12 Anime Series With Downer Beginnings to Start Things Off Sad

Some series have downer endings where the whole series builds up to ending tragically. However, there are also series at the opposite end. They start off super sad and depressing, but then you watch the character climb out of it, usually. These series can be good watches if you are feeling a mite melancholic because they usually give you a nice dash of hope.


This series has one of the most crushing downer beginnings. The titular Haruka Kotoura has the ability to read minds. Unfortunately, as a child that doesn’t understand this isn’t normal, she misunderstands that thoughts are different from the words one speaks. As you’d expect, she spills a few secrets, causing her parents to divorce and blame her for it. By the time she gets to high school, she has completely isolated herself from others.

March Comes In Like a Lion

If there is one anime that really does a fantastic job at portraying depression, it is this one. The opening is slow and quiet, but the misery is palpable throughout. Rei’s shogi genius caused a rift in his adoptive family and has caused him to spiral into a deep depression and cut emotional connection with basically everyone.

Welcome to the NHK

This series is all about trying to improve one’s self. In the beginning, Satou’s depression and mental illness drove him to become a shut-in where he suffers from increasingly paranoid delusions. Certainly it is laid out in a sometimes comical way, but he is one that is truly suffering.

Full Metal Alchemist

Let us not forget that some of our favorite anime classics often start off with downer beginnings to establish character motivations. One of the most notable is Full Metal Alchemist where it starts with Ed and Al’s efforts to bring their mother back to life using human transmutation. Not only does it fail spectacularly, but it costs Ed his arm and leg and Al his entire body. The rest of the series, grinded down to the bare bones, is them trying to fix that.

Deadman Wonderland

The series starts off with Ganta having his entire class murdered by a mysterious stranger. While Ganta actually survives, this does end up causing him to be blamed for the slaughter due to some fabricated evidence. He is then sent to the titular prison. However, unlike many other series, things really only get worse for him.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

Japan has a tragic history with devastating earthquakes, and this series is one of the few that attempts to display the hardships. The series obviously begins with an earthquake and then follows the struggle of a few survivors in the aftermath.

Fruits Basket

This series is one where everyone has a sad story. It starts by focusing on the main character who ends up as a sort of catalyst to help the other characters. Her mother has died, and afterwards she is left both orphaned and homeless. She ends up living in a tent, something that is not great for anyone. She eventually gets taken in, but as previously stated, the Sohma family is a black hole of problems.

The Rising of The Shield Hero

In a refreshing and much needed change of pace for the isekai genre, Shield Hero starts with the heroes being summoned to another world, but everyone turns on the Shield Hero. He is blamed for rape and basically shunned. His is a story of vengeance and redemption.

Gundam X

Gundam loves being a downer both at the beginning and the end. However, Gundam X easily has the most devastating downer beginning, at least for humanity in the show. It starts with a big war, because of course it does, and space colonies are basically dropped on Earth like bombs. It kills 99 percent of the human population on the planet and the series picks up with some survivors 15 years later.


Long story short, the beginning of this series starts with the main character losing a few limbs to satisfy his debts, pretty much ending his career as a prize fighter. From there, the series stays pretty dark, but follows a much more interesting transhumanist story line.

Seraph of the End

When an incident kills off a large portion of humanity, the vampires come out of the shadows and take over. Now, the remaining portion of humanity are kept like cattle. If that is not downer enough, the initial episode focuses on a group of children making a failed escape from the blood-sucking fiends.

Ancient Magus’ Bride

As Chise has the innate ability to attract spirits, both good and bad, she is trouble for everyone. Her mother killed herself and her relatives pass her around like a hot potato. In order to simply put a roof over her head, she decides to sell herself into slavery. Thankfully, her new owner, someone who also knows what it is like to be ostracized, is kind.

Do you know any more anime series with downer beginnings? Let fans know in the comments section below.

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