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Unexplained Recovery / Anime & Manga

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Unexplained Recoveries in anime and manga.

  • Appleseed: Two Horns in the film Appleseed Alpha comes back from No One Could Survive That! on at least four occasions, without even a Hand Wave to explain it.
  • Train of Black Cat attempts to use this technique to explain why his recently completely amputated hands appear fine the next day, striking a pose and saying, "They grew back!" It doesn't work, and he has to explain.
    • Happens in the anime via an Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole when Train is struck by a nanomachine-empowered bullet that causes him to turn into a kid. In the manga, he has to go to Eve's creator, Dr. Tearju, for a cure, but since the anime wanted to save Tearju for anime-only arc at the end of the show he just gets better with no explanation.
  • Thanks to the author's painfully vague storytelling, many people assumed that Killy losing half of his head at the end of Blame! finally killed him for good. It didn't.
    • Killy isn't human, and has been shown to have an incredibly resilient Healing Factor; one chapter showed him recovering from an explosion that burned off half of his body-mass.
  • Bleach: The second time Ulquiorra puts a hole in Ichigo's chest, he's taken right to the brink of death and Orihime's healing ability mysteriously can't help him. Even more mysteriously, his need to protect her (the reason why he came to Hueco Mundo) drives him back to his feet as a fully-fledged hollow creature that promptly thrashes Ulquiorra to within an inch of life. And if that wasn't mysterious enough, the hollow powers suddenly leave Ichigo, leaving him fully healed. Fans have debated for years whether or not he actually died during that fight and what explanation could cover him coming back to full health when even the healer whose powers literally break the rules of the universe couldn't heal him. Not only that, but the characters that witnessed it were themselves thoroughly confused by what happened, making it a simultaneous example of an in-universe and fandom-observed one.
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  • Blood+ has Diva's Chevaliers come back from certain death on multiple occasions, including Amshel being impaled on the Empire State Building's spire and struck by lightning, becoming a charred, blackened corpse. He comes back the very next episode with gaping hole in his body but more or less okay. The only time they're explicitly Killed Off for Real is when they're poisoned by Saya's blood and actually shown crumbling to pieces on-screen. The epilogue shows that Nathan, who was exposed to Saya's blood (which is an incurable poison to Diva's Chevaliers), is still alive. This is never specifically explained, but in retrospect one of his previous statements can be taken to imply that he's not one of Diva's Chevaliers at all.
  • The minor antagonist Mao from Code Geass was on the receiving end of a hail of gunfire from police officers that Lelouch Mind Controlled into shooting him. He showed up alive in the next episode saying Lelouch should have been more specific and told them to kill him. Despite the firing being from about fifteen feet away, by about ten officers and a Knightmare Frame. Too bad he decided to come back and try to take on Lelouch again. Didn't work out so well that time.
    • In the manga, he ends up being Killed Off for Real by the police and doesn't show up again, resulting in Lelouch learning about Suzaku's killing his father in a different way.
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    • Jeremiah Gottwald is pretty damn good at this in the first season. Not even being crushed to the bottom of the ocean by C.C.'s Knightmare Frame can kill his loyalty (granted, by that point he was a cyborg, but it's still doubtful he could have taken that kind of punishment).
    • Ohgi was stabbed by Sayoko's daggers and fell off a cliff. He comes back a few episodes later without any serious injury, Villetta is in the custody of Diethard and the entire incident is never addressed.
    • The series practically runs on this. Every time it looks like a supporting character just died they have a 50/50 chance of turning up alive in the next episode. An egregious example of this is Guilford surviving an explosion his mecha was clearly caught in.
  • There was no explanation for Vicious of Cowboy Bebop coming back after the fifth episode, where a grenade went off just a couple feet away from him. Though since we don't actually see it explode while it's next to him he probably just outran the fireball by jumping over the railing right next to him.
    • The movie's Big Bad Vincent pulls a bigger one as he is holding in his hand the grenade that destroys the tube carriage him and Spike are in. He doesn't make any move to throw it and just waits for it to go off yet when we see him again, he was somehow completely unaffected by the explosion and no comment is made about the event.
  • Cross Ange seems to kill off Tusk and Momoka at the conclusion of one episode, with both being shot and caught in massive explosions. The following episode, Tusk finds and comforts a grieving Ange who initially refuses to believe that he's alive. Later on, he takes her to reunite with an equally-fine Momoka. Absolutely no explanation for their survival is given, with the characters comically bitching about this in the On the Next. Tusk was even wearing a suicide vest and still didn't have a scratch.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The earliest example of this is Tao Pai-Pai, who gets killed when Goku kicks his own grenade back at him, with an explosion leaving no trace of Tao behind. 75 Chapters and two Time Skips later, Tao appears again to enact his revenge after being revived as a cyborg. No explanation for this is given, outside of saying it took a lot of time and, in the anime dub, a lot of money.
