Anime is a treasure mine of stories I’ve liked since I was a kid.
It’s always exciting and fun.
But it’s not always about feeling good.
There are a lot of sad stories in anime, and there are also some stories that aren’t usually sad but still make people feel sad.
Here are the top sad anime that have made me sad for much longer than normal, and the most important parts of those shows are still very clear in my mind.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
- 45. Assassination Classroom
- 44. Bokura ga Ita (We were there)
- 43. White Album 2
- 42. Death Parade
- 41. Full Moon wo Sagashite (Searching for the Full Moon)
- 40. Kuzu no Honkai (Scum’s Wish)
- 39. Kimi ga Nozomu Eien (Rumbling Hearts)
- 38. Made in Abyss
- 37. Wolf’s Rain
- 36. Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance)
- 35. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than the Universe)
- 34. Nihon Chinbotsu 2020 (Japan Sinks: 2020)
- 33. Cowboy Bebop
- 32. Violet Evergarden
- 31. Serial Experiments Lain
- 30. K-On!
- 29. Fruits Basket
- 28. Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku From Now and Then, Here and There
- 27. Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin
- 26. Haibane Renmei
- 25. Neon Genesis Evangelion
- 24. Nana
- 23. March Comes in Like a Lion (3-gatsu no Lion)
- 22. NHK ni Youkoso! (Welcome to the NHK)
- 21. 5 Centimeters Per Second
- 20. Millennium Actress
- 19. Voices of a Distant Star
- 18. Berserk
- 17. Fullmetal Alchemist
- 16. Hal
- 15. Bokurano
- 14. Hotarubi no Mori e
- 13. Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan – Tsuioku-hen (Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal)
- 12. Katanagatari
- 11. Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom
- 10. Basilisk
- 9. Angel Beats!
- 8. Your Lie in April
- 7. Plastic Memories
- 6. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
- 5. Fate/Zero
- 4. Air
- 3. Grave of the Fireflies
- 2. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
- 1. Clannad: After Story (Clannad ~After Story~)
45. Assassination Classroom
This 47-episode, two-season show surprised me a lot. Based on the title and the trailers, I thought this would be a mix of violent anime and funny jokes.
I was right, but not all of the way.
Assassination Classroom wasn’t like other shows that were happy just to have a good idea.
It slowly moved past showing assassination efforts and all of Koro-sensei’s silly skills.
So, even though I didn’t like most of the cast in the first season, it was hard for me to give up on the show by the second season.
I had already seen how much the students changed and how their relationships with each other and, most importantly, with Koro-sensei grew stronger.
44. Bokura ga Ita (We were there)
It would be an insult to say that We Were There had a simple look. Still, this is one of my favorite romance anime of all time, in part because the source manga has the same clean, simple art style.
There are 26 episodes of We Were There. But without a second season, many of us who grew up watching it will never feel complete (unless we read the manga).
I’ve seen at least four episodes of this show. I know how it starts and how it ends, but every time I watch it, I feel sad.
Something about their character design, like the way their eyes look, makes it clear that they’re hiding something or trying hard to forget someone.
Everyone does their job well, from Motoharu and Nanami to Masafumi and Yuri, and the shoujo tropes are done right.
Yes, there is sadness.
But We Were There is also a good story about love when you’re a teenager, with all the familiar joys and pains that come with it. It also has soothing but sad songs.
43. White Album 2
Don’t worry, you don’t have to watch White Album because the people and stories in this and that are different.
So what’s going on?
Well, White Album 2 is about the love triangle that happens when Haruki asks Setsuna, who is popular at school, and Kazusa, who is a strange piano prodigy, to join his band.
Haruki and Setsuna become a couple in the end, but not everything is as it seems. I could tell something was up, but that wasn’t enough to protect me from the overwhelming sadness when the truth came out.
Did they have flaws from the very beginning?
Did they think they were doing good, or did they know they were lying and what it would cost them?
Also, White Album 2 has a lot of great songs that made Haruki, Setsuna, and Kazusa’s feelings at the end even stronger. I’m not sure if I want a second season or not.
42. Death Parade
Death Parade is an original anime based on the short film Death Billiards.
