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In the anime world, a lot of shows can catch your attention and make you stick to the screen. There are anime that make you laugh, and that's why you crave for more episodes, and anime that play with your brain making you wonder what will happen next. Then again, there are anime you just watch to pass time, and some others to be taken lightheartedly.
There are some other anime, though, that are able to leave a burning mark on your heart. We are talking about those anime leaving you with a bittersweet taste, where there's a lingering feeling of sadness, and yet a ray of hope. Those are the shows you probably will always remember, because they can pull your heartstrings and stay unforgotten.
Here we are with a list of sad and beautiful anime endings! As this is an update, please don't forget to scroll down and read our previous article as well. Let's start!
10. ERASED (Boku dake ga Inai Machi)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: January 2016 – March 2016
Erased presented itself as an anime that would give the viewers goose bumps, anxiety and more than just two tears. Its themes are deep and dark; it's a show about domestic abuse, abduction, and the murder of children. It's more than that, actually, since it's a reflection about how one single incident, can cause a chain reaction bound to change everyone's lives forever.
In the last episode, our protagonist Satoru Fujinuma has already sacrificed his entire life. Actually, he has disappeared for years; while trying to frame the culprit, in order to save his classmate Kayo Hinazuki, he ended up in a coma. But someone’s reckoning is coming! The last two episodes are a crescendo of excitement, while Satoru and the culprit finally face each other after years. This show ends reminding you some important things: no one can give you back the time you lost, but if you are willing to fight, there will always be a ray of hope for the future.
9. Tokyo Ghoul √A
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: January 2015 – March 2015
Well, Tokyo Ghoul is another show that started giving us viewers the creeps; Ken Kaneki is an orphan, and a poor boy falling in love with the wrong woman. This event will lead him to become a half-ghoul. Of course, it's not just this. This is merely the beginning of all the hardships Ken Kaneki will have to face day after day, after that accident onward.
Always torn about wanting to be a human, while there's no turning back instead, Ken will gain the strength to go on, and while fighting the system with the hope to change the future for both humans, and ghouls, he has one more important goal: to save his one and only friend, Hide. The last episodes of this second season hit where it hurts; all Ken's ghoul friends fight standing up for him, even though he had already left them. Among heavy losses, defeats and pain, Ken will face his destiny, finally understanding the importance of bonds.
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: October 2012 – December 2012
K is an anime about clans, each of which revolves around a King. This first season gained a huge popularity, as it depicted the main story of the SCEPTER4 – the blue clan – and the HOMRA – the red clan – and in the background it followed the story of Yashiro Isana, framed for killing one of the Red Clansmen, and his companions: Kuroh Yatogami and Neko.
This show was very slow at getting to the heart of the plot, but when it did, it became very captivating. The last battle was one among frenemies, among former members of the same clan, and among sworn enemies. And it all started in order to take revenge against who killed the dearest member of the HOMRA. The most touching part, though, came after Mikoto – the Red King – died; the entire clan joined together to mourn his death. K simply touches your heart; it shows how deep and beautiful bonds can be, in spite of everything.
7. No. 6
- Episodes: 11
- Air Date: July 2011 – September 2011
No. 6 is the anime adaptation of the 9-volume-long novel series, by Atsuko Asano. No.6 is a city where everyone lives happily, and nothing ever goes wrong. What is the flip side, then? Well, Nezumi, a reject living outside the walls of the city, will show Shion what that utopian society actually is.
Throughout these 11 episodes, viewers will face a lot of tearful moments, in an escalation leading to a painful end. The peak of the sadness, though, will come at the end of the last episode; Shion has died, so Nezumi gets close to him and starts singing his requiem. We don't want to spoil it more than this, but just know that this show will end in a bittersweet way, leading the two protagonists – who are in love with each other – parting ways, with the promise to meet again, someday. For as sad as it may look, it was exactly the ending meant to be.
6. Valvrave the Liberator (Kakumeiki Valvrave)
- Episodes: 24
- Air Date: April 2013 – December 2013
Feeling like school sucks, maybe? Well, Haruto Tokishima and his friends have it worse! This anime went a bit unnoticed, but it is actually worth it, for both, plot and art style. It's a story about a bunch of students attacked by the Dorssian Military Pact Federation, fighting for their rights and cooperating with each other. As it is mecha genre, expect Haruto and his friends jumping on the Valvraves and fight against the enemy.
