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Many anime leave an impact on us because they tug at our heartstrings. Often, it’s because of the characters that resonate with viewers, and when one of these characters meets an untimely fate, we feel connected to those left behind, sharing in their grief. These anime are truly amazing for how they make you feel like a part of their world.
The anime on our list are some of the most emotional out there, including some of the saddest moments in anime history. With characters that draw you in and allow you to feel their own emotions, we are sure that the anime on our list will make you tear up at least a little. Enjoy our list of the anime with the most feels!
10. Plastic Memories
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2015 – June 2015
Despite failing his college entrance exams, Tsukasa Mizugaki has managed to land a job. He now works at Sion Artificial Intelligence Corporation as one of the people who bring in the androids, known as “Giftias,” when their expiration date is up. Tsukasa is paired with a lovely Giftia called Isla, who is one of the best in Giftia retrievals in the whole country. But when Isla’s time is almost up as well, will Tsukasa be able to find the words to express how he feels?
The relationships between Giftia and humans are what drive the emotion of Plastic Memories. As the characters explore what it means to truly be human, we, in turn, can see the parallels in our own world, though the settings might be vastly different. Of course, the romance aspect of the anime increases our emotional attachment to the characters’ outcome. Despite being packed with emotion, Plastic Memories can fall a bit short at times because of common tropes that it adheres to. Yet, if you manage to overlook these things, this show has a sea of emotion behind it to enjoy!
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: July 2010 – December 2010
A strange epidemic begins to plague the small village of Sotoba, heralded by the death of fifteen-year-old Megumi Shimizu. Toshio Ozaki, a doctor for the people of Sotoba, is among the first to suspect that this disease might be more than it seems. In order to save what is left of the village, Toshio and Natsuno Yuuki must team up to stop the vampires now running rampant. In a world where the line between good and evil is unclear, who will manage to survive in the end?
On the surface, Shiki seems like nothing more than another supernatural-horror anime with an interesting story. Yet, this show is surprisingly deep, looking at the line between monster and man while somehow managing to draw the audience in emotionally. Shiki tells an old-school tale of vampires in a world where people aren’t prepared for the supernatural to invade. The anime brings in true fear that we don’t often feel from watching a show, fear for both the characters in this world and fear for what might happen to us if we encountered a similar situation. We are truly invested in the characters’ fates, creating an emotional attachment that is built out of seeing ourselves in them and makes us want to see it through to the end.
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: October 2011 – December 2011
The Holy Grail War is a fight to the death between mages, each trying to outdo the last with their own Servants to fight for them. These Servants are heroes from another time, brought back by the power of the Holy Grail - though each comes with their own baggage from their past life. Each Holy Grail War is deadlier than the last, risking the lives of mages and innocent bystanders alike. But this time when the Fourth Holy Grail War manifests itself, fates intertwine, and humanity might suffer a fatal blow…
Fate/Zero is just one of several storylines in the Fate series, and each one has managed to tug at our heartstrings in its own way. However, Fate/Zero is probably the most emotional one to date, especially if you’ve watched any of the other series and already know the inevitable outcome for the people involved. Even if Fate/Zero is a brand new tale for you, the fact that the Fourth Holy Grail War is a battle royale in which no one’s safety is guaranteed will be a constant reminder in the back of your mind. And yet you will still be emotionally invested in the characters you meet along the way!
7. Boku dake ga Inai Machi (Erased)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2016 – March 2016
Satoru Fujinuma discovers that he has an incredible ability – when a tragedy is about to happen, he goes back several minutes before the specific moment occurs to change events. He calls this ability “Revival,” using this newfound gift to save many lives along the way. But when he is wrongfully accused of murder, Satoru finds himself sent back 18 years into his past! In order to protect those he loves in his present day, Satoru must solve the past murder of one of his classmates, Kayo Hinazuki.
Erased is an interesting look at what it looks like to move on from the grief of a loved one – and what it looks like when someone doesn’t move on. This anime can be confusing at times, but the characters are what really make it shine, with plenty of characters that you will find yourself rooting for. The plot has plenty of moments of suspense, especially toward the beginning of the show, that make you wonder where your favorite characters will end up. A lot about Erased remains a mystery that twelve short episodes can’t explain, yet the emotion behind it remains consistent for many viewers. Its beauty and tragedy combine to make a realistic world for us to delve into!
6. Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: September 2016
Kids don’t often think of the consequences of their actions on their future, and young Shouya Ishida is no exception, bullying deaf Shouko Nishimiya along with the rest of his elementary school friends. But when Shouko transfers out of school and Shouya is given all the blame, he is rejected by his classmates for years, suffering through bullying of his own. Now in high school, Shouya is haunted by his past mistakes and decides to seek out Shouko to make amends.
