Manga about depression (& 5 best reads)

In this blog, we will cover details of manga about depression. We will talk about what is manga, how do mangas cover the topic of depression, some best-rated manga reads on depression, how did the fans receive the books. We will also look at some ways to recover from depression.  

Mangas about depression 

Mangas cover a huge range of genres and one of them is mental illness and psychological content-rich stories. Some mangas do depict depression and the struggles of the character who seems to be in depression. Most mangas do not state the diagnosis of depression clearly, atleast I haven’t come across any. But, the depiction through the narration is usually done well.

Mostly mangas have a dramatic approach to the illness, where the character goes through a tough phase in life, has struggles and then eventually comes out victorious after having achieved the thing they wanted to with grit and determination. While this may not be the true reflection of how a person with depression feels or recovers, some mangas manage to do a realistic and acceptable depiction. 

Many readers laud the stories because of the relatability with the characters. Many have reported that their own struggle felt acknowledged and spoken-about in the mangas they read. 

Some mangas that deal with the extreme struggles of being in depression could be a reflection of the author/creator’s personal experience or interaction with people with depression. Having gone through the illness, surely amplifies the intensity in the story. 

Some readers also read mangas as self-help books. Feeling understood, relating to the character and their coping mechanisms

Before we get into finding out which are the top rated mangas about depression, let us get to know what exactly is manga and the history of this art form.  

What is manga?

Hailing from Japan, Mangas are comics or graphic novels. The word Manga, in Japan, is used to refer to both- cartooning and comics. So that explains how Manga comics essentially are- they make use of anime-like drawn characters. Manga is much appreciated for its attention to detail and gripping narration. This Japanese art form is enjoyed by adults and children alike. Most Manga stick to a style developed in Japan in the late 19th century and the form has a long prehistory in earlier Japanese art. The medium includes works in a broad range of genres: action, adventure, business and commerce, comedy, detective, drama, historical, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, and fantasy, erotica (hentai), sports, and games, and suspense, among others.

A manga artist typically works with a few assistants in a small studio and is associated with a creative editor from a commercial publishing company. If a manga series becomes a huge hit, it may be animated after or during its run in the comics. Sometimes, Mangas are based on previous live-action or animated films.

There are many mangas that touch the topic of sadness, anxiety, loneliness, etc but they do not do absolute justice to the illness of depression. According to this popular Manga updates website, the following comics best describe depression. 

Hagane no Renkinjutsushi  

This popular Manga comic won many awards in 2010-11 and describes the story of a character named Edward Elric who lost his arm and his leg in an alchemy disaster.  His beloved brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Having mechanical “auto-mail” limbs, Edward then becomes a state alchemist, with his eyes on the one thing that can restore his brother and himself… the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan  

Adapted from a South Korean novel, ‘Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan’ is about a pianist who attempted suicide multiple times- Juri, who is taken to help her aunt at a prison where ruthless murderers who killed indiscriminately are sentenced to death by the law. There, she meets a man named Yuu who took the lives of 3 people. A mother’s antagonism–a brother’s death… Together they embrace the violent rebellion in their hearts caused by the large, deep scars they carry. However, before long, they both embrace an earnest hope in their hearts- “I want to live…”

Akatsuki no Yona  

Yona is the sole princess of the Kingdom of Kouka, living a beautiful,  luxurious, and stress-free life as a princess should. She has everything imaginable: the finest clothes and cosmetics, the most divine sweets, a loving emperor as a father, and the hottest cousin crush named Soo-won, any girl could ever hope to have. Now, if only her bodyguard, Son Hak, weren’t so annoying towards her, and if her hair weren’t so red.

But her nearly perfect world quickly shatters as the man she loves, Soo-won, murders her father, and the path to his ascension to the throne is assured. Son Hak escapes with Yona, and they lead a life on the run from that point on.

Oyasumi Punpun  

This is a simple narrated complicated story of Punpun – who is a tiny, caricatured bird in an otherwise normal human setting – as he copes with his dysfunctional family and friends, his love interest, his oncoming adolescence, and his hyperactive mind. 