    • Zig-Zagged when it comes to Frieza. The end of the Namek arc has him annihilated by Goku, leaving just a crater behind, and soon after the planet itself explodes. In the next Chapter, however, Frieza's body is found floating in space, and he's reconstructed into a cyborg. The unexplained part is how Frieza survived the explosion of Namek, something which he was worried about earlier in the arc.note 
  • Eden of the East seems to make it perfectly clear that Panties made a Heroic Sacrifice trying to give the heroes crucial information. However, he is seen in the final episode, bandaged and in the hospital, but otherwise cheerful.
  • In the anime film Eureka Seven Good Night Sleep Tight Young Lovers, Renton suffered a gunshot wound in his abdomen and bleeding profusely while trying to escape with Eureka from Holland's pursuit. He eventually succumbs to his wound and lost conscious. After he woke up in a beach, he found his bullet wound healed without any blood stain on his shirt as well.
  • Excel Saga's Hyatt could well be the Trope Codifier, in that she is seen to be so frail that the slightest thing will actually kill her, but that they do so repeatedly throughout the series, with her reviving inexplicably again shortly afterward. She usually dies at least once per chapter/episode, and sometimes multiple times depending on the situation, but is never Killed Off for Real.
  • Fairy Tail: Jellal was hit through god knows how many stories of a tower by a superpowered Natsu and exposed to dangerous levels of Etherion magic (the most powerful type of magic in the world). When he comes back he's in some sort of coma/trance as a result, but is otherwise completely unscratched. And a few chapters later he's up and kicking butt again.
  • Near the end of the Fate route in Fate/stay night, Rin Tohsaka is wounded by Kotomine and is presumably dying. However, after the final battle, she meets Shiro, unharmed. To be fair, she did say she had already magically closed her wounds. She may have been lying to make Shirou listen, but it's just as likely that she wasn't.
  • To a lesser extent, Gauron in the first season finale of Full Metal Panic! True, he had a Lambda Driver, but surviving three hundred kilograms of high explosive point-blank when his AS self-destructs? That's a bit much. Though he had other instances of miraculous survival such as when a young Sōsuke shot him IN THE HEAD (he explained that he had a titanium plate inside due to a previous "accident") or when Sōsuke blew him away with a cannon round; Gauron's AS is decapitated... yet a short time later, it is unscathed, only shut down due to overheating. This was repeated again in their next engagement: the Codarl blown to pieces yet minutes later being miraculously repaired for no apparent reason and its pilot being uninjured.
    • In the third season finale, Sōsuke found him dying on a bed hooked up to life support. Gauron managed to taunt him so much that The Stoic flipped off and shot him half a dozen times, flatlining him... and setting off a bomb hidden under the bed.
  • Being a cyborg with a fully artificial body, this happens a lot to the Major in Ghost in the Shell. And since she knows that any damage that doesn't harm her titanium encased brain can easily be repaired, she doesn't give getting away from danger a very high priority.
  • In Gugure! Kokkuri-san, Kokkuri kills and buries Inugami when he discovers that Kokkuri is trying to search for hair growth products online, and remains dead or a ghost for about half the episode. When the second half starts, Inugami is perfectly fine with no indication of how he came back.
  • Gundam:
    • Probably the most egregious frequent flyer of this trope as far as anime is concerned is one Heero Yuy of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, who has attempted to "self-detonate" many, many times. And never succeeded. He is as ineffectual at killing himself as he is threatening to kill others. Thrice he appeared to succeed, only to recover later:
      • In Episode 1, he intentionally crash-landed in Wing Gundam, but regained consciousness soon after he washed ashore and was found by Relena. (He tried to fire a suicide bomb in his suit when she found him, but it malfunctioned.note )
      • In Episode 2, he rode missiles he launched at Wing Gundam to prevent Duo from recovering it. He was found face-down in the harbor soon after, but that didn't kill him either. He was captured by the United Earth Sphere Alliance, though, and was taken to a secured room at a hospital.
      • In Episode 10, he succeeded in blowing up Wing Gundam, and apparently himself with it. Trowa drove off with Gundam Heavyarms holding Heero's apparently dead body. Though in-universe he remains unconscious for a month, in terms of the show he wakes up one episode later.
      • There's also episode 25, where Trowa somehow survive the explosion of his Vayeate, although he lose his memories.
