While there are limited shounen works that weave in tragedy, there is a plethora of popular seinen and shoujo series that layer tragedy in with artfully crafted sad manga stories.
They often have more realistic romances that have catapulted them to being cult classics with the perfect amount of bitterness and sweetness.
If you long for real drama or can’t stand the unstoppable optimism in more mainstream series, these sad mangas are must-reads.
Who doesn’t love a good cry?
We’ve watched various Sad anime in the past, but a sad manga can be just as soul-crushing!
Here are some sad manga that will destroy anyone.
28. Paradise Kiss
Hayasaka Yukari wants to make her parents happy by working hard in school and getting into a good college.
But one afternoon, she is taken by a group of women who call themselves “Paradise Kiss” and say they are into fashion.
Yukari is suddenly thrown into the crazy world of fashion, where Koizumi George, the biggest art snob, is in charge.
A poor nerd gives her a glamorous makeover of her mind, body, and soul so that her friend can use her as her only fashion model.
27. Absolute Boyfriend
Riiko Izawa has never had a boyfriend because every man she has liked has turned her down.
When she gives the strangely dressed officer the lost cell phone, she tells him that he wants a boyfriend.
To thank her, he told her to check out the website for his business, Kronos Heaven.
When she visits the site, Riiko realises that it is a site where you can create the perfect lover.
She changed it because she thought it was a game and accidentally ordered it.
The next day, he met his new girlfriend.
The instructions say that she kissed him to wake him up, and that was all he needed to fall in love with her.
She called him “Night”.
Hideki Motosuwa wants to go to a Tokyo high school so that he can get into the college of his choice.
At the same time, he has to work every day at the bar to make ends meet. He misses out on Persocoms, which are computers that look like people.
Hideki feels lucky when he finds a cute Persocom in the trash on his own Persocom quest. Hideki finds out that the new robot he built is broken and can only say the word “Chii.”
Chii is a Persokom, but she is not like other Persokoms. She can think and learn on her own, and she is a type of robot called a “Chobit” that is said to be very smart.
25. HOTARUBI NO MORI E
This is one of the most heartwarming, jaw-dropping, tear-inducing sad manga ever made.
Takegawa Hotaru gets lost in a forest where youkai and mountain spirits live. Gin, a humanoid with a mask, finds her and tells Hotaru that if he is touched by a human, she will be gone forever.
Then, Gin took Hotaru out of the woods. Over the next few days, Hotaru goes back to the forest to see Gin, and even though they don’t talk much, they become friends. Hotaru says she will come see him during the summer break.
Gin hasn’t changed much over the years, but Hotaru has grown up and grown closer to his age.
After she hits puberty, Hotaru starts to worry about her growing feelings for Gin and their uncertain future together.
Gin, meanwhile, wishes he could touch the young woman Hotaru has become and hold her back.
24. NINGEN SHIKKAKU
Ooba Youzou goes to school with a mask on. When he’s with his classmates, he wears the mask of a happy, playful young man who is always making jokes.
When he’s with his teachers, he wears the mask of a smart kid, but not so smart that he stands out.
Because of the trauma of being abused in the past and his ongoing feelings of isolation and hate, he can’t be himself around other people.
He is afraid of other people, and because of this, he slowly starts to act and think in a sociopathic way.
Some parts of this dark manga will hit close to home for many people.
For others, the very dark themes will be very upsetting, and to some, it will leave them speechless.
This is a sad story that doesn’t have any happy parts.
23. Three Days of Happiness
At the age of 20, Kusunoki lived a boring life and runs out of money.
As he sells the rest of his things to a bookshop owner, the owner tells him about a store where you can buy life, time, and health.
Kusunoki goes to the address given to him and is able to sell 30 years of his life. Now, he only has 3 months left to live.
“Three Days of Happiness” follows him for the rest of these three months as he goes through a roller coaster of emotions, from pure ecstatic joy at being financially free to face all of his regrets.
This short manga covers a lot of topics, like death, loneliness, emptiness, and satisfaction.
22. BOKURA GA ITA
In Bokura Ga Ita, romance, drama, and everyday life all come together.
