Anime watchers have always been able to find many sad moments in shows that weren’t explicitly focused on presenting sorrowful stories. For that, we will be listing anime series and movies that were meant to be sad, whether it’s a slice of life, romance, high school drama, or fantasy.
Anime series like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece have lots of comedy, action, and ridiculous moments but they were also able to make us cry when the time was right. However, they were never known as sad or gloomy anime shows.
1. Your LIie In April
Our main protagonist Kosei Armia is a boy with a passion for music. However, after his mother’s passing, he no longer desired such a dream. Not until two years later. Kosei Arima encountered a gorgeous violinist named Kaori Miyazono, who decided to push him through his despair to live with the music again.
The anime starts as a colorful story, full of hope and brightness, but as soon as secrets start to become unraveled, so does the tragedy yet to come.
2. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
Jinta Yadomi is an absent school student. Avoiding the responsibilities of going to school and decided to spend most of his time playing video games instead. This has occurred due to an accident that happened five years ago, where one of his friends passed away.
This has separated all his childhood friends and placed him into the unhealthy lifestyle he was having, until one day he is met with the ghost of the very friend who died years ago, Menma.
3. A Silent Voice
Not all main characters start with kind personalities. Our protagonist Shouya Ishida was an elementary student who shared his class with a newly transferred girl called Shouko Nishimiya. Figuring out she was deaf; he decided to bully and make fun of her even when she tried to be friendly with him.
However, this bullying has taken a dark turn on him after leaving the school. Years later, he met with Shouko again, and this time he was determined to make up for the mistakes of the past.
4. Clannad: After Story
A slice-of-life anime show that follows the story of Clannad, but the knowledge of the previous season isn’t required to watch After Story. Tomoya is a young adult who recently graduated from high school with his childhood friend Nagisa.
The episodes will present their daily lives together as they grow close and bound. But the deeper you enter their story, the more dark events take a turn. Experience adulthood and its difficulties for Tomoya as his ordinary life face sad events.
5. Grave of the Fireflies
War is such a cruel matter. It affects everyone and everything, and nothing can be done about it—all for the sake of glory and power. Grave of the Fireflies showcases the life of two young Japanese siblings. After World War II, Seita and Setsuko are left to survive in this world after they lost their parents and their hometown from the bombing done.
The story follows Seita, who is meant to take care of his younger sibling, Setsuko.
6. Angel Beats!
Otonashi is a high school student who is woken up with no memory of the past, trying to understand where he exactly was; he is encountered with a girl named Yuri who informs him he is indeed dead! Completely taken off guard by this fact, it is later followed by him being in the afterlife.
Otonashi is met with a group of friends in the afterlife, all led by Yuri. He slowly learns about their backstory before remembering the details of his death.
7. Wolf Children
Wolf Children is an anime movie about Hana, a young high school student who falls in love with a werewolf. Despite knowing that fact, she still intends to give all her love to him, so he does back. They create a family together and give birth to two adorable children.
However, after Hana’s husband’s sudden death, she is left as a single mom to raise her kids in a difficult world, and to make it more troubling, her two kids can also transform into wolves.
8. Plastic Memories
Tsukasa Mizugaki sought to enroll in a university and build his future from there, just like many others would do. However, after failing his entrance exam, he was left with no choice but to look for a job. Luckily he was hired by an Artificial Intelligent company. Soon, he discovers Androids made by the company that looks perfectly like humans.
However, they only have a lifespan of 9 years. Tsukasa befriends an Android named Isla, but the idea of her termination causes him to mourn.
9. Violet Evergarden
Violet is a beautiful young girl who was taken and used as a weapon from a very young age. After the war has ended, Violet wakes up after her wounds are treated. She remembers her commander, the only man who treated her like a human and showed her love, only to be prevented from looking for him by a close friend of his.
Now that Violet is not required as a weapon, she must learn to live like a normal human, feel and desire, all while she tries to learn about the fate of her commander.
10. 5 Centimeters per Second
Emphasizing romance, 5 Centimeters Per Second is a movie that showcases the harsh reality of long-distance relationships. Takaki and Akira are childhood friends who began to feel something for each other. Still, after circumstances beyond their control, they were forced to drift away from each other, physically at least.
Trying to keep the promises they made, they attempt to remain in contact, hoping one day that they would meet each other again, but such hope would also lead to many struggles and drama in their personal lives.
