Why do we like anime so much? It can’t just be the excitement that it evokes in us, stirring our youthful hearts with action and drama. If that were the case then most of us would be simple action junkies watching extreme sports and screaming at a monster truck running rough shod over a line of cars. No, anime also provides us context for said action.
The context could be a happy situation that makes us laugh, or a fatal one that makes us cry. Regardless of which type of emotion, anime is able to not just evoke our excitement, but the primal feelings that lay deep within ourselves that are normally repressed when it comes to our daily lives. We don’t go bursting into tears for no reason right? There are many tools that is utilised by anime to bring out this emotions in us, and one of those tools is the music itself.
Whether to make us laugh or cry, music is a powerful tool that can immediately tell us if a situation is good or bad, allowing us to grasp its context immediately. Here at Honey’s anime, we want to go through the Top 10 Anime Songs that Will Break Your Heart, because crying over the anime for the first time wasn’t enough.
10. Adesso e Fortuna (Record of Lodoss War)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jun 1990 – Nov 1991
Oldies are goodies. That’s the rule that we often hold the past up to. Things will almost never be as good as what was in the past, so whatever anime we had in the past must be good. While that’s an almost entirely arbitrary rule, it’s not always wrong or right. In this case, it’s most definitely right. The Record of Lodoss War is one of the greats of the past that were able to evoke the right emotions in its viewers, and one of those was that of deep sadness and melancholy.
One of the aspects of it that allowed it to do that was its ED, Adesso e Fortuna. After watching an episode with some appropriately tragic event that made us really upset, the show ends with a song that starts off slow and soft, but builds up into a crescendo of heartache and despair, neatly tying up how we feel about each episode. And as the song ends, we are simply left with a sense of melancholy about the many pains that life brings, just like the show.
9. Departures (Guilty Crown)
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: Oct 2011 – Mar 2012
Some spoilers lie ahead for the ending of the anime, but none that would make any sense if you haven’t watched the show up to a certain point. Guilty Crown is a rollercoaster of an anime. At one point we are feeling excitement at the Hero’s Triumph as he leads to way to victory, when it suddenly comes all crashing down at the last moment, leaving us with shocked faces and despair ridden hearts. If there’s one thing that Guilty Crown is good at, it’s keeping viewers at the edge of their seats because anything could happen at any moment to their favourite characters.
However, the ending is decidedly a mixed bag. It’s both happy and sad. The main character Shu, is cleansing the virus that plagues everybody, giving them their hearts back. But around him is pure pandemonium as buildings collapse and a certain someone dies forever. It is in this chaos that Departures begins to play, being timed perfectly with the death and destruction that permeates the show. And as our favourite characters leave us forever, we can say goodbye with the most appropriately named song: Departures.
8. Mother Sea (One Piece)
- Episodes: Unknown
- Aired: Oct 1999 - ?
Character death is not something that happens frequently in a shounen anime like One Piece. Thus, if they ever occur they must be handled especially well, because some of its audiences are younger kids who don’t even comprehend the gravity of death yet. When it becomes time for the Going Merry to leave the world forever, our heroes give it a Viking funeral, allowing the Going Merry to die with pride.
As they cry their hearts out at losing the ship that brought them almost halfway through the grand line, Mother Sea begins to play. It is not a roaring symphony of death and despair, nor an immediately heart breaking song, but one that almost seems childish at first. Rather than a song for a funeral, it almost seems to be a lullaby that lulls the Going Merry to sleep. And as it plays in the background, Going Merry assures its crew, and us who have been with them every step of the way, that it enjoyed itself. We shouldn’t be sad because while its journey has ended, ours has just begun.
Which just makes us cry more in the end.
7. Will of Heart (Bleach)
- Episodes: 366
- Aired: Oct 2004 – Mar 2012
Bleach is not a subtle show by any stretch of the imagination. How can it be when characters blast ice dragons and control the bloody weather just by existing? Much of the show is laden with shouty shouty bang bang portions that wouldn’t be out of place in a shounen anime at all. But when the sad moments in the show come, they hit really hard.
Will of Heart is not a song that plays in that one really famous scene, but it comes on whenever it’s needed in a sad scene. While this means it doesn’t come on that often, the impact that it has whenever it plays is undeniable. Starting with a slow piano build up that’s just so damn depressing, it suddenly picks up with a roar of despair, poking multiple holes in our blackened hearts. Eat your heart out, because if you don’t, the song will do it for you.
6. Sign (Naruto Shippuuden)
- Episodes: Unknown
- Aired: Feb 2007 - ?
Much of Naruto follows the duality between its two main characters, Naruto and Sasuke. As such, when one loses someone important to them, it goes to follow that the other must as well. On one side, Naruto experiences the loss of his mentor and father figure Jiraiya, literally lost to the Pain of the world. On the other, Itachi has just sacrificed his life for Sasuke, and Sasuke has found out about the truth about his actions.
The opening sequence that goes in the background of Sign shows off this duality quite well. At the same time, Sign is a song that starts out slow and painful. It quickly breaks out into rock and roll, but that’s an extremely deceptive overtone that fits the lyrics of the song. “I don’t care if I’m hurt because I don’t feel pain anymore” is just one part of its lyrics. It is not a rock out song at all, but one that shows how much Naruto and Sasuke are enduring just to move past the deaths of their loved ones. They represent just how the viewers feel about the two deaths; “I’m not crying. No really I’m not! Those deaths weren’t sad at all! These aren’t tears of sadness, there’s just a ninja cutting onions somewhere.”
