Throughout all forms of visual entertainment (not just anime), one "ultimate miracle" has often been used as both a plot twist and device: dying and coming back to life stronger. We see such allegories in our favorite franchises like Star Wars and even recently en masse in the Avengers. Anime is no exception.
In fact, plenty of anime even use revivals early on as a way to give the protagonist a "rebirth" and give the characters a metamorphosis. Of course, not many of them come back as more powerful beings. Some are just lucky enough to get a second chance. Still, there are those who pretty much "Jesus'd" their way into the plot. They died and came back more badass for our entertainment. Here are 10 of them; we only included two from the Dragon Ball franchise, otherwise, this whole list would be all about them.
10 KAKASHI HATAKE - NARUTO SHIPPUUDEN
Like Dragon Ball, Naruto is an anime franchise where people die and come back to life rather easily or through sheer luck. One such example of this is Kakashi Hatake, mentor of the three main (or two if you hate Sakura) characters of Naruto. Kakashi died as a result of protecting Akamichi Choji from Pain's attacks.
However, Kakashi's death was quite brief. Pain, after battling with Naruto, decides to revive everyone who died in the Hidden Leaf village at the battle of Konoha, including Kakashi. Before he was revived, though, Kakashi was able to have a conversation with his father Sakumo. He died in a similar fashion to his son but was unfortunately not revived. Afterward, Kakashi, with his newfound wisdom, went on to help Team 7 defeat the most powerful villain in Naruto after Uchiha Madara.
9 UCHIHA MADARA - NARUTO SHIPPUUDEN
Speaking of Madara, he's actually not supposed to be in the same timeline as Naruto. Madara was a progenitor of Konoha and was long dead; though he had also long planned his resurrection through the descendants of his clan. Through sheer talents and clan specialty, particularly with the Izanagi jutsu, Madara was able to undo his death at the hands of Hasirama Senju, the first Hokage.
Once he "resurrected" per se, Madara went on to continue his plans of achieving peace through his own twisted vision. This made Madara the de facto villain of Naruto Shippuuden; that was before his position got usurped by a bigger unkillable baddie. Madara even nearly destroyed the world (not just Konoha) after coming back from the dead.
8 KEI KURONO - GANTZ
What happened to Kei Kurono from Gantz is a prime example of an anime using an early death as a catalytic event for the protagonist. Kei died early on in the anime along with his friend. The two of them were quite unlucky in the manner of their deaths as they were run over by a train. Kei didn't die, however... or he did and was transported somewhere else.
After dying, he woke up face to face with a strange sphere which calls itself Gantz. From then on, Kei became part of a twisted game where he has to fight aliens on Earth. Those who do well in the game are given a chance to carry on with their normal lives as if they had been revived. Oh, and the game also gives them awesome weapons, tools, and capabilities which make normal life boring. There's the dilemma.
7 JUNA ARIYOSHI - EARTH MAIDEN ARJUNA
Like Kei Kurono from Gantz, Juna Ariyoshi from Arjuna died at the very start of her own anime. In a similar fashion, some higher extradimensional being also gave Juna a chance to live again. Juna's set of choices, however, was a lot more generous than what Gantz offered Kei. She can live again and walk among humans but the catch is that she'll have to be Earth's protector.
Apparently, Earth in the anime was to be destroyed in the near future by a dark being named Raaja. Juna, wanting another chance at life and being generally concerned with Earth, accepted the deal. In turn, she was given special powers and a really cool bow so she can fend off the dark forces plotting to destroy her planet. Since it was released in 2001, we can now consider this anime a classic, it's worth watching alone for the animation.
6 HYOUDOU ISSEI - HIGH SCHOOL DXD
Hyoudou Issei was a good-for-nothing anime character; he has no ambition and only wanted to be a pervert to girls his entire life. He really needs to re-evaluate his life. That chance came when he was killed in the first episode. Issei had to be killed by a Fallen Angel since his body appears to be the carrier of a dangerous artifact known as "Sacred Gear."
Since he's in this list, he got revived... by a demoness... whom he now owes his life to. So she made Issei her demon pawn in her secret Occult club in their high school. Turns out, Issei's life as a high school pervert was a lot easier-- he now has to learn how to survive in the dog-eat-dog demon world after being turned into one of them. There was a silver lining to that in the form of all the ecchi fan service through Issei's perspective.
5 YUSUKE URAMESHI - YU YU HAKUSHO
Yet again, we have another anime protagonist who gets killed right away. Yusuke from Yu Yu Hakusho was the stereotypical anime bad boy. He drinks, gambles, and frequently gets into fights. Surprisingly, Yusuke's died after he saved a kid by pushing him aside from an oncoming car's path, getting hit by the vehicle instead. For such a great deed of selflessness, Yusuke surprised the Spirit World.
They gave him a second chance at life but only if he spends it being a good person. Still, something definitely changed for Yusuke; he was now able to see demons disguised as mortals in the living world. Hence, the Spirit World designated him as Spirit Detective and gave him the ability to shoot energy out of his index finger a.k.a. the iconic Spirit Gun.
4 NATSUKI SUBARU - RE:ZERO
Natsuki Subaru is the protagonist of the anime Re:Zero. Unlike most other characters here who resurrected only to come back stronger, Natsuki is less fortunate. He usually doesn't come back more powerful but rather more calloused. You see, every time Natsuki dies, he will revive or "respawn" if you will, into another point in time prior to his death.
That means he can change the outcome of his deaths and even save some lives. It's pretty much a video game where Natsuki respawns at certain checkpoints in the story or progression. All this began because of a trip to the convenience store. Be careful in your 7-Eleven trips guys.
3 ASH KETCHUM - POKEMON
You can't be the very best like no one ever was without exposing yourself to some serious risks. Ash Ketchum has done that many times and also died several times as a result in his tenure as a Pokemon trainer. Ash had at least three confirmed deaths throughout all the Pokemon films and anime, though he was revived in all of them.
In two of these three deaths, his soul even parted from his body (Haunter extracted it in in one death). In all three deaths, Ash was revived by Pokemon, namely Mew, Ho-Oh, and Haunter. Afterward, he went on to catch as many Pokemon as he can and trained them to beat up other Pokemon more skillfully. Despite Ash's many deaths, they were not gruesome or gory-- as expected of a kid's anime.
2 KRILLIN - DRAGON BALL Z
Here we are, Dragon Ball Z. We might as well include every character from this anime since they tend to get killed and revived there like they were changing clothes. Krillin, for that matter, has at least died four times in throughout the franchise. He's just lucky to have Super Saiyan friends and a powerful wife to wish him alive again once all the Dragon Balls are found.
That's why apart from his shiny Shaolin monk head, Krillin is also known for having more than nine lives. Does be become stronger after each death? Sort of? You tend to learn from many deaths, right? Anyway, Krillin has certainly learned how to live his life to the fullest and enjoy his lovely family.
1 SON GOKU - DRAGON BALL FRANCHISE
This one's already a given and is probably what first comes to mind when you first read the title of this list. Goku is basically the most resilient anime character who doesn't have resurrection as a power. His first notable death was at the hands of Piccolo (the good one) after Goku held his evil brother Raditz so the Namek could fire a beam which would kill both Super Saiyans.
After each and every death, Goku just goes into Super Saiyan heaven waiting to be resurrected again with the help of the Dragon Balls. Of course, there are many ways to revive Goku apart from Dragon Balls as a plot device. The point is, he's someone who just won't stay dead and that's one unyielding constant in all anime rules.