A common fan phrase describing a tendency for talented writers (those in anime, of all people) to wipe out a large score of fictional characters.
It can be done to show the horrors of war, for the purpose of keeping the viewer ratings up, or to explore the theme of human nature. The Kill 'em All can be done in a variety of styles:
- a systematic fashion with one-at-a-time i.e. 'Wolf's Rain',
- 3 thirds of the main characters i.e. 'Zeta Gundam',
- or more extremely, the entire cast of the series + all life in the universe + the fabric of the universe itself i.e. 'Space Runaway Ideon'
There's also the Bolivian Army ending, which usually features two survivors of an entire group fighting overwhelming odds. The story would then cut off without showing whether they died or not.
The heavyweight champion of this phrase is non-other than Yoshiyuki Tomino of Gundam, whose bouts of depression is sole reason for the slaughter of many heroes and villains in his mecha anime.
When Yoshiyuki Tomino smiles you know it's going to end in disaster. He's about to do a Kill 'Em All on the Federation and Zeon.