Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time

Anime is a medium that can make people feel many emotions. One of the strongest feelings it can create is sadness, especially in the drama genre. Drama anime often mixes with other types of stories to make people feel a special kind of sadness.

Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time

These anime can be about love that ends in heartbreak or about finding out who you really are. Each one has a different story, and each one can make you feel sad in a different way.

But what are some of the saddest anime ever? Which are the ones that make people cry even when they think about it? Let’s take a look at the 15 saddest anime of all time.

15. Eighty-Six

Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time
Number of Episodes23 Episodes
Animation StudioA-1 Pictures
GenresSci-Fi, Drama, Action

“Eighty-Six” is an action-packed anime that resonates with a profoundly sad theme. The series explores the dominant theme of racism, making it an incredibly moving and often depressing watch. As one of the best mecha anime in terms of animation quality, the visuals are top-notch.

The plot unfolds in a world where a group of people, known as the Eighty-Six, fight for a country that doesn’t even recognize them as human and treats them as slaves. They are mistreated and viewed as expendable by society, operating mechs as a separate unit of troops.

The story centers on Lena, an elite handler and commander of the Eighty-Six. As she develops ties with the team, she begins to question their dehumanizing treatment, particularly connecting with the troop leader, Shin. Their relationship is complex, and the path they tread is fraught with challenges.

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14. To Your Eternity

Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time
Number of Episodes40 Episodes
Animation StudioBrain’s Base & Studio Drive
GenresAdventure, Supernatural

“To Your Eternity” had the makings of one of the most heart-wrenching anime series ever created. While Season One remains a tear-jerker, many fans feel that Season Two disrupted the rhythm that made the series so compelling. The anime explores themes of learning from one’s environment and the development of personality.

The plot centers on a mysterious orb, referred to as “It,” sent to Earth by an entity known as “The Beholder.” This orb is tasked with learning from its surroundings and evolving. It begins its existence as a rock, then transforms into moss, and eventually takes the form of a wolf.

The wolf has an owner on the brink of death, and when the owner passes away, “It” takes on the human’s form. Now experiencing emotions and seeing the world from a human perspective, “It” embarks on a journey filled with betrayals, emotions, and friendships.

But not everyone welcomes “It,” and some beings want it gone. Where will this journey lead, and what will “It” become? “To Your Eternity” explores these questions, weaving a tale of transformation, connection, and the essence of humanity.

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13. The Garden of Words

Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time
Number of Episodes1 Movie
Animation StudioComix Wave
GenresRomance, Drama

“The Garden of Words” is an amazing experience that unfolds in just 45 minutes. This short film offers a fresh take on a romantic story, enhanced by top-notch animation. It stands as one of the best short films ever made in the anime genre.

The plot follows Akizuki, a high school student who has a habit of skipping classes on rainy days. One such day, he crosses paths with a mysterious woman in the park. They strike up a conversation and slowly begin to connect, discussing their dreams and futures.

Akizuki shares his aspiration to become a shoemaker and even takes the woman’s footprint to create his first pair of shoes. As their relationship deepens, he makes a startling discovery: the woman is his teacher, Yukino, who is on a break from school and facing bullying from her colleagues.

The story explores the complexities of their relationship as Akizuki grapples with his feelings for Yukino and the ethical dilemmas their connection presents. Will he be able to help her, or is there more to their relationship than meets the eye?

12. Angel Beats!

Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time
Number of Episodes13 Episodes
Animation StudioP.A. Works
GenresDrama, Supernatural

“Angel Beats!” follows a pretty subtle story carried on by good animation and proper development of characters in the series. This anime received its fair share of popularity for the next few years after its release due to its sad and depressing climax.

The plot unfolds in a school-like facility that serves as a purgatory for those who have died unwanted deaths. Here, the student council president, known as Angel, seemingly controls everyone. A group of departed students forms a faction to rebel against her, led by the amnesiac Yuzuru Otonashi.

As they engage in both comical and dramatic battles against the mysterious Angel, whom they perceive as a representation of God, they begin to come to terms with their regrets, emotions, and the events that led them to this world. The series explores themes of redemption, acceptance, and the search for peace in the face of unresolved issues from their previous lives.

As the characters uncover the truth about their existence in this transitory afterlife, they are faced with a choice: to stay or to move on. “Angel Beats!” is both heart-wrenching and thought-provoking story, making it a standout in the world of anime.

11. Wolf Children

Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time
Number of Episodes1 Movie
Animation StudioStudio Chizu
GenresSlice-of-life, Fantasy

“Wolf Children” is a touching film that explores themes of life-changing decisions, risk-taking, and the complexities of parenthood. It’s a story about following one’s heart, even when faced with difficult choices, and it doesn’t shy away from portraying the harsh realities of raising children.

The plot centers on Hana, a young woman who falls in love with a mysterious man capable of transforming into a wolf. Together, they have two children, Ame and Yuki, who inherit their father’s unique ability. Tragically, the father dies, leaving Hana to care for her half-wolf children alone.

