Death is easily one of the scariest realities we face in the real world. We all are doomed to die one day at some point, but the time until that moment occurs is unknown to most of us. In the anime world, death is also a truly relevant thing, but often, you have to wonder if anime truly handles death the way it should. When a character dies in a series and the characters react, there are times where we feel the death as if it was someone we really loved and then there are other times where the anime makes death seem almost comical. Today, we here at Honey’s Anime decide to tackle a very interesting—and slightly morbid—topic. Does Anime Handle Death Well?
The Raw Emotion of Loss
Just like in real life, losing a loved one can be one of the hardest things to ever experience. You know that person has moved on from this world, but that doesn’t always act as a potion to just be okay with it. In the anime landscape, death can hurt just as much when you witness a character like Jiraiya from Naruto die off or see L from Death Note perish when you felt they were immortal. When anime handles death realistically, it can almost be akin to real-life loss and that is when anime shows its potential for being a truly engaging medium.
For Story Not Drama
In many series—both anime and even western shows—death is used not as a story element but as a dramatic slap in the face. Take for example Dragon Ball Z—which will be mentioned again—where a character like Krillin dies. While people were obviously sad about our small warrior monk passing away, it was done to progress the story and make Goku stronger and ultimately allowing him to reach Super Saiyan status. Another good example is in Sword Art Online—yes Sword Art Online—where a character dies and you realize it makes the story feel scarier as these characters aren’t just in a virtual world but trapped in one with real world consequences. Death being done for the story is what makes death a stronger element and one that feels less cruel and more genuine.
Speaking of Dragon Ball Z
While Dragon Ball Z has had some huge dramatic death moments, it also had some that truly just come across as groan worthy. With the ability to use the seven Dragon Balls, death holds no value and comes across as a setback not as a true concern. When death in Dragon Ball Z occurs, you feel it almost insults the meaning of death being the end of life...instead death is just going to be for a year then they can be resurrected as if nothing happened.
Shock Value City
A lot of horror anime tend to rely on death not as a crying moment but as pure shock value. You see a character die in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and you aren’t moved to tears but are just shocked by their twisted death. Ousama Game is another where death comes often at ridiculous times and really only aims to deliver a GOTCHA moment on screen. When death shows up in anime like this, we realize how little it actually does to try and be seen as a serious manner.
Death is a very interesting element in all forms of medium, especially anime. There are numerous anime and anime films where death is truly emotion evoking and causes tears to cascade down your face. Equally though, there are many series were death holds little value and just comes across as groan inducing. We’ve said our peace, but we shall leave the floor to you. Do you think death is handled well in anime? Why or why not? Comment below to let us know and if you liked this article, be sure to check out our hundreds of others courtesy of us here at Honey’s Anime.