The Gut-Wrenching Death of Portgas D. Ace

30-DAY ANIME CHALLENGE
< Day 24 | Day 26 >
Day 25:  Saddest Anime Death

It’s that kind of day again, folks.  The kind of day that I blabber away about the greatness of my #1 favourite anime ONE PIECE by Oda Eiichiro-sensei (尾田 栄一郎).  For today’s challenge, I choose the death of Portgas D. Ace or more known by his epithet Hiken no Ace (火拳のエース / Fire Fist Ace) as my saddest anime death.

If you prowl the web about Ace’s death, you’ll read many commentaries about it.  I’m very surprised to discover that quite a lot of people say that his death was unsurprising to them.  I’m like, “Really?  Why do you say that?”  I don’t believe them.  I personally find his death extremely shocking.  A brutal, epic and legendary war was fought for him, you know?

Cheered my heart out at this scene like a lunatic. "Ace is finally rescued!", I thought. I was wrong.
Cheered my heart out at this scene like a lunatic. “Ace is finally rescued!”, I thought. I was deadly wrong.

My throat got hoarse cheering when Luffy finally “rescued” Ace.  I was so hopeful that everything would be alright, that the pirates would win the war, and that Ace would come out of it alive.  And then BAM!  I was completely blind-sided at the unexpected next turn of events.

ACE FREAKING DIED!!!

What the heck?!  I was completely shocked.  I think that if Luffy didn’t faint, I would have.  It was an extremely gut-wrenching moment, not only for the characters who love and respect Ace, but also for fans like me.  My emotions swerved a total 360-degrees, from exhilaration of Ace’s “rescue” to devastation of his death.

Even through the haze of my utter shock, I still can’t help but appreciate the beautiful portrayal of his death.  I’ve read this scene in the manga and watched it in the anime.  Both were gut-wrenching, but I must give high kudos to Toei for their well-portrayed adaptation of this scene.

The “freezing” of the battles in the background and the “slowing down of time” to Ace’s loved ones multiplied the impact of the scene.  And let’s remember the dramatic breaking of Ace’s bead necklace and the burning of his Vivre card to symbolize the abrupt end of his life.  These minute details are subtle, yet draw out powerful emotions of grief from not only the characters but also from the viewers.

And who can forget Ace’s last words?  My freaking gosh, I sobbed so hard, it felt like I really lost a loved one.  His now iconic last words, “Aishite kurete arigatou” (Thank you for loving me), were just perfect.  This line may seem simple at first, but as we discover in the subsequent episodes, being loved is the most significant thing that can happen to a person like Ace, who was already discriminated against even before his birth, just because his father was the infamous Pirate King Gol D. Roger.  Then he dies in quintessential way of dying by carriers of the name “D”:  he dies with a smile on his face.

The "D" way of dying with a smile on his face.
The “D” way of dying with a smile on his face.

I also want to point out that Ace’s death is made even sadder by the ensuing scenes:
♦ Luffy’s rampage in front of Jimbei, resulting in his equally iconic line “Nakama ga iru yo!” (I have my nakama).
♦ Dadan’s parental grief leading her to hit and punch Garp repeatedly, someone she would never have dared to hit before.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll continue to say it again and again.  Although I’m devastated about Ace’s death, I think that it’s a genius move by Oda-sensei because it just made the whole series so much better. It functioned as a catalyst to the 2 year time-skip where the entire Mugiwara Pirates “powered-up”, greatly increasing the intensity and significance of battle scenes and story depth alike.

View my earlier posts about his death:
Fiery Portgas D. Ace: Come Back to Life Please!!! 。゚( ゚இ‸இ゚)゚。
♦ Arria’s Top 10 Most Gut-Wrenching Scenes in ONE PIECE (Ace’s Death is #1)

So now you know that the death of Portgas D. Ace is my saddest anime death.  Who’s yours?

Links:
ONE PIECE Official Website (Japanese)


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24 thoughts on “The Gut-Wrenching Death of Portgas D. Ace”

  1. The anime death that has stuck with me was Roy Fokker’s death in Robotech. It was pretty shocking, especially in the 80’s for a cartoon so much violence and death, but Robotech did, and the death of Roy, an important supporting character, was a bit of a surprise. His devil-may-care attitude make him seem invincible. He even ignores the wounds that eventually killed him, collapsing while waiting for his girlfriend.. Not a tear jerker, but still one that stands out, even 30 years later.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not that familiar with “Robotech” but I know about it. I’m a 90’s baby, so there are only very few anime series in the 80’s that I actually watched. Unfortunately, “Robotech” is not one of them. But I think that it’s great that the death of this character in this series affected you 30 years later. That’s something many anime in this age is lacking: life-time impression.