Faced with the challenges of raising her unusual offspring, Hana relocates to the countryside, determined to provide them with a normal life. As Ame and Yuki grow, they must grapple with their dual identities and decide whether to embrace their human or wolf selves.

The film’s beautiful animation and emotional storytelling make it a must-watch for anyone seeking a thoughtful and moving cinematic experience.

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10. Maquia: When The Promised Flowers Blooms

Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time
Number of Episodes1 Movie
Animation StudioP.A. Works
GenresDrama, Fantasy

“Maquia” is an emotional film that portrays the complexities of parenthood and the bonds that transcend blood relations. It illustrates the challenges and risks of raising a child, ending on a sorrowful note that underscores the sacrifices inherent in being a parent.

The story centers on Maquia, a young immortal girl from the Iolph clan, known for turning memories into fabric. Amid a violent conflict, she discovers a baby boy named Ariel, the sole survivor of a decimated village.

Maquia decides to adopt and raise him as her own, all while keeping her immortality a secret.

As Ariel grows into adulthood, their relationship becomes complicated by his feelings of desire for his eternally youthful mother. Maquia must navigate the difficulties of motherhood and grapple with the transient nature of human existence and the materialistic aspects of life.

9. Made in Abyss

Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time
Number of Episodes25 Episodes
Animation StudioKinema Citrus
GenresAdventure, Drama, Fantasy

“Made in Abyss” is a dark and often disturbing series that is not for the faint of heart. Its themes can be deeply unsettling, leaving viewers to ponder the twisted creativity behind the story. Despite its grim nature, the series offers an unforgettable experience that resonates with many.

The plot centers on Riko, a young girl driven by the desire to find her mother, who disappeared into the mysterious abyss. When a robot boy named Reg emerges from the depths, Riko teams up with him to embark on a perilous journey into the unknown.

As they dive deeper into the abyss, they encounter friends of Riko’s mother who subject them to harsh training to prepare for the dangers ahead. The journey is fraught with physical and mental challenges, as Riko and Reg face formidable enemies and harrowing obstacles.

Made in Abyss features some heartbreaking moments, even though it looks fun in the beginning. Hajime no Ippo author revealed that he also thought it would be a fun adventure series that is until he started watching it.

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8. Graveyard of Fireflies

Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time
Number of Episodes1 Movie
Animation StudioStudio Ghibli

“Grave of the Fireflies” is a heart-wrenching film that tells the tale of the brutal realities of war. Unlike ‘The Garden of Words,’ this movie may leave viewers in sorrow for its unique portrayal of sadness. It’s a stark reminder of the destruction and suffering that war brings, leaving no one untouched.

The plot follows the story of two siblings who spend their everyday life in a struggle to survive because of the war that ended recently. Together, they think they can overcome anything but face disasters that no one can avoid.

“Grave of the Fireflies” is set in Japan during World War II. It tells the terrible tale of two siblings, Seita and Setsuko, who fight to survive amid the devastation caused by the war. They take refuge in an abandoned bomb shelter after being orphaned and abandoned.

The siblings struggle to survive in the face of scarcity of supplies and the horrors of war. So, will these two be able to survive in these challenging conditions?

Among all the anime series, Grave of Fireflies is considered the saddest anime of all time.

7. Re: ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-

Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time
Number of Episodes50 Episodes + 2 OVA Episodes
Animation StudioWhite Fox
GenresDrama, Fantasy

“Re: ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-” is an emotionally intense anime series that follows the trials and tribulations of Subaru, a teenage boy who finds himself transported to another world.

The plot takes a dramatic turn in Season 2, amplifying the protagonist’s suffering and leaving viewers deeply moved.

Upon arriving in this unfamiliar realm, Subaru encounters a girl named Satella, who enlists his help to retrieve a stolen pendant. As they work together, they are killed by an assassin, only for Subaru to discover that he has the ability to “restart” from a checkpoint in this world.

As he dies and restarts repeatedly in his quest to save Satella, Subaru learns that she lied about her name and begins to question who he can trust in this new world. His repeated failures and the realization that something else terrible happens each time he dies take a toll on his mental well-being.

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6. A Silent Voice

Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time
Number of Episodes1 Movie
Animation StudioKyoto Animation

“A Silent Voice” is a critically acclaimed animated film that stands as one of the finest in the genre. Winning multiple awards in 2016 and 2017 for its exceptional writing and direction, the movie delivers a powerful message about empathy, redemption, and the destructive nature of revenge.

The story centers on Shoya Ishida, a young boy who bullies Shoko Nishimiya, a deaf girl, after she enrolls in his elementary school. Shoya’s actions escalate, leading to physical harm, and he soon finds himself ostracized by his classmates for his cruel behavior.

Years later, a remorseful Shoya seeks out Shoko, hoping to atone for his past actions, and apologizes for his wrongdoings. As they reconnect, a strong friendship blossoms between them, and they begin to confront the painful memories of their shared history.

