Top 25 Best Drama Anime Ever

Packed with emotional development and strong on the feels, drama anime is the kind of anime that pumps out the shows you just can't forget, from light tear-jerkers to shows that change how you see the world. It's not always romantic drama and not always life-or-death, but drama anime is always about human relationships and human flaws. This list strikes the medium between high-stakes conflicts and moving introspection to bring you the very best drama anime to date.

 







 

We all love anime, but it's hard to know exactly how it's made. Fortunately, one of 2014–2015's greatest original anime series, Shirobako, sheds some light on what exactly happens in a truly moving look behind the scenes.

Aoi Miyamori graduated high school with a firm dream for her future: to professionally produce an anime with her friends. Now working as a production assistant for an animation company recovering from a bad series, Aoi needs to keep a firm grip on her dream as the punishing hours, stressful co-workers and reality threatens to turn her into a mindless worker who just goes through the motions.

Shirobako keeps a firm balance between depicting the anime industry's actual dire circumstances and keeping hopeful about the many people who keep the industry alive. The constant battle of dreams vs reality is kept in check by regular comedic moments but always comes back to touching, sincere moments that link the main cast's journey over the course of the series. Shirobako is our number one pick because it depicts a journey so many people have been in or are in right now and gives you realistic hope for the future.

Why it made the list: Shirobako is a huge love letter to the anime industry but at the same time a welcome look into how our favourite shows are produced. With every crushing moment or dead end, it lifts its spirits and aims higher. It brings a very real feel to the elements commonly passed over, but most importantly, Shirobako presents real life drama with a downright lovable cast.

Watch if you like: Anime, comedy, behind the scenes looks, adult life, hopes and dreams, the creative industry, recent series, standard length series, huge cast of characters, suffering, hopeful tone.

 

 

 

Clannad is usually the recommendation of the day when it comes to sobfest stories, but Clannad: After Story is the series to watch if you really need to use up several boxes of tissues and don't mind watching a season before it.

Life goes on for Tomoya and Nagisa, who graduate from high school and begin their life in the big, wide world. Growing up is painful, but the two give each other strength. Tomoya is able to work towards his goals and recover from his past. The two marry and start a family. But life doesn't work out just because you want it to, and time will march on no matter what.

After Story continues with the same tone and feel of the Clannad series, carrying on with its story and expanding upon what happens after the first season ends. What makes it ideal for this list is the look into how life goes on after high school and the adult challenges that the characters meet.

Why it made the list: Clannad is often pointed to as the anime to watch for a touching romantic story that has its comedic moments as much as it has slice of life school shenanigans. But After Story continues Clannad in new and interesting ways as Tomoya continues to heal and he and Nagisa deal with the next challenge ahead.

Watch if you like: Crying, uplifting series, character-centred arcs, high school, changing your life, simple soundtracks, watching the other anime tie-ins.

 

AnoHana – yes, it's abbreviated as AnoHana – was one of the most emotionally heavy anime to hit 2011. And despite its long name sounding like a harem rom-com, it hits you in the gut like a truck.

It's been years since six childhood friends have even spoken to each other, but Jinta is forced to reunite them when the ghost of the group's seventh friend visits him. Her name is Menma and she has a wish that can only be granted when everyone is back together. But nobody is exactly eager to remember the past, especially not when they all feel guilty over the death of their childhood friend.

AnoHana focuses on two things: backstory and death, and through these brings out an incredible amount of drama and emotion to the point where you could say this is our most dramatic entry on the list.

Why it made the list: AnoHana is depressing through and through, but offers some closure in a story where everyone feels guilty about a death. The story has a very real feel about it, and its short but succinct look into the lives of people affected by death is made all the better for it.

Watch if you like: Grieving, childhood friends, summer, episodic series, backstory, the supernatural, ghosts, drama, crying, short series.

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On the life-or-death side of our top drama picks, Angel Beats! takes fourth spot as the anime to mix action and comedy with the unfortunate reality that is life and death.

