As we shared in our Top 10 Anime With the Most Brutal Deaths, anime and manga takes the notion of death to distinct levels of creativity that most other nations’ animation industry don’t even dare cross. With a majority of animation targeted towards children, tackling death is naturally a difficult issue and most avoid it altogether and that’s ok. This was largely proven when Optimus Prime was killed off in the 1986 animated Transformers movie! Japanese animation may have the balls to do it, but it doesn’t mean it has had its share of controversy and resistance to portraying it. When Zeta Gundam debuted, Yoshiyuki Tomino, the original creator, was getting complaints from parents, the network, studio, and even his own family that the series had too many deaths!
Ironically, people praise that quality today. Even before Zeta Gundam, Tomino was semi-notorious for killing off people in some of his other hits such as in Ideon and Aura Battler Dunbine. Due to such treatments, he was given the moniker Minna Goroshi no Tomino, or Kill ‘em All Tomino in the English speaking world. However, multiple deaths in anime go beyond Tomino’s works. Besides our honorary introductory mentions, what other anime throughout the years are famous (or notorious?) for portraying quantity of deaths? Read our 2019 edition to Top 10 Anime With the Most Deaths to find out! Also, one last warning before we progress on this list, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS (but we’re going to do our best to keep things to a certain minimum)!
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 4, 2007 – September 26, 2007
Kicking off this list is what some people like to call the female Berserk. Considering the superstitious and warring nature of this series, a lot of key characters will die throughout its duration. It’s not just the toll but the emotional impact behind them that qualifies for this list. The anime is full of intensity and it’s obvious that when people duel one another, someone has to die. In some instances, it’s because one fighter was simply better, in other instances, they were careless. While this is more in the realms of fantasy, Claymore gives a great indication as to how intense conflict and war can be, and that nobody is safe and that anybody can go when we least expect it.
9. Shinsekai Yori (From the New World)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: September 29, 2012 – March 23, 2013
In Shinsekai Yori, the number of deaths happen for numerous reasons due to the laws and rules established in this anime’s world (and for reasons not related to them). Some of the deaths involved in this series are due to eugenics, which has been a controversy for the last few centuries in real world as well. We understand that with “great power, there must also come great responsibility,” but how do you go about enforcing that in a world where psychics who can use their powers to possibly kill one another? Should we force people to undergo some sort of “conditioning” that if they kill someone, they automatically die? In other instances, some characters die due to the possibility they can turn into a karma demon. Should we have the right to kill someone just because they can turn into something bad? When it comes to some of the characters dying, they truly mess with you in a moral sense and makes you question what right we have to take somebody’s life just because of the possibility of a bad thing happening.
8. Basilisk: Koga Ninpo Cho (Basilisk)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 13, 2005 – September 21, 2005
If you could take Romeo and Juliet and put it in 16th century Japan and mix it with ninjas, then you pretty much have Basilisk. If you’re familiar with the original Romeo and Juliet play, there are some notable tragedies that everybody and their mama knows where the two co-leads commit suicide. Due to the Iga and Kouga ninja clans resuming their rivalry, people are going to die throughout the duration of this series. When you see both sides die, audiences get an idea that when it comes to certain conflicts, they’re pointless and unnecessary to begin with, and this is what the deaths of this series ultimately teach its audience.
7. Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 4, 2016 – September 19, 2016
We can admit that Re:Zero, especially as it pertains to Subaru, is a unique selection and goes against the norm but this is something we feel we can have fun with. In the case of Subaru, when he dies, he can go back to a “save point” and thankfully, still keep his memories intact. Despite this advantage, he has to keep it secret and whoever hears of it, will die. As for Subaru, in the worst case scenario, he dies but goes the way of the dodo and disco. Thanks to this ability, it does add more to the death total in its own creative ways. He does face a lot of unfortunate deaths, and there are some instances where he uses it to his advantage in order to prevent something bad from happening. Some scenes will shock you, and there are instances that it will humor you. Either way, you will probably come to the conclusion that this is probably why Tupac can still make albums more than 20 years after his (alleged) death (can Tupac also go back to a save point like Subaru every time he’s shot in Vegas?).
6. JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
- Episodes: 152+
- Aired: October 6, 2012 - Ongoing
Dating back to its first story arc to its recently concluded anime adaptation of the fifth story arc, the JoJo saga as a whole is filled with unfortunate losses of life. This is most notably portrayed in the first, third, and fifth story arcs. If you’re familiar with the franchise, JoJo is full of very vibrant characters with over the top personalities, and each character always has something to contribute or find a way to stand out (no pun intended). Unfortunately, there are moments where characters, in numbers, die and some main characters are not even safe from being offed. In many instances, they either die brutal unpredictable deaths, but in numerous others, many of the characters who die, don’t die in vain as in their final moments, they still manage to contribute something in order to defeat the enemy.
5. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
- Episodes: 59+
- Aired: April 7, 2013 - Ongoing
Considering that Attack on Titan is still an on-going series upon the drafting and uploading of this edition to this list, it’s only natural that it would be one of the few series from the previous edition to make a comeback. Since then, more and more characters have unfortunately perished, and this was most prominent in the climax to the second half of the third season. It’s not simply the number of lives that were lost in that respective battle that really defines its toll, but who died that truly defines the overwhelming emotional impact. The most painful part of this series was when it came down to two key characters as they were on the brink of death. We won’t say which two characters were because this is one spoiler we don’t want to reveal so first time viewers can truly feel the emotional impact of that respective scene.
4. Devilman: Crybaby
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: January 5, 2018
If Armageddon could be portrayed in anime form, it would certainly be the ending to Devilman: Crybaby, which takes from the original Devilman manga. Ryo, Akira’s best friend, finally reveals himself to be the reincarnation of Satan, and you don’t have to have gone to Sunday school to get some idea on where things go from here. Before we get into that, things kind of kick off with the unfortunate death of Miki, another childhood friend of Akira. What makes her death tragic is that she wasn’t killed by the demons that Akira was trying to exterminate but from the very humans he wanted to protect. This scene shows that in a way, humanity was responsible for its own destruction. Afterwards, Satan and Devilman’s battle more or less destroys the world, kills most of humanity, and Akira succumbs to his own wounds.
3. End of Evangelion
- Episodes: 1 (feature film)
- Aired: July 19, 1997
One obvious give away for those that love the classics, is End of Evangelion where pretty much everyone but Shinji and Asuka die. After Shinji is given the chance to re-write the course of humanity by taking control of the Third Impact, he gives into his teenage hormones, and the rest is history as everyone who didn’t get capped by SEELE all turn into a puddle of LCL liquid, symbolizing that they have returned to a single collective consciousness. Even before Shinji decided to push the reset button, End of Evangelion was already full of people dropping like flies when SEELE raids NERV’s headquarters and were shooting just about anyone on site to further add a darker side to almost everybody dying.
2. Kidou Senshi Gundam Tekketsu no Orphans (Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans)
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: October 4, 2015 – April 2, 2017
It’s not just the measure of how many people die in Iron-Blooded Orphans that defines its place on this list but the impact it makes. By the time this series ends, virtually most of the main players of Tekkadan lose their lives in the final battle. To define things in a cynical sense, the “bad guys” won. On the other hand, Tekkadan, a private military unit consisting of uneducated and illiterate child soldiers, never really had a chance to begin with. They were outmanned, out meched, out everything you can think of except in courage and guts, but they still lost. The number of lives lost shows how atrocious war can truly be, especially when children, who have no other avenues to provide for themselves and their families, are the ultimate victims in all of this. If there were a bright side to all of this, they didn’t die in vain as the quality of life on Mars improved shortly after since that’s what they were largely fighting for to begin with.
1. Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Legend of the Galactic Heroes)
- Episodes: 110
- Aired: January 8, 1988 – March 17, 1997
At number one, we have to give it to the ultimate sci-fi classic, Legend of the Galactic Heroes. It’s not merely random one-shot nameless characters who die, but a large majority of its ensemble cast on both sides of the conflict. A lot of the deaths portrayed in this series do impact the direction of the series. Some have a positive outcome because this major player who died was a total baddie, and there are some that have a negative outcome because that character wanted to do something positive. It doesn’t matter which side of the conflict because this anime does a great job of portraying how there are good and bad people between the Galactic Empire and The Free Planets Alliance, and their deaths can impact both sides in their own unique ways. Even some minor deaths will have a major impact early on in the story and as this series progresses, a great percentage of the main cast on both sides thin out until peace is achieved.
