Because I’m a huge masochist, I made this list of all the messed up shit that happened this year. Enjoy the tears.
Episode 5: Nagai is dissected alive.
Captured by the Japanese government, Kei Nagai is bandaged from head to toe and strapped to an examination table. The doctors use an electric rotary cutter to make incisions into his body as he squirms on the table, screaming and whimpering through his gag. Completely helpless, Nagai is subjected to the cruel experiments of his captors. This is one of the most graphic scenes of the franchise.
Danganronpa 3: The End of Kibougamine Gakuen – Zetsubou-hen
Episode 9: Yukizome-sensei is forced to watch a student involuntarily commit suicide.
Chisa Yukizome is a hardworking, competent, and caring teacher. In this scene, she is being restrained and forced to watch as a student slowly slices his own neck open with a handsaw. The student’s body is moving against his own will, so he repeatedly screams that he doesn’t want to die as we hear his flesh tearing, bones crunching, and blood spurting. Although heavily censored, the scene was still quite gory and disturbing, even more so that such a pure and innocent character was forced to bear witness to it.
Ansatsu Kyoushitsu (tv) 2nd Season
Episode 24: Class 3-E assassinates Koro-sensei.
Koro-sensei is an endearingly absurd character who serves as a mentor, role model, and light of hope for the downtrodden students of Class 3-E. In this final scene, the class must come to terms with their fate to assassinate their teacher. With all 28 students pinning him down, Koro-sensei takes one last attendance. In a slow and painfully elongated sequence, the students choke up as they one by one respond to their names being called. After stabbing him in the heart, his students break out into tears watching his body disintegrate into the night air. A year of warm memories, connections, and emotions come to an end by their own hands.
Boku Dake ga Inai Machi
Episode 7: Satoru and Kenya bring Kayo to an abandoned bus.
As depicted in the promotional art, this scene perfectly encapsulates the motif of false hope that is prevalent throughout the show. A deceitfully cheery strings rendition of the ED ushers Kayo into the false sense of security that is provided by the abandoned bus. Satoru and Kenya domesticize the bus with stoves and vents, joking how well of a hideout it is, seemingly going out of their way to ignore the elephant in the room that is Kayo’s impending murder. The sense of optimism and comfort is so palpably flimsy in this scene. It’s tragically heart-warming in how painfully obvious it is that her safety cannot be guaranteed. Not only that, but the bus is a perfect symbol for how she’s been feeling this entire time. No matter where she was – home, school, the park – she’s always felt like she was weathering out a cold winter in a poorly-heated abandoned bus.
Hai to Gensou no Grimgar
Episode 11: Merry puts her dead comrades to rest.
The guilt of letting her comrades die has followed Merry ever since her fated encounter with Death Spot. Finally reuniting with them as rotted shambling corpses, Merry uses her magic to put them to rest, one by one. Embracing them in her arms, she cries as they turn to dust. Her voice cracking with her final incantation, she lets out the regret, grief, and loneliness she’s kept buried for all this time.
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
Episode 9: Kikuhiko breaks up with Miyokichi.
The end to this relationship, set to a brilliantly haunting violin score, is a heart-wrenchingly pitiful one. When Kikuhiko enters the brothel to meet up with Miyokichi, she already knows he intends to break it off with her. Despite his visit coinciding with her workplace closing down, Kikuhiko refuses to sympathize with her precarious circumstance. Offended by how patronizing he’s treating her, she breaks down, and screams that she will have her vengeance on him, even if she has to die to do it. Desperation, fragility, betrayal, heartbreak, and undying resentment pervade the conversation. Studio Deen communicates Miyokichi’s pain with a grim finesse.
Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari
Episode 12: Poco disappears.
Souta’s father passed away before Souta could see eye to eye with him. Without closure, Souta is left to lament their unsalvageable relationship. In this scene, Poco shows Souta the past that he was not present to witness. Contrary to what he believed, his father didn’t look down on him for abandoning the family business. With his own ears, Souta is able to hear his father validate him for pursuing his own passion in life. They apologize to each other, make amends, and Souta breaks into tears clutching the notebook that detailed his father’s udon legacy. Spending time with Poco awakened Souta’s paternal instinct and made it possible for him to truly understand and connect with his late father. And just as Souta had abandoned his father, Poco now abandons Souta. But Souta faces the loss with a smile, just as he knows his father did for him.
Episode 10 – Angelo executes Corteo.
Angelo had kept up an impeccably undetectable poker face ever since he met Nero. He’d gambled his and Corteo’s lives before, and time and time again, he’s had the ingenuity to win his bets. But now that Nero’s given him an unavoidable ultimatum, Angelo faces a situation where he must kill Corteo to maintain Nero’s trust. Corteo, his childhood friend, the last person in his life still alive that he loves, Angelo murders in cold blood with an indescribably pained expression on his face. This is the exact moment that cements 91 Days as a tragedy. No matter what Angelo achieves after this, nothing can ever be worth the life of his only brother.
Episode 12 – Kakeru reads his mom’s unsent text.
Kakeru had always had a rocky relationship with his mother. She would always make important decisions without consulting him, and it felt like she was going out of her way to make his life miserable. Reading his late mother’s unsent response to his text, he realized it wasn’t like that at all. She had made those decisions all for Kakeru’s well-being. She didn’t hate him. She had spent her life trying to give him a better one. She loved him more than he could ever imagine. The guilt of resenting her for loving him compounds with the guilt for pushing her to commit suicide, and Kakeru runs to get his bike so that he can purge all the guilt by ending his own life. A torrent of emotions is compressed into this one scene, and it makes Kakeru’s urge to commit suicide much too believable.
Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu
Episode 13 – Emilia rejects Subaru.
Despite all the massacre, trauma, and mindbreak Subaru has experienced, this moment was his true all time low. Because this was more than just physical pain. This was the one person he was doing everything for outright rejecting him and telling him that his love for her was artificial. And she was very justified in her accusations. Who could possibly believe that being a good Samaritan to a passing stranger on the street would make them irreversibly fall in love with you to the point that they’d be willing to die for you? That’s just ridiculous. That person would have to be psychotic. And Subaru plays the role of a psycho very well by breaking down and yelling at Emilia to be thankful for all he’s done for her. His aggressive and unfair demands only prove Emilia’s psychoanalysis to be true. “The version of me that lives within you must be amazing. She can understand everything even if you don’t explain it to her. She can feel all your pain, sadness, and anger as her own.” Subaru never loved Emilia. All he did was project his ideals onto her and called it love. This type of character dissection is startlingly realistic for a fantasy show and reminds the viewer that they don’t always need to suspend their disbelief. The white knight archetype is a profusely common trope that is almost never confronted. This scene, set to Rie Takahashi’s debut of “Stay Alive”, does a spectacular job of shattering those assumptions in the most tragic way possible.