Drew is a pharmacist, a novelist, a blogger, and a social media copywriter. He loves to learn new things about the craft of writing.
I’ve been an anime enthusiast for almost more than a decade. I watched how Japanimation grew into a billion-dollar mammoth as of today. From Voltes V, Daimos, Flame of Recca, etc. I at least have finished hundreds of anime series and movies. Wait, I think my list is already in thousands. Well, who cares?
Anyway, my favorite anime genres are comedy, slice-of-life, and drama. Yes, I like crying - for the plot at least. Moving on, here is my top 15 anime drama list that will keep your tissues rolling. I promise that an army of onion ninjas are bound to make you cry.
What Are the Best Anime Tearjerkers of All Time?
Here are the best anime that made me shed tears and snot. Just as a reminder, I ranked the following animes according to my opinion.
- Clannad Series
- Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
- Angel Beats
- Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)
- Made in Abyss
- Violet Evergarden
- Kimi no Na wa (Your Name)
- Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
- Plastic Memories
- Koe no Katachi (Silent Voice)
- Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki (Wolf Children)
- Boku dake ga Inai Machi (Erased)
- Full Metal Alchemist
- Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies)
15. Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies)
Grave of the Fireflies is one of the oldest anime masterpiece out-there. Even so, it still has the power to keep you reflecting on how lucky you are. This one had shaken a lot of my hardcore perspectives about war. The plot haunted my conscience for days after watching it.
It is the story of two Japanese children – Seita and his little sister Setsuko as they try to live in the Post-World War 2 Japan.
You might become a little angry over some scenes. Just a reminder, don't expect too much from the two. Remember, they are kids.
The heartbreaking moments will make you hold your breath like never before. I’ll rate it 7/10 for the overall anime enjoyment.
14. Full Metal Alchemist
Anyone who knows anime must have at least heard this awesome series.
The story of two young brothers Alphonse (The TinCan) and Edward (Chibby) Elric. Two brothers whose fate changed due to their obsession. Never did the two knew what they were going to make the biggest mistake of their life. No one can play with human transmutation unscathed.
Full-Metal Alchemist is one of the most thrilling action type anime I had seen. Even so, it is also worthy to note that the quality of its drama is also on par.
Damn, I need some tissues again. Turning back to the drama, once it builds up the momentum, there is no turning back. Although it is more of a shounen adventure anime. The quality of its dramatic moments knows how to strike you to your very core.
Try checking out Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, the much crisper version. I'll score this 8/10 for overall anime enjoyment.
13. Boku dake ga Inai Machi (Erased)
Erased is not simply a drama, but also a psychological and mystery powerhouse. The anime originated from the manga series of Kei Sanbe. A fresh breath of air after watching almost thousands of anime for more than a decade.
The story focuses on Satoru Fujinuma – who discovered that he could return back to time. The awesome thing about this anime is how its heart-shaking scenes will keep you on your toes. No, not the cliffhangers, the plot I say.
The awesome flow will tie you on your seat, enough to make you pop in more popcorn than you should. Okay, time to binge this awesome piece again.
Aside from the high-quality drama – the opening and ending songs is also a big plus for me. It is innocent yet dark, powerful enough to get you hooked.
I'll score this 8/10 for overall anime enjoyment.
12. Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki (Wolf Children)
Who says you can’t marry a wolf?
Hana, a lovely college student did! She fell in love with an enigmatic man who turns out to be a shapeshifting wolf.
The story goes on with a little spice of tragedy after his wolf-husband died in an accident. Hana was forced to confront her new reality – taking care of her two little pups.
This anime is one of the hidden gems that shine brighter as you grasp its essence. Wolf Children is a multi-award winning anime destined to pluck your heartstrings. It is also loaded with fluid animation and inspirational characters.
The story is mature, insightful, and realistic in dealing with change, loss, and family. Now, no more crap.
I’ll score it 9/10 for overall anime enjoyment.
11. Koe no Katachi (Silent Voice)
One of the newest anime romance drama masterpiece as of late. The story talks about Shouko Nishimiya, deaf who transfers to her new school. There, she meets a bratty kid named Shouya Ishida, the one who will change her silent life forever.
