Anime movies are renowned for their gripping storylines and powerful emotions. 18 of the saddest movies of this genre, from decades past to the present, have been collected in one place for your viewing pleasure.
If you find yourself looking for a movie that will provoke feelings of melancholy and sorrow, then look no further! Each title has been carefully selected as an authentic tour de force of tear-jerking content.
Not only do these movies offer an emotional roller coaster ride, but they also contain insightful narratives, captivating art styles and awe-inspiring soundtracks.
Get ready to experience many heart-wrenching stories that will linger in your mind long after you’ve watched them.
18. Your Lie in April
“Your Lie in April” is an emotionally powerful anime series based on a manga of the same name. It tells the story of two talented musicians, the reserved child prodigy Kousei Arima and the outgoing Kaori Miyazono, who spark a unique love story as they bravely face struggles both together and alone.
The touching themes and breathtaking visuals make this anime series one of the sadder stories out there, but also rewardingly uplifting at times.
With uplifting soundtracks that linger long after watching, “Your Lie in April” is sure to captivate its audience with its memorable characters, heartbreaking scenes and romantic moments.
This show proves to any viewers battling hardships that come out of their grief trumps enduring it alone.
Despite its occasionally absurd comedy, this work remains not just a great piece of entertainment but also contains valuable lessons about courage, trust and learning from past mistakes.
In all its heart-wrenching glory, “Your Lie in April” stands as one of the saddest anime series available – making it very popular among fans – and has earned tons of critical acclaim.
17. Angel Beats
With its emotional story composed of complex characters, Angel Beats takes the audience on a roller coaster of sadness and joy.
Featuring a powerful soundtrack and incredibly detailed animation, this anime is guaranteed to move hearts. From the very first episode, audiences are brought into the struggles of the unique cast of characters.
The powerless Otonashi and his journey to save an angel with no wings, Yuri, captures the saddest moments in any anime series.
Despite being set in an afterlife filled with high-tension action sequences, it successfully manages to be bitter-sweet in its narrative arcs – making viewers both live with laughter and cry uncontrollably simultaneously.
Every story has lessons to learn from them, and Angel Beats will leave viewers reflecting for a long time after its ending – which is arguably one of if not the most tragic endings in Anime history.
Clannad is an anime series that has established itself as one of the saddest anime ever made. This incredible anime follows the turbulent life story of protagonist Tomoya Okazaki who, while dealing with his own inner struggles, must also find a way to support and protect all those around him from overwhelming sorrows, pains, and sorrows.
The character development in this bleak yet heartfelt anime is masterful, as characters mature and develop in ways both tragic and realistically uplifting.
Intertwined throughout the episodes are themes of friendship, family life, heartrending separations, personal growth and endings that are both happy and bittersweet.
Despite its utter sadness and melancholia – or maybe because of it – Clannad is loved by viewers from all around the world and remains a timeless classic within the genre.
15. To the Forest of Fireflies’ Light
To The Forest of Fireflies’ Light is an anime that tugs at your heartstrings every step of the way. This particular anime features a children’s story which poses the inevitable question of mortality.
The movie itself paints a portrait of a young girl, Hotaru Takegawa, and her brother, who venture into a deep forest searching for glittering fireflies.
As they journey through their quest, the audience is brought along for an emotional rollercoaster filled with encountering different people and creatures along the way.
Through this beautiful tale, Into The Forest of Fireflies’ Light brings up complex themes despite being an hour-long feature film.
Many anime fans find themselves shedding tears at the ending as it’s something that genuinely encompasses impossible love, powerful emotions and devastating storytelling that leaves you on the edge of your seat while also bringing some moments of touching joy in between.
14. A Silent Voice
A Silent Voice is an anime that will make anyone feel deeply for its well-developed characters, touching storylines and excellent animation.
This 2016 anime movie tells the story of protagonist Shoya Ishida, who used to bully his classmate, Shoko Nishimiya, with her hearing disability.
As a result of his bullying, Ishida experiences guilt and loneliness while Shoko struggles to make friends in school due to her condition.
Those emotion-packed moments make it a heartfelt experience for viewers as they recall their own embarrassing experiences in the past.
A Silent Voice’s stunning visuals will draw viewers into this relatable anime. You can expect a satisfying resolution and a superb soundtrack with intense emotions that you do not want to miss.
13. Grave of the Fireflies
Grav of the Fireflies is an animated film that poignantly illustrates the harsh realities of war. This 1980s classic heart-wrenching movie was written and directed by Isao Takahata and produced by Studio Ghibli.
It follows two siblings who struggle for survival in Japan in 1945 during the end of World War II. Separated from their parents, they face immense suffering, deprivation, despair and ultimately death due to starvation and bombardment, impacting civilians in Japan at the time.
The film showcases heartbreaking moments as audiences experience one of history’s most despairing environments through the eyes of these two children.
