Anime Underground The 13 Bleakest, Most Depressing Anime Ever  

Jonah Dorrance
4.7k votes 1.5k voters 57.5k views 16 items Embed

List Rules Vote up the incredibly bleak anime that could probably really lead to depression.

Anime has its fair share of heart-wrenching series that leave people in pieces by the final episode, but the depressing anime here is more than just anime that makes you cry. These bleak anime series and films sit with you long after they are over, challenging your views and inviting existential questions that are guaranteed to linger.

Anime in this vein grapples with complex philosophies of humanity, survival, and judgment. It can also examine issues closer to home for people, like depression and social anxiety. It's the job of anime like this to present hard, difficult truths, and it can leave you with lasting pangs of sorrow at the very mention of a character's name.

The lessons and themes expressed in these stories may not be sparkly and hopeful, and the endings may be more bitter than sweet, but they remain grounded stories featuring the hardships and struggles many fans face on a daily basis. While they aren’t afraid to point out the negative, they do so with spectacular writing, outstanding animation, and extraordinary characters. They may leave you bummed out, but you won’t be disappointed.

Grave of the Fireflies is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The 13 Bleakest, Most Depressing Anime Ever
Photo:  Studio Ghibli

Grave of the Fireflies follows two siblings struggling for survival in Japan during World War II. It is utterly depressing in its brutally honest portrayal of starvation, the selfish nature of humans, and the stubbornness of pride. The producer pulls no punches when it comes to showing the suffering of societal individuals in war. 

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see more on Grave of the Fireflies

Anohana: The Flower We Saw Tha... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The 13 Bleakest, Most Depressing Anime Ever
Photo:  Aniplex of America

Anohana is about a group of kids who suffered the tragic loss of one of their friends in the sixth grade. Years later, they've drifted apart and one of them, a boy named Jinta, has become a complete recluse. He suddenly finds himself face-to-face with the ghost of the girl who died, and when he tells his old friends, they don't believe him.

The short 11-episode series follows the teenagers as they explore the bleaker aspects of grief, tragedy, and maturity. It confronts the concept of death unabashedly, challenging viewers to think about how brief life really is. 

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Death Parade

Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

Don't let the high kicks and dance numbers in Death Parade's opening fool you, this show examines some dark and upsetting concepts. It's set in the afterlife, where two souls compete in games in order to determine whether they go towards enlightenment or descend into the void.

In each episode you watch two souls get pushed to their limits, forced to confront not only how they died but the circumstances of their lives: their regrets, their losses, their dreams. If you're not into series with episodic structures, the overarching plot between the main characters is one of the most enjoyable and moving parts of the show.

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#71 on The Best Anime Series of All Time

#64 on The Best Adult Anime of All Time

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Psycho-Pass is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The 13 Bleakest, Most Depressing Anime Ever
Photo: Fuji-TV

A real treat for cyber-punk fans, Psycho-Pass considers a civil system where psychological and emotional states determine civil judgment. Basically, you can get executed if you're not considered "normal" psychologically. This abuse of psychosis forces characters to examine the role emotional responses play in administering control of a society, and the limits of relying on computer technology. In addition to some heartbreaking deaths (that might make you ugly-cry), the main villain harbors views and ambitions you probably won't find all that unreasonable. It's a captivating, if mostly depressing, journey. 

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#36 on The Best Anime Series of All Time

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#17 on The Best Action Anime of All Time

see more on Psycho-Pass