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Five Times Anime Characters Died (and Then Walked It Off)

Nigel, AKA Bubblegum Senpai, was voted most likely to die due to an accident involving a cuddle pillow. Haruhi Suzumiya for Life.

You just can't keep a good character - or sometimes a bad character - down.

You just can't keep a good character - or sometimes a bad character - down.

Dead Anime Characters That Ended Up Surviving

Death is an often-used trope in entertainment - a tool designed to evoke emotion in the audience, particularly if the audience has grown attached to that particular character. After all, in the real world death is permanent and we often lament when a favorite character leaves a show we're watching without a proper chance to say goodbye. This isn't always a case of a character dying - cast members frequently rotate in and out of our favorite shows if they run long enough - but death itself has a certain finality to it.

The joy of fantasy and fiction, though, is that they don't have to follow the rules, and nowhere is this more common than in the wacky world of anime. Sure, you get some shows like Golden Time that follow very closely the rules of reality, or on the other hand, you get the shows like How Clumsy You Are Miss Ueno that take unrealistic situations and dial them up to eleven for effect. In a genre that isn't bound by the rules of reality, it makes sense that the rules we know of for death don't apply either.

That being said, whether it be through magic, time travel, divine intervention or other forms of bending the rules of reality, here are five characters in anime who died, and lived to tell the tale. And considering that this whole topic is about how a certain plot device is used, the standard spoiler warning is in effect in all examples.

Shido, the moment he realizes he isn't dead anymore.

Shido, the moment he realizes he isn't dead anymore.

Shido Itsuki

Shido Itsuki is the main protagonist in Date a Live, who has the ability to seal the power of destructive beings called "spirits." Once he has sealed their power, he can learn to use their powers or call upon the spirit's angels or astral weapons - god-like weapons of great power. Pertaining to this list specifically, the angel 'Camael' allows him to heal from injuries - including most injuries that are fatal.

While not as directly emotional to the audience - the power is used for the first time early in the series so it's rather unlikely that death is permanent - his death does still have some impact as neither he - nor the uninitiated audience - knows he has sealed a spirit in the past, or that he has this ability.

The particular death I am referring to is the just mentioned one in the early parts of the first season. In his efforts to convince the destructive spirit Tohka that she can co-exist in the human world if she lets him seal her powers, he thwarts a military assassination attempt on her life by pushing her out of harm's way and taking the bullet himself. Tohka, having lost the one person who has gone out of his way to not just be nice to her, but convince her to try to stay, goes into berserker mode. She pulls out not just her astral weapon, but augments it with her angel to turn it into a sword much larger than she is and sets upon avenging the assassin who took Shido's life.

Meanwhile, back at the base of operations for our hero, the crew of the Fraxinus confirms that he's dead according to his vital signs, until Captain Kotori mentions that it will take "more than that" to keep her brother down. Tohka is losing control of her powers and sanity as she nearly destroys the town until Shido's gun wound starts to heal and he jumps up feeling "hot" because of the healing fire, only to see Tohka on the rampage. It turns out, according to Kotori, that one of the trump cards they were hoping to not use was that Shido has the ability to respawn after death - even comparing it to continuing after dying in a video game. The crew then retrieve his body only to drop him from midair where he would be able to get Tohka's attention and properly seal her powers.

Shido has no memories of ever sealing a spirit before, so he did not know he had this power, nor does he know why he has it. Whether that makes his sacrifice noble or stupid is anyone's guess. If he hadn't died Tohka would not have gone mad, but on the other hand, his sacrifice also made sealing her powers possible after his resurrection because of her stronger emotional connection to him for what he did for her.

There weren't any appropriate pictures of Sakura in death, so here's a picture of Dokuro reviving him.

There weren't any appropriate pictures of Sakura in death, so here's a picture of Dokuro reviving him.

Sakura Kusakabe

This one really gets played out. Sakura not only dies, but he dies over and over again. He's not immortal. He does actually die. Brutally and violently.

In Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan Sakura invents a device that stops girls from aging once they become a teenager, thus creating a "fantasy world" of sorts, or at least a fantasy according to often overused stereotypes in anime. Because not aging effectively makes these girls immortal, it is considered an offense against both God and nature and so an angel (Dokuro) is sent from the future to kill him before he can invent this device. Unwilling to kill him permanently, more angel assassins from the future come down to kill him.