Last, we would like to make one last honorable mention to Berserk. For this list, we understand we emphasized quantity over quality, but without a shadow of a doubt, there needs to be some middle ground, and we’re hoping that our selections for this year’s list could provide that. Some deaths are meant for shock value, and we get that and in some instances, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, they’re ultimately meant to advance their respective story. Some deaths are pointless, and just because people die a pointless death, doesn’t mean it served a purpose. With some pointless deaths, audiences can get an idea as to how truly unfair life is.
One moment we’re out the door, the next moment, we might find ourselves in some unexpected accident. Or you feel fine, and you go to the doctor for a general check up, and the doctor says you got six months to live. In the end, all deaths provided in anime remind us how precious life truly is through such portrayals.
To quote Benjamin Franklin, "… in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Fortunately, there aren't too many anime about taxes; Death, on the other hand? A lot of anime is ripe with death and the killing off of many of its characters.
Many anime feature the "end of the world" trope to some effect. Due to their prevalence and nature, we won't be taking them into account. Instead, we'll look at anime that feature lots of on-screen deaths and an indiscriminate killing off of its characters. Here our Top 10 anime with the most deaths:
10. Death Note
- Episodes: 27
- Aired: October 2006 – June 2007
One day, high school genius, Light Yagami comes across a black notebook with the ability to kill virtually anyone. With his newfound power of a Death Note, Light decides to create his ideal world: one free and devoid of any criminals. After deciding on his plan to cleanse the world, Death Note treats the viewer to a montage of death, as Light test out the power of the book.
Eventually, Light's actions draw the interest of the police and a criminal investigation for "Kira" ensues. During the extremely tense game of cat and mouse, Light adds more and more to his body count, as he attempts to throw genius investigator L off of his case, and remove anyone who gets in his way of Justice. As a second Death Note and copycat Kira enters the fray, naturally the number of deaths in Death Note continues to rise, resulting in one of the most memorable and death filled anime.
9. Akame ga Kill!
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: July 2014 – December 2014
Hoping to earn money for his village, Tatsumi heads to the capital despite warnings about its dark seedy nature. In the capital, Tatsumi finds himself as the newest member of the assassin group, Night Raid. Throughout the show, the Night Raid carries out hits on corrupt members of the Empire and other Imperial Arm Users.
With every episode titled "Kill the.." it's obvious that there is a lot of death and spilled blood to be found in this show. The first episode features a family that tortures and kills people just for the fun of it. With that kind of corruption found in the capital, you can expect the deaths of lots no-name characters as well as that of many integral to the show's story and progression.
8. 91 Days
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2016 – October 2016
In 1921, Angelo Lagusa witnessed the death of his family in a mob hit. Just barely managing to escape with his life, Angelo lives out the next seven years as Avilio Bruno, all the while holding on to his grudge against those responsible for his family's death, the Vanetti family. When Avilio receives a mysterious letter with the names of his family's killers, he returns to his hometown of Lawless to get his revenge.
Anyone who knows anything about the mafia knows that there is a lot of death involved. 91 Days starts off with the death of the Lagusa family, and takes the viewer along on a ride of revenge, mistrust, lawlessness, and, of course, death. What makes the sheer number of 91 Days death toll is that it includes gangsters and innocent alike; No one is safe. Death looms over all characters and can happen at any time, making the anticipation of the next death a thrilling experience.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: June 2012 – March 2012
Curses don't exist, right? Tell that to the Class 3-3 of Yomiyama North Middle School. 26 prior to the story, a student, Misaki Yomiyama, died in the middle of the school year. Unable to cope with the loss of a classmate, the students carried on as if he were still alive. Unbeknownst to them, this inability to face reality leaves a deadly curse on all future students of Class 3-3.
In essence, every year after that, Class 3-3 would have an extra student, who is in fact, the spirit of the dead. Despite attempts to prevent the curse, the class of 1998 and their relatives find themselves caught in an unrelenting storm of death. A way to end the curse is discovered, but this only causes more deaths. The great thing about the deaths in Another is how unexpected and gruesome they are. Lives can be lost at the drop of a dime with no warning, rhyme or reason.
6. Parasyte -the maxim- (Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2014 – March 2015
No one knows exactly where they came from, but one-night countless spores descended upon Earth. These spores contained parasites that take over the brains of living creatures and takes over their body, transforming them into man-eating monsters. The opening scene of the anime shows the first of what would be referred to as the "mincemeat murders."
