Top 20 Sad Anime Movies Guaranteed to Make You Cry
If you’re a sucker for sad anime movies that squeeze your heart until it bursts then you will find some real treats on our list. We have everything from vintage anime movies to lesser-known pieces and even some of the biggest successes of the past years listed here to make sure you find something to cry about.
These anime movies all deal with different subjects (family issues, loneliness, death, suicide, mental health…) and their intensity can get pretty high. While some of them are easier to digest there are some animes below that deal with things which may open some old and painful wounds, but hey, they might as well help you finally heal them.
Here is everything you need to know about Sad anime movies & shows to find your next favorite.
Note: this post has been updated in December 2019.
What is the saddest anime of all time?
Good question. There are debates about it everyone has something that just really gets to them. However, Your lie in April, I want to eat your Pancreas, and Grave of The Fireflies are usually on everyone’s top sad anime movies and shows list.
What are the saddest endings in anime?
Again, it’s debatable but I want to eat your Pancreas and Grave of the Fireflies are on the top saddest anime death lists every time.
What is the saddest anime death?
Kaori Miyazono’s death in Your Lie in April is one of the saddest anime deaths for many reasons. Her age, her positive and free spirit and all this mixed with the anime’s core motivational message this anime death is one that will make you cry like there is no tomorrow.
Where to watch sad anime online?
There are a couple of places great places online where you can stream your favorite sad anime moves and shows. While there are “free” places where you can stream anime like infamous Kiss Anime Site you might want to go for something more safe and legal option.
Here are our favorite places to watch anime online.
Netflix really stepped up its game in 2019. They not only have a great selection of old sad animes in their collection but actually started creating it’s on original anime Netflix shows and movies.
Amazon Prime is also a great place to go if you want to stream anime at a good price.
Hulu has a great growing selection it’s definitely worth checking out their list to know if you want to subscribe or not.
And of course, the two big anime streaming sites that are dedicated directly to the fans of anime and manga:
Anime Planet is probably the most famous of all the sites for anime streaming. if you’re a great Otaku at heart their subscription is a good choice for you.
Crunchyroll is another all-time favorite. It’s another magical place where Otakus can enjoy their favorites for only a few bucks each month.
*Disclaimer: Some links on AsianaCircus.com are affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase we may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for your support, you’re awesome! =)
Top Sad Anime Movies & Shows that will make you cry
We included the first 14 of the saddest anime movies then 6 of the saddest anime series you should check out if you like emotional and beautiful stories.
We update our posts frequently so check back soon to see what 2020 will bring us.
14| The Garden of Words (Koto no ha no niwa) | 2013
The Garden of Words is a heartwarming short anime about an unlikely friendship between a 15-year-old student and a 27-year-old woman.
The two meet on a rainy day in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and from then on they would always skip school/work to spend rainy days there together.
It’s a short and sad but also a beautiful story about how we can find love and support in the most unlikely places and time.
13| To the Forest of Fireflies’ Light (Hotarubi no mori e) | 2011
To the Forest of Firefly Lights is a charming and beautiful short anime movie about Hotaru who one day gets lost in the forest as a child but luckily she is rescued by Gin, a spirit.
Gin and Hotaru develop a friendship over time despite the fact that Gin reveals that he will disappear if he is ever touched by a human.
It’s a heartfelt and beautiful sad anime about true love and friendship and it will surely make you shed more than a few tears.
12| Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day – The Movie (2013) – Gekijouban Ano hi mita hana no namae wo bokutachi wa mada shiranai
Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day is one of the most successful tear-jerking anime movies of all time. It also has a series under the same name and it’s just as heartbreakingly beautiful.
It follows a group of young friends as they live their adventurous lives until one-day tragedy strikes and one of the group members the cute Menma dies in an unfortunate accident. Because of the guilt and the pain, the other four friends get further apart with each day and eventually go their separate days.
The story picks up again a few years later with Jintan, one of the male members of the group. Who is a lazy high school drop out who’s doing nothing with his life. That’s when Menma’s ghost appears to him forcing Jentan to go on a journey and help her find her peace so she can move on.
It’s a beautiful story of friendships that can help process the loss of a loved one at a young age. There is no doubt, Anohana is one of the top sad anime movies that will make you cry for sure.
11| I Want to Eat Your Pancreas (2018) – Kimi no suizô o tabetai
I want to eat your pancreas is one of the most beautiful and saddest anime love stories ever written. It’s also one of the most successful and beloved and saddest anime movies in 2018.
It’s a beautiful anime love story about a boy who falls in love with his classmate who is slowly dying from pancreatic cancer. The story follows as he helps her live her life to the fullest before she passes on.
It’s a tearjerker for sure but also a positive and heartwarming story about first love, the everyday beauty of life, and death. With stunning visuals and beautiful melodies, this movie hits right in the heart. Get ready because I want to eat your pancreas has one of the saddest anime deaths of all time.
Even if you’re not a huge fan of sad romance anime movies this one should get on your list. You won’t regret it.
