If you’re reading this, you may already be too late. First, let me apologize and offer condolences to you, dear anime viewer. You’re probably here because your favorite anime character is no more. They probably died a gruesome, quick death or perished slowly and peacefully, without fear. Nonetheless, it’s still very sad.
While it may be difficult to prevent such future casualties, there are some signs you can look out for the next time you watch an anime or read manga. Perhaps you can heed these warnings before you get attached to anyone. It may lessen the pain when it actually happens, but all you can do is hope they survive long enough into the next episode.
An Extended Flashback
The most painful experience is getting to know your favorite character before their tragic death. You’re often shown their childhood, how they got to where they are now, and how everything in their life seems to be going upwards. That is… until the hammer drops. A great tragedy slowly crumbles everything down or the beloved character just dies suddenly. They say that before you die, you see flashbacks of your life before everything ends.
A flashback before death is probably one of the most used signs of a character’s death, with some examples including Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist, Cowboy Bebop, and essentially everyone from 2017’s Juni Taisen.
Making Promises They Can’t Keep
When your favorite character says they’ll be back or look forward to meeting again, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to live and keep their promise. Sometimes they even lie to the character in order to spare them the despair. This is usually to help motivate the protagonist towards defeating the enemy and completing the goal.
You see this trope used in a lot of situations where the enemy is gaining power and one character has to hold the fort while the hero progresses. Sometimes, to get the best outcome, a noble sacrifice must be made. Even if it means breaking a promise.
Everything Is Going Too Well
Your favorite character is enjoying the best time of their life. They have good friends, a good family life, and maybe someone they’re close with. Their future looks bright and promising… until it’s not. You might recognize when someone says it’s their last day on the job before retirement and they seemingly have the best days ahead of them. However, things can take a tragic turn when everything in your life is going too well.
Sometimes through a chance encounter or situation, your favorite character’s life can take a downward trend towards death. Sometimes it can happen on the spur of the moment. Either way, you want to wish your character the best life possible, but maybe not too much.
They call these the ‘Hidden Eyes’ of anime and manga. You know that trope where a character’s eyes are shaded or hidden from sight. This suggests a big revelation about to be made and can be a telltale sign that something will go wrong. They’re also signifiers of great emotional stress from a character, leading to unpredictable actions. In a sense, this would be a great way to literally stab your character in the back.
Probably the most famous example of how the Hidden Eyes is from the characters Sekai and Kotonoha in School Days. It’s unfortunate that Makoto Itou suffered a brutal end this way, but hey, he at least got a nice boat.
The Dead Mom Hair
Pretty self explanatory here, but I suspect this is more of a coincidence. Nevertheless, if Disney has taught us anything, it’s that a dead mom is most surely in the cards of a main character’s backstory. Of course, fridging a mother to just motivate a usually male protagonist to do their best is a pretty lazy way of moving the story forward. The Dead Mom Hair has resurfaced many times and I suspect anime uses this trope a lot because parents are easy targets.
Basically, if you want your anime mom to survive, maybe tell them to not have their long hair tied in a ponytail that falls to one side. Regardless of someone’s hairstyle, as we learned from Jujutsu Kaisen most recently, maybe anime moms are just a favorite target of Death.
One Last Speech
It’s time to go out in style by delivering one last grand speech to the masses. Your favorite character is at their wit’s end and has their back against the wall, with everything going against them. They probably don’t have time to spare, so they use up every second of their dwindling life to inspire and deliver the best speech they’ll give. I respect anime characters who go down swinging and deliver some strong words before their end.
You may remember how Willy Tybur from Attack on Titan met his end when Eren burst out from under him. You can also find many last speeches in anime like Naruto, Trigun, Gurren Lagann, and Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
Discarded or Lost Items
Sometimes when the protagonist arrives just in time, their closest friend or family member may already have died. If you see your favorite character’s dropped item somewhere, that’s a strong indicator that they’re dead. These items can be anything from a torn ribbon and a teddy bear to a bracelet. Basically, if the item we associate most with a character is found in debris or a pool of blood, they’re most likely dead.
There are many ways you can foresee your favorite anime character dying. Some of these deaths can be a sudden shock while others are agonizingly slow. We can only watch and brace ourselves before the inevitable happens. Of course, with a small list such as this, there’s only so much we can cover. What other common signs suggest an anime character will die?