21 Tragic Anime That Made Everyone Cry

Who doesn’t love a good cry? It can be the perfect release for when you are blue. To help spread the tears are these 21 series and their totally arbitrary Cry-O-Meter.

1. Clannad: After Story

Clannad: After Story

© Hikarizaka High School Drama Club

Studio: Kyoto Animation

Episode count: 24

Quick pitch: Tomoya and Nagisa get married and have a daughter named Ushio. But when tragedy strikes, Tomoya enters a deep depression which leads to a strained relationship with his family.

Cry-O-Meter: 10 Great Dango Families entering a grass field.

2. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

© Anohana Production Committee

Studio: A-1 Pictures

Episode count: 11 + 1 movie

Quick pitch: Jinta Yadomi and his group of friends have been drifting apart since entering high school. Now, they must face the tragic events of their past in order to move forward.

Cry-O-Meter: 9.5 games of hide-and-seek.

3. Grave of the Fireflies

Grave of the Fireflies

© Studio Ghibli

Studio: Studio Ghibli

Episode count: 1 movie

Quick pitch: World War II is winding down, but life is hell for siblings Seita and Setsuko. Everything is taken away from them after an air raid, forcing the siblings to live around disease and starvation.

Cry-O-Meter: 12 jars of fireflies.

4. Air


© Key / Visual Art’s / Kyoto Animation

Studio: Kyoto Animation

Episode count: 13

Quick pitch: Yukito Kunisaki travels with his puppet show in order to find the Winged Maiden. A meeting with a girl named Misuzu causes Yukito to stay in a small town.

Cry-O-Meter: 6 gasps for air

5. Fate/Zero


© Type-Moon / Ufotable / Nitroplus / Aniplex

Studio: Ufotable

Episode count: 25

Quick pitch: Kiritsugu “Magus Killer” Emiya enters the Fourth Holy Grail War. Grasping with his past as a mercenary, a deadly sense of justice, a need to protect his family, Kiritsugu will do anything to possess the Holy Grail.

Cry-O-Meter: 7.5 EXCALIBUR screams.

6. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

© Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Production Committee

Studio: Bones / Kinema Citrus

Episode count: 11

Quick pitch: A devastating earthquakes tears through the Kanto region. Three survivors cope with the aftermath, not knowing if their families are safe while navigating the aftermath.

Cry-O-Meter: 8.0 big quakes.

7. Plastic Memories

Plastic Memories

© MAGES / Project_PM

Studio: Doga Kobo

Episode count: 13

Quick pitch: Tsukasa takes a job at the SAI Corporation, which develops androids (Giftia) capable of human emotions. Tsukasa’s job is to help retrieve expiring Giftia before their personalities degrade, but what happens when he falls in love with one?

Cry-O-Meter: 9 dead batteries.

8. Your Lie in April

Your Lie in April

© Naoshi Arakawa / Kodansha / Your Lie in April Committee

Studio: A-1 Pictures

Episode count: 22

Quick pitch: Kousei was a child prodigy pianist, but his mother’s death took away his passion. His life changes after meeting a violinist named Kaori.

Cry-O-Meter: 7.5 lies about not crying.

9. Angel Beats!

Angel Beats!

© Visual Art’s / Key / Angel Beats! Project

Studio: P.A. Works

Episode count: 13

Quick pitch: Otonashi wakes up dead. The crazy thing is that there are a group of teens stuck in the afterlife, with no memory of how they got there. Can they find a way to crossover?

Cry-O-Meter: 1 big wrestling match with your tear ducts.

10. Basilisk


© Futaro Yamada / Masaki Segawa / Kodansha / Gonzo

Studio: Gonzo

Episode count: 24

Quick pitch: Two rival ninja clans are seeking to support the next Shogun. They send 10 representatives to engage in blood combat, with two star-crossed lovers caught in the middle.

Cry-O-Meter: 14 shuriken to the heart.

11. Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom

Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom

© Nitroplus / Project Phantom

Studio: Genco / Bee Train

Episode count: 26

Quick pitch: Reiji was visiting the States when he witnessed an assassination. The assassination syndicate Inferno kidnaps and brainwash Reiji into being an assassin as a result.

Tear-O-Meter: 5.5 contract hits against tissue boxes.

