In recent times, the anime community has considerably evolved into effectively portraying more realistic emotions and even concepts.
Anime does an outstanding job of touching the hearts of viewers with amazing plots and phenomenal animation.
Moreover, the sadness theme is especially demonstrated exceptionally well through anime.
Although there are countless sad movies in anime, not all of them are worth a watch.
In this article, some of the best sad anime movies of all time are shared along with the platforms where you can watch them.
20. Wolf Children (2012)
Wolf Children is a story revolving around a really hard-working college student, Hana Takada.
One day her eyes land upon a mysterious guy in her class, and she ends up being completely bewitched by him.
Turns out, the guy is no ordinary man and transforms into a werewolf during the full moon.
Despite knowing this, Hana’s love doesn’t falter, and the two decide to have a family together.
She ends up giving birth and having two children who inherited the werewolf characteristics of their father. Unfortunately, their father dies, and Hana has to now bring up the wolf children all by herself.
The life of a single mother is not easy, especially when she has to protect her dear children from the judgments of other people.
19. Perfect Blue (1997)
Next is an outstanding work by Satoshi Kon, a psychological thriller movie called “Perfect Blue”.
The plot of Perfect Blue focuses on the life of a Jpop idol group member, Kirigoe Mima.
After two years of a successful career, Mima decides to leave the group in hopes of a career in acting, resulting in a lot of negative responses from her fans.
Despite all the hate she receives, Mima gets a role in a crime drama series, but her fandom becomes even more toxic.
To make things worse, a fan starts stalking her to the point of releasing important and intricate details about her life on the internet.
Perfect Blue is the kind of movie that will scare you out of your wits and make you question whether everything happening in the movie is reality or a part of a fantasy.
What’s more, it discusses some really dark concepts like depression and violence, which will give you the worst kind of heartache.
18. Whisper of the Heart (1995)
Much like the other creations of Ghibli, Whisper of the Heart is a magical journey but with the least fantasy elements compared to the rest.
Whisper of the Heart surrounds the life of a bookworm and an energetic 14-year-old girl, Shizuku Tsukishima, who often writes poetry in her free time.
One day, the young girl notices that Seji Amasawa also shares the same interest in all the books she reads. While searching for Seiji, she meets a strange cat, the Baron, on a train.
Moving Forward, as Shizuku meets up with Seiji, she discovers that he has a dream that he wants to fulfill, making her wonder what lies in her own future.
Now, her journey with Seiji begins as the two develop feelings for each other while working towards their goals.
The stunning Ghibli movie portrays the budding love between the two youngsters and their mentality toward society.
Whisper of the Heart will inspire you and bring tears to your eyes simultaneously with its amazing plot and visuals. It has a rating of 7.9 on IMDb and is available on Netflix (not US), HBOmax, and Amazon Prime.
17. The Wind Rises (2013)
Another Ghibli movie, arguably one of the best works of Hayao Miyazaki and also the saddest, is The Wind Rises.
The plot discusses the life of an ambitious boy, Jirou Horikoshi, who dreams of becoming a pilot. Unfortunately, Jirou is nearsighted, which prevents him from following his dreams.
However, he doesn’t stop there and studies to become an aeronautical engineer instead.
In his journey to produce the war aircraft, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter, Jirou faces the harsh reality of his dreams and falls in love as well.
He has to deal with all the terrible chaos and brutal violence that comes with his creation.
With its beautiful animation, the Wind Rises will make your jaw drop in countless moments while making you cry with heartwrenching scenes of Jirou’s life.
What’s more, Hayao Miyazki does an outstanding job in portraying the Great Kanto Earthquake and its impact in the movie.
16. I Want to Eat your Pancreas (2018)
I want to eat your Pancreas is an incredibly sad movie that targets a very important topic, and that is Cancer.
The movie revolves around an aloof high schooler, Haruki, who is disconnected from the world and has no interest in the lives of others.
However, Haruki’s life takes a completely different turn when he finds a special, handwritten book named “living with Dying”. He later discovers that his classmate, Sakura Yamauichi, writes it.
It is then that Haruki comes to know about her pancreatic illness, which only her parents are aware of, but he shows her no sympathy.
Henceforth, Haruki spends the remaining days with Sakura despite the major difference in their personality.
