10 Anime Series That Are Highly Realistic


Anime is rightfully known as a medium that transports us to fantastical words made of vibrant characters and imaginative stories. From heartwarming tales to visceral zombie gore, there’s no genre that anime hasn’t traversed. And yet, there are little gems within anime that offer a more realistic glimpse into the human experience.



The idea behind this authenticity is to have the courage to explore complex topics and circumstances that are often overlooked because they are difficult to bring to the screen. By being more realistic, these shows become more impactful, with narratives that shine a light on issues like bullying, mental health, moral ambiguities, chasing one’s dreams, and more.

In doing so, these anime series are sensitive, hopeful and inspirational. Rather than relying on the crutches of supernatural plot devices or escapes into fantasy, the stories intend to develop their characters in the most unassuming settings.

The 10 realistic anime series listed below harness the full potential of the medium and deliver the most dramatic, thoughtful, and entertaining slice-of-life stories. Beyond their impressive animation techniques and tremendously crafted characters, they also feature some of the finest storytelling.

10 Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku (2018)

Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku is a charming romantic comedy that wastes no time in diving straight into its cheerful narrative. The central character is Narumi Momose, who swears not to let any of her co-workers at the new office know of her obsession with manga.

However, her cover is blown when Hirotaka Nifuji, an old friend of hers, brings up the upcoming Summer Comiket. Hirotaka’s honest mistake reveals that Narumi’s colleagues are actually fellow otakus, and thus begins their medley of relatable and geeky misadventures.

Modern Romance? Nah, Otaku Romance

The main draw of this anime is how deeply it resonates with older audiences. Remarkably honest and funny in depicting romance among young professionals who negotiate busy careers and personal lives while indulging in their love for anime and manga makes them feel seen and understood.

The characters in the series, namely Narumi and Hirotaka, are genuinely entertaining. Their willingness to open up to someone who shares the same obscure fandom as them reminds us that we aren’t alone in the world.

Stream Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku on Prime Video

9 Given (2019)

An incredibly heartwarming BL anime, Given follows four teenage musicians — Mafuyu Satou, Ritsuka Uenoyama, Haruki Nakayama, and Akihiko Kaji — who stumble upon one another, and after a couple jam sessions, agree to form a band. Meanwhile, they also deal with relationships, personal demons, and the pressures of being in high school. Greatly affecting is the bond between Satou and Uenoyama, who both share common struggles and trauma from their pasts.

Breaks You and Heals You with Raw Emotions

Most people empathize with the process of identifying and embracing emotions through the power of music. Whether it is an indie pop artist or death metal band, we have favorites that help us get through difficult feelings.

Given treads the same waters by handling sensitive topics like grief and trauma through the eyes of its nuanced characters who find solace in music. The realistic angle in the anime is their existence as a band, where their journey unfolds at a believable pace instead of them creating instant hits and gaining overnight fame.

Stream Given on Crunchyroll

8 Nana (2006)

Featuring complex female leads and an all-too-believable narrative, Nana is a popular anime based on Ai Yazawa’s manga of the same name. It follows Nana Komatsu, a starry-eyed romantic, and Nana Osaki, an aspiring musician, as they jump off trains in Tokyo and decide to share an apartment, unaware of the fact that their lives are about to become deeply intertwined. The two young women strive to find success and happiness in their individual lives while navigating through the many fragilities of growing up.

Related: 20 Best Anime Series For Music Lovers

Relatable Portrayal Of Adult Struggles

Nana is undoubtedly one of the best slice-of-life anime series out there. It is profoundly real in its portrayal of flawed and ambitious young women traversing the murky waters of creating a living and finding love.

Rather than sugar-coating their doubts and imperfections, the series humanizes their struggles and turns them into characters we can identify with. For slice-of-life anime fans who still haven’t watched this intimate and amazing series, now’s the time.

Stream Nana on Hulu

7 Silver Spoon (2013)

If you’re someone who has moved around a lot, or simply changed schools at some point in life and struggled to fit in, this anime will make you feel seen. Silver Spoon centers around Yuugo Hachiken, who is so tired of failing to live up to his parents’ expectations that he enrolls into a boarding school in the countryside. However, once there, he realizes that his classmates are way more talented and knowledgeable than him.

A Gem About Chasing Your Dreams

Genuine in its depiction of personal growth, Silver Spoon is a series that offers meaningful lessons about self-worth, failure and responsibility. Unlike other coming-of-age anime out there, this one features a protagonist who has no clue of what they want to do in life, which only makes it more authentic, charming, and likable.

Moreover, the educational insights, the eventual understanding of the meaning of hard work, and support from quirky friends makes Yuugo’s story all the more entertaining.

Stream Silver Spoon on Funimation

6 Koikimo (2021)

Taking the “fall in love with your little sister’s best friend” trope and turning it around into an unconventional but adorable premise, this one is a must-watch. Hardworking playboy Ryou Amakusa’s world is turned upside down when a high school girl named Ichika Arima saves him from falling off the stairs. Immediately smitten, he begins to pursue her and when that phase ends, they develop a wholesome relationship.

