Top 15 Best Anime About Depression & Mental HealthThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
In fact, sometimes we get stuck in perpetual darkness and have to fight our way through. In other words, depression’s a bitch.
Anime, being as diverse as it is, has tackled the topic of depression (and overall mental health) quite a few times. But which anime really bring these topics back close to home?
These are my picks for the best anime centred around depression, mental health, and anxiety. Keep some tissues nearby.
If we’re talking about social anxiety, the need to fit in, feelings of inadequacy and loneliness, then WataMote is a pretty strong candidate.
It follows a teenage girl who’s just trying to be popular, make friends, get a boyfriend, typical teenage business.
However, this show isn’t as optimistic as most slice-of-life shows usually are.
WataMote is almost uncomfortable to watch, as it presents this awkward character grasping at strays very realistically. Which is why I do think it’s important to watch, even when it feels like a cringe compilation.
14. Scum’s Wish
From the title alone you can already guess the tone of this show.
It’s all about unrequited love and the ways we try to fill that void in our heart.
After our two main character both end up getting hurt (their beloveds have fallen for others) they decide to be each other’s replacements.
This might sound like a typical high school plot hook. But it does not go so smoothly.
So in terms of adolescent love and the lack thereof, this show is quite cathartic.
13. A Silent Voice
Now this movie tackles quite a few topics.
With the main male lead being ostracized for bullying a deaf girl, he’s left all alone, now being the target of similar bullying.
It hits him pretty hard. To the point of even contemplating ending it all.
But he chooses to make amends and find that girl he belittled long ago.
We also get to see her side of the story; the story of a person who’s different, but keeps trying to fit in with everyone.
A Silent Voice is just a masterpiece. So even though it tackles quite a few topics, I still think it does all of them justice.
12. Honey and Clover
On a similar note like the last entry, Honey and Clover tackles a few key struggles.
And that’s the key word: struggles.
All those minor or major difficulties that might not end us, but leave us torn on the inside.
There are five main characters here all dealing with their own issues. Whether it’s unrequited love, the choice between a relationship and a dear friendship, one’s own future, or what success means, you’re sure to relate on a fundamental level with at least one of these characters.
Plus since the show centers around college life, it might hit a bit harder than a high school show if you’re a college student (or close to college aged).
11. 3-gatsu no lion (March Comes In like a Lion)
At first glance, this show seems pretty niche. It’s all about a shogi player trying to live alone in Tokyo.
However, the twist is that he’s one of the best shogi players, and also that he’s only 17 years old.
This leads him to a life where he doesn’t have any friends, doesn’t know how to take care of himself properly, and honestly doesn’t really know how to be happy.
The pressure of being the best keeps chipping away at his mental health.
It’s like the final stage of burnout. And in this day and age I think a lot of us can sympathize with his issues.
10. Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei
Now this series is a bit different from the rest on this list.
It’s actually a comedy, and a very morbid one.
Most of the people who watch the series would immediately associate the show to depression, as one of the main characters literally carries a rope around his neck at the slightest inconvenience.
However, it’s important to note that the show doesn’t make fun of these feelings. But rather it presents an easier path to talk about them and understand them.
The suicidal teacher is only one of the many problem-ridden characters in this anime. So surely you’ll find some take-away messages to apply in your own life.
9. Aoi Bungaku Series
A rather short series that actually contains 6 different stories, each set in their own universe independent from each other.
They’re also all adaptations from highly-rated Japanese literature. So the storytelling quality is extremely high.
The first story, No Longer Human, suits this list the best. As it talks about a guy, crushed under his own ego, and his life in complete social isolation.
His coping mechanisms weren’t the safest, let’s just put it that way.
And by the end of the arc you feel like you truly understand this person.
The other 5 stories also touch on mental health and similar struggles. But No Longer Human definitely hits the nail the hardest.
