Romance is a broad genre in the world of anime which is quite popular and favored among otakus. But, when romance meets tragedy and drama, it creates a combination not meant for our feeble little hearts. In the kaleidoscope of emotions depicted in the world of anime series, few genres possess the captivating allure of sad romance.
Within this subgenre, emotions flow like a bittersweet symphony, where love and melancholy play tug with your heartstrings.
So why even watch something that will provide you with an unpleasant outcome? Watching various sad romantic anime series can provide a profound and emotionally enriching experience, allowing viewers to explore the complexities of human emotions and relationships, while also letting you to relate to the characters.
Need a break from the shounen or goofy rom-com type anime? Give this genre a try! Specially the sad romance anime subgenre. This subgenre also helps viewers to connect to with their deep emotions and give a well needed break from their day-to-day complexities in their lives.
Best Sad Romance Anime Series :
Ready with a Bucket? (Water is really precious! You better not waste a SINGLE drop) Here are 20 sad romance anime series that might throw you in an ocean of grief:
20. H2O: Footprints In The Sand
H2O: Footprints In The Sand is based around the famous poem ,”Footprints in the Sand”, which is a catholic poem. It is a visual novel and an anime series, with the visual novel being developed by Makura, which was released in 2006, while the anime adaptation being produced by Zexcs, which was aired in 2008.
The series revolves around Hirose Takuma. As a kid, he and his mother went out on a walk one day. Tragedy struck as his mother passed away in an accident in the railroads. Surprisingly, Hirose could only remember what he heard and not what he saw. Turns out that Hirose had become blind, and the doctors didn’t know why.
Later in life, Hirose and his uncle moves to a small village. There, he meets three girls, two of which are popular, and one of which is hated by the village. Each of these girls has her own set of problems and secrets, and as Hirose interacts with them, their lives become intertwined.
This show has a great story along with really good character development. This story has a great moral, interesting story, and although tragedy, it will still please you with the ending.
So if this is the type of plot you’re looking for, this is a great choice! Even though you’ll need to invest a bit of brain power to keep up with the plot, this anime is one of the saddest romantic anime series out there. Give it a watch!
SukaSuka (also known as WorldEnd) revolves around Willem Kmetsch, who leaves his loved ones behind and sets out to battle a mysterious monster, putting his life on the line. Even though victorious, he is rendered frozen in ice.
It is during his icy slumber that terrifying creatures known as “Beasts” emerge on the Earth’s surface and threaten humanity’s existence. Willem awakens 500 years later, only to find himself the only survivor as mankind is wiped out. Along with the surviving races, William travels to the floating islands, where he decides to stay.
When tasked with being a weapon storehouse caretaker, he realizes that the weapons are a group of “Leprechauns”. They have no regard for their life and are used against the “Beasts” for their unique abilities. Among them is Chtholly Nota Seniorious. William decides to become a father figure for the “Leprechauns”.
SukaSuka is definitely one of the saddest romance anime series out there. If I were to describe this show, it’d be “HELL“. There aren’t many shows which made me sob so hard that I couldn’t focus on the show anymore. Do not blame me if you cry out an entire ocean (a bucket might be insufficient huh…) while watching the show!
18. Golden Time
Golden Time is an anime series based on a light novel of the same name written by Yuyuko Takemiya and illustrated by Eiji Komatsu. The anime was produced by J.C. Staff and aired from October 2013 to March 2014. The plot of Golden Time revolves around Tada Banri, a young man who has lost his memories after a traumatic accident.
Banri starts his new life as a law student in Tokyo, where he meets Mitsuo. While Banri searches for his past, Mitsuo, on the contrary, is trying to escape from his past, mainly from his fiancée, Koko Kaga. As the story progresses, Banri forms a deep bond with Koko.
The anime does a commendable job balancing romance with humor and drama. Considering Banri’s amnesia (loss of memories), we got to see funny, as well as complex and confusing moments in the story, where he is trying to connect his past self with the person he is now.
Being able to tackle both humorous and serious moments, Golden Time is a show that starts in the exciting unknown, where love, adventure, and friends come together for one amazing story. Sounds optimistic right? I wish you luck. As one of the best romance anime with sad themes, it deserves more love that what it gets!
17. True Tears
True Tears is a sad romance anime series produced by P.A. Works, which aired in 2008. The series was inspired by a visual novel of the same name, although it does not follow the visual novel’s plot closely. The story of True Tears revolves around a high school student named Shinichiro Nakagami.
