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The Top 10 Saddest Anime, Ranked

Because sometimes we all need a good cry.

Takaki and Akari

Because sometimes we all need a good cry.

Sometimes I just wanna be like Rhaenyra Targaryen, wandering the halls of The Red Keep, listening to the same sad song on repeat. Even famous people like to be sad! Adam Scott does it all the time! But sometimes looking at real people being sad doesn’t quite scratch that melancholy itch. After all, real people are ugly. They cry ugly. Their faces turn weird colors. They get all wrinkly like a giant morose baby. But animated people are always beautiful when they cry. Not a hair our of place. No snot dangling from their noses. Just soft, cinematic tears rolling down their flawless cheeks.

If you’re looking for sad anime characters, you’ve come to the right place. Article. Whatever.

10. Your Lie In April

A young woman plays a violin while a man plays piano in front of a cloudy blue sky in 'Your Lie in April'
(A-1 pictures)

Your Lie In April is the story of a young piano prodigy named Kosei Arima. After his abusive mother passes away, Kosei loses his ability to hear the sound of his own playing and is unable to continue performing. However, everything changes when he meets a carefree violinist named Kaori Miyazono, who encourages him to start playing again. The pair form a close bond and begin to play together in music competitions. But Kosei soon realizes that Kaori has a secret illness she’s hiding from him. I think you know where this is going … into The Fault In Our Stars territory. Oh no.

9. Anohana – The Flower We Saw That Day

Meiko from Anohana blushing sadly (A-1 Pictures)
(A-1 Pictures)

Anohana revolves around a group of childhood friends who become estranged after the sudden death of one of their friends, Menma. Years later, the ghost of Menma appears before her childhood friend Jinta Yadomi, who is now a social recluse. Menma tells him that she cannot pass on to the afterlife until she fulfills a certain wish. The problem is, she can’t remember it. Jinta takes it upon himself to reunite with his long lost friends from the past in order to help Menma’s spirit find peace and pass on.

8. Devilman Crybaby

Devilman surrounded by fire in the anime Devilman Crybaby
(Science SARU)

This grotesque horror anime might be a hot take, but I think Devilman Crybaby is a profoundly sad piece of work. After being possessed by a demon, a teenage boy named Akira Fudo becomes a devilman, a human/devil hybrid. With his infernal new powers, he attempts to defend the world against an onslaught of demons hell-bent on bringing about humanity’s destruction. It doesn’t go as planned. The series is a tragedy, in the truest and most Shakespearian sense of the word. The unceasing barrage of horrific and senseless violence has a way of shocking the viewer into a deep sense of hopelessness and melancholy.

7. Mushi-Shi

A man walks in a forest with a toothpick in his mouth in 'Mushishi'

Another hot take. Mushi-Shi is about a Mushi Master named Ginko, who travels throughout rural Japan in order to save people from mysterious illness causing life-forms known as mushi. Sometimes however, Ginko is not able to totally cure the afflicted person, and the episodes often culminate in a bittersweet ending where the victim has to learn to live with their sickness. It’s sad in the way that an Eliot Smith song is sad. Understated and quietly devastating.

6. Clannad: After Story

The title art for clannad: afterstory
(sentai filmworks)

The sequel to the equally heartbreaking series Clannad, Clannad: After Story follows a young married couple and their new daughter Ushio. However, tragedy strikes the couple, and Ushio’s father loses his will to live. In order to pull him back from the brink, his friends and family attempt to support him in his time of grief. Be warned: episode 18 is famous for its tearjerker moments.

Related: The 10 Best Anime Soundtracks, Ranked on We Got This Covered

5. Violet Evergarden

(image credit: Kyoto animation)

Violet Evergarden follows the story of a former child soldier young girl named Violet Evergarden. After the war ends, the young Violet is taken in by a friend of her former commander. She is given a new job as an “Auto Memory Doll,” a profession that involves writing letters for others who have difficulty expressing their emotions in writing.

As Violet learns to navigate her new responsibilities, she begins to rediscover her own emotions, which she was forced to bury due to her violent past. The series is a devastating slow burn about love, grief, and moving on.

4. The Wind Rises

Jiro and his lady love kissing under the high blue sky
(Studio Ghibli)

The Wind Rises is a Studio Ghibli film about the true story of Jiro Horikoshi, a Japanese engineer who designed fighter planes during World War II. As a young man, Jiro dreams of building beautiful airplanes, and is conflicted about the fact that his designs will be used for war. As his career progresses, Jiro meets a young woman named Naoko, and they fall in love. However, Naoko is suffering from tuberculosis, and her illness threatens to put the characters in another The Fault In Our Stars kind of situation.

3. Grave of The Fireflies

Seita and Setsuko
(Studio Ghibli)

Grave of The Fireflies is a devastating war drama that centers around Seita and Setsuko, a pair of young siblings growing up in the final days of Imperial Japan. After the 1945 bombing of Kobe separates the children from their parents, the siblings are forced to fend for themselves as their country falls apart. They are forced to scavenge for food, beg for help, and fend off other desperate survivors who will do anything to survive. Despite their love for one another and their will to survive, the film takes a tragic turn. You will ugly cry.

2. 5 Centimeters Per Second

Takaki and Akari
(CoMix Wave Inc.)

5 Centimeters Per Second centers around two childhood friends, Takaki and Akari, whose budding romance is cut short after Akari moves to a different city. The film is divided into three parts, which highlight different stages of Takaki and Akari’s lives. From high school into early adulthood, the pair exchange letters, but each character is dealing with their separation in contrasting and often heart-wrenching ways.

1. The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Kaguya in the cherry blossoms
(Studio Ghibli)

The Tale of Princess Kaguya is inspired by one of Japan’s most ancient and beloved folktales. The story begins with an elderly woodcutter and his wife, who are barely scraping by in the Japanese countryside. One day, the woodcutter finds a beautiful baby girl in the trunk of a bamboo tree, and the he and his wife decide to raise her as their own. They name her Kaguya. As Kaguya grows into a beautiful young woman, wealthy men from far and wide attempt to woo her. Things take a tragic turn, however, when Kaguya realizes the secret of her true parentage, which will change her life forever.

(featured image: CoMix Wave Inc.)

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Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels in crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.