This anime, too, had an escalation of events leading to some very touching moments; toward the end, you'll find yourself cheering for Haruto, who will make the greatest sacrifice, in order to save everyone – enemies included. Prepare tissues, because Valvrave the Liberator will tell you about love, about friendship and about how your biggest enemy, can become your dearest friend.
5. Plastic Memories
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: April 2015 – June 2015
By the premise, Plastic Memories is an anime structured in a way that you immediately can understand where it will lead. Only if you are looking for your heartstrings to be pulled, will you embark this feels trip.
Isla is a Giftia. Giftia are androids totally similar to humans, except that they have a lifespan of about 9 years. When Tsukasa joins the Terminal Service One – a service meant to retrieve the Giftia, once their life is almost over – he is paired up with the beautiful Isla.
Can you see it coming? Well, we bet you can. Tsukasa and Isla fall in love with each other, but Isla's days are numbered. Let us make this clear: this anime is full of sad moments depicting people who don't want to lose their Giftia. But the most touching part comes when Tsukasa and Isla have to squeeze their time together in order to create memories, before the time to say goodbye inexorably comes. This is an anime screaming how you cannot choose who you love, so just don't lose time, go and enjoy it while you can.
4. Hakuoki ~Demon of the Fleeting Blossom~
- Episodes: 22
- Air Date: April 2010 – December 2010
What about this bittersweet story mixing historical figures – the Shinsengumi – with supernatural elements? Well, Hakuoki revolves around the young, beautiful members of the Shinsengumi, and their deeds. The supernatural part is all up to the fact that they will gain the power to turn into something like vampires – rasetsu – to a certain point, while the romance is up to Chizuru and Hijikata.
Let's go to the tears, now. Hakuoki depicts the escalation leading the Shinsengumi to fall apart; you will love each honorable man of the crew, just to see all of them pass away. The most touching part comes when finally Chizuru and Hijikata confess their love... We don't want to spoil it too much, but be prepared: Hakuoki will tug at the deepest chords of your heart. It is a story about love, loyalty and devotion towards precious ideals.
3. Into the Forest of Fireflies' Light (Hotarubi no Mori e)
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: September 2011
Into the Forest of Fireflies' Light is the anime movie adaptation of the popular manga by Yuki Midorikawa. Does it ring a bell? Well, she's the author of Natsume's Book of Friends too. With this premise, you all can understand the pain this movie will bring you.
The story is amazing, as it revolves around Hotaru who meets by chance a masked forest spirit named Gin. The two of them become friends, and meet each other every summer. There's a golden rule: Hotaru shouldn't touch Gin, otherwise he will disappear. But as years pass by, love strikes.
Honestly, we don't want to spoil you this amazing movie, but we bet you already get where this will lead. Yuki Midorikawa made this masterpiece to shake our hearts completely. This is a story about compromise, and about two people from different worlds who shouldn't have met. We send you all a hug, because you'll need one after watching it!
- Episodes: 4
- Air Date: October 2014 – January 2015
The OVA adaptation of Shungiku Nakamura's boys love manga is really something else. These four episodes revolve around three couples, each of whom has to face hardships and troubles.
Kuroda invented the “Hybrid Child”, androids similar to humans, that grow up according to the amount of love they receive by their master. But they aren't merely dolls; they have their own personalities, and can feel emotions. These three stories Hybrid Child revolves around, are tragic, emotional and touching.
For the last one, we warn you: it will tear your heart apart, as it explains what pushed Kuroda to create the first Hybrid Child, and what this lonely man holds in his heart. It's a story full of love, showing how nothing – not even death – can separate two souls bound to be together.
1. Honey and Clover (Hachimitsu to Clover)
- Episodes: 36
- Air Date: April 2005 – September 2006
Let's end this list with one of the most emotional anime out there. Honey and Clover revolves around friendship, love and bonds. This explanation makes it sound like nothing new, but trust us, Honey and Clover dismantle the classical josei anime genre, to go beyond what you already know.
While watching it, you can feel your tears stinging your eyes in more than one episode. Thanks to the soundtracks, to the themes, and to the nostalgic feeling it holds, it will touch you deeply. It may carve a special place in your heart especially if you have just graduated from university, as it will remind you those special days.
The last episode can literally hurt; we see how all the characters go separate ways and start their new lives, each of them giving up to something important. It's impossible to forget the last moment, when Hagu and Takemoto exchange goodbyes to the station.