5. Your Lie In April

Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time
Number of Episodes22 Episodes + 1 OVA Episode
Animation StudioA-1 Pictures
GenresDrama, Romance

“Your Lie in April” is a beautifully crafted anime, a symphony of storytelling enriched with masterful direction and a fantastic selection of music from legendary composers like Chopin and Beethoven. Its subtle and emotional ending builds to a crescendo that can move viewers to tears.

The plot follows the story of a teenage boy who no longer has an affection for playing piano because of his traumatic past regarding this instrument. One day, he meets a girl who starts to enlighten something in him to play again and alongside her!

“Your Lie in April,” tells the tale of Kosei Arima, a gifted pianist who lost his ability to hear the piano when his mother passed away. Kosei lives in a frustrating environment and meets Kaori Miyazono, a skilled and free-spirited musician.

Kaori aids Kosei in rediscovering his passion for music and life via her vivacious playing and captivating enthusiasm. Kaori encourages Kosei to perform again despite his anxieties as their relationship grows. However, Kaori has a secret that she never reveals to anyone.

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4. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time
Number of Episodes11 Episodes + 1 Movie
Animation StudioA-1 Pictures
GenresDrama, Supernatural

“Anohana” is an emotionally resonant anime series that unfolds at a slow pace, building to a sudden and powerful ending. Accompanied by a song that can evoke tears with just a few notes, the series explores themes of forgiveness, friendship, loss, and reconciliation.

The story centers on a group of childhood friends who drift apart following the tragic death of Menma, one of their own. Years later, Jinta Yadomi, the main character, begins to see Menma’s ghost, who claims she has a wish that needs to be granted before she can move on.

Reluctantly, Jinta gathers his estranged friends to fulfill Menma’s desire, forcing them to confront their unresolved emotions, guilt, and sadness. As they navigate the complexities of their shared past and the memories that both bind and separate them, they find healing and a renewed sense of connection.

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3. Violet Evergarden

Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time
Number of Episodes13 Episodes + 1 Special Episode + 2 Movies
Animation StudioKyoto Animation
GenresDrama, Fantasy

“Violet Evergarden” is a deeply moving anime series that gradually reveals the protagonist’s tragic circumstances. Each episode is a unique exploration of a different theme, accompanied by a distinct musical score that resonates with the viewer long after watching.

The story centers on Violet, a former child soldier who has known only battle and obedience. Emotionless and unaccustomed to civilian life, she is taken under the wing of Major Gilbert, who teaches her how to live and love. Tragically, the Major dies in the aftermath of war, leaving Violet with his final words: “I love you.”

Lost and seeking to understand the meaning of love, Violet trains to become an “Auto Memory Doll,” a professional who composes heartfelt messages for those unable to express their feelings. Her journey takes her on a path of self-discovery and empathy as she grapples with the significance of the Major’s last words.

2. Fruits Basket (Remake)

Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time
Number of Episodes63 Episodes
Animation StudioTMS Entertainment
GenresDrama, Supernatural, Romance

“Fruits Basket (Remake)” is an emotionally charged anime series that explores themes of acceptance, resilience, and the pursuit of happiness. With deeply relatable characters and side stories that can bring tears to the eyes, the series offers a touching and heartfelt experience.

The story follows Tohru Honda, a high school student left orphaned and forced to live in a tent after losing her mother. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she meets the Sohma family, the landlords of the area where she’s been staying without a contract.

The Sohmas are afflicted by a unique curse related to the Chinese zodiac, causing them to turn into animals when touched by someone of the opposite gender. After discovering their secret, Tohru makes a pledge to keep it, and the Sohmas invite her to live with them.

As she becomes a part of their lives, Tohru works to end the curse and heal the emotional scars that have damaged the family’s relationships.

“Fruits Basket” is a story of love, loss, and the transformative power of compassion. Its beautiful storytelling and well-crafted characters make it a must-watch for those seeking a meaningful and unforgettable anime experience.

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1. Clannad

Top 15 Saddest Anime Series of All-Time
Number of Episodes47 Episodes + 2 OVA Episodes
Animation StudioKyoto Animation
GenresDrama, Romance, Supernatural

“Clannad” is an anime series that starts pretty funny and with very positive vibes, but it progressively gets sad as it leaves us on a controversial end, which you can’t help but think of as a sad ending. The ending is also subtle, making you cry harder after you have finished the series.

The plot follows the story of a boy who is fed up with life because of his family background. One day, he meets a girl who shows him how a person can be happy by cherishing the small things in life.

“Clannad” centers around Tomoya Okazaki, a high school dropout who meets the odd yet generous Nagisa Furukawa. As their relationship deepens, Tomoya starts to care about the problems and difficulties the other schoolgirls are going through, including Nagisa.

Tomoya assists these girls in facing their past traumas and finding hope for the future through friendship and empathy. He navigates the difficulties of family, love, and grief with the help of his other friends.

There you have it: The top 15 anime series that will surely leave you crying! Let us know if we missed any sad anime of your choice in the comments below.

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