If there is one thing that I think we can all understand, it’s the overwhelming fury of righteous anger.
When we are threatened, when what, and who, we love has been taken from us, when we see the evil of horror inflicted on the innocent, we get angry. We need to get angry, in order to respond appropriately, holding nothing back. Passion is the fuel which drives us forward, and our love for others demands a reaction when they are hurt.
It’s not always what is needed, but sometimes it is exactly what is needed. And it is very, very human.
Anime is famous for playing into that. There are countless moments where the character is us, our anger personified and unleashed on the wicked. Picking five of them was less a matter of looking for examples than it was of making those examples meaningful, and somewhat diverse.
In no particular order, here are five moments of anger in anime, and my thoughts on each of them.
I am indebted to YouTube for having these moments in video format for me to share them. Be warned, this may be intense, in more than one way.
1) Roy burns Envy
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Everybody loved Maes Hughes. It was impossible not to love him. He was a good man, loyal, capable, wise, and cunning. He was a devoted husband, and father, and friend. His death is among the saddest in all of anime. Thus, everybody cheered when his best friend, Roy Mustang, hunted for Hughes’ killer, and when he finally got the despicable, murdering monster called Envy in his grasp, he did not let go. It was epic, and long-awaited, and utterly glorious to see how all of Envy’s tricks completely failed to save him.
But there was another side to this. Mustang got to burn and burn and burn the creature that murdered his best friend, and so many others, but the more it went on, the uglier it became. If it were possible to make it quick and clean, perhaps that would have been avoided, but to kill a homonculus? That is never quick or clean. The more Mustang burned him, the more it became clear that he was on the point of being consumed by his own rage. Justified though that rage might have been, thoroughly, it was still leading him swiftly to the precipice of darkness.
Had he not been stopped by the better voices of those around him, there is no telling the damage this vengeful justice might have done to the man dishing it out. It might have burnt him all up in his heart, leaving only a blackened ruin in its wake.
2) After the Diablo massacre
I believe I cued this up at the appropriate moment. It’s that moment when Vash the Stampede is standing over the corpses of the innocent bystanders who have been brutally gunned down by the assassin trying to kill him. The man is laughing, crowing over his victory, not a spit-wad’s worth of caring for the people he just murdered. But he just angered the wrong outlaw.
Unlike when Mustang finally corners Envy, Vash’s fury is cold and quiet. He does not scream and burn on the point of madness. He looms quietly in the shadows, picking his shots with precision. Up until this point, he has mostly been a fun, hilarious, donut-scarfing doofus. But not now. Not when people’s lives have been stolen from them. Now… now, he is angry.
His mere approach terrifies his enemy, who flees at the sight of him. The girls near him, but he pushes them away, and they are left in shock by the person they see in the place of their comical friend. And when he catches up to his enemy (or draws him into a trap, really), it is clear that his cold fury is for the sake of the dead, of perfect strangers whom Vash loves anyway as fellow beings. What this man has done, it is unforgivable. But it isn’t just anger driving Vash. It’s sorrow.
Sorrow is the most enduring fuel of rage.
3) Naruto goes Nine-tails for Hinata
Speaking of love, sorrow, and rage, Naruto’s fullest fury is unlocked in the midst of absolute, horrifying shock. He cares for others and they care for him, none more so than Hinata, a girl who loves and is inspired by him. Seeing her beaten and bloody, and finally thrown about like a rag doll and impaled, her blood slowly spreading all across the ground… well, that is enough to push Naruto over the edge.
And the rage of a young man, on behalf of those he loves, unleashes the blackest rage of the beast within.
So it has always been: our rage, unchecked, turns us into monsters.
4) Celestial Dragon meets Luffy’s FIST
There are few things which anger me, personally, more than the dehumanization of others. As I see it, we are all people, end of story. It is the founding principle of almost all I hold dear that we are all created equal. No one is above or below anyone else, no one is worth more or less than anyone else, and no one is “special.” Unique, amazing, and remarkable, yes. Special… no.
So there are few villains I truly love to hate more than those who try to order us into a heirarchy, with themselves at the top. That is the Celestial Dragons and their ilk in a nutshell. “I can do anything I like, with no repercussions! Don’t you dare even think about touching me, because the world will come crashing down on you! Nobody else matters, only me! Defy that, and you defy the order of the world!”
To Hell with that.
The order of the world meets Luffy’s fist in this clip, and it is glorious. It is right. And it is… human.
Occasionally, every once in awhile, due deserts can be served without forfeiting one’s own humanity.
5) Seras Rises
FAIR WARNING! …this one is bloody.
(this is one of those times where I hate YouTube for taking down the video I originally found of this moment, in full, and then made it so we can’t watch another video I found, and so on, so I just have to make do with a fraction of the moment, right when it begins)
Speaking of rage both hot and cold, of men and monsters, of love and sorrow and anger, of humanity, and of delivering just deserts, here we have a combination of all of the above in the moment a former police girl rises as a most formidable vampire in the midst of battle. In a storm of horror and bloodshed, Seras finally becomes a full-fledged monster. There is a powerful element of true love in her ascension, as it is the eternal joining of her soul with Bernadotte’s that empowers her so. The result is an unrivaled fury for the atrocities her enemies have committed against her allies. It is an absolute slaughter, and her enemy’s final demise is poetically gory.
Hell hath no fury like a woman!
And that’s my five!
Assuming you are still reading and I haven’t put you off your lunch, what are some of your favorite angry moments in anime?