Anime Underground The 13 Bleakest, Most Depressing Anime Ever  

Jonah Dorrance
10.7k votes 3.1k voters 97.7k views 16 items

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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#25 on Animated Movies That Make You Cry the Most

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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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#40 on The Best Romance Anime Ever Made

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#12 on The Best Josei Anime/Manga Series

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Video: YouTube

Famous for throwing its viewers for a loop, Puella Magi Madoka Magica is not what most people were expecting from a magical girl anime. Seriously, it's sometimes hard to sit through the amount of suffering on screen. Part of this series' popularity stems from the way it examines the sacrifices, dangers, and hardships associated with gaining otherworldly powers. It provides a tragic view of a classic trope.

Featuring incredible action, imagery, and character development, the trials and tribulations the cast of girls goes through is worth the heart ache. In the end, the show serves as a reminder to read the fine print, because every deal has a price.

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#94 on The Best Anime Series of All Time

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#19 on The Saddest Anime Series of All Time

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Neon Genesis Evangelion is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The 13 Bleakest, Most Depressing Anime Ever
Photo: Madman Entertainment

Neon Genesis Evangelion is a classic for a reason, setting the bar for existential crises in anime. Shinji's introversion is painful to watch and relate to, and the deeper you go into each character's personal issues the more depressing it all gets. Also, the rampant death and destruction will leave you wondering about the inherent goodness of humanity. While the series grapples with some incredibly complex philosophies, it never loses the resonance of the story or viewers' interest.

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#42 on The Best Anime Series of All Time

#34 on 25+ Anime With Great Rewatch Value

#30 on The Best Adult Anime of All Time

#45 on Which Anime Universe Would You Want To Live In?

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