My Top Ten Tearjerker Anime!

So, how was your holiday? How was your New Years? how was your 2017 in general? Well, mine wans’t any better, which is why I’m glad I’ve got a two week vacation from work coming up in less than two weeks.

If you saw my post from last week, you’ll know two things: I’ve been phoning in my content lately, and I have a brand new kitty stalking around the house. His name is Sgt. Pepper, he’s very lively(cat person talk for annoying) and I’ve done my best to spoil him rotten over the month and a half that I’ve had him.

Why am I talking about him? Because I’m hunched in front of my computer trying to type, and he’s literally draping himself over my shoulder like a scarf right now. Since his claws and teeth aren’t currently digging into me, I’m counting that as a win.

Anyway, the last review that I wrote, which you’ll be enjoying next weekend, was another highly recommended ‘tearjerker’ series, and to it’s credit, I did like it slightly better than Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. But as I sat through it, mystified over the fact that it drew out the sad, devastated tears of so many people, I figured it was way past time that I start telling people what anime gave ME the crippling ailment known as the feels.

The following are ten different anime, both movies and series, that actually made me cry. Technically, this is not my opinion, but pure fact… They made me cry, and in some cases, continue to do so on each viewing. I did, factually, literally cry. If you didn’t experience the same effect, it doesn’t make me better than you… It’s actually completely unrelated to the fact that I’m better than you!

To avoid spoilers, these entries will be brief. I’ll be including any kind of tears, with the exception of anime that made me cry from laughing too hard. That’s not technically a feel.

Let’s go!

10: Cat Soup

While I’m making no bones of the fact that you and I cry over different things, I’ll be the first to admit that this movie is a weird choice. I mean, hell, it’s a weird EVERYTHING. I called it a surrealist masterpiece in my review last spring, and I still hold to that, but thanks to other events that happened this year, it’s become something of a tearjerker for me on a strictly personal note. It’s about one cat traveling to the ends of the earth and defying God to bring another cat back to life, and in the week leading up to that post, I’d been forced to put my favorite pet of all time to sleep after we’d spent two thirds of his life and one third of mine together.

Yeah, remember Shadow, from last week’s post? There’s a good reason I dedicated my review of Cat Soup to him. It’s not a movie most people would get any sort of emotional reaction from… And understandably so… And yeah, this entry is an entirely, objectively personal one, but for me, it’ll always remind me of him.

Oddly enough, so will Kanye West’s Only One.

 

9: Lucky Star

I don’t have to find an entire show emotional in order to consider it a tearjerker. In some cases, it only has to be one particular moment that effects me in a way that the rest of the franchise doesn’t. Lucky Star has one of those moments towards the end of the series, and if you’ve seen the show, you know damn well what that moment was. It involved a special visitor to the Izumi house, and… Heheheh…

Having said all that, yes, I am perfectly aware that the moment I’m describing is not genuine. It exists in it’s own little bubble in the series(even moreso than most of it’s content), it doesn’t really connect to anything, it’s not set up, it doesn’t come back… But I think that’s part of what makes it so effective. It’s completely out of left field, and almost feels like you’re watching a different series. There’s not much else I can say about it, other than your tear ducts don’t stand a ghost of a chance.

 

8: Hell Girl

As I stated in my review back in 2016, this is a show about revenge. Almost every episode, we’re introduced to a villain and a victim, one who does horrible and unspeakable thing to the other, who in turn must suffer. This formula gives us endless opportunities to shed tears over tragic occurrences, as well as tears of joy whenever the aforementioned villains get their deserved comeuppance… Or so we think, until we get an episode where a stalker uses Ai Enma’s revenge services against a nurse that he’s obsessed with so he can send her to hell, kill himself and chace after her there.

