Heartwrenching first episodes always bring the viewers to the middle of a plot, starting with a sad or traumatising event that leads to the culmination of the questions and answers. But the impression it leaves on the viewers that get them hooked to the characters is a real tester.
With sadness, the viewers get a chance to experience the main character in their most vulnerable and challenging time. Beautiful character development and their unprecedented journey always stats with the most horrifying and tragic incidents at the story's beginning.
Here are some of the first episodes of anime that start with the saddest starting-
1. Fullmetal Alchemist
In the first episode, it is shown that Edward and Alphonse Elric lose their bodies. Their mother, Tricia Elric, is shown to be passing away from an unnamed illness, which leads them to try alchemy to bring her back.
But the experiment ends with a massive failure that leads them to lose vital parts of their body and a forged bond with a suit of armour. There is tragedy, loss, and sadness marred in the first episode that breaks the hearts of the viewers first time in the series.
2. Demon Slayer
The cruellest fate that awaits Tanjiro when he returns home to see his entire family salvaged, dead, their bodies bloodied and strewn about because a demon had rampaged and did not leave them alive. Tanjiro's love for his family was already shown in the first few minutes of the episode.
His elder-brotherly care for them, keeping them out of danger, thinking about their well-being before his, and understanding their dependency on him, is beautifully shown through the eyes of the kindest character, only to come home to a massacre beyond imagination.
To top it off, his sister became a demon he could not tame. Thus, the first episode changed the entire trajectory of his life, and the character set out on a different journey, compelling the viewers.
3. Attack on Titan
The claimed greatest anime starts with the tragic-most opening ever imagined. Seeing the main character watching their mother being eaten up by a humanoid giant titan is sure to have induced nightmares in some of the viewers.
At the very onset of a series, we are plunged into the complicated plot, the marginal discrimination and representation of such life, and then the massacre of the people, like a war documentary, in the face of a big unpredictable existentialist question, fighting for their lives. Watching such a tragic and horrific first episode is very emotionally scarring.
4. The Rising of the Shield Hero
Every character turns against Naofumi Iwatami in the first episode. In an entirely new world, where he is plunged and is made a Shield Hero, he needed supporters who could aid him achieve his aim as a hero. But the entire community turns their backs on him, leaving him alone and misunderstood, given that there was a rumour of him being an assault which he was falsely accused of.
5. A Silent Voice
The main character is attempting to take his own life, which can trigger some viewers. There are many trigger warnings throughout the series, but the first episode is a culmination of bullying and its effects on the victim as he tries to take his life - an act perpetrated by self-harm. The tragic and triggering opening sets the tone for the rest of the series, which is a tear-jerker, to say at least.
6. Welcome to the NHK
The main protagonist, Yasuhiro Satou, is shown to be an uncontrollably mentally ill character who suffers from severe depression, compelling him to become a shut-in and isolate himself from the outside world.
Adding to this, he also suffers from paranoid delusions that make him in dire need of mental help, but the projection of his inner turmoil, fighting with himself and his mind, and the tedious contest is shown in a very depressing and triggering way which might be one of the saddest openings of anime.
7. Kotura San
The protagonist Haruka Kotura has a psychic ability: to read minds. But her problem is that she cannot differentiate between thoughts and spoken words, which leads her to become an unwilling perpetrator of turmoils and conflicts and a victim of her abilities.
Without willing to, she even ends up spilling the secrets in spoken words between her parents that lead to their divorce, and they blame Haruka for it. Gradually, she becomes an isolated figure in her school, a loner in the crowd that makes her shut down completely. The episode has a lot of trigger warnings and sadness to invoke empathy for the character in the hearts of the viewers.
While much more anime with the saddest first episodes exist, the perspective of sadness as a medium to delve into the plot is ultimately very intriguing. For the viewers and the makers, the tragic plot occurrences provide adjectives for the characters in the series.