Real won an excellence award in 2001. The story revolves around three teenagers with a desire to play basketball. Nomiya, being a high school dropout, has no future in his life. Engulfed by the guilt of crippling a girl in a traffic accident where he invited her on a bike ride finds himself in a deep predicament. Togawa, a former talented sprinter who once strove to become the best in Japan now putting his all in wheelchair basketball finds it hard to deal with the disinterest and psyche of his own teammates. Takahashi, once a popular and arrogant team leader, an honor student, a self-proclaimed elite now finds himself being unable to move from the chest down.

Real also deals with the reality of physical disabilities, and the psychological inferiority that the characters struggle against. The characters break through their own psychological barriers bit by bit.

Some ways to recover from depression

Regular self check-ins are important 

By self check-ins, I mean, having a time of quietude where one can reflect about what is happening in their life, how do they physically feel, how are they managing their emotions, what is the intensity of their thought fluctuations and how well are they able to control the monkey-mind.   

A contemplation exercise like this can help you gain clarity about what is happening why and leads to better decision-making and actions. 

Spend time in self-care 

Taking time out to re-energize yourself is important and must be done everyday. For every individual the method to revitalize their bodies and minds is different. 

Some enjoy taking time out to go for a walk, meditate, exercise, paint, put on a face/hair mask, get a body massage, read books, watch programs on TV/online, etc. The list of possibilities is endless but you must pick one, for your own well-being.     

Reading self-help books 

Disclaimer: self-help books will not be helpful in cases of moderate to severe depression, they may be helpful for the early stages of depression. While there are many self-help books for the treatment of depression easily available in the market, its direct effect on the recovery of depression is questionable. Some self-help books are based on the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approach which can be considered to have a slightly upper edge over the other books. Selection of a suitable book and using the materials in it for your maximum benefit can be a challenge. 

Seek social support by joining a support group 

Feeling understood means a lot to people when they are in a deep pit of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Support groups exist for a number of causes like depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. Support groups are beneficial for people because the feeling of belongingness and oneness in suffering boosts confidence in recovery. People seek inspiration from other survivors and people in the same boat. 

Consult a psychiatrist 

While self-help books, self-care techniques and social support groups are all helpful sometimes the intensity of the suffering is too high to be handled alone. This is where a professional guidance can work wonders. One has to let go of the stigma attached to seeking professional help when it comes to mental health struggles. It is normal and can happen to anyone. It is not your fault and there is help available so you do not have to go through it alone.

 A psychiatrist can prescribe medication, for example, antidepressants based on the severity of the condition of the person. Antidepressants are an important part of recovery and going to a professional should not be delayed. 

Seek mental health therapy 

Consulting a counselor/ psychotherapist is essential in mental health issues. This, most often, goes hand in hand with medication based on the severity of depression. 

A counselor can bring in newer ways of perception, help the person to emote better while engaging in healthy boundary-making. The counselor can also help the person eradicate irrational thoughts and beliefs that inhibit the person’s well-being. The counselor and the client, together, also work on and construct healthier coping mechanisms against stressors for the client. 

Improve lifestyle choices and work towards good health

Health is a concept with many interlinkages and it is also all-encompassing. One can’t expect to have good mental health if their physical health is deteriorating and vice-versa. Exercising, healthy eating habits, good sound sleep, and practicing mindfulness, along with any medication/therapy if need be, can help attain victory over any condition, including depression.


In this blog, we covered details of manga about depression. We talked about what is manga, how do mangas cover the topic of depression, some best-rated manga reads on depression, how did the fans receive the books. We also looked at some ways to recover from depression.  

Frequently asked questions: Manga about depression 

Who invented Manga?

The credit of coining the term Manga goes to artist Hokusai. He was a gifted artist who lived from 1760-1849 and left over 30,000 works. He was the creator of ‘The Great Wave’, his most famous picture and the one most closely identified with traditional Japanese art.

Should I read manga aur watch anime first?

This is like asking if you should read the book or watch the movie based on the book. Different people have different preferences. The anime would cover the important highlights from the manga, whereas a manga will offer an in-depth coverage of the content and a consistency in the flow of the story.   

Which is the best selling manga of all times?

As of September 2019, the manga ‘One Piece’ is the most bought one. It sold over 454 million copies globally. 


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