It’s possible that you may lose everything if fate dealt you a blow. When you least expect it, your life will take a dramatic turn for the unexpected, leaving you bewildered and unsure of how to go. You have to be strong and resilient in those times; you have to stand up, fight, and try to adjust. What remains constant, though, is the reality that predetermined events have the power to transform you into a deeply sad person.
A loss, a difficult family, being bullied, or even evolving into something different from a human, are just some of the bizarre problems that anime characters struggle with, turning them into incredibly melancholy characters. Even anime characters go through transformations; grief influences them as they struggle to overcome it.
1. Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion
This list’s top spot goes to an established personality from a well-known TV programme. Shinji Ikari, the protagonist of Neon Genesis Evangelion, is just your average Joe. To the point where we might even claim he has a boring appearance right off the bat. In 2015, with the world on the brink of annihilation, the Nerv organisation owns the Evangelion, a huge robot capable of fighting against the Angels.
When Shinji is compelled to join the Nerv organisation, his life is forever altered. Gendou Ikari selects the pilots who are compatible with the Evangelions, and Shinji’s reunion with him after so many years reopens an old pain in his heart. Gendou, meeting his son after all this time, is still frigid towards him, validating the son’s long-held belief that he is unwanted.
Shinji is difficult to work with since he has difficulty forming relationships. The one person he lets in, Kaworu Nagisa, only comes near to him so that he may tell him that he is an angel. Shinji is rendered dumbfounded and angry by the brutal honesty shown. Another one of Shinji’s greatest friends, Toji Suzuhara, gets possessed by the third angel, and Shinji must kill him and the Evangelion he is in order to save Tokyo. As a result, a lot of negative things happen to him, and he, an introvert, to begin with, continues to feel less and less confident.
2. Ken Kaneki From Tokyo Ghoul
College student Ken Kaneki has a soft spot for smart women. Because of his vulnerability, his life has taken a dramatic turn. Rize, a smart-sounding girl, turns out to be a Ghoul (an animal that feeds on human flesh) and attacks him. Surgery saved his life, but instead of receiving a kidney, he got Rize’s kagune (a ghoul’s weapon) implanted in him.
His new life is quite challenging. He finds out that the ghoul side of him is hard to control and that he must stop eating human food. But there is someone he cares about, and that’s his best friend Hide. This means he will start behaving appropriately. He decides to join the Anteiku cafe, where ghouls work undercover as regular people, and deal with things there. Contrary to first impressions, this is not a simple task. His bad luck continues as he witnesses the murder of his little friend’s mother but is helpless to stop it. It’s imperative that he put some space between himself and Hide, who poses a threat to his safety. He is eventually arrested, tormented, and abandons even his ghoul companions.
He would rather be the one injured than watch others go through it, but he has no idea that his actions may eventually harm the people who love him for who he truly is: a youngster whose future has been shattered and who has nowhere to turn. Since the manga hasn’t finished yet, we don’t know how the show will conclude, but we do know that Ken will find the will to carry on even after all his efforts to save his closest friend have been in vain.
3. Shinichi Izumi From Parasyt
Initially, Shinichi Izumi comes across as a typical high school kid living with a loving family. So much so that it isn’t until a parasite replaces his right hand that he understands how fortunate he really was. He worries about what will happen to him and seems remarkably human because he doesn’t try to hide his anxiety or his wish to escape when his parasite, Migi, alerts him to the presence of another parasite in the area.
As he adjusts to his new life and finds ways to cope with his parasite “buddy,” he must continue to preserve their secret. He feels responsible for the safety of his loved ones and does not wish to volunteer as a test subject just because he is the sole human with a parasite that has not yet conquered his brain.
Things go downhill for him when his parents leave on vacation and his mother contracts a parasite and dies. He gets a mysterious phone call from his dad, and then his mom comes up the next day, and he has no idea what’s going on. Mini continuously reminds him that she is not his mother but a parasite. Shinichi is helpless because he refuses to face the brutal reality. So he nearly dies, but Migi comes to the rescue. When he opens his eyes, he sees a peculiar scar on his chest and the truth hits him.
After the incident, he changed into a seemingly icy person, but he is truly in a lot of pain. He makes an oath of protecting everyone and immediately begins taking precautions. After that, however, he suffers a series of devastating losses and revelations that drive him to the point of despair, but his heartbreak ultimately spurs him to take bold action in defence of his loved ones.
