As a global issue, suicide is especially troubling in Japan. Year after year, the country’s suicide rate is consistently high. The suicide rate in Japan is approximately 21.7 per 100,000 people. Even if the rates are decreasing, the issue will continue to appear in other types of media, including anime.
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Naruto, a shonen epic, has a recurring character who is suicidal, as do shows like Orange, a slice-of-life drama. When it comes to anime depicting suicide, some show sensitivity and decency, while others go over the top. Viewers can better comprehend suicide and build sympathy for those it affects by watching anime that does it well. We can begin to consider how media can more accurately reflect our reality by looking at anime that doesn’t.
In Orange, a close-knit group mourns the suicide of one of its members, Kakeru. Having learned from this mistake, they write letters to their younger selves to offer advise on how to avoid it happening again.
First, Kakeru’s mother takes her own life after she refused to accompany him to the doctor’s visit.
Because of her emotional requirements, he couldn’t spend time with his new friends. Kakeru’s remorse over his mother’s death prompted him to take his own life. Because of the circumstances surrounding his mother’s death, he was unable to seek assistance from his friends. While advising Naho to not let Kakeru isolate himself, the letters also urge her to ensure that the burgeoning romance between Kakeru and the main character does blossom.
A well-worn and utterly erroneous stereotype, “romantic relationships cure depression,” is cleverly subverted in Orange. Kakeru’s sadness persists despite the fact that he and Naho are united in marriage. His life has undergone numerous subtle transformations, and this is just one of them. He comes dangerously close to committing himself, but he is saved by his friends.
That Kakeru will never be sad again is not Orange’s conclusion. As a result, it concludes that being open and honest about one’s feelings is a key to happiness.
2. Welcome To The NHK
Tatasuhiro Satou and Misaki Nakahara’s romance is at the center of Welcome to the NHK. In addition to being a college dropout, Satou is also a hikkikomori who struggles with paranoid delusions and sadness. Misaki provides Satou amateur therapy sessions and a self-described “program” to assist him overcome his reluctance to leave the comfort of his own home.
Misaki tries to keep her depression a secret, but she is revealed to be just as depressed as Satou, if not worse. Instead of trying to help him, she’s been using him to boost her self-esteem because he was the only one in the room she considered inferior to her.
When Satou rejects her romantic approaches, Misaki manipulates her emotions to the point of death. What happens next, on the other hand, is incredibly moving. As long as the other is still alive, neither Satou nor Misaki will be allowed to take their own lives. Instead, they must communicate their want to die by making a phone call to the other and discussing it. It may sound morbid, yet it serves as a useful coping tool for both characters.
3. A Silent Voice
A Silent Voice has swiftly risen to prominence as one of the best anime films of the new millennium. In addition to suicide, this video addresses social issues such as bullying and the stigmas associated with disabilities. Forgiveness and companionship are themes that go throughout the story of Shouya. Shouko Nishimiya, a new student, was tormented and isolated by Ishida in elementary school because she was deaf. Nishimiya had to leave Ishida’s school for the second time because he and his classmates were so mean to her. But when everyone in his school turned on him and made him their new target, he received a taste of his own medicine.
For all the cruelty he inflicted on Nishimiya, Ishida still can’t forgive himself. He enjoys being an outcast at school. After contemplating death, he decides to find Nishimiya and apologise for what he has done. Upon discovering her, he is shocked by her unexpected reaction, which throws his entire strategy into disarray.
Despite its severe subject matter, this is an uplifting narrative that is respectfully handled. I guarantee that you’ll shed a tear at least twice.
Colorful, a 2010 award-winning film, tells the story of an anonymous soul on the brink of death. After six months, the soul is told that if it can find out what went wrong, it would be given another opportunity at existence. After Makoto Kobayashi, a middle schooler who tried suicide by overdose, was possessed by the spirit, the soul returns to his former body.
Because it is unable to recall its previous existence, the lost soul must discover why Makoto wished to die. Makoto doesn’t get along with his family and is bothered by his mother’s and his crush’s sexual and moral transgressions. He’s not alone. Makoto’s outlook on life changes after receiving counsel from the unidentified soul. A wonderful movie, even if the endings are a little too clean and evocative of It’s A Wonderful Life.