If you only knew about it from its popular OP, you might think it was a happy show where people dance all day.
In fact, the 12-episode series is about showing people for who they really are.
You just died, and the bartender wants you to play a game with another dead person.
Either you are reborn, which means you get another chance at life, or you go to the void.
Are you ready to die for good, or would you fight to live again?
What if you were a bad person while you were living and the other person was almost a saint?
Do forgiveness and repentance mean that you can choose to live a second life or that you can’t?
Death Parade feels heavy a lot of the time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
41. Full Moon wo Sagashite (Searching for the Full Moon)
No matter how many mistakes Studio Deen has made over the years, you can’t hate them all. After all, they gave anime fans this heartwarming (and tearjerking) 52-episode show in 2002.
Mitsuki Kouyama, a young girl, is the main character in Searching for the Full Moon. She wants to be a singer, and she promised her childhood friend and crush, Eichi Sakurai, that they’d both reach their goals.
But she has throat cancer, and the shinigami who came by said she only had a year to live.
Based on the idea, I thought this was going to be a heavy-handed, sad story that was easy to guess.
But Searching for the Full Moon was even better than I had hoped. It faced death (and even suicide) with courage.
It didn’t just make people sad; it made them feel a wide range of feelings, which made her journey even more important.
40. Kuzu no Honkai (Scum’s Wish)
Is Scum’s Wish a bad book? Well, there is a lot of cheating, lies, and sexual acts that have more to do with lust than love.
I don’t think it’s trash, though.
On the other hand, I give Scum’s Wish a 10/10. I think it’s one of the best anime love stories ever made. One that welcomes the dirtier and messier parts of love and desire.
It’s clear that it’s sad.
These characters’ flaws make them interesting. They make bad choices because of how they feel as teens or adults, and I can’t help but feel sorry for them instead of angry.
It’s frustrating when their position doesn’t get better and they keep making the same mistakes, as if they’re trying to stay in the same place.
So you can’t help but be proud of them when you see even a tiny bit of hope and good character growth. I’m glad Studio Lerche made Scum’s Wish one of the best adaptations of a manga because it’s a sad story.
39. Kimi ga Nozomu Eien (Rumbling Hearts)
Please give this show a chance, for the love of all things anime. Where else can you find a show with 14 episodes instead of the standard 12 (or 11)?
But really, Rumbling Hearts starts to make sense by the third episode. So if you only saw the first two episodes, it would look like just another high school romance comedy.
As you might have guessed, the anime has a tragic event that makes issues of young love more complicated, and the situation here is really something else.
Takayuki is torn between two women:
One is his ex-girlfriend Haruka, who was in an accident that Takayuki thinks he caused. The other is Mitsuki, the girl who set them up and who he falls in love with after Haruka’s accident.
This is a very hard scenario. They don’t want to hurt each other, but they have to face the facts. If it helps, a four-episode OVA tells a what-if story that will make you feel better.
38. Made in Abyss
There are some good anime shows on Kinema Citrus.
But Made in Abyss is its greatest achievement and a great example of high fantasy writing.
Made in Abyss is about a human girl named Riko and her alien friend named Regu. They go down into the Abyss, where they hope to find Riko’s mother.
It looks and sounds like a good open-world fantasy role-playing game. I’ve talked about how great the OST is, and the world of Made in Abyss is just amazing.
But Riko, Regu, Ouzen, and Nanachi aren’t just having fun and going on adventures.
With the flip of a switch, Made in Abyss moves into a dark, scary place. You might want to go back to the happier parts of the trip, but you have to keep watching, if only to keep the characters company.
37. Wolf’s Rain
Wolf’s Rain is a movie I’ve only seen once, and that was a long time ago. So, I don’t remember the specifics, but I still remember how hard the last four OVA episodes were on my emotions.
Really, don’t stop at Episode 26. In the OVA, you can find the ending.
Now that I’ve told you what you need to watch, I can tell you that Wolf’s Rain can feel like breaking up with a long-term partner, except that it happens all at once, with no time to catch your breath.
And I don’t mean that in the way that Attack on Titan kills off important characters every few shows.
What I mean is that all of the heartbreaking parts happen at the end, when they are at their final goal, and you want Kiba and the rest of the pack to find paradise more than anything else.
36. Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance)
Both of Wolf’s Rain and Terror in Resonance’s music were written by the famous Yoko Kanno, which is a big deal. If they couldn’t put their ideas and feelings into the music, these shows would never be as scary.
Anyway, I think that sadness is a part of what makes Terror in Resonance what it is.
From the first show, when I saw how Nine, Twelve, and even Lisa looked, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.
It wasn’t always the most important thing. But it never went away.
And that’s why I like this show so much.
The personalities, the story, and the way it looks and sounds are all very similar. I’ve felt sad just by seeing Nine’s teary eyes or hearing him cry in the last shows.
The well-known motorbike scene is both freeing and sad, as if the ride were just a break before something bad was going to happen. Then there’s the scary scene with the Ferris wheel.
Terror in Resonance is a sad anime, no doubt about it.
The question is when and what parts of it will make you feel sad.
35. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than the Universe)
This masterpiece from Madhouse is an original story, just like Wolf’s Rain and Terror in Resonance. It shows that producers and companies should keep making new stories.
When I saw the picture for A Place Further Than the Universe, I thought it was another CGDCT series that included a trip to nature. The same as Yuru Camp, but there are big ships and the water.
I was wrong, though, and I’m glad. It wasn’t just that.
In A Place Further Than the Universe, the characters are fully developed and realistic, and their relationships grow in ways that are also believable.
Through these girls and their hard-earned trip to Antarctica, viewers are reminded to keep chasing goals, taking risks, and making the most of what they have, even when things don’t go their way.
34. Nihon Chinbotsu 2020 (Japan Sinks: 2020)
This is a choice that is sure to divide people. If you read the reviews and comments on sites, it’s clear that even people who liked the series as a whole thought this episode was rough.
Yet Japan Sinks: 2020 gets this spot because it went beyond the accident and looked at social and political issues that have been debated in Japan for a long time.
There are many ways for Japan to fall: 2020 can be bad.
It can go into more depth about how bad an earthquake can be. It’s not just about one big earthquake (and wave, if it happens under the sea). There could be aftershocks, fires, car crashes, flooding, and even stampedes that kill people.
Even just the first two episodes are scary because they show so well how cruel the world can be. How death can happen at any time, and the people you love might not even have time to mourn.
The anime also shows the bad side of people by showing racism, discrimination, and how people are willing to hurt or abandon others if it means they (or their family) will live.
33. Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop is still Shinichiro Watanabe’s best-known and most-loved anime show.
Through it, many anime fans from the late 1990s, like me, were introduced to both his vision and Yoko Kanno’s god-tier music, which showed she knows her jazz and blues.
Most of the stories in the series are sad.
Spike Spiegel, on the other hand, is a unique major character who is in a tough spot.
He seems like he doesn’t care much about life and only goes bounty hunting when he has to, but this is just a mask for a person who is dealing with a hard past and how it affects his present and future.
It’s a beautiful piece of art. Spike’s last line, “Bang!” is a classic, but I hope people think about his other famous line and what it means for both Spike and the audience: “You’re going to have to carry that.”
32. Violet Evergarden
With Violet Evergarden, Kyoto Animation really took things to a whole new level, even though fans already loved their detailed character designs and animation.
But I’m not making a fuss.
Violet Evergarden is so beautiful that it’s hard to believe, and technically, it’s a 10/10. But the show shines even more because the images match the story (or stories, since Violet is a writer).
And the main character is the same way. She is beautiful, but it’s her journey, which is full of memories of war and chaos and learning what makes us human, that has people all over the world fascinated.
All of its episodes are great, but EP 10 will make you want to cry.
31. Serial Experiments Lain
This isn’t the only work of fiction that predicted the rise of computers and how the digital world would take over the world and change the way we do business, talk to each other, and live our everyday lives.
But whenever someone asks me for a good anime about digital technology, I always think of Serial Experiments Lain. It helps that the English opening theme song is a classic.
In Serial Experiments Lain, the girl with the same name is taken on a psychological ride, which is not as fun as you might think.
Lain struggles with the familiar but still hard ideas of self-identity, social link, and figuring out what’s real to begin with.