5. Rain (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
- Episodes: 64
- Aired: Apr 2009 – Jul 2010
Rain is the last and final OP to the popular series, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Throughout the show, we’ve had our share of heartbreaking moments. They go from the sudden death of Maes Hughes, to the transmutation of the Onii-san chimera, leaving us with an appropriate amount of heartache. Rain isn’t just a sad song that’s sad for the sake of it, but a song of remembrance that lets us reminisce about everything horrible that has ever happened throughout the show.
The lyrics ask us if the rain will ever stop someday, and as death after death hits us when the tension mounts up in the final bits of the show, we realise that we might not know the answer to that question. “Why did the rain choose me?” questions the lyrics. And it might just be because, we were crying so much that the weather itself chose to hide our tears from the world to preserve our pride and dignity.
4. Continued Story (Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch R2)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 2008 – Sep 2008
Amongst the internet community, Continued Story is often known to be the “Onii-san!” song. Not because it’s about a tsundere imouto, but because of the scene that it’s made famous for. As Lelouch, the Demon Emperor, falls upon the blade of Suzaku and collapses into a puddle of his own blood, the world cheers for the freedom that they now have from his bloody reign. But as Nunnally lays her hands on him, Lelouch’s plans to unite the world and give her a peaceful life are made clear to her.
So while the world celebrates, Nunnally cries. She cries so hard that we can’t help but to cry with her. As they chant for the death of the Demon Emperor, her lone voice screams for her brother. And in the background, Continued Story plays, its eerie childlike choir sounding quietly into the night. While not overly noticeable at first, it definitely brings forth a mixed bag of emotions that include the happiness of the crowd, but the one emotion that screams the strongest is sadness at his death, just like the scene it plays in.
3. Chopin Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23 (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso)
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: Oct 2014 – Mar 2015
Major spoilers for the ending of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. Please skip this portion if you haven’t watched the show and are planning to.
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso follows the heart wrenching tale of a boy, Kousei, that lost his ability to play the piano when he lost his mother. Kousei’s life has been carrying on with the dull monotony of a black wall ever since, colouring his life in shades of grey. But almost as if with editing magic, sound and colour have returned into his life through the introduction of Kaori Miyazono. But even that is not too last, for she has a fatal illness that she has to undergo surgery for.
While Kaori fights for her life, Kousei is off to fulfil his promise to her by playing once more in a competition. And the song that he plays is Chopin Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23. As the song builds up we see a phantom of Kaori playing her violin alongside Kousei, guiding him through the difficult piece. But as her life fades, so does her phantom. And Kousei instinctively knows that Kaori’s life is going to end soon, so his keystrokes start to get more and more desperate.
Kousei plays harder and harder, internally pleading for her not to go. The notes get harsher as time goes by, showcasing just how hard he is trying to hold on to her. But as the song dies down, Kousei soon starts to realise that there is nothing that he can do. And as Kaori finally leaves the mortal coil, his hands land on the piano, playing the last night that echoes throughout the concert hall. But all that we hear are his last words; goodbye.
2. Ichiban no Takaramono (Angel Beats)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr 2010 – Jun 2010
It’s not inaccurate to say that Ichiban no Takaramono is the song that represents the relationship between Hinata and Yui. It begins to play over a sequence of events that never happened, in another life where Hinata and Yui met, and they begin to get along and eventually get together. It is a song that represents what a happy life for them would’ve been, but one that they ended up not getting at all.
But life gave them another chance, and while it was not ideal, they met in the afterlife and managed to get along. Though it seemed like she was prickly and annoying at first, he still fell for her and proposed to her. He told her how he would take care of her when they met again after their resurrection, and as the song plays over the life they could have had and it fades out. She disappears. Maybe they’ll meet again one day…
1. Roaring Tides (Clannad)
- Episodes: 23
- Aired: Oct 2007 – Mar 2008
Watching Clannad is like joining a secret club. Everyone has their own inside jokes and handshakes, and its members know each other instinctively even if they have never met before. One thing that most members are able to do is to cry on command. Clannad is a devastating show to watch fraught with tear jerking moments that can make a grown man cry in public.
And many of these moments are almost always prefaced with Roaring Tides playing in the background. It’s a subtle thing, but as time goes on we instinctively clench our hearts in horror whenever Roaring Tides plays because our heart knows that someone is going to die in a way that will make us roll around in a foetal position with tears streaming down our faces. So if you ever want to know whose part of the Clannad secret club, play Roaring Tides out loud and watch us the tears roll down their faces. Just be mindful of your own as well.
This is a damn sad article filled with the most heartbreaking songs and their accompanying moments. While it was an article that showed us the Top 10 Anime Songs that Will Break Your Heart, it also highlighted the moments that made us cry our hearts out while watching these shows. Doesn’t that show in the end, that anime is something that has more emotional depth than a simple children’s show?
Have any other songs that make you want to rip your heart out? Share with us in the comments below!