Early on in Fist of the North Star, Kenshiro faces off against Golan/God's Army, a brutal militia of men who believe themselves to have been chosen by God to found an independent nation in His name. They easily suppress the people of a desert city through fear and violence, and their leader cites the reality of the prewar government as the motivation for his beliefs. Following the rise of ISIS and other Middle Eastern Islamist militias in the 2000s - 2010s, this subplot has become rather home-hitting.
Violence Jack: The world went to crap following a major natural disaster. Cool! Did we mention that the disaster took place on September 11, 197-? Oh...
Cowboy Bebop episode "Wild Horses" has an old old Space Shuttle being brought out for one last mission. The shuttle? Columbia. Cartoon Network actually pulled this one off the air for a while after the disaster.
Similarly, the episode "Cowboy Funk" was pulled off the air after the events of September 11th, due to the episode involving the bombing of tall buildings. To boot, the buildings are two towers situated right next to each other.
The Movie was released just a few days before 9/11 and didn't get a release in America until two years later due to its terrorism theme.
Pokémon suffers a really bad track record of having certain episodes banned or temporarily eliminated from broadcast, rewritten, and sometimes Retconned entirely out of canon when they can be linked to tragic events in the real world.
Other anime episodes not aired by networks for being too close in subject matter would include an episode in which a skyscraper is destroyed by a giant Tentacruel. Ironically, that didn't stop the scene from being in the show's opening for the rest of the Indigo League season.
Similarly, the episode "Tower of Terror" was banned in North America after September 11th solely on the basis of its name, and the episode "A Scare in the Air" was renamed "Spirits in the Sky".
The Team Rocket vs. Team Plasma two-parters were not only unaired but, as the story of Episode N can attest, completely written out of the plot because of the earthquake in Japan. The special contained such scenes as a Paul-lookalike Plasma Grunt and a Liepard blowing up a building, and James blowing up the city. It also forms a nasty Plot Hole, because the Team Rocket Trio, who Took a Level in Badass, had acquired a meteor for Giovanni that would be used to generate seismic waves, and after this scheme failed, they would be told their services under Giovanni were no longer of importance and slowly backpedal to comic relief. Instead, because the two-parter was nixed, they just abruptly go back to their old selves and the meteor is never brought up again like the infamous GS Ball.
A Rescue Team during Episode N deals with evacuating a factory fire, which Team Rocket takes advantage of to steal Pokémon. This becomes much harder to watch after the bombing of the Boston Marathon and the explosion of a factory in Texas in April 2013.
The episode "Palace" begins with Demolishor buried in a desert, taking sniper shots at the Autobots as they struggle to find him. The episode aired during the time of the Beltway sniper attacks.
The later episode "Tactician" begins with a news report of a space shuttle nearly colliding with something in space, which somehow appeared to be an exact duplicate (it turns out to be Jetfire). Two days after the episode aired, the shuttle Columbia disintegrated.
Another one for the WTC September 11th attacks: with another 70s Combining Mecha show, Voltes V. Part of the first episode shows a series of stills showing the invading aliens' armada laying waste on the world's military forces and key cities, and among them was a certain pair of twin towers. What's more disturbing is that this image was flashed right after the montage of the Liberty getting blown up.
In Paprika, Detective Konakawa is tormented in his dreams by the cry of "what about the rest of it?" in regards to a film he started with a friend in school that was left incomplete after he walked away from the project and the friend dies. Satoshi Kon, director of Paprika, died in August 2010 with his next movie incomplete.
In the first episode of Future GPX Cyber FormulaZERO, Hayato and Randoll nearly got killed in the British Grand Prix when their cars collided, Hayato's car went off the track banking and crashed to the ground. Then came the Formula One San Marino Grand Prix a month later, in which 2 separate accidents resulted in the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and 3-time champion Ayrton Senna.
In Macross Frontier: The False Songstress, Alto and Sheryl fall off a cliff with their Segways, but they managed to survive. Less than a year later, Jimi Heselden, the company owner of Segway died in an accident falling off a cliff... while riding his Segway.
The final stretch of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 1st, which happened in the course of a single day, involved a duel over a devastated city submerged in sea water, a flashback that involved a disastrous power plant meltdown, and a climax where the protagonists had to stop a massive quake caused by the Big Bad. The movie was released in 2010. One year later, Japan was devastated by a 9.0 earthquake that was immediately followed by a tsunami, causing a radiation leak from a nuclear power plant that eventually grew into a level 7 nuclear accident.
