Get out the tissues, because these anime offerings won’t leave a dry eye in the house.

The great thing about anime is that it’s so varied. Whether you want a rousing adventure story, a dramatic romance, or even just want to peep some bizarre hair styles, anime has you covered.

There are plenty of shows specifically intended to tear your heart out and leave you as a quivering, sobbing mess on the floor. A survey by the Japanese animation website Anime! Anime! quizzed participants on their favorite depressing anime, and received 195 responses during the participation period of May 18 to May 25. About 65 percent of participants identified as female, with 35 percent identifying male—and around 50 percent of those surveyed were 19 years old or younger, with 30 percent of the remainder being in their 20s.

Plenty of firm favorites ranked in the survey’s ultimate shortlist, with Neon Genesis Evangelion only just squeaking into tenth place (alongside Elfen Lied, Demon Slayer, and Fafner in the Azure.) Code Geass made it into 15th place, alongside Another, Yuki Yuna is a Hero, and Fate/Zero. But who is the ultimate tyrant of tears? The standout series when it comes to sadness? Let’s count down together!

5. School Days

▼ An ad from the time bills School Days as a great romantic anime to watch with your sweetheart.

School Days was broadcasted in 2007 as a faithful adaptation of a visual novel, starring a hapless male protagonist and a bevy of beautiful girls eager for his affections. The visual novel was notorious for having extremely graphic violence in its bad endings, and the anime adaptation caused a huge stir when it followed one of these bad routes for its dramatic finale. Due to a violent murder in the news at the time, the finale was delayed from its original broadcast slot and replaced by scenic boat footage. This became something of a meme in otaku circles.

▼ Nice boat.

Controversy aside, the dramatic shift in its tone clearly made a big impression on viewers!

4. Attack on Titan

One of the biggest phenomena in Japanese entertainment in recent years, Attack on Titan is stuffed full of body horror, life-or-death situations, and a tremendous dose of interpersonal drama. The high body count for the series is certainly part of what earns it a high place in the rankings, but fans also speak highly of the series’ heart-rending musical scores and the difficult choices that its characters are forced to make. Despite its reputation as an action anime, those who get sufficiently absorbed into the plot will have plenty to sob about.

Here the ranking skips the third place, as two separate series received enough votes to rank second.

2 (tie). Banana Fish

Boundary-defying anime Banana Fish was based on the 1980s manga of the same name by Akimi Yoshida. Though the anime is especially beloved for its well-written scenarios, an intense and empathetic romance between two male characters, and its slick, impressive animation, Banana Fish is primarily a tale of the horrors of war. Characters are at risk of death throughout the series, regardless of their importance to the plot. Cruelty and kindness clash violently in the series’ 24 episodes, and its ending ultimately rings bittersweet.

2 (tie). Higurashi: When they Cry

Based on the visual novel of the same name, Higurashi has actually been adapted for animation twice: first in 2006 by Studio DEEN, and then again by Passione in 2020—although the latter is more of a sequel or companion piece than a true adaptation. However, the content remains the same: a young boy moves to the country and makes friends with a group of girls with deep, complicated secrets. Full-throttle horror is paired with incredibly touching and emotive scenes to make an impression on viewers that they’ll never forget, and the anime also has the benefit of some incredible theme songs.

Let’s be honest, though. There’s one anime that comes straight to mind when you mention depression, right? Did you guess what came in first?

1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

2011 saw the birth of the Puella Magi Madoka Magica franchise, starting with an anime that took the simple concept of girls becoming magical girls…and threw it into a blender. Untrustworthy mascots, wishes that turn sour, and a karmic debt that our protagonists have no chance of repaying—every episode of Madoka strays further and further away from the bubblegum world promised by its adorable opening.

▼ If you know, then you know.

Fans are still being shocked and upset by its multiple twists even a decade later, so it’s no surprise to see it crowned the queen of depressing anime. A new movie is in the works to commemorate the series, so prepare for more tears in the near future!

Do you have a tearjerker anime that you think is more deserving of the top spot? Let us know in the comments!

Top image: Pakutaso
Source: Anime! Anime! via Otakomu

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