I’ve had a gloomy disposition since I was a small child, and I’ve always ended up involved somehow with people who committed suicide or their relatives. As for myself, I struggled with suicidal ideation for 4 years before finding the right medication and the right therapist. At one point, I became actively suicidal and made a serious suicide attempt.
All that to say, there are 3 anime series I want to mention that may help people fight their suicidal thoughts. They didn’t keep me from wanting to die or having intrusive, endless thoughts of suicide, but these series helped stop me from actively trying to commit suicide. After I got on meds and became more trusting with my therapist, my suicidal ideation finally stopped. Going back and seeing these three series gave me even more perspective about the act of suicide, reminding me to appreciate my life. I’ll show you what I mean by discussing these anime: Death Parade, Orange, and Angel Beats.
(1) Death Parade
General Story Synopsis
Chiyuki wakes up in a peculiar kind of afterlife both beautiful and cruel. It works like so. There are beings called Arbiters who judge the souls of people who have recently died. The humans are given temporary, fake bodies, and they usually don’t know they’re dead. These people can either be sent into the Void (a world of complete emptiness and eternal solitude) or reincarnated back into earth. Decim the Arbiter pits two humans against each other in an intense game, and based on their behavior, makes the decision of where their souls go. This is his job around the clock (not that there’s any sense of time in this place).
Chiyuki remembers how she died, but the audience isn’t made aware of how it happened until near the end of the series. In addition, Chiyuki doesn’t recollect the details leading up to her death. Thus, her soul can’t be weighed in the same way as Decim’s usual subjects. However, he is still charged with testing and judging her somehow. While he decides how, Decim lets Chiyuki stay and work as his assistant. An awkward and adorable relationship relationship unfolds between them, as the intense life-or-death games go on for other humans, and Chiyuki slowly recalls the particulars of her past.
Significance for Suicidal Thoughts
If you haven’t guessed, the last episode reveals that Chiyuki slit her wrist, dying via suicide. Decim puts her through a realistic simulation of returning to her home on earth and seeing her mother lost in grief. This causes Chiyuki to break down and cry, apologizing for selfishly under-valuing her life. The conclusion of Death Parade is up to interpretation, as far as whether or not she is reincarnated or sent to the Void. Either way, she will be separated from Decim, who has fallen in love with her. He openly cries and sobs because everything is so sad and unfair, not just for him but also for his beloved assistant– all because Chiyuki killed herself.
Death Parade never crosses the border into being “preachy,” but it leaves audiences with powerful messages. The dramatic intensity of the games played each episode points to how precious life is, and how sudden, unfair, and tragic death can be. You’re more likely to treasure your life if you see dozens of people fighting for theirs and breaking down at the thought of separation from loved ones. Chiyuki’s story shows that, even if you feel that your life isn’t worth it to you, your family thinks differently. In an emotional sense (or a financial one), you can ruin someone’s life by taking your own. If you don’t have a loving mother like Chiyuki, I bet there is a Decim in your life– someone who acts distant, but whose heart would shatter if you left them behind.
It pisses me off that some people come up with all sorts of excuses to dislike Orange, when, mostly, it’s really because a) they don’t like the shoujo genre, or b) they are too closed-minded to try to understand the feelings of Kakeru. Ahem. I just had to get that out of my system.
In the anime Orange, there are multiple universes wherein each world is slightly different from all others. In the world that Naho knows, her highschool crush and classmate Kakeru killed himself 10 years ago. Long story short, Naho and her four friends find a
magic sci-fi way to send letters to a dimension in the past. There, young Naho knows that Kakeru is depressed, and wants to support him. The letters send from another dimension, and her own dedication, are the only things that can help Naho save Kakeru from killing himself in this world.
Significance for Suicidal Thoughts
This should be pretty obvious. We get into the head of a character who is suicidal, plus we’re shown the endless hard work of Naho and her friends as they try to help him. Naturally, you can get some perspective on suicidal thoughts and behavior from the anime, and you can enjoy the theme of “nobody is alone.” Even if you think you are, somebody cares about you. That’s short, and I know I’m not doing justice to the emotional significance and insight in Orange. All I can say is watch it yourself. It’s got all the glitter and sparkles, so to speak, of shoujo anime, so as long as you like or can tolerate that, I recommend Orange.
(3) Angel Beats
Otonashi wakes up to what seems to be a normal school and its grounds. But this is actually an afterlife, of sorts, with strange rules and people. Here, individuals cannot die, at least not in the usual ways. Nobody gets sick. Any kind of physical injuries hurt, but if you recieve a fatal wound, you will wake up fully healed in the school infirmary. There’s a group of students armed with real guns and led by a strong girl named Yuri. They recruit Otonashi in the battle against Angel, a girl who they believe has mystic powers and wants to erase their souls. When students attend school seriously and join clubs, they inevitably disappear. Angel always helps the process.
At first, Otonashi cannot remember his earthly life or how he died, but as the show goes on, he slowly regains his memories. Most of Angel Beats is about Otonashi learning about Kanade, the girl who others call Angel. She’s a normal person and not an angel working for an unjust god, as Yurippe proposed. The only difference is that Kanade has realized the truth. The students taking classes, joining clubs, and doing sports are actually living out their unfulfilled dreams of the fun youth they never had in their real lives. When they reach spiritual fulfilment, their souls pass on peacefully. Kanade has been helping people all this time while waiting for her own fulfillment. Otonashi tries to make peace between Kanade and those from Yurippe’s group.
Significance for Suicidal Thoughts
The afterlife in Angel Beats is only for those who didn’t experience a normal, peaceful youth due to unfortunate or tragic circumstances or events. Everything below Yui’s neck was paralyzed, and she had to be taken care of full-time for her entire life. Hideki became addicted to hard drugs and lost a promising career in professional baseball. Otonashi’s beloved little sister died from a disease, and he died in an accident before he could become a doctor, his dearest dream. As for Yuri, my favorite character, all four of her younger siblings were murdered by robbers.
Yurippe states that neither she nor any of the others died by committing suicide. They all died naturally, in accidents, or from illness. Think about that. The characters had such horrible lives, and still, not a single one of them went through with killing themselves. Not even Yuri. Every time I watch Angel Beats, I’m amazed and inspired by Yurippe. She’s in my top 15 favorite anime characters ever. Compared to Yuri’s life, mine is fucking fantastic!! Yuri didn’t commit suicide even though her siblings were slaughtered, so what would that say about me if I killed myself when my treasured siblings are all still alive? I want to be strong and decisive like Yuri.
I believe in the strength and resourcefulness of humans. I think any suicidal person has the capacity to chose to keep living, or will develop the capacity with the right therapy and/or meds. There’s hope, and for me, it’s not based on lofty spiritualism or the idea “it will get better.” If you struggle with suicidal thoughts or active suicidal behavior– or both– remember this. Humans are amazing. Just by being human, you are amazing and beauitful.
We have a long evolutionary history of suffering; the harsh world has been throwing metaphorical shit at us for millions of years. But guess what? The human species survived, and now we are the dominant species. Here we are today, with highly developed brains capable of language, science, altruistic behavior, and “spiritual” experiences. Take pride in that. Your ancestors didn’t give up, so don’t you even think about it.
This has been 7mononoke of Anime Rants. Thank you for reading!