Drama is a genre with all the best character development that anime has to offer. Drama anime deals with some of life’s thorniest issues, like love problems and class struggles, as well as mental health concerns or grief. But drama also shows how these characters respond-and change over time in response to what they experience–instead of just throwing its cast into those situations without showing any evolution on their part. And while most dramas have plenty of moments where it seems everything will be doomed forever (which are often funny), there can still be shining moments for the protagonist too!
It’s hard to say which is truly the greatest among all of these wonderful drama anime. There are so many great ones out there. It makes choosing tough! Showa Genroku Shinjuu and A Silent Voice are some top contenders that I really like because they both have a lot going on in them with very different storylines.
So you’re looking for a good drama anime to watch, huh? Look no further! Here are our top picks.
Content Navigation (TL:DR)
- Grave Of The Fireflies
- Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
- A Silent Voice
- Fruits Basket (2019)
- Angel Beats!
- March Comes In Like A Lion
- Plastic Memories
- Welcome To The NHK!
- A Lull in the Sea
- Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
- Free! Dive to the Future
- Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
- Hanasaku Iroha
- Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal
- Honey and Clover
Grave Of The Fireflies
Starting this list is this tear-jerker is the anime movie adaption of Akiyuki Nosaka’s short story of the same name: Grave of the fireflies.
As WWII came to a close in 1945, Japan faced widespread destruction in American bombings. Grave of the Fireflies is the story about Seita and his sister Setsuko, two children whose lives were ravaged by the brutal war. They lost their mother, father, and home and any hope for the future because of war.
Seita and Setsuko are now orphaned, homeless, hungry, and diseased. They find that even the most kind-hearted people can turn from them in their time of need, but they refuse to give up hope for better days. Their simple optimism is a beacon to all who will listen as it carries on through unrelenting hardship.
In one of Studio Ghibli’s most upsetting masterpieces, two children must overcome the destruction and pain they feel from World War II bombings to survive.
A compelling psychological anime, Monster follows Dr. Kenzou Tenma, an elite neurosurgeon recently engaged to his hospital director’s daughter and is well on his way to ascending the hospital hierarchy. But when he gets a call from the hospital director telling him to switch patients and instead perform life-saving brain surgery on a famous performer. His fellow doctors applaud his accomplishment, as do other members of staff, including colleagues. But because of the switch, a poor immigrant worker is dead, causing Dr. Tenma to have a crisis of conscience.
When a similar situation arises, Dr. Tenma stands his ground and chooses to perform surgery on the young boy Johan Liebert instead of the town’s mayor. Unfortunately, this choice leads to serious ramifications for Dr. Tenma—losing his social standing being one of them.
However, with the mysterious death of the director and two other doctors, his position was restored.
Nine years later, when Dr. Tenma saves the life of a criminal, his past comes back to haunt him—once again, he will come face-to-face with that Monster which he operated on once before! He must now embark on an emotional quest for redemption to make amends for all the damage done by this one whom he saved.
Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
Jinta Yadomi lived a peaceful life, spending his days away from school and playing video games at home instead. Then, one hot summer day, the childhood friend appeared and pestered him until she got her forgotten wish granted! He paid her no mind and ignored her like usual; after all, she died years ago.
At first, Jinta thinks it’s just a hallucination due to summer heat but soon discovers that what he saw really was her spirit. His childhood friends all grow apart after she dies–but are drawn together once more as they try to lay her soul to rest.
Tomoya Okazaki is a delinquent who finds life dull and believes he’ll never amount to anything but has just found something worth doing with his friend Youhei Sunohara: skipping school.
One day while walking to school, Tomoya passes a young girl muttering quietly to herself. Without warning, she exclaims “Anpan!” (a popular Japanese food), which catches his attention. He soon discovers the girl’s name is Nagisa Furukawa. She exclaims things like this to motivate her self-confidence. She claims they are now friends, but Tomoya ignores her.
Tomoya finds himself noticing Nagisa more and more as the days go by. Eventually, he concedes, he befriends her to get closer to this person that has captured his attention. He learns she is held back a year due to illness and wants nothing less than reviving the school’s drama club. Tomoya helps her out because he didn’t have anything better to do.
As Tomoya spends more time with the girls, he learns more about them and their problems. As he attempts to help each girl overcome her respective obstacle, not only does his life become richer but theirs too, as they can find joy in a world that once seemed so dull.
What begins as a slice of life romance turns into an endearing drama depicting the struggles of a young couple trying to flourish after high school despite serious mental and physical health challenges.
A Silent Voice
As a wild youth, elementary school student Shouya Ishida sought to beat boredom in the cruelest ways. When deaf Shouko Nishimiya transfers into his class, he and the rest of his classmates thoughtlessly bully her for fun. However, when her mother notifies their teacher, he was singled out as the only abuser.
After Shouko transfers out of the school, Shouya is left at the mercy of his classmates. He is heartlessly ostracized all throughout the elementary and middle school while the teachers turn a blind eye.