Though the shadows of the past seek to overwhelm him, Shouya strives to try to be better and redeem himself - something that we should all learn from! A Silent Voice has a story that stays with you because it is easy to put yourself in at least one of the character’s shoes. This movie is able to deal with difficult discussions without giving too many definite answers, leaving it open-ended for us to fill the spaces with our own experiences. It is a thoughtful film, yet also emotional in its execution.
5. Bounen no Xamdou (Xam’d: Lost Memories)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: July 2008 – February 2009
On small Sentan Island, life is secluded from the rest of the world’s problems. The war is far from everyone’s mind, with our protagonist Akiyuki Takehara more focused on the separation in his parent’s marriage than any impending conflict. When headed to school with his friends Haru and Furuichi one day, Akiyuki and his classmates are caught up in a mysterious explosion. But the explosion isn’t what causes Akiyuki pain – it is the strange light that enters into his arm! Caught up in a whirlwind of events no one could have predicted, Akiyuki is swept along on a difficult journey that will teach him about the truths of life.
Bounen no Xamdou is one of those anime that throw a plethora of characters at you, but somehow manage to give them all time to develop and become uniquely memorable. This show does have quite a lot going on in terms of themes and storyline, but each piece is well thought out and has great depth to it. At each turn of the story, you may not even realize how attached you’ve become to characters until their tale ends and you feel that void they left behind. Bounen no Xamdou does struggle at times with its seemingly random plot, but this is definitely a show that becomes stronger over time, especially when it comes to emotion. This anime may not be one that everyone will enjoy, but for those that do, the ending will certainly bring on the tears!
4. Death Parade
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2015 – March 2015
When people die, they believe that they are sent to either heaven or hell – but little do they suspect that they will instead be judged on whether they should be reincarnated or sent to oblivion! A pair of people will be brought before an arbiter, where they challenge each other in a random game to see their true natures surface. This is Quindecim, where Decim, a thoughtful bartender, judges each soul he encounters.
A series of individual episodes surrounding the pairings receiving judgment, Death Parade eventually forms into its own main plot. When an unknown guest changes Decim’s world, humanity’s truest forms of emotion shine forth. Death Parade is a show with relatively little change in setting, but a variety of character development along the way – and that is what makes it so impressive! The themes and emotions are so realistic and deep that we feel drawn into each trial that the characters must face. We get to see the world through Decim’s eyes - we marvel when the world begins to change for our steadfast arbiter, and then we mourn with him as he realizes that he must move on.
3. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. (Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day)
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: April 2011 – June 2011
Jinta Yadomi and his childhood group of friends used to spend every day together when they were young – that is, until their friend Meiko “Menma” Honma met a tragic fate. When Jinta is awoken from his days as a recluse by the ghost of Menma, he remembers a wish she had told him when they were young. Despite the pain of reliving their friend’s death, Jinta and his friends must band together to help Menma’s wish come true, and finally put her to rest.
In spite of the front that Jinta and his friends put up a front when they’re around each other, each character was affected by Menma’s death with strong emotions. As we learn the way that each person has dealt with the loss and grief, we can identify ourselves in them. Ano Hi Mita no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai manages to highlight the way that death affects us all, while making us feel that Menma’s death was personal to us as well. This anime is infamous for its emotional connection with viewers, and it’s easy to see why!
2. Clannad: After Story
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2008 – March 2009
Coming from the same tragic veins as Clannad, Clannad: After Story begins after Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa graduate from high school. The two must lean on each other for emotional support as they deal with the hard work of growing up. Even as their real world moves forward, so does time in the Illusionary World… This anime continues the emotional story from before, dealing with the issues arising from being an adult, as well as the importance of family ties.
Clannad: After Story has a profound effect on viewers’ lives, changing the way that many look at the world. The anime expands perfectly on the setup of Clannad itself, allowing older viewers to identify with the new struggles that Tomoya and Nagisa face. Yet whereas the original Clannad is a slice-of-life anime with a few sad points, Clannad: After Story takes its plot to a whole new level of emotional depth. This really takes shape in the last section of the story. There is a reason that this anime has become a classic in its genre, and it is the depth of true emotion felt from the characters.
1. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: July 2009 – September 2009
In terms of realistic and relatable emotion, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is the best of the best, telling the tale of middle school student Mirai Onozawa and her family trying to survive the aftermath of a powerful earthquake. Mirai and her brother Yuuki are alone in Odaiba when the disaster strikes, leaving them stranded from their parents. Thankfully, the two run into a single mother named Mari Kusakabe, who is trying to get back to her own family and helps the two along. On their treacherous journey through the city, these three will learn the true strength of family ties.
