Death in anime can be sudden, unexpected, gory, and indiscriminate. The most powerful aspect to death is not necessarily the loss but its unpredictability. Death can claim any character, which means the sympathetic or beloved can suffer a premature end. When these characters die, it can drastically alter the direction of the anime and deeply impact the viewer.
Teresa of the Faint Smile: ‘Claymore’
'Claymore' follows a warrior by the name of Clare. However, after a few episodes, the focus shifts to a different Claymore, Teresa. Teresa is an integral part of Clare’s past and the bond she forms with Clare give her death a true feeling of loss.
At first, Teresa reluctantly allows the outcast child to follow her but gradually warms up to Clare. Eventually Teresa sacrifices her position as a Claymore and earns a death mark to save Clare’s life.
Finding new purpose in the little girl she set out to take care of, the assassination squad sent to kill Teresa eventually succeeds in killing the former Claymore. She loses her head because her battle hardened determination was softened by new found warmth. Teresa’s death not only devastated Clare, but it drove her to seek a blood-thirsty revenge.
Jinro Kuita: ‘Sky Crawlers’
Jinro Kuita’s death in ‘The Sky Crawlers’ is a strange case. The reason it is odd is because Jinro is never seen. However, his death leaves an indelible mark on many of the characters in the anime and seems to hold a secret. The secret is slowly unraveled as the anime follows Yuuichi Kamani.
Jinro’s death tugs at heart strings because it symbolizes despair. The viewer learns that the fate of these pilots, known as kildren, is to repeat an unchanging cycle of a narrow existence. Jinro’s lover and killer, Suito Kusanagi, is a constant reminder of how painful a kildren’s existence is. Having lived longer than any of her peers, she questions the purpose of the kildren and fails to see any significance to their life.
Eventually, it is revealed that Kusanagi killed Jinro because he wanted to give up what he felt was a pointless existence instead of continue on in an infinite loop.
Rosette Christopher: ‘Chrono Crusade’
Early in ‘Chrono Crusade’ Rosette Christopher is depicted as an upbeat and energetic character. She is an Exorcist and member of the Order of Magdalene. Though her job deals with the grim business of putting demons down, Rosette remains a light spirited presence for much of the series.
Strangely, Rosette is bound to a friendly demon that helps her on her missions. Due to the bond between Rosette and Chrono, the anime leads to an inevitably sad end. Since Chrono can only use his power by using the years of Rosette's life. The final battle in the series claims Rosette’s life. What makes this a heart breaking death is the sense of fear and loss that accompanies it. In a moment of sorrow, the young Rosette expresses that she is not truly ready to die.
Nagisa Furukawa/Okazaki: ‘Clannad’
In many ways, Nagisa is the embodiment of the archetypal moe character. She is sweet, compassionate, and does not have a drop of malice in her. Furthermore, she suffers from a disease that occasionally inflicts debilitating weakness. However, with the support of her friends, she manages to overcome the drawbacks to her illness enough to complete her last year of high school and lead a normal life.
As the series progresses, she eventually gets married to Tomoya and gets pregnant. Life seems good and all is well. This is where events take a tear jerking turn. When it comes time for Nagisa to give birth, her weakness presents a threat. To make matters worse, the weather makes it impossible to get any medical aid. The impending doom is only augmented by the feeling of helplessness and depressing soundtrack.
Mayuri Shiina: 'Steins Gate'
‘Steins Gate’ is science fiction anime with a quirky sense of humor that harbors a dark side. The cast is lovable to the last but one stands above the rest, Mayuri Shiina. Mayuri is one of Rinatarou Okabe’s (the protagonist) oldest and dearest friends. She is also easy to love because it is impossible to imagine her possessing anything but a smile and sunny disposition
Beyond losing a lovable character, the death of Mayuri instills Okabe with despair. The experience allows for a glimpse of hope because of the option to alter past events, but the attempts to save Mayuri are mostly in vain. In each effort to save his friend, Okabe witness a plethora of scenarios that end in witnessing Mayuri’s demise. Okabe eventually learns that all the good he was able to do with time travel may have to be undone to save Mayuri. Shouldering the burden by himself, Okabe is nearly driven to madness.