Characters with depth and nuance are adored by audiences everywhere. Every anime contains characters (obviously), but the plot, production, or premise often takes precedence over them.
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As some of my favorite anime contain great characters in dynamic or exaggerated narratives, this is not necessarily a bad thing.
However, there are moments when I want to feel the characters’ feelings and empathize to them in situations that are more relatable to my own personal experiences.
Here comes the loosely defined drama genre! Interpersonal emotions and theatrical story twists are emphasized in this list of anime. We’ve got you covered, romantic, introspective, or historical.
Here, we’re focusing on great dramatic anime with significant character development, subtext, metaphors, or personal growth.
20. The Wind Rises
Despite the fact that he would never be able to fly because of his myopia, Jirou is adamant about pursuing a career in aviation.
His big break comes when he designs the combat aircraft Mitsubishi A6M Zero.
Faced with the conflict of his desire to create and the dread of the havoc that his creation will cause, Jirou must decide if his goal is worth the price of his life.
Based on an actual story, Studio Ghibli’s extraordinary military drama incorporates both love and dread into a stunningly beautiful package.
In addition to some charming set pieces, the film’s overall antiwar message is sincere.
19. A Country Doctor
In my opinion, this is a new one that you’ve never heard of.
A Country Doctor’s poor MyAnimeList rating may be due to the fact that many people have misread it.
When a terrified, preoccupied doctor is pulled into performance with a patient who can’t be saved, A Country Doctor tells Franz Kafka’s story of the same name.
This is the best adaptation of the novel I’ve seen yet, thanks to the style and voice acting, which bring the classic to life like never before.
Without compromising the Kafkaesque terror it is known for, the film conveys the near-nonsensical tale visually while maintaining its Kafkaesque dread.
As horrifying, distressing, thought-provoking, and perplexing as it is – there may be a solution hidden beneath the surface.
So go check it out, it’s only twenty minutes long and it’s on YouTube!
18. Garden of Words
To draw shoe ideas at a park, Takao Akizuki often misses school.
Yukari Yukino, an enigmatic woman troubled by an unspoken ailment, greets him on a gloomy morning.
They meet there every time it rains. When the sun comes out, they become more reliant on one other as they fear that their small bubble would shatter.
Makoto Shinkai, the famed director, has created an anime short film with production values you’re unlikely to see again.
There are rain-soaked trains and pencil shavings in The Garden of Words, a microcosmic masterwork of storytelling that gets closer and closer to photorealism with each environment.
17. Mawaru Penguindrum
When the Takakura family’s young sister gets discharged from the hospital and taken to an aquarium to celebrate, she soon falls.
They are alarmed when she suddenly rises from the floor, presumably possessed by the penguin they had purchased from the gift store and carried back to the room for her
The brothers are promised that their sister’s soul would be returned if they can find a ‘Penguin Drum,’ but they aren’t informed what it is.
If you’re going to get the most out of this story, you’re going to have to sift through the analogies and subtext.
Mawaru Penguindrum, a family-oriented drama that manages to pull out a few tears, is constantly twisting, sleek, and fashionable.
16. Spice and Wolf
Traveling merchant Kraft Lawrence sells animal skins and oddities.
To meet the needs of his customers, he negotiates his way from hamlet to town, forming friendships and connections in the process.
When he meets Holo the Wisewolf, an ancient god with an aptitude for economics who wants to accompany him on his journey north, his thoughts of owning his own shop seem more realistic.
Keep an eye on Holo as she struggles to restore her identity in a world where deities aren’t as important.
Spice and Wolf is a heartfelt novel with believable characters and a vivid setting.
15. Kids on the Slope
When it comes to his piano playing, Kaoru Nishimi’s introverted demeanor shines through.
After meeting Sentarou Kawabuchi, he attempts to break out of his cocoon. His freeform jazz drumming technique has had a profound influence on me.
Another Watanabe classic, this time fusing jazz and emotional drama to produce an engrossing storyline.
Kaoru’s music allows us to see him blossom and discover the joy that comes from seeing others smile.
Stunning visuals and a straightforward narrative make this film a joy to see.
14. Your Name
His architectural aspirations and part-time employment keep Taki Tachibana occupied.
Mitsuha Miyamizu is fed up with rural life and longs for the bustling city of Tokyo.
They’ll find themselves waking up in the bodies of one another one day. To top it all off, they must figure out why the bodies were swapped.
