nc#2 – top 10 tragic romances in anime

So here’s the thing; I think it’s quite easy for anime studios to create a good romance, and in fact, there is a lot of good romance anime out there. But do you know what’s not easy? What is harder to create is a perfect romance, or moreover, to create a romantic story that is tragic and keeps the viewers invested at the same time. Because let’s face it; a beautiful story is easier to watch rather than a depressing one, a happy ending is always more appealing than a sad one. But here you are —looking for a good cry, aren’t you?

Well, tonight we have a request from one of our readers, to get us writing about the bittersweet side of romance. And so, here I am giving you the 10 best tragic romances in anime that I have watched! But there is so much anime to choose from, so because of that, here I will only give you the romance stories between the main characters. Since I guess it depends on which perspective you see the story from, every time a support character becomes the love interest of a main character, 99% of the time they always end up with a tragedy.

Anyhow, beware for spoilers! And with all that being said, let us roll..,..

the future diary.

Let’s start with the obvious one; Mirai Nikki aka. The Future Diary is a twisted romance story with quite a number of twisted characters. There are three worlds, alternate realities, and between all that is the showdown between the god of the machine —Deus Ex Machina, the Lord of Time and Space— and the people who play his game.

Taking a closer look, the story is revolving around Yukiteru Amano; a lonely middle school boy who has a problem making friends. He always thinks of himself as a bystander and instead of taking a part, he used to just write down every event he sees in his cell phone that he refers as his diary. Seeing Yuki’s miserable state, Deus grants him an ability called Random Diary which will show him the highly descriptive entries based on his own future, including his possible deaths.

It turns out, Yuki is not the only one whom Deus has granted the special ability; there are also 11 other holders of similarly powerful future diaries. And with that, Deus has forced him to join a bloody battle royale to survive and become the last person standing. “Survival Game,” the god said, and whoever wins the contest shall worthy enough to become the successor to the title of the Lord of Time and Space.

To protect her loved one, enter Gasai Yuno; Yuki’s classmate with a pair of beautiful pink eyes and long pink hair styled in pigtails, two hanging as frontal locks featuring a pair of red bows, together with her back pigtails that she left bare. It was almost afternoon of April 24th, wearing her blue shirt with a ribbon on her chest accompanied by a blue skirt with high socks, she approaches Yuki after school, drag him in and out an elevator, and kiss him full on the mouth … while she actually knows that sooner or later, one of them shall die in the hands of another’s.

The Future Diary is a show where almost every character in it is emotionally broken, and as for Yuki and Yuno, they want to both love and to be loved. Tragic? Yes, absolutely. There so many deaths, drops of blood, and really depressing gestures that don’t only happen to the people around them, but also to themselves, which oftentimes is not according to their own choices. Beside to survive the battle royale, Yuki and Yuno also have to question whether or not it’s really worth winning the game and become a god if it means you have to kill your dearest.

steins;gate.

This show is not all about a romantic relationship, and in fact, romance is not where everything started, but the theme of love is definitely present as something that leads the story down to the end of its first 24 episodes. It follows a group of friends in Akihabara that have managed to customize their microwave into a device that can send text messages into the past. And oblivious of the consequences of their actions, the microwave becomes the catalyst of fundamental alterations to the present … the self-proclaimed ‘mad scientist’ end up creating modifications of grievous proportions.

There are at least six main characters, and they are developed very well. They rotate around the atmosphere of psychological drama, and the theme of sacrifice is accounted heavily for leading the story to an end. And at long last, the so-called catastrophe in the first 24 episodes of the show has become the main reason of the production of Steins;Gate 0 —a sequel which has released this year, seven years after the end of the original Steins;Gate TV series. And in there, our main characters are faced with the trauma of the unhappy conclusion from the previous story.

In case you haven’t watched Steins;Gate, maybe to summarize all the premise that the show has to offer is through all these questions..,.. If you have more than one person in your heart, and you’re able to save one of them from death, would you choose to save them? When the answer is no, would you just let anything happen to them? And if the answer is yes, then who would you save and whom would you let die? ..,..So yeah, in case you’re willing to get depressed, Steins;Gate is a heavyweight champion in that matter.

your lie in april.

