Follow TV Tropes


Shell Shocked Veteran / Anime & Manga

Go To

Shell-Shocked Veterans in anime and manga.

  • Aldnoah.Zero has Koichiro Marito, a survivor of the first war between Earth and Mars. He personally bore witness to a Humongous Mecha that was able to manipulate gravity, was present during "Heaven's Fall" when the moon shattered and rained meteors on Earth, and was forced to kill his best friend and tank co-pilot to spare him a painful death from being trapped in a burning tank. The very latter event causes him to come down with severe PTSD.
  • Advertisement:
  • Area 88 has Mickey Simon, a U.S. Navy pilot who served in the Vietnam War. He found it very difficult to adjust to civilian life and convinced himself that he could not live without war. In the manga and OVA, Shin also becomes this after serving as a mercenary fighter pilot in the Asran civil war.
  • Almost every single soldier in Attack on Titan is one, if they manage to be among the 50% that survive their first battle with the Titans. It is stated explicitly that it usually takes 20 deaths to down a single Titan, making the chances of any individual soldier surviving fairly poor. Those that do survive are left with the Survivor's Guilt of seeing their comrades die horribly. How well they function various from individual to individual, with all veteran soldiers in the Survey Corps being noticeably a little... strange in one way or another. The 104th Trainees Squad has the dubious honor of becoming this the day after their graduation from boot camp, with several either going mad from terror or taking their own lives rather than fight again.
    • Eren Yeager pretends to be (at least a worse version than he already is) one of these in order to sneak into the enemy's military territory and "reunite" with Reiner Braun.
    • Reiner himself is one of these as well; between the comrades he lost and the shame he feels for betraying the Survey Corps and being responsible for the deaths of thousands as the Armored Titan, including many whom he considered his friends and vice-versa he's practically a shell of who he used to be. At one point, he's even got a rifle in his mouth and is only seconds away from pulling the trigger before he snaps out of it.
  • Advertisement:
  • The ex-revolutionary pirate Captain Harlock of his own eponymous series was one of the earliest examples of this trope in anime.
  • City Hunter offers us Ryo, Umibozu and Kaibara. All of them fought on a civil war in Central America, a war that left them devastated and with self-destructive tendencies:
  • Darker Than Black:
  • It's heavily implied that Future Trunks of the Androids Saga of Dragon Ball Z is of this trope, referring to the horrific events of his future (where two Red Ribbon Androids are slaughtering several people), and at least once stopping what he was doing unwittingly to flash back to what was going on in his timeline before snapping back to reality.
  • In The Familiar of Zero, Colbert is haunted by his past as a soldier, and does his best to discourage his students from seeing war as a noble, idealistic quest, in an effort to prevent them from repeating his mistakes.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Dr. Knox is an Ishbal veteran who was so damaged by the war that his wife and son left him. He's incredibly scarred by what he had to do in the war, and hates any mention of the war or his comrades in it (though he does help out his old war buddy Roy Mustang when pressed). Knox may be redeemable, but he's still living in the war so far.
    • The Brotherhood-only Isaac McDougal, AKA the Freezing Alchemist is very badly scarred by the war, and by what he knows about the Ancient Conspiracy. He goes AWOL for a couple of years, and then shows up again one day, attempting to put all of Central City under ice. Once you get further in the series, his plan doesn't seem so evil after all....
    • In episode 16 of the first anime Ed comes across an Ishbal veteran (after getting off a train to find Al who was mistaken for cargo) who lost his leg in the war and refuses to have it replaced with automail because of the number of lives he took in the war.
    • Roy Mustang himself is consumed with self-loathing, and is out to take over the country and then throw himself in prison as punishment for what he did in the war. He talks constantly about his familiarity with the smell of burnt flesh, is incapable of seeing himself in a positive light, and wants to fix Amestris or die trying.
    • Riza Hawkeye, to the degree that it transforms her personality from a sweet, idealistic girl into a cold and emotionless soldier (at least on the surface), with self-destructive/suicidal tendencies that come out when she's under pressure. She ends up taking Solf J. Kimblee's advice, and memorising the faces of every person she's killed.
