Depression is a big problem and a great enemy of today’s society, which affects the lives of many people.
We take advantage of this space to express sympathy to anyone who suffers from it, pointing out that we are not trying to romanticize it.
This theme is often used to create stories of great depth with a focus on the human psyche while maintaining respect for this condition.
We couldn’t exempt ourselves from collecting for you the best anime that goes on to talk about or include this sensitive topic.
This listicle, as always, is made based on our personal tastes and experience.
Table of Contents
16. Scum’s Wish
Scum’s Wish is a deliberately more mature and explicit romance than the norm, even going so far as to show semi-explicit scenes that it goes on to display.
Mugi Awaya and Hanabi Yasuraoka seem like the perfect couple. They are very popular and seem like a very close couple.
But no one knows their secret, which is that they are only together to escape loneliness and sadness, and are both in love with someone else.
Scum’s Wish is if you will the more mature version of the classic romance, and it openly poses as such.
The characters are well-characterized thanks to a more serious undertone where heavy feelings such as depression and loneliness are at the center of the stage.
The problem with this series is that it ends up having almost the opposite effect with similar premises, becoming unsettling and often too heavy-handed.
But this need not be a flaw, so we leave it up to you to decide whether you like it or not.
15. Garden of Sinners
The Garden of Sinners is a series of movies set in late 90s Japan that revolves around Shiki Ryougi. She is a demon hunter who acquires the power called Mystic Eyes of Death Perception after surviving a fatal accident.
It features a pretty intricate plot where Shiki Ryougi and her friend Mikiya Kokotou are investigating a series of suspicious suicides of young girls jumping off the Fujou building, an abandoned structure on the outskirts of the city.
They will both end up working for the Garan no Do detective agency specialized in paranormal investigations to uncover these mysteries.
Shiki Ryougi is not just a girl with supernatural powers. She had a rough upbringing and got her special skills by creating 2 separate personalities within herself.
So you will understand from the premise that the psychological component is incredibly deep and curated, with a great focus on the psyche, especially Shiki’s.
On the other hand, we have an excellently realized thriller and crime, which although slightly confusing will keep you on your toes.
14. Paranoia Agent
Paranoia Agent is the only anime series by Satoshi Kon, and the themes are thought-provoking and deep, the signature of this amazing author.
The protagonist Tsukiko Sagi claims to have been attacked by a young boy with a baseball bat, moving around on roller skates.
Following this testimony, a chain of similar cases began to follow one another. Thus is born the urban legend of Shonen Bat, the mysterious masked attacker.
Paranoia Agent hides behind its investigative and crime component a psychological and introspective focus on the human mind.
In fact, people will begin to be terrorized by the figure of Shonen Bat, the same who elicits feelings of deep fear and paranoia.
Speaking of the technical side, the animations are quite good for a 2000s anime and the soundtrack excels in creating the right environment.
Multiple award-winning anime with a very mature and serious atmosphere.
The story follows Arata Kaizaki, an unemployed 27-year-old whose life is drifting apart. His life changes after meeting Ryou Yoake, a member of the ReLife Research Institute, who offers him a drug that can return him to his 17-year-old self, when he was a popular guy, to become the subject of a year-long experiment.
Chizuru Hishiro, one of the girls attending the high school, is the old love of the protagonist, who is determined to win her over with this second chance.
An anime that hides a very serious message such as the desire to start over, and that it is never too late to do so.
One of the most common mistakes about this anime is to think that it’s based on science. This is not the case, as the science experiment is only used as a pretext to get the story started.
ReLIFE, as already stated, hides behind its incipit a mature and psychological story, a story of revenge and a desire to live and become your best version.
It’s also one of the best romance anime with a kuudere girl that we absolutely recommend if you like the trope.
12. Aoi Bungaku Series
Aoi Bungaku is a unique and unprecedented product, as well as unique to say the least. Indeed, the anime is composed by 12 episodes to adapt 6 of the most famous literary works of Japanese culture.
The first 4 episodes adapt the novel No Longer Human, the 5th and 6th Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees, the 7th and 8th Kokoro, the 9th and 10th Run, Melos!.
