Depression is not much a wide-spread topic in other entertainment mediums, however anime depicts it quite nicely. There are a lot of animes that focus on depression and mental health issues that is always hidden in the real world, and we see many mentally ill and depressed anime characters in such animes. Mental problems can cause a lot of issues and can even lead the person to take suicidal decisions. It is important for medical science as well as entertainment mediums to focus more on this topic and ways to deal with it.
However, depression is not the end of the road. Even if you are fighting with this silent enemy within you, there is always a ray of hope and support outside that is capable of pulling you out of this. Depressed anime characters, despite being under the mental burden of their tragic stories, often are capable of finding a way out and starting again from zero with a positive mindset. Let us look at some of the best anime characters that are depressed, but fought their way through and tried their best to live a happy life.
- Types of Depression Seen in Anime Characters
- 11 Anime Characters That Are Depressed But Tried Their Best in Life
- 1. Kaneki Ken – A Victim of Desire and his own Kindness
- 2. Kousei Arima – A Victim of Trauma
- 3. Reiner Braun – A Victim of Double-Life
- 4. Rui – A Victim of Loneliness
- 5. Tatsuhiro Sato – A Victim of Social Withdrawal
- 6. Dr. Tenma – A Victim of Decision
- 7. Itachi Uchiha – A Victim of Being Titled as a ‘Traitor’
- 8. Rei Kiriyama – A Victim of Deep Emotional Scars
- 9. Haruka Kotoura – A Victim of her own Superpowers
- 10. Eren Yeager – A Victim of Fate
- 11. Lain Iwakura – A Victim of Haunting Disconnection
Types of Depression Seen in Anime Characters
There are lots of types of depression, and majorly we see the following types of depression in anime characters:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Social Anxiety
- Bipolar Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Seperation Anxiety
11 Anime Characters That Are Depressed But Tried Their Best in Life
1. Kaneki Ken – A Victim of Desire and his own Kindness
Anime – Tokyo Ghoul
Kaneki was a victim of the Ghoul world portrayed in Tokyo Ghoul. Due to his kind and soft nature, he was often bullied and harassed by others. But his greatest fear is being alone, due to the fact that he lost his mother at a very tender age. This is the reason why Kaneki was very protective of the few little friends he had in his life, so he can avoid being alone and hopeless. During the initial episodes where he became a half-ghoul he was under mental trauma of not being able to control his own desire to eat human flesh.
Even though, he still hoped for the best of both the worlds, the ghoul world and the human world and would often take decisions that were beneficial for both. He carried forward his morals and values even when things looked difficult and scary.
2. Kousei Arima – A Victim of Trauma
Anime – Your Lie in April
Kousei is also one of those characters whose mother passed away when he was very young. The event was traumatic, as she used to train her playing the piano because he had become quite a prodigy when it comes to the technical aspects of the piano playing. For Kousei, his mother and piano are two of the most valuable things in his life. When she was critically ill, his sole focus gravitated towards perfecting the piano pieces. He was under severe depression and cut off from friends and other people in his life.
But after losing his mother, he stopped playing piano altogether and was unable to hear and analyze his own piano pieces, which is something called ‘tone-deaf’. Some people also say he suffered from PTSD, which is a stress syndrome that occurs after a deep and scarring traumatic event in life.
3. Reiner Braun – A Victim of Double-Life
Anime – Attack on Titan
Right from the start of the series, Reiner is one of those characters that had taken a lot of mental damage because of the undeniable and unstoppable politics happening all around him. All he wanted was to become a proud Marleyan soldier and a proud son, which is itself a very pure dream to achieve. However, little did he know that he is being utilized just for the sake of dominating the entire world, including the Paradis Island. Along with that, he was also traumatized by the death of his soldier friend, Marcel, whom he wasn’t able to save in the nick of time.
Reiner had been constantly suffering from depression right from a very young age however as time passes, things became even more confusing and difficult for him. In Season 4, he almost had a complete mental breakdown where he lost his mind and was not willing to fight Eren for the sake of Marley. He became absolutely suicidal and could have been killed if Eren didn’t get exhausted.
4. Rui – A Victim of Loneliness
Anime – Demon Slayer
Rui is one of the lower moons in demon slayer, that possesses unique abilities of creating webs sharper than a knife. Rui had always been under constant depression due to the fact that he was born weak and couldn’t enjoy a life like other kids. Other kids used to play and run, while all Rui could do was watch them from the house balcony. After becoming a Demon, his parents were scared and tried to kill him in sleep.
Rui killed both of his parents and started to assume they didn’t actually love him. This trauma of ‘not having a true family’ kept stuck in his mind. That is why, he tried to create his own family. Now if some member didn’t behave like a family or carry out his/her responsibility, Rui would often punish them by threatening them to expose them to sunlight. All Rui wanted was a loving family, a proper family.
5. Tatsuhiro Sato – A Victim of Social Withdrawal
Anime – Welcome to the NHK
Sato is a hikikomori, which is a term commonly used in Japan for people who don’t interact with people and live their entire life in solitude. The entire anime focuses on the life of this character, and how he manages to live his everyday life. However, Sato actually thinks that people all around that world are conspiring against him, due to which he avoids everyone and does not move out of his room.
