There is certainly no getting around it, sometimes an anime is put out for no other reason than to make you cry and feel as depressed as humanly possible. One of the great things about anime is that it is capable of making us feel such incredible amounts of emotion, whether that be happiness or sadness. For this list, we want to focus on the latter though; the series that punch us in the gut and make us feel like our hearts have been ripped out of our chests. Here are ten example of series that can make us feel depressed enough to cry like a child with a skinned knee.
10. True Tears
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jan. 2008 - Mar. 2008
True Tears is all about loss and how one deals with that pain. The hero is a high school boy named Shinichiro, who lives with his parents and a female childhood friend, Hiromi, who moved in after her father died a year earlier. What's bothersome about the situation is that while at school, Hiromi is all laughs and smiles, she acts coldly towards Shinichiro while at home and never smiles despite their long history. Over the course of the series, he must teach her how to genuinely smile again while he also learns valuable lessons about life and love.
The loss of a family member can be a traumatic experience for anyone and this series captures that emotion beautifully. While it can be tough to watch at times, True Tears is a fantastic series for those who know the pain of losing a loved one.
9. Plastic Memories
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr. 2015 - Jun. 2015
Plastic Memories tells you in the first episode that it is going to be hard to watch. In this series, the setting is a future where people live with special androids that serve as companions or family members. Unfortunately these androids have a limited life span, which is why it's up to trained individuals to retrieve them before their batteries completely die. The results are heart-wrenching scenes which feature regular humans having to give up beloved members of their family because their life expectancy is about to run out.
From the first episode to the last, this series will tug at you and force you to feel the same profound sense of loss that these people feel. While the series attempts to lighten things up occasionally with a joke here and there, it won't be enough to stop the tears from flowing whenever the main characters have to break up, yet another family.
8. Angel Beats!
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr. 2010 - Jun. 2010
Jun Maeda is an expert at making people cry and Angel Beats! shows just how skilled he is at doing so. The story of Angel Beats! features a guy who wakes up in what he believes to be a high school but is soon informed that he is actually in a sort of purgatory waiting to be reincarnated into his next life (though he doesn't remember anything that happened in his previous life before he died). The girl who informs him of this is the leader of a resistance movement, who all refuse to let themselves be reincarnated until they are able to meet with God and demand an explanation for the tragic lives they were forced to live. Over the course of a dozen episodes, the series will show you just how bad the lives of these characters were one by one and make you feel their pain.
While the premise of the series may seem a little silly to some, it doesn't change the fact that this is a powerful series that will knock you off your feet. What makes this series so moving, though, is that the characters are all so likable. Before long, you find yourself being angry on their behalf that they were forced to endure such hardship during their lives.
7. Black Bullet
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr. 2014 - Jul. 2014
Out of all the series on this list, Black Bullet can be one of the hardest to watch. If you were to read a general plot synopsis instead of watching the series you might not believe that Black Bullet deserves a place on this list, but all you have to do is watch the first couple of episodes to realize how dark and depressing this one can get.
Black Bullet is an action series that takes place in a future Tokyo being attacked by giant bugs which infect people and kill them. The only people who can take on these creatures are known as Gastrea, trained agents, and their loli partners, Cursed Children, who possess special powers. The problem is that these Cursed Children are treated as third class citizens and are ignored, or regularly abused, by nearly everyone. Episode after episode, features these poor girls being hit or killed by those who should be protecting them including adults and authority figures, which makes this not an easy series to watch most of the time.
6. AnoHana (Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai.)
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: Apr. 2011 - Jun. 2011
The premise of AnoHana is pretty simple, but the execution will leave you breathless. AnoHana is about a group of teenagers who were super close friends when they were young but after one of their friends dies in an accident, they drift apart and go their separate ways. One of these kids, Jintan, has become a recluse who refuses to go to school or leave the house until he starts seeing the ghost of his childhood friend, Menma. Armed with a new purpose in life, Jintan seeks to gather his friends together again, so that they can grant the wish of Menma and help send her to the afterlife.
