Why Is Scythe So Popular In Anime?

Scythes have a way of making any anime character stand out. Why is scythe so popular in anime despite its many shortcomings in the real world?

L'arc Berd from Rising of the Shield Heroes

Scythe in any anime is the most popular weapon of choice. Historically a farming tool, scythes used to be one of the only few weapon choices available to farmers and peasants at the time. In mythology and popular culture, scythes are often associated with death and grim reapers. In Japanese history, sickle or chain sickle has been more prevalent as a weapon. However, in anime, we often see badass heroes or unhinged villains holding a scythe. Let’s find out the reasons for the popularity of this incredibly stylish and utterly impractical weapon.

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Shinigamis and Scythes

Shinigami/grim reaper

Death has a certain allure to itself. In all popular media of all forms, death has been a recurrent theme. Something that elicits fear, attraction, repulsion all the same time.

Shinigami are Gods or supernatural spirits of death prevalent in Japanese folktales. However, the dressed in black, scythe-wielding Shinigami is a fairly recent incarnation of the death god inspired by the western grim reaper. The grim reaper in European folktales and artwork is often featured with a big scythe.

In Soul Eater, the main characters attend a school called Death Weapon Meister Academy (DWMA) located in the fictional Death City in Nevada, United States.

DWMA is run by Shinigami, also known as Death, the Grim Reaper. He doesn’t use a scythe, but the protagonist Maka does. Her partner Soul Evans is also her weapon, a scythe Maka wields to perfection. The personification of the weapon of death is certainly an interesting choice to make.

Scythe in Anime

To make their characters stand out, manga/anime creators can either give them big boobs or unique hair color or in the case of action animes, a unique weapon or fighting style. Scythe is the definition of badassery for unconventional anime characters. The larger-than-life weapon is a perfect complement to the characters they are often paired with and immediately makes them stand out. Hidan from the Akatsuki in Naruto Shippuden wields a modified Scythe with a chain enabling him to make deadly mid and long-range attacks, suited to his fighting style.

Since the mythos of Bleach is centered around Soul Reapers, a lot of characters wield modified scythes or scythe-like weapons.

Cute Anime Girls Using Scythes

In action and fantasy anime, there are mostly only two kinds of characters seen with a scythe-  dark, unhinged villains or antiheroes and cute, sometimes crazy anime girls. The former is an obvious choice, the dark alluring weapon wielded by a badass character.

The latter is an intriguing pairing, a young, often frail girl holding a huge, heavy scythe. Haqua from The World God Only Knows, Shinoa Hiragi from Seraph Of The End and Ruby Rose from RWBY are all cute, young girls wielding a deadly scythe. Shinoa may look like an innocent schoolgirl but the scythe in her hands would have you believe otherwise.

In fact, the juxtaposition of the innocence of these girls and the deadliness of their weapons makes them even more dangerous and attractive. An exception to the cute anime girls with a scythe is Zorin Blitz from Hellsing Ultimate. The scary antagonist doesn’t even need the scythe to be fearful, however, she relishes in her sadistic pleasures while torturing and dismembering her victims with her weapon of choice.

Scythe In Real Life

Kusarigama (traditional japanese weapon)

Scythes have never been a weapon of choice in real-world combat especially the large, heavy scythes featured in animes. It would simply be impractical to carry or swing around such a bulky weapon. Not only would it require immense upper body strength, but the wielder would also always be at risk of injuring themselves or their allies in close combat situations. Not to mention, real-world scythes are built to cut crops, not human bodies.

Historically, a smaller scythe or a sickle was more commonly used as common folk weaponry during rebellions or violent riots. In Japanese culture, a more prevalent weapon is the Kusarigama. It’s a traditional Japanese weapon made of a sickle and a chain. It’s a deadly weapon employed in some martial arts.

Even Kusarigama is an unusual weapon that’s rarely used in real-world combat. Big anime scythes are just completely impractical to use in the real world. Besides even in anime scythes are mostly used to create a big violent spectacle more than anything else. Such nature of violence would probably be frowned upon out in the non-anime world of us simpletons.

Maka spinning his scythe
Maka spinning his scythe
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So why are larger-than-life scythes so popular in anime, despite being so impractical? The answer to this is rather simple. Scythes look super cool and completely badass and are the best weapon in anime existence. Some people would say katanas are cooler but those people would be simply wrong because can you even spin a katana? Well, you probably can. However, the point still stands. While katanas probably hold the throne in the world of anime weapons, nothing can rival the stylish allure and spectacle of deadly scythes.

Additionally, scythes look impressive from a distance and close up. Wielding a scythe requires immense power and expertise. You know when a character is holding a scythe, they are not here to mess around! Scythe represents undefeatable and destructive power, the unstoppable force of death!