I won’t spoil too much for your own enjoyment, so that’s all. You better check it yourself.
Silent Voice will take you to an awesome roller coaster ride. It’s pack with tears, sadness, grins, and realizations. After watching this, I realized how bad I was. Meh, not really. I’m a good boy.
The plot tastes like bittersweet dark chocolate – it’s full of feels with every bite. It also has a masterful handling of sounds and lights – good enough to make my jaws drop. All in all, it’s a story of redemption and young love.
Oh, I almost forgot. Please heed this advice. Close the lights, ready your snacks, and stack your tissues before watching.
I’ll score it 10/10 for the overall anime experience.
10. Plastic Memories
Yep, you read it right. Memories could be like plastic like people. Anyway, in this anime it is recyclable. A futuristic romantic drama that will make you shed a few cups of water.
Tsukasa Mizugaki found himself working in a company responsible for androids called Giftias. These sophisticated human-like machines are only given a lifespan of 81,920 hours. Yep, all before getting an eternal sleep treatment.
The hard part?
Tsukasa was tasked to bring these androids back. There, he was partnered with Isla, a veteran Giftia. Hold it, that’s for the peek!
Another bittersweet goody. One of the anime that will make you think about the value of time and life.
I’ll score it 7/10 for overall anime enjoyment.
9. Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
The plot focuses on Maquia – an orphan of the Iorph race who was known to live for hundreds of years. Yep, think about a blond elven race without the long ears. She then gets to save a baby from a destroyed village and decided to raise the child. Imagine what happens when you’re raised by a never-aging mother.
Maquia, also known as SayoAsa, is one of the models on how to properly use CGI in anime and make it a success. Though there were a few awkward CGI moments that could have been avoided, it is still a goody.
The one that made this anime stand out for me was its great music and art. Its awesomeness will take your breath away.
Now, we're talking about drama right?
Yep, it’s a tearjerker that reminded me of how salty tears are. So, get those damn tissues ready.
I’ll score it 9/10 for overall anime enjoyment.
Kobato is one of those anime’s that I can call as underrated. This awesome piece of art made me rub my eyes, reminding me of how onion stings.
The plot of this anime revolves around Kobato Hanato - a pure, strange, and innocent lady. But hey, Kobato came with a mission, to collect candy-like things called Konpeito. These mysterious candies can only appear after she heals a suffering heart. Just think of her as an extremely innocent psychologist.
Where is the catch?
She is not allowed to fall in love with anyone whose heart she healed. Okay, no more sneak peeks. Get your fingers moving and search for Kobato.
I’ll give a score of 8/10 for overall anime experience, especially for its heartwarming plot and music.
7. Kimi no Na wa (Your Name)
What else could I say?
Most anime lovers know how awesome this masterpiece is. It’s the highest-grossing anime of all time with more than $350 million under its belt.
The story is all about Mitsuha Miyamizu and Tachibana Taki who one day awakens in each other's bodies. Then, drama happens. Watch it. No spoilers.
The plot is fully-loaded with laughs, tears, thrills, and shrills. No crap, that’s one of the things most of the cinema-goers felt after watching this anime movie.
Anyway, with its stunning visuals and music, you're bound to get the hook! I’ll rate this goody 10/10 for overall enjoyment.
6. Violet Evergarden
The story of a beautiful lady with a bloody past named Violet as she seeks the meaning of life, love, and friendship. The dramatic scenes will hit you like a train.
Violet Evergarden took the meaning of visually stunning into a brand new level. Just look at the image at the top, and you will know what I mean. Wear some quality earphones and watch it in 1080HD for a full experience.
Once mixed with its awesome plot and music, you’ll be going to experience one-hell-of-a-ride.
So what are you waiting for?
Get your popcorns ready and hit it. I’ll rate this anime 10/10 for the overall anime experience.
5. Made in Abyss
Made in Abyss may look simple and cute (probably due to its artwork) but don’t be deceived by what you see. It is more than what it looks. This anime is not for the faint of heart. It’s a bloody drama that will make you hug your body pillow tightly.
