I mentioned in my recent sorta-review of Escaflowne that there was an awesome mostly-minor character who died in an early episode.
That dude is Balgus.
(See all those scars? You notice he's sparring with a real sword while not wearing a shirt, right?) Balgus is essentially the main male character's mentor figure, so telling you he dies in the second episode isn't really a spoiler.
Balgus (his name is also rendered "Vargas" sometimes, though only by unofficial translations) is probably the toughest guy in the series, and he's probably way past his prime.
When an unknown, invisible enemy (invisible GIANT ROBOTS WITH METAL TENTACLES) attacks his home country, he tells the main male character to run while he holds them off.
And then he pulls out and unfurls his sword.
Yes, he seems to intend to lead giant robots into a battle against giant robots while on foot.
And you know what? Thanks to an utter disregard for physics...
...he does, and it's actually pretty impressive.
Of course, then he got killed, but nobody's perfect.
I would totally watch a series about this guy in his youth, by the way.