Anime is a medium which, unlike the general crop of cartoons we were used to seeing on a Saturday morning as kids, is not afraid of approaching the subject of death and death with permanence and significance within a story. However, anime also tends to play with elements of fantasy and myth, with the vast majority of our favourite Shounen titles approaching the concept of death within a system which could override death itself – the realm of fantasy. We know of the vast crop of named anime characters who have died in their respective universes, and somehow managed to cheat the system itself, so down into the underworld we go – top 10 anime characters who have been revived!
10. Kusakabe Sakura – Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan (Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan)
- Episodes: 4 (OVA)
- Aired: March 2005 – September 2005
Kusakabe Sakura was a regular junior high school student until it was uncovered that twenty years into the future, he will be responsible for the inability of all women to develop past the age of 12, with the added side-effect of being immortal. Mitsukai Dokuro is an assassin sent back in time from the future in order to kill him with the magical bat, Excalibolg. Dokuro; however, would like to do her job her own way, choosing to annoy Sakura to the point of being incapable of creating his technology. As a result of not completing her missions, Dokuro’s job of eliminating Sakura is given to the angel, Sabato, a hire which ensures that Sakura’s job will never quite be the same.
This anime is fairly strange due to the fact that the protagonist, Sakura, dies – often. His death is almost an unceremonious thing as his death very quickly signals his resurrection – Sakura cannot die. Dokuro beats him to death several times throughout the series. Sakura’s feature on this list is based on the way in which the anime approaches the death of the main character, an episodic death reminiscent of South Park’s “Oh my god, they killed Kenny”.
9. Kurono Kei – Gantz
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2004 – June 2004
Kurono Kei is your average 16-year-old high schooler who, on his way home one day, found himself helping a childhood friend he hadn’t seen in years lift a drunk homeless man off the subway train tracks. While they did manage to get the drunk man off the tracks, Kurono Kei and his childhood best friend Katou Masaru are run over by the incoming train, very much to the entertainment of those on the platform. Almost instantaneously, Kei finds himself in a room with a large black sphere in the centre, and several other people seemingly “spawning” in the same room. The sphere reveals itself to be Gantz, the game master of the game which has you going toe-to-toe with dangerous aliens in a dangerous death game offering those who do well a chance to live their normal lives again.
Kei’s death in the first episode of the anime was the kind of unfortunate death which he himself regarded rather pitiful; however, his death occurred due to his involvement in an act of kindness where no one else bothered except his childhood friend, Kato. Kei initially wanted nothing to do with the events of the train station that day but with Kato’s pressure, Kei concedes to helping the drunk homeless man. After getting hit by a train, Kei finds himself revived in the room with the big black sphere in the middle.
8. Natsuki Subaru - Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2016 – September 2016
Natsuki Subaru’s life changes forever when he leaves home to go to the convenience store. Upon leaving the store, he is shocked to realise he has been transported to some kind of fantasy world. Unfortunately for Subaru; however, the cruelty of his new reality become apparent when a group of thugs attack him, beating him to a pulp. Luckily for him, a white-haired beauty named Satella who is on the lookout for the person who stole her insignia, appears and rescues him from the thugs. Wanting to show his gratitude, Subaru offers his help in the locating of the insignia and just as soon as they find it, they are brutally murdered. Subaru wakes up to the same scene he saw in the beginning; the same group of thugs appear and he meets Satella for the first time – again, as history inexplicably repeats itself.
Subaru’s contact with his new surroundings as someone from a world where such surroundings are the construct of fantasy and fiction. After each death he experiences, Subaru “resets”, returning to a particular point in time, very much like returning to a checkpoint after dying in a game. Subaru’s emotional and mental state is pushed to the very limit as the trauma of seeing himself, as well as people around him die multiple times takes a huge toll on Subaru.
7. Tanya Degrechaff - Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2017 – March 2017
Nine-year-old Tanya Degurechaff is a child soldier who is known for her ruthlessness and incredible tactical abilities, earning her the epithet, “The Devil of the Rhine”. Her appearance masks the fact that she is actually a Japanese salaryman who challenged a being claiming to be God, Being X, to a battle of wits. This results in his death in our normal world to his reincarnation as Tanya in a land of magic and war. Spurred on by her desire to climb the ranks, Tanya will stop at nothing to recreate the luxurious life she once knew, even if that means plunging the Empire into full-scale war and conquest.
Throughout the series, Tanya’s ambition and cutthroat ruthlessness is an aspect she learns in her previous life as a salaryman. Tanya’s initial death is significant in line with the conversation she has with Being X, as well as the fact that she was not reincarnated into her original body, but rather placed into a different one, which is very different from other revivals we’ve seen on this list.
6. Urameshi Yusuke – Yu Yu Hakusho
- Episodes: 112
- Aired: October 1992 – January 1995
14-year-old delinquent Urameshi Yusuke dies one day when he throws himself in front of a moving car to save a little boy. With his final action being so out of character, the spirit realm authorities are torn about letting him go to the other side. Koenma, the next in line to rule the spirit realm, offers Yusuke the opportunity to come back to life by putting him through a series of trials. Upon completion, with the help of Botan, the Shinigami, Yusuke becomes a Spirit Detective, an entity whose responsibility is to thwart evil on Earth.
Yusuke’s death is a concept which is central to the premise of Yu Yu Hakusho and it happens in the very first episode. Considering the original perception of Yusuke viewers are given, his actions at the time of his death seemed like a spontaneous reaction; however, we come to realise as the anime progresses that Yusuke is a good person surrounded by an incredible group of friends, one of whom did everything to ensure that Yusuke would be able to return to his body upon revival.