A high schooler, Shinichi Izumi, was lucky enough to not lose his brain to one of these parasites but finds himself targeted by parasites around him, as he becomes caught up in their world in a "kill or be killed" fight for humanity. Whether it's designated feeding areas, killing sprees, or berserker parasites, Parasyte -the maxim- racks up the deaths in a fun and interesting ways.
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2004 – June 2004
Death is a certainty, right? Well, not when death is followed by your resurrection and forced participation in a "game" of death. Kei Kurono finds himself among those resurrected and forced to go on deadly missions to kill aliens on Earth.
Throughout Gantz, numerous characters are introduced, which implies their first death. In addition to the necessary death required for these characters to die, more times than not they are killed off in missions. This revolving door of gruesome deaths makes Gantz a must watch for those of you looking for your share of anime deaths.
4. Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2013 – September 2013
100 years prior to the start of the anime, mankind was attacked by mindless creatures called Titans. The Titans whose sole purpose and instinct seemed to be to feed on humans. As such, the human race was pushed to the brink of extinction. An impressive death count, no doubt, but not the one we're concerned with.
Spending their lives safely behind walls separating them from the outside world where the Titans roam free, the remainder of the human race became comfortable with their lives behind the walls. Needless to say, when the Titans attack the outermost wall protecting humanity, they were unprepared, leading to an absolute massacre at the hands of the Titans.
As if the insane amount of death to start off the show wasn't enough, as the show progresses, the death count only increases, taking the life of many great characters in its wake. Attack on Titan is definitely a must-watch if you're looking for death and bloodshed. Just don't get attached to too many characters, okay?
3. Corpse Party: Tortured Souls (Corpse Party Tortured Souls -Bougyakusareta Tamashii no Jukyou-)
- Episodes: 4
- Aired: July 2013
It's not a good idea to build a high school on the site of grisly murders. It's an even worse idea to perform a ritual in said school. Unfortunately, a group of high school friends, they didn't get the memo. As a result, the students of Kisaragi Academy are transported to a hellish reality, where they must deal with the disgruntled spirits of Heavenly Host School.
Corpse Party: Tortured Souls is one of the most brutal anime out there. And while it doesn't contain the most deaths out there, it contains such gruesome methods of killing off nearly all of its characters that it is and will always be remembered as one of the deadliest anime.
2. Future Diary (Mirai Nikki)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 2011 – April 2012
Deus Ex Machina is the God of Time and Space and imaginary friend of junior high schooler, Yukiteru Amano. One day, Deus gives Yukiteru a cell phone that can record the next 90 days. What follows is a battle royale fight to the death to find the successor to Deus' throne.
Despite the fact that there are only 12 participants in this survival game, Future Diary features more deaths than one might deem necessary. When the winner earns the title of "god," things tend to get dirty for everyone, even for those uninvolved with the game. Add in the fact that the game takes place over different iterations of the world, and it's easy to see how Future Diary manages to add to its death count.
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: July 2010 - December 2010
One summer day, in the town of Sotoba, 15-year-old Megumi Shimizu goes missing. Megumi is found several days later, but due to her condition upon being found, she dies days after her rescue. What follows is a plague of death as the Shiki, a vampire like race, attempts to turn the village into a safe haven for themselves.
In a fight for the village, Shiki sees the death of countless characters, both human and Shiki, alike. War isn’t pretty and that’s precisely what happens in Shiki: an all-out war. There are only so many ways to kill a vampire —stake to the heart, decapitation, or exposure to sunlight— but for the terrified villagers, it’s best to not err on the side of caution.
Don’t forget there are blood-hungry Shiki on the loose as well. There are also many interesting ways to kill humans as well, and the truly vile methods are saved for characters of utmost importance. When there’s a pit of bodies, you’re guaranteed to find a trail of death leading to it. A tale of survival, Shiki offers the viewer anything but that, as the body count rises in quite a gruesome manner.
Death is inescapable, it happens to the best and worst of us. In anime, death helps us to appreciate the characters; as the saying goes, "you don't know what you've got til it's gone." But sometimes it's more than we bargained for, as we watch characters we've grown attached to die simply for the sake of dying. Sometimes, it's a character with little or no meaning. One thing's for sure, with so many deaths being handed out like candy, these anime help us to appreciate our favorite characters even more.
What do you think of the list? Are there any deadly anime that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!