15 Anime With 'Downer Beginnings' That Start Off Super Sad  

Anna Lindwasser
4.8k votes 1.2k voters 28.5k views 15 items

The best anime makes its viewers feel something substantial when the series begins. While some opt for excitement, others opt for soul-crushing misery. For this list, we're going to take a look at some of those anime that start out sad.

Many anime with depressing beginnings also have depressing middles and depressing ends, though most will have rays of hope somewhere in between. As miserable as the beginning of Attack on Titan might be, things only get worse from there. However, other series go on to become somewhat uplifting, such as Kotoura-san, a slice of life series with a largely positive vibe that seems wholly unexpected given its dreary beginning.

Which anime openings broke your heart?

Fullmetal Alchemist is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 15 Anime With 'Downer Beginnings' That Start Off Super Sad
Photo:  Studio Bones

Fullmetal Alchemist opens with the event that would be the catalyst for Edward and Alphonse Elric's involvement in the world of alchemy - and oh boy is it sad. The young boys' mother, Tricia Elric, passes away from an unnamed illness. They decide that they aren't going to accept this tragic outcome, and begin researching and experimenting with alchemy until they find a method that will allow them to bring her back. Not only does this completely fail, but Edward ends up losing an an arm and a leg, while Alphonse loses his entire body and has to be soul-bonded to a suit of armor. 

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The Kamado Family Is Taken Out In 'Demon Slayer'
The Kamado Family Is Tak... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 15 Anime With 'Downer Beginnings' That Start Off Super Sad
Photo: ufotable

The first episode of Demon Slayer is the catalyst for Tanjiro Kamado's journey to becoming a demon slayer in the first place, and it's pretty devastating. While Tanjiro is in town selling goods to help his family survive, his home and his family are all destroyed by demons. The sole survivor is his sister Nezuko, who has been bitten by a demon herself. All hope seems lost, especially since Nezuko's demonic nature makes her uncontrollably violent - but Tanjiro is determined to find a way to change her back.

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The Rising of the Shield... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 15 Anime With 'Downer Beginnings' That Start Off Super Sad
Photo:  Kinema Citrus

The Rising of the Shield Hero starts off as one of the more depressing entries into the isekai genre - which is part of what makes it so popular. When Naofumi Iwatani is transported to another world, he discovers that he's the Shield Hero, and that if he wants to return home he has to help defend the world from Wave attacks. That job proves almost imposible due to multiple conspiracies against him, including being falsely accused of assault. Shunned by the commuity, Naofumi is forced to do his hero work alone, all while becoming increasingly frustrated and depressed. He eventually ends up buying a slave - Raphtalia - who has been severely abused and is chained up in a dirty cell. 

Things improve from the first episode on, but the first episode is a lot. 

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A Silent Voice is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 15 Anime With 'Downer Beginnings' That Start Off Super Sad
Photo:  Kyoto Animation

A Silent Voice is a deeply painful movie about the long-term consequences of bullying. It opens with Shouya Ishida, a former bully who has grown up to a deeply depressed and guilt-ridden teenager. At the start of the film, he quits his job and sells all of his possessions. He leaves a packet of money for his mother, who once had to go into debt to replace Shouko Nishimiya's hearing aids, which Shouya destroyed. Then, after doing all of that, Shouya makes an attempt on his own life.

The rest of the movie deals with Shouya's journey to forgive himself, as well as his attempts to truly make up for the ways he hurt Shouko. The beginning, though harrowing, does a good job setting viewers up for the pain to come. 

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