Shinichiro dreams of becoming an artist (atleast he has a “dream”…. unlike a certain someone…). He often finds inspiration for his drawings in the nature and the beautiful sceneries around his town. However, his life had other plans as he soon got entangled in the lives of Hiromi and Noe.
Hiromi is living in Shinichiro’s home, but she seems to be hiding a secret in the closet. Noe, on the other hand, has her own mysterious and personal issues. The series explores themes of love and the pursuit of one’s dreams. Even when words cannot describe one’s feelings, your tears will. It tackles complex relationships and emotional depth really well!
Looking for a show with beautiful animations, insane storytelling and which will make you question your insignificant (just kidding… you are very significant <3) existence? This would be your stop!
16. Rumbling Hearts
Rumbling Hearts, known in Japanese as “Kimi ga Nozomu Eien”, is an anime series that is based on a visual novel of the same name created by AGE with its anime adaptation being aired in 2003.
The plot of Rumbling Hearts mainly revolves around the lives of Takayuki Narumi, Mitsuki Hayase and Haruka Suzumiya. Takayuki and Haruka are dating each other. One day, Haruka is caught in an accident, leaving her in coma for three years. During her absence, Takayuki grows distant from her and starts to develop feelings towards Mitsuki.
The return of Haruki after three years causes an emotional turmoil in all of their lives. This is also what you might call a “Love Triangle”. Not being your typical romance anime, Rumbling Hearts is known for going into the deepest depths of emotions and intense character development, especially in the case of Haruka. The way the show deals with themes of romance and guilt is remarkable!
The sheer amount of emotion depth the show depicts makes it one of the best in the sad romance anime series genre. Get some adhesive just in case the show “Breaks You” (get it? “Breaks you”…… please laugh).
15. Ao Haru Ride
Ao Haru Ride, also known as “Blue Spring Ride,” is a famous anime and manga series. The series was originally a shoujo manga written and illustrated by Io Sakisaka, which was later adapted into an anime and a live-action film.
The show revolves around with Futaba, a middle school girl, who has a crush on a boy named Kou (“IT SHOULD’VE BEEN ME!!”). Unfortunately, due to misunderstandings, their romance never had a chance to take off. When the meet again in high school, Kou had become more distant, while Futaba was trying to be likeable by her classmates.
While Kou displays a mix of reactions to the loss of his mother – all natural, Futaba displays a state of self-denial and trying her best to blend in with the crowd, making “pseudo-friends” in order to stave off her loneliness. She later realizes how uncomfortable she felt by suppressing her personality. This is already a lot to deal with for an adolescent, and on top of it all, we have her complicated relationship with Kou.
The anime explores themes of self-identity and rekindling lost connections. Being one of the most “Realistic” ones, it is one of the best to watch if you’re looking for a sad romance anime series.
14. Oregairu (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU)
Oregairu (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU), is a popular anime series based on a light novel written by Wataru Watari and illustrated by Ponkan8. The anime adaptation was produced by Brain’s Base and Feel, and it first aired in 2013.
It all started with Yukino being bullied in middle school. Being “too good” at everything, she was casted aside as everyone didn’t like her being better than them at ways more than one. As a result, Yukino developed an ice cold personality so that she could prevent herself from being hurt or getting affected by the actions of the ones around her.
Now we come to Hachiman Hikigaya. It was the first day of his high school life, Hikigaya Hachiman, who had his fare share of somewhat traumatic experience in his middle school years, was ready to let go of his past and change for the better in hopes of attaining the “normal life” that he always yearned for.
The two characters were like “isolated islands” and needed a “bridge”, who was none other than Yugahama Yui. Yui, who in many ways was an ordinary and somewhat popular high school girl, was that very “bridge” , the connecting path that these two needed.
The plot is simple, yet really unique! With the show’s incredible character development and it’s ability to delve deep into character personalities is unmatched!
13. Looking Up At The Half Moon
Looking Up at the Half-Moon, also known as “Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora” in Japanese, is an anime series based on a light novel of the same name written by Tsumugu Hashimoto. The anime adaptation was produced by Group TAC and first aired in 2006.
Looking Up at the Half-Moon tells the story of Yuichi Ezaki and Rika Akiba. Yuichi, our male protagonist, has severe hepatitis and is thus, a patient in a hospital. Rika, our female protagonist on the other hand has a weak heart and awaits a heart transplant.
