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

Updated November 5, 2019 12.1k votes 2.2k voters 55.6k views15 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?

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  • 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 Taken Out 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 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 City Is Destroyed In 'Attack is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 15 Anime With 'Downer Beginnings' That Start Off Super Sad
    Photo: Wit Studio

    Attack on Titan opens with an introduction to a world ravaged by Titans. Humanity is trapped within a series of walls, as this is the only way for them to avoid being devoured. Some people are fine with this, but others yearn for freedom. Just as that premise is established, the walls are breached by the Colossal Titan and the Armored Titan, letting in hundreds of other Titans who immediately destroy Zhiganshina and its residents. The protagonist, Eren Jaeger, loses his mother and his home in the space of a minute. By the end of the opening, he and his friends are orphaned refugees.

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