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The 17 Most Tragic Romance Anime

Updated May 14, 2021 35.9k votes 10.5k voters 224.9k views17 items

List RulesVote up the romance anime that ripped out your heart and stomped on it.

Anime is one of the best artistic mediums for romance stories. Between the dramatic storytelling, beautiful art, thematic music, and compelling characters, romance anime can give viewers even more than they bargained for. This is especially true when the anime has parts (or an ending) so sad, you want to crawl into your bed and stay there, crying yourself to sleep in the fetal position forever.

Despite the emotional commitment, few fans regret indulging in tragic romance anime. After all, who would want to miss out on the opportunity to take in a richly romantic story, even if the lovers are destined for tragedy?

  • Kousei Arima of Your Lie in April is a piano prodigy who stops being able to hear music after his abusive mother dies. One day, he meets the free-spirited Kaori Miyazono, who pulls him back into music and helps him genuinely engage with the world around him. 

    As time passes, Kaori and Kousei develop feelings for each other, but neither can admit it. Before they manage to close the gap, Kaori dies of an unidentified illness. What could have been a beautiful relationship never comes to fruition, leaving viewers wondering what might have been.

      Does this romance make you cry?

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    • Despite lacking qualifications, Tsukasa Mizugaki of Plastic Memories lands a job at the Sion Artificial Intelligence Corporation, AKA SAI Corp. SAI Corp develops and produces Giftias, wildly advanced artificial beings who look and act just like ordinary humans. The biggest difference is Giftias can only live for 81,920 hours, or around nine years and four months. When that time elapses, they need to be eliminated, or they lose their memory and become violent.

      When Tsukasa partners with a particularly beautiful Giftias named Isla, they end up falling in love, but the end of Isla's life is fast approaching. You can probably imagine the devastating finale to this story.

        Does this romance make you cry?

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      • Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day centers on a group of friends struggling to cope with the premature death of their companion Menma. Her demise stirs up different feelings in every character, but Jinta takes it particularly hard, as he had fallen in love with Menma but never worked up the courage to tell her.

        Menma sticks around in ghost form, guiding her friends through the stages of grief, helping Jinta come to terms with his love for her, and accepting her own lack of a future.

          Does this romance make you cry?

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        • Hotarubi no Mori e is a lovely, atmospheric film about the relationship between a human named Hotaru and a forest spirit named Gin. Due to the fragility of the magic tying Gin to the mortal realm, he can't touch human skin or he will disappear. Nevertheless, Hotaru and Gin start growing closer, and when romantic feelings develop, their inability to caress one another causes them great pain.

          Eventually, Gin accidentally touches another human, and as he's fading away, the lovers touch for the first and last time.

            Does this romance make you cry?

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