Of course, Dokuro indeed does kill him herself. But she also has developed feelings for Sakura, and as such, every time she does kill him, she then resurrects him. As such, he often dies multiple times per episode. For this anime, I can't really pick a specific death. There are so many to pick from and many of them are the same: bludgeoned to death by a club.

If you do choose to watch this series, be advised: it's gory. It's a comedy, but this series was direct-to-video, allowing them to show the violence without the usual censorship that applies to Japanese television laws.

Kazuma, in the afterlife.

Kazuma, in the afterlife.

Kazuma Sato

There's no shortage of shows where a character dies in our world and is reincarnated in a fantasy realm, but that trope seems like it's cheating. That's where KonoSuba (an abbreviation of the full title God's Blessing on This Wonderful World) comes in. In this series, Kazuma dies - in a rather embarrassing fashion - and in the afterlife is greeted by the beautiful but arrogant and rude goddess Aqua. She offers him a second chance at life by becoming an adventurer in a fantasy world and permits him to take anything with him. After putting up with Aqua's humiliation, he chooses to take her into the new world.

Now, let's be clear: for this list, that's kind of cheating. If he's in a new world, then to the inhabitants of this world, he's not coming back from the dead. He's just arriving as a new adventurer. It's like he's a new person, but with memories of a past life. It's a reincarnation, not a return from death.

So how does he still make this list? By dying a second time. While hunting monsters in a Winter storm, his party is found by the leader of the Winter monsters: The Winter Shogun. Clueless about what is going on, Kazuma is killed and finds himself back in the afterlife again, where he is greeted by the goddess Eris. As it turns out, Eris and Aqua are the main goddesses worshiped by the two dominant and rival religions in this world.

Eris is much kinder to Kazuma and recognizes the struggles he had in both his previous lives, and is about to send him back to Japan in an affluent family and comfort when in the afterlife they suddenly hear Aqua yelling at him. As it turns out, Aqua is adept at using healing magic and is attempting to revive him, whether he likes it or not. After Aqua threatens Eris and Kazuma admits he misses the fantasy world, Eris agrees to allow him to return to Aqua and his party as a one-time exception.

Yuzuro Otonashi, waking up after being killed.

Yuzuro Otonashi, waking up after being killed.

Yuzuru Otonashi

Despite the whole point of Angel Beats being that everyone is already dead, this still counts. While Yuzuru isn't the only one who dies and comes back, it certainly seems to happen more often to him. Whether he's being stabbed by the student council president, or springing deadly booby-traps, Yuzuru just can't stay down.

The characters who've been around in this world long enough tend to take this for granted. This is where Yuzuru's first death in this world is significant because he has only been in this world for scarcely ten minutes. He's barely even processed that he's dead. He doesn't even believe he's dead. So when he asks someone - the student council president who goes by the name "Angel" - to prove to him he's actually dead, she does so simply by stabbing him.

In a 'where was he going to go, Detroit?' moment, he wakes up several hours later in the school infirmary without so much as a mark. Thinking he was dreaming, he suddenly notices his shirt folded on the chair net to his bed. Not only is it blood-stained, it's soaked enough to still make a wet sound when he picks it up. I mean, if you die in the afterlife, where else are you going to go besides the afterlife?

And let's be clear: death is still painful in this world, but the students who have been in the afterlife long enough have little regard or reverence for mortality. What happens when a bunch of students live in a world where death is an inconvenience instead of a consequence? Total anarchy, apparently.

Get the Complete Series of "Angel Beats" on Blu-Ray

Krillin, who has become the poster child of repeated deaths in the Dragon Ball series.

Krillin, who has become the poster child of repeated deaths in the Dragon Ball series.

Almost Everyone in the Dragon Ball Series

Again, for the characters in the Dragon Ball franchise, death is really a minor inconvenience. I can't say for certain, but I think the only person who hasn't died yet is Mr. Satan, and that's only because his death was retconned rather than a resurrection.

Of course, there's Krillin, who is often the butt of death-related jokes in the fanbase; Cell, who literally came back to life from a single cell left after he died; or even Son Goku, who literally sumo wrestled his way out of Hell - or HFIL if you prefer (Though I don't think he got to Hell by dying. I think he - literally - just fell in). Heck, in Dragon Ball Super all seven universes that make the Super Multiverse get wiped from existence, only to be wished back into existence with the Tournament of Power prize - the 'Super Dragon Balls.'

So yeah. Dragon Ball. All of the series. Lots of death. Lots of resurrections.

© 2019 Nigel Kirk