Do you think you’ll be able to forget? The time when I’m not holding back, so the people who have heard me will never forget me, so that I can live in their hearts forever; that’s my reason for existing. I am a musician after all, just like you.

I’m a guy who hurried my precious sheet music away. I don’t deserve to be a performer.

And yet, you pick it up again, and you sit before that score. That’s how you create the most beautiful lie of all. We’re only 14, you know? Let’s pull out all the stops, and dive right in!

But my mother..,..

No, look at me! Look up and look at me. You’re always looking down, that’s why you’re imprisoned inside that cage of music scores. Are you still afraid? There you go again; looking down! We’re all afraid, you know … to get up on stage; maybe you’ll mess up, maybe they’ll totally reject you. But even so … you grit your teeth and get up on stage anyway. Something compels us —moves us to play music. Don’t worry, I know you can do it.

She moves me, with such power, like the pounding of my heart.

I can hear your sound. You’re here!

Maybe there’s only a dark road up ahead, but you still have to believe and keep going; believe that the stars will light your path, even a little bit. Come on… let’s go on a journey!

Your Lie in April consists of beautifully arranged piano tones that accompanied with dazzling stirs of a violin. I mean literally, on the surface, the show is all about music. But when you start to get into the characters, you will see the show is not as beautiful as the music they play … honestly, it’s sad. Mainly, our love story is between Kousei and Kaori; one who has a trauma of his past to the point where he has no longer able to perceive differences of piano tones, and another who is bounded by illness, dying and possibly, close to death.

To touch your emotions, Your Lie in April uses beautiful sets of musical tones in representing the shape of what the characters are feeling, and it resulting in a compelling, tragic, while also a relatable tale at the same time. Your relationship being limited by illness is something that is too sad to be true, and even with just that, my friend, is definitely enough tragic premise to get you watching this show. But of course, it’s not stopped just there —make sure you leave enough fatigue to continue watching as further plot twists and turns will make you struggling on the edge of your sit … prepare some tissues too, we all know you’ll need it.

into the forest of fireflies’ light.

Hotarubi no Mori e aka. Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light, is not exactly a full-length movie since the runtime is only 44 minutes long, but it’s a simple yet beautiful piece of a story that every anime lover needs to watch. By the way, I’m a huge fan of its theme song, the one which is titled “Hotaru” by Fujita Maiko, and this is the first verse of that song..,..

In the midst of the wet season, today after the rain
A lukewarm wind, blows through the quiet night streets
Summer draws near..,..
Shining with light, it steals my gaze
I want to hold it, I want to try touching it
You are just like this firefly..,..

Imagine that you fell in love with someone, and that someone you fell in love with is there, standing there … you’re free to talk to them, walk together, laugh together, having fun at a festival together with them. But one thing; you cannot touch them. Because once their touched by someone like you, they will disappear. You cannot hug them, cannot kiss them, cannot hold their hands even though they are closer than everyone in your life. So … just let that limitation sink in for a moment, and understand what it feels to love someone that you cannot ever feel the warmth of their hands.

So yeah, the movie has a very simple premise while it’s told from a very ‘personal’ perspective. As a matter of fact, you can easily guess how the movie will end as you’re watching halfway through it. But the movie feels very-very personal, and so when you reach that end, I believe that you’ll feel the depth of feelings where the climax tries to guide you to. And yeah, it reaches quite deep to the bottom of your heart, maybe even will leave a little scar there.

plastic memories.

I imagined that I will run out of anime titles to be mentioned in this list, so I asked my friends on Twitter to fill in the dead end. That being said, the next two anime recommendations in this list are here thanks to the anime fellows on Twitter. For one … this is Plastic Memories, an anime which I just watched last week in order to be able to talk about the show right now. As for my first impression, in case you’re curious, the show isn’t really exactly for me. But the internet loves it, I even appreciate the base premise where the show takes off, and it has the 8 out of 10 scores in MyAnimeList.net. So, why not? Let’s talk about this!

