Posted by: AceRailgun | July 7, 2012

Is it really dead?

The cycle has started once more with Natsuyuki Rendezvous introducing us to a flower shop ghost by the name of Atsushi Shimao. He is the latest in a long line of friendly dead things that lurks about as if being dead is nothing but a slight hinderance in the grand scheme of things.


I remember a time when zombies and ghosts were something to be feared and gave me nightmares as a child. But now we have these cute ghost girls and zombie bros who are buddies and potential girlfriends. Normally you’d think being dead is a bad thing but in anime it’s the opposite. When you die in anime you gain super powers but usually there is a small trade off which makes you endearing.


Ayumu Aikawa trades the ability to stand in direct sunlight for super strength and a harem. Something I’d be willing to do.

Rea Sanka trades her crappy overbearing dad for the ability to not feel pain and a boyfriend.

Yuuko Kanoe trades the ability to leave school for pretty much every ghost ability and a boyfriend

Atsushi Shimao trades life for ghost abilites too.


So being dead seems to be a blessing when it comes to anime characters. It’s not all fun and games but nine times out of ten it’s for the best and makes for an interesting story. That is as long as you die before the series starts or in the first episode. This is important to take note of because if you die later on it’s bad news for you.


There is always that one in ten chance that being dead is a bad thing and it makes you are targeted by the townsfolk/students to be killed once more. Both in Shiki and Another dead things are looked down upon and are killed once more.  Being revived part way into an anime usually brings about the wrath of all those who are still alive and killing them isn’t helping your cause in the long run…. Unless you are a zombie because killing is something you need to do to survive.


What is the fascination with being dead and why is it so appealing? Is it just a convenient way to make a character unique and give them special traits or is there some underlying desire to explore this genre and exploit it? Lets just be grateful they aren’t aliens; that’s a topic for another day.


  1. I dunno if it’s a fascination with death so much as a comfort of the idea of life after death. I don’t think that’s so far-fetched of an idea. Basically one of the main ideas of religion. They want to project this idea that a person’s life will still be okay after they die to comfort themselves about the idea of death. If I stepped across any line, I don’t mean to offend anyone.

    • I can see where you’re coming from, but that seems like a REALLY weird way to go about it.

      Like… why not just show a happy heavenly afterlife? Zombies, traditionally, are something to be hated or feared. They’re us, stripped of our logic and reasoning and everything else that makes us more than slobbering animals. They’re pretty firmly planted in the uncanny valley because they’re so similar, yet so, so different.

      • If they just showed some happy heavenly afterlife, that’s not interesting. But this idea that these people are dead, but “hey, their situation isn’t so terrible” is comforting. I’m saying it’s a way of showing the same idea, but without throwing it in your face (with like a “happily ever after” clause).

      • Agreed. The idea of zombies and ghost is a more round-about way of confirming life after dead in the fictional setting. If you just show us the heavenly afterlife and how nice it is you aren’t left with any story to tell. The “trade” is what makes the zombie ghost situation so interesting because it’s nice to some degree but far from perfect.

        Although Angel Beats did a heavenly afterlife and that was pretty great even though it had it was filled with constant fighting.

      • Yup…that’s the idea. You still have problems to make the story interesting, but it’s not all bad, so death isn’t so terrible. And technically, Angel Beats was purgatory, so not exactly happy heavenly afterlife.

      • Oh, okay. Yeah, fair enough, I see where you (both of you) are coming from. I’ll admit though, I miss zombies being something feared instead of killed endlessly or loved.

      • Type big reply… Reply deletes itself…

        Western Zombie are a lot different then there Eastern counterparts simply because Japan makes cute girls out of everything. They did make High School of the Dead and that was “scary” when it wasn’t busy being boobs. If they use that amazing slow paced Eastern Horror on the zombie or ghost genre in anime we could see some really good horror anime popping up.

      • Have you tried Lazarus Form Recovery? [link] Tends to prevent that from happening.

        And seeing a good, solid horror anime (that isn’t Another) is my Halloween Wish.

      • We aren’t getting any good horror this season but next season who knows. I do like a good horror story and it’s part of the anime audience that isn’t being reached lately so maybe someone will realize that soon.

      • My guess is we’ll get some vague horror-esque thing around October. Japan’s a fan of Halloween, yeah? Perfect timing, then.

  2. >zombie bro

    Wait, I missed a zombie bro? And… yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head as far as death being all happy and whatnot goes. Japan’s finally catching up to the zombie craze that’s happening in the States (and presumably Australia), except… Well, they’re going about it in a very Japanese way. Zombies over here? Something to kill in mass numbers and make easy bad guys.

    Zombies in Japan? Girlfriend and/or porn.

    And I’m interested on your thoughts on aliens.

    • Zombie porn sounds like something I want to stay far far away from. But yeah I know what you mean about the Japanese ways. It seems they want to make anything and everything into cute little girls not that I have a problem with that. It certainly does kill the horror aspect of zombies when there is only one and it’s trying to kiss you not eat you.

      Aliens are scattered through anime more then zombies and ghosts are lately so I’m sure there is some room for that to be discussed in coming posts.

      • My only comment about aliens is that I’m STILL pissed about the Nyaruko thing.

        And yeah zombie porn ain’t cool, man. *shudders*

  3. Death is just a really interesting idea to explore considering there’s so much you can do with it. I also think that when it comes to anime, the undead is something that they can easily pull off. Also, it may be something I should look into, but when it comes to Japanese films (mostly horror, obviously), ghosts and other dead things are a very recurring theme, so maybe it has something to do with culture, too? Like aren’t there a dozen anime where they spend an episode where all the characters go on a walk through an abandoned school or creepy forest just for the fun of it?

    I guess it may simply all boil down to the fact that things that involve any type of dead thing sells, which would tie back to the idea that maybe it’s because people are fascinated by it, or maybe it’s what they find spooky. I think it would be hard to pinpoint a single reason…

    • You make a good point. I have noticed how horror and scary things have become part of Japanese culture. It seems that a lot of the things they do in anime are things Japanese children have been growing up with for generations. The haunted shrine courage test and haunted houses in school festivals are fairly standard and well established.

      Pinpointing a single reason would be impossible but in reality it is mostly likely a combination of culture, religion and imagination which drive creative people to the idea of death.

  4. I recall a few arguments about how in some series, being one of the undead has so many benefits that everyone should just become vampires or zombies. I’m sure for people like Rea and possibly Atsuchi the price to pay for being dead will eventually outweigh the benefits, or else there wouldn’t be any conflict in their state.

    Of course I’m not the type to envy these characters, since I’m not Nozomu Itoshiki.

    • I’m pretty sure there is some vampire stories that have the vampires trying to infect everyone but that’s a topic for another day.

      I caught up with the Sankarea manga and it’s not looking too good for her but there is also her main character immunity which will probably save her in the end. Atsuchi is still a wildcard although since his story is a romance I’m sure he’ll pass on peacefully at some point near the end.

  5. Brighter side to death I guess? Not that I believe I’d be roaming around making harems after I die *damn you Ayumu* I agree with Yerocha, the price for being dead does outweigh the benefits. For story material, it does make an interesting one, seeing that there are many possible ways for a person to actually die 😛

  6. Some geeks just like to have a supernatural buddy or lover. That’s the best answer I can come up with.

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