In Digimon Tamers, Tokyo's City Hall was damaged by an explosion midway up its length caused by a digimon attack. The building is a twin tower, and the episode was aired on the 9th of September of 2001. The dub understandably edited the explosions when it aired in the USA in December of the same year.
Digimon Xros Wars: in episode 30, Taiki and Shoutmon have returned to Tokyo only to find that Tactimon is on the rampage, obliterating buildings and even destroying a bridge. The 2011 Tohoku earthquake struck just three days later.
In the series Air, MisuzuKamio's body deteriorates in a way very similar to a cancer patient. Her Japanese voice actress, Tomoko Kawakami, died of ovarian cancer a few years later on June 9, 2011.
Chihiro Shindou's amnesia-inducing car accident in the preceding season a tale of memories (which first aired in 2007) is also this when her sister Kei's English voice actress, Brittney Karbowski, would actually get involved in a car crash in 2010.
Yoshinobu Nishizaki, producer of the iconic anime television series Space Battleship Yamato passed away on November 7, 2010 after falling off his steamboat named Yamato.
Even worse, some sources are claiming that she hates smut (or at least grew to hate it) and never wanted to write it in the first place, leading some to believe she may have been crying for help.
The fifth Detective ConanNon-Serial MovieCountdown to Heaven featured twin towers (that looked eerily enough like the real ones) being bombed. The movie was released in April 2001.
Grave of the Fireflies ends with the spirits of Seita and Setsuko looking out over the then-modern-day city of Kobe. A few years after the film was made, Kobe would be hit by Japan's worst earthquake in over 70 years. The quake killed over 6000 people and caused 10 trillion yen in damage.
Hi sCoool SeHa Girls ends on an uplifting note as each of the heroines go on to become video game consoles developed by Sega and become beloved by the world. Sadly, reality isn't as kind: Sega has been out of the hardware market for years, and the Sega Saturn and Sega Dreamcast were both commercial failures (the former suffering from a disastrous launch and the latter going strong for only two years before Sony stamped them out). The Sega Mega Drive faired a bit better, but also eventually lost out to Nintendo.
4Kids Entertainment, a rather infamous dubbing company, ironically ended up being this when they went out of business. While many actually cheered when it happened, 4kids was actually the last haven of the Saturday Morning Cartoon block. After they went out of business, the CW temporarily replaced the block, but eventually scrapped it all together thanks to American governemnt wanting more kid-friendly educational programming.
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is a 2009 anime where in 2012 a magnitude 8 earthquake erupts from northern Tokyo Bay. In 2011 the Tohoku earthquake happened.
High School Dx D is currently banned in New Zealand on the grounds that it depicted sexual exploitation of minors, then comes 2015, with Scott Freeman getting arrested and charged with multiple counts of possession of child pornography, making him unable to reprise his role as Issei, or even appear in voice acting in general ever again. This also makes the scene where Issei uses his Dress Breaker against Riser Phenex's peerage all the more uncomfortable to watch.
Just like the above, Scott Freeman's conviction of possession of child pornography makes scenes of Sarue of The Devil Is a Part-Timer! creeping on various women not as funny as originally intended and especially when he's creeping on Chiho who is a minor.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig explores on the refugee crisis which is one of the important storylines of the show. The 2015 migrant crisis in Europe caused by the political and religious unrest in the Middle East made the show very relevant.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, written in 2000, contains a Villain of the Week named Xander McQueen, with the power to damage a target by injuring himself. He uses this ability by trying desperately to commit suicide, thus bringing a hero down with him. He was named after fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who committed suicide in 2010.
When Naruto first defeated Neji in the chuunin exam, he convinced him that he isn't bound by fate, just as Naruto is able to defeat him even though he is a failure, while Neji is born with a pedigree that makes him strong. Later we learn that Naruto's father was the Fourth Hokage and his mother came from a clan that was related to the first two Hokages, making his pedigree even better than Neji's, and meaning that if fate existed, it was fated for Neji to be defeated by Naruto. What makes this worse is that Naruto is The Chosen One of a prophecy, destined to either save the world or destroy it. No matter which way you spin it, Neji turned out to be right in the end.
Neji does, however, think to himself after learning the truth behind his father's death, that it's not always certain whether a person's actions can change their destiny, and regardless of what they do, the outcome might be the same. He undergoes Character Development, but with the caveat that he still seems to believe that there are some things that are impossible to change.
