Few forms of entertainment can make an audience like a great anime does, from being inspired and filled with hope to openly crying in an uncontrollable rush of sadness. The moments on this list are the latter, proving you don’t need an Oscar-winning star to reduce the audience to tears. Sometimes all it takes is a heroic sacrifice or even just a young girl and her pet dog.
Needless to say, there will be spoilers, so proceed with caution.
8. Jirayia’s Murder – Naruto
Both a teacher and father figure to Naruto, Jirayia was the one that taught everyone’s favorite ninja how to unleash the Rasengan technique, summon animals, and handle the power of his nine-tails. Known for his over-the-top introductions (that were inevitably interrupted), Jirayia was also a legendary ninja, but all of his skill was no match for the ruthless efficiency of Pain, the Akautsai leader.
On a mission to infiltrate a village and uncover the mysterious villain, Jirayia comes face to face with Pain, and is stunned to learn that it’s his former student, Nagato. Brutally, Jirayia falls victim to the “Six Paths of Pain,” but that’s not what makes this a tragic moment.
While he’s dying, Jirayia reflects on the regrets he has with his life, before focusing on Naruto, and realizing that he will be the world’s salvation. Jirayia passes, bloody and beaten under the waves, with a smile on his face.
7. Death Of Portags D. Ace – One-Piece
The older brother of Luffy, Portags D. Ace was also one of the most beloved characters in One-Piece, which is why he had to die for the story, but fans still feel the pain to this day. As with Jirayia, Portags being killed forced Luffy to get more serious about his quest for the One-Piece and embark on two years of training.
While his death was used to bring his brother to the next level of power, Portags knew just before he sacrificed his life to save Luffy from Akainu that the entire crew loved him. For someone that was constantly seeking out love and acceptance, knowing that so many would risk their own lives to save him from execution was worth the sacrifice.
For anime fans, seeing a character get rescued yet ultimately give up his life in a moment of noble sacrifice was a brutal sense of traumatic whiplash from hope to tragedy.
6. The Funeral Of Maes Hughes – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
“Why are they putting dirt on Daddy?”
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one of the hardest animes to watch without bawling. One of the scenes that will make anyone ugly cry comes with the funeral of Maes Hughes in the episode “Separate Destinations.” The intelligence officer, that was one of the most grounded characters in the series and completely in love with his wife and daughter stumbled across a conspiracy that cost him his life.
More tragic than the murder, is how the other characters become consumed with grief. Once Hughes is murdered, the series is never the same again, and it becomes all the better for it. Still, it is a terrible day for rain.
5. Pochita Is The Best Boy – Chainsaw Man
Chainsaw Man wasted no time in breaking the hearts of viewers, by introducing Pochita, the chainsaw demon, as an incredibly adorable dog…thing…and then killing it off by the end of the first episode. Pochita and Denji bonded and formed an effective devil-fighting team for years, up until the day Pochita sacrificed his life to become Denji’s heart, saving his best friend from death at the hands of devils.
Pochita’s sacrifice transformed Denji into Chainsaw Man, bestowing phenomenal devil-fighting powers onto the human. It’s hard to remember that the adorable Pochita is really a demon himself, and even as part of Denji, is technically still alive and might, someday, come back at full power.
4. Korosensei Finally Dies – Assassination Classroom
Assassination Classroom is all about Korosensei training a classroom of students to kill him in order to stop him from eventually destroying the planet with his uncontrolled power. Eventually, the students succeed, but by then, everyone has fallen in love with the eccentric teacher.
The anime makes it clear how it’s going to end, but the journey to get there educated the students, and the viewers, encouraging everyone to live for the moment each day and to be better people. That his death comes after the students promise not to kill him makes it all the worse, as they were forced to act by the government, threatening to unleash the Spear of Heaven.
3. Rengoku’s Sacrifice – Demon Slayer
Demon Slayer is one of the hottest anime currently running, part of the reason is the stunning animation, but it’s mostly because of the instantly iconic characters. Kyojuro Rengoku, the Flame Hashira, was devoted to protecting others and used his immense power to ensure that, when demons took over the Mugen Train, not one of the innocent civilians died at the hands of the demons.
Upper Rank Three Demon Akaza faces off against Rengoku in a battle to the death, withstanding the Flame Hashira’s most powerful attack, before stabbing him through the chest. Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke have been forever changed by the passing of their mentor, now fully aware of how dangerous demons can be.
2. Eren’s Mother’s Death – Attack On Titan
Attack on Titan made sure that viewers knew what was at stake in the anime, and how gruesome it was going to get, from the very first titan attack. After the Colossal Titan breaks through the wall, Wall Maria is under attack for the first time in decades, included amongst the horde is a large, smiling titan, providing an iconic image for the show before crushing every viewer’s heart.
Eren struggles to reach his mother, but Carla is pinned beneath the rubble of her house, leaving her son helpless as he watches the Smiling Titan eat her. This moment provides the catalyst for Eren’s hatred of titans, and as the series goes on and more about the world is revealed, it hits a new level of tragedy.
Eventually, the true scale of Attack on Titan becomes clear to the viewers, and when looked at now, towards the end of the series, it’s clear that Eren’s mother had to die, but though the Smiling Titan ate her, the real force behind her passing is heartbreaking.
1. The Chimera – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
In the world of Fullmetal Alchemist, alchemy requires sacrifice, and when state alchemist Shou Tucker is up to renew his registration, he gets desperate. An ally of Ed and Al on their journey, the two brothers are shocked when they discover that Shou has combined his daughter, Nina, and the family dog, Alexander, into one monstrous Chimera.
In the 2003 series, this takes place over a long period of time, which is why it’s so devastating when Shou Tucker’s true nature is revealed. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the 2009 series, has the story take place over the course of only one episode, which lessens the impact, but the end result still destroys the brothers and the viewers.
Hearing Nina’s voice come out of a monster is to this day, the most heartbreaking moment in any media.