12 Anime Characters with Hidden Mental Illness

1. Welcome to the NHK

Social anxiety, depression, and abandonment issues are serious and crippling issues. Welcome to the NHK treats these topics with respect and maturity not found in many other series.

Welcome to the NHK

2. Colorful

Second chances, atonement, and social pressures are the major themes that Colorful tackles.


3. Aku no Hana

Living in a small town can have its fair share of problems. Rumors travel fast, pressure to conform is a lot higher, and everyone seems to be wearing a mask. Unlike most series that involve teens, the angst is real.

Aku no Hana

4. Serial Experiments Lain

Technology, especially the internet, is a powerful tool. It can simultaneously bring groups together, and isolate individuals. Serial Experiments Lain was exploring the idea of identity and technology back in the late ’90s, but it’s still relevant today.

Serial Experiments Lain

5. Neon Genesis Evangelion

We may jokingly remember Shinji Ikari as that whiny kid that wouldn’t get in the robot, but the kid has to go overcome a lot of personal issues that would break anyone. Depression, anxiety, abandonment, abuse, you know, things that are as important as getting in a damn robot.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

6. The Tatami Galaxy

The unnamed main character is suffering from depression because his college life is going how he imagined it would. Things start to change when he runs into the deity of matrimony.

The Tatami Galaxy

7. Black Rock Shooter (TV series)

Mato and Yomi become quick friends, but they slowly drift apart after Mato makes some new friends. Alienated and feeling alone, Yomi doesn’t know what to do. Interspersed are sequences of Black Rock Shooter battling her own enemies.

Black Rock Shooter

8. Aoi Bungaku

An anthology of six psychological stories. The one to watch, “No Longer Human,” is about a high school student who becomes alienated from his class. He falls into depression, self abuse, and drugs to cope with the pain. The story shows different stages of his life and how he has been affected. In truth, the other stories are really good too.

Aoi Bungaku

9. Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei

A dark comedy that satirizes Japan’s attitude towards mental health. Some of the jokes do require a touch of knowledge about Japanese culture, but a lot of situations presented are relatable for many people.

Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei

10. Narutaru

At first glance, Narutaru looks like a kid friendly Pokemon knock-off. You’d be wrong, because it gets dark fast. Our main heroine is a bullying victim, and she resorts to self harm to deal with the stress. Fans of the anime will have to check out the manga to get the full story.


11. Paranoia Agent

A mind trip of a series. The majority of the story focuses on Yuichi. He becomes alienated from his class due to his resemblance to the rumored killer Lil’ Slugger. Yuchi quickly goes down the tunnel of despair. Anything else would just be spoiling the series.

Paranoia Agent

12. Kara no Kyoukai

The Kara no Kyoukai movies dive deeply into depression, suicide, loneliness, and the stages of denial. Couple the mature themes with Ufotable’s amazing animation, and you have a movie series well worth your time.

Kara no Kyoukai


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