developed certain attachments to a character. Unfortunately, Akame ga Kill didn’t give us time to grow attached to and to like some of the characters before massacring them. A bunch of pointless, tasteless Deaths. But I’ll take it.
Deaths that set the Tone
One of the least regarded deaths are simply the deaths of random bystanders or unknown characters in an anime. You know, like when there’s some large scale destruction of a villain that kills random civilians, or just unknown soldiers part of the main character’s unit that dies. They’re often just killed for the sake of showing danger or setting the tone, and can help intensify or emphasize various moments. I guess I just had to show some love to our beloved background characters in anime.
To these fallen comrades, we don’t know who you are, but thank you for making our anime experience interesting.
Characters Killed by Yanderes
Thank you for your sacrifice. Yanderes aren’t a common breed, so I’m sorry but your deaths are necessary.
Lack of Deaths
I’m looking at you shounen anime (well, some of you). Just kill off that damned villain already, no need for them to keep coming back over and over…
My Overall View Of Death In Anime
The concept of Death doesn’t have to be all sad, it can be used in so many ways and I’m pleased that anime as a platform allows creativity in the way death is able to be represented and used.
So why did I write this post? Eh, I don’t really know why myself. I’m pretty sure I had a bigger picture in mind when I started writing this, but it got lost somewhere along the way whilst writing this. Oh well.