There are anime series that literally bring tears to your eyes, and then there are others that leave you with a gloomy sense of emptiness inside. Even some of the most popular series like Naruto can give you goosebumps with their sad, heartbreaking moments. So if you’ve been into anime for a while, you might know that there are some haunting pieces in this medium that will stay with you for a long time.
As for the sad deaths of our favorite characters, we’ve already covered that in another list, and we also have one for the best sad anime series of all time. But now that Netflix is making a serious effort to add more anime, we’ve decided to create a new, special compilation. Here is the list of the most emotional anime on Netflix:
10. Japan Sinks: 2020 (2020)
‘Japan Sinks: 2020 is a drama directed by Pyeon-Gang Ho and Masaaki Yuasa. The film follows the peaceful Mutou family, whose life takes a turn for the worse when an earthquake shakes the entire Japanese archipelago and people are left to fend for themselves. As society falls apart, Japanese men, women and children must struggle to survive. You can watch this emotional and memorable story of survival here.
9. Words Fizz Like Lemonade (2021)
Yui Cherry Sakura is an introverted teenager who prefers to express himself through haiku. He was in a social service where he eventually met a girl named Yuki Smile Hoshino. She’s an aspiring influencer who wants to spread positivity everywhere she goes. Despite their contrasting personalities, the two teenagers hit it off and develop feelings for one another. Their romance is cemented around their shared goals at work, but can the two ever admit how they really feel? You can stream the film here.
8. A Silent Voice (2016)
Produced by Kyoto Animation Studio, the anime film A Silent Voice revolves around a bored teenager named Shouya Ishida. To kill boredom, he and many of his classmates ruthlessly bully a new deaf exchange student named Shouko Nishimiya. But when the school board finds out about it, he alone is held responsible for everything that was done to her. He is soon ignored by the entire school and spends the rest of his middle and high school years in isolation. It is only much later, when he realizes his mistakes, that he resolves to meet Shouko again and undo the damage he caused. What follows is the comforting story of a boy trying to make amends with his past.
Aside from a brilliant, heartwarming story, A Silent Voice has some of the most stunning visuals and soundtracks. The serious and sombre themes dealt with in it are heart-breaking more than once. And you may even end up questioning your own relationships with people from your past and present. You can watch the anime here.
7. Violet Evergarden (2018)
‘Violet Evergarden’ is another slice of life anime produced by Kyoto Animation. It tells the story of a young girl named Violet who was once involved in the bloodshed of the Great War. All along she was raised for the sole purpose of destroying enemies, and eventually, in the final stages of the war, she finds herself in the hospital with nothing but a few unfamiliar words from her only loved one. Feeling lost in the post-war world, she starts working at the Swiss Post. At her workplace, she finds an auto-memory doll that acts as an assistant, translating a person’s thoughts into words on paper. Thoroughly amused by the idea, she decides to work as one herself, and thus begins her adventure that will not only help her reshape the lives of the people she works for, but also discover the true meaning of her own life discover.
Kyoto Animation is known for often creating very moving slice-of-life projects. But even so, Violet Evergarden feels very different from all of her other works. All in all, the anime is more than just a well-done tearjerker and might even teach you a lesson or two about the true calling of your life. You can stream the anime here.
6. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (2019 -)
After Tanjirou Kamado’s family was brutally murdered by a powerful demon, only her sister, who was turned into a demon, survived. Now the hard-working and compassionate young adult has only two goals in life: to turn his sister back to being human and to avenge the deaths of his loved ones. As he joins the Demon Slayer Corps, Tanjirou is constantly faced with new challenges that beautifully capture his philosophy of friendship and brotherhood. What’s really about Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, however, is that it humanizes even the antagonists, some of whom have painful and breathtaking backstories. The anime is available for streaming here.