The 11th and 12th, on the other hand, are self-contained episodes, and adapt The Spider’s Thread and Hell Screen, respectively.
Aoi Bungaku touches on the theme of depression and the human psyche often in many of his stories, as it is a recurring theme in Japanese literature.
But this is emphasized in the first story, with its adaptation of Dazai’s novel No Longer Human.
This book is one of the icons of introspective and defeatist Japanese literature, and the author is recognized for his difficult and far from cheerful past.
Mushishi follows the story of Ginko, a serious and composed character, and also a Mushi. This term refers to strange creatures whose origin or habits no one knows.
What is known is that coexistence with them is complicated for human beings. For this reason, there are the Mushishi, experts in the field who know how to deal with them.
Each episode will thus be devoted to a different creature, creating a succession of self-contained stories.
It must be said that the episodes are very slow, reflective, and if we want to use a misnomer, artistic.
But the anime is deliberately so, to create a fantastic atmosphere that is almost hypnotic and lulling, and a great anime without plot armor.
10. Serial Experiments Lain
Series Experiments Lain has 13 episodes and is an original story dating back to 1998.
It’s one of the most famous short original works due to its fairly deep meaning and plot complexity, with a raw story without power of friendship stretches.
The plot tells the story of Lain Iwakura, a rather peculiar little girl partly because of a less-than-ideal family situation.
Lain comes into contact with Wired, a global network very reminiscent of our Internet, where she will learn a lot of information regarding this mysterious world. But the Wired hides more horrific things than expected.
In this case, you will have well understood that the overwhelming threat is precisely due to the Wired, but there is more behind that.
Indeed, the message of this anime lies in the warning to keep an eye on technology, and the threats it can bring with it.
9. Your Lie in April
Kousei Arima, the protagonist of the story, has always been an ace piano player from an early age, famous and recognized by many musicians even older than himself.
That was until he suffered the tragic loss of his mother, leading him to abandon music and start feeling depressed.
That is until he meets Kaori, a beautiful blond-haired violinist who plays by putting her whole soul into it.
She will indeed bring back Kosei’s passion for music, but in a more carefree and lighter way than he was used to from his mother.
Your Lie in April focuses on music, but it also features excellent romance moments that will warm your heart.
8. Flowers of Evil
Flowers of Evil is an anime based on one of the most famous manga by master Oshimi, a mangaka renowned for his stupendous works.
Takao Kasuga is an ordinary Japanese student who one day gives in to his intrusive thoughts and impulsively steals the tracksuit of the girl he is in love with.
What he doesn’t take into account is that the classmate who sits behind him has seen him, and taken the opportunity to blackmail him: he will either do as he says, or reveal the act to everyone.
Flowers of Evil behind its seemingly almost comic premise hides a very burning meaning and theme, namely that of the perversion of the human mind.
Sawa will force Takao into sick things to meet his demands, often creating situations that go far beyond political correctness.
If you want to take a plunge into the darker side of the psyche, you must watch it.
The only point we would like to dwell on is the animation style, in our opinion very hit or miss. The characters are reproduced with a strange, very realistic, traced stroke that you might love as well as hate.
But we remind you that to remedy this problem there is always the manga, featuring Oshimi’s spectacular drawings.
7. Sayonara, Zetsubo Sensei
Sayonara, Zetsubo Sensei is a 2007 12-episode anime that under its colorful and lively animation style full of comic gags hides a sad and profound social message.
The story follows Nozomu Itoshiki, a high school teacher who is highly susceptible to life misfortunes and frequently attempts suicide.
While this anime is satirical and contains a lot of gags, it examines one of the major issues in Japanese society, namely depression.
Sayonara, Zetsubo Sensei is one of those anime that hides its message in plain sight, covering it behind a comic curtain, when in fact there is little to laugh about.
This is a good anime to learn something about Japan’s culture while enjoying the extravagant interactions between Nozomu and his bizarre students.
6. The Tatami Galaxy
The Tatami Galaxy is an 11-episode anime based on a light novel adapted in 2010 by Yuasa and the best anime about college lifepa in our opinion.