She also has to deal with loneliness, family, and problems that still bother Japanese society (and other societies) today.
If you’re like me and spend most of your day in front of a computer screen, this should hit you even harder.
Did I make a mistake? This isn’t a list of the best slice-of-life and CGDCT anime shows ever, right?
So, here’s the deal:
As much as K-On brings me peace and happiness in its everyday interactions (often with sweets from Mugi), it’s also good at showing how feelings and life itself are fleeting.
You can’t always feel sad, and you can’t always feel happy either.
You can’t always hang out with your best friends from school or the neighborhood, for example. Everyone has to grow up at some point, which means taking on more responsibilities and changing some things about how they live their lives.
I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because the characters, animation, music, and settings are all made with a lot of care and warmth.
In Yui and the girls’ fun and lighthearted moments, there’s always a hint of impermanence, the idea that people should treasure their moments, whether they’re ordinary or unique, because they can never go back.
All they’ll have are memories of it, memories that highlight, replace, and change the pieces of the past.
Episode 24 of Season 2 will always make me cry, especially when Yui and the band play “Tenshi ni Fureta yo” for Azura in the club room as a goodbye because she and the club are graduating.
29. Fruits Basket
Fruits Basket was already a good story when it was made into an anime in 2001.
But strangely, the new version that started in 2019 and will end in 2021 is much better.
I know, the title doesn’t sound sad, especially when you consider that the story is about people who change into animals from the Zodiac.
Yes, it’s funny and cute, and not just because of Yuki. But it treats everyone as a unique person with flaws, which is how people really are.
And don’t think that means anything bad. People learn not only how to get better, but also how to ask for help from others without feeling bad or like they’re losing their time, from the flaws and doubts of other people.
The new version of Fruits Basket makes it seem like it will be one of the first masterpieces of the new decade because of how carefully it shows and talks about things like parental abuse, social isolation, and depression. And I couldn’t be happier.
28. Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku From Now and Then, Here and There
Now and Then, Here and There has been going on for 20 years.
But the things that happened here haven’t left my mind yet.
Studio AIC’s show had only 13 episodes, but it had one of the saddest settings and stories in the history of anime.
Seriously, it’s both sad and inspiring to see the main character (MC) Shuuzou Matsutani get back up again and again, even though he’s been thrown into a world full of pain and sadness.
Even though the characters in Now and Then, Here and There are young, this is not a book for kids:
The show is about all of the horrible things that people do to each other.
These things are horrible and happen all the time. And you can’t really blame the others for giving up hope and even becoming tools of terror themselves.
But in this dystopian world, there is the hurt but stubborn Shuuzou. In a world where bad people rule, a little bit of hope is more important than ever.
27. Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin
Rainbow is a brave show that shows how important jail reform and prisoners’ rights are, especially for young people who have broken the law.
This anime is very cruel. But that’s how it has to be.
People want to think that jails always do what they are supposed to do, but this is far from the truth. This is why a lot of documentaries, in both developed and emerging countries, look at the prison system.
Rainbow helps inform people of the real world:
People in positions of power can use it to get more political, social, or even sexual power.
Also, not everyone in jail is a broken, irredeemable person; some are morally better than the guards and doctors who are supposed to help them change.
26. Haibane Renmei
Haibane Renmei is one of the more unusual slice-of-life anime. Like the highly rated iyashikei show Mushishi, it has parts of fantasy and psychological and philosophical questions.
But while Mushishi has these strange life forms, this series has people with halos and wings who aren’t here to talk about religion of any kind.
Even though it’s just a style choice, you can find meaning in Haibane Renmei’s colors, settings, and character designs.
All of these things make it fun and interesting to watch.
Everything in Glie seems to move slowly. But as you put the puzzle pieces together (or try to make sense of a few things), you start thinking about life, existence, friendship, guilt, and repentance, and before you know it, you’re in the process of reflection.
It makes me sad. But sometimes people need that kind of sadness.
25. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Some people say that Evangelion shouldn’t be here because it’s “not sad.” They say that it’s more like a full-blown fall into depressive madness with a lot of symbolism (or fake symbolism).
It’s sad, though.
