Although depression is generally connected with a negative connotation, these nine anime showed a compassionate and humorous approach to the subject.
This list contains material that may cause distress to some readers. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline if you need assistance.
Socially, depression has been widely misunderstood. While in the United States, about 15% of adults are taking antidepressants, this is not the case around the world. Until the 1990s, depression in Japan was not commonly accepted on a societal level. Still, many Japanese people think that mental health should be treated discreetly inside the family rather than by a professional, and this is the case even now.
This hasn’t stopped anime shows from addressing mental health concerns in the past, though, or possibly because of this. Decades of programs have expertly explored depression and the ways in which people struggle to cope with trauma, despite the difficulty of broaching these themes sensitively. For those who have experienced depression firsthand, shows that portray it truthfully can be invaluable.
1. Golden Time Contends With Traumatic Brain Injury
TBI, as it is commonly referred to, can have devastating effects on the brain. Dizziness, bruising, and bleeding are among the short-term symptoms of a head injury. Psychological damage and personality alterations may be long-lasting consequences of long-term exposure to drugs and alcohol. Golden Time is concerned with the long-term consequences.
After a terrible brain injury, Banri, the main character, loses all memory and goes through a series of mood swings. Afterwards, Banri tries to reconstruct his life as a university student, pretending to be someone he’s never been and frightened of losing the person he’s striving to become to the stranger he once was While Kouko has compulsive tendencies and may have bipolar disorder, she is also a character in the novel. Due to its importance, Golden Time is a must.
2. Neon Genesis Evangelion Was The First Shonen Series To Encapsulate Depression
Shinji Nakamura is one of the most polarizing anime heroes of all time. Not only does Evangelion challenge shonen conventions, but also shows mental illness in a new light. It’s true that battling sadness isn’t noble, just as forcing children to save the planet isn’t noble.
Despite the fact that director Hideaki Annohimself suffers from clinical depression, he made every effort to infuse psychological themes into the groundbreaking series he directed. Even while some viewers are still unable to comprehend Shinji’s flaws, the underlying symbolism becomes even more powerful. Depression is rarely given the attention it deserves, whether in Evangelion or in the real world. Shinji is exactly what he needs to be as a protagonist.
3. Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei Makes Light of Serious Issues
After G7 developed nations, Japan has the second-highest suicide rate in 2019. COVID-19 has killed more Japanese citizens by suicide than it has infected them. The reasons for this are numerous, but in general, Japanese culture does not view suicide as a sin, as is the case in the West. A black comedy about a suicidal teacher could seem out of place given these facts.
Even so, satire of the highest caliber can take a step back while still addressing sensitive issues head-on. In Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, Nozomu Itoshiki, a very pessimistic homeroom teacher, narrates the story of a nihilistic outlook on life. One of his students has a serotonin imbalance that causes her to be perpetually upbeat, another suffers from OCD, and another is agoraphobic. In contrast to media representations of society that typically erase these difficulties, these characters are refreshing because they provide comments on society rather than erasing them.
4. Your Lie In April Examines The Impact of Child Abuse
It’s possible for domestic violence to take many different forms. Unseen but no less terrible, emotional abuse has a catastrophic influence on those who have not experienced it. Kosei Arima, the protagonist of YourLie in April, is subjected to physical and emotional abuse by his mother, who dies just before the series begins.
Your Lie in April never shies away from Kosei’s painful experience with his mother and the complexity of loving someone who abuses you. In order for Kosei to rediscover his love for music, he must first come to grips with his mother’s severe illness and the times she was good to him as well. Even though Your Lie in April isn’t for the squeamish, it manages to handle tough issues with finesse.
5. March Comes In Like a Lion Treats Apathy With Sensitivity
Depression is characterized by sadness, although apathy is also a common symptom. Having left his foster family, Rei Kiriyama finds himself secluded from the outside world as a master shogi player. A horrific vehicle accident that claimed the lives of Rei’s parents and younger sister when he was a teenager has left him feeling alone and uninterested in the things going on around him.
His life and identity are gradually valued when he becomes friends with the Kawamoto sisters, who don’t perceive him as an inconvenience. Although depression cannot be cured, this show does a lot to offer a more hopeful future.
6. Serial Experiments Lain Draws Correlations Between Depression And Technology
Modern technology and mental disease have been studied extensively for decades. Social media’s evident influence suggests that this will be a recurring topic of conversation. Science fiction classicSerial Experiments Lain was one among the first to raise concerns about the influence of the internet on young minds.
An introverted junior high school student, Lain, makes an online friend in the form of the ghost of a former classmate. Lain is reassured by a fellow student that she is not dead, but has simply switched from a physical to a digital existence. As Lain grows increasingly fixated on this idea, the distinction between the real world and the virtual world becomes increasingly hazy. Introspective Lain is awash in conspiracy theories and bizarre symbols. The series still has the power to terrify decades later.
7. Colorful Addresses Dissociation
Colorful begins with a disembodied “soul” being granted a second opportunity at life in the body of Makoto, a 14-year-old who attempted suicide. Makoto’s soul has six months to find and correct Makoto’s mistakes if he wants to live.
‘Colorful,’ an allegory for dissociation, contains a plethora of difficulties experienced by today’s youth. Because his parents are uninterested in hearing about his hardships and because one of his classmates is a sexual deviant, Makoto feels that the future is useless. Finally, Makoto’s soul reawakens as he forms a friendship with another student and begins to appreciate the value in life again.
8. A Silent Voice Acknowledges Disability And Suicide
Shoya Ishida, a 17-year-old high school student who plans to take his own life, knows all too well the destructive power of guilt. Shoya Nishimiya, a Deaf girl, was a target of school bullies as a result of his savage bullying of Shoko Nishimiya in his adolescence. Shoya intends to apologise to Shoko before he dies, many years later.
In spite of this, Shoko is open to befriending Shoya. A Silent Voice, a film that knows the future as well as — or more than — the past, is one of the rare anime that focus on protagonists becoming better people.
9. Welcome To The NHK! Addresses Everything From Social Anxiety to Suicide
‘Welcome to the NHK!’ is a popular Japanese film about a twenty-year-old college dropout who suffers from agoraphobia. Confused by different conspiracy beliefs that a secret organization is directing his life and dooming him to failure, Satou has succumbed to them.
It is difficult to ignore Satou’s mental illness, even though it is not labeled as such in the show’s sincere depiction. Misaki Nakahara, a depressed young woman, and Satou form a bond through their shared experiences with depression. Satou may be able to break out of her shell with the help of these connections, but it won’t be easy.