Is there anything more satisfying than a well-written anime ending? It feels so good when all the threads come together and all the questions get answered. We’ve spent so long with these shows, it’s rewarding to see our devotion pay off. And then, sometimes, anime “rewards” us with eternal cliffhangers.
Whether it’s a deliberate move or an inescapable reality, we will likely never get closure for these five shows. Are there any other anime cliffhangers still driving you crazy to this day?
Highschool of the Dead died with its creator.
Not all anime cliffhangers are by design or cancellation. Sometimes, the reason is far grimmer.
Daisuke Sato’s Highschool of the Dead was a fanservice-filled take on the zombie apocalypse genre. This band of intrepid survivors, consisting of a group of highschoolers and their nurse, brave the undead monsters known simply as “them.” The series ended with the team on the run… or on a zombie-infested tropical island, if you count the OVA Drifters of the DEAD.
Sadly, both the anime and manga are never to be completed. Sato died of ischemic heart disease in 2017, and artist Shoji Sato decided it was best to not continue in his absence. We kind of like to think the students are still out there, double-tapping their way through the apocalypse.
The original Cutie Honey ended on a dire note.
Go Nagai’s seminal fighting heroine series Cutie Honey has a fair share of beginnings and endings. With sequels, remakes, and live-action adaptations everywhere, you can see pretty much any take on the story you like. But as concerns the original 1973 anime, it drops one of the classic anime cliffhangers.
Episode 25, ominously titled “A Poison Flower Shatters in Hell,” doesn’t bring the series to a close. If anything, it gives the sense that Honey Kisaragi’s battle isn’t even close to finished. A menacing monologue over a psychedelic final scene reveals that she will be defending herself — and her loved ones — for quite some time.
Fortunately, this series isn’t the be-all and end all. Check out Cutie Honey Universe for a complete modern overhaul of the show, New Cutie Honey for a potential futuristic sequel, or… honestly, any of the many remakes, depending on your taste.
Zambot 3 does have an ending but we don’t want to think about it.
If you don’t know 1977 mecha series Invincible Super Man Zambot 3 by name, you probably know it by reputation. Co-created and directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino, it’s the “missing link” between 70s Super Robots and 80s Real Robots. It’s also the source of one of our grimmest anime cliffhangers… though, sadly, you can probably extrapolate the most likely ending.
The title robot belongs to a trio of kids, led by Kappei Jin. Kappei and his fellow kids belong to a trio of alien families who escaped to Earth after the evil Gaizok decimated their planet. Now the families attempt to protect the people of Earth while enduring their hatred. The action suddenly comes to an end in a literal blaze of glory in episode 23 — a real wrench for cour-counters expecting a round 26 or 52. But the real hit comes in the very end, as what remains of the lead cast discovers just what’s coming for them now that the “final battle” is over.
Let’s just say this is around when the “Kill ’em All Tomino” reputation really kicked off.
Mazinger Edition Z: The Impact! still hasn’t cashed its check.
Mazinger Edition Z: The Impact! did for the aforementioned Nagai what Giant Robo did for Mitsuteru Yokoyama. Bringing together several of the creator’s works under the umbrella of his best known robot, The Impact! also revitalized the original Mazinger manga. It also left us with one of the most massive anime cliffhangers out there. And one we can probably never expect to see resolved.
If you know anything about the Mazinger canon, you know its big bads. If you don’t, suffice to say the Great General of Darkness is the series supervillain. Premiering in the final episode of 1972’s Mazinger Z and starring in Great Mazinger, he takes everything Dr. Hell ever tried to do up to 11. And after all the epic battles of The Impact!, Koji Kabuto and friends find themselves toe to enormous toe with him. And… that’s it.
There were rumors at one point that a second “chapter” of the series was planned. But after 11 years, it’s unlikely we’re going to see that continuation. Fortunately, the same battle takes place in multiple other iterations of Mazinger, if you’re still hungry for the face-off.
Panty & Stocking… probably trolled us, to be honest.
Do you remember where you were when Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt pulled the rug out from under you? The final episode of the weirdly cute Gainax series aired on Christmas Eve 2010, and baffled both audiences and its own characters. This particular anime cliffhanger seemed to be anything but, as by all appearances it promised a second season. But, well, here we are.
In retrospect, this is probably the only ending PSG could have. Strange, nonsensical, and shocking. Even if the series were to come back, it might just pretend that finale never happened. Even so, we can’t help but wish for a continuation of that strange ending.
What anime cliffhangers have left you wanting more?
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