The plot revolves around a young lady named Riko, who is the daughter of a missing famous abyss diver. In search of her mother, she will encounter an amnesiac human-like robot. A weird robot.
The anime will highlight the duo’s adventure towards the mysterious deep abyss. And believe me, the abyss is crazier than you can imagine. It reminded me of an old adage from Friedrich Nietzsche, "When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you."
You’ll get awesome visuals, music, and feels from this hidden gem.
Oh, I almost forgot. This will definitely stretch a few muscles in your tears glands.
I’ll rate this one 9/10 for overall enjoyment.
4. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)
Do you want an awesome musical drama focusing on classic piano and violin?
If so, Your Lie in April is the masterpiece that you have been waiting for. No joke, you will love it.
The story thickens around Kousei Arima, a former piano prodigy in search of his loss music. Your lie in April takes a rare glimpse of how serious emotional scars are in the eyes of the one who is suffering.
The exciting part starts when Kousei meets Miyazono Kaori, the one who will make him hear his tune again. No more storytelling and watch it.
This one is among the best anime drama series I’ve ever watch. So please do buckle your seat belts before bingeing. Don’t forget the tissues.
I’ll rate this one 10/10 both for enjoyment and its masterful delivery.
3. Angel Beats
What will happen when you die with regrets? You’ll go to heaven? To hell? Or simply reincarnate somewhere as a barnacle.
Yep, that’s what a few characters in Angel Beats feared the most. A great bundle of drama, comedy, adventure, and slice-of-life.
The plot revolves around Otonashi Yuzuru – an amnesiac who realize that he was in the world of the dead – a campus. As you watch this, your in for a tear-fest, so drink a lot of water to avoid getting dehydrated.
Stunning visuals, great music, and extremely lovable characters. Oh, don’t forget the hardcore comedy as well as the heart-rending stories of each character.
I’ll rate it 9/10 for overall anime experience.
2. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
The story begins with Jinta Yadomi, a loner and a NEET, meets his old childhood friend named Menma. Okay, that is so common and boring.
So, where is the catch?
Well, Menma died during his childhood. That is for the sucker punch. Watch the whole thing yourself. You might find it too slow, but once you stick to it you’ll be up for a ride of your life.
What I love about this anime is how it realistically deals with the meaning of losing somebody. If this anime doesn’t even stir a little of your tears, then I don’t know anymore!
Ano Hana is a cocktail of great plot and quality music that will surely keep your eyes fulfilled.
I’ll rate this 10/10 for its ability to make me cry.
1. Clannad & Clannad After Story
Clannad Series is one of the reasons I started watching anime dramas more than those movies. Simply put, this series made me shed a lot of tears. A bucket load.
After bingeing this anime, I felt like I had taken a one-mile sprint where my sweat was teardrops. Okay, I'm sorry. Not funny, alright. Let us get to the main point.
Clannad begins with a delinquent brat named Okazaki Tomoya. A high school student who is grappling with his family issues. In his search for answers and freedom, he will meet a lot of new friends, and eventually find love. That’s for the little spoiler.
Clannad will revolve around the importance of friendship, youth, loss, and family. With each character having his or her own story to tell. Each arc is good enough to make you hold your tears and make you laugh like a clown. Even so, it's more lighthearted as compared to the second season.
After the first season, it leads us to an even greater gem - Clannad After Story, the second season.
The second season is more character-focus and family-centric than its prequel. And this is where all hell breaks loose. The marvelous plot progression will naturally take both your breath and tissues away.
Its unique music when mixed with its great plot will surely hit you like a train. Imagine, this anime is already a decade old and it's still good enough to make me cry over and over again.
That’s just how great this masterpiece is.
I’ll rate this one 10/10 for enjoyment and the great anime experience.
Before Watching. Ready your Tissues.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Drew Agravante
Drew Agravante (author) from Philippines, Currently in Qatar on August 25, 2020:
I'm really glad you like it! I totally agree with you on that. Clannad: After Story is a true tissue-buster. Thanks for reading.
Bambe from Philippines on August 25, 2020:
Ah! Thank you for giving me list to watch now. Though, I have already watched some such as clannad. It made my eyes puffy after watching.