Now in his third year of high school, Shouya is still plagued by the wrongdoings he committed. Sincerely regretting his past actions, he sets out on a journey to redeem himself: To meet up with Shouko once more and make amends for what happened between them.
Fruits Basket (2019)
16-year-old Tooru lost her mother and moves in with her grandfather. Still, due to his home renovation, she is unable to continue living there. So claiming she will find someone to stay with and fearing being a burden to any of her friends, Tooru resorts to secretly living on her own in a tent in the woods.
One night on her way back from work, she finds her tent buried underneath a landslide. Yuki Souma, the “prince” of school, and his cousin Shigure Souma stumble across Tooru’s situation. They invite her to stay with them until her grandfather’s home renovations are complete.
Tooru was not expecting much when she got to her new home, but the Souma family had a secret. When they hug someone of the opposite gender, it transforms them into one of their zodiac animals! To make matters worse, this is no joke, and there are dark memories behind that door; will Tooru’s kind heart be enough for what awaits?
Naho Takamiya’s first day of her sophomore year is off to an uneasy start. She wakes up late and receives a strange letter from herself, 10 years in the future! At first, she was skeptical about it. Still, after witnessing several events take place that had been described in the note, she realized this wasn’t just any old prank or joke-it really came from Naho’s 26-year-old self.
The note details that Naho’s future life is filled with regrets, and she hopes that her younger self can correct the mistakes in the past. The letter also warns her to keep a close eye on new transfer student Kakeru Naruse.
Otonashi awakens to find himself in the afterlife. Yuri, a rifle-toting girl and member of Afterlife Battlefront, explains that they are dead and need his help fighting against Tenshi, who is trying to destroy their world. Unable to believe what she says, Otonashi decides he should speak with her before making any decisions, but things don’t go as planned.
Otonashi decides to join the Afterlife Battlefront and battle Tenshi, but he finds himself oddly drawn to her. While trying to regain his memories and understand Tenshi, he gradually unravels the mysteries of life after death.
We take a look into the purgatorial world where teenagers who never got the chance to enjoy their adolescence spend time accepting death. But some residents strongly resent being sent over.
March Comes In Like A Lion
Being one of the elites in shogi, 17-year-old Rei Kiriyama faces enormous pressure both from his adoptive family and the shogi community. Seeking independence from this difficult home life, he moved into a small apartment in Tokyo. Living on his own, he never really takes care of himself. His reclusive personality ostracizes him from his peers in school and at the shogi hall.
Rei is a man who has never had anyone to take care of him. When he arrives in Tokyo, three sisters living with their grandfather offer hospitality and friendship that Rei hasn’t experienced before. The Kawamoto family’s bond helps the protagonist cope not only through his shogi career but also through his emotional struggles.
Eighteen-year-old Tsukasa Mizugaki has failed his college entrance exams. Still, after pulling some strings, he manages to land a job at the Sion Artificial Intelligence Corporation. SAI Corp is responsible for creating “Giftias“—highly advanced androids which are almost indiscernible from humans—but unlike people, Giftias have a maximum lifespan of 81,920 hours or nine years and four months. Terminal Service One, the station Tsukasa was assigned to, is responsible for collecting Giftias that have met their expiration date. Collecting these expired units before they lose all memories and become hostile.
Tsukasa was a newbie in Terminal Service One when he first met Isla. She’s the veteran who is considered one of the best Gifts for retrieval work, despite her small figure and quiet demeanor. Time flies, though, so Tsukasa has to come to terms with his feelings for Isla before time runs out. Nothing lasts forever, after all!
Welcome To The NHK!
Welcome To The NHK! can be considered psychological anime, a drama anime, or a comedy anime. It follows Tatsuhiro as he strives to escape from the Nihon Hikikomori Kyokai’s (NHK) machinations and the disease of self-wrought isolation while struggling to even just leave his apartment to find a job. His unexpected encounter with a mysterious girl, Misaki Nakahara, might signal a reversal of fortune for him, but soon after meeting her comes the inevitable cost of having to face his greatest fear—society.
In his isolation, Tatsuhiro has come to believe in many obscure conspiracy theories. One of them is the theory that NHK—an evil and secret organization dedicated to fostering hikikomori culture–is behind his shut-in NEET status.
His neighbor Misaki offers to help him – but what are her true motives?
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When tragedy is about to strike, Satoru Fujinuma finds himself sent back several minutes before the accident occurs. The detached 29-year old manga artist has taken advantage of this powerful yet mysterious phenomenon, which he calls “Revival,” to save many lives.
Satoru is wrongfully accused of murdering someone close to him, and he’s sent back in time 18 years. It turns out the murder may be connected to Kayo Hinazuki, a classmate Satoru hasn’t seen since they were kids.
Nana Komatsu is a helpless, naïve 20-year-old who easily falls in love and becomes dependent. So she nursed ambitious dreams of removing herself from her provincial roots to find her true calling. Still, She ended up traveling with the humble reason of chasing after Shouji Endo, her current boyfriend.