The last treat: while on the train, Takemoto is about to start eating the sandwiches Hagu had prepared for him. Each of them hides a surprise: they are honey-filled, with a clover in the middle, as a “good luck for your life”. Takemoto starts crying... And we do, too.
Okay, as we dry our tears, our ranking comes to an end. We wanted to put in it other wonderful anime, like for example Little Busters Retrain or Ef: A tale of Melodies, but having to choose, we decided on these ten. We tried to put in this list the saddest, yet most beautiful anime endings, putting together different genres and art styles. From shounen, to boys love, passing thorough josei, seinen and shoujo, we really hope this list will suit everyone's tastes. Just be prepared to the tears, but at the same time, to satisfactory endings. As always, let us know what you think in the comments below!
When recommending anime, what shows come to mind first? The ones that make you laugh? Make you wonder where humanity is going? Make you cry? Based on my own experience with anime, high emotions tend to make certain anime stick to the gut of my minds, even if it made me cry.
Even if the show is sad, a certain beauty emerges from this sadness. With this in mind, the following is a list of anime that, while they may have sad endings, nonetheless shine. As this is a list of endings, I will try my best to not spoil any of these shows. However, there will be occasional spoilers, so please be warned!
Now onto the list!
10. Ping Pong the Animation
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: April 2014-June 2014
Rather than merely sad, the final episode of Ping Pong the Animation is bittersweet elegy to the passing of time and the poignancy of friendship. After spending the entire season watching the main characters, Peco and Smile, grow apart, we see them finally reconcile on the ping-pong table. However, Ping Pong the Animation’s ending does not only give closure to the main characters, but also the side characters, such as Ryuichi Kazama, that give the anime a sense of fullness and a human heart.
For those unfamiliar with Ping Pong the Animation, this anime is not your normal sports anime. Based off Taiyou Matsumoto’s manga under the same name, Ping Pong depicts two friends, Peco and Smile, brought together by ping pong and them pulled apart by it as they enter the world of competitive sports. While the animation style might not be everyone’s cup of tea, Ping Pong the Animation is certain to satisfy anyone looking for a great narrative.
9. Kyokai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2013– December 2013
For those who love all things Kyoto Animation, Kyokai no Kanata will not disappoint. With beautiful animation paired with unique and at times enigmatic characters, this show, from its beginning to end will bring tears, both of laughter and of sorrow. Kyokai no Kanata depicts the story of Akihito Kanbara, a half human and half youmu, or supernatural creature, as he confronts and eventually helps his hapless classmate Mirai Kuriyama.
Kyokai no Kanata’s finale does perhaps expose the weaknesses of the show largely centered in its narrative structure. Nonetheless, the bond between Mirai and Akihito by the end of the show that has long been solidifying emerges in the final episodes of Kyokai no Kanata.
8. Psycho-Pass (1st Season)
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: October 2012–March 2013
The first season of Psycho-Pass, unlike the second (for those who’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about), had a finale that could be labeled as “sad but beautiful.” For those who have not yet entered the work of Psycho-Pass, this anime takes place in a futurist world in which The Sibyl System monitors all humans and measures the probability of a person of committing a crime. Following the story of Akane Tsunemori as she enters the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division, this show explores issues of person responsibility, justices, and the nature of human existence.
In this finale, there are multiple working parts: Shinya Kougami finally tracks down Shougo Makishima, Ginoza Nobuchika has closure with Tomomi Masaoka, and Akane watches all these pieces fall into place. For those who have a keen eye on glasses characters, the Ginoza arc perhaps best embodies the spirit of “sad but beautiful.” Without spoiling more that I already have, the final two episodes show the limits of humanity while nonetheless dignifying the meaning of being human.
7. Kill la Kill
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2013– March 2014
Regarding the ending of Kill la Kill, there are really two ends: the official last episode and the unaired Kill la Kill special, the mythical episode 25. For this list, I will be referring to this last episode, a more retrospective yet still high paced closing to a show known for its over the top animation and wild narrative.
For those who graduated or are moving onto another period of their lives, this ending may carve a special place in your heart. Without spoiling it too much, I will only say that this ending is a graduation, not only for Satsuki Kiryuuin’s class, but also for all the characters of Kill la Kill. Much like how the characters of Kill la Kill say goodbye to their old lives of uniforms and fights, we are saying goodbye to a world, a kind of sadness that is lovely on its own.