The series depicts the fragile nature of human existence. While exploring the themes of love, romance and drama, it also delves into mortality and the brittle nature of humans. The title “Looking up at the Half-Moon” explores the idea of finding light and hope, even in the darkest of times, while the “Half-Moon” itself symbolizes the fragile and incomplete nature of life.
This anime is rather different from the other sad romance anime series. The anime brings both happiness and grief with it till the end of the series. “Perfectly Bittersweet” is what I would call this show. Definitely give it a go!
12. White Album 2
White Album 2 is a Japanese anime series based on a visual novel of the same name developed by Leaf. The anime adaptation was produced by Satelight and aired in 2013.
The show revolves around Haruki Kitahara, Setsuna Ogiso, and Kazusa Touma. Haruki is an ordinary student who rediscovers his burning passion for music, when he meets Kazusa, a shy musician and Setsuna, a cheerful and outgoing girl. You got it! Another story involving an emotionally charged “Love Triangle“. As they form a club and prepare for an upcoming festival, their lives become intertwined with romance.
Character Development? Check. Sensitive, yet Intricate Relationships? Ofcourse! Emotional Depth? OBVIOUSLY! What else can you ask for? The way the show deals with these aspects is nothing short of “Immaculate”. It also depicts the character’s love and passion towards music (Alert: Good music incoming! yay).
Before you start asking, “It says ‘2’!! Where’s White Album 1?”, it is a Standalone show and not a sequel. Up for a sad romance anime with some good music and emotional turmoil? This show is for you!
11. Ef: A Tale of Memories
The “Ef” series is an anime adaptation of the visual novel series “Ef: A fairy tale of the two” made by Minori. It is an erotic visual novel, but don’t let that demotivate you from watching the anime! The series in itself is stellar and does not have much fanservice in it at all.
Ef: A Tale of Memories actually has more than one story. The first one revolves around Hirono Hiro, who one day gets his bike stolen by a girl. Turn out that the girl, Miyamura Miyako was actually trying to catch a purse thief, eventually failing miserably. Their friendly interactions provoke the jealousy of Shindou Kei, Hiro’s childhood friend, who for some reason insists on treating Hiro like her brother.
The second story shows the lives of Asou Renji, a high schooler who happens to meet a girl wearing an eyepatch named Shindou Chihiro at an abandoned train station. She is a bit odd, quite shy, and for some reason she often looks up at the sky. (Why you may ask? How dare you! Watch the anime for yourself! Spoilers=Bad)
Whether you are looking for a heart-rending anime to watch this weekend, or searching for something to repair your broken heart, consider giving this anime series a try!
10. Full Moon wo Sagashite
Full Moon wo Sagashite is a Japanese anime and manga series created by Arina Tanemura. The anime adaptation was produced by Nihon Ad Systems and Studio Deen and aired in 2002. This is a shoujo, about a girl and her love for singing. Even though it’s romance, expect quite a bit a drama and mature themes.
Mitsuki Kouyama is a 12 year old girl with a big passion for music and a great love for a boy. She aspires to be a singer but things aren’t as smooth for her. She has sarcoma (a type of cancer), which not only limits her singing capabilities, but also is slowly killing her.
She suddenly encounters two Shinigamis (Death Gods) that were assigned to take care of her and collect her soul one year from now. Out of compassion, they offer to help Mitsuki with her dreams, as regrets could trap her soul in the world.
She gains the power to transform into a 16 year old, free of sarcoma and old enough for auditions, with “FullMoon” being her stage name. Going into the themes of love, loss and fate, this anime has a mix of emotions, while handling the deep themes really well. (You might want to get another bucket now… maybe more than one… this one will make you cry out an entire bathtub).
9. Kokoro Connect
Kokoro Connect” is a Japanese anime series based on the light novel series of the same name written by Sadanatsu Anda and illustrated by Shiromizakana. The anime adaptation was produced by Silver Link and aired in 2012.
Kokoro Connect is a story about 5 unlikely friends that find one day that they are switching bodies at random, something also known as “Heartseed”. Heartseed causes the friends to switch bodies with each other randomly and unexpectedly, which leads to quite funny and humorous moments.
