Recommendations: Drama (7)

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[Description]:  Dramas are what they sound like – they are dramatic. They attempt to stimulate and appeal to their viewer’s emotions above all else. They often try to portray relatable characters so the audience can better understand what they are going through, sympathize, and share in their emotional experiences. While some shows only lightly play upon their viewer’s emotions, others go all-out. They’re full of tragedy, and loss and and aim to pull at their viewer’s heartstrings as well as their sentimentality. Dramas are about forming an emotional connection between you and the characters on screen as well as their narrative scenarios. Links to spoiler-free reviews of all of the shows that have them are included.

7. Haibane Renmei

Alternative Title: Charcoal Feather Federation

Episode Count: 13 Episodes (24-minutes each)

Studio and Year: Radix; 2002

Details: Though initially more of a slice of life show than anything else, Haibane Renmei offers a highly imaginative world as well as a dramatic story once it gets its feet on the ground. After dreaming of falling through the sky, Rakka awakens inside a large cocoon from which she is soon birthed. Once emerged, she meets several winged beings adorned with halos called Haibane who welcome her to their abode of Old Home. Rakka’s own wings grow soon after and she joins the Haibane in their daily routines and lifestyle. Haibane Renmei, while very slow to develop, features an interesting world filled with its own rules and stories. Though much of its potential remains untapped, its setting as well as the nature of the Haibane and the mysterious wall that surrounds their town are none the less intriguing. You can read a spoiler-free review: here.

Recommendation: Tentative

6. Hibike! Euphonium

Alternative Title: Sound! Euphonium

Episode Count: 13 Episodes (23-minutes each)

Studio and Year: Kyoto Animation; 2015

Details: Hibike! Euphonium is a slice of life drama centered around Kitauji high school’s concert band. Kumiko Oumae, having quit her previous band club after a poor competition performance in middle school, joins the band in the hopes of starting over. The show itself focuses on the politics of the band – who gets first seat, who’s practicing hard enough, who isn’t, and how the students balance their school work with their effort in band. It attempts to capture the feeling of what it’s like to play in a high school concert band. There is also a moderate amount of romance and drama that develops as the students attempt to better themselves and prepare for upcoming tournaments and competitions. If nothing else, Hibike Euphonium is absolutely gorgeous to watch and beautifully animated.

Recommendation: Tentative

5. Death Parade

Episode Count: 12 Episodes (23-minutes each)

Studio and Year: Madhouse; 2015

Details: The premise of Death Parade is that, in the afterlife, those who have died whose ultimate fate is contentious are sent to a bar where an arbiter named Decim awaits them. When there, the deceased have no memory of their deaths and are chosen to play a game with the person accompanying them ranging from card games to billiards and darts. These games always have a twist that allows Decim to divulge the true nature of his guests and pass judgement on whether they should be sent to hell or heaven – damned or reincarnated. For the most part, Death Parade episodically features pairs of characters who have recently died and by playing the games, it explores how they died, what kind of people they were, and the dramatic implications of them being there. The show wavers a bit near the end but its a very entertaining and dramatic watch regardless.

Recommendation: Strong

4. Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru

Alternative Title: Yuki Yuna is a Hero

Episode Count: 12 Episodes (24-minutes each)

Studio and Year: Studio Gokumi; 2014

Details: Often likened to Madoka Magica because of their myriad of similarities, Yuuki Yuuna is another dark twist on the magical girl genre. Yuuki Yuuna and her friends in Sanshu Middle School’s Hero Club are one day enveloped in a strange, white light and transported to a bizarre forested region. There they encounter monsters named Vertex that endeavor to destroy the Shinju tree at the heart of the forest which shields humanity from this strange world. Using phone apps provided by an organization committed to protecting the tree, Yuuki and her friends transform into heroes capable of battling the Vertex. Full of dramatic twists and turns, Yuuki Yuuna grows progressively more tragic and heartbreaking by the episode as the girls desperately battle to defend their world at any cost.

Recommendation: Strong

3. Aoi Bungaku Series

Alternative Title: Blue Literature

Episode Count: 12 Episodes (22-minutes each)

Studio and Year: Madhouse; 2009

Details: Aoi Bungaku is a collection of six classical Japanese works of literature that investigate various themes within the human condition, often presenting the darker side of humanity in doing so. The featured stories in order are No Longer Human (Osamu Dazai); In the Forest, Under Cherries in Full Bloom (Ango Sakaguchi); Kokoro (Natsume Soseki); Run, Melos! (Osamu Daizai); The Spider’s Thread; and Hell Screen (both by Ryunosuke Akutagawa). Each new story and chapter is prefaced by Sakai, Masato in a brief live-action introduction. The quality varies between stories and some are more dramatic or comedic than others but they each present a mix of psychological horror and drama all the same. Run, Melos! is an especially strong part of the show and a near-masterpiece of drama by itself. The show also features an incredible soundtrack. You can read a spoiler-free review: here.

