WARNING: This post contains MASSIVE spoilers for the following 10 series. Reader discretion is STRONGLY advised.
- Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
- Assassination Classroom Season 2
- Clannad After Story
- Fruits Basket 1st Season
- Ghost Stories
- Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
- Violet Evergarden
- Your lie in April
The Top Tear-Inducing Moments – 2021 Edition
Stories elicit emotions, or, at least, the good ones do. The best comedies get us laughing as much as the best horror tales, science fiction epics, and action pack thrillers scare, wow, and leave us at the edge of our seats. These are the narratives that stick around the longest.
And no story can earn a more prestigious gut-reaction-honor than one that causes us to tear up.
Now, a good cry is healthy. Just as we are encouraged to smile when happy, it is no crime or sign of weakness to shed a tear when a moment moves us to do so. And like any storytelling medium, anime has a plethora of instances that will do that spectacularly.
But please note; crying is not exclusive to sadness. We have not barred tearful scenes of joy from consideration. Hence why this list is the Top Tear-Inducing Moments.
However, this 2021 edition is predominantly – and crushingly – lacking in cheer.
With that said, here are the Top Tear-Inducing Moments in anime. But first, one final warning:
This post contains MASSIVE spoilers. Continue past the Spoiler Buffer at your discretion.
10. “Tenshi ni Fureta yo”
Episode 24 – “Graduation Ceremony!”
This is probably the closest this list will come to including an entry that is not sad. Still, this scene from the second season of K-On was a tear-jerker all the same.
To set the stage, the recent graduates of After-School Tea Time had to move on and leave their youngest member, Azusa Nakano, behind. Much like growing up can be, inevitable departures are bittersweet.
What made this moment moving was how well-earned it was. K-On is not a dramatic show, and it never came close to sadness before this point. But after being with the girls of After-School Tea Time, how can anyone not get a little choked up when listening to their song.
9. Magnum Opus
Your lie in April
Episode 22 – “Spring Wind”
Throughout the Your lie in April story, Kosei Arima and Kaori Miyazono’s music was beautiful. While Kosei was often a worried mess, Kaori was rarely without a smile.
Unfortunately, that smile was on borrowed time.
Kosei had to watch as his dear Kaori underwent a risky, life-or-death surgery. As Kosei took to the stage for the series’ climatic performance, he had to do it alone. Nevertheless, Kosei knew Kaori was with him.
Even though he couldn’t be next to her at the end, Kosei was aware of the moment Kaori passed away, and a shining light went out in the world. Although it was only for their ears, Kosei and Kaori played their best and last piece together.
8. Mother’s Message
Episode 12 – “The Nurse Who Tells Your Death – Mother’s Feelings”
If you are looking for a fantastic horror anime, look no further. Ghost Stories, the Japanese version anyway, is scary. However, in the middle of all the terror and fright, this series proved it was capable of gut-punching tenderness.
In this episode, our main characters had misunderstood the purpose of the ghost they were chasing. What they thought was a spirit of death was actually an angelic messenger.
Satsuki and Keiichirou Miyanoshita’s late mother, Kayako, died long before the start of this series. Before she passed, Kayako wrote her children a letter but was unable to deliver it to them in time. Thus, the task to do so fell to this episode’s nurse ghost.
Additionally, if you’re hoping to avoid tears, you are out of luck. The English dub, which goes in a more satirical direction, hits equally as hard.
7. Yuki’s Ascension
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
Episode 11 – “Dear Yuki”
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 lands a bit harder than most other disaster stories because its premise isn’t farfetched. Should an earthquake, like the one seen in this series, hit a city, there is no reason to think the devastation would be less. There would be destruction everywhere, and many people would lose their lives.
Mirai and Yuki Onozawa’s story stung because not only is it possible, but it has undoubtedly happened in some form.
Although it is not a job they usually ask for, many firstborns feel responsible for their younger siblings, even when in the face of events out of their control. After all, isn’t that what a big brother or sister is supposed to do?
Not only that, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 took things a step further and made Yuki’s death a revelation rather than an event. Once it clicks that Yuki passed on, you find yourself in a desperate scramble to disprove it, but to no avail.
This scenario feels, horrifically, too real.
6. Birthday Letters
Episode 10 – “A Loved One Will Always Watch Over You”
Violet Evergarden is a modern masterpiece, and to suggest it only has one emotional scene could not be more false. Still, the titular Violet’s assignment to transcribe a sickly mother’s documents sticks out.