5. Krillin – Dragon Ball Z
- Episodes: 291
- Aired: April 1989 – January 1996
Years after winning the World Martial Arts Tournament, Son Goku is living a peaceful life with his wife Chi Chi and son, Gohan. However, the peace is thwarted with the appearance of Raditz, an alien enemy who claims to be Goku’s brother. He reveals that Goku’s origins are elsewhere, the Planet Vegeta, the home of the virtually extinct Saiyan warrior race. Sent to Earth as a baby, Goku’s mission was to destroy all life on the planet in order to prepare it for sale; however, he hits his head as a baby, losing his violent Saiyan programming to become a kind boy willing to protect others. After failing to recruit his brother, Raditz warns Goku and his friends of a worse threat – two more Saiyans far stronger than Raditz who are en route. With danger on the horizon, will Goku and his friends be able to defend the Earth?
Having died before in Dragon Ball canonity, Krillin’s death on Planet Namek at the hands of Frieza served to be one of the most pivotal moments in the franchise’s history, an event which gave rise to the Super Saiyan transformation. The iconic image aside, Krillin’s Namek death very easily should’ve been his final chance at life gone given the fact that Earth’s Dragon Balls at the time did not revive the same person twice.
4. Ariyoshi Juna – Chikyuu Shoujo Arjuna (Arjuna)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2001 – March 2001
One hot summer day, Ariyoshi Juna died. The ordinary high schooler was enjoying a motorcycle joyride with her boyfriend, Tokio when an accident causes her death. However, in death, she sees vivid visions of the dark future of the planet Earth, which will be destroyed by monsters known as the Raaja. She is given an ultimatum: die as she was, or gain a second chance at life as the Avatar of Time, a being who is to be the protector of the planet.
Juna’s death changes her entire perspective on reality as she is forced to change the way she lives. It is in death that she sees the death of the planet Earth. For Juna, death was very much the gateway into a different realm of understanding and resonance with the Earth. Her death leads her into a path which induces a change in her perspective on life and the environment on Earth.
3. Satou Kazuma - Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! (KonoSuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!)
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: January 2016 – March 2016
High school recluse Satou Kazuma’s first appearance outside in a long time was inspired by his desire to obtain a particular video game; however, the entire experience is marred when Kazuma dies a pathetic death on his way back. Kazuma finds himself sitting before the beautiful goddess Aqua, who gives him two options: either carry on over to Heaven or reincarnate in a fantasy world! Choosing to live a new life, Kazuma is tasked with the responsibility of defeating the Demon King. He is given the opportunity to select any item to aid him in his quest and he selects Aqua; however he soon comes to realise that Aqua is useless! His initial excitement at becoming a heroic adventurer in a fantasy world dissipates as he comes to realise the harsh realities of living in such a world.
The events surrounding Kazuma’s hilarious death involve a series of grave misunderstandings of the situation at hand, as well as an overactive imagination. The girl he was trying to save from a truck barrelling down the road was not in any danger but his “heroic” act led to Kazuma’s heart stopping and having to hear the cackling laughter of a goddess amused by human frailty and Satou’s lack of composure.
2. Hyoudou Issei – High School DxD
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2012 – March 2012
High school student and pervert Hyoudou Issei does nothing with his life but peeping on women and daydreaming about having his own harem one day. Things seem to be looking up for him when a beautiful girl from another school asks him out on a date; however, she turns out to be a fallen angel and brutally kills him. In the limbo between life and death, Issei’s eyes fix themselves upon the flowing red hair of Rias Gremory, a beautiful senior student at his school, who uses her powers as a top-tier demon to revive Issei and turn him into one of her servants. He then joins the school’s Occult Research Club, having to adjust to his new life as a demon, training and fighting in order to survive the violent world he has now become a part of.
Issei’s death in the first episode of the anime is an incredibly memorable scene as we are initially presented with the scene before the first episode gets underway. He is killed due to his body containing a dangerous artefact known as a “Sacred Gear”, making him a huge threat. He meets death with a high level of regret; however, it is through death that he got to meet the friends he makes at the Occult Research Club, as well as in the world of the demons.
1. Kakashi Hatake – Naruto: Shippuuden
- Episodes: 500
- Aired: February 2007 – March 2017
Two and a half years after Uzumaki Naruto leaves his home village of Konohagakure in order to train and get stronger, while the mysterious rogue ninja group known as the Akatsuki close in on their plans which stand to threaten the entire Shinobi world. Knowing what evil looms, Naruto is still very much the same person he was when he was younger, with an incredible determination to protect his friends at all costs and hopes to realise his dream of becoming Hokage.
Team 7 Leader Kakashi Hatake is one of the most-liked Naruto characters in the series and given his relationship with the Naruto franchise’s main trio, Kakashi bears a huge amount of respect from fans. His death in the anime happens as a result of spending his Chakra reserves in the fight against Pain. However, Kakashi’s death is short-lived as he is resurrected by Nagato’s Samsara and never dies again.
Many people are of the opinion that death is temporary. Whatever your thoughts on death may be, anime characters have been cheating death, beating death and being death for a very long time. Observations such as characters who have been revived encompass a vast variety of characters and shows throughout all of space and that makes it impossible to get every single character – this is where you come in! Drop a comment below and tell us about your favourite revived anime character!