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15 Anime With Bittersweet Endings

List Rules
Vote up the anime that you found to be the most bittersweet at the end.

While they may break your heart, there's no denying the everlasting impact that anime with bittersweet endings have on you. Not every anime series can end on a happily ever after, nor should they. For Spike Spiegel in Cowboy Bebop, his happily ever after is snatched away from him by the life he tried to leave behind. In the anime Erased, Satoru Fujinuma's victory over the mysterious slayer comes at the cost of his youth. These stories and more deliver a bitter pill to swallow for the viewer, but they serve as great inspirational tales that will stick with you forever.

These memorable anime series told their stories exactly as they needed to be told, in order to get their powerful message across. Love it or hate it, there's no denying the beauty in these tragic endings.  

 
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  • 1
    3,831 VOTES

    Your Lie in April is a romantic melodrama about two teenaged prodigies inspiring each other to live out their lives. Kousei Arima gave up the piano after losing his mother, but thanks to his friendship with the free-spirited violinist, Kaori Miyazono, he overcomes his trauma and takes up the piano once again.

    However, despite Kosei inspiring Kaori to not give up on life because of her illness, the surgery that had a small chance of saving her life fails. Kousei not only loses Kaori, but learns she secretly loved him, despite her public affection for his best friend. 

    3,831 votes
  • 2
    2,475 VOTES

    Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann had its sad moments, no doubt, but the sci-fi mecha series was more about inspiring its audiences with masculine speeches and over-the-top action scenes. That is until it came to the series finale.

    After their victory against the Anti-Spirals, the all-grown-up Simon and Nia Teppelin are about to finally tie the knot. However, because of Nia's existence being tied to the now destroyed Anti-Spiral, her existence is wiped out on the day of her wedding. Despite being denied a happy life with his true love, Simon calmly accepts her passing, while using the happy memories he shared with her to continue living for a brighter day. 

    2,475 votes
  • 3
    2,618 VOTES
    Cowboy Bebop
    Photo: Funimation

    The last two episodes of Cowboy Bebop deviate from its usual formula. Instead of another episodic bounty-hunting adventure, "The Real Folk Blues, Part I and Part 2," focuses on Spike Spiegel finally dealing with his past life as a part of the Red Dragon syndicate. He's briefly reunited with his forbidden lover, Julia, before she's slain by Spike's former friend and newly appointed syndicate leader, Vicious.

    After an emotional - and heated - goodbye between his bounty hunting friends, Spike marches into the syndicate headquarters with both guns blazing. Spike succeeds in taking out Vicious but ultimately succumbs to his injuries. As the remaining syndicate members close in on Spike, he points his finger like a gun, says "Bang," then collapse on the floor. While Spike could never escape his past life, he was finally free from it in that moment, and even then, he stayed calm and cool until the very end. 

    2,618 votes
  • 4
    1,499 VOTES

    "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." That good, old-fashion quote by Lord Tennyson summarizes the bittersweet anime ending of Plastic Memories beautifully.

    The sci-fi romcom about a college dropout named Tsukasa Mizugaki and a female android named Isla is built on short-lived love. Despite the two's strong feelings for one another, Isla's expiration date is nearing its end. While Tsukasa doesn't get the long happy future with Isla, he is forever thankful for the chance encounter that brought them together. 

    1,499 votes
  • The visual novel-inspired series Clannad: After Story continues the blossoming romance between Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa where the previous series left off. The two high school lovebirds are now enjoying adulthood as a married couple.

    However, Nagisa passes during childbirth, causing Tomoya to go through a severe state of depression. He eventually recovers for his daughter, Ushio, but she too is taken away from him by the same illness that claimed her mother. Staying true to its visual novel roots, Clannad: After Story does have an alternate happy ending that allows Tomoyo to be with his family. 

    1,689 votes
  • 6
    2,214 VOTES

    Erased is an enthralling mystery built around the supernatural power of time travel. Satoru Fujinuma's takes his mysterious powers to the limit by time traveling 18 years into the past, to discover the identity of a slayer that took the life of someone dear to him and many others.

    In the end, Satoru was successful in capturing the culprit. However, the path that took him to victory robbed him of 12 years of his life through a coma. He not only sacrificed his youth but a chance at love with his childhood friend as well. 

    2,214 votes