For young people, the limbo between heaven and hell in the afterlife is a school. This is where Otonashi finds himself after waking up and realizing he has no memories. When a girl named Yuri tries to recruit him into an organization fighting against god and a girl nicknamed Tenshi, Otonashi can't help but be drawn to Tenshi instead, and slowly he begins to understand why he's here and what the afterlife really means.

Even though Angel Beats! is all action, comedy and some drama, it's surprisingly strong on the music front. Paired with its range of interesting characters in the unusual situation of school-turned-limbo, Angel Beats! is fun and moving.

Why it made the list: Angel Beats! has a lot of ideas that mix together in interesting ways, from the battlefront in school-limbo to the concert scenes to the characters, yet in the end its as touching as it is a refreshing blend of ideas.

Watch if you like: Angels, the afterlife, amnesia, action, comedy, KEY, short series, school setting, life and death.

 

For a dash of fantasy to your drama, we have Now and Then, Here and There, the anime that starts off like a typical shounen show but steadily reveals life's hells as the characters explore a bleak but realistic world.

Shu is an average shounen protagonist; he's optimistic, has his heart in the right place and, above all, must save the day. When he spots a mysterious girl standing on a smokestack, Shu is quick to rush to her aid, but what he least expects is to be thrown into an alternate world where an insane dictator rules over everyone's lives.

Now and Then, Here and There is certainly the most bleak drama anime on this list. It doesn't just go into the atrocities of war and dictatorships; its cast personifies a range of beliefs and how people can become a victim to a society gone wrong.

Why it made the list: Although short, Now and Then, Here and There is a complete tour of the travesties of war and how far humanity has sunk before. But even though it's bleak and unrestrained in what it shows, the series keeps hold of hope to make a bittersweet ending.

Watch if you like: Adventure, shounen protagonists, alternate worlds, dystopias, war themes, heavy themes, short series, military themes, hope.

6

Death Parade (2015)

 

Life-or-death situations tend to be the first thing creators turn to in order to create drama. Death Parade revels in this kind of forced drama, but in the middle of it crafts a story that is so much more.

There exists a world between life and death, a world where the deceased are sent to be judged. It's the job of an arbiter, an emotionless doll, to draw out the true nature of the dead and then determine whether they can be reincarnated or sent to the void. And what better way to do it than by pitting the deceased against each other in a game where their very lives are on the line.

Death Parade's very premise promises a whole season of drama and tears. In the show's short run, you can bet on seeing a whole range of emotions and a range of reactions to death, and when Death Parade takes a moment to be considerate of its characters is where the series shines.

Why it made the list: Death Parade has a fairly formulaic approach to drama and, for the most part, sticks to its core aspect of life-or-death games with ever-changing characters. It's only towards the end of the series that it changes into a more subtle, suitable kind of drama.

Watch if you like: Catchy openings, the afterlife, games, mystery, varied cast of characters, short series, rules, psychological anime, recent series, the system.

 

If you've browsed through our other lists, you might have noticed Sakurasou pop up a few times in the romance and harem categories. It's an anime that truly has it all, which is why it again nears the top of this list.

Sorata is a high school student who has a weak spot for cats. In fact, he's so prone to picking up abandoned cats and taking care of them that he has to be sent to a special dorm that accepts pets. But Sakurasou isn't just a place for pet owners; it also houses the school's most talented but eccentric students. And Sorata is now in charge of one of them: the artistic prodigy Shiina Mashiro.

Sakurasou is indeed a romantic harem anime, and you would think the drama comes from Sorata not being able to choose a girl, but it isn't. As much as the series is about relationships, it's about finding your place in the world and struggling to even start on that path. Sorata is constantly met by people better than him – who, realistically, he cannot beat – and how he comes to terms with this is why this series is a gem.

Why it made the list: Forget the romance and love triangles, Sakurasou's drama comes from an unexpected place and keeps taking turns for the better. It's an almost endless struggle with Sorata and his goals, but it's one that's so deeply realistic in its stakes and emotion that you can't turn away once you launch into the show's main arc.

