Sometimes, life strikes at you and everything you take for granted may be lost. Things change at the speed of sound, and you find yourself in a brand-new situation, not knowing exactly what to do, nor how to deal with it. In those moments, you have to stand up, fight, and try to adapt. What doesn't change, though, is the fact that some determined happenings can turn you into a very sad person; that same sadness changes you forever. Just like everyone of us, anime characters deal with some absurd situations that turn them into very sad characters; a loss, a difficult family, being bullied, or even turning into something different from a human being. Anime characters, too, deal with changing, and as they fight, the feeling of sadness changes them. This is a list meant to let you know what happened to these 10 boys who dealt with various events and happenings, that turned them sad. Some of them just couldn't accept what was happening and struggled in denying, some of them just stayed passive, and some of them cried. What all of them share, though, is that, in spite of sadness, they all fought with all their might to stand up again!
10. Takashi Natsume from Natsume's Book of Friends (Natsume Yuujinchou)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2008 – September 2008
Takashi Natsume is the only one character in this list who is in a difficult situation from the beginning. He is an orphan who changed family year after year, because every relative considered him too strange to deal with. His strangeness, though, is a gift. In fact, he can see the ayakashi (spirits), but since everyone else cannot, he usually ends up in trouble.
From the beginning of this anime, we can notice how sad his life is. He has no friend, no real family, and the difficult childhood years have turned him into a seemingly cold person. That's just a facade, though. Natsume is actually kind, and sweet. He just suffers, and to protect himself, he just learned how to fake one thing or two. He sees the spirits, but he acts as if he doesn't. He wants to make friends, but he is too scared to get close to other people, so he acts cold.
Tables turn when he finds the Book of Friends that his grandmother – who could see the spirits as well – left behind after her death. Meeting Madara, alias Nyanko-sensei, a powerful spirit trapped in the shape of a “maneki neko”, he will start a journey bound to give to all those spirits whose name is on that book, all their names back. This journey will teach him a lot of lessons; he gradually learns to open up to people once again, and even to help others, spirits or human. While he gives the spirits their names back, he learns their sadness and loneliness, and that's what makes him feel them. He is an orphan, and that sadness can't be washed away, in fact he will always remember the few happy moments he shared with his parents, but he comes to find the upright of what's given to him, and that will be the starting point for the rise.
9. Aoyagi Ritsuka from Loveless
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2005 – June 2005
Let's move on the 9th position with another sad boy who happens to be tormented by many things. Aoyagi Ritsuka, from Loveless, has a difficult family situation, as his mother is insane and his brother – Seimei – has been killed. For as sad as it can seem, the situation worsens when he meets Agatsumi Soubi. In fact, the fated meeting with Soubi, shows him the existence of an entire new world; the world of fighters and sacrifices, where two people with the same name fight together and while the “fighter” fights, the “sacrifice” protects. If it could be worse, Ritsuka discovers that Soubi knew his older brother, and used to fight with him. They had the same name – Beloved – and Ritsuka comes to understand that probably Soubi knows more about his brother's death.
When Soubi asks Ritsuka to become his “sacrifice”, even though they don't share the same name (Ritsuka's name is Loveless), he accepts. He is driven by the feeling that Soubi knows more about his brother's past, and Soubi wants to know what really happened to Seimei, so they join in the name of the love they both shared towards Seimei. Ritsuka is a teenager, and he sees a lot happens to him. In the end, he starts to have contrasting feelings towards Soubi. Does he love him? Does he hate him? He can't figure it out himself, so he just drags on, not really knowing what to do. The sadness can't be erased at all, and the fights that involve both are always painful and dangerous. However, Soubi seems to see something of the unforgotten Seimei in Ritsuka. As open as the final of this anime remains, what is clear is that in the sadness both Ritsuka and Soubi share, they will try to help and understand each other, among many hardships.
8. Shion from No.6
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: July 2011 – September 2011
Shion from No.6 is a sad boy with the guts to adapt to the new situation. In fact, he lives a wonderful life in the high-class society, in a big house with all the comforts he could desire, and his IQ is so high that he gained a place in the Special Course at school. We can say it, maybe he is even a bit pampered. However, he is not the type to step back from situations, so when Nezumi, covered in blood, shows up under his balcony he just helps him. Years after, his helping Nezumi had resulted in him being degraded from his position in the society. So he had to say goodbye to all the comforts, and adapt to a total new life. Once again, he is not the type to step back. He just adapts and struggles on.
The situation changes when one of his colleagues dies, and he is suspected of murder. That's the moment when Shion starts to lose it. He is about to be arrested, when Nezumi, who had disappeared since that night, makes an apparition and saves him. He takes Shion outside the walls of the city of No.6, and there Shion discovers the shocking truth; the rejects of society live in poor cities next to the bigger ones, struggling to survive.
Shion contracts a disease, and his hair turns white, while a long scar crosses his body. The sadness for having his body changing, for seeing his life ruined, and for being separated from his mother, though, is nothing compared to sadness he feels seeing how people are treated outside the walls of No.6. It's the supporting Nezumi who will give him the strength to go on and realize that it's possible to do something; he just needs not to turn his gaze away from what's in front of his eyes.