In the near future, androids are looked exactly like normal human beings, and thanks to the android production company called SAI Corp. that’s been producing a new kind of androids that have the most amount of emotion and human-like qualities out of any other model ever produced, their androids that are called Giftia are now beginning to spread across the world. However, due to the problem that always comes together with new technologies, Giftia has a service expiration, and once they pass that expiry date, they need to be repatriated and their memory needs to be erased.

The story follows Mizugaki Tsukasa, an 18-year-old who doesn’t have any knowledge about Giftia, yet he just enrolling in the Terminal Service as their new employee. Terminal Service is a sub-department of the SAI Corp. that produce the kind of androids, and their job is to collect every android which soon will pass their lifespan. In that department, Tsukasa is partnered with Isla, a female and veteran Giftia with twin-tails and has a childish appearance which causes those around her to feel the fleetingness of life. But still, she’s a Giftia, and while Tsukasa partnered with her bounds them to get closer to each other … one day, Tsukasa shall say goodbye as Isla will get her lifespan run out and every memory they create together will disappear.

As an anime savvy, I think Plastic Memories has failed me in building the realistic background of almost everything that happened in the story. But if you only concern about the romance, the relationship between Tsukasa and Isla, the dynamic between the two … then I think you’ll have a great time watching the show. As for the low-key sentiment that the last episode is trying to lead you to, I think it’s pretty great —respite for me personally it’s kinda biased.

With all that being said, if you’re desperate for a good cry one night, I might recommend Plastic Memories. {emot}

ef – a tale of memories.

This one, I pretty much agree with the average score that the anime community has given towards the show.

The story follows three protagonists and their dynamics with the girls they meet and gradually fall in love with. But not only them, if you count on how many romantic stories that exist in this show, there are also five couples with five male characters and five female characters. The writing for this show is very constructive in creating a show that is so amusing to watch, a show that is beautiful yet depressing at the same time.

It starts with Asou Renji meeting Shidou Chihiro at an abandoned train station one day after his school, and returns to the same station several days later in a row only to see her again, until finally they declare a friendship on the third day. While in the centre of the city, Tsutsumi Kyousuke who is out with his girlfriend on a Christmas night is distracted by the figure of Shindou Kei, but a passing truck spoils his shot to know more about her. And on the other side of the city, Hirono Hiro meets with Miyamura Miyako who steals his bike in order to pursuit a purse snatcher, but Hiro manages to catch up to her even though the bike is crashed, they wind up spending the Christmas night together on the beach.

That, my friend, is only the things that happen in the first episode. And from there, the story develops even further to where we can explore the mindset of each character in the story, to explore their perspective, to understand what love means to them. The story is beautiful, and even though it’s a show from 11 years back, the production value is still worth enough to adore.

ef: A Tale of Memories. is produced by the famous Japanese animation studio Shaft, and with that, the aesthetic quality that the show has to offer is no longer needs to be called into doubt. Maybe the visual design is a little bit boring, but at least it’s consistent and the quality never dropped throughout the end. The same as its soundtrack, the show even uses three pieces of ending themes to mirror the three main couples in the story. And by the way, one of the three ending animations is so therapeutic for me, it’s almost too good to be skipped.

Even with only watching the first season so far, the experience has been so wonderful for me. I heard that there are sequels and even special episodes that act as a prequel to this story … and I can’t wait to watch them all! Yes, it is tragic and you may cry a few times even before you reach the last episode, but it’s also beautiful and so melodramatic to experience, moreover if you’re willing to let your heart be burdened by heavy emotions like mine, ef: A Tale of Memories. is exactly for you. 🙂

lily bear storm.

