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We love anime for lots of different reasons. They are silly, hilarious, interesting and entertaining. But sometimes you want to see a deeper side of them and just experience the feels.
Today we want to highlight all of the shows that have moved us, as well as, thousands of other fans to tears. We are not talking about anime that barely touch you, but the ones that make you scream at the screen, hate and love the producers at the same time and require more than just a few tissues to get through the finale.
Be ready to re-live some of the best tearjerkers of anime history. Everyone aboard the feels train!
10. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: October 2014 - March 2015
Let’s start this list off with a drama that takes its viewers on an adventure filled with emotions and beautiful music.
Arima Kousei is a child prodigy and gifted piano player despite his young age. He has a great future lying ahead of him, but everything changes on the day his mother passes away and he swears to himself to abandon music completely. His days turn into a dull routine overshadowed by the tragedies of his past. But his life might get turned upside down one more time when he meets passionate and lively Kaori.
Even though this show wants to teach its viewers to keep going even through the darkest of times, it is still painful to watch the tragedies unfolding on screen. Over the course of this show the characters will slowly but surely grow on you, just to rip your heart out for the great finale and conclusion. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is a show that is as beautiful as it is tragic and has earned itself the first spot on this Top 10 List.
9. Elfen Lied
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2004 - October 2004
Next up is Elfen Lied, a show that is known for its high amounts of gory and disturbing scenes.
Lucy is not human. She might look like a normal girl, but she has the power to destroy this planet and every person trying to stop her from doing so. Even a creature like her, however, can show a different side. Elfen Lied tells the story of Lucy’s meeting with teenagers Kouta and Yuka. They are bound together by fate and the meaning of this meeting reaches way back into the past.
Elfen Lied takes you on a rollercoaster ride of negative emotions, from disturbing to depressed, disgusted, shocked and touched, but you still cannot stop watching. I found this show when I didn’t have much experience with anime yet, and how I wish that someone would have warned me. Besides the obviously bloody contents, Elfen Lied explores a lot of ethical issues and psychological questions. This show will get to you and touch you like no other.
8. Byousoku 5 Centimeter (5 Centimeters per Second)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: March 2007
The speed of a cherry blossom falling to the ground is five centimeters per second. This movie tells a chain of short stories about their distance.
Some people seem to belong together, but there are things in this world pulling them apart. It might be physical distance, but sometimes the person sitting right next to you can be as far away as the end of this atmosphere. Meet several people and hear about their stories of love, separation and an eminent feeling of fate holding them all together.
5 Centimeters per Second isn’t as depressing as it is simply painful to watch. Unlike some of the other stories presented on this list, this one shows events that can and actually are happening every single day. This is a romance movie that does not show the bright side of falling in love, but the painful side that includes getting hurt and having to move on. A big recommendation for all fans of bittersweet love stories.
7. Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch R2 (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2008 - September 2008
How far would you go to save the world from destroying itself?
The sequel to the first Code Geass story starts one year after the Black Rebellion. The fight between Lelouch Lamperouge and the Holy Britannian Empire continues, with new alliances and plot twists. Can Lelouch finally realize his goal or does he have to go down trying?
Code Geass R2 introduces new characters and, more importantly, a lot more drama and emotions. The characters feel authentic and the fans will cry and scream with them on this adventure set in an alternative version of Japan. The whole show has a certain depth to it that will make you feel as if Code Geass is way more than just a work of fiction and tries to explore more important issues. By the end of this show the characters will feel like brothers and sisters to you, which makes the finale even more heartbreaking. Tears guaranteed!
6. Bokurano (Bokurano: Ours)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2007 - September 2007
You thought all summer camp stories end in an amazing adventure like in Digimon? Think again, because Bokurano will show you an alternative outcome.
15 children come together and decide to explore the beach while being away on a summer camp. In a dark cave close to the ocean they find an eccentric man who invites them to play a game; earth is being attacked by a large robot and it is up to them to defend their planet. The kids are ready to test his game, but soon enough they have to realize that the game is played differently from what they’ve expected.
Many people stumble across Bokurano looking for a Mecha or Sci-Fi show. What they didn’t expect is a much sadder anime that explores the dark sides of the human mind. The producers didn’t cut down on drama and on top of that you have to keep in mind that the main characters are only children. Allow the story to unfold and stick through until the very end and I can promise you that you will be touched by this show in a way that you didn’t expect before.
5. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. (The Flower we Saw that Day)
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: April 2011 - June 2011
Follow Jinta and his friends on their journey back into their own past.
Despite their differences, six kids become best friends during summer. They enjoy their carefree days together and do not spend a second worrying about their future. But a tragic death forces them to grow up and go their separate ways. Many years later, now in high school, fate brings the former friends back together and makes them face the mistakes of their past.
Here we have another story that immerses you into a tragedy that is set close to everyday life. The definitiveness of death isn’t something that should be experienced by kids. Yet, the characters of this show need to face it and you cannot help but feel bad for them. Thoughts about what a happy adventure this could have been in another universe keep haunting you. Especially fans of Slice of Life and School shows will fall in love with this story.
4. Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: April 1988
You have watched all the anime up to this point, but still didn’t shed a tear? Be ready, because this movie won’t leave a single eye dry.
In the apocalyptic remains of the Japanese countryside after the atomic bombing of World War II, two siblings strive for survival. With no hope left, young Seita tries to protect his four-year-old sister Setsuko in a country that offers neither help nor sympathy. Their love for each other is all they have left while fighting grief and hunger.
Heartbreaking - that’s the only way this movie can be described. After all, for each minute spent watching this movie you have to remind yourself that this is not entirely a work of fiction. It has happened and the sheer pain displayed on the screen is real. Grave of the Fireflies is a classic, especially for fans of sorrowful stories. Don’t let the age of this little gem scare you off. There is a reason why I have to include it on this list; after all, emotions are timeless and you can still sympathize with the characters even more than 20 years after the release of this movie.
3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Episodes: 64
- Aired: April 2009 - July 2010
It’s time to move to our Top 3 and which show would be a better fit for the first spot than Fullmetal Alchemist?
The Elric brothers have a special bond. They tried their best to save their mother with the power of alchemy, but in the process older brother Elric lost part of his limbs while Alphonse lost his whole body and had to be bound to a suit of armor. Together they embark on a journey to find the Philosopher’s Stone and to undo the mistakes of their past. Their journey turns out to be much bigger than expected and they need to fight to protect the people close to them.
The relationship between the two brothers really gets to you, especially if you have siblings of your own. This anime succeeds at what many others only attempted to do: creating a believable connection between the main characters. That’s what really makes this show stand out and also conveys the emotions and drama of the storyline. It drags you into the story and forces you to really feel for the characters. Fullmetal Alchemist is a job well done and a definite must-watch.
2. Angel Beats!
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2010 - June 2010
If you had to die right now, what regrets would you have?
Otonashi is sure that he is dead. Yet, he wakes up outside the gates of a mysterious school that he does not recognize. Is this how heaven looks like? Otonashi is trapped inside a limbo zone between life and death and has to join a rebellion that fights no one less than God. Be ready for a show revolving around life, death and everything that happens between the two.
If you just start watching Angel Beats! you might not understand how it can be part of this list. It is true that this show is hilarious and seems carefree like no other. But it is also true that this is only one side of Angel Beats! and as the story progresses you find out more about the previous lives of the characters and the reason behind them being trapped at this school. Keep a pack of tissues nearby, because this show shows you the whole spectrum of human emotions.
1. Clannad: After Story
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2008 - March 2009
The final station of our emotional rollercoaster is no other show than Clannad, bringing us a love story that has touched thousands of people all over the world.
Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa meet in high school under unlikely circumstances. While Nagisa is trying hard to overcome her shy and clumsy self, Tomoya couldn’t care less about school and just wants to live his life without any obstacles. The story of Clannad: After Story begins after the two of them graduate high school and slowly have to grow up.
The reason for the great success of Clannad: After Story might be the fact that the initial Slice of Life story moved on to become something bigger and better. Even though the storyline is still kept down to earth, you will see a lot more drama, pain and heartwarming moments. Trust me when I tell you the feelings are strong with this one; you cannot help it but be moved by the story and feel for the characters, from the lighthearted beginning of the story until the painful ending.
What makes an anime sad?
There are lots of different reasons and they might differ between people. Some of the shows we have presented above talk about serious topics like death, war or heartbreak. Others talk about the tragedies closer to everyday life. Either way, if a show succeeds at creating characters that you actually care for and combining them with a plausible storyline, then you cannot help it but feel all of the emotions of the characters as if they were your own.
This list is by far not complete so share your personal tearjerkers with the community. Which shows have made you cry and scream at the screen? What do you think of the anime we have presented today? Your input is more than welcome in the comment section down below.