11. Steins; Gate
Based on one of the greatest visual novels of all time, Steins; Gate is an anime series that involves time travel. Rintarou Okabe, the self-proclaimed scientist, discovers that one of his silly inventions created an unbelievable phenomenon, sending messages to the past.
Rintarou has discovered that he can manipulate the world through time. Still, in the process, he learns about a mysterious organization that was already studying time travel and encounters a girl named Kurisu that would foresee her death due to time travel.
12. I Want To Eat Your Pancreas
Shiga Haruki is a school student who is disconnected from the real world. He shows no emotions to others, nor is he interested in interacting with them. One day he finds a book with an intriguing title. As he begins to read, he learns that a student named Sakura Yamauchi is dying and that this book was nothing but a diary.
Confronting her about it, Sakura forces him to spend time together with the rest of her days. The pair gradually starts to grow closer to each other, left to face the inevitable fate of the disease.
13. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
Mirai Onozawa is a young girl that is depressed and unhappy with her life. She doesn’t see anything of value in this world nor hope in the future. But all of that was about to change, and reality would hit her in the most devastating way possible. An earthquake strikes Tokyo, and the whole city suffers terrifying casualties.
Mirai realizes her own mistakes, and she regrets the mindsets she lived with. Now, trying to survive through the catastrophe, she promises to reconnect back with her family after the earthquake is over.
14. Assassination Classroom
A class of students is put together through the government to take down a mysterious creature that caused the shattering of the moon. Learning that the entire human arsenal won’t eliminate him, the creature named “Koro-Sensei” exposes his weakness to fake weapons and bullets.
He creates a deal with the government and becomes a teacher to a class full of students. However, the students end up creating a bond with the teacher they are forced to kill.
Naho Takamiya is your usual high school girl living an ordinary life. Ready to start a new high school year, Naho’s anticipation is taken off guard by a mysterious letter sent to her. After reading it, she unexpectedly divulges a secret. This letter was sent to her from the future, 10 years to be precise. As events in the letter would soon become real, Naho understands that it wasn’t fake.
Her future self lives a life full of regret with no time left for redemption, trying to prevent the past from repeating her mistakes; Naho is warned about certain decisions and a certain transfer student named Kakeru.
16. Your Name
Mitsuha Miyamizu and Taki Tachibana are high school students living in different cities. They had never met each other before and had not learned about each other’s existence. That until one day, they supernaturally swap bodies after falling asleep.
They both acknowledged it wasn’t a dream, and everything that happened remained. Both of them were challenged to stop a terrifying catastrophe that would lead to the passing of many lives.
17. Elfen Lied
The story speaks about human experimentation done by the government in the cruelest way. Lucy is unfortunate enough to go through unbelievable suffering done from the organization. However, she was able to escape her cage after her unnatural powers caused bloodshed beyond comprehension.
Being injured and hopeless, she is met with two school students that quickly take her in, unaware of her past and her deceiving power. Lucy’s split personalities stand as an obstacle in front of living a normal life.
18. Banana Fish
A mysterious term called “Banana Fish” was spoken to Ash by his brother. Ash is a gang leader who was taken by a mafia godfather. Trying to understand the meaning of Banana Fish or knowing its identity, he was faced with unexpected events where a photographer and Ash’s friend were kidnapped by none other than the men of Dino Golzine, the godfather.
Putting his investigation to a halt, he was forced to find a way to locate and rescue them. What future awaits him after the mystery of “Banana Fish” Is revealed?
Nana Komatsu and Nana Osaki are two girls with different personalities. Each was trying to follow and achieve their own goals; they encountered each other on the train to Tokyo. Nana Komatsu, who casually falls in love, and Nana Osaki, who aims to be a rock singer, end up sharing the same room in Tokyo after certain events take place.
Living together had caused them to grow close, and with that, they started helping each other achieve their goals and face the harsh reality and heartbreaks.
20. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Don’t fool yourself by the way this anime starts. It might look colorful and shiny, but beneath all of that lies the true reality of how wishes can go wrong. Kaname and Miki are high school girls who meet a newly transferred student named Homura and a magical cat.
The cat promised to help Kaname and Miki fulfill their wishes and dreams, but they were not aware of the cost it would take to achieve them. Now, they become magical girls with duties and responsibilities that will put them into despair.