7. Mikaela Hyakuya from Seraph of The End: Vampire Reign (Owari no Seraph)
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: July 2011 – September 2011
Mikaela Hyakuya is a very sad character who sees himself stripped from his future. He had planned to live a happy life with his family, far from the vampire's grasp, but his plan turned out in failure. In fact, on the verge of death, he is turned into a vampire by Kurl, the vampire queen of Japan. Well, he ditched death, but he became one of the creatures he hated the most himself.
During the anime, we can see him dealing with what he has become. What bugs him more than anything else is the thought of Yuu, his only remaining family member, who is still alive and thinks Mika is dead. As Mika struggles to find Yuu and reunite with him, he doesn't know what Yuu's reaction will be. He wonders how to face Yuu, now that he is a vampire, and what's more, Yuu is seeking revenge from the vampires who destroyed their future.
As his sadness worsens by the minute, due to the facts that he needs more blood but refuses to take it from humans, not giving up to his human component, the meeting between him and Yuu will give him hope. That hope is still not enough to overcome sadness, but it will be the starting point to realize that maybe the future he dreamt for he and Yuu is still possible to be achieved.
6. Ouma Shuu from Guilty Crown
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: October 2011 – March 2012
Ouma Shuu is our 17-year-old sad protagonist. He has a peculiar ability – the Power of Kings – with whom he can extract weapons from other people's bodies. From the beginning, we see how lethargic of a character he is, as he wants to stay out of trouble. However, one day, trouble comes to meet him in person, in the form of Inori Yuzuriha, and he is forced to leave behind a peaceful life and join the resistance against the GHQ organization, who subjugated Japan.
The feelings he starts to have towards Inori drive him, but that is not enough to make him feel at ease with the situation he is in. So much more when he cannot understand how really Inori feels towards him. Aside the romantic part, he hates it when he has to fight. He just wanted to have a peaceful life, and it's not easy for him to adapt to change. After all, he is just a boy who wanted to live a normal life, with normal friends, and build a future with his own two hands. Since he is deprived of his dreams, he just refuses to adapt. He just cannot accept what's going on, but in spite of this, all what remains for him to do is to fight. So to overcome the sadness, he will try anything hoping that one day all what he's done will have a positive outcome, and possibly he will have his future back.
5. Haruto Tokishima from Valvrave The Liberator (Kakumeiki Valvrave)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2013 – December 2013
Our 5th position is occupied by a character who lives in the space, in a division called Module 77. Haruto Tokishima lives his peaceful student life, but one day something happens and his destiny is changed forever. As a result of an invasion by the Dorrsian Military Pact Federation, he is forced by some circumstances to become a Valvrave pilot, but he doesn't know that becoming a Valvrave pilot actually means giving up his humanity.
From the moment he becomes a pilot, he realizes he is no longer a human being, as he has the urge to bite person and drink their blood just like a vampire. The sadness strikes him in many ways, as he wants to protect Sashinami Shouko, the girl he loves and his childhood friend, but to do so he needs to put distance between them. The situation worsens when he takes the responsibility to protect everyone, and starts to act accordingly. He hates how the situation has turned out to be, but he has a mission now, and he will do anything to accomplish it; he will go as far as to do the greatest sacrifice, with the composure given by the certainty to have saved everyone.
4. Kou “Tanaka” Mabuchi from Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2014 – September 2014
Kou “Tanaka” Mabuchi from Blue Spring Ride is a character who, from the start, seems cold towards others or even a tease. When he and Futaba Yoshioka were in middle school, they had a crush on each other, but one day suddenly Kou disappeared from Futaba's sight, without a word. Futaba, in the following three years, wondered a lot about him when suddenly, one day, she finds him at her high school.
Now a teenager, Kou looks totally different from what Futaba remembered. He was sweet back then, and always smiling. The person she finds in front of her eyes is a boy who teases her non-stop, and yet is cold and doesn't allow anyone to get closer. Futaba's feelings are still there, though, so she will dig up his past to discover a sad truth, leaving her wordless. Kou's parents divorced and he went with his mother in a city far away. Later on, his mother died due to a bad illness and he was forced to go back in Tokyo to live with his older brother and his father.
Kou's way of keeping distance is just an excuse to protect himself. He suffered in silence the loss of his mother and the separation, all alone, in a city far away. He lost the faith he had in people, seeing how his father dealt with the situation, and how his brother was always “busy” and couldn't visit he and their mother frequently. The sadness Kou felt, left a huge hole in his chest, so he is convinced that it's better to stay far from others. Futaba, though, is willing to make him open up once again. She will show him that he can cry, if he has to, and he is not alone anymore to carry the burden life put on his road.
3. Shinichi Izumi from Parasyte – the maxim – (Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2014 – March 2015
At the beginning of the story, Shinichi Izumi appears to be a plain high school student, with a normal life and a happy family. So much so that he realizes he was lucky only after a parasite enters his body and takes the place of his right hand. He is fearful about what will happen to him, and he appears to be very human as he doesn't hide his fears, nor his desire to run away whenever his parasite – called Migi – announces to him that there's another parasite nearby.
