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8 Anime Guaranteed to Make You Cry Like a Sad, Little Baby

We like to have a good time here at Nerdist, but sometimes you just need to open up the old eye-queducts and let loose with a good cry. After enduring the frigid slog of the first two months of the year or logging online even once, chances are there’s an awful lot to cry about, so why not kick your catharsis into overdrive with a heaping helping of anime? On today’s episode of The Dan Cave, I have a rundown of anime guaranteed to make you cry like a tiny, sad baby.

Angel Beats

Image: Sentai Filmworks

Imagine waking up to learn that you’re dead. Now imagine waking up to learn not only are you dead, but you’re in high school too. In purgatory. With a bunch of restless spirits whose regrets and unfinished business won’t let them pass on to the afterlife. So basically just high school. Such is the premise of Angel Beats, which tells the story of Otonashi, a boy who awakens to discover he is dead and all of his memories are gone. Everyone he meets in this limbo-like world can still feel pain and die, but they’ll be resurrected the next morning. While the series is frequently funny, it will tug at your heartstrings and your tear ducts with its melodramatic narrative.

Clannad After Story

Image: Sentai Filmworks

Ask anyone on the internet which anime makes them cry, and they’ll tell you Cory in the House. Ask anyone else and they’ll tell you Clannad, and more specifically Clannad: After Story. If you thought high school was the end of the world, then buckle up because life comes at you fast and that’s exactly what happens in After Story. The series follows Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa on the emotional roller coaster on which they unexpectedly find themselves after they graduate from high school. Life brings them together, tears them apart, and tests the bonds of their relationship in ways neither of them could have ever imagined. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful in ways that only real life can be. Make sure you weigh yourself before and after, because there’s a chance you’ll lose a good ten pounds of tear weight alone from watching this.

Please Save My Earth

Image: Viz Media

Have you ever had a dream you could have sworn was real? High school student Alice Sakaguchi has been having dreams about a group of scientists on the moon that feel less like dreams and more like memories. What’s weirder is she isn’t the only one having these dreams — some of her classmates are too, as well as her seven year old neighbor. But these aren’t ordinary dreams as our heroes soon discover; they’re memories of other people’s lives. But those “other people” might be closer than they think, and the meaning behind it all is sadder than the one dream you keep having about working at a factory where you have to throw puppies into a furnace to power a steamship full of weapons for child soldiers. Why, what was your dream about?

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

Image: Maiden Japan

There’s something incredibly visceral about seeing families rent asunder by natural disaster and how they cope with the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event. That goes doubly so for earthquake stories. Hell, I even got misty during San Andreas after having a bunch of tiny wines on an airplane. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, as you might surmise, tells the story of the aftermath of an 8.0 magnitude earthquake that ravages Tokyo and the two young siblings who are separated from their family by the devastation. Together with a group of other survivors, they must make their way through the decimated city streets in order to make it home. What follows is something that will have you flooding your apartment with an ocean’s worth of tears.

Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

Image: Aniplex of America

Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy, but it’s even more difficult when their ghost comes back to haunt you. Such is the plight of Jinta Yadomi, who is plagued by visions of his deceased childhood friend Menma. Her death devastated Jinta and tore his group of friends apart. Now, they must come together once more to give Menma’s spirit the closure she so desperately needs, as well as finding a way for themselves to move on. As you can imagine, this one will cause some sort of strange ectoplasmic fluid known as tears to spookily leak from your face at regular intervals.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Image: Aniplex of America

Remember the old saying about how you shouldn’t use alchemy to resurrect your dead mom? Well Edward and Alphonse Elric certainly didn’t, and it cost them an arm and a leg! Literally. Edward lost his limbs and Alphonse lost his entire body, leaving little more than a soul bound to a suit of armor. In order to reclaim their lost limbs, the brothers set out to become State Alchemists–basically science wizard cops–to uncover a legendary relic that may help them make themselves whole again. What they discover is a sprawling government conspiracy, murders most foul, and more tragedy than you can shake a very sad stick at. It’s an endearing and addictive show that will make you smile, then slap it right off your dumb face. And if you don’t weep horrible, salty tears after meeting Nina Tucker, then consult your doctor because you might be dead inside.

Grave of the Fireflies

Image: Studio Ghibli

One of the most powerfully affecting anime ever made, Grave of the Fireflies is a Studio Ghibli film unlike any you’ve ever seen. It tells the story of two siblings, Seita and Setsuko, who are struggling to eke out an existence in the final days of World War II. The film opens on Seita dying of starvation and his body being exhumed by a maintenance worker. What follows is a flashback to the horror Seita and his sister endured: incendiary bombs that reduced their neighborhood to cinders; the death of their mother; malnutrition and starvation due to rapidly dwindling rations; and so much more. It’s a bleak, haunting portrait of the horrors of war and their effects on those that so often go unseen. This will be one of the ugliest cries you’ve had in ages, but good lord is it worth it.

Wolf Children

Image: Toho

Honestly, pretty much any Mamoru Hosoda film could earn a spot on this list, but Wolf Children is particularly insidious for the way it warms your cold dead heart only to rip it from your chest when you least expect it. Wolf Children, at its core, is about the difficulties of being a single mom in a world that is full of never-ending challenges. It’s the story of Hana, a young woman who falls in love with a werewolf and winds up having two half-werewolf children with him…which is all well and good until their Wolfdaddy gets murdered by a hunter while he’s out finding food for the kiddos. What follows is Hana struggling to care for her children as they not only grow up without a father, but also with strange powers they don’t know how to handle and that society won’t accept. Watch this movie with an unsalted version of your favorite comfort food because soon your tears will take care of the rest.

And those are some of the saddest, tear jerkingest anime you need to see! Which is your favorite? What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Featured Image: Toho

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Dan Casey is the senior editor of Nerdist and the author of books about Star Wars and the Avengers. Follow him on Twitter (@DanCasey).

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