12. Katanagatari


© Nisio Isin / Kodansha / White Fox / Aniplex

Studio: White Fox

Episode count: 12

Quick pitch: Togame is seeking out 12 legendary swords called The Deviant Blades. She seeks the aid of Shichika, who is the master of the Kyotouryuu fighting stance.

Cry-O-Meter: 12 legendary wails of sadness.

13. Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal

Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal

© Nobuhiro Watsuki / Shueisha / Fuji TV / SPE Visual Works

Studio: Studio Deen

Episode count: 4

Quick pitch: The tale of how Shinta became Kenshin Himura. As a young man, Kenshin struggles to walk the line of justice and corruption; life and death.

Cry-O-Meter: Don’t even get me started, bro.

14. Hotarubi no Mori e

Hotarubi no Mori e

© Yuki Midorikawa / Hakusensha / Brain’s Base

Studio: Brain’s Base

Episode count: 1 movie

Quick pitch: Hotaru was six when she met the forest spirit Gin. It was forewarned that if Gin makes physical contact with anyone, he will disappear. As time goes on, the two start to form a strong bond.

Cry-O-Meter: Don’t touch me! I’m crying!

15. Bokurano


© Mohiro Kitoh / Shogakukan / Izumi Project

Studio: Gonzo

Episode count: 24

Quick pitch: 15 kids discover a grotto while at summer camp. A man named Kokopelli tells them that he is creating a game that involves using a giant robot to save the Earth from 15 alien invasions. However, the power source of the robot is kept a secret.

Cry-O-Meter: 15 contracts allowing you to shed 15 single tears.

16. Hal


© Hal Production Committee

Studio: Wit Studio

Episode count: 1 movie

Quick pitch: In the future, robots can be programmed with complete human emotion. After Kurumi is left heartbroken after a tragic plane crash, a robot named Q01 is sent to Kurumi to help mend her broken heart.

Cry-O-Meter: Do androids cry electric tears?

17. Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist

© Hiromu Arakawa / Square Enix / Bones

Studio: Bones

Episode count: 51 (2003 series) / 64 (Brotherhood)

Quick pitch: Edward and Alphonse dabble into alchemy in order to revive their dead mother. Things take a terrible turn as Alphonse loses his physical body and Edward is left maimed.

Cry-O-Meter: 1 strong bond between a girl and her dog.

18. Berserk


© Kentaro Miura / Hakusensha / OLM, Inc

Studio: OLM, Inc

Episode count: 25

Quick pitch: Guts is taken into the mercenary group Band of the Hawk by the leader Griffith. After Griffith has his dreams of ruling a kingdom taken from him, he is seduced by an evil power.

Cry-O-Meter: 1 mind breaking eclipse event that ruins your love life and robs you of your humanity.

19. Voices of a Distant Star

Voices of a Distant Star

© CoMix Wave Films

Studio: CoMix Wave Inc.

Episode count: 1 OVA

Quick pitch: Mikako Negamine is recruited by the UN to pilot a mech to fight in a war against an alien threat. He stays in contact with his childhood friend Noboru by sending emails using telecom device. As Mikako goes deeper into space, the lag time between receiving messages increases.

Cry-O-Meter: The tears will strike 5 years from today.

20. Millennium Actress

Millennium Actress

© Chiyoko Committee

Studio: Madhouse

Episode count: 1 movie

Quick pitch: Chiyoko Fujiwara was Japan’s most popular actress prior to retiring 30 years ago. When the studio Chiyoko used to work with enters bankruptcy, she is asked to give a retrospective interview about her career.

Cry-O-Meter: If an actor fakes the tears, does it still count as crying?

21. 5 Centimeters Per Second

© CoMix Wave Films

Studio: CoMix Wave Inc.

Episode count: 1 movie

Quick pitch: Takaki Toono and Akari Shinohara were close friends, but they are pulled away after Akari’s family moved to a different region. They stay in touch through snail mail, but the years see them go their separate paths.

Cry-O-Meter: 8.5 tearful letters while you wait by the train station.

*Sniff* Sniff* Please share the tragic anime you love to watch when you need a good cry.

Aaron Magulick
Aaron Magulick has been a fan of anime ever since being exposed to it in the late '90s. A fan of nearly all genres, he is not afraid to explore the creepier side of the industry.
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