Top 10 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. 

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 a fun yet just as sad reminder of this fact.

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.

Buy the DVD on Amazon | Buy the book on Amazon

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.

Buy your DVD on Amazon 

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.

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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 by life… big time. Nello is a poor peasant boy who’s raised by his grandfather in the city of Antwerp after his mom died in childbirth. The anime was adapted from a French novel written by Louise de la Ramée. Both the movie and the book will make you cry out your eyes for sure. 

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. 

The biggest and probably only problem with this anime movie is that it’s incredibly hard to watch online (legally) or even to buy the DVD. I only found one on Amazon and if you’re a serious collector who doesn’t mind spending $430 on one DVD then have fun. For the rest of us, there are DVD rentals, Youtube, and of course the original book.

Buy the book on Amazon

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.

Buy your DVD on Amazon

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.

Watch this anime on Netflix | Buy your DVD on Amazon

4| 5 Centimetres 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 Centimetres Per Second’ is able to move even the coldest of hearts.

It’s a tearjerking 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.

Buy your DVD on Amazon | Buy your Manga on Amazon

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.

Buy your DVD on Amazon | Buy your Graphic Novel on Amazon

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.

Buy your DVD on Amazon

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’ 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.

Buy your DVD on Amazon

Thank you for reading!

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