Anime That You Should Watch When You’re Sad

Sadness is an incredibly powerful emotion. Many of us know this from first-hand experience, whether it be short term grief, lingering sadness, or chronic battles with depression. Thankfully, entertainment can provide a bit of relief from these emotions when they become too overwhelming. Interestingly enough, the entertainment we turn to in these times can vary wildly in terms of its tone and theme.

Some people attempt to cope with sadness by trying to watch something that will potentially infuse them with happiness; watching something upbeat, comical, or zany might impart some of that happiness onto them, or at least distract them for a while so they can focus on something more positive. Then you have people who can’t stomach the idea of watching something so bubbly in times of distress and need to find something that speaks to how they’re feeling right now, something in-sync with their sadness. Other people tend to withdraw from the world and want to turn to something comforting and familiar; regardless of whether it’s happy or sad, they just want something they know and can give them a sense of stability.

Naturally there are other methods of coping that people go through, but those three methods tend to represent the majority of people’s experiences. Because of that, we’re going to take a quick look at nine different anime, with three of them each fitting one of the aforementioned coping strategies. Now in fairness, there are a lot of great articles you can turn to for a list of tragic or happy anime, but this list is going to try and avoid at least some of the more obvious choices and touch upon things that are more relatable. For example, Grave of the Fireflies certainly deserves its place in discussions as one of the saddest pieces of anime ever created, but most of us can’t entirely relate to living through the American bombing sorties of Japan during World War II. On the other hand we can all relate to the subjects of death, mortality, and the preciousness of time; which leads us to our first title…

Chrno Crusade

Chrno Crusade doesn’t immediately inform the viewer of its tragic characters, but we’re soon enough informed about the connection between the protagonists, Rosette and Chrono, and the toll it’s taking on the former of the two. Rosette is an exorcist who belongs to the demon hunting Order of Magdalene. When she was younger, she formed a pact with Chrono, a demon with the appearance of a young boy, that effectively saved his life. Unfortunately for Rosette, the same contract that’s keeping Chrono alive is slowly killing her. This isn’t a secret to anyone; Rosette, Chrono, and the rest of the Order are all aware of Rosette’s ultimate fate. Parallels can easily be drawn from this to more traditional terminal illnesses. Rosette tries to face the knowledge of her impending death with strength and joy for the time she has left, but not even she can maintain that levity all the time. Death is unavoidable for everyone and so we can sympathize with Rosette’s plight.

Elfen Lied

Even if we haven’t directly faced discrimination we probably know someone who has; whether by society itself or by individuals. Despite its heavily violent and gory nature, Elfen Lied is largely a sad tale of heartache, friendship, prejudice, and bullying. The series’ main character, Lucy/Nyu, was born into circumstances beyond her control, facing prejudice and bullying for the horns on her head as a result of being a mutated human species known as Diclonius. Despite the friendship she formed with the young human male, Kouta, society itself pushed Lucy to a breaking point that made her lash out with extreme violence, changing the life of Kouta forever. It’s an anime filled with one devastating event after another. If you can stomach the incredibly graphic imagery, the heart of the tragic events is surprisingly relatable; something that makes the story even that much more heart wrenching.