Anime is all about the drama. We live for those huge eyes of our favorite characters to fill up with tears or burn with rage. To put it simply, we want emotion. Now one of the best ways to elicit emotion out of characters is by putting them into a relationship. This makes them vulnerable to a range of emotional pain and insecurities as they give themselves up to someone else. Thus, drama ensues. Now, this list will go over some specific ways that relationships cause drama, but more importantly, it will shed some light on the health benefits of staying single!
10. School Days
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul. 2007 – Sep. 2007
Makoto Itou finds himself head over heels for Kotonoha Katsura on first sight. However, he’s a little bit shy and instead of talking to her directly, snaps a picture of her and uses it as the background of his phone. This tactic is supposed to be a charm of sorts that will have Katsura fall for him. Well, Sekai Saionji notices the picture and decides to help his overcome his fears. What she doesn’t admit is that she wants to help him, because she wants to get close to him.
You know how there was a mention of health benefits in the introduction? Well, one benefit is that you are less likely to die prematurely. On top of the intense ending (which we’ll get to shortly) this show deals with subjects like rape and abortion and abuses its characters constantly. [MAJOR SPOILERS] By the end, Sekai, after being humiliated and ousted, kills Makoto. Then Kotonoha kills Sekai after discovering Makoto’s body and tears Sekai’s stomach open to see if she was lying about being pregnant. She was lying. To celebrate this victory? Kotonoha heads out on a boat with her lover’s head in tow. In other words, this show neatly picks apart those cruel incidents that breaks the hearts of others and shows just how far payback can go.
9. Aku no Hana (The Flowers of Evil)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr. 2013 – Jun. 2013
Kasuga Takao has a huge crush on Saeki Nanako, an extremely popular girl in class. He likes her so much in fact that one day he steals her gym uniform. Sadly for him, his action doesn’t go unnoticed. The reserved Nakamura caught him in the act and is now blackmailing him.
The emotional impact of Aku no Hana comes from a lot of factors, but few play as big of a role as the animation. It creates an almost claustrophobic atmosphere that allows us an up-close and personal look at the anxieties that plague the main characters. To some extent, the animation can almost make the viewer feel sweaty and a little bit dirty, which is especially true for when Takao decides to go through with his dubious deed. On top of that, it’s pretty nerve wracking to be caught up in a relationship that is based upon blackmail. At any moment, Nakamura can cause Takao’s life to come crashing down on his life.
8. Vampire Knight
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr. 2008 – Jul. 2008
At Cross Academy, there are the Day classes and the Night classes, though only a few people understand why such a distinction even exists. Well the reason, as the two peacekeepers of the academy Yuri and Zero know, is that the Night class is comprised of vampires. So it’s their job to one keep the secret of the Night class intact as well as to keep the regular humans safe. It’s a job that sounds rather straightforward. However, between Yuri’s attraction to Kaname, the head vampire, and Zero’s hatred towards vampires; things tend to get complicated.
This is one of those shows that would have gladly destroyed any perception of what a normal relationship looks like when you’re a child. First off, there’s a lot of biting which mixes the lines of pain and pleasure as well as touches upon degrees of force involved in intimacy. There’s the power of blood, unrequited love, and incest as well. However, these moments are tied to some of the more exquisite reveals that are deftly weaved throughout the narrative. In the end, a plethora of relationships from the platonic to brotherly to maternal to romantic are on full display throughout its run.
7. Strawberry Panic
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr. 2006 – Sep. 2006
Strawberry Panic follows Aoi Nagisa into her first year at St. Miator’s Girls’ Academy, an all-girl’s Catholic school. A bit frightened but ready for the beginning of her high school years, she catches the eye of Shizuma Hanazono. Well, Shimuza happens to be the school’s Etoile, and the fact that she is attracted to Nagisa is causing an upheaval of the school’s social hierarchy.
Drama fills up every scene of this anime. From held breaths to hidden glances to stolen kisses, Strawberry Panic knows how to grab your attention and make every moment feel like it lasts forever. What’s particularly exceptional about this anime is how well it handles multiple relationships. Rather, than focus on a single relationship or love triangle, Strawberry Panic covers a fair share of relationships, with each having their own third wheels and rivals. Thus, the drama rarely feels repetitive or annoying as there’s always a fresh development in at least one of the blooming relationships.
6. Kokoro Connect
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jul. 2012 – Sep. 2012
The Student Cultural Society Club is comprised of five students that realized they didn’t fit in any other club. Despite their relatively distant tastes, they do form friendships as they share their club space and interact on a daily basis. However, two of the members suddenly switch bodies, causing a club crisis.
Every single test within Kokoro Connect is a recipe for drama. Whether it’s having your thoughts broadcasted out loud or switching bodies with another person, there’s a good chance that things are going to get extremely messy. This only doubles as the relationships between the characters bend, and sometimes even break, with the onslaught of new experiences and information. Grudges and feelings are revealed on an episodic basis, so it’s best to prepare yourself for an onslaught of drama as these five friends try to navigate the social experiments of an alien life form.
