The world of anime spans every cinematic genre there is, from romance to horror and sci-fi, and some unofficial genres are like hybrids, such as romantic comedies, or rom-coms. Many of the most popular, endearing anime series are indeed rom-coms, taking advantage of how colorful and expressive anime characters can be. Examples range from Kaguya-Sama: Love is War to Nisekoi and Don't Toy With Me, Ms. Nagatoro!. However, there is also room for drama.
Some anime fans prefer their anime to be more grounded, with heavy drama that digs deep into the psyche of each character involved, and plenty of anime series and movies deliver on that. Some of those series start with comedy, to be sure, but the drama is what really drives the story along.
Fruits Basket Is a Sweeping Tale of Love & Self-Acceptance
Fruits Basket's 2001 anime was mostly a comedy, but the 2019 reboot anime, and the original shojo manga that inspired it, are both driven mainly by serious drama and tense emotional stakes. Fruits Basket offers plenty of comedy to balance the tone, such as the antics of Momiji Sohma the deredere boy, but overall, this is an emotionally impactful love story about the consequences of abusive behavior, the difficult path towards self-acceptance, and even coping with grief and heartbreak. Protagonist Tohru Honda is still haunted by the demise of her parents, but that won't break her spirits, and neither will the cruelty of Akito Sohma, her worst enemy. Tohru will show incredible emotional strength and give it her all to save the Sohmas from the dreadful zodiac curse that keeps them bound in an eternal banquet.
Fruits Basket can be streamed on Crunchyroll, as well as Hulu and Amazon Prime.
Your Lie In April Is a Melody of Healing & First Love
Your Lie in April has a well-earned reputation for being a real tear-jerker of an anime, and best of all, the anime's drama is never cheap or exploitative to make people cry. Instead, this is a tender romantic drama anime about the power of friendship, healing and first loves, all wrapped in a musical package of violins and Chopin. The protagonist is Kosei Arima, an emotionally abused boy who lost his love of music, to the point where he can't even hear the piano when he presses the keys. Then he meets the lively Kaori Miyazono, a violinist his age who inspires him to rekindle his love of music and heal his wounded heart. However, their new friendship, while bordering on a true romance, is running out of time, and Kaori might not be there to make music with Kosei for much longer.
Your Lie in April can be streamed on Crunchyroll as well as Hulu.
Your Name Keeps Two Star-Crossed Lovers Apart
Your Name is widely considered to be director Makoto Shinkai's masterpiece, often overshadowing his other works such as The Garden of Words and 5 Centimeters Per Second. The Your Name anime movie begins as a comedy, featuring the young male and female co-leads swapping bodies when they go to sleep. Taki Tachibana is a student in Tokyo who keeps dreaming of a rural girl named Mitsuha Miyamizu and vice versa, but eventually, Taki stops seeing Mitsuha entirely. He's desperate to find out what happened, so he embarks on a trip to Mitsuha's countryside town, but he's in for quite a shock when he gets there. However, not even Your Name's most dramatic twists and turns can keep these lovestruck teens apart for long -- the strength of their red ribbon of fate is not to be underestimated.
Your Name is available on Amazon Prime and on Blu-ray at Right Stuf Anime.
After The Rain Is About Reigniting Lost Loves
The charming seinen anime series After the Rain begins with an odd premise, but instead of becoming awkward, this romance drama goes in a wholesome, optimistic direction. Akira Tachibana is a high school student waiting tables at a restaurant, but an ankle injury is keeping her away from her true passion: running track. Her heart is like a rainy thundercloud, and something similar could be said about Akira's middle-aged manager, Mr. Kondo. He too has lost his passion for what he loves most, but things might change when Akira develops an innocent crush on her boss. As they grow closer, both Akira and Mr. Kondo dig deep within themselves and reignite their passions, inspired by the bond they now share. Eventually, all rainclouds must part to admit the sun's warm rays.
After the Rain can be streamed on Amazon Prime.
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas Has a Tense Central Romance
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas isn't nearly as weird as its bizarre title would suggest. Rather, this is a heart-wrenching but sweet drama in a roughly similar vein as The Fault in Our Stars, exploring what true love is like when one or both partners has very little time left to live. In this case, the popular high school girl Sakura Yamauchi is secretly suffering from a medical condition of her pancreas, and she knows that her remaining time is measured in mere months. Then an unnamed boy learns this secret, and Sakura, relieved by the boy's acceptance of this fact, befriends him. They almost become lovers during their short and sweet time together, but fate has other plans, and Sakura and the boy are in for a rude shock. Still, not even the most tragic twists of fate can dissuade the boy from loving Sakura and her bright spirit for years to come.
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas can be found on Blu-ray at Amazon and Right Stuf Anime.