Yeah, there’s something for everyone to get disturbed over in this show… The murder of newborn puppies, for example… God, I love how much you can say about this show without really spoiling it. People will be affected by it differently… I’ve been effected by it differently out of my numerous viewings of it… But the one episode that always makes me cry is the one where one of Ai’s former clients, an elderly man whose life is about to end, prepares to meet her for the second and final time. It’s not just a bittersweet time for him, and a huge emotional reveal for the audience, but it actually breaks through ai’s tough facade as well.

But like I said, you’ll find something in this show that’ll tug on your heartstrings. Just trust me.

 

7: Princess Tutu

Ya wanna know what sucks about running this blog? In order to keep up a weekly release schedule for the past four years, I’ve had to heavily restrict my time, and only view what’s necessary. Generally, i’ll watch an anime for a review, watch one or two other anime for fun, and then watch another anime for review, while binging one or two non-anime shows per year. As a side effect of this, I haven’t rewatched a single anime after reviewing it. That’s not an exaggeration, by the way. Look at the list of anime I’ve reviewed, on my Browse page… I haven’t watched any of those shows again since reviewing them. That alone makes me want to cry.

I’m remedying this problem right now, however, and there are two shows I need to rewatch before any others. One of them, that I’m rewatching right now, is Princess Tutu, the magical story about magical stories, and if there’s anyone out there who wants to call me less of a man for loving it and openly weeping through it… Yeah, okay, whatever. It deserves the love, and it deserves the tears. Princess Tutu is a show about characters in a story trying desperately to change their fates, and some of the most emotionally powerful moments in it come from them failing to do so, but succeeding in changing the context of their fates, making for surprisingly bittersweet resolutions.

I first saw this series over ten years ago, and as much as it effected me then, I’m watching it again as a 31 year old and even six episodes in, I’m already feeling choked up for scenes I never felt that way about before, making it officially one of the few anime that was already great, but just got better as I got older.

 

6: From the New World

Hey, remember how we were talking a little while ago about how people all seem to love a good death scene? You know how gut wrenching it is to fall in love with a character, only for them to suffer a tragic end at just the right time to leave us emotionally devastated? Well, try this on for size… How about if some extremely likeable supporting characters leave the show, characters whom you already feel sorry for, and you’re told that they’ve fled for parts unknown, and then it’s revealed a few episodes later(about five years, in the show’s time) that those characters were dead the whole time?

Ho. Ly. Shit. That is not how this is supposed to work. I’ll admit that I didn’t cry the first time I watched this show, but it pulled off it’s twists and turns so expertly and mercilessly that I found myself lying in my bed and staring at my ceiling for hours inbetween episodes. It wasn’t until my second viewing, where I knew where everything was heading, that the waterworks really started.

Right away with this series, I got an uncanny Rainbow Factory vibe, and points to anybody who gets THAT reference. It’s an anime that tells it’s story and makes it’s points better than at least 90 percent of the anime that I’ve seen, and it just so happens to shatter your heart into a million pieces in the process. I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already, but if you do, make sure you’ve got some comfort foods and a cuddly pet nearby to help you through it.

 

5: Toradora

Excuse me, Clannad, excuse me, I respect you, I’mma let you finish, but Toradora is one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time! Of all time! Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I don’t actually have any respect for Clannad. Anyway, this is the second anime I’ve reviewed that I plan to rewatch, as soon as I’m done with Tutu. When I reviewed it, back in 2015, I remember saying that it isn’t just great, it’s glowing, and that’s an assessment I still hold to after almost two years of not seeing it.

Toradora is an extremely emotion-driven show, and it’s not to cover up any logic or plot issues like a show that’ll be appearing later on this list. It’s a series about two social misfits who have fallen in love with people that they acknowledge to be way out of their league, and after discovering each others’ unrequited crushes, they make a pact to help each other land their desired partners, who coincidentally happen to be each other’s best friends. I don’t think it’s really a spoiler to say that they’re actually destined for each other, but whether or not they’ll ever realize it is entirely up in the air.