From the classic vibe that the previous list had to offer, Lily Bear Storm aka. Yurikuma Arashi is the newer show that’s released three years ago. It has more colour and reaches more audiences, but it’s also not exactly focused only to give you a good cry; yes it is tragic, yes it is a drama, yes that it will touch your psychological realm, but it’s also a rather wild fantasy and deals with a romantic relationship between girls. Yurikuma Arashi might be the show for you, but also maybe not; so with that being said, ladies and gents, I hope you know the procedure in dealing with this genre. 😁 Here’s for the short synopsis..,..

Humans have created a line called the Wall of Severance to separate themselves from the bears who grew violent and attacked humans after a far-off planet known as Kumaria exploded, turning into a meteor shower that fell upon the earth. Two bears, Yurishiro Ginko and Yurigasaki Lulu, sneak through the Wall of Severance and disguise themselves as humans, enrolling in Arashigoka Academy and taking an interest in a human girl named Tsubaki Kureha, who despises bears so much.

From the beginning, we hated each other, but we also loved you from the beginning as well. All we wanted was to become true friends with you, so so we had to cross the wall. She said that as long as I don’t forget love, I will never ever be truly alone, and if I don’t give up on love even if I lose something, I will never be invisible. And now, my friend is waiting just on the other side of that very door. If I smash the me in this mirror to bits, if I tear myself apart, she shall grant me the promised kiss!

paradise kiss.

Separation is something that no one can avoid when he or she is in a relationship. But do you know what else that would determine a romance between a couple? It is the acceptance for all the changes that happen to your partner, or likewise when your loved one decides that he won’t change even though he’s now in a relationship with you. Even after you sacrifices your life, dropped from school, to even got in a fight with your parents only to satisfy him … he’s still cold and never have you in his first priority. If this happens to you, what would you do then?

It seemed to be a comedy, but I will definitely cry.

— Hayasaka Yukari.

That is the last sentence that had been said in the last episode of this series. For me, the story was solid and the show really deserves more attention from the current anime viewers. It doesn’t really play with your emotions despite it happens to have a sad ending … and as for who the characters are and what kind of life they are living in, I will let you explore that yourself when you watch the show. So with that being said, go watch Paradise Kiss if you think you can spare a few teardrops before you go to sleep tonight. 😂

romeo x juliet.

This is a story of a young and tragic love, set in the aerial city of Neo Verona where Tyranny rules the island in the sky after the Montague family took control 14 years prior. As the earth dries and water stagnates, the disparity among the wealthy and the poor is apparent in the present state, even the sky itself is wrapped in a deep dense fog. Both Romeo and Juliet’s lineages are of present and past ruling families of Neo Verona; Romeo is the son of the current Montague dictator, while the last descendant of Capulet —Juliet— masquerades as a man, and even her own true background is not to be revealed to herself until her 16th birthday. With that, the cruel hands of fate introduce two people who will become the Star-Crossed Lovers.

As we all know, the original Romeo and Juliet is a tale filled with tragedies that is written by William Shakespeare. The tale exists among Shakespeare’s most popular plays during his lifetime, and along with the tale of “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,” Romeo and Juliet is one of his most frequently performed plays to date. Even in today modern culture, the title characters are regarded as the archetypal young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families.

Yeah, who thinks that this tragic tale only exists in real life? Well, guess what? It actually adapted into an anime too! So even though the tale here is also flavoured by fantasy, but it’s still historical and is still a tragic romance story in its core. So, now that you’re looking for a tragic romance, Romeo x Juliet might be the one for you! 💖

… honourable mentions …

I really want to lists also 5 Centimeters Per Second, but I don’t think it’s really proper to mention the movie again back to back after I listed in the previous post. For your information, I wrote my first anime listing a while back and I took the theme of romance as well … and yes, as you’ve guessed it, 5 Centimeters Per Second is there as one movie that I gave praises the most. So in this section, I shall give you a few titles that I really love but unfortunately aren’t making it to this list.