10| The Girl Who Leapt Through Time – Toki o kakeru shôjo (2006)
This might not be the first anime that comes to mind when searching for a sad anime movie but still, it does the job for me every time. It’s a fun and entertaining time travel anime movie on the surface but it’s a deep coming of age story in the heart.
Learning about responsibilities and experiencing the consequences of our own acts is one of the hardest parts of becoming a functioning adult.
Growing up is one of the toughest things we all have to do at some point in our lives and this anime is
The movie differs at some points from the book and it has beautiful animation too. So, if coming of age stories are your jam you should definitely put this one on your list.
9| Wolf Children – Ookami kodomo no Ame to Yuki (2012)
Wolf Children is a rather bittersweet family anime movie that’s able to have you going from happy to sad tears in a matter of seconds. Not to mention that it is gorgeously animated which is a big plus.
I especially loved this anime because there are no unnecessary drama or forced suspense. It all feels natural and real and that’s its biggest strength. It’s a beautiful story of motherhood and how one must eventually let go. Even if you don’t have children on your own you may find it easier to understand what your mom goes/went through with you.
Wolf Children is certainly a breath of fresh air in the world of sad anime movies.
You might also like
Top 10 + Supernatural Anime With Ghosts & Spirits
8| When Marnie was There – Omoide no Mânî (2014)
Another tear-jerker anime film. Memories, ghosts, and imagination merge together in this beautifully animated coming of age (and sexual awakening) anime.
The story is about Anna, a shy and socially awkward girl and her newfound ghost friend Marnie, who helps her to overcome her isolation and self-loathing. There are arguments online that ‘When Marnie Was There’ is also an LGBTQ story about young girls sexual awakening and how isolated, confused, and depressed one can get if these feelings differ from the “normal”.
I’m not sure if it was intentional but I do see those tender moments there as well. However, this is probably one of the reasons why this anime is so powerful and universal.
7| The Dog of Flanders – Gekijôban Furandaasu no inu (1997)
I’m not only a sucker for sad anime movies but for sad vintage anime movies as well. This 1997 classic is going to become your new favorite even if you don’t like old movies.
My heart warms up the moment I look at these charming animations but don’t be fooled there is a lot more to this film than you might think.
Meet Nello, a lovely young boy who’s full of hopes and dreams but gets totally crapped on
However, at the end ‘The Dog of Flanders’ has a positive message; we should never give up on our dreams no matter how impossible they might seem.
You might also like
Best Gifts for Anime Lovers – Gift Ideas for Otakus
6| Your Name – Kimi no na wa. (2016)
If you only heard about one movie on this list it’s probably this one. `Your Name` was a huge hit in 2016 and it became an instant classic.
This is the first (out of two) Makoto Shinkai anime movie on the list. It’s a pure love story with stunning artwork and of course a heartbreaking ending. The story might have gone much deeper but then it would probably have lost from its warmth and would be much harder to digest. I think (along with a couple other million people) that it does the job just as well.
Your Name quickly became one of the most beloved sad anime movies of all time.
5| A Silent Voice – Koe no katachi (2016)
‘A silent voice’ has one of the darkest themes despite being a coming-of-age story. It’s about a school bully Shoya and his victim Shoko.
After Shoko transfers to a new school she gets cruelly bullied by Shoya and his “friends” because of her hearing disabilities. However, a couple of years later the table turns…
Scars we get during our childhood sometimes never heal. This film is able to mend those wounds brilliantly.
With rich visuals and wonderful settings this movie really is able to awake the deepest of feelings while teaching about empathy and forgiveness.
4| 5 Centimeters Per Second – Byôsoku 5 senchimêtoru (2007)
Say hello to the second Makoto Shinkai movie on the list. While ‘Your Name’ had a way bigger box office success ‘5 Centimeters Per Second’ is able to move even the coldest of hearts.
It’s a tear-jerking masterpiece about first love, emotional and physical distances and the inevitable heartbreak and loss. It’s poetic, moving and a movie that will stick with you for a long while after the credits roll.
5 Centimeters Per Second is for sure one of the best emotional anime movies ever created.
3| Barefoot Gen – Hadashi no Gen (1983)
This beautiful, heartbreaking anime gets inside people’s head and makes them cry since 1983. Oh boy, and does it well!
Barefoot Gen is about a Japanese family’s struggle to survive during World War II. Gen who is in the center of the story is only six and lived with the war in his whole life. However, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima puts everything in a new perspective.
Unfortunately, it’s a long-forgotten movie that would deserve to be picked up again and watched by everyone. Especially, if we consider the current political controversies.
While Barefoot Gen tosses and turns you between hope and horror at the end it does the impossible; finds a happy ending to Hiroshima.
2| Colorful – Karafuru (2010)
This anime deals with Suicide so please, only watch it if you feel ready to process the story. While ‘Colorful’ has a satisfying end and the storyline can be endearing it has a dark theme that’s able to cause great pain.
I’m an atheist (Many scenes are about what happens to the human soul after our death.) but I found the movie enjoyable and positive. Most importantly it’s able to give some new perspectives on how to deal with depression and anxiety. It’s a well-known fact that mental issues, including depression still far from being treated well, this film brings some most needed breath of warmth into the discussion.