Watch if you like: Games, high school, career plans, romance, harem anime, cats, art, genius vs average person, comedy, personal growth, character dynamics, standard length series.

 

Relationship drama makes up the bulk of favourite drama anime, but where ef: A Tale of Memories differs is in how exactly it shows this kind of story and how much execution can change something average to amazing.

The ef series is a tale of two boys, both of who manage to run into a strange new girl who causes a bit of drama. While manga artist Hiro is thrown into a love triangle with his best friend and a new girl he begins to spend more time with, average high school boy Renji meets a mysterious girl whose memory only lasts for thirteen hours.

After a slightly confusing start, ef: A Tale of Memories branches into two pretty easily understood stories. And while the series doesn't break new ground, it's not endlessly tumbling down a hole of clichés, making for a nice two-in-one watch.

Why it made the list: ef: A Tale of Memories introduces two stories at once, keeping you guessing about either one until it's ready for the big reveal. The series doesn't throw around the usual aspects but it also doesn't have much new; its main enjoyment comes from just how everything pans out.

Watch if you like: Romance, mystery, amnesia, school setting, multiple stories at once, watching the sequels, short series, interesting art style, small cast of characters.

 

Life, romance and drama continues way past school days to the rest of your life. But the next big step a lot of people take is with college, and that's what Honey and Clover is all about.

Art students don't exactly get to roll around in money, which is why five students share a small apartment during their time in college. They enjoy the simple things in life, but when eighteen-year-old Hagumi enters the scene, the students need to sort out their budding feelings before anyone gets hurt.

Along with Honey and Clover's graduated setting is a more mature tone, looking at romance through the eyes of a college student rather than a highschooler. While there's nothing boring about its slice of life progression, there's a calmer feeling about the series that separates it from the busier romantic drama aimed at younger audiences.

Why it made the list: There's no shortage of adult life drama on this list, but while other series focus on some extreme highs and lows, Honey and Clover has a very calm feel with generally low-stakes plot.

Watch if you like: College life, slice of life, multiple perspectives, a cast of relatable characters, friendship, josei anime, comedy, conclusive sequels, light timeskips, college nostalgia.

 

 

It's not often that you get an anime about a place that's not Japan or Europe, but that's exactly what you get with Michiko to Hatchin, the action/adventure drama anime about crime, family and the vibrant-yet-crude side of Latin America.

Michiko Malandro is a wanted criminal in the fictional South American country Diamandra, but her journey isn't one back to the black market. No, Michiko is on the tail of a man named Hiroshi. The key to finding him is her apparent daughter, Hana, but having never known the man, the two now need to team up if they ever want to find out where he is.

Michiko to Hatchin may be all about the odd couple combination of wanted criminal and abused orphan, but it's the vibrant setting that really gives the series character. It's not often that anime leaves Japan or Europe to explore other cultures, but when it does it's amazing.

Why it made the list: Besides the colourful and wonderfully different setting, Michiko to Hatchin brings a culturally rich and realistic side to its show, focusing on character development while the world turns around them.

Watch if you like: South America, androgynous little girls, family, Thelma and Louise, colourful art, realistic settings, standard length anime, strong side characters, some episodic moments.

 

Love triangles are the go-to source of drama when it comes to romantic anime set in high school. But Nagi no Asukara goes above and beyond, crafting a veritable love dodecahedron… as well as setting the whole story in a really beautiful town.

Long ago, people used to live beneath the sea. In fact, the only reason humans live on the land now is because they left the sea and could never return. Except so many people have left that the only way the undersea village's children can get a proper education is if they attend a school on the land. Needless to say, Hikari and his group of friends are apprehensive about it, but Hikari has more reason to worry: his childhood friend and secret crush may have fallen for a boy from the surface.

