A Japanese website called Anime! Anime! Did a survey asking people about their favorite sad anime. They did this survey in May and recently shared the results.
They want to clarify that the results don’t mean one anime is better or worse. They hope that by sharing these results, people will discover new anime and characters and become more interested in anime.
Here are the top ten sad anime titles from the survey along with some comments and reviews.
Most Depressing Anime According to Japanese Fans
1. Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica
- Episodes: 12
- Genre: Drama, Magic, Psychological, Thriller
Don’t judge this anime by its cute magical girl appearance because underneath lies a truly sad story. I believe it deserves the title of the most depressing anime.
Studio Shaft created it with a unique and quirky look. The story is written by Gen Urobuchi, who also wrote Fate/Zero. The music is by composer Yuki Kajiura, and the theme song is by Kalafina. Madoka Magica became a big hit in the world of anime, loved by both critics and fans and is still talked about today.
Madoka Magica is a story about hope, despair, and friendship. It shows how tough it can be to be a magical girl and the sacrifices one has to make to achieve their dreams.
2. Banana Fish
- Episodes: 24 (2018)
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Shoujo
People often label Banana Fish as BL (Boys Love), shounen-ai, and yaoi, but these labels don’t really capture what Banana Fish is about.
Banana Fish is about drugs, pedophilia, gangs, PTSD, violence, and corruption. Even though it was initially categorized as shoujo, it’s a gritty and depressing story.
Behind the harsh world of Banana Fish, with its themes of death and sexual violence, is the profound tale of its main character, Ash Lynx, and his journey through life and love.
3. Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni
- Episodes: 24 (2020)
- Genre: Mystery, Psychological, Supernatural, Thriller
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is part of a series that’s been around for almost 20 years. To understand it, it’s best to watch the previous titles.
The first season has crazy and disturbing scenes with shocking stories. Higurashi Kai is a bit softer and resolves many issues, giving the series a great ending. Higurashi Rei is shorter, with only 5 episodes, and serves as a sequel after Kai.
4. Shingeki no Kyojin / Attack on Titan
- Episodes: 25 (2013), 12 (S02 – 2017), 22 (S03 – 2019), Finale Season
- Genre: Action, Fantasy, Military, Mystery, Drama, Shounen
In the 80s, Mobile Suit Gundam was a big deal in Japan, and in the 90s, Dragon Ball Z became incredibly popular. Neon Genesis Evangelion opened up a new late-night anime slot.
Moving into the 2000s, Fullmetal Alchemist became the top manga-to-anime adaptation. Then came Code Geass and Death Note, introducing the anti-hero genre.
Now, since 2013, Attack on Titan has been making waves in the anime industry. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 5 months, you’ve probably heard of it. So, no need to explain it further.
5. School Days
- Episodes: 12 (2007)
- Genre: Drama, Harem, Romance, School
The main character in this anime is your typical high school student who enjoys music and sometimes has inappropriate thoughts. But don’t expect a typical school story with fun and games. This anime delves deep into the psychological aspects of things.
School Days is all about the consequences of cheating on someone. It shows how it can severely impact people’s emotions and lives. It emphasizes that human emotions and friendships are delicate, and when they’re damaged, it can lead to terrible outcomes.
- Episodes: 22 (2013)
- Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Psychological, Thriller, Seinen
This anime is another work by Gen Urobuchi, who also wrote Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero.
In the 22nd century, Japan had a system called the Sibyl System. It checks people’s minds to see if they might commit crimes, called the Psycho-Pass. Akane Tsunemori joins the police, wanting to do the right thing. But as she works with the experienced Shinya Kougami, she sees that the Sibyl System isn’t perfect.
Akane starts to question what justice really means and whether a potentially flawed system can deliver it.
- Episodes: 24 (2007)
- Genre: Drama, Mecha, Psychological, Sci-fi, Seinen
Fifteen kids, 8 boys, and 7 girls, were at summer camp by the sea. They stumbled upon a cave with computers and met a man named Kokopelli.
He said he was making a game where giant robots protect Earth from 15 different alien attacks. Kokopelli convinced everyone, except one, to sign up for what he promised would be a fun adventure.
But things turned dark after they signed up. In Bokurano, each kid had to take turns piloting a giant robot called Zearth to fight off alien enemies.
8. Re: ZERO
- Episodes: 25 (S01- 2016), 25 (S02 – 2020)
- Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Isekai, Psychological, Thriller
In the show Re: ZERO, the main character Subaru and those around him face repeated deaths as they try to find a way forward. The story gets progressively darker as it goes on.
Re: ZERO might seem like a typical fantasy anime where the main character Subaru hopes for an exciting adventure in another world. But it’s more than that. It’s part romance and part psychological thriller, and it makes us feel sorry for its main character who’s having a really tough time.
If you haven’t seen Re: ZERO yet, get ready to be surprised with every episode.
9. Happy Sugar Life
- Episodes: 12 (2018)
- Genre: Drama, Horror, Psychological
Satou Matsuzaka is a pretty high school girl known for dating boys. But her life changes when she meets a young girl named Shio Koube. She realizes that Shio is her first and only true love.
Satou tells everyone that she lives with her aunt, but she’s actually living with Shio secretly. Satou may look innocent, but she’s ready to do anything to keep her girlfriend safe.
To protect their happy life, just like the title “Happy Sugar Life,” Satou is willing to go to extreme measures.
10. Elfen Lied
- Episodes: 13 (2004)
- Genre: Action, Horror, Psychological, Romance, Supernatural, Seinen
“Elfen Lied” is an anime based on a manga by Lynn Okamoto. The anime follows the manga’s story up to the first 7 volumes but has its ending.
This anime is known for its violence, and cruelty, which can be disturbing for some viewers. People have different opinions about it, with some calling it a masterpiece and others finding it too extreme. It’s important to note that some opinions are exaggerated or misunderstood.