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7 Anime Characters with Traumatic Pasts (part 1)

Written by: Nicole Castro

Published on: December 29, 2021 at 18:36 PHT (GMT+8)

The title says it all, really. Today, we feature seven anime characters whose pasts were DARK. They all make for compelling plot, but more importantly, they depict the complexity of the human condition; how, with slight changes in choice and circumstance, we all have the potential to either rise above tragedy or succumb to despair.

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead. Proceed with caution.

1. Tomura Shigaraki (My Hero Academia)
Tomura Shigaraki | ⒸStudio Bones

Episodes 111-112 of MHA Season 5 (Tenko Shimura: Origin and Tomura Shigaraki: Origin) were devoted to narrating Shigaraki's dark origin story. Born with the Quirk Decay, which, as the name suggests, destroys everything the Quirk touches, it seems Shigaraki was practically destined to become a villain. But even before he manifested his Quirk, Shigaraki was already suffering from an unusually strict upbringing brought about by his father's childhood issues. He finally lost his grip on sanity when his other family members failed to protect him from his father.

2. Lucy (Elfen Lied)
Lucy | ⒸStudio Arms

We knew this list of anime characters with traumatic pasts wouldn't be complete without Lucy. After all, a core theme of Elfen Lied's plot is that she developed Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) because of all the abuse she suffered early on. "Lucy" is actually her alter when she's mad, while her core identity is Kaede. Her third alter, "Nyu," is her innocent, amnesiac form.

First-time viewers of Elfen Lied are often warned to psychologically prepare themselves for this anime. The show immediately begins with nudity and violence as Lucy kills everyone in her path to escape the Diclonius Research Institute. And while adorable Nyu brings a touch of light-heartedness to the series, the anime makes sure to remind you just how horrible Kaede was treated for her abilities to the point where you'll end up siding with her stance on vengeance.

3. Ray (The Promised Neverland)
Ray | ⒸCloverWorks

The Promised Neverland is the kind of show that gives us mixed feelings on whether the children of Grace Field House actually had a happy childhood. But we can't say the same for Ray. He knew the House's secret the entire time and had a mutually manipulative relationship with Mama Isabella. No wonder he didn't feel much attachment to staying alive.

4. Aslan Jade "Ash Lynx" Callenreese (Banana Fish)
Ash Lynx| ⒸStudio MAPPA

For those who've finished watching Banana Fish, you all know Ash deserved a whole lot better in life. He was subjected to constant sexual, physical, and verbal abuse by multiple males in his life, namely his biological father, his "father figure" Papa Dino, plus a handful of unnamed men. As he grew older, he learned how to protect himself using his genius intellect and superior combat skills and revealing his vulnerability only to select people like Eiji Okumura.

5. Vanitas (The Case Study of Vanitas)
Vanitas| ⒸStudio Bones

As the first season of the anime has revealed, Vanitas was subjected to human experimentation by Doctor Moreau, a mad scientist obsessed with the concept of becoming a vampire himself. In fact, Doctor Moreau doesn't even treat Vanitas like a human being and only addresses the latter by his ID number. It was utterly disturbing for both the viewers and the cast to watch Doctor Moreau talking about the things he did to Vanitas like he was reciting what he ate for breakfast.

6. Ai Enma (Hell Girl)
Ai Enma| ⒸStudio Deen

As expected, you can't become Hell Girl unless you have a pretty dark past yourself. Ai was the first Hell Girl approximately 400 years prior to the main storyline. Her hatred was born when the villagers offered her up as a human sacrifice in order to appease the mountain gods and secure a bountiful harvest. But it escalated to full-on vengeance when the villagers realized she had escaped her fate and buried her alive to finish the sacrifice, and it just had to be Sentarou tasked to do the job.

7. Momiji Sohma (Fruits Basket)
Momiji Sohma | ⒸTMS Entertainment

Okay, to be honest, practically everyone on Fruits Basket deserves to be on this list. But this time, we're picking Momiji because he deserves credit for being the bigger person in the end. His mother despises him for being born with the Zodiac Curse and asks Hatori to erase her memories, saying she couldn't accept giving birth to a "monster." However, instead of hating her, Momiji chooses to love her from afar, as well as his younger sister who is unaware of his existence.

Which anime characters do you think had a traumatic past that deserves discussion?


Digest by AniradioPlus


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