The beauty of The Tatami Galaxy is that it is seemingly simple in its unfolding but manages to enrapture because of its surreality and especially because of the stream of consciousness.
Yes, you read that right, the whole work gravitates around the streams of consciousness of the protagonist, so an incessant flow of words and tangled thoughts, a little like the hard life we live every day.
Tatami Galaxy is a mirror for yourself, especially if you are a college student or have ever thought about what your life would be like if you had taken a different path.
Because, in addition to the paranoia and constant breakdowns of the characters, this is the real protagonist of this work: the harsh gap between adolescence and the beginning of adult life.
5. A Silent Voice
A romance movie telling the story of Shouya Ishida and Shouko Nishimiya, two high school students that had a tumultuous relationship in elementary school.
Shouya was bullying Shouko due to her deafness, and he will apologize in high school to prove he’s sorry about his past actions.
The two will soon become friends but this relationship will be threatened by their issues and the lingering depression of the girl.
A Silent Voice is a very good romance movie, even though it’s not on the same level as the manga because many details are missing.
But it still remains an important and very popular movie, quite suitable and recommended to beginners too.
Colorful is a 2010 movie created by the direction of Keiichi Hara. This is a very introspective story focusing on the theme of the meaning of life.
After winning the Great Celestial Lottery, a soul at the end of her existence gets a chance to come back to life while keeping its memories.
It’s given the chance to decide for herself in which body to reincarnate, and so decides to take that of Makoto Kobayashi, a 14-year-old boy who had just taken his own life.
An angel called Purapura helps him to accomplish this hard mission, while the main character will have to understand what happened.
Colorful is a very underrated movie, which through well-written characters and an all-too-light atmosphere manages to deal very well with life’s problems.
3. Welcome to the NHK
You have all probably heard of the Hikikomori at least once. They are young boys who totally self-isolate themselves from society by totally locking themselves up at home, out of fear of going out caused by various reasons.
The protagonist of the events Tatsuhiro Sato is one of them, due to past dramas. One day like any other to his surprise and unbeknownst to him there will be a knock on his door from a religious old woman in the company of a girl.
But what Sato will not know is that the same girl will later get in touch with him, claiming that she can and will help him out of his condition.
Welcome to the NHK is one of the best anime about depression and gives a message of hope to anyone suffering from this illness.
As you may have guessed, the themes covered are heavy and serious, but it is all psychology, without even a hint of gore.
Such themes aren’t represented with visual violence at all, it’s more about the atmosphere.
2. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion is an original anime created by Hideaki Anno that depicts a destroyed world under attack by so-called Angels, mysterious entities that threaten the quiet of humanity.
Through the use of special mechs, it is possible to fight these beings, for which the Special Agency Nerv has taken responsibility.
The protagonist Shinji Ikari will be hired by this same group to pilot one of the robots, EVA 01, and attempt to put an end to these attacks.
Although the plot seems very action-centric, all the focus is on the characters and their psychology, as well as their traumas and personal experience.
The message of Evangelion resonates near the second half of the original anime, as the situation starts to get grim.
We think you already know that Evangelion is a cult anime that everyone should watch, and you don’t need us to tell you that.
1. March comes in like a Lion
March Comes in like a Lion came out in 2016 and takes inspiration from the manga written by Chika Umino.
This anime tells the story of Rei Kiriyama, a 17-year-old shogi master who decides to live alone in a Tokyo apartment.
Rei is depressed and isolated from the rest of the world given his dark and sad past, and his status in the shogi world contributes to increasing the pressure he receives.
After meeting a trio of sisters, his life will radically change as they will help him to fight his personal battle.
March Comes in Like Lion is a great example of coping with depression and dealing with your emotions and feelings. It’s an extremely introspective show, with beautifully written characters and incredible depth to make other anime envious.
Kiriyama, like other characters, will have tremendous development throughout the story, which will always remain very engaging.
Shogi matches with real game techniques are part of this show too, but the real focus is on psychology, which takes the center stage during matches too.