My Gripe With Anime – Resurrection

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This is my most hated plot device ever, I don’t like it at all. [It doesn’t only apply to anime, but other works as well, books, movies, comics, video-games*, etc.etc.] Resurrection is when someway somehow a DEAD character is brought back to life. I got tired of it while reading Marvel comics back in the day, and I’m tired of seeing it in anime…a character that dies SHOULD STAY DEAD!! >_<

And yes, I know there are some characters that die and stay dead…my gripe is with the anime that brings them back to life. It is IMPOSSIBLE to bring someone back from the dead! This is only because of my own beliefs…something I am sure I will not be able to explain properly because it’s all full of contradictions [on my part]….but will try anyways.

NOTE: In video-games, or RPGs to be exact, I don’t consider a party member dead until the whole party is wiped out…until then they are just unconscious. Using things like Revive or Phoenix Downs doesn’t bring them back to life… In my mind those potions/spell just wakes them up from being unconscious! ^_^’

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;_;

I don’t consider myself to be religious, I don’t follow any religion out there. But yet I think there are higher powers out there…I just won’t believe in them [if they exist] until I get to see it with my own very eyes. But then again, I’m a skeptic. Even if I’m shown “miraculous” things like this (#2), I won’t even consider higher powers having anything to do with it… Why?

Because I believe that not even gods [if they exist] have the power to bring someone from the dead…

Which contradicts my belief that they have the power of creation… >_>

Bringing someone back from the dead is a bit more irritating than hitting the reset button on things. Reset button is still annoying, especially in CLANNAD’s case where the reset even brought Nagisa back to life…

The MAIN reason I don’t like when someone is brought to life, is that it makes the character’s death sort of meaningless. I mean, the death is made to be very dramatic/emotional, most often than not, the whole scene is memorable, but to me, once the person is brought to life, the scene is rendered meaningless. A scene that could have made it into My Favorite Anime Moments [which needs to be updated >_>], is completely discarded because my feelings for the scene aren’t as strong as when the character stays dead…

Just like any other gripe, I’ve seen this many times, enough times to make me be a bit desensitized by it…but not by much. It still irks a bit when it happens… (yes, that chapter gave me the push to FINALLY write about this gripe of mine…)

10 thoughts on “My Gripe With Anime – Resurrection

  1. For my part, I think it’s possibly worth making a distinction (although you probably don’t) between resurrections that are weaved into the very foundations of a story, and ones that are just pointless and arbitrary. For example, you mentioned CLANNAD. I think I could make a pretty good argument that the story, from the very beginning, was pointing towards the way the way the plot eventually turned out, and that the idea of experiencing the pain of loss but being given a second chance (and thus learning to cherish every moment) is essential to the “lesson” that the story was trying to tell. But on the other hand, there are certainly shows where, for example, they make you think a character is dead, and then for some random reason he/she shows up again and is the show’s like “well, actually, he/she didn’t die because this unusual and previously unexplained reason saved his/her life!”. That sort of has a “cheap shock value” effect, and that’s when I would tend to agree that it’s just not that interesting.

    So, I don’t necessarily agree with the oft-stated idea that a resurrection has to necessarily render the death “meaningless”. It’s only meaningless if they go on as if nothing ever happened and it was just senseless shock value. But if they treat it seriously, then the pain the character felt is no less real just because they are granted a miracle. In the end, I think what’s more important is the message the author is conveying through the plot, and not just the specific events themselves. If, upon a rewatch, a viewer can’t feel sorry for characters in pain just because “I know he/she’ll be revived anyway, so who cares”, then I think this might be more a question of viewer empathy towards the characters in the story than anything else (something about whether thinking begets feeling, or feeling begets itself…)

    Anyway, not that I think it’s wrong to dislike resurrections events and themes… but I just think that they’re not all created equally, and they’re not necessarily all bad just because of that act itself. For me, it depends.

    • You’re right, I don’t make a distinction between pointless deaths and deaths weaved into the story. No matter how central to the story the resurrection is…I simply can’t completely accept it.

      the idea of experiencing the pain of loss but being given a second chance (and thus learning to cherish every moment) is essential to the “lesson” that the story [CLANNAD] was trying to tell.

