Melancholy in Japanese literature has been a thing for centuries. Dating back to the 1200s, sadness has always been a part of Japanese literature that has never been outclassed. Their uncompromising narratives and their characters’ personalities have a deep rooted inclination for conflicting feelings. Sad manga have brought that to life in the contemporary world! These sad manga will make you feel, they will make you tear up and sob; but we hope that you take some valuable life lessons from some of these beautiful works of literature and art! I’ve left a little surprise that will help heal your broken hearts once you’re done reading these emotional manga.
Prepare some tissues because these are the saddest manga that you definitely have to read
- Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms
- Deep Love: Ayu No Monogatari
- Our Happy Time
- To Your Eternity
- Sousou No Freiren
- Girls Last Tour
- Violet Evergarden
- 5 Centimeters Per Second
- My Girl
- Your Lie In April
- Oyasumi Punpun
- Koe No Katachi
- Bitter Virgin
The story follows Naho Takamiya who receives a letter from herself, 10 years into the future. Telling her of a bunch of events, that will take place that day. The letter mentions a transfer student named Kakeru Naruse, who does end up transferring into her class on that exact day, forcing her to believe in its legitimacy. Continuing to read on, Naho finds out that she made some terrible decisions in life, and will now she has the knowledge to correct them. This is a story about trying to fix your life, before it even becomes broken. It is a weird study of grief and loss, along with love and emotions.
TOWN OF EVENING CALM, COUNTRY OF CHERRY BLOSSOMS
The concept of this particular story was how the devastating atomic bomb affected the most vulnerable of the people within the vicinity. Fumiyo Kôno, the author discusses this thoroughly through the lens of two different people, in two very different time periods within the location of Hiroshima. It has two different parts; one is based in Hiroshima ten years after the nuclear bombs fell, while the other is set some decades afterwards. This will be a manga that will stick with you, long after you’re done reading. It is a self-reflecting journey of growth, overcoming, and loss of innocence.
DEEP LOVE: AYU NO MONOGATARI
Yoshi’s hit novel series depicts in vivid detail; the tragic life of Ayu. Ayu is a 17 year old high school girl, who doesn’t believe in the concept of happiness through any means other than money. So, she begins to sell her body through teenage prostitution, to make a high amount of money in a small amount of time. However, that’s not the only motivation for her self-derogatory profession; she tries to justify her existence’s meaning which is filled with a lack of joy, sorrow, love or even just emotion. However, Ayu’s stoicism will not last for much longer after a chance encounter with a kind old woman.
At a summer camp, 15 young students walk into a cave filled with computers and a creepy man named Kokopelli. He offers the students a job, to defend the earth in giant mecha suits against oncoming alien threats. The children agree and sign a contract, and are transported into the cockpit of the mechas. After defeating a world level threat, the squad begins to love their new job. While the children seem to be excited, the dark secret is that once their contract is over; they will die. This is a story about fighting till your very last breath to do whatever you think is right, a sad manga about justice and honor.
OUR HAPPY TIME
Two souls who yearned for nothing but death are now intertwined by a cruel twist of fate. Juri, is who experienced terrifying trauma as a teenager, has attempted suicide three times in her life and has hated her mother for a while. To help Juri get a better perspective on life, her aunt Monica invites her to meet a death row convict. Yuu is a death row inmate, who has been charged for killing three people. He’s been sentenced to rot in jail forever, which has led him to try and kill himself multiple times to avoid his punishment. Monica and Yuu remain in contact, through letters that Monica consistently sends, however Yuu invites her one day to tell her to stop sending her pity letters. Instead, he encounters Juri, a meeting that changes both of their outlooks on life as a whole.
TO YOUR ETERNITY
The Orb called It, hovers over the Earth. It is capable of taking form of any matter that it sees, transforming into a rock, and then moss, eventually a wolf. Roaming around, endlessly with no destination in mind; it comes across the wolf’s master who is a lonely boy, who lives only to once again be reunited with his tribe who had headed south in search of bounty. This story follows the lonely boy, as he joins It on a journey across the country as they both float through space and time. The boy is an injured lad, and the It has no consciousness of its own. This is a story of learning empathy, and becoming part of something much bigger than our own selves.
SOUSOU NO FREIREN
After defeating the demon king, the hero party returns home. The squad of four; Freiren the mage, Himmel the hero, Heiter the priest, and a warrior known as Eisen feel melancholic, as they reminisce over their decade long quest as the time to say farewell gets closer. However, Freiren is an elf, and time passes slowly for her. One by one, she watches each and every one of her companions die. However, before his death, Heiter puts the responsibility of his young apprentice; Fern onto Frieren. Now, Freiren must learn to accept new company, despite knowing that one day even this company will be lost due to the passing of time. This sad manga will make quite literally anyone tear up!
GIRLS LAST TOUR
A desolate city, a broken landscape, crumbling bridges and looming silence, the only thing that is even remotely close to noise are the motorbikes. The riders, Chito and Yuuri are the last living beings in the post-war city. The story follows the girls as they scavenge for food in old malls and military encampments, while reminiscing over the old world in an attempt to pass the time. The part where this is a sad manga truly hits is the fact that both characters struggle with loneliness, and consistent isolation. However, they both have each other which is always better than not having each other. Follow the girls’ last tour, as they move from place to place, in a world that is completely their oyster yet their loneliness can never be quenched.
