If you can only watch anime for a few seconds a day, check out these amazing scenes
By the time you get to the end of this sentence, another brand-new anime will have come out. True, it might be another unfinished, hilarious mess like My Sister, My Writer, but you won’t know that until you actually watch it. Before you know it, you’ll be spending your entire free time catching up on new releases instead of doing what’s really important, like re-watching Cowboy Bebop. Why don’t anime series include one short scene that could tell you instantly what the whole show is about in just a few short seconds? Well, surprise–they do, and here are the four best of them.
4. Eren’s Mother Losing Her Resolve (Attack on Titan)
The terrifying power of Attack on Titan is that it strips its characters of their dignity. The anime is gory, true, but every death in it is made so much worse because it comes at the hands (or, more commonly, the mouths) of naked, human-eating giants that move like drunk toddlers. This way, the anime can torture its characters with primal, humiliating fear. You see this perfectly in Episode 1.
That’s when Carla Jaeger is trapped underneath her house while a nightmare-inducing Smiling Titan approaches her. Ordering her son Eren to run and save himself, Carla tells him for the last time that she loves him, accepting her fate because she knew that at least her child was safe. Well… for like a second. She then flashes back to her family life and, through tears and desperately gagging herself with her hand, she whispers: “Don’t leave me…”
When I got to that scene, I wanted to scream: “MA’AM! THIS WASN’T PART OF THE DEAL!” Carla was supposed to die her quiet, traumatizing death as part of Eren’s standard-issue tragic backstory. With her silent and cowardly (but very human) pleas, though, everything became so much more real. On some level, we know that characters facing death must feel fear, but we don’t like to think about it to preserve the magic of escapism. But this is precisely what Attack on Titan does.
It doesn’t make bad stuff “cool” for us. It makes us confront every ugly aspect of it. I’m convinced that if Hajime Isayama had directed a Batman movie, he’d have made the Waynes’ last words: “I don’t want to die…” And then they’d crap their pants. Because that’s the true face of tragedy and fear, encapsulated perfectly by Carla’s three words.
3. Whitebeard Embracing His Foolish “Son” (One Piece)
The flashy, supersonic fights in One Piece have always been one of the anime’s biggest selling points, like the Luffy vs. Katakuri punch-up. I use it as an example mainly because, whether you read this article when it’s first published or years later, chances are that fight will probably still be going on. But, for all its action, that’s not what One Piece is ultimately about. To find out what that is, we have to look at episode 472.
The episode takes place during Whitebeard’s attempt to rescue Ace from the Navy. It was an epic arc full of action, excitement, and plot twists, the biggest one being when Whitebeard’s subordinate Squard was tricked into betraying everyone and turned his boss into an entrée at a Brazilian steakhouse.
After that happened, you sort of expected Whitebeard to literally break Squard in half. But then… he just hugged him. Not only that, he told him that he forgave his foolish “son” and still loved him. The Whitebeard Pirates always had this thing where the captain was called “father” and everyone else were his “sons” but you never thought it was so… literal.
When you think about it, though, this is what One Piece has been getting at from the get-go: the power of non-biological family. Literally every major character on the show was raised by people they weren’t related to. Luffy and Ace had Dadan. Sanji had Zeff. Nami had Bell-mère and Nojiko, Tony had Dr. Hiriluk, Robin had the archeologists at the Tree of Knowledge, Franky had Tom, etc.
Still, the message about the importance of family works best with Whitebeard and Squard. See, it’s easy to love your non-biological family members when everyone gets along and, in the case of the Straw Hats, sacrifices their life for you. It’s harder and therefore more powerful when one person unwittingly screws up, but can still know that they’re forgiven and loved. That’s just beautiful. That’s One Piece.
2. The Humanoid Typhoon’s Wounds (Trigun)
There aren’t many western anime out there. One might almost think that Japan never had a Wild West or cowboys. But that’s just one reason to appreciate Trigun (or, to call it by its proper name: Gun Gun Gun.) The other reason, of course, is the show’s main character, Vash the Stampede, the Humanoid Typhoon, The Sixty Billion Double-Dollar Man, a gunslinger who can level entire towns… without actually killing anyone there. It’s actually nice to have an action character out there who believes in pacifism, even if it comes easy to them on account of being one of the most powerful people on the planet.
Hey, apropos of nothing, let’s check out a random scene from Episode 13 when Meryl and Milly see Vash getting out of the shower because why not?
Oh… dear. That is… that is just unfortunate. I mean, he sorta looks like a Ken doll that was operated on by Sid from Toy Story while he was going through a Cronenberg phase. Even Frankenstein’s monster is recoiling at the sight of Vash’s body, from the gigantic scars to the missing arm and metal literally bolted to his flesh. But the thing is, every wound tells the story about the high price of pacifism.
Every scar is a reminder of the time when Vash could easily have killed but ended up saving the day with his wits and acting like an idiot. Every mark is a reminder that choosing life will often carry with it a great cost. A cost that Vash paid gladly because, to him, pacifism isn’t just something he believes in when things are easy. Even in the darkest of times, he is going to be himself and stick to his principles. But he doesn’t want to bum everyone out so he ultimately diffuses the situation in a way only he can:
THAT is Trigun.
1. Tsuyu Befriending Habuko (My Hero Academia)
I’ve gone on record saying that I think the world of My Hero Academia is horrifying, but I mainly think so because their world is so young. Their society has accepted people with superpowers (sorry, Quirks) only very recently and although over 80% of the global population has a Quirk, it doesn’t mean they eliminated all prejudice. Just look at My Hero Academia – Training of the Dead, the second OVA that introduced the character of schoolgirl Habuko Mongoose, who has a snake head. And people are afraid of her.
Yeah, she was a bit awkward and she could paralyze you by looking at you, but her awkwardness came from her loneliness caused by social isolation. She was so lonely that she actually started stalking one student, Tsuyu Asui, to be closer to another human. Then one day, while being followed by Habuko, Tsuyu simply turned to Voldermorticia and asked: “Do you want to be friends?”
That’s all it took to completely change the life of this lonely girl while quickly summarizing what My Hero Academia stands for. Their world is at peace thanks to All Might, whose catchphrase is “Plus Ultra”–“Go Beyond.” This doesn’t just apply to going beyond your physical abilities and punching the villains just a little harder. It’s a philosophy that implores us to do more, to be our best selves especially in our everyday lives. That is precisely what Tsuyu did.
She did more. She saw past Habuko’s appearance and gave her a chance. If the world of MHA is to survive, it will be thanks to people like Tsuyu, always going that extra step not just as a superhero but also as a civilian. She is the true embodiment of All Might’s words and, as such, the true heart of My Hero Academia. Let’s hear it for the show’s best girl.
This article was originally published on Crunchyroll.