Even without the End of Evangelion movie, this very important series has been the subject of many long essays about life. With a special talent for catching the quirks of young people.
There’s nothing wrong with making jokes about Shinji not getting in the robot or being a coward, but his character’s problems aren’t made up. The same is true for Rei and Asuka.
As apocalyptic and confusing (or meaningless) as Evangelion can seem, the way it is set up and the fact that it lets some moments linger in silence show that it knows how human sadness takes shape and lasts.
Nana, which is based on a book that won an award, is the opposite of the fluffy romance and lighthearted drama anime shows. It doesn’t want to have a happy finish just to make people (and producers) happy.
Nana is a shoujo anime in a lot of ways, like how the characters look and how it has a few shoujo tropes, but it’s also a more realistic, grown-up look at the lives of two young women.
The two main characters (who have the same name) do have some funny and sweet times, but Nana is also worried about the worst parts of being an adult.
Like a lot of people in real life, the two Nanas have trouble with their jobs (if they can even find one) and with their relationships with friends and lovers.
Relationships can be reassuring and comfortable, but they can also be abusive, toxic, or cause you to doubt yourself.
These nana characters are just like real people.
And Nana can hurt a lot if you’re having a bad day or something similar. On the other hand, this punk-rock story full of anger and strong feelings can help you move on.
23. March Comes in Like a Lion (3-gatsu no Lion)
Like Nana, March Comes in Like a Lion is based on a manga that won an award, but I didn’t think Shaft would go all out with the two-season version.
Rei Kiriyama is the main character of the first season.
There’s something wrong with him. He’s a very good teen shogi player, but it’s easy for other people to think that he’s just going through normal teenage angst.
But Rei’s sadness didn’t just appear out of nowhere.
March Comes in Like a Lion deals with mental health problems with the greatest care, just like in real life. This is because it knows that psychosocial factors can change people’s lives in big ways, for better or for worse.
Also, Shaft’s skill as an artist is clear here.
Somehow, the company turned what the characters were feeling and thinking into scenes that were amazing to look at.
Then you move on to the second season, which is even better (more powerful and dramatic) than the first.
This time, the anime moves away from Rei a bit (though he’s still there, and he’s in a better place) to show how other characters are struggling.
Bullying is what many fans will remember most about Season 2, and for good reason.
Instead of just focusing on the person who is being bullied, the show also looks into why someone might bully someone else. For example, the bully may have been bullied themselves and turned to bullying as a way to deal with the pain.
March arrives. Like a Lion also talks about many other hard and sad parts of life. Even though the shows keep making me cry, they have also been very rewarding.
22. NHK ni Youkoso! (Welcome to the NHK)
Different things make us laugh, cry, and get mad.
Because of this show, I’ve done all three of those things over and over again.
This 24-episode series from Studio Gonzo feels too personal, and that’s fine.
I’m not a hikikomori. But I’ve been very close to becoming one, and I still can’t say for sure that I don’t like the idea.
And for many people, that’s just the sad truth of life. The kind of people you don’t see on TV or on big signs, unless they’re shown as exotic, sad people that parents should warn their kids about to make them behave.
As you might have guessed by now, Welcome to the NHK is about a NEET. Tatsuhiro Satou is his name, and he has pretty much given up on life or being in the “real world.”
He meets Misaki, and this is the start of his painful but ultimately important journey to change for the better.
Look, I can still watch a bunch of anime shows in a row. But this is one of those shows where I have to take a break after just one episode, or even after a scene that makes me feel a lot.
It’s hard to watch Welcome to the NHK. But everyone needs to see it, not just people like me who don’t work or go to school.
It might make NEETs and people who are like NEETs want to try to get out of their cages, which aren’t just caused by them but also by problems in society as a whole.
And I hope that everyone can learn from this anime to be more kind and caring to each other.
21. 5 Centimeters Per Second
The movies of Makoto Shinkai are known for their stunning images.
Even though his big hit Your Name is probably his best movie overall, 5 Centimeters Per Second is still the one that makes people feel the most.
The movie is about how life pulls apart two close friends and how they grow up and grow apart.
Despite their efforts to stay in touch, the characters keep moving further apart as they go through life.
However, their memories of each other remain, and they keep hope to meet once again despite the growing distance between them.
