Anime has stirred up a wide range of emotions in viewers throughout its history. Whether it be a comedy or a horror, romance, sci-fi, or fantasy genre, watching anime is always an experience that engages one’s heart and soul. Many anime titles have touched the hearts of viewers, leaving them in tears for various reasons.
This article comes as an insight into this fascinating phenomenon to explore the 21 most popular shows that made us cry. This list covers some of the deepest stories ever conveyed.
We invite the reader on this amazing journey to revisit those titles and re-experience their sorrowful tales through fascinating analysis and discussion. It’s time to embrace our sadness with these amazing anime that tug on our heartstrings – let’s get started:
21. Millennium Actress
Millennium Actress is a classic Japanese anime movie directed by Satoshi Kon and released in 2001. It tells the story of an elderly actress, Chiyoko Fujiwara, as she reflects on her life in an impressively animated style.
This sad anime will leave you moved to tears over its heartbreaking plot and themes of memory, a sense of loss and the meaning of time. The characters are beautifully drawn and portrayed with endearing personalities that further add to the story’s appeal.
It is balanced perfectly between comedic elements and more serious moments that help develop the narrative at a steady pace. Millennium Actress is an animé masterpiece from Satoshi Kon that everyone should experience – no matter what type of anime fan you may be.
20. Fullmetal Alchemist
“Fullmetal Alchemist” is a classic anime known for its captivating story and powerful themes. It follows the journeys of two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, as they search their world for the Philosopher’s Stone, a legendary alchemical object they believe will restore their bodies to normal.
Along the way, they must face multiple challenges as they traverse both friendly and hostile towns in pursuit of their goal. Despite the dark themes explored inside this anime series, “Fullmetal Alchemist” also offers moments of humour as well as powerful messages of hope that enhance its overall appeal.
With beautiful artwork, memorable characters, and an epic storyline that has kept viewers engaged over the years, “Fullmetal Alchemist” is sure to make any fan of anime truly happy.
19. Voices of the Distant Star
Voiced by 2 of the most acclaimed voice actors, “Voices of the Distant Star” is a heart-wrenching yet beautiful sad anime. The story follows two teenage lovers pulled apart by a far-reaching journey through space and time.
As one embarks on an interstellar mission to explore the stars, one must stay in contact with their beloved partner using a custom amateur high-frequency radio over a distance such that light-years can be straddled.
Even so, finality seems to creep ever closer as the distant star drifts further from reach. Amidst its breathtaking visuals, heartfelt dialogue, and stirring original soundtrack, this engagingly tragic tale will leave its mark on all those who watch.
18. Five Centimeters Per Second
“Five Centimeters Per Second” is one of the best and most heartbreaking sad anime movies ever produced. By blending stunning animation with a captivating story, this movie perfectly encapsulates the struggles of relationships and inevitable separation due to time and distance.
The movie follows Takaki Tōno, a young man who falls in love with Akari Shinohara only to watch their relationship unravel as they are gradually separated by physical distance and eventually time. Although they try their best to stay connected, obstacles ultimately prevent them from continuing the bond they have developed.
This animated film beautifully captures these highs and lows through a combination of crisis points that add depth to its characters – driving home the message that despite the pain, love can endure.
Bokurano is a heartbreaking and thought-provoking anime that follows the lives of 15 children with average lives who find themselves enlisted to become heroes of a twisted game. In Bokurano, each one of them needs to pilot an enormous mecha and face enemies as they fight against insurmountable odds.
Even though it may seem like a fantasy series at first, it gives a strong message that life can often be cruel despite being able to provide unexpected joys. The intense battles are further accentuated by the realistic outlook on death in this anime; characters painfully process their losses instead of simply overcoming them.
For fans of sad anime, this show offers the perfect mix of sadness and determination as its characters continue fighting for justice and peace. “Bokurano” is an amazing seinen anime with spectacular character designs, a unique storyline, and challenging storylines.
Berserk is arguably one of the saddest yet most popular anime ever made. The story follows Guts – a lone mercenary struggling to survive in a medieval world filled with dark forces. Set against a backdrop of unbridled violence, Berserk showcases its characters’ inner turmoil as they fight to protect their beliefs and ideals from evil forces.
Guts’ internal battle is further amplified by the many losses he suffers throughout the course of his journey, making for some incredibly heartbreaking moments in every episode.
Despite this gloominess, fans can’t seem to keep away from Berserk thanks to its well-written storylines, vivid animation and stunning soundtrack – all of which culminate into an unforgettable experience that’s sure to make even the most stoic of viewers shed a tear or two.
15. Rurouni Kenshin Trust & Betrayal
Rurouni Kenshin Trust & Betrayal is a classic anime about a wandering samurai in the Meiji era of Japan. The story follows former assassin-turned-wanderer Himura Kenshin, whose mission is to right the wrongs of his past sins.
Throughout Trust & Betrayal, heartfelt scenes of loss and redemption are supported by thrilling fight scenes guaranteeing an all-around enjoyable viewing experience. With amazing artwork and iconic characters, Rurouni Kenshin Trust & Betrayal maintains relevance as one of the premiere sad anime masterpieces.