After the end of the Great War; the broken continent of Telesis begins to flourish again. Violet Evergarden, a young girl who was caught up in the bloodshed has now been hospitalized, and maimed in the final battle. Going down, she had nothing to lose aside from the final words of her dearest friend; however she did not know the meaning behind them. After recovering, Violet’s new life begins at CH Postal Services after she doesn’t mesh well with her chosen guardian family. There, her moving by the notion of amanuenses that transcribe the emotions and thoughts of people into spoken word; lead her to pursue a job as an Auto Memory Doll. The story follows Violet, as she meets different people with different emotions, as she struggles to put their feelings into words. This is a story about loss, grief, and moving forward in the battle to keep surviving.
5 CENTIMETERS PER SECOND
5 Centimeters per Second is the story of a young boy, Takaki Tono and a young girl Akari Shinohara. These childhood friends, whose bond grows so much that their friendship becomes almost inseparable yet they are suddenly separated one day through no fault of their own. Communicating with each other through letters, Takaki and Akari still cling to their failing fondness of each other. However, when one day Takaki’s parents decide that they’re moving to the other side of the country, he and Akari had to meet up one last time. However, that would be their very last meeting. As the story progresses, it showcases different time periods in Takaki’s life, as his longing for Akari is something he can never run from. This is a tragic manga about distance, and how it can absolutely destroy everything.
Twenty-three-year-old Masamune Kazama spends his days working a mundane office job and dwelling on the past. Although it has been five years, the young bachelor continues to hold onto his relationship with his past girlfriend, Youko Tsukamoto. Out of the blue, he receives a call from Youko’s mother, who informs him that she has passed away in an accident. Furthermore, he learns that Youko has left him with a young daughter, who was raised in secrecy overseas. Stricken with grief, Masamune decides to take in the young girl and raise her on his own. My Girl is a tale of family, loss, and acceptance as Masamune navigates the complexities of daily life as a single father.
YOUR LIE IN APRIL
The Story of Your Lie in April is told entirely through songs, music is the main cultivator of our main characters’ growing bond whereas music is also the main motivator for their passions. The story follows young piano prodigy Kōsei Arima, whose world is turned upside down after his mother’s death which leads to him breaking down on stage and losing the ability to hear piano. Kosei goes into isolation, and leads a melancholy life; that is until Kaori, a young violinist enters his life. Kaori brings a burst of color, and excitement and much needed emotions back in Kosei’s life, and helps him see a brighter outlook on life. This story is about overcoming your grief, and dealing with loss. Your Lie in April is one that will definitely make you curl up and bawl.
Oyasumi Punpun is the story of a young boy, whose growing isolation from his school, classmates and passions, along with his constant struggle to be there for his dysfunctional family and friends leads to nothing but tragedy. The manga follows the story of young Onodera. It tracks his life from his early childhood in elementary years, to his early 20s as he deals with the dysfunctional family, life goals, friends, a broken love life and his own hyperactive mind. Punpun is a deeply disturbing manga, showcasing brutal depictions of some of the most terrifying hidden aspects of modern society. It was so brutal in fact, that tears could not stop pouring out of my eyes.
KOE NO KATACHI
Koe No Katachi, more commonly known as A Silent Voice is a tragic yet beautiful coming of age story about a mute and deaf girl Shoko Nishimiya, who gets bullied by a boy in her class named Shoya Ishida. Growing up, the repercussions for his actions lead Shoya into isolation, and his genuine hatred for his actions leads him to make amends with Shoko. His path of redemption revolves around helping her make friendships with the people that she never got to in high school due to Shoya’s bullying. However, there are obstacles that will stop them from building this trust and friendship consistently through the story. This leads Shoya and Shoko both down a road that they haven’t treaded yet. This sad manga’s story of personal growth, maturity and self-reflection is one that will move anyone to tears!
The story follows Daisuke, a young man who notices a girl named Hinako in her class. However, Daisuke’s initial impressions of Hinako aren’t great and he’s very vocal about his opinions on her. He thinks she’s severely shy, doesn’t open herself up to new experiences and has a tendency to avoid men. Hinako hears what he has to say one day in class, and is heartbroken by his words.
One day, Daisuke overhears a conversation about Hinako, and what she went through in her childhood that sends chills down his spine and he immediately regrets everything he said about her. Hinako went through severe abuse as a child, and has distanced herself from men ever since. Daisuke, feeling bad for what he said begins to show compassion to Hinako who is unaware that Daisuke knows about her bone chilling secret. Bitter Virgin is the story of overcoming your past, and it is a deeply disturbing, and extremely tragic tale which doesn’t hold any punches back in telling you everything that it has to.
And that’s a wrap! I hope you added some of these manga in your to read list. I can assure you that most of them will make you emotional if not downright sob. The best part is that they’re not only emotional but they’re good reads as well. If you think a manga should be on this list then do comment down below.
As promised, if you need an anime to heal your broken hearts then I have just the thing for you. Here are the best romance anime with happy endings that will make you smile.