1.3k voters

Ranking Every Major Shonen Anime By How Sad They Are

October 12, 2020 8.9k votes 1.3k voters 21.8k views25 items

Though they might be invigorating and action-packed, shonen anime can be incredibly sad. Whether it's because of a beloved character's tragic demise, a particularly painful backstory, or devasting plot development, there are moments in your favorite shonen anime that will make you cry buckets.

What are the saddest shonen anime? Your mileage may vary - we all have unique emotional landscapes, and what makes one person cry will leave another dry-eyed. But there are shows that contain unbelievably painful moments. One example is Naruto, a series that appears cheerful, but is about child soldiers whose lives are torn apart by war. There's also The Seven Deadly Sins, a show in which the protagonist's goal is to bring his cursed life to a close, and The Ancient Magus' Bride, which is themed around its protagonist's experience with abuse and trauma. There are also a few shonen anime that don't fit what we think of as shonen but technically count, like Your Lie In April, which is known for being a tearjerker. 

Which of these shonen anime hurt your heart the most? 

  • Photo: Lerche

    If you haven't seen Assassination Classroom or heard about its reputation, you probably don't think it's sad. It's about a giant tentacle monster training kids to be assassins, that's just ridiculous, not sad. But once Koro-sensei's backstory is actually revealed, and you experience his last moments with the children who have come to love him, you'll see what we mean.

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  • Naruto features a protagonist who lost his parents due to an incredibly violent event, had a monster sealed inside of his body, and then was isolated by his community for it. The other protagonist's entire family was viciously annihilated because his thirteen-year-old brother was forced to by the government. Just about every character is a child soldier, and some are so broken by constant warfare that they think the only solution is wiping out civilization. Tons of beloved characters pass away. That's not even a small percentage of it - we could write a whole book about how sad Naruto gets. 

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  • The Promised Neverland has a super sad premise: kids being fed to demons by a woman who they thought loved them like a mother. Things get even sadder when you learn how that woman got started on that path in the first place.

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  • 8

    One Piece

    Though generally cheerful in tone, One Piece has some seriously miserable moments. With such a long and complex series, it's impossible to list them all. Here are a few examples: Nico Robin being the sole survivor of an island that was destroyed to suppress knowledge, Trafalgar Law losing nearly everyone he loved to either a plague or an abusive response to that plague, and Ace passing away. The show even manages to make the destruction of the Straw Hat's boat seem emotionally devastating. 

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