Just because anime characters care about each other doesn't mean they can stay together forever. Sometimes they have no choice but to part ways, and when they do, it's emotionally devastating. The saddest anime goodbyes are a surefire way to make viewers sob uncontrollably.
These heartbreaking farewells can involve people who may never see each other again, like when Osuzu has to separate from Jin to save her own life in Samurai Champloo. Or they are occasionally temporary, like when Yusuke Makishima has one last race with Sakamichi Onoda before moving to England in Yowamushi Pedal. The goodbyes don't have to involve humans - it's hard not to cry when the Straw Hats pay their final respects to Going Merry in One Piece.
Make sure you have tissues handy before you read on - there's a good chance you'll need them if you're familiar with these tragic scenes.
Though Going Merry is a boat, she's as important to the Straw Hats as any human crew member. She has her own voice, personality, and individual relationships with the crew. Sadly, she eventually sustains so much damage from countless violent encounters she can no longer function and needs a replacement.
To commemorate her loss, the Straw Hats give Going Merry a Viking funeral, crying hysterically and apologizing for their failure to maintain her properly. Merry blames herself, asking for forgiveness for failing to continue the adventure. She recalls memories of her time with the Straw Hats. If you never thought you'd cry over a boat, you will after watching this classic One Piece scene.
Angel Beats! is known for stirring up strong emotions, but no scene is more sentimental than the one where Yuzuru Otonashi and Kanade Tachibana part ways. Yuzuru realizes he loves Kanade and wants her to help him with his newly discovered purpose: assisting teenagers to accept they've died and moved on from their purgatory-like world.
Sadly, Kanade can't help him - she has to die and enter the next world herself. She does so after she learns Yuzuru is the person providing her with heart transplant materials, allowing her to live another few years. After thanking him, she disappears, leaving Yuzuru a desolate mess.
If the song during the near-farewell scene doesn't make your eyes well up, you probably don't have functioning tear ducts. "Pikachu's Goodbye" is one of the saddest episodes in Pokémon history. Ash decides to release Pikachu because he thinks his beloved partner would prefer living with other Pikachu.
While Pikachu ultimately decides to stay with Ash, the idea of possible separation from his best friend is too much to handle. This song makes it twice as emotional.
While Digimon Adventure does end on a somewhat positive note, the parting scene between the children and their Digimon partners is rough. Because the gate between the Digital World and the human world would seemingly close permanently, the kids only have two hours to spend with their Digimon partners before separating forever.
The episode cycles through various farewell scenes. Some, like Sora's heartfelt description of how Biyomon helped her grow closer to her mother, involve a genuine emotional exchange. Others involve trading jokes, staring into space, or simply crying. Palmon can't bear to say goodbye, so she avoids Mimi during the two hours, but she shows up at the last minute to run after the train as the kids depart.
As Mimi's hat sails into the air, viewers of the dub hear the intro theme song "Hey Digimon;" Japanese viewers, however, hear "Butterfly." No matter which version you're watching, the opening chords will definitely make you emotional.