Though only fiction, we see our own world through the mirror of Kill la Kill that reflects on only the foibles of humanity but its complex and never-ending beauty.
6. Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2011–April 2011
It is probably no surprise that Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica, a show with a great deal of hype largely due to its unexpected dark turns and serious undertones beneath the façade of “magical girl anime,” made it onto this list for those familiar with it. With particular regards to the sadness and beauty of the ending of its finale, for those in search for the magnificence of friendship in the face of the (imaginary) horrors of the world, look no further for there is the friendship-love of Homura for Madoka. (This is, of course, not taking into consideration the most recent installation, Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part III: Rebellion.)
For those unfamiliar with this soon-to-become classic, I will only say that this is a great adventure of middle school student Madoka Kaname and her best buddies, Homura Akemi, Sayaka Miki, Kyoko Sakura and last but not least Mami Tomoe and Kyubey, as they become magical girls and protect the world. Have fun.
5. Death Parade
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2015–March 2015
By its very premise itself, Death Parade is structured to bring viewers to tears. However, mentioning the premise will spoil the great surprise of the first episode. So, just for now, just trust that the Death Parade, an anime that meditates not only on the meaning of life but also the depth of human relationships, will play your heartstrings like a full orchestra.
For those sensitive to dramatic anime, your path through Death Parade may be a river that leads to a reservoir of tears released in the final two episodes of Death Parade when watching the culmination of Decim and “Onna’s” adventure together through the nature of humanity.
4. Shingeki no Bahumut: Genesis
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2014– December 2014
On a much different note than Death Parade, we have Shigeki no Bahumut: Genesis of the action/adventure genre. An anime that is surprisingly high quality in both animation and narrative despite being based off of a Japanese card game, Shigeki no Bahumut: Genesis ends with a cinematic smash.
Faced with the end of the world, Favaro Leone, a womanizing bounty hunter, finally becomes a hero in a traditional sense of the word while also still maintaining his unconventional and spunky self. Yet, though he becomes the hero, Favaro cannot save everyone, even the one person he wants to save the most.
Also, as a special treat, for those who enjoy Tiger and Bunny, Shigeki no Bahumut: Genesis shares many of the same the same voice actors with this TV Hero anime.
3. Speed Grapher
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2005– September 2005
Though a bit on the older side, these next three anime nonetheless each deserve to be on this list due to the complexities of emotions each of their endings create. With regards to Speed Grapher, the beauty and true sadness of that had long been layered throughout the show emerges in the last episode.
However, it not with the main character of the show, Saiga Tatsumi, a photographer who gains a special power after meeting Kagura Tennozu, but rather the long thought to be antagonist, Chōji Suitengu.
An anime set in the wake of Japan’s economic decline, Speed Grapher is as much as social commentary on capitalism is it is an introspection on Japan itself as a modern nation.
2. Mawaru Penguin Drum
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: July 2011 – December 2011
People easily loose their way when watching Mawaru Penguin Drum, an anime that marches to the beat of its own drummer. This is perhaps particularly true when it comes to this show’s finale, an amalgamation of dramatic sacrifices and manifestations of love of all sorts.
While the audience is faced with the tragedy of the sacrifices of the main two characters of the show, Kanba and Shoma Takakura for their sister Himari Takakura, they are also left with the hope and strength of love. Like how the main theme music of Mawaru Penguin Drum lingers in your mind long after you watch it, this anime’s representation of love stays with you as well.
1. Angel Beats
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2010-June 2010
Much like how Kill la Kill’s finale is set at graduation to mark the passage of characters from one part of their life to the other, the ending of Angel Beats takes place at a graduation, a graduation of students living a purgatory of sorts. And like how graduations are both a euphoric and sad moment, such is the finale of Angel Beats. Where we see the departure of the central characters, Yuzuru Otonashi and Kanade Tachibana.
But, even though we want to have Otonashi and Kanade be together forever, if there is one lesson to be learned from this anime it is that we need to let things go and move on with our lives.
With hopes, this list is of some use for those in search for both beautiful and sad endings in anime. Though they have various times, genres, and styles, they nonetheless can give you a sense of fullness, satisfaction, and perhaps a tinge of sorrow. If you don’t think this list is up to par or have any other questions, comments, complaints or concerns, please be sure to leave a message below!