  • 5 centimeters per second.
    Undoubtedly, this is one of my firsts go-to every time I needed a good cry.
  • angel beats!
    One of the first anime that I have watched, and definitely one of the reasons why I fell in love with this fandom. Not the greatest romance story, but the last episode is definitely tragic and heartbreaking. I cried a lot, and it’s absolutely worth a rewatch.
  • anohana: the flower we saw that day.
    This TV series is a little bit far from the genre, but it takes the theme of romance right off the bat and executed it brilliantly. In case you’re looking for a heavy character drama; a lot of searching, a lot of running, a lot of yelling, and a lot of tears raining … AnoHana is definitely the show you need to watch.
  • from the new world.
    Besides Clannad, Shinsekai yori is hands down one of the best coming of age anime of all time, and I think this definition is enough words to explain where this show will get you to. Oh, what’s that? You have watched all the shows above? Well then, I think it’s the time for you to watch this one!
  • nana.
    When you’re ready for a mature drama, when you’re ready to be exposed to a hard and cruel world, especially if you have a shoujo soul in yourself, Nana is the series you have to watch next. You’re more than welcomed to read our review to get at least a scope of what Nana represents (click here).

clannad ~after story~

Just like before, I saved the best for last. Clannad: After Story is the sequel of the Clannad series. This franchise is a major go and must watch for anyone who’s into romance and a realistic drama of a young couple’s everyday experience. The first instalment is also a major go even though it doesn’t contain any plot point that can be categorized as tragic, though still, it’s beautiful and touching, so colourful with comedy and a lot of characters, with high school as its background world that is established beautifully as well.

I haven’t reviewed this franchise in #moe404, which it seems that it’s hard for me to talk about any movie and series that has touched my heart so deep. Because every time I saw a clip of Clannad even though it’s just a few seconds, in YouTube for example, I always felt the warmth that suddenly cracked out from inside my heart. I’m totally a crybaby, so most of the time I have no choice but keep off all touchy things like Clannad from myself. But definitely, when the time is right and I’m ready to ride that emotional roller coaster once again, Clannad is definitely one of the rewatches experience that I would enjoy the most.

After Story begins by following Okazaki Tomoya as he’s completing high school and begin his life with Nagisa, to whom he has professed his love. It was the last day of Summer vacation and the second semester will soon be started. It’s a wonderful story, a lot of smiles, a lot of jokes, a lot of games, and a lot of friends colouring their day to day life. As for Tomoya’s personal life, even though he’s already been together with Nagisa for quite some time, he’s still searching for the true meaning of love, together with his best friend, Sunohara Youhei.

A lot of stories happened throughout their last year on high school, from a dying boy who wants to keep his promise on granting someone’s wish, a ghost in the form of a cat, problems with gangs in the city, there’s even a fight scene that may make your eyes burst in tears … but what most beautiful is of course, the moment when Tomoya and Nagisa taking a walk together while holding each other’s hand. And while their early life as a couple begins, Tomoya decides to be more independent and works toward his personal goals, especially when his future wife has an illness that can last for nine months.

Together with Nagisa, Tomoya eventually moves out from Nagisa’s parents’ home to a small apartment of his own. But starting an independent life from the ground up is not as easy as everyone’s planned it, he’s often late for his date and is starting to become too busy to sustain a healthy relationship with Nagisa. But in one Christmas, Tomoya begins to gather his courage in consideration of his decision to marry Nagisa. For one, Nagisa receives her diploma after the surprise graduation that Tomoya organized together with their friends and previous classmates. And after that, they finally get married. And shortly after, Nagisa is revealed to be pregnant.

As Nagisa’s pregnancy develops, she becomes increasingly bedridden, and Tomoya’s struggle to cope with Nagisa’s continued and seemingly worsening illness. Tomoya is then working as an electrician to support Nagisa and himself, and as he wanted to prove his worth, he must leave Nagisa during the day even though she is cared for with the help of her parents. But eventually, Tomoya opts to quit his job in order to spend more time with Nagisa, until she finally gives birth to a daughter which they named her Ushio.

Right after the childbirth, however, Nagisa dies.

Meeting you was the best thing that ever happened to me. You made me so happy. From here on out, I don’t want you to be lost or afraid or anything like that. I know things might be hard sometimes, but no matter what, please don’t ever regret the time we spent together.