While it is true Naruto is eventually revealed to be a Messianic Archetype from a prophecy, thus leading Neji to be fatefully defeated, and also taking his stronger pedigree into account as well, it actually means nothing if you don't work for it either. This is the true point of Itachi's message to Naruto in 552.
Nagato/Pain's plan involved using the combined power of all nine Tailed Beasts within the Gedou Mazou statue, so that he can use a kinjutsu powerful enough to wipe out a nation, pressuring people to peace, for prolonged periods of time. Already it sounds disturbing, so that could possibly be worse than that? Well, in chapter 594, Tobi revealed that the Gedou Mazou is a vessel for the Ten-Tailed Beast! Meaning Nagato would have revived a demon whose chakra is so evil and foul it endangered the world by existing, planned to only use it as a weapon to use to wipe out a nation and leave ituntil war broke out again and one side got to it first, would have reintroduced the world to unspeakable horrors, all in the name of world peace. Nagato would have likely learned very harshly that Evil Is Not a Toy, since Kurama/Nine-Tails itself said the Ten-Tails formed entire continents and swallowed oceans. When Minato told Naruto that Nagato was probably an Unwitting Pawn to Tobi, he wasn't kidding.
By the way, he used to use that THING as a combat summon.
In Chapter 244, after Kakashi passes out while fighting the Rock ninjas, and having to leave Obito behind under a pile of rubble, two sentences come up, "Have I died?" and "Where am I?" The first happened on a black screen after Kakashi passed out. The second appears right after that on the next page on a star filled sky, we see Kakashi wake up, and assume he thought those words. In Chapter 601 (YEARS later in-story and in the real world) those words are repeated as Tobi flashes back to when he awoke half-dead, and missing his right half of his body, Madara having saved him.
In Fullmetal Alchemist, Mustang tells Hughes that the soldiers who won't shut up about their girls back home always die. Surprise, he was right, just years later, in a death that involved both the girl he was talking about, and was shot to death, where directly after making this comment, Mustang makes a gun motion at him. It's worth noting that this is actually an inversion; the scene in question is presented as a flashback and is shown to the readers long after Hughes's death.
Shou Tucker's transmutation on Nina to make a talking chimera. One has the nasty feeling that someone out there did a better job. Guess what?
If one were to watch the 2003 anime version prior to reading the manga or watching Brotherhood, the scene where King Bradley (a.k.a. Pride) kills his son gets a sense of irony in the manga when the kid's revealed to be a homuculus himself, namely Pride.
In-universe example: In Hellsing, there's a scene during which Enrico Maxwell, the head of Iscariot, is being chewed out by Integra Hellsing for allowing her men to be killed by Alexander Anderson. He responds by saying, "Two men? If we killed two million of your worthless Protestant scum I would not have shed a single tear." It becomes a whole lot scarier in hindsight when that's exactly what he does. The killing people, not shedding tears.
Also Jan Valentine said that he planned to kill Integra and violate her corpse afterwards. Later, we find out that thugs did the same thing to Seras's mom.
Natsuki Takaya is the queen of this trope with Fruits Basket and Hoshi wa Utau. Yuki takes the cake with: "There was something I wanted, something I envisioned, loving parents, a happy home with everyone smiling at me. A home that no one would ever want to leave, a warm place, a warm person. It exists, I know it does." When we first meet him it's beginning to become true, but later in the manga, it becomes clear how he became SO desperate for it.
In Durarara!!, Celty describes Shizuo's level of strength to a reporter by saying, "You know how, no matter how good a martial artist is, you can just shoot him and it's all over? Shizuo's the gun." The pithy line seems to take on a much darker meaning in a later arc when Horada nearly kills Shizuo doing exactly that.
Way back around Volume 7, Negi reveals his past: how, when he was four, he tried several times to get himself into danger so his Disappeared Dad would show up and rescue him. One night, a horde of demons attacked his village, turning many people to stone and slaughtering the rest. With only Negi and his cousin Nekane alive, his dad Nagi did show up and fight off the demons. Ever since, Negi felt that the entire thing was his fault, and that it was some divine punishment for his earlier actions. Asuna calls him an idiot and says that it couldn't possibly been his fault; one four-year-old cannot inadvertantly catch the attention of a demon horde. And then, late in the Magic World Arc, we find out that the demon attack was specifically an assassination attempt on Negi's life, made by the Megalomesembrian Senate because Negi was the son of two of the Senate's most powerful enemies. So, in short, the massacre was Negi's fault; they came there and butchered everyone specifically to try to kill him.