    • Major Alex Louis Armstrong, who suffered his breakdown during the war when he saw the carnage he caused, and tried to help the only two survivors he could find escape. They were immediately blown up by Kimblee, who was ironically trying to help Armstrong avoid courtmartial. To make matters worse, he is actually considered a disgrace by his General Ripper of a sister, who constantly belittles him for cowardice despite not having served in Ishbal herself (though in this case, it's more that he didn't do anything about the injustice.)
    • In the first anime, Roy Mustang also fits this trope for different reasons than his manga incarnation. He is shown attempting to commit suicide after killing Winry's parents but being unable to pull the trigger on himself. After a flashback-based conversation with his friend Maes Hughes — where Hughes calls him out for his self-pity — he becomes determined to use his abilities to fix the country of Amestris.
  • Sōsuke Sagara, and his Evil Counterpart, Zaied from Full Metal Panic! fit this trope perfectly. They're both ex-Child Soldiers, they're both The Stoic and they both have serious mental issues. Sōsuke's are normally played for laughs. Zaied's aren't.
  • Gintoki from Gintama. He lost a lot of allies while fighting on the losing side of the war, which is definitely not played for laughs (although almost every other aspect of his life is fair game).
  • Miho Nishizumi, from Girls und Panzer. Surprisingly, for a Moe show. She's got a deer-in-the-headlights look whenever anyone puts more responsibility on her, has had a tremor in her left hand, and has something resembling a Heroic BSoD every time one of her allied tanks is taken out. She's got PTSD.
  • Gundam
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: The horrible experiences he went through in the One Year War made Amuro "Shooting Star" Ray one of these. He only recovered 7 years later, in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. Side materials reveal that it took him just a little longer to get back into space because he was afraid Lalah would be there.
    • An even more extreme version is Kamille Bidan from Zeta Gundam, who...isn't doing well when he shows up in ZZ Gundam, due to a combination of war trauma and Mind Rape from archvillain Scirocco. Sidematerials indicate that this is also true of Titans second-in-command Bask Om. Captured and tortured in a Zeon POW camp during the One Year War, he emerged with a fanatical hatred of the colonials, and a desire to see them all dead. Bask may have physically left that camp, but mentally, he's still there.
    • Athrun Zala becomes this by the time Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny rolls around. He's bitter, cynical, incapable of seeing anything but shades of grey, has some self-destructive tendencies, and cannot form meaningful connections to anyone who didn't serve alongside him in the first war. His ex-best friend/rival from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Kira Yamato, slowly becomes one of these over the course of the original show, hitting rock bottom and mental breakdown around the halfway point in the series. He seems to get better, but if the Thousand-Yard Stare, flashbacks, and newly stoic personality he displays at the start of Destiny are any indicator, he really hasn't. As for Shinn Asuka, he goes into the second war without having gotten over the death of his family (and particularly his sister) in the first conflict. In a lot of ways, Shinn seems to have emotionally frozen at the age he was when he found his sister's body, and has never actually moved on.
    • Setsuna F. Seiei, was once a Child Soldier tricked into murdering his own parents in the name of God and fighting a fruitless war. Years later, he's still in Krugis, especially when he sees a town getting razed to the ground.. He gets better thanks to the best friend in his life, Marina Ismail.
    • Flit Asuno is slowly becoming one, too, joining the other Gundam protagonists as bitter war veterans. Woolf Enneacle even puts it clearly, that as he fights on, he would want to kill more and more Unknown Enemies, no longer satisfied with a peaceful life. In the end, his son and his grandson manage to shock him out of his shell-shock.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing gives us Heero Yuy, who befriended a little girl and her puppy, and accidentally killed them both.
      "How many times must I kill that girl and her dog?!"
    • Treize Khushrenada is another example. He knows exactly how many men have died for him and remembers all their names. He thinks war is beautiful and later on commits Suicide by Cop. This should tell you what kind of an affect war had on him.
