Japanese TV animation and movies are still in great demand, not only because they include many genres, such as dark fantasy, slice of life, comedy, space opera, medieval epic, action, horror, and puberty. romance, but also for their in-depth depiction of the human psyche and attention to detail, from simple household chores, to colorful symbolism, to meaningful dialogue.

Many of these stories deal with painful themes, such as loss, mental health, terminal illness, war, or a parent’s estrangement, often leaving viewers with a lump in their throat. Fans of the genre are still reeling from classic and recent series like sweet candyAnd princess SarahAnd orangeAnd Plastic memoriesor Banana fish.

If you don’t mind a good cry, here’s a selection of depressing and upsetting ones animeMovies that will take you on an emotional whirl, sink into your heart, and either end sadly or end with a frustrating open-ended score.

Warning: spoilers ahead.

Today’s movie

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10 Into the Forest of Firefly Lights (2011)

brain base

Directed by Takahiro Omori, it is a 44-minute supernatural romance To the forest of firefly lights It follows six-year-old Hotaru as she finds herself lost in a mountain god’s forest during her summer vacation, and is then rescued by a masked spirit living there named Jin. The two will develop an unexpected but lasting bond and meet each summer, but are never able to kiss or hug, as djinns are doomed to disappear at the first human touch.

Years pass, and Hotaru’s longing grows stronger, until they both realize that their feelings run deeper than this mostly long-distance friendship. While on a date at a jungle festival, Jin inadvertently touches a human boy; Hotaru finally lets themselves share an embrace, before fading away.

Despite being relatively short, this dreamy anime will leave viewers sighing and nostalgic for their unfulfilled coming-of-age stories.

Related: The 20 Most Rewatchable Animated Movies of All Time

9 Kids Chasing Lost Voices (2011)

Children chasing lost sounds
Media Factory

Also known as Journey to AgarthaFantasy adventure and romance movie Children chasing lost sounds Written and directed by Makoto Shinkai. Still reeling from her father’s death, Asuna spends her free time listening to the strange music broadcast on the old radio, waiting for her mother to come home from her long shifts at the hospital. While she is out for a walk one day, she is attacked by a strange creature and is rescued by a teenage boy named Shun. Grateful, she tends to the latter’s wounds, and he reveals that he is from a place called Agartha, which, as she later discovers, is a mysterious realm beneath the surface that holds a gateway to life and death. Just after she left, Sean threw himself off a ledge, and his body was found the next morning. Asuna and her mentor Morisaki, desperate to bring his wife Lisa back from the dead, will find themselves in Agartha and will have to make difficult choices.

“I heard a voice telling me to live and accept loss. You should have heard it, too. It is the curse that we humans must endure.”

8 Angel’s Egg (1985)

Angel egg
Dean Studio

Angel egg Seems like some kind of nightmare half remember. The kind of dream that stays in your mind for weeks. It is an inkblot examination of religious motifs, existential philosophy, and suggestive world-building that resists divination while remaining inescapably ambiguous.”

Film school refuses

Directed by Mamoru Oshii, this is a surreal science fiction fantasy Angel egg It runs for 71 minutes. Although it contains little dialogue, it is bound to make a lasting impression, as it is set in a post-apocalyptic, rundown, abandoned city and centers on a pair of semi-amnesiac survivors: a girl with a giant, mysterious egg around her and a hardened boy, And how they search for food and escape from cyborgs.

7 Hull (2013)

Hull (2013)

Produced by Wit Studio and directed by Ryōtarō Makihara, the science fiction romance Hal It focuses on Kurumi, who is heartbroken after her boyfriend, the titular character, is killed in a plane crash. As she shuts everyone out, her worried grandfather sends her the Q01 robot at his wish. Can Kurumi continue her relationship with a robot, or will she uncover a more heartbreaking truth while dealing with her depression?

6 Perfect blue

Perfect blue
Rex Entertainment

Directed by Satoshi Kon, psychological thriller Perfect blue Dive between reality and illusion. The plot centers around Mima Kirigo, a former Japanese pop star who transitions into acting. After shooting a rape scene that leaves her deeply upset, she begins to show symptoms of psychosis and paranoia, and several people around her are brutally murdered. Is it the killer? Or is someone else pulling her strings and fueling her mental breakdown? The ending is open to interpretation, and the movie serves as a reminder about the toll the entertainment industry takes on artists, and how fans can turn into toxic and dangerous stalkers.