In The Prince of Tennis, Ryoma oversleeps and arrives late to a match, and when asked he says "I was helping a pregnant woman to the hospital." Later in the story Oishi makes the same excuse, but he was actually telling the truth...and since he caught the soon-to-be-mom when she fell down a flight of stairs, he got a serious injury in his arm.
Many Monster of the Week Digimon in Digimon Savers were good Digimon in prior series. Some fans were horrified about old favorites getting creamed by the new heroes.
Broly, in the climax of Dragon Ball Z Movie 8, says to Goku after being powered up by his friends "No matter how much power you absorb from those idiots, it won't be enough to kill me!" Movie 10 reveals that Broly was actually quite correct about that statement (at least in regards to being killed by Goku's power increase, although just barely).
In Elfen Lied, Kouta's sister, Kanae, tries to tell him that Lucy kills people. This ends up in a rather depressing scene where Kouta yells-at and slaps his sister; his final words to her were "Apologize to her! If you don't I'll hate you!" Immediately after, Lucy brutally kills her right in front of him. The fact that those were his last words to his little sister, who was telling the truth the whole time and whose Famous Last Words were a plea for him not to hate her ("No, Kouta! Please don't say you hate me!"), is pretty damn harsh in hindsight.
In an early chapter of Gunslinger Girl, we get Henrietta making it clear that she would kill herself if Jose stopped caring about her. It's heart-warming at the time, in a weird way, but becomes much worse when Jose, knowing that Henrietta will never be able to feel anything towards him after she was restored to the factory settings, kills her (and himself).
In-universe example: In Rosario + Vampire, the Security Committee wanted Tsukune's blood just because he was human. In the second serialization, we find out why. Turns out their leader at the time was actually a mole for Fairy Tail and was even willing to put the entire Security Committee at risk by murdering Tsukune. This means that if Tsukune died and the Security Committee was eventually caught afterward, Fairy Tail would've won for sure.
In Code Geass's episode 19, Kallen claims that Euphemia is a useless puppet princess of Britannia who can't make any decisions of her own. Some episodes later, Euphie gets killed after being accidentally mind controlled by Lelouch (himself a rebellious member of the Britannian nobility) and stripped of her free will. ... Ooops?
On that same note, Kallen does NOT take well when she learns Zero's true identity and hear him essentially claim that he'd been using Kallen herself as his puppet. She does realize this is all part of his Jerkass Façade and accepts him as Zero, going so far as to be the only one to defend him when practically everyone else has turned on him due to Schneizel.
Britannia is not part of the European Union, and as of 2016, neither is the real-life United Kingdom.
Science Ninja Team Gatchaman episode Farewell, Red Impulse. The title character gives up his life to save the world, including his son who just learned his father isn't dead as he believed for several years. It makes the episodes he appears in earlier in the series much more painful, especially the occasional rivalry between G-1 the son and Red Impulse.note In Japanese culture, Kentarou "Red Impulse" Washio leaving his son Ken behind as a child to secure his future, by securing the world's future, is one of the most selfless and loving things he could have done, considering the Japanese stance on family and its importance to society; here in the West, however, he's viewed as a neglectful or even abusive father who left his child behind to throw himself into his mission for years, and then dies when he's about to come back.
While Bokurano is already quite harsh, there are still instances in which remarks become harsher once you look back on them. For example, when Ushiro accuses one of the pilots of getting cold feet, Misumi admonishes him, saying that "Everyone's scared." When you consider that she's his mother and is all but certain that her son is going to die, you can see that she's referring to herself and her comment has more weight.
Another example: Machi says something about foreign spies talling the kids to kill them. Guess how she dies.
News of Ace's death came shortly (as in within days) after Funimation released the first dub episodes of the Alabasta arc on their site. Said arc featured him as a Guest Star Party Member for a few episodes. It makes things unsettling...
Double whammy: Episode 437 also came out this week. Luffy's determination to reach Ace is to the point that he gets up even though poisoned, and beats his head against the bars of a cell to break out. Even considering the expression on Luffy's face, watching that scene was hard, when you consider that all his effort and sacrifices will ultimately be in vain.
Also, remember Bon Clay's Heroic Sacrifice and his facing down Magellan while Luffy and Co. got away? Yes? Remember Bon Clay's last words to Luffy? "YOU MAKE SURE YOU SAVE YOUR BROTHER!!!" ...Ouch.