    • After War Gundam X has Captain Jamil Neate. Flashbacks show him as a fresh-faced teenage Ace Pilot. Present-day Jamil is scarred on his face and soul both and has become one of the endlessly roving, scavenging Vultures in a quest to find other Newtypes and protect them from becoming soldiers like he was. Having fired the shot that provoked the rebels into the mass Colony Drop that nearly wiped out humankind on Earth, Jamil has a hell of a guilt complex, lost his Newtype powers, and a severe cockpit phobia that he doesn't start overcoming until a third of the way through the series.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans gives a myriad of examples, due to most of the cast being Child Soldiers, and many being former Human Debris, slaves sold to fight and die as cannon fodder. The protagonist, Mikazuki, is shown to disassociate to an extreme degree, allowing all of his decisions to be made by his friend Orga. And he is far from alone in this, as we see Tekkadan's younger members demand to watch as Mika disassembles an enemy commander who killed one of their own. Finally, on the opposing side we have Ein, a rookie pilot who is eventually consumed by his anger and guilt due to the death of his superior officer at Tekkadan's hands. It ends with what's left of his body being installed inside a mobile suit, snarling at the Gundam as he rants about Crank and wildly flails his axes in hopes of crushing Mika.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: There's a common fan theory that Jotaro Kujo developed PTSD after his adventures in Stardust Crusaders, particularly following the Final Battle with DIO. Evidence of this can be seen in all of the parts that have Jotaro as a supporting character post-Stardust Crusaders.
    • Part 4: He is seen to be frightened when Angelo mentions DIO, and he beats the living shit out of Kira after Kira (a blonde-haired man like DIO) said that his Stand is now weak, says the word "Muda" (DIO's catchphrase and Battlecry), mentions how much time he has left before leaving (similar to DIO using The World's time-stopping ability and counting down its duration), and Jotaro seeing Koichi having a hole in the chest after being punched by Killer Queen (this is what kills Kakyoin in Part 3).
    • Part 5: He sent Koichi instead of himself to meet Giorno, DIO's illegitimate son.
    • Part 6: He completely flips out when Pucci throws a flurry of knifes towards his daughter Jolyne, much like what he experienced in Stardust Crusaders.
  • Valmet of Jormungand saw her entire unit wiped out during her first command in the field. The scars(Both mental, and physical) are still carried with her, though she manages to not let it interfere with her work.
  • Teenage mercenary Kazuma Shudo of Kagerou-Nostalgia is very, very shellshocked. He can't stand being touched, is prone to violent moodswings, suffers flashbacks and throws himself into every battle without any concern for his own well-being. It's a combination of war trauma, and what he went through when his Doomed Hometown was destroyed. While he does get better, he's never far from a breakdown.
  • In The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, the crew encounters the corpse of a shell-shocked soldier from the imperial army. The soldier had been part of the Rape of Nanking and broke. Upon his return home after the war he re-enacted what he'd lived through on his home village, only to have the massacre covered up because of the prestige loss if it had gone public.
  • Otori Asuka (callsign: Rapture) of Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka starts out very, very broken. The fact that she is a New Transfer Student at a high school does not hide her flashbacks at the sight of mascots or tendency toward overkill in any physcial confrontation. She even admits to two girls trying to befriend her that she reads constantly to keep bad memories at bay. This is not helped of course by circumstances dragging her back in.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, one of the villains, specifically Dynamis, is like this due to being one of the only members of his organization who survived the 20+ years of being hunted down by the good guys.
  • Nemo, deposed king of destroyed Atlantis from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water.
  • Naruto:
    • Surprisingly few shinobi suffer from this trope in Naruto; however, Kakashi Hatake seems to be a textbook example, having lost his father, his best friend Obito (who gave him his left eye as a permanent memento and later turns up alive and a villain responsible for much of the bad things that have occurred in the last sixteen years, including their teacher Minato's death), his potential love interest Rin (who he himself killed), and his mentor Minato. As such, when Sasuke demanded to know how Kakashi would react if he killed everyone that Kakashi cared about, his reply was to simply smile and say that he had already lost everyone precious to him. The reason Kakashi was always late for his training sessions with his genin team? Every morning he spends hours just standing in front of the Konoha memorial to dead shinobi to honor his comrades' memory. The anime goes in and does a masterful anime expansion of the immediate aftermath of Rin's Heroic Sacrifice. Kakashi has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, he keeps seeing Rin die by his hands, keeps having nightmares, becomes far, far more withdrawn, and he couldn't even use his Chidori anymore since he kept thinking of Rin. All at 13 years old. You have to wonder why Konoha doesn't have a grief counselor that Minato assigned to Kakashi.