Their chemistry together and the way that Sakura completely disrupts the normal flow of Harkui’s life touches the hearts of many fans.
The whole movie does an impressive job of showcasing the perspective of the patient suffering from a terminal illness and of those who are around them.
I Want to Eat your Pancreas has an IMDb rating of 8 and it can be purchased online. Currently, it appears that it is not streaming anywhere.
15. Barefoot Gen (1983)
Barefoot Gen is a heart-wrenching movie set in the postwar period in Japan in 1945.
The postwar movie is about a young boy named Gen living in the part of Hiroshima which is surprisingly in a much better condition than the rest.
Although they still suffer from lack of food and malnutrition, Gen’s family tries their best to enjoy the little happy moments.
However, little do they know what’s coming next, and the happy moments they share are blown away by the atomic bombing.
The movie displays the horrifying aftermath of the bombing and how its radiation left the people who survived in terrible conditions.
The movie will have you crying for days.
However, it does end on a slightly positive note, showing that there is hope even in depressing situations such as war.
14. Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train (2020)
Demon Slayer the movie: Mugen Train, is an exhilarating movie that ends with a tear-jerking scene.
The famous film will have you crying with the portrayal of sad scenes.
The Demon Slayer movie takes place in a world overrun by terrifying Demons who always crave human flesh.
To protect humans, there exists an organization called the “Demon Slayer Corps,” which fights against the Demons.
The main character, Tanjiro, is a young Demon Slayer on a quest to save his sister after she turns into a Demon.
The movie ‘Mugen Train’ picks up right where the anime series left off. Tanjiro gets another mission, but this time, he’s working with the Fire Hashira, Kyujuro Rengoku.
As the leading Trio travels with the strange yet warm-hearted Flame Hashira, they learn more about his past and abilities.
The movie does an outstanding job of developing a deep bond with the Hashira and the characters, enough to give you heartache for days.
Read more: 15 Characters Who Died in Demon Slayer
13. Akira (1988)
The classic movie Akira represents the period after World War III. It has a futuristic setting, flawlessly portrayed by extraordinary animation and cinematography, considering the year it was released.
Akira starts 20 years in Neo-Tokyo after a mysterious explosion destroyed the city in 1988.
A government experiment went wrong, granting psychic powers to an individual capable of causing mass destruction.
Moving forward, the movie follows a biker gang as they get embroiled in the absolute darkness behind the tragedy twenty years ago.
Akira further shows the terrorism and violence against the government due to the past tragedy.
Shoutarou is the leading character, having a group of bikers who often battle against the clowns.
During one of their fights, Shoutarou’s best friend comes in contact with the psychic and begins to develop similar abilities, making him the government’s target.
Akira tackles the famous saying, ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely,’ from multiple angles, and the results aren’t pretty.
12. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Another postwar Japanese movie on the list and the most popular one is the Grave of the Fireflies.
Ghibli Studio is well known for doing a phenomenal job in creating some of the most heart-wrenching movies in the Animeverse.
It follows the story of a young boy named Seita and his younger sister named Setsuko.
The war leaves these children in a desperate situation, forcing them to survive in the horrifying situation created by the bombings.
The movie tackles the uncomfortable idea that nobody is wholly evil or wholly good but doing what they must to survive. It shows how even the kindest people can turn cruel to survive in this world.
The hardships of Seita and Setsuko and how they try to survive in this time will haunt you for weeks.
Grave of Fireflies shows the worst side of war and doesn’t go easy on its viewers with gore and all the terrifying details.
11. Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (2007)
The movie Evangelion is set in a post-apocalyptic world, where the last remaining humans are trying to survive against the alien-like creatures called “Angels.”
Evangelion follows Shinji, the new ‘Eva’ pilot, in a war-torn world where humanity is on the brink of extinction from Angels.
Many believe Shinji to be the ‘chosen one,’ but being the hero is the last thing he wants.
It demonstrates the impact of great responsibility pushed on the shoulders of a mere 14-year-old boy who only wishes to reconcile with his father.
This sad anime movie explores the themes of responsibility, loneliness, and depression.
The movie does this through Shinji and every ‘Eva’ pilot we meet in the show. All of them have more to them than initially meets the eye.