Makoto Shinkai’s typical photorealistic approach is near-perfect in Your Name, which is another Shinkai masterpiece.
The story may appear complicated, but it is truly a deeply rooted tale of family and friendship.
13. A Silent Voice
Shouko, a charming deaf girl, enters the class in elementary school.
The school clown Shouya, on the other hand, picks her as a victim because she’s cute. After months of suffering, the girl is finally sent away, making Shouya the object of sarcastic remarks.
Shouya, now suicidal and feeling bad about his deeds, runs meets Shouko again years later and is once again haunted by his past. And he sets out to atone for his mistakes.
It’s going to be a sad yet heartwarming sequence of relationships between Shouya and Shoujo, as they find new acquaintances and assist one other out.
As one of Kyoto Animation’s greatest works, this film explores handicap, debilitating illness, and human responsibility in a slick and stylish way.
The carnivores and herbivores of the anthropomorphic society that Legosi and Haru are a part of have an unhealthy harmony.
Even more stress is created when an alpaca from the school theatre club is slain.
In the midst of this, the drama club continues to put on a terrific show. And a frightened wolf is smitten by a bunny with a good reputation.
CGI has a place in the medium, and this fantastic animation shows it, accenting the dramatic moments with flair and style that will leave you dumbfounded.
Season two promises to be even more exciting, and I can’t wait to see where the plot will take us.
11. Welcome to the NHK
Intense introverts, Hikikimoris require on minimal interaction with the outside world to survive.
Since he dropped out of high school, Tatsuhiro has lived as a hikikimori.
As a heroin addict, he’s filled with paranoia and bizarre notions about the government. A new buddy and a mystery girl preoccupied with ‘fixing him’ assist him as he attempts to reintegrate into society in “Welcome to the NHK.”
This anime delves into the darkest recesses of our protagonist’s mind and does so with crazy animation and outlandish soundtrack.
This is a dramedy like you’ve never seen before because of how it handles its macabre subject matter with a great deal of humor.
10. Ping Pong
Iconic Japanese Ping Pong film follows Makoto Tsukimoto as he ascends the ranks.
In the beginning, he appears to have no ambitions other than to help his best friend Yutaka (nicknamed Peco) become the greatest player in the world. However, he soon discovers what he wants, and how he might obtain it.
A table tennis event for high school students is just around the corner. An ensemble of hard-working professionals with distinct backstories and personalities joins the fray.
Even though you might think otherwise, Ping Pong is a high-octane sports story about the power of passion and perseverance.
An esoteric style elevates its potential to a truly exceptional level.
9. Whisper of the Heart
Shizuku Tsukishima is a voracious reader and writer who can frequently be spotted with a library book in hand. As she peruses the books, she notices that several were taken from a young boy her own age.
As a result, he is introduced to the confident violin maker Seiji Amasawa from Japan, who has spent a considerable amount of time studying abroad.
This gives Shizuku hope, but it also makes her feel unsure about the direction she’s been going in.
Then she decides to put her foot down and finish her manuscript, no matter how long it takes her to do so. For no other reason than to show herself capable of doing it.
Whisper of the Heart is a wonderful book for both children and adults since it represents a universal longing. It’s a great way to put into words the things we’re passionate about and the obstacles we face along the way.
It’s one of Studio Ghibli’s greatest works, combining a realistic and approachable subject matter with dreamy inventiveness at various points in time.
In the first season of Clannad, Tomoya’s misbehavior and sadness are the result of his father’s self-destructive and abusive relationship with him.
Until he meets Nagisa, a girl with whom he falls in love. She has a serious illness and hopes to reopen the drama club at her school someday.
As a result of his desire to help her, Tomoya encounters more people who open their homes and hearts to him, giving him a sense of purpose and friendship he had never had before.
Afterwards, Clannad After high school, the story takes place. The film deals with sensitive issues such as fatherhood and the death of a parent.
Clannad is a powerful melodrama that will likely put you in a state of uncontrollable sobbing by the time it is over.
It’s one of Kyoto Animation’s best adaptations, elevating the original Key graphic novel to deliver an animated journey through love and loss.
It’s impossible to compare the two Nanas.
A punk rock singer who is plagued by her past and an overly optimistic woman are two very different people.
By chance, they bump into each other on a train and wind up renting the same apartment.
A collision of their lives brings happiness, sadness and changes that can never be undone.