    • This is apparently why Itachi became a Well-Intentioned Extremist, and it's definitely what turned Pain and Konan to the dark side, with the latter in particular willing to follow the last friend she has all the way to the bottom of the slippery slope. In general, a major theme in the series is that senseless war and the system it produces are the primary culprits in creating most of the world's villains.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion deserves a special mention, having had his mind broken at the tender age of 14 due to fighting Skyscraper-sized Aliens (or something) while being forced into it by his father. Oh, and Asuka Langley Soryu, who went through a similar process to Shinji, but also managed to have the Trope Namer of Mind Rape inflicted on her.
    • The Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 version of Shinji fits this better, back in Alpha 1, along with the events of Evangelion (Including the End Of Evangelion but they stopped the MP'ed EVA's before the Third Impact could occur) happening, he was fighting a war with aliens, MORE monsters, and OTHER PEOPLE. Zoom forward about 2 years to Alpha 3(Eva missed @ Gaiden and @2) Shinji's freaked out by what he saw during the chaos, but tries to offset it by being Older and Wiser and has mostly shed his old hedgehog problem. Then the events of Eva start happening AGAIN, he's mostly prepared for it until everyone except the Alpha Numbers are tanged. The shell-shocked part is finally dropped after Third Impact is reversed.
    • In the third movie of Rebuild of Evangelion, nearly everyone from the cast becomes this due to Third Impact and having to fight for the past 14 years in a war against SEELE.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: The title character, who was a teenager with huge guilt issues and an extremely naive view of the world when he was recruited to be an assassin, and the ensuing strain on his conscience (combined with accidentally killing the woman he loved, who fell in love with him while trying to get revenge for him murdering her original fiancee) broke him so hard he became a Technical Pacifist and didn't resolve his issues until years later.
  • By the time she debuts in the main manga, Minako Aino of Sailor Moon is this, courtesy of what happened in her solo series: a year of battles alone, that started when she had to kill her crush and ended when she had to kill her true love. She refuses to let anyone know.
  • Kambei, the main protagonist of Samurai 7, who has grown so tired of always leading the losing side that it is implied that he has become a Death Seeker. The same goes for his counterpart in the original live-action classic movie.
  • Sound of the Sky:
    • A bit inverted in Sound Of The Sky, where the character who experienced a heavy level of trauma during the war (Filicia) goes on to, rather than feel nothing, becomes The Existentialist and her squad's Team Mom.
    • Played straighter with Noël.
  • In Sword Art Online, Kirito is a survivor of the titular death game. Not counting the game-master, Kirito has killed three murderers in close combat, and he made a mistake that directly led to the deaths of three of his comrades (including his girlfriend) and led to the suicide of a fourth in front of him. Both these experiences left him severely traumatized, to the point of becoming suicidal on one occasion and being filled with terror just being reminded about the people he killed a year later. Well, There Are No Therapists in Aincrad, and after getting out, he put so much focus on his physical recovery that he didn't actually confront his mental state for a year.
  • Violet is an unconventional case in Violet Evergarden. Life as a soldier and weapon of war did not bother Violet as she never knew anything else but war. It wasn't until she finally lived as a civilian and understood her own emotions, the bloody memories of what she had done during the war are seen in a different light and she is appropriately horrified.
  • Van from The Vision of Escaflowne after he mercilessly slaughtered the Zaibach pilots who destroyed his hometown when he merged with his Escaflowne fueled by rage and hatred, after it's over he became traumatized by the experience and was reminded of the event every time he picked up a sword.
  • Kurosaki and Yuto from Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V both count, as survivors of a genocide and inter-dimensional war that was enabled through Duel Monster disks empowered by Magitek to the point where a single duelist can and has used the game to fire-bomb an entire city. Both show violent tendencies and Kurosaki is clearly paranoid, plus both have PTSD-like flashbacks with Yuto's being strong enough to affect Yuya, after absorbing Yuto's soul.
  • Togo from Yuki Yuna is a Hero was a Hero in elementary however she has no memories of the fact. Even with her amnesia, she is still subconsciously scared of having to be a Hero. At first it seems like she is afraid that she will be The Load due to her wheelchair however it's later revealed to be more sinister. She is still traumatized by her past experiences as a Hero.


Example of: