As a genre, anime is incredibly diverse, with something for everyone. Be it action, horror, romance or comedy, the genre has a vast collection of titles that fit the bill. Obviously, it is no surprise that there are shows and movies that are popular specifically because of how heartbreaking or cathartic they are, bringing tears to viewers’ eyes. The anime listed below are definitely good recommendations for those who love having a good cry as part of their anime-watching regimen.
TW: Mentions of sensitive issues regarding abuse and mental health ahead.
Here are 8 tearjerker anime movies/series that you should definitely watch
Anohana begins when Jinta Yadomi, or “Jintan,” starts seeing his childhood friend Menma’s ghost one day. The anime broadens into the incident of Menma’s death and all her friends, including Jintan, as they grew up burdening guilt and loss, unable to let go of the past. While the entire show is poignant and emotional, few viewers are able to hold back their tears in the final episode of this emotional series.
7) Angel Beats!
When a show is set in the afterlife itself, it is almost inevitable that it will be sad. Angel Beats! features a high school in the afterlife, where souls go to overcome trauma they had faced in their previous life before being reincarnated again. The anime follows Yuzuru Otonashi, an amnesiac who is unable to move on. Through him, the story delves into the stories of other souls he meets there, with some heartbreaking twists and turns along the way.
6) Clannad: After Story
Clannad began as a traditional romantic, slice-of-life high school comedy by the end of which protagonist Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa get together. But where Clannad was cheerful and optimistic, Clannad: After Story dashes viewers’ expectations completely. Following Tomoya and Nagisa’s lives post-graduation, the anime shows Tomoya struggling with depression after Nagisa dies while giving birth to their daughter Ushio. Unfortunately, Ushio is struck by the very same illness that took her mother's life and the anime depicts her death in a manner that is poignant, but unbelievably sad.
5) Your Lie in April
Your Lie in April has an undercurrent of death and trauma flowing throughout the series. The anime follows piano prodigy Kousei Arima who, after his mother's death, was suddenly unable to hear the notes he was playing. Kousei is only able to return to the piano after meeting a spontaneous and impulsive violinist, Kaori. However, Kaori was suffering from a terminal illness herself, and while cathartic, the anime definitely warrants having tissues nearby.
4) Violet Evergarden
One might not expect a series about a war hero becoming a professional ghost-writer, but after watching Violet Evergarden, you might think just that. The series deals with trauma and the grief of losing a loved one at war as well as the guilt of surviving such an experience. But rather than focusing on the horrors of war, the series instead focuses on Violet rebuilding herself and learning various forms and expressions of love along the way.
3) Banana Fish
If you like crime drama and mafia dealings, then Banana Fish is definitely for you. If you like tragic endings, Banana Fish is definitely up your alley. Portraying a brutal but realistic depiction of triggering topics like gang violence, r*pe, and child ab*se, the series follows nineteen-year old Eiji Okamura, a Japanese photographer’s assistant, and seventeen-year old Ash Lynx, who is a gang leader.
While never explicitly stated, the anime and the original manga both hint at Eiji and Ash’s relationship being more than just friendship.
2) A Silent Voice
A Silent Voice is sure to make quite a few viewers sob uncontrollably. The anime movie is emotionally charged, dealing with issues like bullying, depression, and suicide. The movie revolves around Shoya Ishida who bullied Shoko Nishimiya, his deaf classmate in elementary school. After he takes it too far, Shoko moves away while Shoya’s position changes from bully to bullied.
The story sees them both slowly dealing with the painful scars left on them as they struggle with guilt, self-worth, and finding meaning in life.
1) Grave of the Fireflies
A cinematic masterpiece, Studio Ghibli’s Grave of the Fireflies is often dubbed as one of the greatest war films of all time. Bleak and relentless, the movie shows the life of orphaned siblings Seita and Setsuko as they struggle to survive in war-riddled Japan. The cyclical narrative elaborates the darkest sides of World War II Japan and the inhumanity that carelessly shoves aside the two young lives into the chaos that stops for no one, destroying everything in its path.
This list is hardly a comprehensive list of good series that brings tears to viewers’ eyes. Series like Assassination Classroom, Fruits Basket, Orange, Sangatsu no Lion, and movies like I want to Eat Your Pancreas and Hotarubi no Mori e are among the several other shows that anime lovers can check out.