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10 Tearjerkers That'll Empty the Tissue Box

by Lynzee Loveridge,

The entertainment medium unites audiences by appealing to their core similarities; joy, hardship, family, loneliness, and fears. Looking back on my own personal experiences and how they were reflected in the anime medium over the past 15 years, I've selected ten moments that stood out as emotionally moving to the point of tears. Similar to the previous Alternative Couples list, this countdown is highly subjective. I can only relay moments I've seen and effected me, personally. However, as these emotional moments bind viewers together, I can say with assurance that they might move you, too.

To properly illustrate each selection on this list, it is rife with spoilers. It's best to assume that every included entry contains major plot points.

10. Fixing Suzuha Amane's Timeline (Steins;Gate) In one of Okabe's many timeline-altering endeavors to help his friends, he goes on a search for Suzuha's father and helps her fix her time machine so she can travel into the past. Suzuha bonds with the Lab Members and discovers who her father is, but comes to find that their repairs didn't work fully and she's unable to meet her objective. Grief stricken, she kills herself. Okabe discovers the only way to prevent this is to have her leave his timeline, never learning who her father is and removing all the memories they have together.

9. Lain's Abandonment (Serial Experiments Lain) Lain's family members always seemed weirdly detached. In the second half of the series, after discovering Lain's origins, its revealed that her parents are merely actors. Really, really shoddy actors. With no need left to keep up the charade, they walk out and leave Lain in the house alone with her new found information.

8. Menma's Death (anohana) The "healing" anime anohana focuses entirely on a group of friends and the death of a member of the group during childhood. No one has dealt with the issues properly, leading to giant sobfest as old wounds are reopened and everyone's insecurities are laid bare. Jealousy, obsession, unrequited love, and especially the effect Menma's death had on her own family create a difficult viewing experience.

7. The Death of Nephrite (Sailor Moon) This choice might seem out of left field compared to a lot of emotional moments through Sailor Moon's 200 episode legacy. Uranus and Neptune's deaths in Sailor Moon S and Sailor Moon Sailor Stars were close runner ups followed by the ending in Sailor Moon: The Promise of the Rose. That said, when the series first aired on American television it was notoriously edited, with the exception of Nephrite's death, a moment that got 12-year-old me all choked up. Until that point, I thought characters did not die in American children's television.

6. Shuji and Chise's Relationship (SaiKano) Watching SaiKano is like watching two close friends you care about slowly circle the drain. The characters aren't infallible, especially Shuji who makes some really horrible decisions through out the series. The series gets more difficult to watch as Chise's physical and mental condition fall apart when the two attempts to live on their own, and the tragic ending becomes more and more inevitable.

5. Misuzu Reaches Her Goal (Air) I've only selected one Key series for this list and it was a difficult choice to make. Key is in the business of customer tears for yen, and I've seen their entire catalog of adaptations with the exception of Little Busters!. In the last episode, after everyone has resigned to Misuzu's fate, the series focuses on the mother-daughter relationship between Misuzu and Haruko. Similar to watching a child's first steps, the feeling is driven home with Misuzu walks to Haruko from her wheelchair and spends the her last moments in Haruko's arms..."goal!"

4. 5 Centimeters Per Second Music Video (5 Centimeters Per Second) Makoto Shinkai's 5 Centimeters Per Second was a mixed bag for me. The movie does a great job of making the audience feel the anticipation and dragging seconds in the story, but on the other hand it doesn't make for a dynamic narrative. However, without that set up, the last five minutes of the film wouldn't succeed at being so poignant and emotional. The song lyrics perfectly describe the feeling of lost love and how the character desperately looks for her throughout his life.

3. "The Real Folk Blues" (Cowboy Bebop) The last episode of Cowboy Bebop brings to a head everything the audiences has come to learn about Spike and his crew, Julia, and Vicious. The last episode is so effective because the series didn't simply introduce characters, it introduced friends. The audience came to know the rag-tag Bebop crew as people. After the final showdown between Spike and Vicious, we say goodbye to one of anime's favorite protagonists as his star falls from the sky.

2. Sara's Suicide Attempt (Now and Then, Here and There) Akitarō Daichi's dystopian sci-fi series is full of pitiable secondary characters. The series might be nigh impossible to watch if lead character Shuji wasn't the optimistic beacon in the war-torn Hellywood. There, he meets a fourteen-year-old American girl named Sara who conceives a child after she's designated to breed more soldiers. After she escapes, she attempts to drown herself, and that failing, attempts to initiate a miscarriage in one of the most heart-wrenching moments in the series.

1. Setsuko's Passing (Grave of the Fireflies) When two orphaned Kobe children try to live outside society in a bomb shelter during World War II, we already know it's the beginning of the end. The movie tells us as much in its first five minutes, giving about 90-minutes to prepare for one of the most tragic moments in cinema. It really doesn't help. Slowly, Seita's four-year-old sister Setsuko succumbs to malnutrition and a rash overtaking her small frame. The cheerful girl who helped build a home with her brother only moments earlier grows too weak to move, and Seita, only 15, does what he can. The film's illustration of the effect of war on the average citizen will stay in audience's conscience long after the credits roll.

The new poll: Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland is a reoccurring theme in anime, and "Alice/Arisu" is a popular character name in itself. Which of the following Alices is your favorite?

The old poll: Last week I asked which anime sports team was your favorite. The Seirin High School Basketball Team came in first place out of all the listings. Here's the full results:

  1. Seirin High School Basketball Team (Kuroko's Basketball) 15.8%
  2. Deimon Devil Bats (Eyeshield 21) 14.7%
  3. Nishiura Baseball Team (Big Windup!) 11.4%
  4. Kogarasumaru (Air Gear) 10.5%
  5. Seishun Academy Tennis Team (Prince of Tennis) 9.4%
  6. Princess Nine Kisaragi Girls High Baseball Club (Princess Nine) 8.8%
  7. Baseball Girls (Taishō Baseball Girls.) 6.4%
  8. Shohoku Basketball Team (Slam Dunk) 6.4%
  9. Keishin Academy Basketball Team (Ro-Kyu-Bu!) 6.1%
  10. The Japanese Youth Soccer Team (Captain Tsubasa) 3.7%
  11. Inazuma Japan (Inazuma Eleven) 2.8%
  12. Team Basquash! (Basquash!) 2.6%
  13. Hornets (Major) 1.1%
  14. Mizuho Highschool Basketball Team (Dear Boys) 0.4%
  15. Earth All-Star Team (Buzzer Beater) 0.1%

Alright everybody, see you all next week! I look forward to your input in the comments and feel free to follow me on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee or e-mail me at [email protected]

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