Grave of the Fireflies resonates with viewers over 30 years after its initial release, still bringing a sense of tearful awe despite being presented as an animated feature.
12. Guilty Crown
Guilty Crown is a 2011 Japanese anime series which tells the haunting story of Shu Ouma, a normal teenager who finds himself caught up amid a military conflict between two warring political factions.
During a chance encounter with a mysterious girl named Inori Yuzuriha, Shu is endowed with an extraordinary power that allows him to reach inside people and pull out varying weapons from their souls. With this newfound power, Shu is thrust into the middle of a civil war whose cost far outweighs any understanding.
As he battles against insurmountable odds, his relationships with his friends and allies grow strained as tragedy builds around them at every turn.
What rises, in the end, are questions of human dignity, loyalty and justice spurred on by conflicting ideals while tensions set the stage for what could become one of the saddest anime ever made—Guilty Crown.
11. Wolf Children
Wolf Children is well-known as one of the saddest anime ever created. It tells a powerful story of courage, love and loss.
Following a single mother’s struggles to raise her two daughters – Yuki and Ame – Wolf Children moves viewers through themes of responsibility, family commitments, and, ultimately, sacrifice. As the story continues, we observe the loving relationship between mother and children as they face hardships head-on.
The first part of the anime brings moments of joyfulness while exploring the cultural aspects of Japan. Still, things take an emotional turn when we recognize a desire by Yuki and Ame to live differently from their human mother due to their wolf heritage.
As can be expected from such a situation, the ending is bittersweet; viewers must come to grips with saying goodbye to characters after witnessing so much love and devotion across the film’s runtime.
10. Perfect Blue
Perfect Blue, a 1997 psychological thriller anime film, is undoubtedly one of the saddest anime of all time. Directed by Satoshi Kon and adapted from Yoshikazu Takeuchi’s novel, this story follows a young pop star, Mima Kirigoe, on her journey to pursue acting as she leaves her successful singing career behind.
The surrealist direction this movie takes has viewers captivated for its entire runtime as we watch Mima struggle with a stalker following her every move.
As she dives deeper into this web of paranoia and confusion, events quickly spiral out of control, leading to tragic happenings that will tear you.
Perfect Blue’s chilling story, combined with the suspenseful soundtrack and beautiful animation, makes it an unforgettable experience that deserves recognition among all other classic anime films.
9. Your Name
The critically acclaimed 2016 Japanese anime film “Your Name” is widely considered to be one of the saddest and most meaningful anime ever created. The movie follows two high schoolers, Mitsuha and Taki, as they yearn to switch lives and experience life as the other.
Along their journey, they eventually discover the reason behind their mysterious power–that switching places with each other was a result of a comet that passes by Earth every 1,000 years.
While the two try to work together to save those around them from oncoming disasters, they also come to understand their own connection with each other in the process.
What makes this anime especially heartbreaking is its beautifully composed story that reaches into viewers’ hearts regardless of language or culture
Erased, also known as Boku dake ga Inai Machi, is an acclaimed anime series that follows the story of Satoru Fujinuma, a struggling manga artist with a supernatural ability to ‘go back in time’ and fix moments of regret.
After witnessing a series of child abductions near his home, Satoru wakes up 18 years in the past with his mind set on unravelling and changing these horrific events.
Not only does this anime provide suspenseful and thrilling plot points, but it is also delicately woven together by heart-wrenching scenes that bring tears to viewer’s eyes throughout its compelling twelve-episode run.
With stunning visuals and a poignant soundtrack featuring soft-sounding melodies and complex jazz instruments, Erased has helped thrust an entire anime genre into the mainstream.
Its themes touch on the idea that no matter how much we try to change our circumstances, time marches forward relentlessly, yet there will always be someone special in our life who will never forget us— no matter what changes come to pass.
7. Plastic Memories
Plastic Memories is a bittersweet anime that captivates its viewers from start to finish. The story follows Tsukasa, an employee of the SAI Corporation whose main job is to reclaim androids known as Giftias that are reaching their expiration date due to the limitations of their artificial intelligence.
Through his journeys, he meets Isla, a Giftia who begins to show feelings for him as she approaches her expiration date day by day.
At its core, Plastic Memories conveys a powerful message about living in the moment and learning how to let go. Like watching a person slowly leave your life, you witness Isla’s struggles and feel every emotion alongside her characters.
The soundtracks in this anime perfectly capture the range of emotions brought out in its heartbreaking storyline. The artwork is also exquisite and shows just what animators are capable of achieving when they put their minds to something special.
The award-winning anime movie “Orange” breaks the hearts of viewers with its emotionally charged storyline. This film centers around Naho Takamiya, an adolescent girl living a typical life until she receives a letter from her future self, detailing how she must protect her beloved friend Kakeru from his own tragic fate.