If you socially withdraw yourself from people and find a reason not to meet them again, and live a sedentary and solitary lifestyle, then surely it will affect your mental health. How much activity (mental or physical) can you actually do in a small room alone by yourself? Living a life alone without any goals or interaction with the physical world has created unnecessary pressure on Sato’s mind, and he starts thinking that he is useless.
6. Dr. Tenma – A Victim of Decision
Anime – Monster
Dr. Tenma’s life is a little bit similar to that of Reiner because both these characters were victims of their wrong decision. However, there is a twist here. Actually there is no good or bad decision. The time when Dr. Tenma chose to save the child instead of the high-class person was because of his humanity.
He wanted to do the right thing, which he did. However, nobody knew that the child would become a serial killer. Dr. Tenma was stuck in a mental loop of what is right and wrong, because all he wanted was to never hurt others. Being a doctor and a surgeon his duty is to provide life to patients who are dying.
The truth that he had revived a ‘monster’ struck Tenma like a truck, and at multiple times throughout the series, Dr. Tenma suffered from severe depression and mental instability as he blames himself for being responsible for these murders.
7. Itachi Uchiha – A Victim of Being Titled as a ‘Traitor’
Anime – Naruto
Itachi had a rough childhood, born amidst the time of the Shinobi War. He was also forced to be a double agent which caused a lot of mental pressure upon him. On top of that he had the responsibility of keeping Sasuke safe and secure. For the sake of his brother, he killed all the Uchihas and his own parents, and became a bad person in the eyes of his own brother. By killing his own clan, he became a certified traitor. But deep down, he knew that he had done the wrong thing, and Sasuke is the only one who can punish him for this sin.
Since he was a double agent, he was pressurized from both sides for information and spying purposes a lot of times. At the end, all Itachi wanted was a peaceful life, but due to the situation created by the Uchiha clan and the village, he went under severe depression, which he never showed on his face or in front of his brother Sasuke.
8. Rei Kiriyama – A Victim of Deep Emotional Scars
Anime – March Comes In Like A Lion
Rei also suffered from a traumatic childhood, which eventually affected his mind. Due to this, he was unable to socially mix with people. From the start of the series itself, we see Rei very detached from people, living alone all by himself in his apartment. In his childhood years, he lost his parents and sister in a traffic accident. He was often bullied by other students at school and kids in the neighborhood. But despite being under so much trauma and stress, he is like a prodigy when it comes to playing shogi. You can see the concentration and stillness in his eyes as well as in his thoughts while he is playing.
The above list contains characters that suffered the majority of trauma in their childhood years, and such is the case in real life as well. Majority of the people recover as they grow up and have responsibilities in their life, which diverts their attention from their dark past. It is important to live and improvise the present to heal the scars of the past.
9. Haruka Kotoura – A Victim of her own Superpowers
Anime: The Troubled Life of Miss Kotoura
Reading someone else’s mind can be very interesting, as you get to understand their motivations, thoughts and the things they think about you. However, with this superpower, comes a lot of problems and disadvantages. Haruka is one of those anime characters that can read others’ minds, but because she was unaware of the same, she caused a lot of troubles for herself and others. Her mind-reading powers caused her parents to divorce.
It is a fact that you do need to keep some things about your friends as secret because they want them to be secret. Haruka had a very cheerful and playful personality when she was a small child, often socializing with her friends a lot. But because of her mind reading abilities and immature attitude, she used to say about secret things of others openly, which eventually caused her to lose a lot of friends. Slowly she became socially distant from others.
10. Eren Yeager – A Victim of Fate
Anime: Attack on Titan
From being an enthusiastic boy who wanted a peaceful life outside the walls to a genocidal person that has killed a lot of innocent people, Eren has definitely gone through a lot of hell during these four seasons of Attack on Titan. Eren never wanted to hurt and destroy humanity, but due to the fate and structure of the world, he slowly became more and more aligned with his own freedom and subsequently became a selfish person.
As soon as the story progressed, his life made him realize that freedom is the costliest thing and to achieve that, he needs to go through a lot of hell. He knew that he will have to kill a lot of people, he knew that he will have to betray them. Because of this, to even do one right thing, he needs to do hundreds of wrong things. This is the reason why Eren is one of the most depressed anime characters that you will ever see.
11. Lain Iwakura – A Victim of Haunting Disconnection
Anime: Serial Experiments Lain
Ever felt like you are disconnected from the world even when you have tons of friends? Serial Experiments Lain is one of those animes that focus on Dysphoria, a condition where you feel detached and disconnected from life, which even leaves you with a sudden dissatisfaction from your life. Lain had episodes where she constantly wondered about her actual existence in the real world.
The anime focuses on the ambiguity between the real and the internet world, and how the real existence of a particular being is solely dependent upon others’ perception. Lain had multiple personas throughout the series, which explains that she suffered from a serious mental illness named dissociative identity disorder. She is suspected to be schizophrenic, as we see her having hallucinating episodes.