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*

Comical Deaths

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.

Sentimental Deaths

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.

13 Comments »

  1. This was an interesting read! I 100% agree with you on the deathes in Akame Ga Kill. They were just so pointless and annoying with every character dying left and right and the anime expecting us to cry a river after a one-dimensional character gets slaughtered. Your Lie in April’s deathes are holy in comparison to Akame Ga Kill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad that we share the same views! Thanks for reading! I actually wasn’t sure what point I was getting at by the time I finished writing this, so I appreciate that you found this interesting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d disagree entirely about Akame ga Kill as it’s a symptom of the world where people are dying left, right, and centre. It reminds me of the darkest days of communism where people would disappear without notice. Not to mention that they’re assassins and are constantly putting themselves in danger. Death is expected.

    Would you rather it was like a shounen where nobodies dies even in a death match like Skypea in One Piece?

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    • I understand the setting of the world in Akame ga Kill to be at such a dire state, and can understand that the nature of assassination is to kill or be killed. I can agree with that. But my focus is on the emotional value of those deaths.

      My problem with Akame ga Kill isn’t that the characters die off, but that they’re not given enough character development or a more convincing struggle before they die. It is a story after all, so if they’re gonna create an ensemble of interesting and promising looking characters, giving them a proper send off would’ve been much more tasteful. Also, death shouldn’t be something easily expected. The uncertainty of death is what makes the eventual death even more shocking and woeful.

      I still enjoyed the anime nonetheless and did feel sorrowful by the end of it all due to the deaths of characters that I did grow attached to.

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  3. I suppose I’m just weird since I never feel sad when a character dies. I either don’t feel anything or I’m just… annoyed. The annoyed reaction comes from the pointless kind. Or, I suppose, bothered that I no longer get to see more stories with that particular character. But that’s about it. The other times I honestly have no reaction. I mean, the logical part of my brain goes “well that sucks,” but… that’s it. So I tend to not even slightly mind stuff where no one dies or death isn’t permanent. Because it wouldn’t have affected me anyway or wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near the emotional response it wanted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh wow that’s quite unique. I tend to get swept up by the story, and start putting myself in the shoes of the protagonists whenever I watch anime. So if the build up is done right, death is often really sad for me. But it’s true that there are lots of instances where death fail to evoke a strong emotional response. I guess in your case, it would take a lot more for a story to build up characters that you can empathise with? It would be cool to see you write about this as well, to shed more light on your perspective of sadness in anime!

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      • Perhaps. Though I’m not sure I have a lot to say on the subject. I’m just generally really emotionally subdued. Maybe as a discussion post or something. Because I tend to not experience a lot of the emotions and sensations that whatever I’m watching is trying to get out of me. I’m aware of what they’re doing and can measure how effectively they pull it off. It just doesn’t tend to work on me. I dunno. It could be an interesting topic of conversation, I suppose.

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      • Ahh I see where you’re coming from. I guess since we all have different interests and personalities, our emotions will be varied as well. That’s normal, and that’s the joy of discussions. I think I’m just more sentimental or get emotionally attached when watching anime, so this was a topic that resonated with me.

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