- Episode 20 of the anime is already known to have brought more than one Manly Tears. It doubles as a Heartwarming Moment.
- Episode 22 is a rather bittersweet moment as all the idols meet up for Christmas, but knowing that they'll see each other less and less as time goes on.
- Episode 23 has the ever-cheerful Haruka almost breaking as she is forced to practice and rehearse all alone, as everyone else is too busy to join her.
- What makes this episode really sad is how things gets progressively worse for Haruka, beginning with a few of the idols not managing to come to the practice, to her practicing all alone, to her directly competing with Miki for the main lead in a musical. You can just see how sad and heartbroken Haruka gets as time goes on, even if she's masking it with a smile and tries to tell herself that it can't be helped, and that having everyone drifted apart and ending up all alone is practically the worst thing that could happen to her...
- Even more heartbreaking is how Haruka had been The Heart for the group the entire time, always trying to help and be there for the others, but when she needs it the most the majority doesn't even realize that she needed help, while Haruka herself Cannot Spit It Out because everyone's busy living their dream. The only one who noticed is Chihaya - who tried to cancel her overseas job - and even then Haruka reassured Chihaya to not abandon it because it's so important, leaving her all alone in the end.
- Episode 24 - Haruka's acting on the audition for the musical. In 23, the director was deciding on whether Miki or Haruka would play the lead role, about a dramatic, morose character grieving over the loss of her comrades, and who would play the supporting lead. 24 reveals that Haruka got the lead because she was going through that exact problem at the time, and used it to channel her performance.
Haruka: Isn't it funny? It was fun. I'm sure it was fun. When did it happen...? That's so weird... But I just... I just wanted everyone...! (Haruka starts crying) Huh? What did I want to do...? What was it I wanted to do...? I don't know... I just don't know...
- When Haruka tried to cancel all of her current jobs so she could focus on the New year Concert, Miki bluntly said that Haruka's being selfish when she's gotten the main role in the musical, before asking whether Haruka's really happy being an idol right now and what is it she really wants to do. Just seeing the cheerful and upbeat Haruka slowly breaks down in tears and confusion as she tries to remember when exactly being an idol isn't fun for her anymore and what is it that she really wants to do is absolutely heartbreaking, and Miki's horrified realization at what she had inadvertently done just makes it even more so.
- Making it even more heartbreaking is how quiet and reserved her breakdown is, as if she's still trying to not cause trouble, and throughout the whole thing Haruka's still smiling, even when the tears starts coming out. She's been trying so, so hard to be cheerful and positive that it carries over to her breakdown...
- In a Call-Back to Chihaya's situation in episode 20, Haruka took a break from work, and just like Chihaya she doesn't answer anyone's mails and phone calls; what makes this different is that nobody visits her, and the majority doesn't even know why Haruka's taking a break. The shot of Haruka lying in her bed, staring emptily at the ceiling while doing nothing, is just so wrong and sad...
- Later in the same episode, when she basically cheered herself up and the whole gang calls out to her during the commercial announcing their next live. They announce that they'll "be waiting for her", and she races toward the office...
- The "Last Concert": if you fail to garner enough fans for your idol, 765 decides to terminate her contract. You then have to give her the bad news and book her farewell concert. As for songs, Tonari ni.
- Taking it to a meta level, is The Legend of MomozakiP, which may be summed as thus: A fan who became famous for his contributions on NND, Momozaki P created a video to promote "Tonari ni...", the image song of his favorite idol. It's a song popular among the fandom to this day, more than likely to his efforts. Fans waited for more, but a friend then reported that Momozaki P had died of a heart attack. Since then, fandom and iM@S creators alike recognized his contributions. His work has been referenced in the anime, namely the moment where Chihaya recovers her career with an acapella, later backed by the full instrumental is considered a direct reference. Episode 26 as well, which highlights a film that Azusa starred in, uses "Tonari ni..." - now think of the lyrics. A woman, mourning the loss of the man she loved. Maybe that film referred to his video, or maybe for the iM@S creators, that man in that story is a reference to MomozakiP himself.
- Similarly, Futari no Kioku.
- The 9th Anniversary performance of Yakusoku - the closest a live performance had gotten to Episode 20 of the anime, and then some.
- Of note is that, as attendees in the comments have pointed out, Asami Imai is among the most experienced singers of the group, so her breakdown was a shock to the other ladies. Both on stage, and in the audience, everyone sang in her stead.
Tear Jerker / The iDOLM@STER