The movie shows in a realistic way how life naturally goes on and how people sometimes move apart on their own.
20. Millennium Actress
Chiyoko Fujiwara was Japan’s most popular actress prior to retiring 30 years ago.
When the studio Chiyoko used to work with enters bankruptcy, she is asked to give a retrospective interview about her career.
Cry-O-Meter: If an actor fakes the tears, does it still count as crying?
19. Voices of a Distant Star
Mikako Negamine is recruited by th UN to pilot a mech to fight in a war against an alien threat.
He stays in contact with his childhood friend Noboru by sending e-mails using telecom device.
As Mikako goes deeper into space, the lag time between receiving messages increases.
Cry-O-Meter: The tears will strike 5 years from today on this sad anime.
Guts is taken into the mercenary group Band of the Hawk by the leader Griffith.
After Griffith has his dreams of ruling a kingdom taken from him, he is seduced by an evil power.
Cry-O-Meter: 1 mind breaking eclipse event that ruins your love life and robs you of your humanity.
17. Fullmetal Alchemist
Edward and Alphonse dabble into alchemy in order to revive their dead mother.
Things take a terrible turn as Alphonse loses his physical body and Edward is left maimed.
Cry-O-Meter: 1 strong bond between a girl and her dog is shown in this sad anime.
In the future, robots can be programmed with complete human emotion.
After Kurumi is left heartbroken after a tragic plane crash, a robot named Q01 is sent to Kurumi to help mend her broken heart.
Cry-O-Meter: Do androids cry electric tears? for this sad anime.
Kids shouldn’t feel like the fate of the world depends on them, but Jun and the others are in that situation.
One of the kids who made a deal with Kokopelli must drive the robot Zearth against each enemy. If they win and save the Earth, they will die.
You did read that correctly.
In return for being able to use Zearth, the mecha will eat its pilot’s life force. No one, especially kids, should have to give up something like that.
Do they really want to save everyone, even if some of them may have been sexually abused?
But that’s just how Bokurano is. It puts kids in scary situations that show what they think about life and what they value most.
14. Hotarubi no Mori e
Hotaru was six when she met the forest spirit Gin.
It was forwarned that if Gin makes physical contact with anyone, he will disappear.
As time goes on, the two start to form a strong bond.
Cry-O-Meter: Don’t touch me! I’m crying!
13. Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan – Tsuioku-hen (Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal)
The 94-episode TV show Rurouni Kenshin has many touching moments that go along with all the action, but this OVA packs a lot of fear, sorrow, and pain into just four episodes.
In Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal, fans get a full look at Kenshin Himura’s early life.
It talks about the terrible things that happened to him when he was young that made him the feared Hitokiri Battousai.
You’ll meet Enishi and Tomoe Yukishiro here, but the most important thing is that you’ll see the one personal tragedy that changed his life for good and made him decide to never kill again.
Only wanting peace and fairness in the end.
Togame is seeking out 12 legendary swords called The Deviant Blades.
She seeks the aid of Shichika, whom is the master of the Kyotouryuu fighting stance.
Cry-O-Meter: 12 legendary wails of sadness.
11. Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom
Reiji was visiting the States when he witnessed an assassination.
The assassination syndicate Inferno kidnap and brainwash Reiji into being an assassin as a result.
Tear-O-Meter: 5.5 contract hits against tissue boxes.
Two rival ninja clans are seeking to support the next shogun.
They send 10 representative to engage in blood combat, with two star-crossed lovers caught in the middle.
Cry-O-Meter: 14 shuriken to the heart.
9. Angel Beats!
Sad anime stories are what Jun Maeda is known for.
Yes, he hasn’t made anything amazing in the past few years. But his best works, like Angel Beats, will always be available to his fans.
When I got a copy of this, I didn’t even know what it was about.
With each new show, Yuri Nakamura’s antics with the Shinda Sekai Sensen not only made me laugh, but I also hoped they would find peace in themselves.
Just so they can leave the world for good.
The backstories of Masami and Yui had already made me feel sad. Needless to say, I was a mess by the time Kanade told Yuzuru about her last regret.
8. Your Lie in April
Is it a terrible sin to put Your Lie in April in the bottom half of the list?