Audiences can feel real emotion while enjoying the ups and downs that come with Kenshin’s journey, creating an unforgettable story and experience for those watching.
“Hal” is a critically acclaimed Japanese animated film released in 2013. The story follows the life of Hal, an android tasked with caring for a malfunctioning robot until it can be repaired.
As Hal’s interactions with the robot progress, his emotions become more complex and meaningful, leading him to important revelations about himself and the world around him.
But despite its touching subject matter, “Hal” is anything but sad—it’s a heartwarming tale that will move viewers to tears as well as laughter.
With vibrant visuals, an intriguing storyline, and fantastic character development, “Hal” is a must-watch for anime fans of all ages. This movie will stay with you long after viewing and should not be missed.
13. Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom
Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom is an extremely sad anime series that tells the story of a young amnesiac girl dragged into the world of crime and espionage. She meets a mysterious assassin who was created by an organization called Scythe.
With its intense action sequences, angst-filled characters, stylish atmosphere, and episodic dual between lightness and darkness, it’s certain to leave viewers with a profound impression. The slow pacing of the plot, interlocked with themes of betrayal and desire, transports viewers into a gloomy world where nothing is as it seems.
Featuring compelling characters with unstoppable ambition along with pervasive themes of identity and justice, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom stands out as one of the greatest sad anime series ever created. Despite its dark moments, there are still rays of hope at the end; sure to bring tears to your eyes.
12. Hotarubi no Mori e
Hotarubi no Mori e is an award-winning 2011 Japanese animated film that is sure to bring tears to the eyes of viewers. It tells the story of Hotaru, a young girl who visits a distant forest shrine and encounters Gin, a strange but friendly spirit.
The two quickly become close friends, but Gin reveals to her that if any human were to touch him, he would disappear forever. Despite this warning, Hotaru grows ever closer to Gin, and the two must face significant obstacles in order to keep their friendship alive and strong.
Hotarubi no Mori e provides a heartwarming insight into relationships as well as providing some stunning visuals for viewers. As one of the most acclaimed sad anime films of recent years, it’s definitely worth watching and will stay with audiences long after they stop watching.
11. Angel Beats!
Angel Beats! is an exceptionally sad and captivating anime series – a story about young teens in limbo who battle against the cruel laws of fate. They confront their own harsh realities by attempting to make the most out of their time-limited existence in this soul-stirring realm.
The characters have an impactful mix of fun, despair and emotion which makes it stand out from other animes. From Yuzuru Oto nashi’s journey through his unknown past to Yuri Nakamura’s mission to create her own ideal world – each character has a unique story that brings excitement and sadness within the same experience.
With its breathtaking artwork and vibrant soundtrack combined with superbly written characters and deep emotions, Angel Beats! Offers viewers an entertaining yet profoundly moving journey through themes of life, death, love and tragedy.
Have you ever gone through a phase where you watch a single anime series repetitively? One of my favourite anime is the Sad Anime “Katanagatari”. It has left an imprint on me with its unique story and characters that are as strong as Japanese steel.
The story revolves around Shichika Yasuri, a samurai without a sword, who embarks on a journey to gain twelve legendary swords for his master. During his mission, he meets people along the way and discovers the true meaning of sword and power by facing off with antagonists such as Togame and Emonzaemon Tax.
Katanagatari has some of the most complex feminine characters I have seen in an anime series, who challenge our preconceptions about alluring yet headstrong women like Hitei & Kanami so skillfully.
This is complemented marvellously by its beautifully choreographed fight scenes, witty dialogues and immeasurably humbling soundtracks that make this show truly outstanding.
9. Plastic Memories
With its emotionally charged plot and gorgeous illustration, Plastic Memories has become a classic among fans of the sad anime genre. The series follows Tsukasa Mizugaki, an 18-year-old recruit to the Terminal Service agency of Sion Artificial Intelligence Corporation.
The company reclaims androids called ‘Giftias’ from their hosts when it is time for their lifespan to end. Despite the seemingly straightforward job description, Tsukasa finds himself developing complicated relationships with his Android coworkers as well as his human co-workers during his adventures at the terminal service.
As he experiences the unique bonds between the gifted and its host, Tsukasa gradually learns a greater meaning behind his job and comes to terms with its heartbreaking implications.
Basilisk is an anime based on a novel of the same name and created by Gonzo animation studio. It was released in 2005 and is currently rated 8.4/10 on MyAnimeList. It tells the tragic story of two warring ninja clans that have been tasked by their feudal lord to fight one-on-one battles until only one clan remains standing.
Throughout this action-packed series, viewers witness unforgettable fight scenes as well as intense romantic subplots between opposing characters who can’t stay away from each other even as they are forced to clash for the sake of their families.
Basilisk captures its audience with brilliant animation quality and compelling storytelling that makes it one of the most heartbreakingly sad animes ever released.
