Mar 4 / Sozoroo TEAM

Popular Anime Depictions of Main Character Deaths

In the intricate tapestry of manga and anime, the demise of major characters is a narrative device often used to evoke deep emotion and push storylines into uncharted territory. While the loss of supporting characters is somewhat expected, the death of the main protagonist sends shockwaves through the audience, challenging preconceived notions and leaving lasting impressions. Let's look at instances where the unexpected happened and main characters in popular anime and manga met their end, forever changing the trajectory of their respective narratives.

"Sailor Moon"
In the beloved TV anime "Sailor Moon," a staple of 90s television for many young girls, the unthinkable happens: all main characters, including the protagonist, meet their demise.

The series, known for its transformation sequences and battles against the Dark Kingdom, took a tragic turn. In the penultimate episode titled "Death of the Sailor Guardians: The Tragic Final Battle," all Sailor Warriors except Sailor Moon fall victim to the DD Girls. The final episode, "Usagi's Eternal Wish! A Brand New Life," sees Sailor Moon, alongside her beloved Tuxedo Mask, battling Queen Beryl. In a bittersweet victory, Sailor Moon emerges triumphant but succumbs to her injuries, resulting in the demise of all major characters.

The shocking finale left a lasting impact, with reports of distraught young viewers flooding TV stations and newspapers with protests and complaints. However, the series ends with a glimmer of hope as Sailor Moon's wish for a normal life is granted, and the Sailor Warriors are reincarnated to live ordinary lives, albeit with no memories of their past adventures.

"Yu Yu Hakusho"
Another example comes from "Yu Yu Hakusho," a manga later adapted into a live-action drama in 2023. The protagonist, Yusuke Urameshi, meets his end early on in a selfless act to save a child from a car accident. However, his death serves as a catalyst for his journey as a spirit detective.

In a later arc, during the "Chapter Black Saga," Yusuke confronts Sensui, a former spirit detective turned antagonist. In a shocking turn of events, Yusuke is fatally wounded by Sensui, leaving readers devastated by the unexpected loss. Sensui's overwhelming strength and victory over Yusuke left many fans reeling.

Yet, Yusuke's story doesn't end in despair. Revealed to be a descendant of one of the Three Kings of the Demon World, Yusuke returns as a demon, eventually avenging his defeat by Sensui.

"Rurouni Kenshin"
The iconic series "Rurouni Kenshin," known for its 2023 reboot as "Rurouni Kenshin: The Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story," also portrays the death of its protagonist, Kenshin Himura.

The "Reflection" OVA, directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi, presents an original story focusing on Kenshin's quest for redemption after his past as an assassin catches up with him. Struggling with illness and amnesia, Kenshin embarks on a journey of atonement. His wife, Kaoru, also meets her demise, leading to mixed reactions from viewers who found the storyline heavy and poignant. Some even speculated Kenshin's illness to be syphilis, although director Furuhashi clarified it as a fictional ailment derived from Kenshin's travels to various health resorts.

Despite the somber tone, Kenshin's journey resonates with themes of redemption and closure, offering a poignant conclusion to his saga.

The deaths of main characters in anime and manga serve as poignant reminders of the unpredictability of storytelling in the medium. Despite the shock and despair they evoke, these moments often contribute to the depth and emotional resonance of the narratives, leaving lasting impressions on audiences worldwide. Through their sacrifices and struggles, these characters transcend the boundaries of fiction, inspiring reflection and empathy in those who witness their journeys.