Nagi no Asukara heaps all of its drama on relationships, love triangles and misconceptions, but what elevates it above the usual romantic triangle teen romance is how it all ties into the setting. The entire world of these characters reflects how they feel, and the lore tied in with it makes it that much more compelling.

Why it made the list: Nagi no Asukara may have a love triangle the size of its cast, but what makes it shine is how everything comes back to the setting and the world these characters inhabit. There's more going on that what first appears, but nothing is unrelated in this huge love story.

Watch if you like: Setting, the ocean, love dodecahedrons, high school setting, family, first loves, folklore, fantasy, fish.

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The inescapable love dramas continue on in this list as we reach Paradise Kiss, the josei romance show about fashion, relationships and, of course, the drama that comes from these.

Yukari Hayasaka is an average, bland high school girl whose mother has her whole life planned out for her. But her dull and repetitive life is interrupted by a group of eccentric fashionistas who need a model for their latest show. After Yukari is pulled into their world, she realizes what she wants to do in life and begins to steer herself in that fashion direction.

Paradise Kiss might be all about fashion and relationships, but its mature tone and adult-level relationships give it a different atmosphere and one that is more widely appealing at that.

Why it made the list: Paradise Kiss may be another romantic anime about the drama of relationships, but it has a much more adult feel to many of the other shows here. It doesn't shy away from being rough or realistic and doesn't gloss past things, even though it's also fairly short.

Watch if you like: Relationships, romance, josei anime, fashion, real life situations, nudity, realistic art style, love triangles, short series, large group of main characters, older series.

13

Penguindrum / Mawaru Penguindrum (2011)

 

Our third anime featuring terrorism on this list, if you were wondering, is Mawaru Penguindrum. It's not as obvious as the other two, but then again this series is drenched in symbols, hidden meaning and weird side stories that it can be hard to see.

Twins Kanba and Shouma, along with their little sister Himari, live happily enough together even though they don't really have any parents. But Himari is sick, and it only takes a trip to the aquarium to bring her close to death. When it seems all is lost, however, a penguin hat manages to bring her back to life, but at a cost: Kanba and Shouma must search for the "Penguin Drum" and along the way unravel their family's mystery surrounding Japan's subway sarin incident of 1995.

If you've heard of Ikuhara before (the director of Revolutionary Girl Utena, Sailor Moon R and, more recently, Yuri Kuma Arashi), you'll know that his name behind this means Penguindrum is heavy with symbolism and confusing stuff. But it's not as confusing as it could be, and what isn't confusing is enjoyable.

Why it made the list: Penguindrum is directed by Ikuhara, a man known for having a hand in creating some of the most symbol-heavy, confusing anime. And while Penguindrum is no different, there's enough to enjoy without having to think too hard.

Watch if you like: Mystery, colours, psychological anime, modern terrorism, historical events, punishment, atonement, symbolism, penguins, destiny, standard length series.

 

 

14

Hanasaku Iroha ~Blossoms for Tomorrow~ / Hanasaku Iroha (2011)

 

 

Slice of life and dramatic anime tend to be pretty close, not the least because life just naturally leads to drama. But while love triangles and relationship drama tend to take centre stage, Hanasaku Iroha balances it out with the more usual slice of life aspects.

Despite growing up with a free spirited mother, Ohana Matsumae is headstrong and generally knows what she wants. Which is too bad, because her mother eloping with her new boyfriend means Ohana is sent off to live with her grandmother at a country inn. What could be a pleasant time away from home turns into living at work and Ohana needs to deal with hostile co-workers and her strict grandmother who always puts customers first.

Hanasaku Iroha has the usual slew of lovable characters, but it's how they fit together that makes the series. While everyone gets their comedic moments early on, the series steadily moves to more serious themes but never gets too depressingly deep.

Why it made the list: Hanasaku Iroha leans heavily towards the slice of life comedy genre, but between inn-related shenanigans and the usual drama of a love triangle is a calm and thoughtful show about the daily drama of getting along with other people.

