Every once in a while who doesn’t like to indulge in some healthy, liberating tears?
Romance anime in such cases are a good choice if you feel like throwing out some emotions. Especially when combining excellent poignant love stories that end with real emotional punches.
But we are on your side in these cases as well, even if you want to do some emotional harm yourself. So let’s not delay, and see which are the best romance anime with sad endings.
Not to mention that for obvious reasons these are also some great anime where the MC dies that you should watch for the same reasons.
This listicle is purely based on our opinions and knowledge and contains spoilers.
Table of Contents
15. I want to Eat your Pancreas
Released in 2018, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is a movie discussed by many both positively and negatively, but all in all a success especially for its tear-jerking scenes capable of bending even the most hardened.
A shy high school student, Haruki Shiga, accidentally finds the secret diary of Sakura Yamauchi, his classmate, and learns of her terminal pancreatic disease.
The girl’s days are numbered, but Sakura seems to face the disease and the cruel reality with her head held high and a cheerful spirit.
Haruki decides to stand by her side to make her last moments of life as better as possible.
In all honesty, we didn’t like the plot twists and the narrative coherence of the story, but we have to be fair and admit it can be enjoyable to some anime fans.
The ending certainly is predictable, and certainly, the questionable pacing of the movie doesn’t help, but if we are talking about sad endings, we can’t fail to mention it.
14. E.F. – A Tale of Memories
EF is an anime with a particular narrative structure, which is divided into 2 stories disconnected from each other but narrated in a parallel way.
On the one hand, we have the poignant stories of Renji and Chihiro, two lovers with a particular condition: Chihiro loses her memories every 13 hours, making their love story start from scratch each time.
On the other hand, we have a love triangle between Hiro, Miyako, and Kei.
As you will understand, the strong and sad psychological aspect is due to the particular relationship between Renji and Chihiro.
The boy is forced to have to win back his beloved each time, amid suffering from being forgotten each time and a lacerating feeling of helplessness.
EF is a unique and complex romance that doesn’t shy away from sad and devastating scenes.
13. Plastic Memories
If you are looking for an anime that in plot and themes ends up being a real punch in the chest, then Plastic Memories is for you.
In a not-too-distant future, it is now customary to use human-like androids for the most common jobs.
Their life expectancy is limited to only 9 years, after which they are decommissioned and processed to a reset, making them start a new identity.
But when the story’s protagonist has to deal with the scrapping of some units with Isla, on of the androids, he will make a discovery.
An anime that unabashedly focuses on feelings, the actual protagonists of this show. The theme of morality will predominate, when we realize that these androids have actual feelings, creating an important question.
Is it right to exploit them and then decommission and reset them, making them lose all their memories?
And this question will resonate louder than ever when Tsukasa and Isla begin to have feelings for each other, but Isla is running out of lifespan.
And that is how this sad anime closes, with the 2 finally being able to confess their feelings, only to be lost with the android girl’s reset.
12. Searching For the Full Moon
Full Moon Wo Sagashite is a tear-jerking anime that is unlikely not to make you feel teary-eyed while watching it, hoping that everything can end for the best.
12-year-old Mitsuki Koyama dreams of becoming a singer, but unfortunately, she suffers from throat cancer, treatable only through delicate surgery that could permanently damage her vocal cords.
Mitsuki’s dreams thus seem impossible to achieve until she is visited by two shinigami, Takuto and Meroko, who let her know that she has only one year left to live.
Mitsuki will realize that she can’t wait for a second longer, and will go straight to an audition.
52 episodes were released in 2002 of pure character evolution in an ode to life, and a call to anyone to realize their dreams before it’s too late, including love.
Full Moon Wo Sagashite in its finale gives us a real swing of emotions, but one that ends with a bittersweet ending.
Mitsuki, as everyone hoped, manages to recover from her illness and decides between the 2 boys.
It’s a sad ending but in a good way, one that will leave you tearful but satisfied.
11. 5 Cm Per Second
Directed by Makoto Shinkai, Five Centimeters per Second is a poignant work about the passionate relationship between the 2 main characters. Their bond will be tested by distance and the inexorable passage of years.
Divided into 3 parallel stories whose main characters are Akari and Takaki, who have been lovers since childhood but due to the flow of life events are unable to fall in love to the end.
Each story is about a different moment in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
This anime has a clear message, which comes well straight to your feelings: the train only goes by once, especially when it comes to love, and if not taken it leaves only regrets.
