Great storytelling can conjure all manner of emotions out of an audience, but there’s something about the beauty and style of anime that manages to push the bar just that much further. Instead of smiling, we laugh. Instead of crying, we openly weep. When it comes to driving in that final nail into your heart, these titles accomplish it so effortlessly that you’ll swear rivers are pouring out of your eyes by the time the credits rolls.
Fair warning, there are MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
#10: “Hotarubi no Mori e” (2011)
A young girl finds a friend and eventual love interest with a spirit. However, should he ever be touched, he will fade from this world forever. You can see where this is going.
#9: “Stand by Me Doraemon” (2014)
This robotic cat is a childhood icon to multiple generations back in Japan, so a film that sees him supposedly leave forever was bound to get the waterworks flowing.
#8: “Wolf Children” (2012)
After losing her werewolf lover, a young mother does what she can to provide a new life for her hybrid children, all the while trying to keep their identities secret.
#7: “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” (2006)
When she discovers she can rewind time, Makoto thinks she’s been given the best gift in the world, only to discover that her actions have dire, irreversible consequences.
#6: “Whisper of the Heart” (1995)
A young girl finds her dream of becoming an author slowly slipping away as she discovers the frustrations that come with growing up.
#5: “The Wind Rises” (2013)
Miyazaki’s biographical snapshot of aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi not only gives us a tragic romance but also a terrible sense of foreboding as World War I approaches.
#4: “Millennium Actress” (2001)
An ageing actress gives a rare interview, and through flashbacks inter-cut with her filmography, we’re treated to the heartbreaking look at how fame and fortune can steal the light out of a person.
#3: “Your Name” (2016)
A love story like no other. As two teens from polar opposite walks of life wake up in each other’s bodies, they not only have to cope with the sudden genderswap, but deal with their mounting affections towards one another.
#2: “A Silent Voice” (2016)
After bullying a deaf girl in his youth, a now victimised Shoyo must find a way to make amends. As he tries to seek her out, what follows is the most tearjerking portrayal of redemption and forgiveness we have seen in an anime.
#1: “Grave of the Fireflies” (1988)
Don’t let the mesmerising visuals fool you, this film shows the full horror of World War II through the medium of our two orphaned leads. As they wander around in search of food and shelter, we see how conflict has not only robbed them of their innocence, but also their hope for a future.