8. Neon Genesis Evangelion
If you’ve ever studied philosophy, you’re bound to find every nihilistic, morbid thesis imaginable in this series.
Although at first glance it just looks like this awesome mecha show with gory battles. But it truly is a depressing show filled with depressed people.
Be it a struggle for intimacy and acceptance, sexual maturation, inferiority complexes, survival guilt, or anything else that’s doom and gloom.
You can bet Evangelion has probably touched on the subject.
There are no Disney happy endings here. And watching this makes me need a hug.
7. Casshern Sins
When faced with your own mortality, what would you do?
The world of Casshern Sins is a ruined one where robots have taken over the Earth. The robots are sentient and were initially immortal, until that stopped being the case.
Now all faced with the possibility of death, each robot tries to either accept the inevitable, or place their hopes in an urban legend that states immortality can be achieved by eating someone named Casshern.
It’s a pretty slow-paced show that really puts into perspective the horror that comes with the beauty of living… that being death itself.
6. The Tatami Galaxy
This show isn’t as heavy as some of the others on this list.
But it displays a very true and yet often forgotten principle: that every little choice you make affects your life.
It’s like a compilation of the protagonist picking different outcomes in the pursuit of what he thinks will make him happy. Which he thinks would come from being popular and getting a girlfriend.
I think this show hits especially hard if you’re going through (or have gone through) depression. As sometimes it really is important to remember that even the smallest choice has an impact, even if it doesn’t seem so.
Taking one’s life unfortunately can be a consequence of extremely negative feelings and the absence of a pillar to grab on to.
The movie Colorful deals with a simple concept: trying to understand a boy who has decided that life is no longer worth living.
An impure soul gets the boy’s body and is tasked with figuring out his ‘biggest sin’ while the complexities of the boy’s life are quickly made evident.
The movie may not be for everyone, as suicide at such a young age might be a hard pill to swallow. But I do believe it’s an excellent movie nevertheless.
OK I think it’d be a good idea to add a lighter candidate here. The whole list can’t be miserable, right?
Mushishi basically deals with everything.
Its central premise is that of the mushi, creatures(or spirits) that tend to meddle in human affairs and bring on unfortunate circumstances.
The protagonist is a Mushishi, and he travels the world in search of the mushi. His goal?
To help the people afflicted, but also get to the bottom of the mushi’s very existence.
The episode Mirror Lake in particular takes a crack at depression, if you only care for that theme rather than the entire show.
3. Your Lie in April
And now we’re back to the heavy stuff.
Your Lie in April is a notorious tear jerker. It tells the story of two musicians, each battling a very dark and depressing past.
However, the two seem to handle this sadness and despair in polar opposite ways, making them a good balancer for the other.
I don’t want to get into what exactly is troubling them, definitely don’t wanna spoil anything. But let’s just say that it wasn’t as wholesome as “my crush doesn’t like me”.
They’re real issues, and issues that are heavy enough that they could easily break most people.
Rainbow depicts a very tragic life. A life I would never wish onto anyone, and a life that’s rather important in modern society related to the abuse of power.
It follows seven inmates and the torture they go through at the hands of the guards.
And it’s torture in the truest sense of the word.
The show poses the question “how does one come back to normal life after such trauma has been inflicted onto them?”
And even deeper, how does one combat power as part of a discriminated group?
It gets heavy, it gets sad, it gets real.
1. Welcome to the N.H.K.
For anime veterans this is probably one of the first shows that pops into your head when thinking about depression.
It follows a hikikomori NEET who’s trying to get his life back on track.
But it’s no easy ride from A to B, not in the slightest.
He just keeps falling over and over. Unfortunately the world doesn’t give you a hand just because your intentions are good.
This series tackles quite a few aspects of mental health like ambition, paranoia, love, peer pressure, loneliness, and plenty more.
If you were to pick just one anime off this list where you wanted depression to be a central theme, I think Welcome to the N.H.K. is the best place to start.