Watch if you like: Love triangles, slice of life, working, family, friendship, the Japanese countryside, tsunderes, large cast of characters, standard length anime, episodic series. 

 

 

Our oldest anime on this list is also perhaps the most different. Delving into the historical drama of France's high class society before and after the French Revolution is the Rose of Versailles.

When the Commander of the Royal Guards expects to retire after his next son, he is instead met with a daughter. But instead of throwing a fit like Henry VIII, he raises his daughter as a son – Oscar. Now taking her father's place, Oscar looks over the royal guards at the Versailles Palace and watches as the roots of the French Revolution spread and grow into one of history's largest historical points.

The Rose of Versailles' drama comes from historical interpretations of a turning point in France's history. But rather than sticking to informative, distanced facts, it goes into the supposed lives and relationships of its main characters, giving the historical period a personal feel.

Why it made the list: The Rose of Versailles mixes fact and fiction in a story that looks into the hows and whys of the French Revolution. The drama, of course, happens much like it has been recorded, only it's made more interesting through the feeling of personally knowing the people involved.

Watch if you like: History, romance, crossdressing, shoujo art style, royalty, tragedy, forbidden love, France, classic series, long series.

 

Even though Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso was a brilliant recent anime about the drama between a pianist and a violinist, you can't pass up Nodame Cantable as the classic romantic drama anime about musicians and their love for music.

Noda Megumi is a musical genius who is complete class and grace when it comes to playing the piano. It's too bad that outside music, she's a complete slob, a stalker and downright childish. That's why, when perfectionist violin player Chiaki is neighboured with the woman calling herself "Nodame", the two become an odd fit where they complement each other as much as they need to tolerate the other's quirks.

As an anime about music, Nodame Cantabile is abound with classical music moments and long instrument sequences. But it's not all about pianos and violins; Nodame and Chiaki's relationship, along with a few others', make the show the joy it is to watch.

Why it made the list: Nodame Cantabile is an anime to watch for its music as much as its characters. The series loves its classical music, and you need to as well if you want to watch it, but its characters also make the series enjoyable with all their quirks and ways they fit together.

Watch if you like: Classical music, college, romance, comedy, josei anime, slice of life, standard length anime, strong cast of supporting characters, older art style.

 

Aliens and teenagers go hand-in-hand. For where there are aliens and teens together in an otherwise normal world, drama has to ensue. And that's exactly what happens in Kokoro Connect… though not the way you think it does.

The Cultural Research Club has five members – two guys and three girls who are pretty good friends. One day, two of the club members switch bodies temporarily. Once the confusion calms, they are met by an alien who informs them that they're at the mercy of his whims and need to deal with shenanigans that mess them around and expose the fears and scars buried in their hearts.

Kokoro Connect's drama can feel a little forced, and certainly the whole premise shows as much, but just like how you grow closer to reality TV personalities, you can't help but feel for the group's pretty reasonable concerns.

Why it made the list: Kokoro Connect's premise isn't anything terribly new or exciting, but rather than playing up shenanigans for constant comedic moments, it lets you in on the emotional fatigue and real drama it can cause, leading to some very sincere moments.

Watch if you like: Teenagers, aliens, the supernatural, shenanigans, comedy, your true self, romance, sexual tension, fear, friendship, trust.

Music, adult life and drama seem to go hand-in-hand. That's why Nana appears at our number eighteen spot, bringing another adult life show to balance out the romantic teen drama.

Nana Komatsu and Nana Osaki share the same name and the same apartment, but their lives are pointed in very different directions. Osaki starts her life anew in Tokyo as the vocalist of a band while Komatsu runs away from her happy family to live the dream. While they both love music and get in too deep with a few boys, their friendship lasts the test of time and provides the two with a comfortable anchor in the rough seas of the big city.

Nana is a lengthy depiction of adult life in a big city, but even though it turns dramatic, it's not too bleak or overbearing. It's real without going depressing, and the mature feel throughout the show is comfortable and welcome.