5. Myself; Yourself
Suicide attempts have been attempted by both Sana Hidaka and Nana Yatsushiro, the two protagonists of Myself; Yourself, in the novel. Sana slashed his wrists because he was bullied so much in middle school. Though he survived, he has a crippling dread of blood.
Nanaka, on the other hand, is trying to forget a horrible experience. When her father discovered that Nanaka wasn’t his biological child, he and his wife committed suicide by setting themselves and their home on fire. She attempts suicide when the memories come back. Sana overcomes his fear of blood in order to save her life.
People (right) point out that the show does not deal seriously with suicide attempts and instead focuses more on romance and unconnected side stories than the real-life mental health issues that are brought up in the episodes.
6. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Sohryu’s self-assurance and fierce work ethic act as an antidote to Shinji Ikari’s stoic demeanor in Evangelion. Although she appears to be a boisterous, confident woman, she was brought up in the shadow of her mother’s mental illness and eventual suicide. Asuka’s mother was unable to show her daughter the affection she needed because of her own mental condition. When she’s in the mood, she can be downright abusive.
On one occasion, Asuka came home from school to see her mother hanging from a rope. Afterwards, Asuka abandoned up on genuine emotional connection and concentrated all of her efforts on her career, particularly her position as an Eva pilot. There is little, if anything, we learn about the circumstances that brought Asuka’s mother to such a low point in life.
Hideaki Anno used Asuka and her mother as a sounding board for his own personal problems in the anime series Evangelion. Anxiety and stress during filming are thought to have had an impact on the show’s direction.
7. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
It’s about a teacher named Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, who is prone to depressive outbursts.
At the least provocation, he takes his own life. He also tries to convince his students to take their own lives, even going so far as to encourage them to do the same. Suicide and other mental health issues are portrayed for laughs in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei since it is a comedy.
There are two ways to look at the high suicide rates among teachers and students in Japan. One is that humor is the best way to deal with severe difficulties. Attempting to make light of such a serious and widespread issue is ill-advised and insensitive. Watch Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei for yourself to see if you agree.
There is a character named Chika Ogiue in Genshiken, a college anime club series. After her “friends” traumatize a classmate by showing him a sexual drawing Chika had created of him, she commits suicide by jumping from a building. After attempting suicide, she lives.
For all its seriousness, though, the show makes light of this particular occurrence throughout the series. As soon as Chika feels self-conscious about her sexually explicit artwork, she often tries to leap out of the window to escape. The tone is more “haha, she draws yaoi and that’s hilarious,” rather than analyzing the ramifications of repeated suicide attempts or the reality that sketching pornography of real people and then letting them view it is truly a form of sexual assault. Honestly, I think it’s a little tone-deaf.
9. Aoi Bungaku
In addition to Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human, Aoi Bungaku is based on a number of other well-known works of literature.
An underachieving high school student struggles with depression, resulting in self-harm, suicide attempts, and drug misuse in the story arc dedicated to Dazai’s work. An unrecognizably hollow, sad, and hardly recognisable past self is the climax of each episode’s narrative. Many critics praised the show’s treatment of mature and tough issues, as well as its dark tone.
Dazai, the author of No Longer Human, attempted suicide numerous times and was successful in taking his own life shortly after the book’s publication.
One of Naruto’s central themes is the psychological effects of social isolation. Not everyone in the series reacts to their village’s rejection in the same way as the protagonist does, and this is a problem for the story.
An vital ninja mission went awry for Sakumo Hatake, Kakashi’s father, who was thus exiled from his village. Community members despise him for putting preserving his fellow soldiers’ lives over accomplishing his goal. Many of the people he saved from certain death turned on him. As a result, he suffered from a severe case of depression before taking his own life. Sakumo’s death is seen as a tragedy rather than a justified response to being shamed in Japan’s long history of honor killings.
In order to understand Sakumo, we have to rely on the fact that he’s a minor figure. Rather, it serves as a significant component of Kakashi’s personal history. Kakashi had lost nearly everyone he ever loved by the time the story begins, with his father being the first. To help his student, Sasuke, understand Kakashi’s grief, Kakashi tries to link to Sasuke’s family being slain. When it comes to his other student, Naruto, who was a social outcast just like Sakumo, he never adopts the same tactic. That said, it’s a mixed bag.
