Anime comes in all sorts of different forms, from epic adventures, laugh-out-loud comedies, and terrifying horrors. Among them, there has been a lot of sad anime that have made even the most hardened of viewers burst out into tears, touching on topics of love, life, death, and even emotion themselves.
Even when some anime end on a high note, it can be hard for viewers to shake off those low points. That being said, when fans find that good sad story that hits them right where it hurts, it can lead to a good cry, and these sad anime titles never fail to get the job done.
10 Clannad Just Becomes Sadder & Sadder As It Goes On
At first glance, Clannad seems like just a normal school slice-of-life anime that sees the delinquent Tomoya Okazaki meeting and befriending the shy and kind Nagisa Furukawa. However, as Clannad continues to progress, it becomes something much more than that and begins to tug at the heartstrings.
On top of stunning and emotional animation, Clannad is very character-driven, having its drama revealed organically as the viewer learns more about the characters. If its first season's heartwarming end doesn't make the viewer shed a tear, the notoriously sorrowful follow-up Clannad: After Story definitely will.
9 2003's Fullmetal Alchemist Is Equal In Action & Sadness
Fullmetal Alchemist is known by many anime fans as an iconic shonen series and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is often praised for adapting the remainder of the source material. Brotherhood might not be the first title fans would think of on the topic of sad anime, but the 2003 adaptation is arguably the sadder one.
While both versions of Fullmetal Alchemist share miserable moments, such as Ed and Al's attempt at human transmutation and the cruel fate of Nina Tucker, the 2003 version is more morose in tone. It spends a lot of time building up emotional moments that hit a lot harder, leaving many story arcs without a happy ending.
8 Love, Death & Acceptance Are Abound In Angel Beats!
Angel Beats! is a top choice for sad anime. Centering around souls stuck in the afterlife, the amnesiac Yuzuru Otanashi wakes up to discover that he and his new friends are already dead and fighting to stop themselves from disappearing. From there, secrets about the afterlife and how they got there reveal harsh truths.
As an anime that's all about death, Angel Beats! comes with a big heartbreaking weight as viewers watch the characters come to terms with how they tragically died. Admittedly, Angel Beats! starts off as mostly comedic and does take time before the real tear-jerking events occur, but once they do, it's hard to not feel the emotional gut punch.
7 Depression & Redemption Is The Rollercoaster That Makes A Silent Voice
As a kid, A Silent Voice's Shouya Ishida bullied the deaf girl Shouko Nishimiya alongside his friends, but when she transferred schools, Shouya was singled out and shunned for it all the way up to high school. Lonely, depressed, and truly remorseful, Shouya meets Shouko again to try and make amends.
Shouya's redemption and his relationship with Shouko are the heart of A Silent Voice, as viewers see the deep loneliness and self-loathing they both feel that very nearly claim their lives, too. On top of that, the brilliant animation paints a picture of how closed-off and isolated Shouya feels from everyone else around him, creating a story that's both emotionally impactful and visually symbolic.
6 Your Name. Is Both Sad & Uplifting
One day, without warning, Mitsuha Miyamizu and Taki Tachibana, two souls who have never met, wake to find that they've switched bodies. From there, the two start living each other's lives while they try to figure out what's happened to them. From there, Your Name. spends its time getting to know its lead characters and their struggles.
While Your Name.'s story is simple, it's the level of emotional depth behind the two protagonists and their growing relationship, backed up by gorgeous animation, that makes this movie a must-watch. While it does end on an uplifting note, there are plenty of tears to be shed along the way.
5 Violet Evergarden Sees A Journey For Purpose & Understanding Emotions
Violet Evergarden strives to answer significant questions through its plot. The titular Violet Evergarden endeavors to understand what purpose in life someone might have who has only ever seen violence and bloodshed. Violet wants to understand the meaning of the words "I love you." After Violet's time as a soldier comes to an end, she becomes a ghostwriter for people who cannot write as she tries to integrate into normal society, haunted by the parting words of her mentor and feelings she does not fully understand.
Violet Evergarden is a journey through emotion with dazzling animation and drama. It can make viewers cry tears of both joy and sorrow as Violet grows, slowly learning how to become human.
4 Your Lie In April Is A Story Of Trauma, Love, Loss & Music
Your Lie In April's Kousei Arima was once a child prodigy of a pianist who always took the top spot in all competitions he participated in, but after the death of his abusive mother, Kousei stopped being able to hear the notes he played and swore off the piano. Years later, his dull life begins to take a turn for the better after he meets violinist Kaori Miyazano and she reignites his love of music.
Your Lie In April is a heavy series, but one that feels rewarding as it handles themes of hopelessness, trauma, depression, love, and loss, as well as following one's passions.
3 Life After Loss Is What Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day Is All About
Everyone deals with loss in their own way; some come to accept things as they are while others can't move past them. That pain of loss is the main theme of Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, as childhood friends of the deceased Menma come back together years later to iron out their emotional hangups after Jinta starts to see Menma's spirit.
Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day is driven by the emotional depth of its characters, their relationships with each other, and the dialogue. Anohana is a compelling drama depicting themes of processing grief. It can hit home for just about anyone and bring on the waterworks.
2 To Your Eternity Is A Story About Life, Death & The Curse Of Immortality
To Your Eternity starts with a mysterious being releasing an orb that can take the form of anything that stimulates it into the world. With time the orb, aka Fushi, takes the form of a living creature and later journeys off into the world for more stimulation. However, what Fushi ultimately finds out there will stay with him forever.
It doesn't take long for To Your Eternity to tug at the heartstrings of viewers as tragedy strikes as early as the first episode, setting the tone for the drama. To Your Eternity's multiple arcs showcase Fushi as he evolves from an inhuman being to a person all his own.
1 Grave Of The Fireflies Has A Depressing Reputation
Grave of the Fireflies is one of the most often discussed titles in the topic of sad anime. This film from Studio Ghibli is tumultuous from beginning to end. Grave of the Fireflies follows two siblings living through World War II as firebombings destroy their house, leave their mother dead, and their cruel aunt forces them to live on their own.
Grave of the Fireflies is notorious for how sad it is, as Seita and Setsuko slowly waste away on their own and viewers see the side effects of war and the indifference to the people who suffer for it. It's likely that only the most hardened viewers can walk away from this film with dry eyes.