The sorrowful parts of Japanese anime may get to you sometimes. True-to-life themes like bullying and social anxiety are best explored in sad anime.
Despite this, anime watchers are still interested in stories with darker undertones and more complex characters, even if the endings aren’t guaranteed to be pleasant.
We’ve got the dirt on all the best sad anime movies, whether you like sad romance films or downbeat fare.
1. A Silent Voice
Shouko Nishimiya, a young girl with a hearing impairment who is the focus of bullies at her old school, transfers to a new one.
But after torturing the deaf child, Shoya Ishida decides to make peace with her. Introspective on themes like mental illness, disability, and second chances. A Silent Voice is one of the best sad anime movies.
2. Grave of the Fireflies
One of the best sad anime movies, Studio Ghibli’s Grave of the Fireflies, is one of the most heartbreaking animated features because it chronicles the plight of two young children after they are separated from their parents during a war. Hayao Miyazaki does an excellent job of capturing the children’s viewpoint of loss and sadness.
3. Wolf Children
Wolf Children, one of the best sad anime movies, is a fantasy-infused animation that follows a single mother as she brings up her kids both in the city and the wilderness.
In addition to grieving the loss of her werewolf partner, Hana must also adjust to the many challenges of being a mother at such an early age.
4. Violet Evergarden
The protagonist of the new Netflix series Violet Evergarden, Violet Evergarden, is on a mission to decipher the significance of the previous commander’s last words at the conclusion of World War II.
As Violet gradually warms up to human emotions, we greatly appreciate them. Although it’s not the first series with beautiful aesthetics, it still stands out most about this show.
In 2019, Violet Evergreen, one of the best sad anime movies, was named “Best Animation” at the Crunchyroll Anime Awards. I
5. Garden of Words
The Garden of Words (Koto no ha no Niwa) by Makoto Shinkai is a wonderful tale about the importance of communication and understanding in relationships.
The solitary Takao, a high school student, skips morning classes to hang around in a garden. The elderly lady he meets during the rainy days in the garden ends up being his greatest thing to do.
Makoto Shinkai’s animated film is a must-see for lovers of romantic anime, and it’s not only because of the gorgeous animation.
6. Perfect Blue
Mima Kirigoe has decided to give up her singing profession and devote herself fully to developing her acting career.
Perfect Blue is also ranked as one of the best sad anime movies. The protagonist of Perfect Blue, a young lady, suffers from an identity crisis.
Fans of the genre keep adding this psychological thriller to their watchlists despite the film’s focus on the more troubling aspects of mental illness.
7. The Anthem of the Heart
Jun Naruse caused tension amongst her family members when she was young. She still feels bad about the hurtful things she spoke about long ago.
She can never again say anything harsh since the mysterious Egg Fairy cursed her. However, words have tremendous power, and The Anthem of the Heart, one of the sad anime movies, is the kind of anime narrative that can demonstrate this.
8. Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso)
Regarding tragic romantic anime, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is among the best. After experiencing trauma as a kid, a prodigy on the piano lost his talent.
Arima Kousei, however, strikes up an odd connection with violinist Kaori Miyazono and finds himself thrust back into the limelight.
You’ll feel a wide range of emotions during Your Lie in April as you follow Miyazono and Kousei through their first experiences with love and sorrow at a young age.
As a result of its widespread acclaim, a film starring Kento Yamazaki and Suzu Hirose was adapted from the accompanying manga. The film is widely regarded as one of Japan’s best sad anime movies.
9. Erased (Boku Dake ga inai machi)
There are many heartbreaking moments in Erased, as Satoru Fujinuma uses his time travel abilities to try to save the lives of those he cares about.
Satoru learns about a planned kidnapping of a girl but finds himself in the heart of the inquiry. Erased is greatly ranked as one of the best sad anime movies.
10. Angel Beats
Sadness and friendship permeate this slice-of-life anime series. A band of teens is stuck in limbo with just one goal in mind: to reach the afterlife.