And these premises are unfortunately reflected in Akari and Tataki, who, unable to express feelings for each other, will be left only with remorse.
10. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time features Makoto Konno, a girl attending high school.
One day, while in the science lab, she trips and bumps into a strange piece of machinery. Nothing strange seems to have happened to her, but when she is about to be hit by a train, she saves herself.
She will then discover that by taking a long enough leap she will be able to go back in time to a given moment in her life.
Makoto then begins to use this power to solve small problems in her life or simply to have fun. However, her every action will always affect events catastrophically and she will find herself forced to abuse this power.
It’s an interesting movie that seems to flow in 2 different but parallel directions at the same time.
We will have romance, comedy, and light moments, and intense psychological attention to the importance of seizing the moment and enjoying every moment of life.
With each leap, Makoto will find herself more and more mature, but not before solving the problem at hand.
She will discover her responsibilities, commitment, and love, only to have to wistfully let them go in order to change timeframes or return to the present.
Orange is a great Sci-Fi themed and one of the best psychological romance anime, thanks to it examination on deep themes such as depression and social anxiety.
Naho Takamiya receives a letter from her 10-year-old self in the future. At first, Naho thinks it’s a joke, but changes her mind when the events in the letter happen, including the transfer of a new student Kakeru Naruse.
That person is the main theme of the letter where he is asked to treat him with as much love as possible because 10 years from now the boy will lose his life.
As you may have already well understood, this is a real punch in the gut, both physical and psychological.
And these emotions will explode in the finale, where fortunately Kakeru manages to save himself, thus breaking his fate with the help of Naho.
In the sad but sweet final scene, we will see the protagonists bury their time capsule, where Kakeru will write to his future self that he is finally glad to be alive and is extremely grateful to his friends who saved him.
8. Spice and Wolf
Spice and Wolf is one of the best underrated romance anime in our opinion, thanks to its unusual themes.
This is because the anime, based on Isuna Hasekura’s novels, despite its vague fantasy world-building features doesn’t adhere to the canons of the genre.
This is for the absence of magic and the struggle between good and evil and relying more on economics and trade.
The story revolves around the events of merchant Lawrence Kraft who agrees under request to help return to his native place a wolf-god called Holo, receiving in return his divine help and several privileges. But feelings always blossom, and we will see a good mature romance between the 2.
This romantic twist works very well but culminates with a bittersweet ending.
Lawrence and Holo will do their best to make their romance work, but their differences will be too difficult to overcome, so they will be forced to let go.
7. She the Ultimate Weapon
She the Ultimate Weapon is a sentimental and science-fiction drama anime that ties the recklessness and love of youth to the horrors and dastardliness of war.
It’s also one of the best recommendations if you want to watch a good romance anime with violence.
The protagonist of the events is Chise, an awkward and sweet student who one fine day finds the courage to reveal her feelings to her classmate Shuji.
After an initial dispute between the 2, the boys will begin to confide in each other, discovering that the feeling that binds them is true love. But suddenly, everything changes.
In a romantic trip to Sapporo, the airplane is attacked by a massive military raid, killing almost everyone and starting a war.
Sure to be dead too, when he opens his eyes Shuji will have a disconcerting revelation. Chise will be equipped with 2 frightening metal wings placed on her back.
Shuji will soon discover that Chise is the ultimate weapon designed by Japan to defeat opponents. The premise of this anime, we realize, may seem decidedly bizarre and almost nonsense. But trust us, they are not.
This anime has a huge psychological aspect beneath the appearances, deep and intense, especially in its ending.
Chise, to fulfill her duty, is forced to sacrifice herself and abandon Shuji, along with her love, in a sad farewell.
6. Ano Hana
Ano-Hana is an original-subject work released in 2011 that makes feelings its strong point.
The story is about a group of childhood friends who try to reconnect in high school after losing touch.
One of them, Jintan, will try to grant the wish of Menma, the only one who has remained the same over the years while maintaining a childlike appearance, by having her meet again with their old, long-distant friends.
This is one among many of the A1 Pictures productions, and Ano Hana is one of their best romance and drama anime.
Although it is well understood from the first episode that the ending of Ano-Hana will be a stab in the heart, it will be impossible not to burst into tears during the final episode.
It will turn out that Menma still looks like a child because she is dead, and the boys have been playing with her ghost all along.
But now, having fulfilled her wish, the little girl is ready to leave for the afterlife, happy to have seen her friends one last time.