As the story progresses, Naho and her friends slowly realize that their futures are inextricably intertwined with Kakeru’s present circumstances.
Relying on courage and heartfelt emotions, “Orange” guides viewers through a winding range of challenging dilemmas as Naho repeatedly confronts complications that arise as a result of her efforts.
Going beyond merely entertaining viewers with its soaring soundtrack and beautiful animation, this emotionally overwhelming tale effortlessly leaves a lasting impression in the minds of all who experience its richly engaging story.
From unforgettable humour moments to heartbreaking resolutions, Orange is truly an anime masterpiece that demonstrates the power of drama when infused with the integrity of realistic characters confronted with impossible situations – made only more powerful by being perfectly appropriate for younger audiences.
5. Centimeters Per Second
Centimeters Per Second is a powerful and award-winning anime movie that tells the story of two childhood friends who, despite growing apart, still carry a deep and lasting bond with each other.
It poetically follows Takaki Tohno and Akari Shinohara as they struggle to confront their past and overcome their inner turmoil.
Throughout the entire movie, gritty visuals serve as the backdrop for its profound journey filled with heartbreaking nostalgia.
With one high school summer ending and college-level entrance exams waiting ahead of them, they can never go back to the innocence of childhood days but instead must take another path towards adulthood.
Centimeters Per Second is rife with endearing dialogue that drives emotion home and beautiful soundtracks that lead to an unforgettable experience for viewers.
The anime classic, ‘Air’, is consistently a fan-favourite for its intense and emotional story. As an epic romance, the show follows a young girl, Yukito Kunishiro, and his journey as he searches for someone special in his life.
Alongside him are three girls with very different personalities who help him in his quest. With all the drama of unrequited love and unexpected connections, this sorrowful story touches viewers’ hearts with its tragedy, making it one of the saddest anime ever made.
From Yukito’s loneliness to the confused dilemmas facing each character, Air shows us how difficult life can be with no simple solutions to help get through it all.
This crushingly melancholic story reminds us that however terrible things might seem, there is always the potential for beauty along with hope amidst despair.
3. Garden of the Words
Garden of Words is an anime that tackles a sad and complex topic with succinct yet powerful animation. Set in the backdrop of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Garden of Words tells the story of two broken characters who attempt to find solace within each other.
One of them is a 15-year-old high school student, Takao Akizuki, who has been skipping school to pursue his dream of becoming a shoemaker. The other is 27-year-old Yukino Yukinari, a mysterious woman struggling with internal issues.
As their relationship begins to blossom, both characters learn things about themselves and develop into better versions of themselves.
While their story does not have a concrete resolution and still leaves viewers wondering what will happen next, it doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking to watch.
In fact, the lack of closure makes it even more poignant and leads us to ponder about emotions we often hold deep within our hearts as humans.
2. True Tears
True Tears is a unique anime that captures tragedy and grief in an impacting way. Featuring the emotions of Noe, a girl whose family has been fractured due to painful memories of her father’s past, the story subtly yet powerfully advances her journey as she finds the strength to overcome her trauma.
In turn, we are presented with a heart-breaking yet ultimately optimistic tale where the characters strive not just to come to terms with each other’s struggles but also to find ways in which they can connect and learn from each other.
It conveys deep messages about resilience and coping amidst our most difficult times, making it one of the saddest yet inspiring works of anime ever created.
True Tears strips away the traditional drama tropes and instead presents us with simple but powerful scenes that echo the same emotion throughout its well plotted narrative: hope.
Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (AnoHana) is a Japanese anime series that is widely renowned for its emotional depth and melancholic atmosphere.
This heartfelt story follows the journey of six childhood friends who have been torn apart by tragedy but bonded together by love.
Set in a small town surrounded by lush greenery, the anime artfully tells of how each person affected by the event slowly moves forward, learning to accept their sorrows and ultimately finding hope despite the tragedy.
With an iconic soundtrack, beautiful animation, and thought-provoking concepts about life’s struggles and losses, Anohana is truly an unforgettable anime masterpiece.
Its delicate portrayal of human grief poignantly expresses how even in our darkest moments, we can find comfort in those around us.
The incredibly moving plot, paired with its ability to convey emotions, is what solidifies this show’s place as one of the saddest yet most cherished anime creations ever made.
All in all, the saddest anime movies of all time explored the range of emotions that humans encounter in life. While some movies were heartwarming, showing unlikely friendships and unstated love between characters, others provided a deep insight into the inner workings of how grief can affect one’s mind.
Through 18 of these greatest masterpieces, we hope to have shown how anime makes us feel every human emotion – from joy to sorrow and from laughter to tears.
All these anime stories will inspire you to appreciate life’s positive moments and view death with acceptance. Take a look at our list and decide which of the saddest anime movies ever touched your heart deeply – then share it with us!