There are a lot of discussions about the most heartbreaking anime series, but what about movies? Here's a list of the saddest anime movies guaranteed to make you cry.
The anime TV scene is often dominated by hugely popular shounen titles which tend to be action-heavy and relatively light-hearted.
Many anime movies, on the other hand, focus on intimate, smaller-scale scenarios that are often deeply relatable and bound to pull your heartstrings.
A few of the anime on this list have a slow, dreamy pace, and there's nothing wrong with that, but if you want your sad anime to have a thrilling plot too, try out Perfect Blue.
Perfect Blue follows Mima, a young woman who leaves her job as a member of a J-pop idol group to pursue acting.
But when her acting career becomes increasingly demanding and an obsessed fan who refuses to accept her idol days are over starts stalking her, Mima finds it increasingly hard to distinguish fantasy from reality.Advertisement
Colorful is a 2010 film that delves deep into the complexity of human nature.
When an unknown impure soul dies, he's given a second chance against his will.
Reincarnated in the body of Makoto, a 14-year-old boy who committed suicide, he must identify Makoto's biggest mistake and atone for it before his borrowed time runs out.
Since the topic of suicide features prominently in Colorful, viewers should proceed with caution if this is something they might find disturbing.
Lonely Castle in the Mirror
Lonely Castle In the Mirror, the most recent film in this batch, follows a group of students from different backgrounds, all of whom have stopped going to school due to various traumatic experiences.
One day, their bedroom mirrors shine and from them, they walk into a desolate castle ruled by an enigmatic girl known as "Wolf Queen."
The children are told that if they find a key before the castle shuts forever, they will get any wish granted, but staying past curfew means certain death.
Behind this fairy tale premise lies a deeply human story about loss, bullying, abuse, and trauma but also the hope of healing through intervention and support.
A Silent Voice
A Silent Voice is another tough one to watch for anyone who has experienced bullying at school.
As mischievous primary school students, Shouya Ishida and his friends mercilessly taunted their classmate, Shouko, who was deaf, leading to her decision to transfer to another school.
Years later, Shouya, who has been a victim of bullying himself, meets Shouko again and tries to make up for his past actions, despite the obstacles he must face.
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The Wind Rises
For fans of Ghibli films, The Wind Rises is a tender coming-of-age story.
This fictionalized biopic is about the early life of Jiro Horikoshi (1903–1982), the designer of the Mitsubishi A5M fighter aircraft and its successor, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, which would later be used by Japan in WWII.
Horikoshi's idealistic dreams about beautiful airplanes come in stark contrast with the dark and destructive ways in which they end up being used, making this one of Miyazaki's saddest films.
5 Centimeters Per Second
5 Centimeters Per Second is a lesser-known Makoto Shinkai film compared to the more popular Your Name, but it's also sad and impactful.
This romance anime movie is split into three parts and follows childhood friends Takaki Toono and Akari Shinohara who love each other but keep getting separated by circumstances beyond their control.
The movie perfectly captures the pain of separation as the characters attempt to stay in touch in touch despite inevitably drifting apart and going into separate futures.
Violent Evergarden: The Movie
Violet Evergarden is one of the most moving anime series of all time, and the subsequent movie is no exception.
Years after the events of the series, Violet keeps rising in fame as a ghostwriter, but something is missing from her life, and fans of the light novel know that there are still loose ends.
Nonetheless, the movie reaches a satisfying conclusion that will bring you to tears.
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Wolf Children is an award-winning fantasy movie following the unlikely romance between Hana, a human woman, and the world's last werewolf.
Despite their differences, they love each other so much that they decide to move in together and start a family.
When tragedy strikes, Hana becomes the sole caretaker of their two young hybrid children and does her best to protect them from a world that refuses to accept them.
This is a heartwarming story about single motherhood that will break your heart.
Weathering With You
If you like stories that grapple with climate change and have an environmental message, check out Weathering With You.
Set amidst a particularly disruptive rainy season in Japan, the award-winning anime movie follows Hodaka Morishima, a student struggling to support himself, and Hina Amano, an orphan girl looking for work to sustain herself and her younger brother.
The anime takes a supernatural turn when it's revealed that Hina can cause the sun to come out when she prays for it, but the price she has to pay to do so makes the movie heartbreaking.
In This Corner of the World
If you love historical anime with a tragic twist, don't miss this award-winning film by studio MAPPA.
In This Corner of the World follows Suzu Urano from her early years as a romantic and creative child growing up on the outskirts of Hiroshima until her adult life as a homesick bride on the eve of WWII and beyond.
This is a moving and occasionally heart-wrenching exploration of life in Japan before and after WWII.
Your Name follows two very different high school students, a boy and a girl, who wake up after having swapped bodies.
The first part of the movie is relatively fun and light, focusing on the shenanigans resulting from this supernatural event.
However, the show soon drifts into a sad and emotionally demanding journey about two lost souls who are desperate to meet each other.
While the movie doesn't end in despair, you are very likely to cry along the way.
READ MORE: Makoto Shinkai's Best Movies, Ranked
In a vein similar to Grave of the Fireflies, Barefoot Gen shows the devastating consequences of war.
Barefoot Gen follows Gen Nakaoka, a young boy, as he navigates life in WWII Japan, before, during, and after the destruction of Hiroshima by the atomic bombing.
Bear in mind that this is a very hard film to watch, as it doesn't shy away from the ugliest and most gruesome aspect of the war, including an infamous graphic scene about the atomic bombs' immediate effects on the people of Hiroshima.
While Barefoot Gen does manage to find room for optimism, it is still one of the saddest on this list.
Grave of the Fireflies
Grave of the Fireflies is an early Ghibli film, commonly considered one of the best anti-war animations and one of the saddest anime movies ever made.
It follows two siblings, teenage Seita and his young sister, Setsuko, who try to survive in 1945 Japan after the loss of their parents and home, as they slowly succumb to starvation.
While this is much less digestible than future Ghibli films, Grave of the Fireflies manages to retain and foreshadow the children's sense of wonder even in the darkest circumstances.
This story is so impactful because it reflects the real and devastating consequences of WWII, making it a must-watch for those interested in historical anime.
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