Ah, yes, everyone in their hearts has a list of anime deaths which have made them feel emotions no other animated character has. And for the most part, they tend to be major characters-protagonists or antagonists, series leads who we have come to love throughout the course of the show.
But what about those less than featured characters, whose spotlight was limited to just a handful of episodes? Those character we saw so little of, yet had such a huge impact on us? Well, that’s what we’ll be discussing today! So let’s not waste any time, and get right to it – the top 10 saddest anime deaths of minor characters! (Also, SPOILERS)
10) Kaworu Nagisa - Neon Genesis Evangelion
Mode of Death: Being crushed in the giant hand of an Eva
Well, this death is more sad for the circumstances, and its effect on the main character. See, the main character Shinji is a typical lonely clinically depressed teenage boy, who feels either used or hated by everyone around him. Then mysterious Kaworu Nagisa shows up and tell Shinji he loves him and genuinely shows him care and affection. Then it turns out Kaworu is an angel and thus, Shinji must kill him. The audience waits in suspense as the seconds tick away, Shinji in the Eva, and Kaworu trapped in the hand. He even accepts his fate, telling Shinj to do it. Nothing prepares you to see the shadow of Kaworu’s head fall into the water. Nor the ensuing crazy that results from it.
9) Kyoko Honda (Tohru’s Mom) - Fruits Basket
Mode of Death: Hit by a car
Tohru Honda is the sugary sweet protagonist of Fruits Basket, but often we forget that she is, in fact, an orphan. Tohru’s mom Kyoko, an ex-Yanki gangster and single mother, was in a tragic car accident while crossing the street. She could have been saved by Kyo, one of the main male protagonists of the series, but due to a curse he was unable to do so. Her dying thoughts as she was bleeding out onto the concrete, were of her daughter. She ended up leaving her fragile kid to the care of an old grandfather, and other relatives who really hate them both. Knowing this fully as she died. If that isn’t incredibly tragic, then I don’t know what is.
8) Kaori – Akira
Mode of Death: Being crushed (and absorbed) by her giant monster boyfriend
There’s not much you can say about Kaori. In the manga, she was a slave to Tetsuo. In the manga, she’s his girlfriend and she dies one of the most gruesome on-screen dates to date. Not only does she try to help her boyfriend, whose been kind of a dick to her, but gets trapped in his expanding tumorous body and is crushed to death. He even says that he can feel her pain. Even just thinking about it makes me a little queasy (it could also be the fact that I saw this movie when I was 12). Not exactly the most pleasant way to go.
7) Zabuza and Haku - Naruto
Mode of Death: Ninja Battle
These two share a listing because they die for each other, so it would be silly to separate them. The antagonists of a small arc in Naruto, Zabuza and Haku are two ninjas of the Hidden Mist, with Zabuza being the master and Haku the pupil, or servant perhaps (it’s never quite clear). However, when Zabuza is in danger, Haku steps forward and is killed protecting him. Through some (rather contrived) shounen-style-tropes, Zabuza admits to caring for Haku beyond simply using him as a tool, and chooses to die as well, ultimately being laid side by side. The only reason they aren’t higher on the list is because they come back in Shippuden, and officially entered Now That’s What I Call Bullshit territory.
6) Yumi Komagata - Rurouni Kenshin
Mode of Death: Stabbed through the chest by her lover (in order to stab Kenshin)
There’s a saying that behind every great man is a great woman. If that’s the case, then behind every crazy ex-mercenary, there’s an equally crazy woman. That woman is Yumi Komagata. The devoted lover of Shishio Makoto, she has done everything to ensure he has survived and thrived to become the crazy warrior he is. However, when the big battle between Kenshin and Shishio became too intense and threatened to kill Shishio, she stepped between the two. After begging Kenshin to stop and let Shishio live, she is rewarded for her loyalty with a sword through the chest. Yes, Shishio uses her as a distraction in order to stab Kenshin, killing her in the process. Ain’t love just grand? Maybe not so for Yumi.