Fate/Zero is an intense, compelling anime with deep mythos and captivating characters. It follows Kiritsugu Emiya, a master mage who participates in the Holy Grail War, a battle between mages to grant wishes.
Fate/Zero is filled with explosive battles and complex political machinations as Emiya takes part in the bloodthirsty fight for magical supremacy. Its atmosphere of despair mixed with desperate hope makes it one of the most powerful anime experiences available.
Its edge-of-your-seat action, psychological complexity and heartbreaking tragedy combine to provide an unforgettable experience that will stay with you long after the show’s conclusion.
6. Your Lie in April
The 2014 anime Your Lie in April is one of the most beloved sad animes around. It follows prodigy pianist Kōsei Arima, who is so amazing at his craft that he has been dubbed the “Human Metronome”. After not playing the piano for two years following a tragedy, Arima meets Kaori Miyazono, and she helps him re-ignite his passion for playing.
This show features stunning music, intense drama and themes of overcoming loss, as well as beautiful visuals and animations.
Your Lie in April explores themes of love, friendship, dedication and family while never being overly preachy or melodramatic – it’s a must-watch for any fan of the sad anime genre. With its incredible score and realistic characters – you won’t want to miss out on this classic tale about rediscovering joy through tragic circumstances.
5. Grave of the Fireflies
Grief and loss are two major themes that run through the critically acclaimed anime film “Grave of the Fireflies”. This movie, created by Studio Ghibli, tells the story of Seita and his little sister Setsuko, two siblings struggling to survive during the bombing of Kobe in 1945.
It is a harsh look at certain truths during war times, showing how innocent children can often be the most affected. With beautiful music, hand-drawn animation and strong characterization, it quickly became a cult classic due to its emotionally captivating storyline.
The anime follows their journey as they have to face an often cruel world on virtually empty stomachs – one that does not seem to care about them or their devastating situation. Themes such as death and poverty can be viewed through a lens of human resilience and togetherness – something more important than anything material.
4. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is a classic sad anime series depicting the personal journey of a young girl, Mirai, who experiences the devastating consequences of an earthquake in Tokyo. The anime portrays the courage and resilience of people who are struggling both physically and emotionally to overcome the difficult times that follow.
It follows Mirai as she matures through adversity and learns invaluable life lessons as she travels beyond Tokyo with her brother Yuuki and robot companion Mara.
The anime contains many realistic elements, including carefully crafted animation, comedic moments, heartbreaking tragedies, and character-driven plotlines that resonate with viewers and connect them on an emotional level.
3. Clannad: The After Story
Clannad: The After Story is an incredibly powerful and heartbreaking anime that definitely earns its place among the top-rated sad anime. Dealing with themes like intense tragedy, unresolved relationships, and human suffering, Clannad: The After Story tackles the tough aspects of life in a compassionate way.
This second instalment to the Clannad franchise follows Tomoya and Nagisa’s relationship after high school as they try to deal with a great family tragedy that puts all their lives into perspective.
Its three-part structure will draw you in from the first episode to the last, as it delivers strong visuals, music and background score throughout that painstakingly capture moments of beauty and sadness in their purest form.
Air is a classic 2006 anime that has captivated viewers for years due to its unique story and heartfelt characters. The show follows Yukito Kunisaki, a traveller who seeks out a mythical Sky Goddess, as he encounters peculiar people in mysterious places.
Along the way, he meets multiple girls who have their own extraordinary stories from the past. Every character carries heavy emotional burdens that tug at viewers’ hearts and stay with them long after the series has ended. With stunning art and beautiful music, Air creates a world full of mysticism and tragedy while managing to be an uplifting story at its core.
The anime exquisitely conveys themes like friendship, trust, and destiny throughout its episodes, thus captivating audiences across the globe. It is an emotional experience that all viewers should experience at least once in their lifetime.
1. Anohana Anohana: Flower We Saw That Day
Anohana: Flower We Saw That Day is a heartbreaking, tear-jerking Japanese anime series about a group of childhood friends who tragically part ways after one of their own passes away. This beloved 2011 show follows their individual journeys as each character still struggles with death and how to move forward.
Anohana explores themes of guilt, regret, relationships, and friendship in an inspiring manner that will leave viewers with a heavy heart – all the more reason why it’ll remain among the most popular shows in its genre.
Not only has Anohanaw touched many people’s hearts through its spectacularly knit storyline and affecting characters – it has also received an overall score of 9.1/10 on popular entertainment sites such as IMDb or MyAnimeList, making it an especially memorable anime series for every viewer.
The 21 Sad Anime in this article all feature heartbreaking stories that will make anyone shed a tear. Each of these characters faced their own unique challenges with admirable determination.
Despite these hardships, they found the courage to come out on top no matter what. This article is a reminder of how bittersweet life can be but also how rewarding it can be despite moments of tragedy or sadness.
From thought-provoking plotlines to relatable characters, it’s inevitable that readers will develop an emotional connection to any one of these anime. Although some may end on a heartbreaking note, there’s nothing quite like growing along with your favourite characters during their darkest hours and witnessing their triumph afterwards.