Sunday, January 6, 2008

List o' the weak: Famous Last Words

In almost every anime, there is a moment right before a character dies when I know that they're dead. Now sometimes the mortality rates for these moments aren't always that high, but these are the five most notable times when I know that someone's going to kick the bucket.

Now these aren't in any real particular order, because a lot depends on the tone of the series. But any time the series skews dark and one of these shows up, especially if they show up repeatedly, you can be pretty sure that some's going to join the choir invisible.

Number Five: Remember when...

Oh the flashback, you've taken some of my favorite characters. The mortality rate for flashback episodes later in the series is pretty high. Generally this holds true for lesser characters or later in the series. Last Exile comes to mind when I think about this trick, but it also pops up in X and to a lesser extent Blood +.

Now, I have to differentiate this from the recap episode in longer series. Usually this flashback episode will contain new information the viewer hasn't seen. And generally is a trick for the creators to build up some kind of connection between the viewer and the character before they off the character.

Number Four: You're getting pretty good at this.

Any time a mentor character says these words, you can almost always expect them to be dead in the next few episodes. This one is a favorite trick of "real" robot shows, particularly of the Gundam variety. Mostly, this one has started to fade into the background with the newer shows. In fact, now it's become more popular it seems to have the mentor be a flawed character in their own right. Or even a main character in their own right.

But it still holds true enough for me to put it on the list.

Number Three: When this is all over...

When a character says this there's at least an 80 percent chance that they're dead, especially when they say it more than once. And if it's combined with the flashback episode, then it's sure to spell the death of the character.

Although sometimes it isn't the character that I might think it is. Blood + pulled a switchup on this one with the death of one the characters. So I'd have to say, that it's the character who'd most likely cause the largest emotional impact if they died. Cute, funny characters are usually the first on that list, followed by noble, long suffering sidekicks.

Number Two: For Glory and Honor.

What's that saying, "There's no such thing as an old hero." Now mostly this holds true with war epics or any time there's a character who is willing to sacrifice themselves for a higher cause. But any time I hear a character say something like, "I won't run away." or "For the glory and honor of X thing" I know that they're dead.

Now granted, this doesn't neccesarily hold true for the main protagonist, unless it's toward the end of the series.

And the Number One all time famous last words are:
Revenge is all I live for.

Ahh, yes. The character who's sold his life for revenge will always die. But only after they have a chance to complete their revenge or at least attempt to complete their revenge. Now whether they suceed or not really depends on the tone of the series, but you're almost guarunteed to get blood from this statement.


CCY said...

Nice little list, reminds me of a site I visit called, a ridiculous entertaining time-killer full of similar, overdone/easily recgonizable cliche.

Personally, the one that stands out the most for me, is the Sad Music Montage (incidentally, TV Tropes also gives you the ability to talk in capital letters). This is because a lot of the (decidedly less action/mecha) shows I watch like to 'kill' off a character only to bring them back five seconds, five minutes, maybe five episodes or more later, so often I take character 'deaths' skeptically.

But when they cue up the melancholic piano music and start showing all of a character's moments with a white border around know it's big.

Cameron Probert said...

Ooo... I'd totally forgotten about that one.