In addition to interesting characters and an engaging plot, the setting in an anime story helps to set the tone as to what kind of story the viewer is going to experience. Whether it’s a vast number of locations or a few key places, the setting can be crucial for how certain characters develop, interact with one another, or propel the story forward. The setting can be used to evoke certain emotions such as fear or wonder, and it can also just simply serve as an appropriate backdrop for the current mood of the story set by the plot itself. A good example of both of these types is the graveyard setting.
Considering the purpose of a graveyard, a lot of symbolism can be expressed through this location in regards to death, which is a pretty prevalent theme for a fair amount of anime. At the same time, however, you also have a variety of uses for the graveyard setting in terms of what to emphasize, whether it’s something as obvious as death, a focus on the positive as opposed to the negative, such as moving forward or coming together, or even one of many locations where fights take place. Whatever the connotation may be, here are the Top 10 Graveyard Scenes in Anime.
10. 91 Days, Cerotto’s Discovery
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul 2016 - Oct 2016
91 Days focuses on a young man named Avilio who has decided to come back to his hometown, Lawless, to right the wrong of the murder of his family in a mafia dispute. As he infiltrates the family responsible for the death of his own, Avilio begins to set his revenge plan into motion. With murder leading to more murder, the tension rises as to who is going to be able to kill who first once and for all.
Although this is a short series, we get to see the graveyard in several different contexts, such as a funeral. Cerotto’s discovery of two bodies after trailing Avilio, however, is an incident at the graveyard that stands out from the typical occurrence that also serves to move the plot forward. While there isn’t anything with deep symbolism or a deep reflection by a certain character, this example from 91 Days shows that not all scenes in the graveyard have to be incredibly impactful every time. That being said, this incident is pretty normal compared to the rest of this list.
9. Fairy Tail, The Dragon Graveyard
- Episodes: 175
- Aired: Oct 2009 - Mar 2013
Fairy Tale follows Lucy Heartfilia, Natsu Dragneel, Erza Scarlet, Gray Fullbuster, and many others as they travel the world going up against rigorous challenges as they attempt to fulfill quests in exchange for rewards. One of the many places their adventures takes them to is a unique take on the typical graveyard: the Dragon Graveyard. This graveyard serves multiple purposes. Not only does it help advance the plot to some degree, it also helps develop the characters involved as they use their magic to fight the dragon’s spirits they summon. It’s also unique that the backdrop of dragon bones in a “graveyard” like setting serves as a unique twist to the traditional graveyards seen in anime, hence why it’s made this list.
8. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, Final Scene
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Aug 25, 2000
The infamous vampire hunter and dunpeal (half vampire) “D” is hired to find and rescue Charlotte Elbourne, the lovely daughter of an affluent family, by her father. However, the bounty to find her dead or alive attracts the attention of the Markus brothers and their special gang of bounty hunters. Not to mention an unseen evil force manipulating the course of events. Who will live and who will die will all depend on who can survive the sudden twist of events to come…
At one point in the story, D speaks with Leila about their reasons for hunting vampires. Leila ends up making a pact with D that whoever survives this incident must bring flowers to the other’s grave. D accepts, thinking that he will die in his attempt. The final scene of the movie, however, shows D attending Leila’s grave and talking briefly with her granddaughter many years after the story’s events, fulfilling his promise. The graveyard just happens to serve as the perfect setting for moments like these, and this action helps speak to D’s character, especially in a story filled with vampires, werewolves, and other horrors.
7. Yu-Gi-Oh, Joey the Flame Swordsman
- Episodes: 224
- Aired: Apr 2000 - Sep 2004
The original Yu-Gi-Oh focused on Yugi Mutou and his friends going up against multiple foes in a card game known as Duel Monsters. With magical items coming into play with special connections to ancient Egypt, Yugi and Yami must work together to defeat the forces of evil and fulfill their destiny as the King of Games.
As cheesy as the story can get sometimes, the unique settings throughout Yu-Gi-Oh are actually pretty impressive at expressing certain feelings both within and outside their many duels. In the case of the literal “Graveyard” created in Bakura’s Shadow Game with Yugi, the setting was downright spooky and in complete contrast to Joey’s appearance when he was sent there. Granted, the cheesiness came back once the “Reaper of the Cards” showed up to claim Joey’s soul, but if you take a minute and think about the context of what was actually going on, there can be a few moments of fear that you’ll feel, and the look of the graveyard plays a strong role in invoking those emotions.
6. Soul Eater, Fight with Sid the Zombie
- Episodes: 51
- Aired: Apr 2008 - Mar 2009
Soul Eater focuses on a group of students attending the Shibusen academy in order to learn how to become “Death Scythes” that can be wielded by Lord Death himself against the evil in the world. As each of the students struggle through their own hardships, they learn to work together against certain foes and at the same time collect the necessary amount of souls in the process.
Early on in the series, we see Maka, Soul, Black Star, and Tsubaki fighting together in Hook Cemetery against Sid the Zombie in order to stop him from attacking other students, as Sid’s gravestone is located there. In this case, we get somewhat of a whimsical vibe in terms of the appearance of the graveyard. We also get our first fight on the list that takes place in a cemetery, although this fight early on serves the plot and helps establish the main cast more than anything else. Still, the unique take on appearance combined with the fight that takes place are what qualify this graveyard to be on the list.
5. D. Gray-Man, Allen meets the Millennium Earl
- Episodes: 103
- Aired: Oct 2006 – Sept 2008
When one misses someone that has recently passed away so much that they wish they could resurrect them, the being known as the Millennium Earl can make that come true….at a cost. While their souls are brought back, they are trapped in vessels known as “Akuma” controlled by the Millennium Earl. Only Allen Walker and his fellow Exorcists can stop these Akuma with their special abilities, and ultimately are the only ones that can save the world from the Millennium Earl’s ultimate plan.