      One can learn to cherish every moment even if the character isn’t brought back to life. Like in the recent finale of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, Mirai learned to keep walking forward and have a brighter outlook in life after she came to terms with Yuuki’s death. Bringing someone back to life may do the same thing, but I think it’s more meaningful if the character remains dead.

      “I know he/she’ll be revived anyway, so who cares”

      I get too attached to characters, so something like this will never come out of my mouth nor even be thought of…if anything, I’ll skip the rest of the story after that… =3=

      Though it’s highly doubtful I will…

  2. I have mixed feelings about resurrections, whatever format it takes place in. I’m not much of a religious person either but once a person is dead, then just leave them be if it was meant for them to die. To me, it’s not much of a concern of whether there is a higher power up there that can just turn things around if he/she/it/they fancied it. I just believe the concept of “life exists because there is death and vice versa” is stronger than that and shouldn’t be messed with irresponsibly, even in fiction.

    & like you, I also think there is a special meaning in death. It doesn’t necessarily have to be bad, negative and gloomy and lots of different cultures/religions view “death” as another step in your progression of existence or whatever. Just not on the same plane you were born in . But of course, that depends on your own beliefs so I won’t go further into that. Gah, I also went off on a tangent. Sorry. ^^;

    On the other hand, I agree with relentlessflames’s comment that it depends a lot on the context of what you’re watching/reading that has this revive/reset button. Since CLANNAD has been used, I’ll use Higurashi as an example though I’m not sure if that really qualifies since it consists of alternate universes with a supernatural constant rather than resurrections. But anyways, yea, if one of the series’ themes include second chances, then I’d have to shift my perspectives around before judging what this and that should be or not.
    Relating that to CLANNAD, they’re both similar in that the characters were able to perform some sort of miracle after going through many ordeals to avoid the BAD END. You can say that experiencing death was one of those struggles they had to overcome and that can take on a stronger meaning if that was the intention of the author.

    It varies…

    Ah, I can’t really put this well in words but hope you get what I mean. Sorry for being confusing. ^^;

    • I’ll use Higurashi as an example though I’m not sure if that really qualifies since it consists of alternate universes with a supernatural constant rather than resurrections.

      Higurashi seemed like an anime I would hate because of resets, but like you said, the characters aren’t brought back to life, Rika just shift to another dimension…which I believe is why in one Rena is the ‘culprit’ and in another someone else…they are not the same person per se. The same with Umineko…

      You can say that experiencing death was one of those struggles they had to overcome and that can take on a stronger meaning if that was the intention of the author.

      Hmm…overcome death, as romantic as that sounds, I can’t feel for it because the character is already dead and brought back. But if it transcends death, a la Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles where no matter the dimension or reincarnation {waaaay different than resurrection} Sakura and Syaoran always manage to meet each other, then that I find romantic.

      This resurrection problem is really all because of my thought on death. Even if I’m watching an anime with characters stronger than gods or whatever and can do just about anything…knowing very well it’s just fantasy…I roll my eyes whenever they try to resurrect someone…or something. Be it a demon lord or a small critter…

  3. Well, as a Christian, I obviously believe that resurrection is possible. In Jesus it is the ultimate expression of victory over not only physical death but also the consequences of our sins. Within this context, I happen to think it’s pretty awesome. On the other hand, as I believe that God is the only one who can pull this off, a story that has resurrection via other means is going to put me off a bit.

    And, as you pointed out, it is generally used as a cheap way create dramatic moments (by killing people off) but still be able to pull off a happy ending at the end. I agree that this desire to have things both ways almost always hurts a story.

  4. With Clannad the Anime it didn’t come through at all (along with a whole other host of problems Nagisa being necroed creates in muddling the stories theme) that there was any sort of real struggle to get to the happy end like it did with the game where the players themselves actually had to go through that struggle. That’s something that I think Higurashi the anime did much better and what Umineko is also trying to do as well. Actually seeing the struggle play out over an appropriately extended period I mean.