Nana Osaki is a proud, enigmatic punk rock vocalist from a similarly rural background who nurtures the desire to become an international sensation. Putting her career with a popular band, she boards the same train as Nana Komatsu on their journey to Tokyo together.
Through a fateful encounter in their journey toward the metropolis, two women with the same given name are brought together by fate. As they grow closer as friends and share an apartment to support each other through thick and thin, including romantic drama, career hurdles, and even some truly dark subjects like abuse and drug use – but their friendship serves as a guiding light.
A Lull in the Sea
Long ago, humans were given a choice to make. They could either live beneath the sea and abide by their god-given protection called “Ena,” which allowed them to breathe underwater, or they would be stripped of this power if they chose instead to take up living on land permanently. Over time, the rift between the people of the sea and of the surface widened. However, contact between the two peoples still existed.
This drama anime follows Hikari Sakishima and Manaka Mukaido, along with their childhood friends Chisaki Hiradaira and Kaname Isaki. The group is forced to leave the sea to attend a school on land, but during that time, they meet Tsumugu Kihara, who loves fishing from boats as well.
In a world where some humans live on land and others are primarily beneath the sea, discrimination is rife. Yet, despite social chaos, a group of friends tries to find their place in this fascinating new environment that they’re exploring together.
Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
Yotarou’s performance lacked an important ingredient: ego. He was caught between his master and the late Sukeroku, not knowing who he wanted to emulate anymore– or if he even needed to be a rakugo performer at all! But when Yotarou eventually found himself in front of a theater full of admiring fans, it became clear that this is what had always been missing.
Kikuhiko is a tortured young man who isn’t sure he wants to be involved with Rakugo. Still, when you watch him perform, it’s obvious how much joy and laughter he provides. Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju tells the story of his career as well as that of those around him – including himself!
Free! Dive to the Future
An anime fan or two would say Free! is a sports anime and not a drama anime, BUT, Free!’s third season is all drama. So whether Hiyori’s excessive control over Ikuya or Haru’s existential crisis, you’ll be sure to find plenty of emotional problems faced by the cast of characters in Free!
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Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
Mirai Onozawa is a middle school student who has been unhappy with her family circumstances. So one day, when she was frustrated, she wished to tear everything apart. Unfortunately, her wish seems to come true as an 8.0 magnitude earthquake hits just moments later.
As summer vacation begins, Mirai reluctantly takes her younger brother Yuuki to Odaiba. A robot exhibition that he wanted to go to is being held. Still, while they’re in the exhibit center, an earthquake shakes the Kanto region. Both kids witness how devastating this natural disaster can be as it brings cities down.
After the cataclysm, they stumble upon Mari Kusakabe, a motorcyclist and single mother. She decides to help out these young siblings. Aiming to return home and reunite with their families, the group sets off on an epic journey through this decimated city.
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Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms for Tomorrow is a slice of life drama anime where we follow Ohana Matsumae, a carefree, energetic teenager who has to fend for herself after her mother shows her true nature runs away with her new boyfriend. She moves from Tokyo into rural Japan, where her cold grandmother runs a small inn. Driven to adapt to the tranquil lifestyle of the countryside, Ohana is faced with an array of new challenges as she begins work as a maid and meets people in her new rural school.
Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal
When mankind’s savagery surpasses his fear of death, there is little hope for those who wish to live honest lives.
Beneath a full moon, Shinta watched with horror as the bandits he was enslaved by were slaughtered. He had no idea what was going on or why they would do such a thing to other people who seemed just like them. One of the men saved his life and gave it new meaning in doing so- before christening him Kenshin Himura. Now destined to become a swordsman, the softness of his heart does not befit the occupation, but his desire to protect the innocent is absolute.
Rurouni Kenshin is an awesome title both for the anime industry and anime fans. This time around, this action anime movie details Kenshin’s life before he became a legendary mercenary, as well as his experiences both on the job and with love.
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Honey and Clover
Yuuta Takemoto, a sophomore at an arts college in Tokyo, shares his college life in a cheap apartment with two seniors: Shinobu Morita and Takumi Mayama. The eccentric Morita has failed to graduate due to his absenteeism. Still, the sensible Mayama often looks out for Yuuta, who plays more of the role as senior than he does.
Takemoto had not thought of his future until one fine spring day when he met the endearing Hagumi Hanamoto and fell in love at first sight. Incredibly gifted in the arts, Hagumi enrolls in Takemoto’s university and soon befriends Ayumi Yamada–already well acquainted with their three flatmates who find themselves harboring deep feelings for her as well!
Thanks for reading our list of drama anime! There were a lot of emotions compiling it. But if you think there are any anime drama or a dramatic anime movie adaptation that deserves recognition that has been overlooked or forgotten, please share them with us by leaving a comment below. Also, it would be great to hear from all you wonderful anime fans about what’s on your mind while watching these shows. So enjoy this article and leave a thought in the comments section below- thanks again!