5. Banana Fish
A very renowned anime in Japan, so much so that it is often mentioned in other literary works. We are talking about Banana Fish.
The plot, as from the background of this list, is distinctly mystery-investigative. The main character Ash Lynx finds himself involved in the search for the truth about a mysterious succession of suicides that are happening in New York City.
The only link between them is the constant repetition of the words Banana Fish.
But these words lead back to nothing less than a drug, as will be discovered later. Banana Fish is its name, and it will play a key role in the unfolding of the plot.
But even the best stories come to an end, and Banana Fish, fortunately or not, does so in a tragic and extremely sad way.
After solving the mystery by going through hell, it finally seems to be over for Ash and Eiji, his beloved companion.
After Eiji, leaving a letter for Ash boards the plane that will take him back to Japan, our protagonist is finally convinced that he can leave his criminal life behind and make a fresh start.
But his hopes go up in smoke when he finds himself stabbed by Lao, leaving him for dead.
And get your tissues ready, because when you see Ash slowly bleeding to death as he reads the letter from his beloved, it will be impossible to hold back the tears.
4. Your Lie in April
Kousei Arima, the boy protagonist of the story, from an early age has always been an ace piano player, famous and recognized by many musicians even older than himself.
That was until he suffered the tragic loss of his mother, leading him to abandon music and start feeling depressed.
That is until he meets Kaori, a beautiful blond-haired violinist who plays by putting her whole soul into it.
She will indeed bring back Kousei’s passion for music, but in a more carefree and lighter way than he was used to from his mother.
The relationship between the 2 will grow into something else but expect the worst. This anime is a real stab in the heart.
In fact, one of the biggest twists in Your Lie in April is that Kaori, despite her sunny and cheerful appearance, is ill.
And unfortunately, at the time of the operation, the girl won’t make it, leaving everyone heartbroken.
This event in itself is sad, but it will be even sadder in the series finale when Kousei reads the girl’s letter.
If you don’t cry watching this anime, you are made of rock, and we even recommend it as one of the best romance anime for couples and one of the best romances available on Hulu right now.
3. Clannad After Story
Clannad is undoubtedly one of the best-known dramatic and saddest anime, with an extremely poignant ending.
After Story is the second part of Clannad, where we see the main characters, Tomoya and Nagisa, now grown-up and struggling with adult life.
As we already know from the first series, Nagisa suffers from an illness, and although she manages to fight it initially, she will, unfortunately, loses his life in After Story, leaving Tomoya devastated.
But what is even worse is that Nagisa was pregnant with their child, who doesn’t make it too, making the grief even worse than it already is, without a single bit of a good ending.
Definitely one of the biggest heart stabs in anime history.
2. The Wind Rises
Billed as Hayao Miyazaki’s supposed last feature movie, The Wind Rises is a 2013 work produced by Studio Ghibli and one of the best historical romance anime ever made.
The anime is among the best examples of those set in the 1920s, even though the premise can trick you into thinking about the 1940s.
A child named Jiro aspires to become an airplane pilot, but being nearsighted it will be completely impossible for him to do so.
One day, he will dream of meeting the famous Caproni, a genius of Italian aircraft design, who will make him realize that his purpose is to build them rather than fly them.
From here we will follow Jiro through most of his life as he realizes his dreams and discovers love.
The Wind Rises is the story of the realization of a dream and the purpose of life, combined with the dramatic relationship between Jiro and his beloved wife as a married couple.
The Wind Rises is a wonderful movie and one that everyone should see, but get your tissues ready. Horikoshi will succeed in realizing his dream but at an extremely high cost.
He will make formidable planes, but none of them will return from the war, because they were used in a conflict that Japan couldn’t win.
And as if that were not enough, the man will also lose his wife due to tuberculosis, without being able to marry her.
1. Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light
Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light tells a story of pure feelings, capable of breaking through to even the most hardened people. We also consider it a must-watch if you’re looking for a great romance anime with spirits and monsters.
It tells the story of Hotaru, a little girl who gets lost in a country forest and meets a human-like yokai named Gin.
The two immediately befriend each other but Gin warns little Hotaru that, because of the Mountain God’s curse, he cannot touch or be touched by humans or he would disappear forever.
The deep relationship that will arise between the 2 will be the pivotal theme of the story, with an ending that will melt your heart.
The 2 will manage to love each other more and more even without touching, but the inevitable cannot be postponed forever.
In the finale, this touch will happen, and their farewell, as Gin slowly disappears, is definitely one of the saddest endings ever in our opinion.