Life isn’t just sun and rainbows.
In fact, sometimes we are stuck in eternal darkness and struggle. In other words: Depression is a bitch.
The anime, as diverse as it is, has raised the subject of depression (and mental health in general) on several occasions. But which anime really brings us closer to these themes?
This is my choice for the best anime related to depression, mental health and anxiety. Keep some tissues handy.
When we talk about social anxiety, the need to adapt, feelings of inadequacy and loneliness, WataMote is a pretty strong candidate.
He follows a teenage girl trying to be popular, trying to make friends, trying to find a boyfriend, typical teenage girl stuff.
However, this program is not as optimistic as most programs usually are.
WataMote is almost unpleasant to look at, because it portrays in a very realistic way this clumsy character who attacks vagrants. That’s why I think it’s important to examine it, even if it looks like a compilation of violins.
14. Flying range wish
The title alone gives you an idea of what this show is about.
It’s about unrequited love and how we try to fill that void in our hearts.
After our two main characters are injured (their loved ones have fallen in love with each other), they decide to replace each other.
This might sound like a typical high school plot. But it’s not going so well.
So, in terms of teenage love and lack of love, this show is quite a relief.
13. Quiet voice
This film now deals with a whole series of questions.
Because the male leader was banished for bullying a deaf girl, he was left alone and is now the target of similar bullying.
He’s hitting really hard. So much so that I even thought about ending it.
But he decided to make up for it and find the girl he had belittled a long time ago.
We also see a facet of her, the story of a man who is different, but who tries to join all the others.
Silence is just a masterpiece. So, although it touches a whole range of issues, I think it does justice to everything.
12. Honey and clover
In the same vein as the last entry, Honey and Clover deals with a number of important issues.
And that’s the key word: fighting.
All those small or big challenges that might not kill us, but let us tear ourselves apart from the inside.
There are five main characters, all struggling with their own problems. Whether it’s unrequited love, the choice between a cherished relationship and friendship, your future, or what success means, you need to connect on a fundamental level with at least one of these characters.
And because the show focuses on college life, it can hit a little harder than a high school show if you’re a student (or close to college age).
11. 3-gatsu without lion (March comes as lion)
At first sight this show seems like a nice niche. He’s a shogi player trying to live alone in Tokyo.
However, the strong point is that he is one of the best shogi players and that he is only 17 years old.
This leads him to a life where he has no friends, doesn’t know how to take care of himself and, frankly, doesn’t know how to be happy.
The pressure to be the best continues to destroy his sanity.
It’s like the last phase of a burnout. And I think a lot of us today can understand his problems.
10. Sayonara, Zetsubu-Sensei
This series is a bit different from the others on this list.
It’s actually a comedy, and a very painful one, too.
Most people who watch the series immediately associate it with depression, because one of the main characters literally wears a rope around his neck at the slightest inconvenience.
However, it is important to note that the show does not joke about these feelings. It makes it easier to approach and understand them.
The suicidal professor is just one of the many problematic characters in this anime. So you are likely to find takeaway messages that you can apply in your own life.
9. Aoi Bungaku Series
A rather short series that actually contains 6 different stories, all of which take place independently in their own universe.
They are also all adaptations of the beloved Japanese literature. The quality of the stories is therefore very high.
The first story, No Longer Human, is the one that best fits that list. It tells the story of a man crushed by his own ego and his life of total social isolation.
His defense wasn’t the strongest, let’s put it this way.
And at the end of the story, you feel like you really understand this person.
The other five stories also deal with mental health and similar issues. But No Longer Human is undoubtedly the one who strikes hardest.
8. The Neon Gospel Genesis
If you’ve ever studied philosophy, you’ll find every conceivable nihilistic and painful argument in this series.
Although at first sight it looks like a big Mecha show with bloody fights. But it’s a really depressing show, full of depressed people.
Whether it’s the struggle for intimacy and acceptance, puberty, inferiority complexes, guilt of survivors, or anything that can mean unhappiness.
You can be sure that Evangelion probably touched this subject.
No happy endings for Disney here. And looking at him makes me want to hug.
7. Sins of Casshern
What would you do if you faced your own death?
The world of Casshern Sins is a world in ruins where robots have taken over the earth. Robots are sensitive and were originally immortal until they were no longer.
Faced with the possibility of death, each robot tries to accept the inevitable or base its hopes on an urban legend that says you can gain immortality by eating someone named Kashern.
It’s a pretty slow show that really brings out the horror of life… death itself.
6. Tatami galaxy
This series is not as difficult as some of the others on this list.
But it reveals a very true but often forgotten principle: Every little decision you make affects your life.
It is like a collection in which the main character chooses different trips in search of what he thinks will make him happy. Which he thinks it’s because of the popularity and the girlfriends.
I think this series will affect you especially if you go (or have gone) through a depression. Because sometimes it is very important to remember that even the smallest decision has an impact, even if it does not seem to be the case.
Unfortunately, taking a life can be the result of extremely negative feelings and the lack of a pillar to hold on to.
Colorful is about a simple concept: trying to understand a boy who has decided that life is no longer worth living.
An unclean soul receives the boy’s body and is given the task of eliminating his greatest sin, while the complexity of the boy’s life quickly becomes apparent.
The film may not be everyone’s cup of tea, because suicide at such a young age can be a difficult pill to swallow. But I still think it’s a great movie.
Okay, I think it would be a good idea to add an easier candidate. The whole list can’t be unhappy, can it?
Musisi does practically everything.
The central starting point is mushi, beings (or spirits) that tend to interfere with human affairs and cause accidents.
The main character is Mushishi, and he travels around the world in search of Mushi. His purpose?
To help people who are suffering, but also to get to the core of Musha’s existence.
The Mirror Lake episode in particular gives a glimpse of depression, if you’re only interested in that subject and not the whole series.
3. Your lies in April
Now, back to hard work.
His April lie is a proverbial tearjerker. It tells the story of two musicians who both struggle with a very dark and depressing past.
However, they seem to manage this sadness and despair in diametrically opposite directions, so they have a good balance for each other.
I don’t want to interfere with what’s bothering them, or at least not spoil it. But let’s just say it wasn’t as big as I don’t like my passion.
These are real problems, and problems that are hard enough to break most people with ease.
Rainbow depicts a very tragic life. A life I would not wish on anyone, and a life that is very important in today’s society of abuse of power.
He followed the seven prisoners and the torture they underwent at the hands of the guards.
And that’s torture in the true sense of the word.
The show asks the question: How do you return to a normal life after such a trauma?
And even deeper: How to fight power as a member of a discriminated group?
It’s getting heavy, sad, really.
1. Welcome to N.H.K..
For seasoned anime fans, it’s probably one of the first series that comes to mind when you think about depression.
He follows Hikikomori NO as he tries to get his life back on track.
But getting from A to B isn’t easy at all.
It just keeps falling. Unfortunately, the fact that your intentions are good doesn’t mean the world will help you.
This series covers a range of mental health issues, including ambition, paranoia, love, peer pressure, loneliness and many others.
If you only had to choose one anime from this list where depression would be a central theme, then I think Welcome to N.H.K. is the best place to start.
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