4. Kou “Tanaka” Mabuchi From Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride)
Kou “Tanaka” Mabuchi, the main character in Blue Spring Ride, has a reputation for being distant and even cruel at first. He had a crush on Futaba Yoshioka in middle school, but Kou mysteriously departed without a word between the two of them one day. For the next three years, Futaba was plagued by countless questions about him until, out of the blue, she ran into him at her high school.
Kou, now a teenager, no longer resembles the boy Futaba knew. Back then, he was a gentle soul who constantly beamed a warm smile. What she sees is a boy who constantly taunts her, but who is distant and won’t let anyone near him. Even so, Futaba’s sentiments remain, and she will delve into his past in order to uncover a tragic truth that will render her speechless. After his parents split up, Kou moved to a distant city with his mom. Soon after, his mother passed away from a severe illness, and he relocated back to Tokyo to be with his older brother and their father.
Kou’s method of maintaining distance is really only an excuse for his own safety. Silently, in a distant city, he endured the pain of losing his mother and being separated from her. After witnessing his father’s indifference to the situation and his brother’s “busyness” as an excuse for his infrequent visits, he lost trust in humanity. Kou’s heart was ripped open by his grief, and he has since decided that the best course of action is to isolate himself from the rest of society. On the other hand, Futaba is willing to force him to start talking again. She’ll let him know that it’s okay to shed a few tears if he needs to and that he’s not in this alone.
5. Haruto Tokishima From Valvrave The Liberator (Kakumeiki Valvrave)
The fifth spot in our crew is held by a permanent resident of Module 77. Haruto Tokishima is a normal college student, but his life will never be the same after a tragic event. A Dorrsian Military Pact Federation invasion forces him to become a Valvrave pilot, but he has no idea that this entails relinquishing his humanity.
He knows the instant he earns his pilot’s licence that he is no longer human since he has the uncontrollable impulse to bite others and drink their blood, just like a vampire. Sadness hits him on multiple levels; he wants to shield Sashinami Shouko, the girl he loves and a childhood friend, yet doing so requires him to create distance between them. When he decides it’s his job to keep everyone safe, he makes matters far worse. He despises the way things have turned out, but he has a task now, and he will do whatever it takes to complete it, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice calmly, knowing he rescued everyone.
6. Ouma Shuu From Guilty Crown
Our seventeen-year-old protagonist, Ouma Shuu, is a glum young lady. Using his unique power, which he calls “the Power of Kings,” he can steal weapons from dead individuals. His desire to avoid conflict immediately reveals his slothful nature. But one day, trouble comes to meet him in the form of Inori Yuzuriha, and he has no choice but to abandon his tranquil existence and join the struggle against the GHQ organisation, which has controlled Japan.
The growing attraction he feels for Inori motivates him, but it isn’t enough to make him feel at ease. Especially because he has no idea how Inori truly feels about him. Aside from the romantic aspect, he despises having to contend with adversaries. Because of his difficulty with change, all he ever desired was a quiet life. After all, he’s simply a kid who, like everyone else, craves a routine existence, is surrounded by regular people, and intends to carve out his own path in life. He won’t change because he’s been deprived of his dreams. He refuses to accept what is happening, but there is nothing else for him to do but resist. Consequently, he will do anything to alleviate his depression, with the expectation that all his efforts would bear fruit eventually, and that he will regain control of his life and its trajectory.
7. Mikaela Hyakuya From Seraph of The End: Vampire Reign (Owari no Seraph)
Saddened by the loss of hope for the future, Mikaela Hyakuya is a very tragic protagonist. He had intended to have a peaceful life with his loved ones away from the vampire’s reach, but that plan backfired. On the edge of death, he is transformed into a vampire by Kurl, the Japanese vampire queen. Yes, he managed to escape death, but at the cost of becoming one of the same beasts, he detested.
The anime depicts him coming to terms with who he has become. One of his biggest sources of stress is knowing that his last living relative, Yuu, is under the impression that Mika has passed away. Mika worries about Yuu’s reaction as he works hard to track him down and reunite with him. He’s worried about confronting Yuu now that the latter is a vampire and out for blood against the vampires who ruined their future.
The prospect of seeing Yuu will give him hope as his depression deepens due to the fact that he needs more blood but refuses to take it from people, not willing to give up his human component. While it won’t be enough to completely banish his melancholy, it will give him reason to believe that the future he envisioned for himself and Yuu isn’t completely out of reach.
