Top 20 Anime To Watch When You Feel EmptyThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
When life is going great, anime is a great medium for making it even better. You can watch some shounen and truly scream your lungs out when the MC inevitably wins.
But we all hit rough patches from time to time.
And that’s what this article is all about. These are the shows I always come back to when I truly feel empty inside.
Monster is the perfect show for when you don’t have the energy for much but still want to be engaged. The story is very slow and very precise.
There’s a constant feeling of dread throughout the 74 episodes that ironically makes you less aware of your own issues. Especially since it’s never really certain whether good will prevail in the end.
It’s also a very “human” story, with realistic characters facing real-world issues. From sickness to poverty, the show is bound to make you appreciate certain parts of your life.
Because when all is said and done, the MC feels like a beacon of hope within his own universe. And any character that can supply such a rare commodity is welcomed to my watch list.
19. Dr. Stone
This show just serves as the perfect distraction. Unlike the previous pick, most of the conflicts in the show aren’t all that deep and you never truly worry for the characters.
However, its unique position as “the science anime” gives your brain something else to work on.
I found myself constantly trying to predict what the next invention will be or how they’d solve an upcoming issue. It got to the point where I’d completely forget about my own life.
In that sense, the show is perfect.
You can leave most of your emotions at the door and just truly let your curiosity run wild.
18. I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying
This show is just one wholesome bubble. Both its setting and its story are as bland as you can humanly get and there’s basically no conflict throughout.
And yet it calms me every time I boot up an episode.
The story is just so simple and the characters so down to earth that it feels like you’re just watching average people through a window.
And that feeling is oddly valuable when you’re not feeling too great. It’s like the anime equivalent of watching Friends for the tenth time in a row.
17. 91 Days
As you’ll see while reading this article (to the very end I hope), I have lots of different approaches when it comes to battling a general sense of emptiness.
This show, for example, works strictly on the basis that the MC seems even emptier than me. The dude acts as if his literal soul has been clawed out quite a long time ago.
And not in an edgy way but a profoundly sad one. This accomplishes two things: it reminds me that it can get worse and on the other side of the spectrum, it’s like a messed-up self-insert.
The drama is palpable, the action is intense, and the story is well-written – so it has all the elements needed to fully invest me in its world.
16. Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei
If you thought that last pick was odd, this one should definitely have you worried for my sanity.
This show is riddled with depression and morbid curiosity. Not a single character in the entire cast has all of their ducks in a row and very few seem to be enjoying their life.
However, the show is (surprisingly enough) actually a comedy.
Each issue is overplayed to the point of absurdism, and I found that it helped in some weird way.
It’s like getting validation and an “it’ll get better” at the same time. And who knows, it might help you as well! Just don’t read the source material (as the comedy part kind of stops by the end).
15. Assassination Classroom
Switching tones yet again, we have Assassination Classroom. I’m not even going to try and overexplain this one – it’s just a feel-good series.
Although the show has high stakes from time to time, mostly it’s just goofing around and life lessons. Koro-sensei is especially helpful as he’s the most lovable dork you’ll ever see in your life.
So, for forty-plus episodes, you get some unadulterated fun mixed in with a few tense moments. And then the ending makes you cry your eyes out.
This one-two combo basically insures that whatever emotional baggage you were holding onto is now gone – which is honestly a great relief.
14. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
With the entire JoJo’s franchise, I feel like it’s impossible not to feel something. That being said, I’m not even 100% sure what exactly I am feeling at any given moment.
The show is just ridiculous and absurd but also well-written and clever. It’s like watching a paradox.
And this is what makes it such a strong pick for battling emptiness. You will truly never be able to predict what the hell JoJo’s is going to throw at you next.
So, it’s a constant loop of “why”, “how”, and “of course” that keeps you engaged every step of the way. Not to mention that the show is also hilarious.
13. Death Parade
Death Parade deals with the very essence of human morality through the lens of a being who’s completely empty inside (at least initially). Sound familiar?
With every new game that the main cast cooks up, I always end up questioning how I or someone I know would react in that situation. And oddly enough, the outcome is usually positive.
At the very least, it can help you tweak your own moral compass and maybe discover some things about yourself. Hooray self-discovery!
And if all of that fails, just jam out to the opening as it’s one of the best in the business.
12. Scum’s Wish
Okay, this one I wouldn’t exactly suggest to everyone. It’s very much a “fight fire with fire” situation as the show is as bleak as they come.
The characters seem depressed 90% of the time and there isn’t a shred of the usual “nakama power” that you see in anime.
But oddly enough I found that it helped me. Maybe it’s just reaching the bottom and then looking up, or just sympathizing with another’s tragedy – but I always feel relieved after the fact.
But again, it might not be for everyone.
Barakamon is the exact opposite of the last pick, as I absolutely suggest everyone watch it and your mood is guaranteed to become cheerier.
It’s a very simple and wholesome story of a guy rediscovering what art means to him. To be more precise, how letting people into his life can make it better and more unique.
The entire cast is just filled with some of the most lovable characters you’ll ever see and the MC’s character arc is both believable and touching.
So, throughout the entire series, I just found a stupid smile on my face (and some wholesome tears by the end). Definitely worth a shot if you’re looking to restore your faith in humanity.
10. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
And if that doesn’t work, we can go right back to depressive shock therapy.