With no holds barred, this anime delves headfirst into the lives of our main characters, tackling a wide range of dramatic and serious themes.
The protagonists, who are both amusing and endearing, discuss a wide range of issues, including employment, rent, drug misuse, and pregnancy. You won’t be sorry if you give it a try.
Although he has a tough exterior, Ryuuji’s compassionate nature belies his rough demeanor.
Furthermore, Taiga’s petite and fragile body does not match her ferocious and unpredictable personality.
They don’t get along at first. Eventually, though, they come to realize that they may not be able to survive on their own.
As one of the loveliest romantic comedies around, Toradora! is replete with love triangles atop love triangles.
Each character is well-developed and lovable in this story, which makes the dialogue and character development much more enjoyable.
This is a solid one-time watch that doesn’t need any bells or whistles.
And, to be honest, it doesn’t appear to be 12 years old.
5. Aku no Hana
To put it simply, this is going to be a hard sale.
In order to adapt Oshimi’s psychological thriller, Studio Zexcs made a contentious choice.
They went with a rotoscope look and then drew the art on top of it. The animation was mainly performed by actual actors and actresses, then drawn over.
The outcome is purely subjective. There are several reasons why you would want to give this psychological thriller an opportunity, including guilt, decadence, deception, and bullying.
When Kasuga steals his crush’s gym suit, he is filled with shame because he likes reading Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal.
Unfortunately, the “bully” at school witnessed him. And she’s not going to let him forget it. Neither will anyone else.
Season two would be greatly appreciated by this fan.
I love this manga so much that I got the flower tattooed on my arm because it is one of my faves. This is a must-read because of the unique style and scary material, all of which are delivered with masterful dramatic flair.
Our first encounter is with a well-known neurosurgeon who has recently been engaged to the film’s director and is well-liked among his colleagues.
In the hospital hierarchy, Dr. Kenzou Tenma is moving forward.
Isn’t it ironic that when he’s saving a child’s life, he’s told to switch to the mayor?
He flatly refuses.
His future plans for a career and a relationship are all over, and his fiancée is no longer in his life.
Dr. Tenma realizes that the youngster he saved is a serial killer with a twisted objective after nine miserable years.
Studio Madhouse’s dark psychological thriller drama travels to places no other anime has gone before. With Monster’s dark and complex tale and muted pseudo-realistic graphic style, I think of mature anime.
If you’re a lover of mystery thrillers, you’ll definitely want to check this out.
3. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
He decides to start anew after serving a prison term.
Requests Yakumo’s instruction in Rakugo—an ancient Japanese performance technique in which the performer must portray all of the roles, alone, and remain consistent and engaging.
Yotarou appears to be on the verge of getting anything done. Yakumo’s memories of learning Rakugo are jogged as a result of this.
The first season focuses on Yakumo, while the second season shifts to Yotarou’s perspective.
Rakugo is a story about storytelling that is both gripping and grounded in fact.
The characters in this series are some of the best-developed in anime history. A fascinating account of a traditional art form, and the affection that is cherished by those who perform it, is depicted in this film.
2. Grave of the Fireflies
Grave of the Fireflies, in my opinion, is Studio Ghibli’s most important film, regardless of how contentious that assertion may be.
The ethics of war and its aftereffects dominate most of their writing.
However, this film does not avoid the topic.
Japan’s two nuclear bombs dropped at the end of World War II are shown in Grave of the Fireflies, which takes place in 1945.
We follow Seita and Setsuko, a little boy and his even younger sister, as they struggle to survive in a hostile environment populated by people who have suffered similar trauma.
Forgotten and actually harrowing are the real-world repercussions of combat.
Also based on Akiyuki Nosaka’s short tale from 1967, this film includes multiple eyewitness testimonies of the atrocities depicted in the short narrative.
Grave of the Fireflies refuses to turn its back on the grim realities of daily existence.
1. Legend of the Galactic Heroes
For the first time in 150 years, Wen-Li and Reinhard von Lohengramm engage in fight.
The Free Planets Alliance’s democratic diplomacy and the Galactic Empire’s aristocratic despotism stand in their way.
Furthermore, there are over 300 voice actors (the most in any anime), each with a distinct personality and development.
Animated media has generated some of the greatest works of art.
Despite the fact that it moves slowly and has a lot of dialogue, it recounts an epic tale that includes documentaries and a decade-long drama that comes to a wonderful ending.