Basically, to everyone who's read through the Marineford Arc, yeah... so how's watching any of the anime episodes holding up for you?
There's a villainous example with Arlong; his rants about fishmen superiority over humans ("Heaven gave us the power to separate us from you! So WE ARE DIFFERENT! Humans are lower than fishman from the day they're born!") takes on a horrifyingly twist when it's revealed that fishmen have been savagely persecuted by the World Nobles and he in all likelihood was once a slave. And then think about how the World Nobles see themselves as gods; Arlong's ranting comes off as deeply embittered counterarguments against that kind of thinking instead of standard Fantastic Racism.
Arlong killing Bellemere has another Tear Jerker layer to it. His former captain, Fisher Tiger, gave his crew the command to not harm humans, no matter what. Not only did Arlong rob Nami of her mother, he also broke his promise to his captain.
The intros and out-tros in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei look like surreal nonsense. The manga's finale showed that these intros and outros might as well have been foreshadowing Kafuka being Dead All Along.
Grave of the Fireflies opens with the scene of a child dying and meeting his sister in the afterlife. It's a pretty heavy Tearjerker to begin with. It's somehow made even worse once you actually watch the movie and see what they both went through leading up to that moment.
Similarly, almost every conversation involving Homura in the first nine episodes take heartbreaking new overtones when it is revealed that she is in a self-inflicted "Groundhog Day" Loop trying to save Madoka from all the (horrific) fates that becoming a Magical Girl entail.
One inversion involves Homura's final confrontation with Sayaka. Telling Sayaka, essentially, that "If you do not pull yourself together I will put you down like a dog because your self-destructive misery is making Madoka sad." seems a sign that Homura has lost more than a little perspective. However given the revelations at the end of the episode, the threat is more "If you do not pull yourself together I will put you down like a dog before you become an Eldritch Abomination and if we are lucky only a few innocents will die horribly before we destroy what is left of you anyway... and that would make Madoka sad."
In The Different Story manga, after Kyoko's father rejects her wish for him to have more followers, Kyoko questions Mami on the futility of saving witch kiss victims, noting that they would've had suicidal thoughts to be susceptible to a witch's kiss and if it was better to let such people die than waste magic trying to save someone who didnt want to live anyway. Mami counters back stating that as magical girls their purpose is to save lives regardless of the coast and what happens afterward is up to the victim. The conversation is sad enough in that Kyoko has already started to doubt her ideals but hits home harder if you play the Mami route in Madoka Magica Portable in which the catalyst for Mami becoming Candeloro is saving a woman who turns out to be suicidal even without the witch's kiss. The woman had lost her child to a witch with Mami unable to do anything about it and the woman wants to die to be reunited with her son. The resultant guilt drives Mami into sinking until she becomes a witch. In addition there's Mami finding about the truth about the puella magi system in The Different Story and attempting suicide just like in canon and Kyoko attempting to stop her only for Mami to succeed anyway
In Cross Ange, when the protagonist Angelise meets a mom who apparently has a baby who is a Norma, Ange's advice was to basically make a new baby who can use Mana. Eight episodes later, Hilda's mom did exactly what Ange said in the beginning of the episode and named her Hilda. After their reunion, her mom drives her away because to her, she's a monster.
Everything good involving Reiner, Bertolt, and Annie once you find out that they're human Titans bent on wiping out humanity.
The Running Gag of Sasha stealing food, with the revelation that she once survived a major food shortage. The refugees from Wall Maria swarmed the area, and ended up leaving very little prey for the hunting-dependent village. Everyone in her village suffered and as a direct result, she became obsessed with food.
Every single Titan kill, now that we know that all Titans are humans trapped in Titan form.
The Smiling Titan. This is the Titan that, back in the first chapter, ate Eren's mother. Eren is able to take his revenge on this Titan later in the series. Even later than that, as we learn about the past of Eren's father Grisha, we learn his first wife, Dina, was part of a La Résistance movement with Grisha in a nation outside the walls. When the resistance was sold out, Dina was one of many sentenced to be turned into a Titan and set loose behind the walls. Dina swears to Grisha that no matter what she becomes she'll find him. Then she transforms into the Smiling Titan. Essentially, the Smiling Titan was Grisha's first wife who, even as a mindless Titan, managed to find where he lived, killed Grisha's second wife, Carla, and was eventually killed by his and Carla's son.