    @Relentlessflame:

    I don’t see how being granted a second chance is supposed to get anyone to cherish the moments that matter. In fact if anything it would discourage such a thought because if there was a way to magically make everything in your life just the way you want it again then there’d be no incentive to cherish or value any of it. It would just become an indulgence, which is just one of the many reasons why I think Clannad’s ending makes a mess of the stories supposed theme. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 does the whole concept of remember the good times and looking forward past the bad substantially better even as it kind of brings a character who is dead back to hang around for a while longer as a concept.

    • Maybe if there was a bit more struggle with CLANNAD [anime], I might have accepted the resurrection a bit more. But even so, I wouldn’t really completely say it was the best choice to do.

      But I can see how the game players loved the ending. They replayed and replayed and replayed the game in order to get the happy ending, after attempting countless times trying to get it, they are rewarded for their struggle and get the happy end. [This is for the game players who don’t resort to walkthroughs.]

      But for us anime watchers who just watched, there wasn’t really anything that made ME feel like that type of ending was worth it…

  5. Yes, ressurection is certainly damaging to a character’s suffering because it detracts from the tragedy of the plot. I agree that any character living in a real life setting who dies should stay dead.

    There are certain contexts in which a ressurection is forgivable. Anything that doesn’t fall into the below two conditions is IMO an inappropriate ressurection.

    1) reincarnation – character comes back in a different body/form. (ex: Kanna and Misuzu from Air TV) This method is fair because a character’s reincarnation, no matter how similar he/she is to the original person, still has a DIFFERENT identity.
    2) magic – character lives in a magical world where people have the power to bring back lives. (ex: Clone Sakura and Clone Shaoran from TRC) If you have magic, almost anything can be done. Magic surpasses all the rules of logic.

    The twist with the second rule is that the characters need a good REASON to be ressurected. Otherwise, yes that just renders their death meaningless. A good reason does NOT include “oh my fans loved this character so much and requested that I write him/her back into the story.” Abuse of magical power for that purpose is intolerable.

    If you want a good philosophy for ressurection, Full Metal Alchemist is a good guide. It is very controversial about having the ability of ressurection. The writer expressed the belief that those who are dead should stay dead by showing us bad consequences of trying to ressurect. Even though the magical context gave an excuse to ressurect Ed’s mother, the decision NOT to do so strengthened the tragedy of the plot.

    I agree Nagisa should have stayed dead.

    I really dislike the “walking comatose” device. (ex: Ayu Tsukimiya from Kanon) It’s an annoying loophole that allows you to kill off a character and say, “oh but they were alive the entire time!” This device is probably even worse than the arbitrary ressurection of characters.

    • Actually, Tsubasa Reservoir Chornicles’ main theme is that one cannot bring back the dead no matter how powerful the magic. Fei Wong Reed is trying to bring someone back from the dead at all cost, he goes as far as clone Syaoran and Sakura and to an extent manipulate time, despite the chance of shattering the flow of time, in order to get the power needed to bring whoever he’s trying to resurrect.

      It’s the same with FMA, you just simply cannot bring someone back from the dead DESPITE one being able to make homonculi with souls. [Of course, those souls are pieces of the creator of the homonculi.]

      And yeah, I can get behind reincarnation 100%.

      • Actually I was trying to point out that Clone Shaoran/Sakura were ressurected by Yuuko. Yes, your summary of TRC’s theme is 100% correct. TRC is anti-ressurection. But as readers, I think many of us were happy when the Clones came back to fight Fei Wong. That particular ressurection didn’t raise the red flags for some reason. I think thats because we knew that the ressurection was possible through Yuuko’s magic and that there was a reason to ressurect them (kill Fei Wong). Correct me if I’m wrong.

        Sadly chapter 231 of TRC is hinting that the Clones will not be coming back. But that’s all for the best eh?

        Yup I’m glad we agree FMA is anti-ressurection. I was trying to use it as an example of why people shouldn’t ressurect characters. Sorry if I confused you with the unclear formatting of my response.

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