At first, this manga seems like a typical shojo about a good girl who falls in love with a bad boy, but it quickly shows that it has much more depth than most shojos.
Over the course of ten years, the story turns into a sad and painful one in which first love is ruined by a troubled past, family secrets, cheating scandals, abusive behavior, and death.
Although pact with drama and tragedy, Bokura Ga Ita manages not to fall into excessiveness or clichés as it realistically constructs the themes it portrays.
21. RAINBOW: NISHA ROKUBOU NO SHICHININ
Not for people with a weak heart or who want to feel good.
Rainbow is about seven young people who get locked up and have to try to survive in a new hellish place where masochistic and sociopathic officers and doctors are in charge.
Even though they face almost insurmountable physical and mental traumas every day, the characters continue to move and fight for their survival.
This makes them an unbreakable and extraordinary group of friends.
20. 5 CENTIMETERS PER SECOND
5 Centimeters Per Second is the best sad manga to read if you like feeling like onion slices are cooking in your eyes and your tear ducts are turning into waterfalls.
It tells the story of Takaki Toono and Akari Shinohara, who have been friends since they were young but are now in love but can’t be with each other because of random events in their lives.
This manga does a great job of showing all the different feelings that come with young love, from the fear of confessing to the lighthearted joy of being close to the person you love.
It also shows long-distance relationships in a way that is true to life: romance is linked to tragedy and happiness to pain.
This short piece of art will pull at your heart in every way.
Mangaka: Inio Asano
Meiko and Taneda have been dating since their college days, but they have no real goals or direction.
Meiko has been working as an office lady for the past two years and Taneda works as an illustrator.
They earn just enough to pay the rent.
One day, Meiko decides to quit her job to find a worthy goal and Taneda decides to reunite with his old bandmates.
The couple is prepared for the unpredictable future, no matter what hardships it may bring.
18. Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice)
A Silent Voice follows Shouya Ishida, a boy who is also getting into trouble.
When a deaf transfer student named Shouko Nishimiya is introduced to Ishida’s class, he deems her as the perfect target for bullying.
Ishida bullies Nishimiya to kill boredom and doesn’t think about the effects of his actions until he starts to become ostracized by his own classmates.
17. Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit
Mangaka: Motoro Mase
Under the National Welfare Act, every first-grader receives a vaccine.
A small percentage are injected with a radio-controlled capsule which will kill them between the ages of 18 to 24.
It’s believed that the threat of an unexpected death will increase productivity and prosperity among the citizens.
Kengo works for the government and delivers death papers 24 hours before a selected citizen’s death.
He is unsure about the program, but the choices people make in their final hours will shape Kengo’s opinion.
16. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)
Your Lie in April follows Kousei Arima, a young musical prodigy. His mom meticulously taught him to play the piano, which allowed him to dominate music competitions.
After her sudden death, Kousei had the will to play music and disappeared from the stage. His monotonous life changes upon meeting Kaori Miyazono, a violinist known for her free-willed performances.
15. Our Happy Time (Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan)
Mangaka: Sumomo Yumeka
Juri Mutou is a pianist who has attempted suicide three times and has grown to resent her mother.
Monica, Juri’s aunt, is a member of the clergy at a prison and invites Juri to visit a death row inmate.
Yuu is a death row inmate convicted of murdering three people and has attempted suicide to escape his punishment.
He receives letters from Monica as part of a clergy program, but he views the letters as pity.
Yuu decides to accept a meeting with Monica so he can request for her to stop sending letters but encounters Juri.
These two people are shrouded in depression and suicide.
14. Oyasumi Punpun
This sad manga is about Punpun Onodera a typical 11-year-old Japanese boy.
He is a hopeless romantic and thinks he has a chance at first love with a girl named Aiko Tanaka.
Slowly, his naive worldview crumbles after learning that relationships are a lot of work and witnessed his father assaulting his mother.
These two events throw his life into a slow spiral.
13. Bitter Virgin
Mangaka: Kei Kusunoki
Daisuke is a popular high school student who would date any girl, except for Aikawa.
He finds her “sweet virgin” type annoying and her aversion to physical contact offensive.
His attitude changes after he accidentally learns of Aikawa’s secret past.