5 5 cm per second (2007)

5 centimeters per second
crazy entertainment

Romantic drama written and directed by Makoto Shinkai 5 centimeters per second It spans three parts, each set after a period in the life of the protagonist, Takaaki. At the center of it all is his on-off relationship with Akari, his school friend who turns out to be the girl of his dreams. This sad story explores the passage of time, and how circumstances separate even the closest of companions, until they grow too far apart, too late to reunite happily ever after. The film won Best Animated Feature Film at the 2007 Asia Pacific Screen Awards and received generally positive reviews, prompting IMDB The user writes, “The film primarily explores themes of distance and loneliness, though it does so in a bland way that is akin to reminiscing about your fondest memories at sunrise, rather than resorting to darkness and gloom.”

4 Ride Your Wave (2019)

Ride your wave

Directed by Masaaki Yuasa, the supernatural romance Ride your wave It won Best Animated Feature at the Shanghai International Film Festival and the Fantasia International Film Festival. When her seaside building caught fire, 19-year-old Hinako was rescued by a brave and kind firefighter. It’s the beginning of a sweet relationship, until Minato is killed while saving a drowning jet ski racer. Heartbroken, Hinako runs away from the beach. She finds hope again when she realizes that Minato can still interact with her through any body of water… only to be startled again the day she sang their favorite song near a fountain and realize that his spirit has already ascended and she can no longer be with her.

3 I want to eat your pancreas (2018)

I want to eat your pancreas (2018)

Written and directed by Shinichiro Ushijima, a coming-of-age drama I want to eat your pancreas It does not deal with cannibalism or horror, contrary to what its name suggests, but rather with the terminal pancreatitis of a teenage girl, and a co-worker who sets himself the task of helping her tick off her bucket list. Viewers may eventually come to terms with her inevitable death, but are shocked and distraught by an unexpected turn of events.

2 Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

The Tragedy of War is based on the personal experience of novelist Akiyuki Nosaka, written and directed by Isao Takahata, and animated by Studio Ghibli. Grave of the Fireflies It won the Animation Jury Award and the Children’s Rights Award at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival in 1994. The story revolves around Seita, a teenager, and his four-year-old sister Setsuko, and their heartbreaking attempts to survive World War II. After losing their mother to severe burns, they move in with their hostile aunt and then into an abandoned asylum, where they bring in the fireflies for some comforting light. But the insects die and bury them in disappointment. With food scarce, Sita begins stealing from neighboring farms, until he is caught and violently beaten. Eventually, Setsuko dies of malnutrition; Sita cremates her and places her ashes in a tin chest, which he carries with him until his death a few months later.

Related: Grave of the Fireflies: Why It’s One of the Saddest Movies Ever Made

1 The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen (1975)

The little mermaid 1975
Toei Corporation

Long before Disney’s Ariel did Fun Under the Sea, had her unfortunate encounter with Ursula, and had her happy ending with Eric, Hans Christian Andersen’s Toei adaptation. the little Mermaid In hand-drawn 2D animation, supervised by Tomoharu Katsumata. In this version, the titular character is called Marina (which means “sea”), has long blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes, and is best friends with the dolphin Fritz. After she saves Prince Fjord from a shipwreck and leaves him on the beach, he is found by a mysterious black-haired princess, and mistakenly believes he owes her his life.

Meanwhile, Marina searches for the sea witch and asks her to turn her into a human; The witch agrees, asking for her beautiful voice in return, but warns her that if the prince marries another, she will turn to sea foam the next morning. Now fully human, she rises to the shore, where Fjord finds her, and then brings her to his castle. they spend a happy month together; He is infatuated with this silent beauty, which upsets his parents. Believing that she has bewitched him and fearing that he will marry her, they lock her up. Meanwhile, they invite a foreign princess to court, and Fjord “recognizes” her as the girl who “saved” him; He completely forgets about his guest and gets caught up in the wedding preparations with the princess.

Distraught, Marina calls Fritz. On the wedding night, he brings her a sea witch’s magic dagger and gives her this message: to become a mermaid again, she must stab the strait through her heart and let his blood touch her feet before dawn. So, bursting into his chambers, Marina found him sleeping peacefully with his bride and, after a short struggle, kissed him and threw the dagger into the sea. Suddenly Fjord wakes up and calls for her, but she leaps into the water, her body dissolving into foam as the sun rises. He realizes she was the one and regrets her death.

“It is only through my death that I can keep my love for the prince true and pure. I want to be with him and around him, always, even if only in the form of clear, fine sea foam.”

Movie opening title yearning and song The person you’ve been waiting for Beautifully echoes the general somber and dreamy mood.


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