— Furukawa Nagisa.

Now, this is definitely a tragedy —though that is just enough spoiler for you to touch the realm of sadness that Clannad: After Story has to offer, I don’t want to spoiler it for you too much after all. But if you’re ready to touch this warm yet wet realm, I highly recommend you to watch the first original series of Clannad before you jump into the After Story.

I think Clannad is one of a few franchises which didn’t require my feeling to reach out to touch its realm, because everything seems already so beautifully crafted and the show itself has stamped so many meanings on the bottom of my heart. I touched … I struggled … I cried. Therefore once again, if you need a good cry one night, and you haven’t touched the realm of Clannad, I suggest you start watching this right away.

And that’s it, thank you for reading this top 10!

And hei hei hei, it’s your friend nesha. 😎 I want to give shout-outs to everybody who follows us on Twitter, and also a special shout-out to Fred who had hit us up in our Ko-fi tip jar. For your information, this top 10 wouldn’t exist without the $3 dollar donation from him on our Ko-fi button. So once again, a special shout-out to Fred!

In case you have a request —probably an anime to be reviewed or a topic to be discussed— you can hit us up on our Ko-fi page. We will be happy to write all about it for you, and when you do that, you will be supporting #moe404 at the same time as our current goals are to boost our site with a custom domain and remove all the WordPress.com’s advertising. And yes, you can make a request and help us to achieve those goals!

click here to read our review of The Future Diary | click here to search the entire blog for “Steins;Gate” | click here to read our review of Angel Beats! | and click here to read our review of Nana

Well, I know that I haven’t reviewed roughly 85% anime series in this list, but I hope someday I will! Anyhow, do hit me in the comments; which tragic romance that you have watched so far, and tell me everything about it! And also, are you interested in watching the rest of the series in this list? Or is tragic romances not your thing? Let me know!

That being said, once again, thank you for reading this! Keep watching anime, and I’ll see you again in the next one! Bai-bai now~

© written by nesha5971
proofreaded by thistrippyhippy
featured images are credited to カントク
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19 responses to “nc#2 – top 10 tragic romances in anime

  1. Anohana and Pastic Memories are the shows that hit me most in the feels, from your list. Clannad has some crushing moments too, but thankfully they get undone by the end.

  2. I found Hotarubi no Mori e super tragic. Can you imagine waiting that long for someone you love and when you finally touch them they disappear? Super sad 😦
    If I had to add to the list, it would definitely be Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle

  3. Your Lie in April left me curled up in a fetal position weeping uncontrollably.

    I dropped Clannad Afterstory because I could see what was coming and I didn’t want to end up like that again. It could temporarily destroy me.

    Angel Beats had me a little wispy. Never saw anything in Nana the anime to cry about. I guess the manga got a little farther. Anohana left me a little misty eyed but nothing serious. Currently watching “From the New World” so no judgement there.

    I get weepy for strange reasons and odd anime. Kimi ni Todoke had me down for the count and it has a happy ending. Last 2 episodes of H20: Footprints exhausted my tear ducts and most people don’t consider that a very good show. (I find high levels of alcohol enhance weepiness.)

    I think the Franco Zeffirelli’s R&J film was the best adaptation ever. Didn’t make me cry but left me stunned by the performance. West Side Story was incredible as well. Even Leonardo DiCaprio did a great job in Romeo + Juliette. An anime version would have some very big shoes to fill.

    Madoka Magika almost coaxed a few tears out. But not quite.

    When someone I care about dies, I believe it. When the deceased returns by magical fiat, I don’t believe it. It is either the imagination of the bereaved character creating a delusion to keep from feeling the pain or the author suddenly realized he can’t go thru with it and has to backtrack. Dead is dead and there is no coming back – unless you are undead.

    • that is quite interesting, we all have different things that trigger sadness in us and yes, I agree that I don’t believe when they come back from death but I make myself believe that to give a break to my tear ducts =’3

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