There are some of the saddest, most touching anime out there, but this list of anime isn’t just sad; it’s a journey. While this applies to any storytelling, for many, it completely changes the picture of life. But hey! It’s not all about wallowing in misery. There are sad cry and occasionally happy cry in anime. And that shift between happy and sad and lots of ups and downs is what makes a sad anime worth a “good cry.”
Anime are known for taking their time to tell a profoundly touching story while building a connection with the characters. And when you are cheerful and excited for the characters, unexpected happens, something that you’ve never expected to cry from hitting you right where it hurts.
Here are some anime that will move you so viscerally that you’d want to relive them for years to come. If you’re up for it, strap yourself for the journey on these tear-jerking rollercoasters. These are the best sad anime we think you should watch right now.
Best Sad Anime:
Tomoya Okazaki is a third-year student at Hikarizaka Private High School, often viewed as a delinquent by his classmates for his uncaring nature of school life. He also manifests hatred toward the town he has lived in all his life.
One morning on his way to school, he meets a shy girl named Nagisa Furukawa, repeating her last year. As two of them begin to spend more time together, Tomoya’s standstill life begins to change for the better.
02. Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies)
In a post-war Japan, at a train station in Kobe city, a 14-year-old boy named Seita lies dying. A janitor at the station founds a small metal candy tin by his body, not sure what to do with it. He throws it into the field.
The spirit of Seita and his 4-year-old younger sister, Setsuko, emerges from the cloud of fireflies around the candy tin. After which, it flashbacks to a months earlier, where a fire-bomb attack leaves Seita and Setsuko orphaned and homeless. Forced them to survive in an abandoned bomb shelter.
03. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)
After his mother’s death, a child piano prodigy Kousei Arima can no longer play or hear the sound of his piano at all. The world is monotone in his eyes. Two years later, he has stopped playing piano and lives a secluded life alongside his best friends Tsubaki Sawabe and Watari Ryouta.
One day, Kousei’s colorless life suddenly changes when he meets Kaori Miyazono, a violinist. Kaori is the exact opposite of Kousei and encourages him to return to the music world, overcoming his past. Through Kaori, Kousei learns that music is not all about playing proper notes; it should also be enjoyed to the fullest.
04. Angel Beats!
Yuzuru Otonashi finds himself in a strange world. He awakens only to learn he is dead and now is in the afterlife with no memories from when he was alive. After awakening, Otonashi finds himself next to a girl named Nakamura Yuri, who claims to be the leader of Shinda Sekai Sensen (SSS).
SSS is in war with Kanade Tachibana, the student council president, also known as Angel. Later on, Otonashi decides to join the SSS organization, which rebels against an unseen God for their unfair circumstances in life and battles Tachibana to get out of their cruel fate.
05. Plastic Memories
SAI, an Artificial Intelligence Corporation, created Giftias, androids equipped with human emotions and personality that lives alongside humans and companying them. But these Giftias have very limited lifespans and need to retrieve out of commission before their expiration.
After failing his college entrance exams, Tsukasa Mizugaki, through some connections, manages to land a job at the SAI Corporation and becomes in charge of retrieving the Giftias. Tsukasa eventually meets a Giftia named Isla, a Giftia retrievals expert. Thus began the story of Tsukasa and his relationship with Isla as they fall in love with each other.
06. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
A group of six childhood friends Jinta Yadomi, Meiko Honma, Chiriko Tsurumi, Atsumu Matsuyuki, Naruko Anjou, and Tetsudou Hisakawa drift apart after a tragic event that causes the death of Meiko Honma. Many years later, Jinta Yadomi has now grown repressed of society and now lives as a hermit.
One day, the ghost of older looking Meiko appears before him and asks to have a wish granted for her to pass on peacefully, which she doesn’t remember. This extraordinary event cause this once drifted group of childhood friends to gather back together to help Meiko pass on into the afterlife.
07. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
At the start of summer break, Mirai, a middle school girl, goes to Tokyo’s human-made Odaiba Island with her younger brother Yuuki for a robot exhibition. Without any warning a massive earthquake at a magnitude of 8.0 hits Tokyo.
In instants, it turns into a disaster, and everything falls apart. In their attempt to get home, they meet a delivery girl named Mari Kusakabe. The trio starts the long journey striving to head back to their home safely.
08. Akame ga Kill!
A countryside boy named Tatsumi sets out on a journey with his two childhood friends to the Capital to make a name for himself and earn some money to save his impoverished village. But his life soon takes a dramatic turn, after being separated from his friends in a bandit attack.
In a chain of events, Tatsumi learns about the cruel fate of his missing friends from a seemingly dangerous group of assassins called Night Raid. After his encounter with Night Raid, Tatsumi joins them as an assassin after learning the current regime’s cruelty and decides to help restore the balance in the nation.
09. 3-gatsu no Lion (March comes in like a lion)
Rei Kiriyama lost his parents and younger sister in a car accident. A friend of his father adopts him and teaches him more about Shogi, a Japanese board game. After struggling to fit in with his foster family, Rei decides to move out. Being a pro shogi player allows him to earn money while still attending school.
But living alone is hard as he continually ends up in a depressing cycle of loneliness. It all changes when Akari, one of the Kawamoto sisters, helps him. Rei tries to return the favor but ends up receiving more help from the sisters. The chain of kindness leads Rei often questioning life and how simple things are key to happiness.
10. Death Parade
There is no heaven or hell, only a bar acting as a bridge between reincarnation and eternal void. Quindecim is one of these mysterious bars where two people end up once they die at the same time. Decim is the bartender at Quindecim who serves drinks to the arriving humans unaware of their death.
Decim is also a referee in a death game where the deceased play with their souls on the line. Reincarnation, if you win and eternal void if you lose, is the price of death games. The dead’s past and current actions in the Death games will determine their fate afterward.