TikTok and I have a weird relationship. Like, in hindsight, I feel like I’m too old for it. But then there is this one Sk8 The Infinity TikTok that the insane MatchBlossom shipper in me will become obsessed with, and I’ll scour the entire sad tag for hours on the app. TikTok just brings up the most random things from anime past, and then, by sheer luck, they end up going viral and getting new life breathed into it. And sometimes, those things are incredibly emotional musical numbers that end up pulling new fans.
Going viral on anime TikTok isn’t very accurate. Sometimes it’s a new shiny anime for everyone to play around with; sometimes, it’s powered solely by nostalgia. But anime TikTok itself is just a fun place to be. However, it can be painful for a sad anime lover like myself, who puts way too much focus on a good soundtrack.
There is just no rhyme or reason to it! One day, I’m just scrolling, and, out of nowhere, I’ll hear the faintest whisper of Unravel by TK start playing. And suddenly, I am back in 2014, screaming along to the song because it hurt so viscerally, and I was a little emo gremlin in love with Tokyo Ghoul. Sure, the show didn’t remain consistent, but every anime fan back then knew that Unravel was the anime theme song of the year.
If you like sad anime music as I do, here is a list of some of the most emotional anime songs that are currently trending on the famous app. I’m talking soundtracks that can reduce you to tears with the first note because you’d recognize them near instantly. So without further ado, let’s get into it!
7. RED – Survive Said The Prophet (Banana Fish)
When this first played, I was so confused. I’m used to mixed lyrics in anime, but when a full ending song is in English? In hindsight, it made sense for Ash Lynx, considering how Banana Fish, the anime, is set in New York.
But that doesn’t mean the song doesn’t hold its weight. Its lyrics feel like they were tailor-made for Ash, with how he was exploited and how the world views him for it. As a child trafficking victim and, later on, someone trying to dismantle a system that broke him so terribly, the song encapsulates what Ash came to hold dear.
It’s what makes it so sad because the thing held purest to his heart was Eiji Okumura, his unlikely ally. An emotion he never got to communicate.
6. Hello Goodbye & Hello – Anri Kumaki (Children Who Chase Lost Voices)
Oh man, is this song a tearjerker? Children Who Chase Lost Voices is such an underrated gem of a movie overall, especially with how heavy its themes were. But then again, it is a Makoto Shinkai feature, so the emotional soundtrack checks out.
The movie centered around death, something that isn’t talked about when discussing children in anime. Right from the first scene when Shun dies, it’s this sense of finality and holding things you treasure close to your heart. In that aspect, Hello Goodbye & Hello is such a perfect song. We meet people in fleeting moments. And soon, they leave, becoming nothing but a memory.
It’s almost comforting to know that people never truly die if you keep them in your heart.
5. Blue Bird – Ikimono Gakari (Naruto Shippuden)
You have no idea how excited I got hearing Blue Bird play in the back of a Naruto Shippuden TikTok on the For You page.
Like I love a lot of the Naruto Shippuden soundtrack, but Blue Bird is definitely one of my top 5 for a reason. The song itself is such a nostalgia trip, but the lyrics are so apt for how Naruto Uzumaki views the pain of those that leave him behind. Whether it’s on purpose, like with Sasuke Uchiha, or whether they were taken from him, like in the case of Jiraiya, it doesn’t matter.
Because sorrow and sadness was always something Naruto knew, the pain was a newer emotion.
4. Gurenge – LiSA (Kimetsu No Yaiba)
Granted, I boarded the Kimetsu No Yaiba hype train a little late, but I’m here now, and that’s what matters!
I mean, I’d be a fool not to include Garage here. First of all, it’s sung by LiSA, arguably one of the top anime vocalists right now. And secondly, it is a banger of an opening! Like it’s emotional in the same way an anthem is; it makes you feel so much that you just want to scream alongside the singer. And with all that our boy Tanjiro has been through? He deserves to scream and vent it out.
Gurenge is viral for a reason, and it’s all thanks to just how amazing it was as the first OP for a legendary anime.
3. Unravel – TK From Long Tosite Sigure (Tokyo Ghoul)
I. Will. Never. Shut Up. About Unravel. It has lived in my head, rent-free since 2014 and I can still sing it, screaming parts and all.
We all remember when Tokyo Ghoul dropped, and this opening just started of nowhere. Despite the actual franchise dipping, this song remains a mainstay of the anime community. It perfectly reflected how Kaneki Ken felt following his assault and subsequent descent into being a half-Ghoul. It talked about the anguish he felt when he wasn’t himself anymore and how isolating that must’ve been.
This was arguably the best sad opening of its year and one of the best of the decade, period.
2. Nandemonaiya – RADWIMPS (Kimi No Nawa)
This was so hard to place, considering this is the one movie soundtrack that always reduces me to tears whenever I listen to it.
Kimi No Nawa is not the first Makoto Shinkai movie on this list for a reason, the man is just great at making content that you can cry your heart out to. And the passage of time and regret that Nandemonaiya talks about is the thematic nature of the plot itself. How the singer wants to extend those special moments, they shared with their loved ones just a little longer, just a little more so they don’t have to let go.
It’s so relatable, sad, and honestly? The entire soundtrack for this movie is outstanding. This is just the saddest one.
1. Fuyu No Hanashi – Centimillimental (Given)
Is my Given bias showing? I don’t even care. I tossed and turned between this and Nandemonaiya getting the top spot. In the end, Fuyu No Hanashi won out solely because it’s so viscerally emotional when it is performed in the anime itself.
Like, I genuinely could not live with myself if this didn’t get number 1. Fuyu No Hanashi is a very personal song for one of the protagonists, Mafuyu Satou. Its impact on the story is so immense because it’s the first-moment Mafuyu lets himself feel all the trauma he had been through. He was so obviously sad enough to be in pain, but up until that moment, he never let it out.
So, when he started singing, no wonder the entire crowd was in shock. This is a beast of a song and it’s one of the many reasons why Given is such a masterpiece.