5) Nephrite - Sailor Moon
Mode of Death: Killed saving Naru/Molly, then being turned to dust (in the anime only)
Ah, Sailor Moon, the one shojo anime everyone remembers from their childhood. Even though the dub butchered a lot, and the censoring made it worse, the show was all we had in terms of media made for young girls. That’s not to say it was fluffy and without substance. See, Nephrite was one of the main villians from the first season of the show, who ultimately fell in love with Sailor Moon’s best friend Naru (Molly for those who saw it in English). Despite his loyalties, he saves Naru from monsters, only to be stabbed by one and slowly watch as his energy drained away. He dies in Molly’s arms, floating away as dust as his love cries, leaving behind nothing but a bloodied bandage. Hell, if that’s not dark for a kid’s show, I don’t know what is.
4) Mami Tomoe - Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Mode of Death: Decapitated and eaten by a witch
Holy shit, did this death come right out of nowhere. You could hear the whiplash from fans across the Internet as Mami’s head suddenly disappeared from her body with one foul chomp. And I’m including her here as a minor character cause she was only around for 3 episodes, and was rarely ever the main focus. But just because she never made it to the end of the show doesn’t mean we didn’t feel for her when she died. In fact, if anything, we felt for her more because she was the first to show the audience, as well as Sayaka and Madoka, that this isn’t a joke – being a magical girl has serious, sometimes fatal consequences. Not to mention the look of absolute terror and despair in her eyes right beyond the fatal chomp. This was the event that set the tone for the show, and will be remembered in Internet history.
3) Maes Hughes - Fullmetal Alchemist/Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
Mode of Death: Shot in a phone booth by a Homunculus
Few fans of the show will deny that the death of Maes Hughes was one of the greatest characters on the show, and that makes his death all the sadder. He was known for showing off pictures of his daughter and being a light-hearted ally to the Elric brothers. In the final moments before his death, he was attempting to relay important information to Roy Mustang at a telephone booth. There, he was faced by Envy, disguised as a fellow soldier, Maria Ross.
However, Hughes could see through the disguise. His only flaw was hesitating when Envy transformed into his wife – though can you blame the guy? No one would just blindly stab their own wife. This ultimately led to his demise, alone in the dead of night on the street. His funeral was one of the most heartbreaking moments of the show, and signaled a change in tone of the show. A worthy end to a stellar character.
2) Ace - One Piece
Mode of Death: Insides turned to char by lava punch-attack
What’s the worst about this death was that it was so close to not happening. There was an entire arc dedicated to freeing him, they were almost to safety and then suddenly, death. There’s nothing worse than that to a reader than to have that hope dashed from right in front of you. Ace is the (spoilers: non biological) brother of the main character Luffy, who is eventually captured by the Marines and is set to be executed. During the massive rescue attempt, Ace decides that life is worth living and ultimately escapes.
However, the victory is short lived. As they try to make it back to the boats, Ace intercepts a magma-punch punch for Luffy, which destroys his insides, and he dies within minutes. After deciding in the earlier part of the arc that he wanted to live. And with his last breath, thanked all his loved ones for caring for him. Man, does Eiichiro Oda really know how to pack an emotional whallop. While not big in America, One Piece is huge in Japan, and Ace’s death was a huge surprise to all. Gruesome, poetic, shocking – the death of Portagas D. Ace was a sad one indeed.
1) Nina Tucker - Fullmetal Alchemist/Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
Mode of Death: Being genetically deconstructed/exploded by alchemy
This is the ultimate test to see if someone has a heart or not. If you did not feel awful for what happened to this poor child, then you are an evil person and you need to go sit in a corner. FOREVER. Nina Tucker was the daughter of State Alchemist Shou Tucker, and in the original anime, we spend quite a few episodes with the little four year old. She’s a cute, sweet, loving girl who hangs out with her giant fluffy dog Alexander. Then, one night, Ed and Al find that Shou has created a talking chimera, which is unheard of in the universe of the show.
Only do the two protagonists eventually realize that Shou has merged Alexander and Nina together in a monstrous painful sin against nature, a fate they determined also befell his late wife. So not only did Shou transform his daughter and dog into a suffering science experiment so he could remain a State Alchemist, but did this to his only living relative, and knowing it would fail because he had already done this to his wife.
In the end, the Nina-Alexander chimera is kill, either being destructed genetically, or being exploded by alchemy (depending which version of the show you saw), so their suffering more or less ended there. Poor little Nina is turned into a monster against her will simply for being in proximity to a crazy alchemist, suffers great pain and sorrow during her time as a chimera, and then is destroyed in a gruesome fashion along with her beloved dog. The death of innocence incarnate.