5. Toradora (2009)
Unlike other series on this list, Toradora is more of a romantic comedy with the typical character archetypes. The main female character, Taiga Aisaka, is a bitchy woman who always carries a wooden katana. On the other hand, we have a kind-hearted male protagonist, Ryuuji Takasu, whose scary face often earns him a reputation as a criminal. Initially, the two team up with the goal of helping each other to gain the attention of their respective crushes. But as time goes by, things take an unexpected turn, and what started as a strange friendship soon evolves into an unlikely alliance.
Overall, Toradora is a typical high school comedy that aims to make you laugh and adore its cute characters. But it’s the bittersweet ending to this anime that leaves you with an inexplicably sad feeling. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers here, so if you want to know more you’ll have to see the film for yourself. Don’t be surprised if this romantic comedy leaves a dark void in your heart. The anime is available for streaming here.
4. Erased (2016)
‘Erased’, known as ‘Boku Dake ga Inai Machi’ in Japanese, is a mystery science fiction thriller film produced by A-1 Pictures. Satoru Fujinuma, the protagonist, is involuntarily thrown back in time by a few minutes each time he witnesses a tragic event. This mysterious but powerful phenomenon allows him to save the lives of many innocent people. When he is framed for the murder of his mother, he finds himself in the past – 18 years before the event. This makes him realize that his mother’s murder could be related in some way to certain events from his childhood. Things start to make sense when he hits one of his meets old classmates, Kayo Hinazuki, who has been kidnapped and murdered by a mysterious killer. Satoru must now race against time to change his past in a way that will ultimately save two innocent lives.
I’m not going to reveal whether the anime has a happy ending or not, but what makes it a worthy addition to this list is its portrayal of several realistic, thought-provoking themes. Some examples of this include child abuse, loneliness, depression, bullying, escaping one’s problems and of course dealing with the loss of a loved one. You can watch all episodes here.
3. AICO Incarnation (2018-)
AICO Incarnation is very different from the other anime on this list. It’s a suspenseful sci-fi novel that’s one of the latest additions to Netflix’s growing roster of anime originals. Set in the year 2035, it revolves around an incident known as the Burst that profoundly impacts the lives of several people. Two years later, Aiko Tachibana is still grieving the death of her family in the incident and is now confined to a wheelchair. However, everything she knew about herself and the incident begins to change when a displacement named Yuuya tells her the truth about what really happened. What follows is an exciting, adventurous quest for the two teenagers who may now even hold the future of mankind in their hands.
The main focus of AICO Incarnation is the action scenes and the exciting sci-fi mysteries. But it’s the characters’ backstories that give the anime a sad and depressing tone. Even the overall dark color palette, representing the semi-utopian look of the city concerned, gives the anime a very somber vibe. If you’re thinking of watching this series, just ignore all the negative reviews and give it a chance. You will most likely have a good time with it. The anime is accessible here.
2. Flavors of Youth (2018)
‘Flavors of Youth’ is an anime film divided into three different chapters. Each chapter unfolds its story in a whole new city, exploring life’s simple pleasures through timeless tales of love and sensual memories. This anthology brings in various elements of Chinese culture with strong visual elements that will primarily appeal to Chinese viewers. Nevertheless, the themes about the transience of life are understandable for everyone in the world. If you don’t want to commit for long, Flavors of Youth is the perfect anime to take you on a nostalgic journey. You can stream the anime here.
1.Your lie in April (2014-2015)
Based on Naoshi Arakawa’s manga series of the same name, Your Lie in April is a romantic drama that tells a story of heartbreak and self-discovery. Kousei Arima is an outstanding pianist whose talent has been praised even by seasoned musicians. However, when his mother dies unexpectedly, the boy struggles with the harsh reality, and due to the trauma he can no longer hear the sound of his piano for the following years.
When Arima’s life spirals out of control, he meets the beautiful violinist Kaori Miyazono, who not only urges him to play the piano again, but also enters a competition with him. This experience helps Arima overcome his depression, but Kaori hides a harsh reality that could plunge him into the abyss once more. To find out how the story unfolds, you can stream the anime here.