Look, I know a lot of people love this, including a lot of my friends, but it’s not my favorite sad anime series.
Still, I can’t deny that this A-1 Pictures version, which has been praised by critics, has some good points.
Your Lie in April is definitely well-animated, even (and especially) during the music acts. When Kaori and Kousei get into the beat and enjoy their music, it’s quite a sight to see.
The series shows in a beautiful way how great things in life are, like music, youth, and friendship.
The ending is so powerful because of the desire of one character to live their life to the fullest no matter what.
7. Plastic Memories
Tsukasa takes a job at the SAI Corporation, which develops androids (Giftia) capable of human emotions.
Tsukasa’s job is to help retrieve expiring Giftia before their personalities degrade, but what happens when he falls in love with one?
Cry-O-Meter: 9 dead batteries.
6. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
A devastating earthquakes tears through the Kanto region.
Three survivors cope with the aftermath, not knowing if their families are safe while navigating the aftermath.
Cry-O-Meter: 8.0 big quakes.
Kiritsugu “Magus Killer” Emiya enters the Fourth Holy Grail War.
Grasping with his past as a mercenary, a deadly sense of justice, a need to protect his family, Kiritsugu will do anything to possess the Holy Grail.
Cry-O-Meter: 7.5 EXCALIBUR screams.
Yukito Kunisaki travels with his puppet show in order to find the Winged Maiden.
A meeting with a girl named Misuzu causes Yukito to stay in a small town.
Cry-O-Meter: 6 gasps for air
3. Grave of the Fireflies
Barefoot Gen was very blunt about nuclear war, but Isao Takahata’s masterpiece from 1988 is very restrained and uses poetry to get its point across that war is bad.
The movie Grave of the Fireflies is based on a short story by Akiyuki Nosaka from 1967.
It tells the story of a boy named Seita and his little sister, Setsuko, who barely make it out of their town when the Allies firebomb it.
The story tells about how they try to stay alive on their own while the rest of the country is falling apart quickly because of the war.
Grave of the Fireflies is about feelings that are more complicated than those in Barefoot Gen, even though both stories are about children.
The imagery is less scary but still very powerful. It’s a story about love that doesn’t change, as well as about deep sadness.
In fact, it’s not only the saddest anime movie of all time, but also one of the saddest movies you might ever see.
2. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
Anohana is one of the most famous sad anime shows of the past 10 years, but it doesn’t end with the death of a main character. No, not even close.
Instead, it begins the opposite way:
One of the main group members has already died. Her ghost is what gets Jinta and the others to start the hard work of getting better.
The story of Anohana is sad. But also of the sad-but-true fact that people do sometimes grow apart.
Here, the five main characters moved apart after Menma’s terrible end. Yes, it’s a shame, but I can see why it happened.
Still, the series shows that you can’t always hide things and deal with bad things on your own.
Sometimes, you need help from other people to face your past and the painful feelings that come with it.
Many people’s lives are changed by a single death. But the many can also find comfort in each other.
Those who are still alive might be able to help the beloved departed find eternal rest by doing this.
1. Clannad: After Story (Clannad ~After Story~)
Angel Beats made me cry, but Clannad: After Story is Jun Maeda’s most heartbreaking work so far.
Now, Clannad’s first season takes place in high school. And you don’t need it to watch the second season.
But you have to see it if you want the full waterworks, because then you’ll know more about the people in After Story.
In the second season, the players have already finished high school.
This time, the story is about Tomoya Okazaki, but it’s not your typical slice-of-life show.
Tomoya will go through so much pain that I don’t know if I could handle it. What makes me cry is that it’s the kind of pain you get used to as you grow up.
When I was a kid, life seemed to move slowly. And I couldn’t wait to get older, get a job, and start a family.
But once you graduate from college, the years seem to go by so quickly, and you feel like you’re getting farther and farther away from your youth, when you could be careless and nothing seemed difficult.
Here, Tomoya learns what it’s like to have a family, be a father, lose someone who was the center of his world, feel like a big failure, cry, grieve, and keep going.
The ending has been a source of debate for a long time. But After Story is a great example of how the whole is better than the sum of its parts.