While the series attempts to fill the viewer with hope and happiness throughout the run, the final episode is what will push you beyond the point of no return. You can try as hard as you want to resist but once these characters start calling out Menma's name in the final episode, you'll be able to fill buckets with your tears.
5. Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso)
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: Oct. 2014 - Mar. 2015
As soon as the female lead in this series makes her first big reveal, you know that you're headed for a tragic ending. You'll keep watching because the series is so incredibly good as you hope for a happy ending, but it will never arrive and the tears will flow.
Your lie in April tells the story of a teenage piano prodigy who can no longer play after the death of his abusive mother. One day though, he meets a free spirited violinist named Kaori, who encourages him to come out of his shell and experience life again. Unfortunately while she's encouraging him, she's hiding a big secret of her own.
4. Puella Magi Madoka Magica (Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan. 2011 - Apr. 2011
One of the darkest magical girl series ever, Madoka Magica likes to pretend that it's all hopeful and cheery but let's be realistic here. Madoka Magica is a series all about regret and sadness. On the surface it's about a girl named Madoka, trying to decide if she wants to be a magical girl and finding out the grim realities of this lifestyle. But if you dig a little deeper, it's truly about another girl who will stop at nothing to keep Madoka from making the wrong choice, because she knows the fate that awaits her if she does.
This is a series that is all about pain, regret and sorrow. Homura wants what is best for her friend and is literally willing to put herself through an endless circle of torment in order to save her, but in the end it's never enough. The pain is always there waiting for her and the endless cycle starts all over again.
3. Now and Then, Here and There (Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Oct. 1999 - Jan. 2000
You can call this series blunt if you want, but this is a series that takes the darkest parts of humanity and attempts to present it to you as a palatable meal. Now and Then, Here and There features a bit of everything: a zealot bent on domination, rape, suffering, torture, genocide, child soldiers fighting a pointless war and so much more. If it's dark and uncomfortable to see, there's a good chance that you'll be exposed to it while watching this series.
The hero of this series is a teenager named Shu, who meets a mysterious girl named Lala-Ru. Soon after he meets her though, Shu is pulled into a strange desert world where a brutal dictator is waging a war against defenseless people. Now Shu must figure out a way to rescue Lala-Ru, protect the people, and stay true to his own personal values in the process.
2. Clannad: After Story
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Oct. 2008 - Mar. 2009
If the first season of Clannad wasn't enough to get the tears flowing, the second season will certainly push you over the edge. In the second season of this hit series from Kyoto Animation, the story picks up as Tomoya and Nagisa graduate from high school and get married. Tomoya gets a job to support his now pregnant wife but Nagisa's poor health comes into play in a very real and dramatic way.
You can call it manipulative if you want, but Clannad: After Story will hit you right in the gut with hard feelings and will force you to experience things that you might not want to. It pulls absolutely no punches with its emotional story and presentation, and will continue to beat you over the head until you're ready to tap out.
1. Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no Haka)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Apr. 1988
When the main character opens a movie by narrating how and when he died, you know that you're not in for a fun and happy experience. One of the most tragic movies to ever be made, this feature takes place in Japan during WWII, and follows two children who have no parents to watch over them. Having to survive on their own, they do their best, but sadly their best proves to not be good enough to save them from the horrors of the war.
This is a brutal movie that many people say they can only watch once and never again. Death, destruction, abuse, neglect, starvation... these are all sad truths about war and things that these children do their best to survive through. The ravages of war are terribly hard to even fathom but this movie brings them all out in a way that makes you feel as though you are there. If you consider yourself an anime fan, you owe it to yourself to sit through it at least once and never, ever forget what you saw.
As we stated in the beginning, anime is capable of making you feel intense emotions that can range from incredible highs to the lowest of lows. What's important though is to remember that the feelings these series generate are real and the fact that these series can make us experience them is the greatest gift that a creation can give.