8. Shion from No.6
Sad but adaptable, Shion from the 6th floor has to learn to deal with his new surroundings. His IQ is so high that he was accepted into the school’s Special Course, and he enjoys a lovely lifestyle among the upper class. We may admit that he could be spoiled a little bit. But he’s not the sort to back down from a challenge, so when a bloodied Nezumi comes up under his balcony, he offers to aid. Years later, his social standing had plummeted because of what he’d done for Nezumi. For this reason, he had to give up his old lifestyle and adjust to a completely different one. He has proven time and again that he is not a retreater. He simply adjusts and keeps fighting.
When one of his coworkers dies, things shift and he becomes a suspect in the murder investigation. That’s when Shion starts to completely lose it. When he is going to be taken into custody, Nezumi, who has been missing since that night, suddenly appears and frees him. He brings Shion outside the city gates of No. 6, where the young man learns a frightening truth: the outcasts of society dwell in slums alongside the more prosperous cities, where they have a hard time making ends meet.
Shion gets sick and develops a big scar that runs the length of his body and causes his hair to turn white. When he sees how people are treated outside of No.6, he feels an even deeper sadness than the ones he experiences as a result of his own body altering, the destruction of his life, and his separation from his mother. Keeping his focus on the task at hand, with the help of the encouraging Nezumi, will give him the willpower to push forward and see that he can accomplish something.
9. Aoyagi Ritsuka From Loveless
Let’s go on to number nine, where we find another sorrowful youngster who is troubled by a number of issues. From Loveless, we learn that Aoyagi Ritsuka’s mother is mentally sick and that his brother Seimei has been murdered. It’s already a horrible position, but meeting Agatsumi Soubi makes it worse. In fact, his fortuitous encounter with Soubi opens his eyes to a brand new world: the world of fighters and sacrifices, in which two persons with the same name battle together, with the “fighter” doing the heavy lifting while the “sacrifice” stays behind to provide cover. As if things couldn’t get any worse, Ritsuka learns that Soubi knew his older brother and had a history of conflict with him. Both were called Beloved, and Ritsuka eventually concludes that Soubi, the eldest, has more information than the younger regarding his brother’s untimely demise.
Even though they don’t have the same name (Ritsuka’s name is Loveless), Ritsuka agrees to be Soubi’s “sacrifice” when he is asked to do so by Soubi. Since Soubi is curious about what happened to Seimei and he has a strong suspicion that Soubi knows more about his brother’s background, the two have banded together to find out the truth. Ritsuka is a teenager who has experienced many things. Eventually, he develops conflicting emotions towards Soubi. What’s up with their relationship?
Doe, he despise him? He has no idea what to do, so he continues to dither. The melancholy is permanent, and arguments between the two are always unpleasant and potentially harmful. Soubi appears to recognise a piece of the long-forgotten Seimei in Ritsuka. The anime’s conclusion is ambiguous, but it’s evident that Ritsuka and Soubi will work to support and understand each other through the trials they face together in light of the pain they share.
10. Takashi Natsume From Natsume’s Book of Friends (Natsume Yuujinchou)
Only Takashi Natsume had a bad situation to start with, out of all these people. He was an orphan whose relatives often rejected him due to his odd behaviour. But his oddness is a blessing in disguise. Since no one else can, he frequently gets into scrapes due to his ability to see ayakashi (spirits).
His miserable existence is made clear from the very first moments of this anime. Because of his troubled upbringing, he doesn’t seem to have any friends and barely even a family. This is all an act, though. The truth is that Natsume is a genuinely nice and sweet person. He has no choice except to endure pain, and so he has learnt to fake a few things for his own safety. But he pretends he doesn’t notice the ghosts. He longs for friendship but hides his feelings by seeming distant from others, which is counterproductive.
But then he discovers his grandmother’s Book of Friends, and she, too, could communicate with the dead. After meeting Madara, aka Nyanko-sensei, a powerful spirit confined inside a “Naneki Neko,” he sets out on a trip to return the names of every spirit whose name appears in the book. He will learn a great deal on his adventure, including how to trust others again and how to offer assistance to those in need, whether they be human or spirit. Giving the ghosts back their names teaches him about their suffering and isolation, which is what ultimately gives him empathy for them. While the loss of his parents and the good times they shared will always be there in his mind, he will eventually discover the positive in his circumstances and use it as a springboard for success.
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