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?
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.
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?
ONE PIECE Official Website (Japanese)
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