      • In the final episode, Zechs blows up the reactor of a crashing ship at point blank range. What is left of the ship is then vaporized by Heero's Beam Cannon. A year later, in Endless Waltz, Zechs shows up again, perfectly fine, with a new Gundam. No explanation is given for how he survived or where the Tallgeese III came from.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, the main protagonist's sister Leina is supposedly killed when the hut she is resting in is blown up by a falling mecha. She inexplicably returns near the end of the series (with no visible injuries other than needing to use a wheelchair), having been rescued by fan favorite character Sayla Mass from the original Mobile Suit Gundam. Though it was a nice cameo for the fans, exactly what Sayla was doing there or how she actually rescued Leina is never revealed.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Kira is supposedly "killed" when his rival's MS self-destructs. His crew finds his MS, the cockpit scorched and no body. A couple episodes later, he is shown with only minor injuries considering the INSIDE of his MS was burnt to a nice crisp. The manga side story, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray tried to Hand Wave it by having its main character find the injured Kira after the explosion and ruminate that the emergency shutter must have saved him before bringing him to get medical attention.
      • Episode 15 has a nurse explain that Coordinators can survive injuries that would kill normal humans. Or maybe that whole "Jesus Yamato" thing wasn't so far off after all...
      • Lending credence to the nurse's explanation is Andrew Waltfeld, a Coordinator commander, who also survived a similar fate. He wasn't so lucky - he lost an arm and an eye - but he still survived to come back late in the series.
      • Played straight with Mwu La Flaga, a natural, who shows up in the sequel, after his mobile suit is quite clearly vaporized by the Dominion's Lohengrin in the original series. Although this seems to fall more under Retcon as the movie editions of SEED remove Mwu's shattered helmet from Strike's wreckage. The writers most likely intended him to die at the time, only deciding to bring him back later during Destiny's production.
      • Kira gets another one in the sequel where he manages to survive his nuclear reaction exploding literally underneath him. Somehow. They later try to Hand Wave this by saying Kira turned off the reactor before it exploded. Nevermind the fact that it was exploding in the first place because a gigantic energy sword had been shoved in it and there was in fact a nuclear explosion (complete with mushroom cloud after the fact). Yeah there are a LOT of reasons [[this series wasn't well-liked.note 
    • Played for laughs in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, where Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain Patrick Colasaur keeps getting his mobile suit crashed or blown up yet inexplicably surviving without injury. It gets to the point that by the end of the show, when it very much looks like he got killed, fans simply didn't question it when he showed up alive in the finale. He even gains the in-universe nickname "The Immortal Patrick Colasaur" during the second season.
  • In Guyver, the Guyvers themselves and their ally Aptom are virtually indestructible — so long as respectively their Control Medallion or One Single Cell Survive, they'll just regenerate, no questions asked. Not so, however, for Zoalords, their primary antagonists, who have been shown to be tough, but far from unkillable - frequently needing days, if not weeks, of TLC in a hospital bed after an encounter with the Guyver even if they survive. It therefore deserves note that, after the Zoalord Guyot expended virtually all his energy in creating and then destroying a Black Hole, he dropped about a mile before crashing into a concrete floor, spent what little power he had left to activate an ancient alien MacGuffin, had his torso cleaved in half by an energy weapon, had his Zoa-Crystal (the source of his power and indeed survival) ripped brutally out of his skull, was perforated with several gravity bullets and then was dropped into an erupting volcano, he still turned up again about a year later with little more to show for his ordeal than a collection of scars and a slightly manic look, and no explanation given.
  • The personified nations in Hetalia: Axis Powers seem to need little to no recovery time from injuries. At one point, Russia jumps out of a plane without a parachute. We're told that he broke his bones, but we never see him in any kind of cast. During one of the Christmas events, Switzerland shot France in the head. He was back on his feet in moments with no visible wound.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • The main characters frequently suffer vicious injuries in the series, including losing chunks of flesh, breaking bones, and spraying High-Pressure Blood from injuries that by all accounts should have ended their adventure right there if not outright killed them. Yet, aside from plot-relevant injuries that keep them out of the game for awhile (such as Kakyoin being temporarily hospitalized from having his eyes slashed), the heroes are often back to full strength without comment by their next scene, or by the next episode at the latest. In later parts, there tends to be at least one character with some kind of healing power to Hand Wave the problem.
      • Mocked in an episode of So This is Basically..., which was barely an exaggeration.note 
      "Don't worry, I'm okay! That bullet only hit me in the head, after passing through several dogs!"