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is the most emotional and feels-inducing anime on our list for a reason! The plot is realistic, often explaining exactly how emergency services or city leadership might react to such a disaster. Not only that, the story of Mirai and Yuuki is one that most people can relate to, even those who might not be particularly close with their family. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 deals with the strong family bonds threaded with emotional ties, and what we have to go through to keep holding on to those people we care most about, even when we might be angry with them. This is definitely an anime that will stick with you for a long time and still moves with strong emotion, which makes it worthy of being the top of our list.
It is truly wonderful that there are so many anime out there that are able to connect strongly with viewers! Whether a realistic or fantastical setting, it is the characters of an anime that draw us in and help us see that emotional connection. And for those with a strong connection, that feeling continues on even after we have finished the show.
So which anime on our list is the most emotional for you? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
We love anime for lots of different reasons. They are silly, hilarious, interesting and entertaining. But sometimes you want to see a deeper side of them and just experience the feels.
Today we want to highlight all of the shows that have moved us, as well as, thousands of other fans to tears. We are not talking about anime that barely touch you, but the ones that make you scream at the screen, hate and love the producers at the same time and require more than just a few tissues to get through the finale.
Be ready to re-live some of the best tearjerkers of anime history. Everyone aboard the feels train!
10. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: October 2014 - March 2015
Let’s start this list off with a drama that takes its viewers on an adventure filled with emotions and beautiful music.
Arima Kousei is a child prodigy and gifted piano player despite his young age. He has a great future lying ahead of him, but everything changes on the day his mother passes away and he swears to himself to abandon music completely. His days turn into a dull routine overshadowed by the tragedies of his past. But his life might get turned upside down one more time when he meets passionate and lively Kaori.
Even though this show wants to teach its viewers to keep going even through the darkest of times, it is still painful to watch the tragedies unfolding on screen. Over the course of this show the characters will slowly but surely grow on you, just to rip your heart out for the great finale and conclusion. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is a show that is as beautiful as it is tragic and has earned itself the first spot on this Top 10 List.
9. Elfen Lied
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2004 - October 2004
Next up is Elfen Lied, a show that is known for its high amounts of gory and disturbing scenes.
Lucy is not human. She might look like a normal girl, but she has the power to destroy this planet and every person trying to stop her from doing so. Even a creature like her, however, can show a different side. Elfen Lied tells the story of Lucy’s meeting with teenagers Kouta and Yuka. They are bound together by fate and the meaning of this meeting reaches way back into the past.
Elfen Lied takes you on a rollercoaster ride of negative emotions, from disturbing to depressed, disgusted, shocked and touched, but you still cannot stop watching. I found this show when I didn’t have much experience with anime yet, and how I wish that someone would have warned me. Besides the obviously bloody contents, Elfen Lied explores a lot of ethical issues and psychological questions. This show will get to you and touch you like no other.
8. Byousoku 5 Centimeter (5 Centimeters per Second)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: March 2007
The speed of a cherry blossom falling to the ground is five centimeters per second. This movie tells a chain of short stories about their distance.
Some people seem to belong together, but there are things in this world pulling them apart. It might be physical distance, but sometimes the person sitting right next to you can be as far away as the end of this atmosphere. Meet several people and hear about their stories of love, separation and an eminent feeling of fate holding them all together.
5 Centimeters per Second isn’t as depressing as it is simply painful to watch. Unlike some of the other stories presented on this list, this one shows events that can and actually are happening every single day. This is a romance movie that does not show the bright side of falling in love, but the painful side that includes getting hurt and having to move on. A big recommendation for all fans of bittersweet love stories.
7. Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch R2 (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2008 - September 2008
How far would you go to save the world from destroying itself?
The sequel to the first Code Geass story starts one year after the Black Rebellion. The fight between Lelouch Lamperouge and the Holy Britannian Empire continues, with new alliances and plot twists. Can Lelouch finally realize his goal or does he have to go down trying?
Code Geass R2 introduces new characters and, more importantly, a lot more drama and emotions. The characters feel authentic and the fans will cry and scream with them on this adventure set in an alternative version of Japan. The whole show has a certain depth to it that will make you feel as if Code Geass is way more than just a work of fiction and tries to explore more important issues. By the end of this show the characters will feel like brothers and sisters to you, which makes the finale even more heartbreaking. Tears guaranteed!
6. Bokurano (Bokurano: Ours)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2007 - September 2007
You thought all summer camp stories end in an amazing adventure like in Digimon? Think again, because Bokurano will show you an alternative outcome.
15 children come together and decide to explore the beach while being away on a summer camp. In a dark cave close to the ocean they find an eccentric man who invites them to play a game; earth is being attacked by a large robot and it is up to them to defend their planet. The kids are ready to test his game, but soon enough they have to realize that the game is played differently from what they’ve expected.