The animation also provides the viewer with awesome backgrounds and really good character designs. Being able to combine the supernatural aspect of the show into the ordinary, this show is also celebrated for it’s ability to mix in humor and human emotions.
If you’re looking for another supernatural high school romance anime, then you will definitely like this one! This show is a solid watch.
8. Scum’s Wish
Scum’s Wish is a popular anime series based on the manga of the same name written and illustrated by Mengo Yokoyari. The anime adaptation was produced by Lerche and aired in 2017.
Scum’s Wish revolve around the lives of Hanabi Yasuraoka and Mugi Awaya. Both Hanabi and Mugi love other people, who are unobtainable for them. In order to fill the voids in their heart, the decide to enter a physical relationship.
The plot sounds simple enough… Right? Left (Opposite of right is left….. funny…. left?) Trust me! The plot is a LOT more complex than what it sounds, involving a lot more characters later introduced in the series. The series delves into themes of love, loneliness and the concept of seeking satisfaction through physical relationships. It’s separates itself from the other sad romance anime series for the very same aspects.
The anime is rather for Mature Audiences. Is it a complex storyline you’re looking for? Craving for some really complex relationship dynamics (Why…. WHY ??) ? This is your stop! Try to keep up!
7. She, The Ultimate Weapon
She, The Ultimate Weapon, also known as “Saikano” (not to be confused with Saekano) in Japanese, is a popular anime series and manga adaptation created by Shin Takahashi. The anime was produced by Gonzo and first aired in 2002.
Known for it’s emotionally charged storytelling and concentrating on the effects of war on individuals, She, The Ultimate Weapon is set in a fictional world and tells the story of Shuji and Chise. The town they were living in suddenly became a target for war, destroying their peaceful life together.
Chise was soon chosen as an “Ultimate Weapon”, which is basically a cyborg with powers of mass destruction. Even though she losses her humanity after her transformation, distancing her from Shuji, he still remains in love with her. Exploring the themes of love, loss and the horrors of war, the series emphasizes sacrificing oneself for their loved ones. The series immaculately blends love and peace into war and it’s consequences.
Getting an adhesive might not be enough this time, as this sad romance anime series will DESTROY you. Don’t believe me? Watch it for yourself!
Orange is a sad anime romance series based on the shoujo manga of the same name written and illustrated by Ichigo Takano. The anime adaptation was produced by Telecom Animation Film and TMS Entertainment and aired in 2016.
The base plot of the show is quite simple. Naho Takamiya recieves a letter from her future self. 10 years in the future. Even though skeptical at first, she decides to read it. The letter stated that Kakeru Naruse, her classmate, would take his own life. The letter also provided Naho with clear instructions on how to stop him.
The story has 2 sides. The future Naho fell in love with Kakeru, but things didn’t work out. She eventually got married to Suwa, but a feeling of regret always remained in Naho. The present Naho falls in love Kakeru, while Suwa decides to not bother them as he knew the outcome if he were to confess his feelings.
The “Love Triangle” we see in this show is really different and unique from others. Also, Kakeru is a constant source of sadness in the anime.
The opening ‘Hikari no Hahen” by Yu Takahashi is really splendid and will set up your mood for the show, while the ending “Mirai” by Kobukuro acts as a catalyst. Give this anime a try!
5. Nagi No Asukara
Nagi no Asukara, also known as “A Lull in the Sea,” is a Japanese anime series produced by P.A. Works. It originally aired from 2013 to 2014. The story is set in a world where both land-dwelling and sea-dwelling people exist.
According to the story, long ago, all humans lived beneath the sea. However, some people preferred the surface and abandoned living underwater permanently. As a consequence, they were stripped of their god given protection called “Ena” which allowed them to breathe underwater.
Nagi no Asukara is a romance-drama story, consisting of a LOT of relationships (I MEAN IT). Hikari is in love with Manaka, Manaka has a crush on Tsumugu. Meanwhile, Hikari’s sister Akari is tangled with another, while his friends Chisaki and Kaname each have crushes of their own.
Having beautiful backgrounds and sceneries, animation and insane character development alongside it’s ability to evoke deep emotions, this anime is a good pick if you’re looking for a romance anime with sad themes.
4. Plastic Memories
Plastic Memories is a Japanese anime series produced by Doga Kobo and originally aired in 2015. Taking place in a technologically advanced world, this sad romance anime series is BOUND to make to question your life choices.