Why it made the list: Nana starts off as your usual slice of life manga but goes into mature drama that few other series match. Its high points are satisfying, but the underlying tone of the series, that adult life isn't success or failure all the time, stays strong.

Watch if you like: Josei anime, Paradise Kiss, music, adult life, moving to the city, friendship, slice of life, romance, heartbreak, punk rock, long series.

 

 

Sometimes music makes the series, no matter how ordinary its plot turns out to be. Sakamichi no Apollon is another title that dabbles in the usual relationship drama only to come away as an enjoyable show for both its characters and music.

It's 1966 and Kaoru Nishimi, an introverted freshman whose only hobby is playing the piano, enrolls into a new high school. He's immediately spotted by the school tough guy, Sentarou, who takes a big liking to him. What Kaoru soon realizes though is that Sentarou isn't just a big guy – he's an incredible talent with the drums. Together with their friend Ritsuko, they delve into the deeply nuanced world of jazz where they grow into young adults.

Sakamichi's drama point is in its relationships, but the show isn't too bogged down by love triangles or confessions. While romance does play a big part in the series, music is at the forefront and side characters lessen the obvious will-they-or-won't-they drama of the main story.

Why it made the list: Sakamichi no Apollon isn't a breakthrough when it comes to romantic drama – and its almost rushed ending is why it falls pretty far down this list – but how it weaves music and relationships together is what makes the series exceptional.

Watch if you like: Jazz, older time periods, school setting, love triangle, family, music, coming of age stories, friendship, American culture, short series, abrupt ending.

 

Terrorism doesn't usually make its way into anime, and yet we have three shows on this very list that take a look at how methodical plans and timed attacks can strike the public. Zankyou no Terror, of course, is the more involving of them.

After years of experimentation and isolation, two teenagers named Nine and Twelve enter the world, determined to take Tokyo down with a series of terrorist attacks. But while the two manage to pull off a series of attacks designed to draw attention to the institution they were forced into as children, they inadvertently involve a girl their age and draw the attention of a seasoned detective.

Zankyou no Terror's main strength is in its elaborate plots and political commentary, so if you're in it for troubled teens and relationship-related drama, the series can come off as lacking. Where it makes it up is in soundtrack, animation and theatrics.

Why it made the list: Zankyou no Terror is a political kind of drama anime that uses its characters to make comments on society. The show can feel pretty Hollywood at times and some of the terrorist 'tricks' it brings up can elicit a few laughs, but at heart it's an interesting take on modern terrorism brought to us in our favourite medium.

Watch if you like: Psychological anime, relationships, nationalism, politics, short series, soundtracks, modern setting, family, experiments, terrorism themes.

 

With romance and multiple characters often comes love triangles and drama, but our next title on the list brings something a bit new with the addition of soap opera-tier antics to liven up each episode.

Miki Koishikawa thinks she lives a normal life, but when her parents return from Hawaii to tell he they're divorcing and switching partners with another couple, she realizes just how absolutely crazy everything is. Now she has to live in a big house with both families and their ladykiller son, who is way too handsome to ignore.

Marmalade Boy is one of the more ridiculous love dramas on this list, but the combination of older-style animation and over-the-top soap opera atmosphere makes for a pretty entertaining watch. If you can get past the league of exes out to get the main couple.

Why it made the list: Marmalade Boy adds a bit of crazy to your usual romantic drama plot, along with a very long (and sometimes trying) story that goes into soap opera territory and never leaves. It's entertaining for the soap opera factor though, and the old art style plus format makes it weirdly enjoyable.

Watch if you like: Shoujo anime, romance, love triangles, soap operas, twists, older series, long series, jealousy, exes.

22

Beck (2004)

 

 

Making a somewhat surprising appearance on this list is an anime all about music and drama that comes from growing up and forming a band. It's not sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, but it is a look into a story not usually found in anime.

Tanaka Yukio is absolutely boring. He's shy, directionless and has a pretty terrible taste in music. That's why it's so surprising that, after meeting Ryusuke fresh from America, Yukio is pulled into a rock 'n' roll band and quickly becomes a damn good guitarist.