Although the bulk of this episode’s characters appear in this one instance, you don’t realize how attached you become to them. Then once you learn the true nature of the documents, it’s like a sledgehammer to the heart.
Violet penned letters to her client’s daughter. When the client passed not long after, those letters started arriving. They would continue coming on the daughter’s birthday for the next fifty years.
To make this moment even more hurtful, this was one of the only times the typically stoic Violet broke down in tears.
5. Momiji’s Tale
Episode 14 – “That’s a Secrect”
The tale of the Zodiac curse is not a happy one. Each of the afflicted Soumas suffered because of it. Cruelty, unfairness, spite, and hatred were constants throughout the Fruits Basket story. However, Momiji Souma’s situation, in particular, kneecaps you like no other.
The notion that those who smile the brightest hide the darkest pain could not be truer here.
Momiji’s own mother rejected him from the moment of his birth. She saw him as a monster. The cute little bunny rabbit might as well have been a demon in her eyes. Momiji’s mother even went so far as to alter her memories to no longer live with a connection with her son.
What made it worse – because, yeah, it got worse – Momiji’s mother didn’t exit Momiji’s life. The two had many occasions to interact, but only one of them knew the whole truth of their relationship.
4. Home-Cooked Meal
Episode 8 – “Spiral”
A tear-inducing moment in Erased? MOMENT, singular? No. This show could easily be its own list.
Erased is brilliant but rough.
This scene makes the list over the rest of this series because of its simplicity. Young Kayo Hinazuki, by this point in the story, had gone through so much. All forms of abuse are deplorable, but her situation was worst-case scenario awful. And yet, ideas of violence and neglect, sadly, always come to mind when you think of these types of instances.
But seeing Kayo realize she had never eaten a home-cooked meal, let alone eaten one with people who loved her, was next level heartbreaking.
As a quick reminder, we are only at number four.
3. Final Roll Call
Assassinationn Classroom Season 2
Episode 24 – “Graduation Time”
Oh, look. A silly, fun, slapstick comedy. This is one of those happy-tears moments, right?
Not even close.
Yes, Assassination Classroom is absurdly entertaining and did everything a proper anime comedy should do. The problem is, a good comedy is good primarily because its characters are likable. Koro-sensei and the students of Class 3-E were exactly that.
What’s amazing is, you know this scene is coming. Koro-sensei’s death was the entire point of the show. That didn’t make it any easier, though.
For Koro-sensei to name each of his students individually, it took some time. But instead of growing dull, this scene only got more devastating the longer it went on. Then when the deed actually happened, the dam burst.
2. Menma’s Good-Bye
Episode 11 – “The Flower Blooming on That Summer”
Have a box of tissues at the ready. Sure, this scene is at the very end of Anohana – one of the best shows ever reviewed on Anime Hajime – but when it hits, it hits harder than the Moon falling from the sky.
Menma’s farewell isn’t just a tear-inducer; it is one of the most memorable moments in all anime. If you show us a person who has forgotten this scene, we will show you a liar.
It is insanely challenging to describe what happened here in words. Even just thinking about it is enough to start crying. You could not ask for a more correct, proper, and complete way to end a story.
Menma, we love you, and may you rest in peace.
1. The Death of Nagisa Furukawa
Clannad After Story
Episode 16 – “White Darkness”
Anime Hajime’s founder and editor-in-chief, Odyssey, likes to boast about how he finishes every anime he starts. And it is true. He has completed every show he has ever begun, except for one. Clannad After Story is that one, and this scene is the reason why.
Nagisa had been prone to sickness her entire life. Despite that, she had always wanted to be a proud wife and mother. Although she did the former, the latter lasted all of five minutes. Nagisa lived just long enough to see her daughter before closing her eyes forever.
And that is only a single reason why this scene is so heartbreaking. Trust us; there is so much more.
Without question, the death of Nagisa Furukawa is the number one tear-inducing moment in anime.
This was not an easy list to compile, and that had little to do with ranking these entries. Having to remember all these moments brought back a lot of tears. But then again, that was the whole point, wasn’t it?
There are so many stories in anime, and there is only ever going to be more. Sooner or later, something will come along and resonate with you. When that time arrives, there is no shame in a good cry.
Eventually, this list will need updating. For now, though, these are what we consider to be the Top Tear-Inducing Moments in anime.
But these are just our thoughts. What are yours? What do you think are the top tear-inducing moments in anime? Leave a comment down below because we would love to hear what you have to say.
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