The List 6 "Bad" Endings that Were Actually Fitting
by Lynzee Loveridge,
Ask and you shall receive! As you might be able to tell from this week's column title, this was the most requested List topic from last week's poll and it was a bit of a doozy. There are two main paths for a bad end to follow to make it into the criteria for this list. The protagonist dies but their death overall was a sacrifice for the greater good or the protagonist dies but said character is a giant douche canoe and got what was coming to them. The latter is less common, because few anime star an anti-hero whose bad behavior is meant to be reviled by the audience instead of enjoyed. There is however, one perfect example of the protagonist getting his "just desserts" so without further ado...
Obvious disclaimer: this column refers to series/movies' endings so there are spoilers throughout!
School Days Based off the visual novel of the same name, School Days stars Makoto Itō, a normal high school guy with a crush on the quiet Kotonoha. He enlists his female classmate Sekai to help him win her over. It works, but he also gets wrapped up in fooling around with Sekai to "prepare him" for dating Kotonoha, and can't seem to break it off with either of them. While many harem protagonists have fallen victim to having too many girls willing to jump into bed with them, about midway through the season Makoto just says "screw it" literally, and sleeps with all of the girls and decides to disregard how it affects his girlfriend or his side girlfriend. The latter gets fed up and does Makoto in spectacularly after episode upon episode of his crappy behavior. Kotonoha, who has suffered a traumatic break at this point, kills Sekai in turn and takes Makoto's remains to her "nice boat." The episode sums up by mentioning that, eventually, everyone moved on with their lives.
Air Key anime adaptations are in the business of making viewers bawl their eyes out. CLANNAD is most ready example, but its predecessor Air pulled zero punches and doesn't include a wish-granting alternate world plot to undo it all after the protagonist is run through the ringer. Air's main focus is on Misuzu and her adoptive mother Haruko's strained relationship, building it into a loving one, and Misuzu succumbing to a curse that follows her every time her spirit is reincarnated. She manages to break her curse this time around, but she still dies, and her mother is still left grieving her loss anyway but if the situation had been anything different, the curse might have still continued.
Ringing Bell What does revenge do to a person, and is completing it worth the end result? Ringing Bell focuses on the transformation a person (well, in this case a sheep) goes through to pursue revenge and also traumatized plenty of kids in the process. Chirin swears revenge on the wolf that murdered his mother and takes up residence with the wolf himself to become a beast that could kill another. His body twists into something monstrous and, eventually, he accomplishes his life's purpose in avenging his mother. The wolf, on the other hand, saw the destiny laid in front of him and congratulates Chirin. When it's over, the sheep finds that he cannot rejoin the flock and dies a solitary death on a mountain.
Sailor Moon Speaking strictly about the first season, Sailor Moon's ending was crushing. I saw it dubbed on American TV and much the context was changed for the sake of English-speaking viewers but Sailor Moon's final wish still had a profound effect on me. While battling Queen Metallia, Sailor Moon calls on the spirits of her fellow Guardians (who are dead at this point) and expends all of her energy to defeat the threat. This kills her, too, and in her last moments she wishes to be a normal girl again. The crystal grants her wish and she's able to resume her life as Usagi, although with none of her memories of her friendships with Ami, Rei, Makoto, or Minako or her love with Mamoru. On the one hand, this ending is negated within the start of the second season but is hard to watch Usagi get forced into that role again.
Grave of the Fireflies Potential hot take on the deaths of kid orphans dying in the aftermath of World War II. Grave of the Fireflies is held up for its stark depiction of Japan at war and the effects on its everyday citizens, including children. It's looked to time and again as heart-punching writ against war. However, the movie's sibling pair Seita and Setsuko don't die just because war is hell. They die because Seita makes the choice to abandon the community as a whole and have the two make out on their own. This point might be lost on international viewers, especially Western viewers since this choice has different cultural connotations here than it does in Japan. The two might have survived if they hadn't run off, although arguably it was Japanese society that let Seita later starve to death in a train station. Regardless, the characters' deaths are fitting to serve as warnings to living: no man is an island entire to himself.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Homura spent the better part of her life time traveling to get the "good end" for herself and Madoka and divert their deaths on Walpurgisnacht. She tries every combination imaginable to no avail, but all her attempts have a profound effect on the series' main timeline and empower that Madoka's wish to completely change the course of history for magical girls everywhere. It's to the betterment of the world but for one magical girl who will stop at nothing to preserve her friend's innocence, it still doesn't end up being enough. How fitting the ending of the series is depends on whether you want to ignore the events of Rebellion or not. Personally, I enjoyed having Homura's character focused on in the film but on the other hand I hate it as the ending.
The new poll: If you could have one anime item to use in your everyday life, which would you choose?
The old poll: What List topics do you want to read? You guys came up with some great stuff! At the bottom was lists about cars which is one topic I've written about in a few forms: 6 Anime to Satisfy Your Need for Speed, 8 Real Exotic Car Cameos, and 7 of Anime's Most Daring Getaway Drivers.
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