Recommendation: Strong

2. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Alternative Title: Showa and Genroku Era Lover’s Suicide Through Rakugo

Episode Count: 13 Episodes (26-minutes each)

Studio and Year: Studio Deen; 2016

Details: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu tells the story of Yuurakutei Yakumo, a renowned master of Rakugo theater, as he recounts his past to his newfound apprentice Yotarou. The show centers around his upbringing alongside his friend and fellow apprentice Sukeroku and how their relationship with Rakugo and each other shaped their lives. This show is a masterpiece of dramatic presentation – its scenes unfold artfully and intelligently and feature exceedingly human characters as they pursue the art form they love. Its layered with complex themes and provocative dialogue and at each stage of the story its characters are absolutely fascinating to watch. You can read a spoiler-free review: here.

Recommendation: Must-Watch

1. Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica

Alternative Title: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Episode Count: 12 Episodes (24-minutes each)

Studio and Year: Shaft; 2011

Details: Famously renowned for its twisted nature and dark reimagining of the magical girl show, Madoka Magica tells the story of Kaname Madoka and her friend Miki Sayaka who lead normal lives as middle school girls until their chance encounter with their new transfer student Akemi Homura and a strange, magical familiar named Kyuubey. Kyuubey offers Madoka the opportunity to form a contract that will grant her one wish in exchange for her services as a magical girl. The plot that follows is far more grim and complex than the show initially lets on and it is certainly true that the less you know about it going in, the more dramatic and gripping the show will be. Set to an incredible soundtrack by Kajiura Yuki and presented with stunning, stylistic visuals, Madoka Magica forever has a place among the greatest anime of all time.

Recommendation: Must-Watch

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11 thoughts on “Recommendations: Drama (7)

  1. I am happy to see that Hibike! Euphonium is getting a second season. The series surprised me because I went into it expecting nothing more than a light hearted K-On clone.

    Madoka is awesome, although the third movie has tarnished my opinion of the franchise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Obvious number one choice, despite how unfond I’m starting to become of it over the years.

    The surprise listing here is #4. I hear NOTHING but bad things about this series from cynical minds. I don’t recall off-hand what about it was the killing point, but it had something to do with the plot. Bad plot? Bad plot point? Characters’ reactions to the plot? Something of the sort. Fact is, it’s an interesting pick.

    #5’s a little interesting, too. I hear a TON of good things about #2. And #6. #7 is basically a given if you enjoy anime as a serious spectrum. And since I went through all the numbers anyway, #3 is… honestly, I hear next to nothing about this series. If it’s good enough to be #3 here, I’ll definitely consider it.

    Fun fact: #1 is the only anime here I’ve seen, so I can’t spread my opinion much today. : ]

    But if I may make a suggestion, Hyouge Mono would be another good anime for this list. It’s not necessarily “drama,” but it has bits of drama to it. It’s a strange mix of comedy, drama, slice-of-life, and historical. I think it’s more on the verge of slice-of-life/drama, but I think it has enough to warrant a place on here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I can imagine #4 being pretty contentious because it’s from the same author as Akame ga Kill which I personally really hated. His works from what I can tell have a tendency to be really over-the-top grim and really just ‘gratuitous and edgy’. He writes as if having dark themes makes the story complex or more adult but it comes off as really unjustified and awkward. I am speaking from very limited experience though.

      That being said, Yuuki Yuuna has a good deal of that going on with it yet the twisted mahou shoujo premise still earns my attention and the soundtrack is pretty strong. Critically it’s not terribly great or unique but I’d consider it pretty entertaining. Death Parade is alright I think. It’s initial vignettes were engaging and dramatic but when it tried to pull back the curtain on the world of the afterlife it kind of lost its orientation I feel.

      I’d check out Bungaku for sure. It’s pretty varied and the first couple stories I don’t think sell the show as well as they could but the mid-section is really well done in my opinion and the ending is fun and colorful. Surprisingly I have never heard of Hyouge Mono but I’ll check it out soon and likely add it to my ptw. I’ve probably written too much again but at least it’s formatted for once, and I’d feel bad expending less effort in response than you do in replying to these recommendations haha.

      Like

  3. Some fabulous recommendations here, and I love the variation from the slice of life of Sound! Euphonium to the cosmic existentialism of Death Parade. And there’s also a few to add to my to-watch list so thanks ^^

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have an odd relationship with drama in general. Either it works or I feel tempted to bash the characters with something blunt and spiky. The only show on this list I’ve actually seen is Death Parade and that was pretty good. But now I want to check out some of these…

    Congratulations, you’ve single-handedly given me about ten more shows I want to watch. Oh god.

    Like

  5. Pingback: In Case You Missed It | 100WordAnime

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