Unusually Wholesome

Despite its odd age gap and unusual setting, Koikimi thrives in its portrayal of confused emotions. Rather than pass judgment or linger on the social pressures, it showcases Ryou and Ichika as two individuals who genuinely care for one another.

As the story progresses, their interactions become more profound and truthful, messy, but always heartwarming. The reason it is so authentic is that not all things are black and white in life and the anime does not shy away from that.

Stream Koikimi on Crunchyroll

5 Bunny Drop (2011)

Adapted from the manga series created by Yumi Unita, Bunny Drop (also known as Usagi Drop) is a rarity. The plot of the series goes something like this: after the sudden death of his grandfather, a 30-year-old bachelor named Daikichi Kawachi arrives at his hometown to pay his respects.

But there, he’s met with his grandfather’s illegitimate daughter… who is six years old. Being shunned by the rest of the family and having nobody else to call her own, Rin is stuck with Daikichi, who has no experience in parenthood.

Authentic Depiction of Life’s Unpredictability

Let’s be honest — who wants to watch a show about parenthood and the many struggles of raising children? Bunny Drop understands the mundanity of the task and, instead of portraying a traditional parent-child relationship, it focuses on one developing between two people across generations in an unconventional setting.

But that does not make it any less authentic. The more time Daikichi and Rin spend with each other, the more they learn to embrace each other’s messy imperfections and navigate life as a family.

Stream Bunny Drop on Crunchyroll

4 Horimiya (2021)

High schoolers Kyouko Hori and Izumi Miyamura are polar opposites — she is a brainy student who’s also very pretty, and he’s a timid outcast with no friends. When an after-school meeting forces them together, a secret is uncovered.

The normal Hori is actually an anxious recluse drowning in housework, while Miyamura is a delinquent covered in tattoos and piercings. The two find solace in each of their hidden identities, and the result is a beautiful romance that evolves them both.

Just An Everyday Love Story

Simply speaking, Horimiya is a down-to-earth high school love story. But rather than focusing on clichéd archetypes like infatuation, the talking stage, and grand confessions, the characters in this anime start dating at the very beginning.

In the rest of the series, we get subtle glimpses into their daily lives. From making bento lunches to hanging out after exams, every interaction between Hori and Miyamura is authentic, detailed and sweet.

Stream Horimiya on Crunchyroll

3 Haikyu!! (2014)

In Haikyu!!, we follow Shouyou Hinata, a short young boy who dreams of becoming a volleyball ace after watching the “Little Giant” play. However, his limited height makes his chances to be successful low. When he enrolls in Karasuno High School, Hinata comes face to face with Tobio Kageyama, a gifted player who despises him at first but soon warms up to him. Hinata makes the team, and they indulge in rigorous practice sessions and competitive games to train for an upcoming tournament.

Related: 20 Non–Violent Anime Series That Are Highly Addictive

Character-Driven and Easy Going

Fun fact: the anime is actually inspired by the mangaka Haruichi Furudate’s experiences of playing volleyball as a kid. That’s probably why Haikyu!! feels so realistic in its portrayal of the sport.

While fans connect with the characters’ growth, their tireless effort through constant setbacks, and their eventual triumph, it is the narrative’s momentum and intensity that makes it so entertaining and humorous. Haikyu!! also taps into themes of teamwork and self-improvement, which viewers can relate to.

Stream Haikyu!! on Crunchyroll

2 Monster (2004)

Sometimes the realistic side of life is also dark. Extracting realism from a nightmarish narrative, Monster follows a highly respected neurosurgeon named Dr. Kenzo Tenma, who is on his way to the top of his profession when a tragic event alters his life forever.

When the hospital director orders Dr. Tenma to operate on a patient, and is murdered shortly after, Dr. Tenma finds himself embroiled in a sinister and disturbing cat-and-mouse game.

Captivating Exploration Of Morals

Despite being an animated series, Monster feels strikingly realistic in its layered narrative. From the period setting to the props used and the violence depicted, every scene feels chillingly true. Moreover, the series strays away from a rather simplistic plot where the protagonist walks the tightrope between good and evil.

Instead, it mirrors complex real-world dilemmas like how much one is willing to sacrifice or how far one’s ethics bend in order to save themselves. Overall, the anime keeps viewers on their toes at every turn.

Stream Monster on Netflix

1 Your Lie in April (2014)

Lighthearted and colorful, Your Lie in April boasts itself as a tender romantic comedy, but in truth, it is one of the most devastatingly beautiful anime series out there. It is centered around Kousei Arima, a piano prodigy who is traumatized by his mother’s sudden death.

He disappears from the world of music and lives an unsuspecting life as a junior high student. That changes when a fiery, eccentric violinist named Kaori Miyazono bursts into his life and insists that he become her accompanist.

Emotionally Devastating, but Truthful

Anime is a medium that understands human emotions exceptionally well. It is proven true time and again through series like Your Lie in April, which portrays coming to terms with loss and finding the strength to move on with immense heart and compassion. While Kousei and Kaori are two kindred souls bound by their passion for living, it is their understanding of each other’s pain and trauma that anchors the story.

Stream Your Lie in April on Hulu

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