Many people stumble across Bokurano looking for a Mecha or Sci-Fi show. What they didn’t expect is a much sadder anime that explores the dark sides of the human mind. The producers didn’t cut down on drama and on top of that you have to keep in mind that the main characters are only children. Allow the story to unfold and stick through until the very end and I can promise you that you will be touched by this show in a way that you didn’t expect before.
5. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. (The Flower we Saw that Day)
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: April 2011 - June 2011
Follow Jinta and his friends on their journey back into their own past.
Despite their differences, six kids become best friends during summer. They enjoy their carefree days together and do not spend a second worrying about their future. But a tragic death forces them to grow up and go their separate ways. Many years later, now in high school, fate brings the former friends back together and makes them face the mistakes of their past.
Here we have another story that immerses you into a tragedy that is set close to everyday life. The definitiveness of death isn’t something that should be experienced by kids. Yet, the characters of this show need to face it and you cannot help but feel bad for them. Thoughts about what a happy adventure this could have been in another universe keep haunting you. Especially fans of Slice of Life and School shows will fall in love with this story.
4. Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: April 1988
You have watched all the anime up to this point, but still didn’t shed a tear? Be ready, because this movie won’t leave a single eye dry.
In the apocalyptic remains of the Japanese countryside after the atomic bombing of World War II, two siblings strive for survival. With no hope left, young Seita tries to protect his four-year-old sister Setsuko in a country that offers neither help nor sympathy. Their love for each other is all they have left while fighting grief and hunger.
Heartbreaking - that’s the only way this movie can be described. After all, for each minute spent watching this movie you have to remind yourself that this is not entirely a work of fiction. It has happened and the sheer pain displayed on the screen is real. Grave of the Fireflies is a classic, especially for fans of sorrowful stories. Don’t let the age of this little gem scare you off. There is a reason why I have to include it on this list; after all, emotions are timeless and you can still sympathize with the characters even more than 20 years after the release of this movie.
3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Episodes: 64
- Aired: April 2009 - July 2010
It’s time to move to our Top 3 and which show would be a better fit for the first spot than Fullmetal Alchemist?
The Elric brothers have a special bond. They tried their best to save their mother with the power of alchemy, but in the process older brother Elric lost part of his limbs while Alphonse lost his whole body and had to be bound to a suit of armor. Together they embark on a journey to find the Philosopher’s Stone and to undo the mistakes of their past. Their journey turns out to be much bigger than expected and they need to fight to protect the people close to them.
The relationship between the two brothers really gets to you, especially if you have siblings of your own. This anime succeeds at what many others only attempted to do: creating a believable connection between the main characters. That’s what really makes this show stand out and also conveys the emotions and drama of the storyline. It drags you into the story and forces you to really feel for the characters. Fullmetal Alchemist is a job well done and a definite must-watch.
2. Angel Beats!
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2010 - June 2010
If you had to die right now, what regrets would you have?
Otonashi is sure that he is dead. Yet, he wakes up outside the gates of a mysterious school that he does not recognize. Is this how heaven looks like? Otonashi is trapped inside a limbo zone between life and death and has to join a rebellion that fights no one less than God. Be ready for a show revolving around life, death and everything that happens between the two.
If you just start watching Angel Beats! you might not understand how it can be part of this list. It is true that this show is hilarious and seems carefree like no other. But it is also true that this is only one side of Angel Beats! and as the story progresses you find out more about the previous lives of the characters and the reason behind them being trapped at this school. Keep a pack of tissues nearby, because this show shows you the whole spectrum of human emotions.
1. Clannad: After Story
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2008 - March 2009
The final station of our emotional rollercoaster is no other show than Clannad, bringing us a love story that has touched thousands of people all over the world.
Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa meet in high school under unlikely circumstances. While Nagisa is trying hard to overcome her shy and clumsy self, Tomoya couldn’t care less about school and just wants to live his life without any obstacles. The story of Clannad: After Story begins after the two of them graduate high school and slowly have to grow up.
The reason for the great success of Clannad: After Story might be the fact that the initial Slice of Life story moved on to become something bigger and better. Even though the storyline is still kept down to earth, you will see a lot more drama, pain and heartwarming moments. Trust me when I tell you the feelings are strong with this one; you cannot help it but be moved by the story and feel for the characters, from the lighthearted beginning of the story until the painful ending.
What makes an anime sad?
There are lots of different reasons and they might differ between people. Some of the shows we have presented above talk about serious topics like death, war or heartbreak. Others talk about the tragedies closer to everyday life. Either way, if a show succeeds at creating characters that you actually care for and combining them with a plausible storyline, then you cannot help it but feel all of the emotions of the characters as if they were your own.
This list is by far not complete so share your personal tearjerkers with the community. Which shows have made you cry and scream at the screen? What do you think of the anime we have presented today? Your input is more than welcome in the comment section down below.