As his new life goes on, and he manages somehow to deal with his new troublesome parasite “friend”, he has to keep on hiding from everyone what is going on. He has to protect his family and friends, and he doesn't want to become a guinea pig as he is the only human being with a parasite that didn't subjugate his brain. His situation turns for the worse when his parents go on trip and his mother dies because of a parasite. He doesn't know what is going on, but he receives a strange call from his father, and the day after, his mother shows up at home. Migi keeps on warning him that she is not his mother, but a parasite. Shinichi can't accept the shocking truth, and can't fight back. So he ends up almost dying, but he is saved by Migi. When he wakes up, finding himself with a strange scar on his chest, he realizes what happened and that truth strikes him.
After that accident, he became a seemingly cold person, but actually he suffers a lot. He swears to protect everyone, and starts acting accordingly. After that moment, though, a great amount of losses and discoveries push him to the edge of a cliff, but that same sadness he feels will be the motivation for him to act bravely to protect the ones he loves.
2. Ken Kaneki from Tokyo Ghoul
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: July 2014 – March 2015
Ken Kaneki is a university student with a weakness towards intellectual girls. That weakness is the reason of the sudden change in his life. He meets Rize, a seemingly intellectual girl, but she turns out to be a Ghoul – creatures who eat humans – and he ends up assaulted by her. After a surgery, his life is safe, but he is now half a ghoul, and half a human being, due to the fact that Rize's kagune(a ghoul's weapon) has been implanted in him in place of a new kidney.
His new life is very hard. He learns that he can no longer eat what humans eat, and that his ghoul part is difficult to tame. He has someone who he wants to protect, though, and that is his best friend Hide. So he will start acting accordingly. He joins the Anteiku cafe – a place where ghouls work, pretending to be normal human beings – and tries to deal with everything. It's not as easy as it seems. Sad things keep on happening to him; he sees his little friend's mother being killed in front of his eyes, and can't do anything to save her. He has to distance himself from Hide, because otherwise he will be in danger. Later on, he is captured, tortured, and in the end he decides to leave behind even his ghoul friends.
He prefers to be the one suffering, instead of seeing the others suffer, but he doesn't realize that his way of acting, eventually, hurts all the people that love him for who he is: a boy whose future has been crushed to pieces with nowhere to go. The ending of this show remains open, as the manga is still ongoing, but Ken will find the strength to go on, and yet all that he fought for will turn out to be pointless, as in the final, touching scene, he will carry his best friend's corpse with his own hands.
1. Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 1995 – March 1996
Here we are with our 1st position in this ranking, given to a famous character from a famous show! Shinji Ikari, from Neon Genesis Evangelion, is a very normal guy. So normal that we would say he looks pretty plain from the very beginning. In the year 2015, being the world on the verge of destruction, the only hope for humanity's salvation lies within the Nerv organization, which owns the Evangelion – giant robot that can fight against the Angels.
Shinji's life changes when he is forcefully coerced to join the Nerv association. His father, Gendou Ikari, chooses the pilots compatible for the Evangelions, and when Shinji meets him after years, his heart's wound is opened one more time. Due to the fact that he was abandoned by his father, he always felt as he was an undesired child, and Gendou, meeting his son after all this time, is still cold towards him.
Shinji is difficult to deal with, and is afraid to create bonds with others. The only person he tries to let in, Kaworu Nagisa, gets close to him just to reveal him that he, himself, is an angel. The shocking truth leaves Shinji speechless, feeling cruelly used. What's more, to worsen things, when Toji Suzuhara – one of Shinji's best friends – is taken over by the third angel, Shinji is forced to kill both Toji and the Evangelion he is in, to save Tokyo. So a lot of bad things happen to him, and he – who was introverted from the start – keeps on losing self-esteem.
He is not your typical protagonist. Shinji doesn't happily jump into the Evangelion, nor he shows any kind of enthusiasm towards the mission. On the contrary, he acts exactly how a hero would never act. He doesn't try to become a better person, nor does he think he fits his role as an Evangelion pilot. At the same time, he doesn't even try to step back from the mission, because he thinks that the others may come to hate him. So he avoids human contact, just because he is afraid to be hurt and pilot the Evangelion. It's important to see how in the last two episodes he frequently wonders what he is really afraid of, and finally he admits to himself what he always knew but never could accept; he is afraid of his own father. In the end, he is only a sad, little boy, put in a difficult situation, who wants to be approved by his father.
And so, what do you think? Aren't these characters sad enough for you? They dealt with a lot of bad things, but managed to remain sane somehow. They sure deserve admiration, the way they overcame sadness, hoping their future could be brighter. For some of them it was exactly like this, but some of them sacrificed everything knowing that their beloved ones would be safe. The anime world is filled with sad characters, but what we love about them is the way they manage to go on in spite of how they feel down. If you know other sad boys who could have been fit here, let us know in the comments below!