Although it doesn’t hit the same notes as Scum’s Wish (as it’s a fantasy show whose scope is way beyond what you actually live through), there’s undeniable doom and gloom.
There are optimistic scenes where the good guys do win and friendship triumphs, but the overarching plot always comes off as cynical. And personally, it helps me get out of a slump when the tone of a series matches my own inner voice.
And trust me, don’t let the cutesy aesthetic fool you – this show does some things that most modern shows would never have the gall to do.
9. One Punch Man
One Punch Man is probably the best example of “stupid fun” that I’ve seen in a really long time.
Not to say that the show is badly written (it’s honestly terrific) but that it lets the inner caveman leap out in joy over big flashy fights and guts flying everywhere.
The show’s humor is also very welcoming and consistent – with the “one punch” gimmick somehow not getting old even after two entire seasons.
So for those times when I don’t feel like a masochist and just want to have mindless fun – this is one of my top picks.
8. Odd Taxi
Odd Taxi has a very similar hook as Monster, but everything is a lot more compact. It’s only thirteen episodes long and yet manages to tell quite the moving story.
The overall tone can be quite cynical at times, but it never comes off as suffocating – which is why it’s a very easy show to recommend to people.
And the story itself just naturally hooks you, with lingering mysteries and legitimate stakes throughout. So, another example of a show that’s so gripping, you’ll probably forget that the real world actually exists.
Plus, you’ll absolutely love and relate to the MC if you’re cynical or jaded at this point in life.
7. Welcome to the N.H.K.
Very few shows delve into the human psyche as deeply as Welcome to the N.H.K.
It truly shows you the good, the bad, and the ugly. But mostly just the latter two. This is because the MC is a legitimately troubled individual and not just some moody edgelord.
The struggle feels very real and his path to recovery is covered with more hurdles than one can count. And I think that’s a rather realistic depiction – and a message that gets me out of a slump every now and then.
The writing is also excellent, so a level of investment is pretty much guaranteed. But mostly I suggest this show just because of how well it satisfies that sense of morbid curiosity one can have when they themselves aren’t feeling too great.
In terms of raw drama, Nana is probably one of the strongest shows anime has to offer. Its highs will take you to the moon and its lows will bury you underground.
So, at the very least, you definitely won’t be feeling empty.
In fact, this show makes me feel every emotion there is. The characters are so well-written and the conflicts so realistic that I get caught up in the story as if they were my personal friends.
And I think that helps a lot.
Going through such a range of motion gets your heart pumping again and makes you recontextualize your own life. At least, that was my experience.
5. Mob Psycho 100
On a surface level, this show works because of the same reasons as One Punch Man. You get bombastic fights that fry your brain and really funny scenes that split your sides.
However, it has one added dimension – inspiration.
Even though he’s the most powerful dude around, Mob is constantly looking for ways to better himself outside of his tremendous powers.
He tries to make friends, get a hobby, and even work out with a supportive group of gym bros. He’s putting into practice advice that we all know but rarely want to do.
And if a dude who can chuck building around takes time out of his day to work out and socialize – we really don’t have an excuse.
4. Violet Evergarden
Violet Evergarden is my go-to pick for when I just want to cry.
And I mean really cry; for hours if needed. Because nothing brings that same level of relief as a good cry.
And the thing about Violet Evergarden is that it depicts the most tragic scenes in a somewhat wholesome way. It always finds a silver lining that’s supposed to give you a hint of hope.
That type of writing mixed in with a beautiful art style and some top-tier music can make all the difference. Especially since Violet herself is trying to fill in a void in her heart.
Definitely, a solid pick if you just want a show to grab you by the ankles, turn you around, and shake all of the tears out of your eyes.
3. The Tatami Galaxy
The Tatami Galaxy is one of those anime that not too many people talk about but everyone who has seen it is its biggest fan.
That being said, I can’t properly praise the series without going into major spoiler territory. So, I’m just going to be vague as hell.
The show tackles one’s approach to life in a very stylized and metaphorical way. It goes to the point that it takes the entire eleven episodes for you to fully grasp what the author is putting down.
And the lesson (although simple) is rather important and profound. It’s one of those shows that will constantly pop into your head and make you analyze whether you’re making the same mistakes as the MC.
2. A Silent Voice
I’d honestly be very impressed if someone made it through watching this movie without feeling anything. It’s just so down-to-earth and raw that it shakes me to my core.
Sure, it will probably make you cry as hard as Violet Evergarden. However, it also has plenty of wholesome, fun scenes that give you a sense of hope.
But more than anything, the show talks about redemption and change – topics that are almost always relevant when talking about feelings of emptiness.
With an incredibly well-written cast (the MC, in particular, being the most relatable character ever), an amazing score, and palpable drama – it’s probably the best anime movie out there.
1. Gurren Lagann
After naming three rather somber and profound shows in a row, this one might stick out as a sore thumb. After all, it’s about giant robots and bikini snipers.
However, I think people who’ve watched the show will know where I’m coming from.
I say that because no other show has given me the will to change my life for the better as much as this one. I seriously can’t oversell just how motivational key scenes are.
And when you’re truly feeling empty, an anime that can lift you up on your feet and get you through the door is what you need.
Plus, you get tons of mindless action as well – so both the caveman brain and the profound brain can be happy. For these reasons, it’s the show I put on when I really want to feel something.