Anime Mental Illness (Topic)

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Anime Mental Illness


Psychiatric characters in anime have a long history. While in most other media, mental disorders in heroes are shown either unrealistically, or, conversely, from a more or less real side. However, anime, with its penchant for giving characters lovable personalities and complex backstories, still has the potential to humanize the mentally ill. Let's take a look at mental illness in anime through the lens of reality.

Types of Mental Illness in Anime

Despite the fact that in real life there are many diseases associated with the mind and they all affect one or another part of the brain, in anime such ailments can be divided into four types: mood disorder, stress disorder, mental problems and personality disorder.

The first is characteristic for characters who are depressed or suffering from bipolar disorder. The second , as the name suggests, is associated with stress or anxiety. Most often, both of these factors affect negatively a person's consciousness. In real life, this leads to obsessive-compulsive and dissociative disorder, as well as PTSD - post-traumatic stress disorder [all jokes about Vietnamese flashbacks are just on this topic].


Diseases of the psyche are associated with inappropriate behavior, delirium and the presence of hallucinations. A striking example is schizophrenia. And the last type is associated with the fact that a person cannot be aware of his personality, and is not able to carry out everyday activities.

Anime stereotypes about the mentally ill

Due to the fact that mentally ill people must be treated under supervision, and often they are even isolated from society, we rarely intersect with them in life. For this reason, we, like the creators of anime and manga, have stereotypes about the sick, based on images from pop culture.

First, the most common is that people with severe mental illness should be feared and therefore kept out of society.

Secondly , there is an authoritarian opinion that people with severe mental illness are irresponsible, so decisions, even the most important ones, should be made for them. And the last one is overprotective. All people with severe mental illness, like children, need care and attention.

Alas, these stereotypes are harmful, because instead of support or help, they want to protect people from society. And they also justify violence, they say, "I defended myself from a psycho, that's why I acted cruelly." They also cause negative reactions in general. It's funny how anime characters who fit these stereotypes rarely show signs of diagnosed mental illness. Often their problems are related to supernatural things. For example, Code Geass's Mao falls into this category, as he has all the stamps of a sick character who can't fit into society. But this is due to the fact that he constantly hears the thoughts of people.


Another walking stereotype is Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei's teacher Itoshiki who is trying to commit suicide for quite absurd reasons.

Also in the anime, because of the stereotypes, mental illness is seen as something funny. If you think about Soul Eater, where Kid's social non-adaptation is presented as a silly but funny quirk, despite the fact that obsessive-compulsive disorder interferes with a person's life.


The situation is similar in Azumanga Daioh and her heroine Osaka, who has all the signs of hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder. However, instead of treating her and giving her Ritalin, her behavior is presented as comical, despite the fact that the disease itself is quite dangerous.

But even through stereotypical images, anime and manga are replete with interesting characters who have a mental defect. Mentally ill characters in anime can be both heroes and villains, and vary greatly in how reliably their illnesses are portrayed. But the main thing is that they make you think about the problem, and some of the characters end up being one of the most attractive and difficult in the way they were written.

Anime Antagonists with Mental Disorders

While illness is believed by many to be the root of the antagonist's problems, a number of animes present us with villains that are not defined by her alone.


For example, Hansel and Gretel from Pirates of the Black Lagoon have all the hallmarks of dissociative disorder. Whether this is shown realistically or not is a separate conversation, but their story has grounds for the appearance of this disease. For example, this type of disorder appears in children when they have been experiencing violence in childhood for a long time and at the same time know nothing but it.

There are hints in the anime that at least Gretel can still be cured, which is also quite atypical for anime.


Another anime antagonist with signs of illness is Furuichi Teraoka from Bones' obscure title, Xam'd: Lost Memories. At the beginning of the story, Furuichi looks like an ordinary and caring young man. However, after war breaks out in his homeland, depression takes over and he attacks those who care about him. At the same time, in the anime we are not told directly that his evil deeds and depression are connected. But we ourselves see how circumstances force him to fall into depression and go for something similar. This does not justify it, but at least prescribes it.

We are also never told what happened to his father, but it is assumed that he disappeared when Furuichi was young. Scientists have also proven that such early losses can make a person socially vulnerable in the future.

The mentally ill main characters in the anime

Despite this, sick antagonists, while they may be well-written, are able to promote the stereotype that mentally ill people are evil. But we have enough main characters with similar problems. This gives them a human face and asks the viewer to sympathize. Also, anime fans who have disorders can see their specific concerns reflected in one of the most popular media.

Perhaps the most famous character with a mental disorder is Shinji Ikari with his depression. Hideaki Anno, creator of Evangelion, wrote off Shinji after suffering from depression for many years in a row. But Shinji, who always feels bad, is still able to pilot Eve, fight angels, and interact with other characters.

We also see signs of depression in the Buddha in the manga by Osamu Tezuki Buddha. She talks about Siddhartha, a man who eventually became a Buddha. He sleeps all the time, is not interested in holidays, is often ill, spends most of his time thinking about death and fear of it. This fear goes away when it reaches enlightenment. Also in the manga there is a scene where he sits in a cave and says that the spirits taunt him and order him to die. At the same time, he founded a religion of which there are followers all over the world.

When there are several sick characters in the anime

In some anime, there are several sick characters at once, although this is quite rare. For example, Deadman Wonderland. There are four of them: Shiro [obsessive-compulsive disorder, which she admits], Nagi Kengamin [psychosis], Rinichiro Hagire [antisocial personality disorder] and Idaki Hitara [depression].


And even though we are not told about this directly, their actions betray everything. A nagi, for example, is always completely delusional. Hagire is completely ignorant of human feelings, especially love. Hitara's problems are more difficult to discern, but they are manifested in the fact that he cannot sleep and this has been his problem for years. He also suffers from hallucinations and hears the voice of his deceased daughter. Although this is rarely the case with depression, it hints at deeper problems.

For a more mundane example of mental illness, see Welcome to NHK! The main character of the series, Tatsuhiro Sato, is a hikikomori who suffers from anxiety that worries him. He also meets other people with a similar problem. One such Sato asks why he is sitting at home, he replies: "Because I am afraid." This anime basically shows an actual problem that exists in Japan.

In many cases, anime and manga show sick people in a stereotypical way, but as I said earlier, they can do an excellent job of showing a problem that always remains relevant to our species.

The Topic of Article: Anime Mental Illness.
Author: Jake Pinkman