Toradora is a series that pulls off quite a few impressive feats… In addition to deconstructing and subverting a number of romantic comedy anime cliches, it also captures the feeling of teenage romance… That is to say, how it’s awkward, full of fail, and nobody knows what the fuck they’re doing. There are a ton of individual moments in it that constantly leave me in tears, but the one that stands out among the others is a certain scene during the christmas arc… Yes, there’s an entire Christmas arc… Involving what my memory is telling me was a Santa bear costume, but hey, it’s been a few years. Here’s hoping I enjoy it as much next time as I did last time.

 

4: Kotoura-san

Also known in the states as The Troubled Life of Miss Kotoura, I am honestly dumb-founded by how many people have never seen or even heard of this title. It’s one of the best anime to come out of 2013, which was, let’s be honest, a really great year for anime. I love this series with all my heart, and yet it’s so obscure that Rightstuff was selling the bluray box set for only 22 dollars. Don’t get me wrong, I like buying things cheap, but it’s worth so much more than that.

Haruka Kotoura is a mind-reader. As a child, she thought hearing peoples’ thoughts was normal, as she really didn’t have any basis for comparison. She used her new powers to dominate rock paper scissors and blurt out peoples’ secrets to each other, with no idea that these thoughts were supposed to remain private. This not only alienates her classmates, but it even goes as far as to destroy her family and tear apart her parents, who wind up abandoning her. That’s not even the end of her suffering as a child, it caps off with another truly devastating loss… And that’s just the first ten minutes of the first episode.

The rest of the series takes a lighter tone, as she enters high school and transfers into another school… And if i’m being honest, the middle kinda drags… but the deep psychological scars and complexes continue to plague her character as she tries to reconcile her new happiness with the question of whether or not she deserves it, and the final episode delivers a few perfect pay-offs to everything that’d been set up so far. I love the characters in this show, and I couldn’t help but get invested in all of them, especially Haruka herself. Check it out if you get a chance.

 

3: Angel Beats!

Even if I weren’t so ready to admit that I’m a really strange person, you could probably figure it out just from a cursory glance at my work, let alone this particular post. I cry during the weird 30 minute ova where fish eat cat shit. I cry during the moe space olympics(just wait). My tastes are weird, but if there’s one conventional choice that I have to begrudgingly bow to, it’s Angel Beats. I reviewed it a few years ago, and then I spent an entire post-review-post talking about it’s plot holes, and it’s one of my tear jerkers.

For the most part, I cry at the same scenes you cry at. This is a story about teenagers getting a second chance at life to make up for their disappointing childhoods, so of course a lot of them are going to have tragic backstories, but whoever was writing these little vignettes was NOT fucking around. These backstories aren’t just dark, they’re Steven King dark, and not only do they perfectly inform their characters, but they take on new layers on repeat viewings. I’m pretty sure Otonashi accidentally killed his sister and then walked around in public with her fresh corpse on his back.

And yeah, just like you, I get destroyed by that long, drawn-out, cheesy-as-hell graduation scene. I even cried over characters I didn’t like. I don’t get hit as hard by Kanade’s confession to Otonashi as other people do, but that final credits scene where everyone disappears one by one? The post-credits scene at the end, that was probably stolen from the deleted scenes of The Butterfly Effect? I can talk for hours about how stupid this series is, but that’s when i’m not too busy looking around for a fresh tissue. Does it make any sense? God no. Does it have a consistent plot or premise? Fuck no. But like I said in my review, I just can’t stay mad at it.

 

2: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

In case you were wondering, yes, Angel Beats was a fluke. It’s pretty much the only normal choice on this list, and true to form, let’s talk about a vampire movie from the year 2000. The original movie holds a special place in my heart, but the sequel is about 1000 times better. I haven’t seen it in a while… Which is weird, since I haven’t reviewed it… But I distinctly recall it having a feature that I have never seen on any other anime DVD. On the DVD… At least, on the old DVDs, I actually don’t have the recent release… There’s a top ten list of the fan-voted best scenes of the film.