Being thrown into a dangerous battlefield does sound terrible, but what adds to it is that Shinji is just a young boy.
Realizing the struggles of Shinji and the mixture of negative emotions he feels throughout the movie will surely make you feel sad for him.
Evangelion has an IMDb rating of 7.6 and it can be purchased online. Currently, it appears that it is not streaming anywhere.
10. Hotarubi No Mori e (2011)
Hotarubi No Mori e is a timeless movie portraying a bittersweet love story between two characters, showing just how cruel the time is to them.
Hotaru Tskhegawa is a six-year-old girl who visits her grandfather’s house during her summer vacations.
One day, she gets lost in the forest and is rescued by a spirit who always wears a mask. The two quickly become friends, and romance slowly starts to blossom.
There’s just one problem: the two can never touch, or Gin will disappear. Moreover, she realizes that she will only get to see Gin during her summer vacation.
As time passes, their love for each other grows even stronger until they finally have to part ways in the most pain-filled manner.
Hotarubi No Mori e is a short sad anime movie, but the gorgeous visuals and stellar soundtrack leave an impression long after the movie.
The heartfelt movie has an IMDb rating of 7.8 and it can be purchased online. Currently, it appears that it is not streaming anywhere.
9. Maquia: When the Promised Flower Bloomed (2018)
The idea of immortality is often glamorized in anime; however, what about the loneliness that comes with it?
The Movie Maquia effortlessly demonstrates the life of a mystical being who has been alive for hundreds of years and feels incredibly lonely.
One day, the humans discover these mystical beings and begin to ravage their homeland in the hopes of attaining their immortality.
Maquia, a member of the near-immortal race, is driven away from her homeland. While lonely and in despair, she finds and raises a young baby. The two quickly get close, but there’s a problem.
How can someone like her, a near-immortal, love and care for a mortal? Can such a being even understand an average human and their struggles?
Is such a meeting bound for anything but tragedy? These are all the questions Maquia tackles.
8. When Marnie Was There (2014)
When Marnie Was There is a beautiful movie portraying the difficulties caused by a severe illness.
Even the most negligible disease can leave a lasting impact on the body, so what about recurring asthma attacks?
The movie revolves around Anna, who deals with a bad case of asthma and becomes quiet and isolated from the world.
To help her relax, Anna shifts to a countryside area, hoping the cleaner air will improve her health.
It continues with Anna following her passion for sketching and her interactions with Marnie, the first close friend she has ever had.
However, something is not quite right about the resident of the Marsh House, Marnie, and it might lead to some tragedy.
The more Anna spends time with her, the more she discovers the truth behind the strange girl and the Marsh house.
When Marnie Was There is a slow watch, relaxing for some, boring for others. However, Anna’s journey towards friendship and self-discovery will surely make you cry by the end of the movie.
7. Violet Evergarden: The Movie (2020)
Violet Evergarden is an unimaginable heart-breaking movie revolving around the postwar period.
It showcases the time when dolls used to write engaging letters for their clients; however, with new technology like phones, they are slowly getting out of business.
It’s about a girl called Violet, a soldier left to her own devices after the great war.
It follows her struggle to integrate back into society from once a warrior to now an Auto Memory Doll, famous for writing some of the best letters.
Additionally, the movie isn’t just about her struggles as a Doll, but about her love interest as well.
Her pain-filled interaction with Gilbert and how he treats her will surely make your heart ache for Violet.
The movie is the long-anticipated conclusion to the anime. Through Violet, watchers ask themselves a few questions looking at Gilbert and Violet.
Can people change? Can people find a purpose in life when they’ve spent their whole life without one?
The Jaw-droppingly beautiful movie has a rating of 8.3 on IMDb and is available to watch on Netflix (not US).
6. The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004)
Another masterpiece by Makoto Shinkai is the movie The Place Promised, as it holds incredible depth to its plot and awe-inspiring animation.
The Place Promised flawlessly blends the slice-of-life genre with sci-fi and war elements, showing two different things simultaneously.
It follows three kids with a single goal; to reach the top of a massive skyscraper they have been staring at for years.
Of course, it’s never that simple, and soon tragedy strikes as one of them becomes paralyzed and unable to fulfill her one wish.