The story revolves around Tsukasa and Isla. In the world of “Plastic Memories”, there exists androids known as “Giftias”. The lifespan of a Giftia is 81,920 hours, or about 9 years and 4 months, after which they start to malfunction as they can’t store any more in their memories, resulting in them becoming aggressive.
Tsukasa was given the job to retrieve Giftias who were nearing their date of expiry (the 81,920 hours mark) along with Isla, who is also a Giftia. Throughout their journey, they form a deep emotional bond, even though Tsukasa knew what was to come in the future.
Since you came this down the list, you really don’t love yourself do you? Alright then! Go ahead! Watch this series. Drink ample amounts of water throughout the series by the way. Don’t dehydrate yourself through your eyes.
3. Your Lie In April
Your Lie in April, also known as “Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso” in Japanese, is a popular anime series based on the manga of the same name written and illustrated by Naoshi Arakawa, whose anime adaptation was produced by A-1 Pictures and originally aired from 2014 to 2015.
Your Lie in April follows a young boy named Kousei Arima who apparently “can’t hear the piano” anymore, due to a “curse”. One cherry blossom-filled day in the park, Kousei meets Kaori Miyazono, and his life changes forever. Kousei falls in love with Kaori, but soon realizes that she was already dating one of his friends. Even so, they both participate in competitions, with Kaori being very compassionate with Kousei.
The plot seems really peaceful, and it is! This anime is REALLY wholesome… Trust me! (*evil looks*) I mean, why wouldn’t the anime be wholesome? It’s just a boy and a girl playing music… Right? (Left)
This show has EVERYTHING you would want! Music? This anime is based off Music! Good openings? “Hikaru Nara” is one of the best songs out there! Good animation? The picture already says that! Being one of my favorite anime, I would totally suggest you check this out! NOW!
2. Fruits Basket
Fruits Basket is a beloved Japanese anime series based on the manga of the same name written and illustrated by Natsuki Takaya. The anime has been adapted into two versions: the original 2001 series and the 2019 remake. I am talking about the 2019 one here!
Fruits Basket is about the Zodiac and the curse on the Sohma family as they are possessed by animal spirits of the zodiac. Tohru Honda, the main character, comes along, completely unsuspecting, and is now involved in their curse. As an outsider, she comes to learn more about each member of the Sohma family, resulting in her developing bonds with them.
The plot sounds intriguing right ? It’s because IT IS! This is one of the most interesting anime you’ll ever watch. The series concentrates on themes of not only unconditional love and acceptance, but also emphasizes the importance of family, be it biological or not.
Every single episode in the anime is filled with both heartwarming and sad moments. Every episode in here is important, with not a single one being filler! If that’s what you’re looking for, Here you go!
Clannad is a well-known Japanese anime series based on the visual novel of the same name developed by Key. The anime adaptation was produced by Kyoto Animation. The anime had two seasons (Clannad and Clannad After Story) which aired in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
The anime starts with Tomoya and Nagisa meeting each other. Tomoya is our male protagonist who’s disinterested in studies and doesn’t have the best of relations with his father. Nagisa on the other hand is our main female protagonist who’s repeating her senior year due to an illness. The First Season mainly deals with Tomoya and Nagisa befriending each other, eventually forming emotional bonds.
The Second Season, “Clannad After Story” can be described by the following words – “HELL ON EARTH“. This Season has made me regret my life choices. I lost a friend after I watched this anime, specifically the second season (he suggested me the anime). This season deals with, well, things that happened after the first season of clannad (hence the name “After Story”). It shows the lives of Tomoya and Nagisa together and the struggles Tomoya has to go through in order to get a “Family”.
There must be a reason why this is on the NUMBER 1 spot in the list of saddest romance anime series. This anime made me cry for 3 days STRAIGHT. The scene where Nagisa gives birth to her daughter is the BEST part of the whole anime. It’s not “Anime at its Best“, but rather “Film-making at its Finest“.
Watch this anime ONLY IF you hate yourself (in this case, you don’t wouldn’t want to hate yourself). This is the BEST sad romance anime you’ll ever get. (in my very humble and unbiased opinion)
Hey! You made it to the end! You really must “LOVE” yourself…
Let me know if you liked the list and the anime on it in the comment section!
Also mention the amount of water saved through salt-water harvesting.. since I told you to get a bucket.. (get it? funny right?)
I’ll go cry now… I hope I get some company soon…