Resurrections in fiction are hard to do right. Partially because of how many authors use them as a crutch, to write themselves out of challenging situations and also partially because the bible beat every other one of them to the punch.
Too far? Too bad, we’re looking at characters in manga who have gone farther than any of us and come back to tell the tale.
10. Land and Soil Earthgaia from Clay Lord
- Mangaka: Suzumoto, Jun
- Genres: Fantasy, Josei, Action
- Volumes: 3
- Published: 2013 – 2014
Clay Lord is essentially a cyberpunk story wrapped in the visual style of a fantasy manga. It explores the validity of robots as sentient, living beings in dense metropoles, only these metropoles are medieval kingdoms and the robots are golems. What makes Land and Soil stand out among these golems though, is that they’re the only golems who were originally human, marking their characters as a watershed moment for the story’s world. It may be a bit cheap to put two characters in one spot, but since the circumstances of their resurrection are identical and said resurrection is more interesting than their actual characters anyway, but they do get points for thematic relevance.
9. Kaiman from Dorohedoro
- Mangaka: Q Hayashida
- Genres: Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction
- Volumes: 23
- Published: 2000 – 2018
Kaiman is a special case for this list, as his resurrection is the focal point of his manga's main mystery. All he knows is he was human, but thanks to a mysterious wizard, he lives a new life as a bizarre humanoid lizard monster. He and the "man inside his head" journey together through a gory world, looking for answers in a story told via some of the most grizzly detail drawn in manga since Junji Ito. The central premise, lead protagonist and design elements of this series are so strong that anyone can admire it, even people who haven’t even read the manga like some otaku journalists.
8. Oboro Mochizuki from Psyren
- Mangaka: Iwashiro Toshiaki
- Genres: Science Fiction, Action, Death Game
- Volumes: 16
- Published: 2007 - 2010
Some characters just steal the stories they appear in, and Oboro is a prime example of such a person. Psyren’s archetypical crazy guy character suits his role exceptionally well, by seemingly going out of his way to embody unpredictability. He's a massively successful idol, but feels he's an underachiever; he develops powers that seem focused on helping others but resists using teamwork; He gets killed and can't use his healing powers on himself, but then works around the rules of the death game he's in to bring his own self back. It's hard not to respect a genius.
7. Taiju Oki from Dr. Stone
- Mangaka: Inagaki, Riichiro (Story), Boichi (Art)
- Genres: Science Fiction, Adventure
- Volumes: 7+
- Published: Ongoing
Taiju loses a few points for having been petrified instead of just being killed, but he more than makes up for that with the way he makes his return. Not by the hand of a wizard, not by rules of a supernatural game but simply through his sheer willpower, and you can’t knock that.
Also, since “tai” (大) and “o” ( 大) both mean “big”; and “ju” (樹) and “ki” (木) both mean “tree”, this guy’s name translates to “Big Tree Big Tree”. That has nothing to do with his resurrection, it’s just great all on its own.
6. Mitsuru Yamaguchi from Uzumaki
- Mangaka: Ito, Junji
- Genres: Horror, Seinen
- Volumes: 3
- Published: 1998 - 1999
Mitsuru is a phenomenally awkward boy who, for no apparent reason, only amuses himself by jumping out from hiding spots and startling his peers. His strange hobby has earned him the nickname of “Jack-in-the-Box”, but he quickly finds a new fixation: winning the heart of Kirie Goshima… by jumping out from hiding spots and startling her.
Needless to say, this doesn’t go very well, but to Mitsuru’s credit, he does eventually realize his plan is pretty stupid. But then again, his backup plan to jump in front of a speeding car to show how much he loves Kirie goes about as well as you would expect. He does come back to life, although maybe not in the way you would expect. Let’s just say he gave the name Jack-in-the-Box a whole new meaning.
5. Goku from Dragonball
- Mangaka: Toriyama, Akira
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Shounen
- Volumes: 42
- Published: 1984 - 1995
Goku doesn’t just die and come back to life multiple times, he uses his time in the afterlife to train with some of the strongest people in the known universe and then comes back exponentially stronger than when he left.