11. Paranoia Agent
An Internet suicide pact brings together three people in Satoshi Kon’s Paranoia Agent episode four with the intention of dying together. A 12-year-old girl joins the group when they finally meet up in person. Two of the members are guys their age. The adults try to get rid of the girl, but all of their comedic suicide efforts are thwarted. Suicide in anime has never been done in a more tasteless manner than this.
In Japan and other Asian countries, internet suicide pacts began to appear around the year 2000. Despite the fact that these pacts only account for 2% of all suicides, the media covered them extensively, making them appear to be more common. Internet suicide pacts emerge in anime like Paranoia Agent because of the sensational character of these reports.
12. Violet Evergarden
This is not a narrative about suicide, but Violet Evergarden contemplates it during her most vulnerable state. Violet Evergarden’s search to find her purpose in life is the focus of the novel. Violet, a former child soldier, must learn to reintegrate herself into society after being exploited as a weapon of war. The Auto Memory Dolls – persons who compose messages on behalf of others – have found a new job for her. While traveling, she meets a variety of people with whom she develops an appreciation for a wide range of different types of love.
Even though she was brought up in a terrible situation, she has no sense of what love is or what it is to be loved. Only her superior, Major Gilbert, has ever showed her kindness and love. Violet had no idea that the Major had gone MIA after the war and was widely believed to have died. Violet learns the truth about Gilbert in an emotional scene. She is devastated by the loss of the Major, as she had an unhealthy attachment to him. The rest of the show, however, does a good job of handling it as Violet learns to go on and on living her own life.
This is a beautiful and emotional series that deals with issues such as war, post-traumatic stress disorder, loss, and even suicide. Violet’s journey is one of self-discovery and self-acceptance.
One of Trickster’s key protagonists, Yoshio Kobayashi, begins the series intending to take his own life. Despite the fact that his reasons for wanting to die are never given, it’s possible that his horrific background is one of them. In the end, Kobayashi’s father attempted to kill Kobayashi and accidentally killed Kobayashi’s mother. When Kobayashi’s powers are activated, his father is killed. He may have wanted to die because of the terrible nature of these occurrences.
As a result of Kobayashi’s powers, he is unable to injure himself in any way. It is a condition of his joining the Boy’s Detective Club that Hanasaki will help him figure out how to deactivate his powers in order for him to be killed. Despite Hanasaki’s reluctance, he quickly accepts his proposal. In one sense, this shows respect for Kobayashi’s autonomy, but on the other hand, it could be interpreted as a case of excessive negligence on the verge of abuse.
14. Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni
To some extent, the events of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni are triggered by Hinamizawa Syndrome, a fictional mental illness. Insect-like crawling sensations in your skin, paranoia, and a strong desire to perform violent actions such as suicide and murder are all symptoms of OCD. Multiple characters succumb to the disease in the Higurashi series, leading to killing sprees and eventually ending their lives as a result.
In this series, suicide is regarded the same as any other violent incident. It’s more about the shock factor than anything else when it comes to what causes someone to take their own life. The stereotype of blaming homicide on a mental illness is also harmful. Only 5 to 10 percent of violent crimes are committed by those suffering from mental illness. Despite this, they are five times more likely to be murdered than the general public. Higurashi is a fun story, but it feeds into a dangerous stereotype about individuals with mental illnesses.
Babylon is a dark mystery anime based on a popular Japanese novel series written by Mado Nozaki. Zen Seizaki, a public prosecutor, and his team get tangled up in a government conspiracy and a massive serial killer. The newly appointed mayor of Japan’s Shiniki district chooses to spearhead a global movement to legalize assisted suicide. Ai Magase, a terrible lady with a superhuman capacity to persuade people to commit suicide, is behind the effort.
Suicide (and the legality of suicide) is a controversial topic, and while the show attempts to inspire intellectual discussion about it, it ultimately tackles the subject poorly. Suicide is merely utilized as a means to instigate conflict in the narrative. However, some viewers found this show to be disturbing while others found it thought-provoking.