    • Used to great effect in the Vento Aureo a.k.a Golden Wind arc. Bruno Bucciarati goes to confront Diavolo and is suddenly impaled from behind by his Stand, King Crimson. Giorno finds him and tries to heal him, even though it looks like it's too late. Bucciarati's soul seems to speak to Giorno for a moment, only for Bucciarati to suddenly wake up, seemingly healed by Giorno. However it's later found out that Bucciarati did succumb to his wounds just before Giorno reached him. Giorno filling Bucciarati's body with life energy allowed his soul to re-enter his body, effectively becoming a zombie whose life was quickly running out. Bucciarati burns out the last of his life in the final battle with Diavolo, and his soul finally passes on.
  • In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Nijima is stranded on a deserted island, and comes back a couple episodes later with no explanation—even though the episode in question ended with a cliffhanger implying Kenichi would be starting a "Find Nijima" arc. Instead, he's promptly forgotten about, but turns out fine anyway. Later it is implied that Siegfried found him and rescued him while on his journey of self-discovery. Shigure Kōsaka appears to be fatally stabbed, but appears fine a few chapters later.
  • Last Exile: Near the end of the series, Mullin is part of a team that storms a battleship's Claudia Unit to seize it from its Guild operators. The last scene of him in this episode shows him bleeding profusely from at least one bullet wound, lying limp atop a control console, and with Dunya on her knees crying at his side. He inexplicably manages to survive to appear in the last few minutes of the final episode, alive and well.
    • While surprising and improbable, it is actually plausible; it just means that he wasn't shot by Instant Death Bullets, and that someone managed to give him medical treatment before it was too late. It just happened to take place offscreen, which is understandable given that it was during the Grand Finale.
    • And according to in interview with the creators in a supplemental artbook (and later the sequel series), Dio Eraclea.
  • Lupin III: Dragon of Doom has guest villain Genzai killed off twice, yet he reappears alive and well after both times before he's Killed Off for Real in Lupin's final showdown against him. Possibly hand waved by the fact that he's a Ninja.
  • In Martian Successor Nadesico's Show Within a Show, Gekigangar III, this seems to be the case in the last episode when Joe — having died in the hero's arms ("JOOOOOOE!") in a pivotal episode — shows up in the crunch of the final battle, stating only that "this is nothing compared to true Hell." Akito remarks that the episode was terrible because things like that don't happen in real life.
    • And then Admiral Fubuke comes back after pulling a Heroic Sacrifice by overclocking a battleship to hold off the Jovians. They even poke fun at this by having him appear strumming a guitar and singing about how self-destructing a spaceship is a really dumb idea.
  • Mazinger Z: During the second-to-last episode, the Cool Airship where Dr. Hell was escaping in got blown up. Whatever was left of him after that explosion surely sank in the ocean. Nonetheless he showed up again in the last season of Great Mazinger, his body grafted into a Humongous Mecha. One eyepatch covering his left eye was the only mark of the ordeal he had endured. Little explanation was given other than a statement of Big Bad and Physical God Emperor of Darkness had relived him and turned into one of his Warrior Monsters (and high commander of his army). It may be worth mentioning many Mazinger-Z characters returned in the last episodes from the sequel, so maybe Executive Meddling was involved.
  • At the end of Megazone 23 Part 2, the bike gang members who were previously shown getting knocked off their bikes, shot up, and otherwise (apparently) dispatched by the baddies in various ways show up almost entirely intact with a few bandages on them. No explanation is provided.
  • In My-HiME, the main character explodes taking out an orbital laser in outer space. They see the fiery ashes of apparently her and her CHILD from the explosion coming down. But...the next day, she comes into class, only vaguely curious as to why everyone is so sad. There's much speculation on this. The series finale has some of this going on, too, although (dramatic cheat or not) it's at least plausible under the rules of the series.
  • The Mysterious Cities of Gold: No-one is even surprised that Gomez and Gaspar survived the destruction of the Saint Miguel ship even though it was literally blown to splinters with them aboard when Tao overloaded the Solaris' solar heat ray, causing the ship to self-destruct right next to the Saint Miguel.
  • Many, many characters get better in One Piece.
    • Pagaya, a minor character during the Skypiea Arc, is clearly seen being hit by an island-destroying attack early on in the arc, but reappears after the Big Bad's defeat with no explanation, except that it makes the resolution even happier.
    • The previous arc had another minor character, Pell, fly away while carrying a city-buster bomb in a Heroic Sacrifice to prevent the heroes and civilians from being caught in the blast. The bomb explodes while he's still carrying it. He's later seen alive and none the worse for wear... walking up to his own (empty) grave, as everybody in-universe had assumed he died too.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • Asuna and Negi on a Floating Continent, when Jack Rakan introduces himself by poking Asuna in the boob. Asuna punches him off the island, he falls screaming to his death...and then he appears behind them, none the worse for wear.