In a series that revolves around the concept of death, Allen’s first encounter with the Millennium Earl as a child is that much more meaningful. Sitting at the grave of Mana, a retired circus clown that took Allen in after his parents abandoned him, the Millennium Earl tricks Allen into wishing Mana to be brought back, only to be trapped inside an Akuma. This incident caused Allen’s unique arm to kill Mana outside of Allen’s control, causing Allen’s hair to turn white and his left eye to develop abilities upon recovery. While the scene seems to be more focused around Mana’s original grave as opposed to multiple graves, the scene is very pivotal to both Allen and the Millennium Earl as characters, and gives an insight into the tone of the story.
4. Steins;Gate, Okabe comforts Mayuri
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Apr 2011 - Sep 2011
Okabe’s days pretending to be a mad scientist going up against CERN come to an end when he meets Kurisu and accidentally unlocks upon a unique way to time travel for real. Things seem to be positive at first as Okabe and his friends explore the potential of what can happen after creating new world lines, but as things suddenly take a turn for the worse, it’s up to Okabe to figure out how to set things back to normal before it’s too late.
While the series is mainly focused on things such as time travel and uncovering the plot’s mystery, it also does a great job in developing the small cast of characters. In this case, a graveyard serves as the setting for the special bond that forms between Okabe and Mayuri. We slowly learn throughout the series that Mayuri loses her grandmother at a young age, and as a result would frequently spend her time visiting her grave. When Mayuri one days holds her hand to the sky as if to go to heaven, Okabe quickly rushes forward and hugs her to prevent her from leaving, and plays off his feelings by pretending to be a mad scientist. This act is kept up by Okabe so much in an effort to make Mayuri happy that it has become a part of who he is, suggesting that that moment in the cemetery is one of the most critical moments in not only Okabe’s life, but Mayuri’s as well.
3. Fullmetal Alchemist, “It’s raining”
- Episodes: 51
- Aired: Oct 2003 - Oct 2004
Edward and Alphonse Elric were just 2 normal brothers living a quiet life with their mother and father. That is, until their father mysteriously left and never came back and their mother passed away soon after. Refusing to believe that she was gone forever, the brothers turned to alchemy in order to bring her back, only to not only fail in their attempt, but almost lose their lives as well. With Edward losing an arm and a leg and Alphonse’s soul tied to a suit of armor, they realize that in order to restore things back to normal, they must find the Philosopher’s Stone…
Graveyards appear more than once in the series in regards to where Edward and Alphonse travel to on their quest, but the biggest graveyard scene (and arguably one of the biggest in anime) is when Colonel Mustang visits Hughes’ grave. As badass as Mustang is, this is one of the only times in the show we see an emotional component to him, and even as we watch it unfold, he still plays it off as if he’s not even doing it. Again, the scene focuses more on the incident at Hughes’ grave as opposed to the cemetery as a whole, but the impact of this scene cannot be understated.
2. Gintama, Jirochou vs Gintoki
- Episodes: 316
- Aired: Apr 2006 - Mar 2010
Gintama is a series where you soon learn to just expect the unexpected. Sometimes you find yourself laughing at the absurdity that unfolds while other times you’re drawn in by the seriousness that unfolds in contrast to the humor. In a society that doesn’t require the use of samurai anymore, Gintama is forced to turn to any odd job he can find in order to pay his rent. Along the way, Gintama encounters both people that will join up with him as well as many people that will oppose him. Despite Gintama’s personality and sense of humor, he is an accomplished swordsman, and one of the best battles in the series that showcases his skills is his graveyard battle with Jirochou. Gintama sparingly goes White Yaksha, so the fact that he did in this fight serves as to how intense it really was despite it being a short length. The graveyard also plays a role in the plot, as Jirochou had just stricken down Otose, who Gin sees lying motionless on Tatsugorou’s grave and who Gin had promised to protect. With the graveyard serving as both critical to the plot as well as an epic fight, it’s no wonder that it’s on this list.
1. Shaman King, Manta meets Yoh
- Episodes: 64
- Aired: Jul 2001 - Sep 2002
Shaman King is exactly what it sounds like. Every 500 years, shamans from across the globe compete in what’s known as the Shaman Fight. Whoever wins not only becomes the Shaman King, but also gets to become one with the Great Spirit and have their deepest desires granted.
Shaman King is a series where many impactful scenes take place in a graveyard, especially at the beginning of the series. Running as fast as he can so that he doesn’t miss the last train, Manta decides on a whim to cut through the locked up cemetery to get to the station. Manta soon learns that he has the ability to see ghosts, a revelation he takes time to comprehend. More importantly, Manta meets Yoh, and they soon become best friends. Many other plot-driven and character building moments take place in graveyards in this series, such as Ryu destroying Amidamaru’s grave, Yoh qualifying to be in the Shaman Fight, and Yoh’s first ever defeat at the hand of Faust. But the moment that started it all was when Manta met Yoh, setting the event into motion.
Graveyards are often associated with fear, and for good reason. Not everyone is comfortable with the concept of death. But if these scenes prove one thing, it’s that there are certainly other emotions that can be brought about using graveyards if done correctly. Whether it has a deeper meaning or just simply serves as a convenient location, graveyards are just one of many settings that can help cement the stories told in anime. What are your guys’ thoughts? Was there a graveyard scene missing? Were some of these more focused on a person’s grave as opposed to the graveyard? Let us know in the comments!