How far does their responsibility for each other go? The movie expertly follows teens as they fight through the troubles of adolescence and fight the entire world for a dream they had made long ago.
Can something so childish yet pure survive in a world that’s only harsh and cold?
The pure love between the characters and their ambitions will surely make you teary-eyed.
5. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
Have you ever thought about what would happen if you could leap through time? Wouldn’t we all like a do-over button, a way to go back and fix all of our mistakes?
However, the consequences would be equally dreadful with every small change in the timeline.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time plays on the idea we’ve all had in our minds. It demonstrates a perspective on effectively using the power to leap through time.
The main character, Makoto, can now do precisely that, using it in all the ways we would, fixing every minor mistake she has ever made.
Soon her seemingly small changes to the past end up having increasingly alarming consequences – the butterfly effect.
Can Makoto confront the things she’s been running away from, even if it means fixing her own mistakes?
Some mistakes aren’t meant to be fixed but learned from, and this movie hammers that home.
Makoto’s struggles hit hard and make you realize that every action indeed has its own consequences.
4. 5 Centimeters per Second (2007)
5 Centimeters per Second is a sad movie about a fear we all have; what if we can never be with the person we love?
What if they were the one for you, but the timing just wasn’t right? The movie effectively demonstrates the true despair of lovers who are in a long-distance relationship.
The story follows Takaki and Akari, two teens who promise to always be together, even as the world tries to tear them apart.
With the progression of time, the distance between the two lovers also widens and hurts them deeply.
On their seemingly impossible quest to remain in contact, Takaki and Akari hurt each other and, in turn, hurt all the people around them as well.
Their once colorful lives, filled with love, turn black and white with time, taking away all their memories.
Tataki and Akari’s relationship is the harsh reality that many people in long-distance relationships face. Maybe some people are just destined to be apart, just as some are destined to be together.
The portrayal of their pain will make you cry your eyes out even if you can’t relate to their situation.
3. Your Name (2016)
One of the most famous works of Makoto Shinkai, Your Name, is an unforgettable movie.
The ageless anime is incredibly captivating, capturing the hearts of anime fans and even the non-fans.
Your Name follows Taki and Mitsuha, two strangers who one day inexplicably wake up in each other’s bodies.
This is quite shocking for them, but the two get used to it fairly quickly. They learn from each other, being able to ‘live’ in each other’s shoes and see the world through their eyes.
They inevitably draw closer together, and then the curtain drops.
The two slowly start to unravel the mystery behind this strange occurrence and realize the messy situation they are in.
The world itself is trying to keep the lovers apart, and their love has to transcend time itself if they ever want to be together.
Moreover, they must stop a massive tragedy from happening to save countless people and their love simultaneously.
2. A Silent Voice (2016)
A Silent Voice is an emotional roller coaster that will make you cry throughout the movie.
It portrays the life of a deaf character and the hardships that come with this type of disability.
The movie follows Shouya, a young boy who made questionable decisions growing up.
He used to be a massive bully, and one of his helpless victims just happened to be a deaf girl named Shouko.
People change, and eventually, Shouya begins to regret his past, seeking to make amends.
Can people really make up for what they’ve done in the past? Shouya and Shouko are as far apart as two people can be, yet they try to bridge the gap.
The growth of the two characters and the difficulties they deal with is bound to make you cry and feel bad for them.
1. Weathering With You (2019)
Last but not least, we have another masterpiece by Makoto Shinkai, and that is Weathering With You.
The movie’s outstanding visuals, with stellar soundtracks and a heart-touching plot, make it an absolute must-watch.
In the movie, Tokyo is in the middle of a rainy season unlike any it’s ever seen. The whole world is gloomy, and people have lost hope.
Then comes Hina, an aimless girl with the power to change the weather for a short time.
She meets Hadoka, a young runaway from home who wants to make something of himself in a place he can actually be free.
The two quickly fall in love, and for the first time, things seem fine.
Unfortunately, Hina’s powers come at a price, perhaps a price too high for them to pay. If they can’t pay it, everyone else might have to pay it for them.
Weathering With You is a sad anime movie where there are genuinely no happy endings. Even if the ending we get might seem okay, it’s bittersweet at best.