      Rakan: Just kidding! That's quite a punch you've got there, little lady.
    • Later, he got erased from existence. Not once, but twice... and he manages to come back again and again.
      Chisame: B-but you were taken down by Fate, and disappeared ...!
      Rakan: I came back with my fighting spirit!
      Chisame: Seriously?!
  • The Pokémon anime is specially guilty of this and does it all the time in different ways:
    • Evolutions during battles are treated as free Full Restores just to make them more tense against the winning trainer. May double as Deus ex Machina or Diabolus ex Machina, and sometimes a definite Ass Pull.
    • Right after intense battles, the defeated and badly battered monster will be seen standing and looking pristine as ever. Never mind the fact they took about 10 beams of energy to the face.
    • The trope is only ever averted when a battle causes a fatal broken limb. This condition appears very, very rarely.
    • When one gets down to it, though, the anime is actually following the game's logic. After a Pokemom faints, a Pokemon Center easily restores them to full health. Therefore, it's easily explainable.
    • Pokémon: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages has a flat-out dead and came back example with Latios who died saving Alto Mare and became the new Soul Dew at the climax of Pokémon Heroes. He just sorta shows up out of nowhere flying with Latias during the movie's beginning montage of the Legendary Pokemon set to appear. What's both the cause of his resurrection and reasoning how Alto Mare is still safe without a Soul Dew preventing natural disasters is apparently to please fans.
      • However this example is not particularly egregious, as an end-credits scene of Pokémon Heroes shows a group of three Lati@s flying near Alto Mare, implying that there are other Latios and Latias in the Pokémon world.
  • Ranma ½ calls the trope by name in one of the later chapters. Ranma and crew are caught in a pit trap that was supposed to have killed them. Although the audience knows that they're fine the entire time, from the perspective of the Villain of the Week it fits this trope perfectly.
  • The first season of the Sengoku Basara anime led to Nobunaga killing off a large quantity of less important warlords and side characters, including the country's future unifier Tokugawa Ieyasu who at that point was a side character in the games at best. As it turns out, Capcom had plans for both him and a few other unfortunate casualties, what with the planned release of the series' third game, so Ieyasu, Tadakatsu, Hisahide, Oichi and Yoshihiro all came back from the dead in the second season. This after being, respectively: disemboweled by a scythe, blown up (twice, the second time when his power core detonated), suicide by blowing himself up, shot point-blank in the chest, and shot point-blank in the head (all deaths were on-screen). Hisahide mentions something about an "escape tunnel" and Oichi is implied to be a possessed corpse, but otherwise forthright explanations are lacking.
    • The second season also had the "death" of Motochika, who got pummeled flat by Hideyoshi in a Curb-Stomp Battle and then blew up his Base on Wheels, alongside himself, his own army and Hideyoshi's army, in an extremely flashy act of dying defiance/Taking You with Me Heroic Sacrifice. The entire battlefield later sank into the sea. He's back again the next episode, for no apparent reason, and his men were apparently 'captured'. Uh huh...
    • The Movie went on to return Mitsuhide, who burned to death (again, on-screen!) in the anime's first season, and Mori, who was last seen disintegrating in a beam of light at the end of the second season. Oh, and Nobunaga came back too, but he had an explanation.
  • Ryoko in Tenchi Universe has this. After she's grievously wounded by Kagato, she decides to help Tenchi rescue Ayeka by dropping him, Azaka and Kamedake at the Royal Palace, but then disappears, the last thing we see is her passing out (and presumably dying) with only Ryo-Ohki at her side. She shows up in the finale, no worse for the wear and ready to resume her quest to capture Tenchi's heart, knowing Ayeka's (and everyone else) is coming back, too.
  • In the Second Stage of Vandread during a battle with an Earth mothership, Gascogne's ship crashes into the mothership to save Barnette. Obviously, if someone's ship blows up in the vacuum of space, they are dead. However in the final battle Gascogne returns alive to help on the mothership that she has somehow managed to get onto, take over, and pilot without any explanation provided. The final episode is filled with Narm.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, most of the cast is killed. Then it's revealed they were trapped in another dimension instead. That's not the problem. One of the characters literally suffers heart failure before dying and fading away. He doesn't return when the others do. Instead, he inexplicably washes up on the beach about ten episodes later, with no explanation on how he's alive despite having had a fatal heart attack.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho Saint Beast Byakko survives falling off a tower after he explodes and falling into a pit of lava. He is finally killed when he is frozen and shattered.


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