- Episodes: 47
- Aired: Apr. 2006 – Mar. 2007
Nana Komatsu decides to follow her boyfriend Shouji Endo to Tokyo, as he chases his dreams of becoming a pop star. On the train to Tokyo Nana meets Nana Osaki, who is also going to Tokyo to chase her own music career. It’s a small interaction, but enough foundation for Nana Komatsu to rely on the other Nana when she realizes that her boyfriend is simply using her as a maid.
The primary reason why Nana strikes so deep is that it’s too-close to home for so many viewers. The story and characters are so perfectly crafted that it’s not hard to find a moment that you have personally experienced or fully believe can happen to someone you know. This is because how intricate the show depicts the way relationships mingle and unravel as each character chases down desire both professionally and romantically. The honest qualities that are infused into Nana allow it to touch the hearts of its viewers in a very direct and personal way. The realism of the piece doesn’t come at any cost either.
4. White Album 2
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Oct. 2013 – Dec. 2013
Just to be clear, this show is not the sequel to White Album; it just deals with the same universe. Now White Album 2 follows Haruki into his third and final year of high school. This year is Haruki’s final chance to perform at the school’s festival and, honestly, it doesn’t seem possible to accomplish this dream. That is until he hears the beautiful harmonies of a distant pianist.
White Album 2 is so high up because of how well it portrays a love triangle, an overused conflict in most anime. Each of these characters are close to one another and are caught in a situation where pursuing any desire will oust one member of their tight knit group. White Album 2 takes massive advantage of this by creating well-defined characters that we can relate to and feel sorry for no matter who’s getting the short end. This and the fact that it doesn’t turn away from showing physical intimacy in order to further emotional attachment.
3. ef: A Tale of Memories
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct. 2007 – Dec. 2007
A relationship blooms between Hiro Hirono and Miyako Miyamura as the two have a chance encounter on Christmas Eve. However, this relationship frustrates Hiro’s childhood friend, Kei Shindou, who has a crush on Hiro. That’s not the only conflicted relationship though. Kei has a creepy photographer following her around, complicating things, and then there’s Renji Asou who falls for the twin sister of Kei, Chihiro. Oh, and add in a couple of mysterious adults who are pulling some strings behind the scenes. That’s the plot behind this complex and emotional trying anime.
The number of interconnected relationships in ef: A Tale of Memories is enough to leave most people emotionally exhausted. There are a lot of feelings and ties to take into consideration and at times it is extremely difficult to keep up with, because one event will have broken your heart, but the story does not wait up for you. This can be particularly difficult as Kei competes with Miyako and Hiro tries to balance his own emotions along with new attraction and oldest friend. Renji’s relationship with Chihiro is particularly painful as his idealistic impressions of romance are shattered as he experiences the struggles of a particularly fragile relationship.
- Episodes: 23
- Aired: Oct. 2007 – Mar. 2008
Tomoya Okazaki is somewhat of a school delinquent who just lets the days skip by in blissful nothingness. However, he then meets the peculiar girl Nagisa, who was held back a year due to illness. Her forays into his life begin opening him up to a plethora of new experiences as he begins to care about things once more.
Most of you are probably pissed that Clannad is not at the number one spot. Admittedly, it is one of the best all-around shows out there and can bring just about anyone to tears. However, it’s more or less known everywhere, topping numerous lists, and quite frankly it’s more of a perfected formula rather than a truly original show. Okay, now to end the bashing, Clannad perfectly captures how to properly do a harem. First things first, you need to create a cast of lovable characters. This makes it so that no matter who is at the center of Tomoya’s attention, you will feel the pain of those being ignored. The second is that each person needs to have a devastating backstory to bring about all your feels and make it extremely hard to have a favorite. Clannad does these two things perfectly.
1. Shoujo Kakumei Utena (Revolutionary Girl Utena)
- Episodes: 39
- Aired: Apr. 1997 – Dec. 1997
Utena Tenjou was consoled by a prince after her parents died, and that interaction impressed upon her the desire to be the knight in shining armor. Thus when she attends Ootori Academy, she finds herself dueling for the heart of the Rose Bride, Anthy Himemiya, against a host of other princes. Upon winning the competition and having access to Anthy’s special powers, Utena puts it upon herself to revolutionize the entire system of Ootori Academy.
Shouju Kakumei Utena is at the top of the list becomes it incorporates drama through relationships that shatter binary normalcy, which is incredible when you consider that this was a show from the 90’s. However, breaking walls is not the only strong point. Few shows can honestly demonstrate the power of intimacy and attraction as powerfully as this one. It carefully constructs and then dissolves social lines in order to demonstrate how relationships and feelings manifest themselves in ways that are beyond our understanding. This opens the show up to love in all of its possible forms as characters lust after another for extremely particular reasons. Thus, a truly complicated web is created.
So there you have it. These are the shows that you will want to bring a box of tissues with. Each of them have the power to bring you to tears and drain all of your energy on a practically episodic basis. Now if any intense dramas were missed, please let us know in the comments.