      I’ve watched many great anime, but I admit that I can perhaps count in my fingers the series that truly left deep impressions on me.

      Like

  2. Mine was actually Sheele from Akame ga Kill. At first, I didn’t know it was a tragedy and I could really empathise with her because she wanted to be useful to others. Idk but I cried haha

    I guess Going Merry is not really a living thing, but through all the experiences that the crew has been through, it really felt like one of their precious nakama! So during the funeral of Going Merry, the depressed atmosphere just overwhelmed me entirely…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t watched Akame ga Kill yet, so I’m not really familiar with it. But it seems that you’re really affected by this Shelee’s death.

      Oh yes. Going Merry’s death was a great tear-jerker, too. I also read that the mangaka Oda Eiichiro cried when he was drawing Going Merry’s funeral and then cried again when he watched it in anime on TV. What a great story.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t watched this, but I do remember tearing up when I read this part in the manga. I think what really got me was that even though it was a life or death situation, I expected Ace to be saved because this is a Shounen and I was use to people not dying.

    After all of that buildup and fighting, you expected Luffy to win and I was cheering him on only for it to end like that….it was brutal. Plus Whitebeard dies as well and I didn’t know what was going to happen anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s what I felt, too. I thought that Ace’s death was unexpected, but now that I think about it, it’s a great plot device because it just made the series so much better now. And besides, Ace & Whitebeard have now cemented their status as legends in the pirate world because of their deaths in the war.

      I highly recommend that you watch this because like I said in my post, the scene was just beautifully (in my opinion) portrayed. It’s like time froze.

      Like

    1. Oh damn. Evil spoilers, huh? I don’t know if I was lucky or not for not being spoiled about Ace’s death when I watched it. I certainly hadn’t prepared myself, so I just gaped there, shocked.

      Like

    2. SAME! It was so hard to watch because I knew what was coming, and even then when Luffy managed to rescue him there was that small bit of hope. AGH. ACE, COME BACK!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh no! Am I the only one not spoiled about Ace’s death? I actually got depressed afterwards. It was so hard to continue watching ONE PIECE for some time. Ace will always have a special place in my heart.

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  4. Ace’s death was one of the most powerful moments in all anime, after all that battling, to end like that, wow it was harsh…

    Whitebeard as well. I don’t think the ‘good guys’ have ever lost so tragically in any shonen story to my knowledge.

    RIP Ace we hardly knew ye

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re right. Ace’s death was just so harsh after that epic war was fought. And yes, Whitebeard’s death was a huge blow as well. But their deaths just cemented their status as legendary pirates after the war, so I think that it’s still a great plot device, no matter how heart-breaking I felt about it. Oh well.

      Indeed. RIP to Ace and Whitebeard.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @Neru: Feel free to watch it. It’s my favourite anime, but I know that many are discouraged by the sheer number of episodes. I hope that you do watch it, though.

        @miharusshi: Well, that’s the downturn of being an aniblogger: spoilers everywhere. But just like you say, we become immune to them. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re absolutely right about that. Well, I generally don’t mind spoilers, except if they concern my favourite series. If it’s about a favourite, I want to know what happens by myself. But blogging exposes us to endless spoilers, so oh well. No choice but to become immune to them.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ugh. You’re right. Umm, I’m not exactly immune to spoilers (yet; and even now), that’s why I avoid visiting blogs with posts on currently airing anime that I can’t keep up with. Eh, but most of the time (whenever I do visit blogs), I just read the recaps anyway. Hahaha

        It’s like I know what the anime are about without having to seen them myself.

        Like

      4. That’s so true. Reading other blog posts about anime that we haven’t watched yet give us so much information about the series before we even watch them. Hahaha! Sometimes I welcome these information (spoilers) because I know what to expect when I do watch the anime but sometimes, I just want to learn the plot by myself. But oh well. Being an anime/manga blogger is fun, so we have to accept this part of our world, right? Cheers!

        Like

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