I very rarely cry in a drama series or film, especially when they’re marketed as such. I know I may seem like the type of person to get emotional on the smallest details in a story – and I do. But there’s a huge difference between a slight sniffle because you are so proud of what your precious fictional child has achieved and legitimately ugly crying because Everything Fucking Hurts.
Heck, the only time I ever cried in a Nicholas Sparks movie was the one with Miley Cyrus. And the only Western film that made me bawl my eyes out – and resulted to one fully drenched old t-shirt* in the process – was the Hollywood adaptation of Hachiko.
*So ok, when I do ugly cry, tissues are not enough. I need cloth that is soft, usually cotton, and I want huge surface area. Tissues are underwhelming in comparison, tbh.
The Japanese Hachiko resulted to three drenched old t-shirts, by the way.
I’m not proud of this, nor am I ashamed. These are just facts.
When a film sets itself up to be all-angst and chaotic emotions and drama for the sole purpose of creating drama, I just don’t cry. I think there’s two reasons for this:
- It may be the tiny Rebel tendency in me trying to be defiant.
- I’ve seen plenty of Filipino soap operas that does exactly this. I’m essentially immune.
But when the story also has a significant amount of lighthearted humor and wholesomeness, and exceptional writing, that’s another story. When I need a good cry, I personally seek out this type of shows.
And some anime are good at this. Below are 4 anime series and films that dried up my tear glands due to extreme bawling-my-eyes-out sessions.
Starting her life after war, Violet gets a job as a letter writer while she seeks to understand herself and the meaning behind her commander’s final words – “I love you.”
If you plan on watching this, heed my advice: have a box of tissues within reach from the very first episode.
I was already starting to love Kyoto Animation studio when I realized they made all my favorite series and films. (In fact, one other anime in this list is produced by KyoAni!) But watching Violet Evergarden was when I truly became a KyoAni fan. The art is beautiful, and the animation – God.
Expect scrumptious animation on even the tiniest of details like a stray hair strand falling ever so gracefully against a person’s cheek.
Not only that, the story is beautifully well-done. The narrative is unique in that, while the series as a whole focuses on Violet and her journey to understand what “love” means, each episode features different sets of characters who sought Violet’s letter writing service. Through them, we as audience get to see the various consequences of war while also witnessing Violet learning empathy with every episode.
There’s one particular episode that will hit you so bad and you won’t even notice until the very last minute. That episode destroyed me.
AnoHana: The flower we saw that day
Jinta is peacefully living his life as a recluse when his childhood friend, Menma, pesters him to grant a forgotten wish. He pays her no mind, which annoys her, but Jinta doesn’t care. After all, Menma has been dead for years.
You’d think with a ghost in the picture, you can already expect a sob story.
I just finished watching this several months ago – years after the show first aired – and I totally thought the same. If you’ve been around the online anime community long enough, you would know that AnoHana is notable for breaking so many of its audience’s hearts. I too knew this when I started the series.
But dammit did this show hurt.
While its animation quality is exquisite for a non-action anime (because studios rarely offer this much budget when its not an action shounen anime *mumble grumble*), the real charm of AnoHana is its character-driven story.
It is testament to the idea that our childhood plays an important role and has a huge impact for the rest of our lives. Seeing how a group of childhood friends grapple their young adulthood years after the death of their friend was the main focus of the entire series. And it makes its conclusion that much more heart-wrenchingly devastating.
Also, once you’re done with the series, the ending song, “Secret Base” will haunt you. Seriously. I’ve heard it dozens of times by now and my heart just hurts every single time.
A Silent Voice
Determined to make amends, a former class bully reaches out to the deaf girl he’d tormented in grade school. His first step to redemption : learning sign language.
I have watched this film two times and I ugly cried on both occasions.
It was both commercially and critically acclaimed both in Japan and internationally. And it deserves to be.
A Silent Voice is a heartwarming and poignant story examining the far-reaching consequences of bullying. It is similar to AnoHana in that it revolves around a group of young people and the trauma they experienced in childhood. But where A Silent Voice differs is in its laser-focus on the two main characters – Shouya, the former class bully, and Shouko, the deaf victim.
As someone who loves metaphors and analogies, I love how ever-present metaphors are – both visual- and story-driven – in the film. One example is how the film presents social anxiety as X’s on people’s face.
If I have one teeny tiny gripe on the film, it’s that blonde chick who never owned up to her own complicity in the grade school bullying. But idk, I guess I forgive that small part because this is a film adaptation of a manga series and I expect her character arc would be more organically concluded in the manga.
Trigger warning: this film contains bullying, assault and attempted suicide. Please be careful.
An indestructible, mysterious yellow creature chops up the moon into a permanent crescent and threatens to do the same with Earth. He offers mankind an oddly specific chance: before the school year is over, a class of middle school misfits must kill him and all the while, he will be their homeroom teacher.
I started this series fully aware that it’s weird (like, super weird – even for anime standards.) I expected it to have a somewhat similar vibe to Attack on Titan but, you know, PG friendly.
But it was nothing like I’ve ever seen. And it was amazing!
You have this odd-looking yellow octopus teaching middle schoolers science, math and how to create an incredibly potent poison. And the main protagonist is this boy with blue hair in pig tails. (Which is Really Weird, I know.) The humor in the series is top-notch and it has its wholesome moments too.
(I’m only sharing this clip because it must be shared lolol)
With that title and that premise, you would probably wonder what the heck this show is doing in a list of tear-glands-drying anime.
And honestly, I would have too.
You know how at the start of this post I mentioned that I usually personally seek out the tear-inducing anime when I need a good cry? Assassination Classroom is an exception.
Looking back on it, the show sets itself up as a feel-good, wholesome and inspiring series – and it is! But it’s because of this clever set up that makes the emotional moments of the series all the more… potent.
Anime that may dry your tear glands (and are also on Netflix)
This is a bonus list (an omake, if you will, to those who are fluent in weeb-speak) of anime that are also notable for their heartwrenching, and tear-gland-drying capabilities. However, I have personally not seen them or if I did, I didn’t cry that much.
Clannad – Haven’t watched the series but I have watched and bawled my eyes out for its sequel Clannad: After Story (Don’t judge me – high school Kate had limited resources and Netflix still wasn’t a thing in the Philippines ok)
Your Name – A Makoto Shinkai film that didn’t make me cry.
Angel Beats – An old anime. If you saw a video of an anime girl with white hair playing the piano, that’s probably Angel Beats. Haven’t watched it though.
Your Lie in April – Watched it; didn’t make me cry. It’s still a great series and is very music-oriented so you may like it. (And it may make you cry.)
Have you watched any of the anime I mentioned above? Did you watch one that isn’t in this list? Give me recs so I can add them to my list when I need a good cry!