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The 15 Most Painful Anime Lives, Ranked by How Much They Suffered

June 1, 2020 17.7k votes 3.8k voters 106.3k views15 items

Life isn't easy when you're an anime character - especially if you're one of the anime characters with the worst lives. These characters have suffered immensely, whether it's losing loved ones, enduring torture, being betrayed, or worse.

One anime character whose life is miserable is Natsuki Subaru from Re:Zero. When his life ends, he returns to a save point, which means that he has to endure an endless parade of painful demises. There's also Ash Lynx from Banana Fish, whose suffering is a little more realistic - he was abused by everyone from his Little League coach to his mafioso guardian - but is no less agonizing. A few of these characters, like Lucy from Elfen Lied and Zeref from Fairy Tail, turned villainous as a result of their suffering, but others stayed true to their heroic paths.

Which of these characters do you think has been dealt the worst hand? 

  • Photo: GEMBA

    You know that classic song by The Police, King of Pain? Sting was totally writing about Guts. Well, he probably wasn't, but the moniker fits. From the moment he was born from a hanged woman, his life has been an absolute disaster. His adoptive father Gambino was astonishingly abusive, doing everything from physically assaulting him to selling his body. Later, Guts, joined the Band of the Hawk and met someone who he thought was his good friend, Griffith - but then Griffith slays the whole group in a bid for power, leaving Guts and Casca as the only survivors. Through it all, he has to constantly fight off demonic beings who are attracted to the mark on his body.

    This isn't even half of all the miserable things that make up Guts' existence - the suffering truly never ends for him. 

    A tragic life?
  • 2

    Hyakkimaru - 'Dororo'

    Before he was born, Hyakkimaru's father bartered his limbs, his skin, and many of his organs away to a group of demons in order to bring prosperity to his land. While this prevented many people from starving, it also meant that Hyakkimaru had to survive without most of his body.

    After that first cruel betrayal, his father demands that he be destroyed, but the woman in charge of doing it can't bring herself to do so and abandons him instead. He learns to survive, gets prosthetics, and trains to fight so that he can get his body parts back, but everything about his life from then on is grueling.

    A tragic life?
  • After a war torn childhood that left him desperate for peace and willing to do anything to maintain it, thirteen-year-old Itachi Uchiha is manipulated by a corrupt government official into annihilating his family. He agrees, both because he's told that it's the only way to save himself and his brother, and because he thinks that if he tries to warn his clan that the government plans to eliminate them, it'll spark a civil war. 

    Once he commits this awful deed, he can't even continue to be with the brother he fought desperately to save. That's because in order to make sure that Sasuke becomes powerful enough to protect himself, he has to goad him into taking his revenge and awakening his mangekyo sharingan. On top of everything else, he contracts an unknown but terminal illness - that alone would be enough tragedy for one person. 

    A tragic life?
  • Photo: Wit Studio

    Born in the underground to an impoverished sex worker, Levi's life was bad from the jump. After his mother passed away when he was still a little boy, he was found starving and weak by his uncle Kenny. Kenny kept him alive and taught him to fight, but didn't provide anything resembling familial warmth.

    Eventually, Levi fights his way into a position of power, but only after a series of extremely traumatic events involving the loss of his friends. Once he gets there, life is still pretty terrible. Sure, he has a decent paycheck and a clean place to live, but he has to spend every waking moment risking his life fighting giant monsters and watching his comrades get eaten, and then after all that, he gets attacked by the conspiratorial government. No wonder he's always in such a bad mood. 

    A tragic life?