Now, yes, this does sound like a pretentious and entirely masturbatory move, like they’re patting themselves on the back for a job well done, but what can I say? That list actually captured all of the most memorable and resonant moments, especially with it’s pick of the epiloque as number one. The plot is basically that a vampire has run away with a teenage girl, and the titular D is hired to retrieve her. A mercenary faction is also hired, so things get complicated as they compete for the bounty… And then they get even more complicated when it’s revealed that the girl went along of her own free will, and they’re actually in love. No glamour or nothing.

There’s not a lot that I can say about this movie without giving away major spoilers… You really should just go watch it for yourself, it’s only about an hour long… And while some of my favorite scenes could have probably been cut out, like a horse seller putting his career on the line to defend D while dropping a HUGE bombshell about him, I still enjoy every single second of it. It has a ton of great characters that have a ton of great character, and hell, even the stone cold killer D gets some time to be vulnerable and show us that he has an empathetic side. And yes, of course, there’s that epilogue, which was perfect in just so many ways.

 

And now, for some honorable mentions.

Wolf’s Rain:  While I love and highly recommend this show, I’ve honestly never cried while watching it.

Fullmetal Alchemist:  There’s a funeral scene that gets me a little choked up, but not to any impressive degree.

The Ghibli/Miyazaki library:  I may have cried to a few of these, but I can’t remember, and I’m not going to marathon them just for the sake of this list.

Bunny Drop:  I didn’t cry through this, but I came close when I read how the manga ended.  I mean, good God.

Clannad, Air and Kanon:  You kidding me?

Steins;Gate:  You kidding me?

Another:  Fuck this show.

 

1: Battle Athletes Victory

What’s that? You say that I must have misspelled Your Lie in April? No, I most certainly did not. Just wait until next week if you want to see what my thoughts on that mediocre disappointment were. For the esteemed honor of the most tear-jerking anime that I’ve ever seen, we’re looking back at one of my favorite older anime, which I actually reviewed back in July. I went into great detail about why this series is so emotionally powerful, but to repeat what I said there, it’s a show about truth… Mostly, about different characters having to face hard, challenging truths about themselves and the world around them.

Battle Athletes Victory is a series whose feels just sneak up on you. It starts off really silly and over the top, and while it never actually stops being like that(trust me, you won’t want it to), this stupid show that started off with a bunch of teenage girls racing while rick-shawing giant steel wheels behind them pulls no punches as it examines the psychological issues of it’s cast, all of whom you become intimately familiar with over the course of the story, troubling racism aside. This is a sports anime, and there are stages where only a certain number of athletes can move forward, and very few characters are just inconsequentially written out when they lose or get eliminated.

You feel for all of them as they fall into despair, learn more about their identities, and then grow when the story gives them the chance to redeem themselves. The actual issues they go through can range from the simple, like the happy go lucky girl realizing she cared about winning more than she thought, to the main character who learns that she’s arrogantly using self-doubt as an excuse to sabotage herself. This show does Gunbuster better than Gunbuster. If you’re not in tears by episode five, you WILL be by episode seven, and that’s only the beginning. Every defeat every victory, every obstacle, every breakthrough will tear at your heartstrings in ways you never thought it could.

Now if only they’d release the damn show in a new format. There’s, like, eight DVDs of this, and they’re all wildly out of print. I’m not going to insist on Bluray, but at least a thinpack DVD set would be nice.

And that’s my list. If you didn’t see an anime that you particularly found just joyous or heartbreaking enough to draw your salty drops out, tell me about the shows I missed in the comments below.

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4 comments
  1. Angel beats was a tear jerker for me. Oh the stories were so sad

  2. It’s always fun to see different lists. Can’t say I’ve seen Lucky Star in many (any?) tearjerker lists!

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