If you want to find a way to laugh at your problems check out one of Jenny Lawson‘s amazing books too.
1| Grave of The Fireflies – Hotaru no haka (1988)
If you don’t shed a tear during this movie it’s because you don’t have tear ducts.
It’s a very powerful anti-war movie designed precisely to break its viewers. The film is based on the semi-autobiographical short story by Akiyuki Nosaka. The story follows the life of a young sister and brother after they get separated from their parents because of the American firebombing during World War II.
Watching the movie, we experience how the human spirit can break and fail after unbearable cruelty and tragedies. Grave of The Fireflies also has some of the saddest anime moments of all time.
‘Grave of the Fireflies’ has one of the most startling movie endings I’ve ever seen so be prepared… Also, if you`re very sensitive it’s probably best if you don’t watch it alone.
You might also like
10 BEST ANIME SERIES -LET’S GET YOU HOOKED ON ANIME
Sad Anime Shows to Watch
We wanted to include some of our favorite sad anime shows as well some heartbreakingly beautiful sad romantic anime shows to watch.
1| Your Lie in April (2014-2015) – Shigatsu wa kimi no uso
Your lie in April is certainly one of the most beautiful sad anime series ever created. It’s a fan favorite and a well-deserved one. The visuals are gorgeous, and the story is not only tearjerking but a quite unique one too.
The story’s protagonist is Kousei, a piano prodigy who lost his ability to play after suffering a traumatic event. However, Kousei is forced back to the spotlight by Kaori, an eccentric girl who inspires him to play music again.
The story is just as motivating and warm as it’s heartbreaking. If you want to watch a great sad anime show that has a positive ending you should check out Your lie in April.
This is also one of the best sad anime on Netflix.
2| Erased (2016) – Boku dake ga inai machi
Erased is one of those sad anime shows that will send a chill down your spine. It’s a chilling time travel anime with great visuals and sounds.
Satoru, our protagonist (29) is sent back in time to prevent a series of kidnappings that lead to his mom’s death.
Erased is an interesting psychological mystery anime that has an intense and chilling story and fantastic characters that will bring a tear or two into your eyes.
3| Clannad: After Story (2008-2009)
Clannad: After Story is possibly the most successful and heartbreaking sequels of a franchise. It’s based on the Key Clannad franchise that explores Tomoya and Nagisa’s love deeper.
Clannad: After Story is a beautiful anime that explores the real meaning and value of unconditional love and family.
4| Violet Evergarden (2018)
Violet Evergarden is the most melancholic and visually stunning animes you’ll ever watch. Its art is so gorgeous that it would bring tears to your eyes even if you’d watch it without any sound or subtitles.
The story follows Violet during the aftermath of a great war where she served as a soldier despite her young age. She finally gets a job at an agency where she goes on assignments to create letters that can connect people.
Violet has awkward social skills since she spent most of her life as a soldier (she joined the army at 10). She also lost her arms in a battle and has mechanical arms now. The story explores human emotions and connections trough her naive and inexperienced eyes.
It’s a beautiful, and unique story and Violet’s past makes it just as sad as touching. Violet Evergarden is also one of the most stunning sad anime on Netflix.
5| Angel Beats! (2010)
Rebellious teens fight in armed combat against one dispassionate girl’s supernatural powers in an afterlife high school.
Angel Beats!’s main character is Otonashi who one day wakes up to the news that he’s dead. A young girl called Yuri explains to him that they’re in the afterlife. As if getting this new wouldn’t be enough Otonashi also realizes he can not remember anything else but his name.
While Yuri tries to recruit Otonashi for the war against Tenshi, an evil girl with supernatural powers he refuses to believe her and tries to talk to Tenshi. Which turns out to be a very bad idea…
Otonashi finally joins the SSS and try to finally win the war against Tenshi but he also realizes that he is very much drawn to her.
As time passes he unravels the mysteries of the afterlife while also trying to figure out what Tenshi really wants.
While Angel Beats! is a pretty action-packed series it’s also a very emotional sad anime that will make your eyes water for sure.
It’s also one of the best original animes and won countless awards.
You’ll see that not only the story emotional but the perfect music choices and stunning visual effects make Angel beats! one of the most exciting but also one of the saddest anime you’ll ever watch.
6| Plastic Memories (2015)
Plastic Memories is about Tsukasa who works at SAI corporation thanks to his father’s connection. His job is to collect Giftias that have met their expiration date because soon after they will lose their memories and become hostile.
“Giftias” are highly advanced and human-like androids. However, unlike humans, Giftias only have about nine years and four months to live and reach their expiration date.
Tsukasa gets partnered with a beautiful Giftia named Isla, who is the most successful employee at Terminal Service.
As time passes Tsukasa develops deep feelings towards Isla and has to deal with the inevitable sad end that’s getting closer and closer every day.
Plastic Memories is a beautiful anime that deals with love and loss in a new way. It’s surely going to be one of the saddest anime with a unique love story you’ll ever see.
Thank you for reading!