4. Josuke “Gappy” Higashikata from JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 8: JoJolion (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 8: Jojolion)
- Mangaka: Araki, Hirohiko
- Genres: Action, Mystery, Seinen
- Volumes: 18+
- Published: Ongoing
The 8th Jojo is another character whose resurrection forms the story’s central mystery, but it’s revealed pretty early on that he’s not just one resurrected character but two. Jojolion takes place in a different universe than most other parts of the franchise, but many characters from the old one are somewhat present in the form of direct counterparts. When the new universe’s equivalent of some very powerful characters from previous parts die, the supernatural circumstances surrounding them cause them to not only be resurrected but fused together in the aloof powerhouse that is Gappy, the only member of this list to have scored a two-in-one resurrection.
3. All You Need is Kill
- Mangaka: Obata, Takeshi (Art), Sakurazaka, Hiroshi (Story), Takeuchi, Ryousuke (Story)
- Genres: 1
- Volumes: 2
- Published: 2014
Keiji Kiriya is a soldier who died almost as soon as he stepped onto the battlefield, but he was (debatably) lucky enough to get caught into a time loop, letting him relive the day of the invasion over and over again, which means he might be able to Groundhog Day his way to defeating the entire alien army that threatens his world.
But this story is far in tone from the Harold Ramis classic, as Keiji must push his body past its limits day after day in order to be able to make it through the battle alive, suffering countless deaths, each more painful than the last. Hopefully being third on this list makes up for it though, and to Keiji’s credit, he earns that spot elegantly, since almost all we seem him do is be resurrected. The Hollywood film adaptation was spot on with its tagline: “Live, die, repeat.”
2. Greed from Fullmetal Alchemist
- Mangaka: Arakawa, Hiromu
- Genres: Shounen, Action, Fantasy
- Volumes: 27
In the world of Fullmetal Alchemist, resurrection will never work, unless the subject happens to be a homunculus whose philosopher’s stone hasn’t been broken. The reason we know this, mind you, is because that’s exactly what happened to Greed.
Greed loved the way his stone would immediately repair any damage his body suffered, but it can’t bring him back forever, so his goal (aside from claim over all earthly possessions) is to find a more permanent solution. That plan goes awry almost as soon as we meet him though, as the character King Bradley kills him hundreds of times in quick succession, exhausting his stone. Lucky for Greed, he was later resurrected by being brought into a new body, with renewed power. Several more encounters with him occurred throughout the manga, with several more deaths not far behind, until the series’ climactic showdown where he was finally done in once and for all.
The guy really can’t catch a break, but he’s technically been resurrected more than just about any other character in manga, so hopefully being this high on our list will give him some comfort.
1. Riseman Sawyer from Marry Grave
- Mangaka: Yamaji, Hidenori
- Genres: Action, Shounen, Comedy
- Volumes: 2+
- Published: Ongoing
Sawyer had a hard life, though that’s hardly a surprise considering he lives in a world where humans are in constant danger of being attacked by vicious monsters who killed his family. His life after that mostly consisted of wandering the wasteland, just trying to survive with Dante, the only mentor he had left, despite their extremely small age difference.
But all that changed when he met Rosalie, whom he would eventually marry, finally giving his life meaning and leading him to vow to protect her from monsters, which he does do… and then dies immediately. But with Rosalie’s unyielding love for Sawyer, she sets out right away to travel the world and find all the ingredients of the Deadman’s Recipe, a forbidden spell that resurrects the dead. She spends decade after decade tracking down every rare resource needed until finally, having reached the twilight of her life, she finally completes the spell and resurrects Sawyer… and then promptly dies in his arms.
Sawyer, of course, sees this and sets out to complete the recipe anew, thus beginning the real story of Marry Grave. His resurrection is the driving force of every aspect of his character from his actions to simply his look, making his the most notable revival of any manga characters.
Do you like the characters shown here? Do you think others should have been featured? Are you still upset about that bible joke at the beginning? Let us know in the comments and keep an eye out for more great discussions on everything manga courtesy of Honey’s Anime.