Aikawa is not aware that Daisuke knows her secret, but becomes more relaxed around him due to his sudden compassion.
In this sad manga During summer camp, 15 children discover a network of computers and electrical equipment hidden inside a grotto.
The owner of this equipment is Kokopelli who claims to be a programmer working on a new game that involves a giant robot defending Earth against 15 alien invasions.
Kokopelli asks the children if they would like to test the game.
All but one child agree and sign a contract, not knowing that they are about to enter a dark world.
11. Koizora: Setsunai Koimonogatari
Mangaka: Mika (Writer) / Ibuki Haneda (Artist)
This sad manga is about Mika a normal high school girl who fantasizes about finding a wonderful love life.
One day, she meets Hiro, who seems to be the man of her dreams.
Despite having a tragic life, Mika is always happy around Hiro as she tries to keep control of her life.
10. My Girl
In this sad manga Kazama Masamune is a single 23-year-old man.
In the spring, he learns that an old lover has passed away, leaving behind his young daughter.
They meet for the first time and Kazama must come to terms with being a single dad.
9. Spirit Circle
Fuuta Okeya is a 14-year-old boy with the ability to see ghosts. His somewhat peaceful life is disrupted after meeting a transfer student named Kouko Ishigami.
At first, she wants nothing to do with Fuuta, but upon seeing his birthmark, she becomes his sworn enemy.
Kouko claims to have cursed Fuuta in one of their past lives and intends to make him relive his deaths before killing him in the present.
8. Full Moon o Sagashite
Mangaka: Arina Tanemura
This sad manga is about Mitsuki, a 12-year-old girl with a great singing voice.
She dreams of becoming an idol and becoming reunited with her crush, but a throat tumor crushes her dreams.
While Mitsuki can still manage to sing, she needs surgery to remove the tumor, but it will damage her vocal cords.
Determined to push through, Mitsuki accidentally overhears two shinigami comments that she only has a year to live.
7. Onani Master Kurosawa
Kurosawa is an anti-social student who looks down on his classmates and has a secret.
Every day, he sneaks off to the rarely used girls’ restroom and beats off.
His dirty hobby is discovered by Aya Kitahara, who uses the information to blackmail Kurosawa.
What begins as a dirty joke ends up a heartbreaking coming-of-age story.
6. Half & Half
Shinichi and Yuuki die in an accident, but God gives them a second chance at life.
There are strings attached.
They have seven days to enjoy life with each other, but with a condition that one of them permanently dies after the time limit.
5. Satougashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai: A Lollypop or a Bullet
Nagisa Yamada is bored of the countryside and plans on joining a military school.
She meets a peculiar transfer student named Umino Mokuzu, who claims to be a mermaid in search of a true friend.
4. Deep Love: Ayu no Monogatari
Mangaka: Yoshi (Writer) / Yuu Yoshii (Illustrator)
Ayu is a 17-year-old high school student with a cynical outlook on life.
She doesn’t believe in love or happiness and thinks that money is the only thing that matters.
This leads Ayu to prostitution, but an encounter with an elderly woman may lead to a new worldview.
3. Fujimi Lovers
Kouno Jun fell in love with Hasebe Rino while in kindergarten.
After Kouno confesses his feelings to her, Hasebe disappears.
The strange thing is that no one seems to remember Hasebe except for Kouno.
Several years later, Kouno is excited to learn that Hasebe has transferred into his high school only to be distraught that she is not like how he remembers her.
2. Futatsu no Spica (Twin Spica)
Asumi Kamogawa dreams of exploring the stars and enrolls in the elite Tokyo Space Academy.
Her motivation is tied to a tragic rocket accident that happened when Asumi was 1-year-old.
If she wants to be a part of Japan’s first manned space mission, she must overcome physical and mental trials.
Ikuru is slowly dying.
The organs that were transplanted to save his life are now killing him.
Filled with distraught over the news, he requests the companionship of an AGH-RMS.
The “Ai-Ren” units are artificially created humans with implanted personalities due to requested specifications.
They are created to provide a sense of comfort to terminally ill patients, allowing them to rediscover happiness before their end arrives.
I hope you like this sad manga list.
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