It's not usual, but it's not unusual either. Depending on the anime, a main character's death can be the most shocking, cathartic, or annoying thing you've seen all day. So we perused the obituaries to bring you a list of anime where the protagonists kick the bucket in the saddest and most marvelous ways.
8. Dragon Ball Z
Dragon Ball Z hardly needs an introduction. Every saga ends with the death of many important characters who are then revived using the magic of dragon balls. The main character Goku has wound up dead around three times in the anime. For instance, remember how Goku got blown up during the Cell Games?
Although this makes death quite predictable in Dragon Ball Z, it doesn’t take away from the experience of actually feeling for the characters.
7. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure follows the adventures that the heirs of the cursed Joestar bloodline encounter. The Joestars have exceptional physical strength and fight bizarre enemies that get more bizarre with each passing season.
In the first season Phantom Blood, the main character Jonathan Joestar famously dies on a flaming ship while saving his wife and a baby from the nefarious vampire Dio Brando.
This made fans incredibly surprised as it was the first season and the main character was supposedly killed off. Of course, the series continued through Joseph Joestar, the baby that Jonathan’s wife raises as her own, establishing the massively strange world of JoJo.
Re:Zero takes the main character death trope so seriously that its main character ends up dying in almost every single episode. And it hurts like hell!
On his way out of a grocery store, Natsuki Subaru gets transported to an isekai world filled with magical people, dragons and RPG-like characters. But Re:Zero actually parodies isekai conventions by bestowing Subaru with absolutely no supernatural powers except the ability to die over and over again to save his loved ones from getting murdered.
Well that's… a lot. I can't tell if Subaru is the luckiest or the most hapless character on this list.
5. Cowboy Bebop
Who could forget the iconic bang? Cowboy Bebop takes you far into the future, to space where the humans have colonised the stars (minus the utopian dream). Here, Spike Spiegel leads a gang of ragtag bounty hunters, who, as the name suggests, travel through space hunting down fugitives.
Spike is simply delightful to watch on screen with his nonchalant attitude and cool fight moves. Unfortunately, you may have noticed that Spike made it to this list, which means that, well, yes, he died on a flight of stairs with bloodied clothes and white doves flying after.
Don’t worry though, he looked pretty cool doing it.
4. Code Geass
With the premise of a rebellion, colonisation, a supernatural power called Geass and the raging desire to be free, Code Geass follows the rise of an ordinary highschooler into the revered and equally despised figure of Zero who rallies the Japanese radicals against the forces of the Britannian Kingdom.
But as you can tell, there’s nothing simple about the premise. So the magic and madness of the geopolitical situation lead the main character towards the perfect finale – turning himself into a villain and pulling off his own death. With the entire world’s vengeance pointed at him, Lelouch ends the global stalemate by orchestrating his own assassination.
Dying for world peace isn’t that bad a way to go, ay?
3. Death note
If the name isn’t hint enough, a cat-and-mouse game between a highschooler who kills people using a notebook and a mysterious sweet-obsessed and weirdly-sitting detective determined to expose him, establishes from the beginning that someone has to go.
In this case, both the main characters, Light and L, die. And so do many crucial side characters like Misa, Mello, Misora. There is death all around, as it suits an anime titled Death Note, but the way these deaths played out is either absolutely satisfying or straight-up infuriating.
2. Grave of The Fireflies
Arguably the saddest Ghibli film to date, Grave of the Fireflies explores the life – more accurately the afterlife – of two siblings who are stranded from their parents during the American bombing of Japan during World War 2 and are forced to scavenge for food and survive in a war-torn city.
The death of the main characters Seita and his little sister Setsuko is foreshadowed from the very beginning. It’s not too long after that you realise the siblings won’t make it and it’s only a matter of time before they die. Towards the end, you could even find yourself wishing they died quicker so that their suffering ends.
1. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion begins with a bunch of kids tasked with the responsibility of piloting biomechanical robots and saving the planet from godlike aliens who have made up their minds to destroy humanity. Death in this case is, well, as Thanos would put it, inevitable.
Then comes the plot twist. Instead of dying at the hands of extraterrestrials, the protagonists become subjects of the Human Instrumentality Project – an artificial evolutionary process that will meld all human beings into a single collective consciousness. In other words, they advance to the “next stage of humanity”. It doesn’t mean they died, but they don’t exist either.
Though in the end, Shinji, the 14-year-old main character, decides to return to his body, technically everyone else who didn’t return is as good as dead.