As one of the best sad anime movies, Angel Beats presents a perfect conclusion and the optimism that everyone will meet up again, despite the sorrowful premise that centers on death.
This anime is widely regarded as a classic for a good reason: it’s a gripping science-fiction drama.
11. Clannad: After Story
After Story, one of the best sad anime movies is sure to make you cry, even if you find Clannad emotionally draining.
The visual novel’s after-narrative serves as the basis for the sequel to Clannad. After graduating from high school, Nagisa and Tomoya’s relationship is explored.
Their relationship deepens till tragedy befalls them. Probably one of the most heartbreaking anime deaths ever occurs in this film.
12. Your Name
Makoto Shinkai’s manga Your Name serves as the inspiration for the film. In this fantasy/romance flick, a guy and a girl accidentally exchange bodies, and their bond is amazing.
Once they finally meet in person, things will only become tenser. The beautiful visuals of Your Name are why it’s so well-liked among anime fans. Your name is also one of Japan’s best sad anime movies.
13. Plastic Memories
At first glance, Plastic Memories may seem to be your run-of-the-mill artificial intelligence–focused sci-fi anime.
However, the future society this anime investigates has romantic undertones and may not end happily ever after. The humans learn to cooperate with the androids to eliminate the renegade androids.
The deep undercurrents of Plastic Memories challenge viewers to think about their own lives in a world where everything is predetermined.
14. 5 Centimeters Per Second
At the beginning of 5 Centimeters Per Second, protagonist Takaki Tono meets and quickly becomes good friends with Akari Shinohara.
The rest of the melancholy anime follows Takaki Tono and Akari through various relationship stages.
The film, one of the best sad anime movies, is divided into three acts, each of which successfully captures the aftereffects of first love in the real world.
Everyone appears to be keeping an eye on the anime Orange, one of the best sad anime movies. You shouldn’t be surprised if a fanatic suggests you read the manga and watch the anime.
The teenager (Naho Takamiya) finds a letter from her future self in this school-life romantic drama. Orange is an emotional roller coaster that puts a new spin on the typical school life anime.
Air, a fantasy anime produced by Kyoto Animation, is a must-see for every genre lover. The Story centers on a myth about fantastical beings with extraordinary wings.
The itinerant performer Yukito Kunisaki is looking for the mysterious “girl in the sky.” On his travels, Yukito meets and quickly becomes friends with Misuzu.
17. Ef: A Tale of Melodies
Like A Silent Voice, this heartbreaking movie, one of the best sad anime movies, compels its protagonist (Yu) to face their demons.
Amamiya Yuuko brings back painful memories from your youth. The audience is left wondering if they were friends in elementary school.
Sin and death take on a new dimension of vibrancy. After reincarnating into Makoto’s body, the soul must determine the cause of death and the sin it committed in a previous life.
Unfortunately, the film’s title has little to do with the film’s gloomy subject matter. Nevertheless, colorful is a great addition to the best sad anime movies list.
19. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day is a narrative about a girl who dies but is unwilling to move on, despite its cheerful animation and loving imagery.
For Menma to go over to the next world, her friends band together to assist her in jogging her memory and grant her one last desire.
When dealing with the loss of a friend, this anime, one of the best sad anime movies, never fails to wow with its stunning visuals and heartwarming characters.
20. Whisper of the Heart
Whisper of the Heart is a coming-of-age romantic film revolving around Shizuku Tsukishima and is considered a masterpiece by Studio Ghibli.
Shizuku decides to verify who has borrowed her library books and discovers that it is always Seiji Amasawa.
We keep returning to Whisper of the Heart because it takes us on a journey of love and dreams. Though it avoids overtly gloomy subject matter, the film effectively captures the realities of life’s disappointments and losses.
This Studio Ghibli film may be either gloomy or uplifting, depending on your point of view.
21. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas
Aniplex’s slice-of-life drama I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, one of the best sad anime movies, follows a child who discovers a journal and the girl who wrote it, both of whom are afflicted with a terminal pancreatic disease.
Although Haruki Shiga and Sakura Yamauchi become best friends, the anime falls short of the romance genre, leaving viewers to speculate about the connection between the two main characters.
Nonetheless, Haruki Shiga’s transition from an antisocial recluse to a sociable protagonist is a model of immaculate character development for anime watchers.
22. Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light
The concept of star-crossed lovers is attempted in Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light, inspired by Hotarubi no Mori e. A ghost comes to her aid when little Hotaru becomes lost in the woods.
Despite the unfortunate destiny that the spirit (Gin) would vanish if a human ever touches him, Hotaru and the spirit begin to develop a relationship.
As one of the best sad anime movies, the animation depicts what seems to be a human and an ethereal spirit falling in love, but its real purpose is to illustrate the power of imagination and the beauty of hope. Be sure to include this film in your collection of sappy anime love stories.
23. Hal (Haru) (Haru)
Another anime that deals with the desperate need to hold onto a loved one are Hal (Haru). As one of the best sad anime movies, Kurumi sinks into deep despair after Hal’s death.
Luckily, destiny has other plans, and an android is sent to Kurumi to aid her in escaping her isolation. Would you accept a robot version of your significant other?
24. The Wind Rises
The protagonist of Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises is an aviation engineer from Japan who dedicates his life to creating an A6M fighter jet during World War II.
The Wind Rises is a leisurely picture by Studio Ghibli standards, but it’s a beautiful tale of youth, innocence, and love. This may be the most emotionally impactful anime about a sad romance.
25. The Girl Who Leaped Through Time
One of the best sad anime movies, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, is a romantic science fiction film about a tomboy teenager (played by Miley Cyrus) attempting to make it through her senior year of high school.
However, since she can go back in time and forward in time, she uses this power to her advantage at any opportunity.
There’s always a catch when something seems too good to be true. The viewpoints shown in this Mamoru Hosoda-directed film from 2006 might make you both optimistic and melancholy.
26. A Dog from Flanders
The animated series and film Dog of Flanders is based on the tale of a youngster and his devoted dog in northern Holland. The animation is just as vivid and smooth as in any Studio Ghibli film.
However, the colorful animation technique contrasts sharply with the difficulties the kid faces when his grandpa dies.
Barefoot Gen is a famous Japanese movie and one of the best sad anime movies. The movie is placed amid the aftereffects of the atomic bomb.
This combat film doesn’t hold back from depicting the horrors of battle, particularly the bombing sequence.
Like Grave of the Fireflies, this movie will make you feel all the feels. Check out this classic film on Amazon Prime Video.
Tomoya Okazaki is the protagonist of Clannad, and we follow his adventures as he navigates high school and makes new acquaintances. However, there is one certain female who starts to transform his life.
Fans of the anime can’t help but fall in love with the supporting cast, even if Nagisa and Tomoya are the show’s main protagonists.
Relationships in high school are shown as they are in this romantic drama. As one of the best sad anime movies, Clannad teaches us that we can safely depend on one another and that memories are worth the effort.
29. Golden Time
Banri Tada sits for Tokyo University entrance exams. But unfortunately, he has been diagnosed with retrograde amnesia and must face his history and connections with his friends head-on.
Some anime fans may say that Golden Time is the best romantic comedy anime because of how much they like the main characters. However, it is also one of the best sad anime movies.
30. Children Who Chase Lost Voices
Children Who Chase Lost Voices thrust viewers into a fantastical realm that inspires a little girl to engage on quite the journey while navigating first love.
One day, she discovers a radio that her father left her, and strange music begins to play when she turns it on, transporting her to a fantastical new world.
Even while the magical realm is magnificent, there are a few spots where the world-building appears to fall short.
While Asuna’s father is no longer in her life, Children Who Chase Lost Voices depicts her attempting to go on as best she can.