Beck is all about band dynamics, from finding your place in the scene to starting small and competing against your rival. It's very much a series for people who are into music and this kind of character interaction.

Why it made the list: Beck is heavy on the rock 'n' roll references and music, not to mention band dynamics. But past that (or with that!) is an enjoyable anime that features music, friendship, rivalry and the drama involved in all of those things.

Watch if you like: Shounen anime, music, guitars, rock 'n' roll, realistic art style, slice of life, comedy, romance, growing up, standard length series.

 

 

 

Bringing a touch of horror to this list is Jigoku Shoujo, the anime about how people suffer, curse and drag others down all in the name of revenge.

When life is too much and you're tormented by people relentlessly on your back, there's a website you can turn to. Jigoku Tsushin can only be accessed at the stroke of midnight, but if you post your grudge there, there's a chance it will move the Hell Girl to act. With her supernatural powers and accomplices, the Hell Girl moves to drag any wrong-doers to the fiery pits of Hell, but is it all really so simple?

Jigoku Shoujo may be a horror anime first, but its attention is on how its characters suffer and survive in the world, more than focusing on all the ways to torture those who have acted wrongly. But, as always, not everything is clean-cut, and finding out what really is going on is all part of the delicious drama.

Why it made the list: Hell Girl is a perfect mix of suffering, urban horror and the kind of creepy long-haired girl you learn to expect from the genre. While it doesn't roll in gore and torture, its atmosphere and dramatic story drive it to interesting and moving places.

Watch if you like: Suffering, episodic series, standard length series, Hell, creepy girls, the internet hate machine, the supernatural, revenge.

 

Drama is abound in mystery. Not all mystery anime has to include drama, but when it does, it tends to weave it in closely, which is exactly what we get with Higashi no Eden.

It's November 2010 when ten missiles strike Japan. But because the incident lead to no deaths, it's simply passed off as a terrorist attack and quickly forgotten. Months later, a senior university student named Saki is saved by a naked man in America and taken back to his apartment where… they find out he's part of a game "to save Japan". He must compete with twelve players who are equipped with a gun, phone and ten billion yen while he struggles to find out why he lost his memories and who exactly was behind the missile attacks.

Higashi no Eden has an interesting set-up and progresses well – yet you can hear the "but" coming right now – but the series suffers in the latter half from how short it is. Asses get pulled, explanations become rushed and the whole thing ends a bit too soon. But that doesn't mean the ride isn't worth it.

Why it made the list: Higashi no Eden is an exceptional mystery/drama anime, and while it delivers the perfect mix of mystery and explanation, it doesn't always keep it up. The series falls down our list for rushing towards the end and concluding on a note that can only be resolved by the movies.

Watch if you like: Mystery, America, Mirai Nikki, romance, amnesia, short series, modern terrorism, life-or-death games, political commentary, watching the movies.


25

Blue Spring Ride / Ao Haru Ride (2014)

 

 

The list ends with a sneak into the bulk of the drama category: romantic love triangle drama Ao Haru Ride. But it's not all first crushes here.

Futaba looks like your average, endlessly cute shoujo protagonist. Yet after her first love suddenly moves away, Futaba's beauty makes her a target for everyone in school. Now entering high school, Futaba vows to act as roughly and unladylike as possible, but her first crush's reappearance – along with his drastic change in personality – stirs things up and makes Futaba question whether she can get a second chance at love.

The most recent drama to grace this list, Ao Haru Ride isn't exactly full of surprises, but even though you can see most of the story a mile away, it's all about the characters, and during their honest moments, they shine.

Why it made the list: Ao Haru Ride is very much a dramatic love story for a younger audience, but what it has in way of a predictable plot and characters, it makes up for with innocence, honesty and charm.

Watch if you like: Relationships, romance, comedy, shoujo anime, school setting, love triangle, friendship, dating, recent series, short series.


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