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The world of Japanese animation (anime) is a versatile domain. There are a lot of different stories and genres, most of which usually represent Japan’s unique worldview at some level. And while anime – as well as manga – usually have a different system of categorization than Western standards, including some specific genres, there are a lot of genres present in both the world of anime and the West. In today’s article, we are going to be dealing with anime that can be considered realistic. This is a very fluid category, as anime shows aren’t really classified by that criterium, at least not officially; the slice of life genre refers to anime that portray real-life situations and lessons, but they do not have to be realistic in any other way (they can even have a fantasy setting). In this article, we are going to focus on those anime that did their best in portraying real life in all of its aspects, meaning that we are looking for real life situations, real life animation and real life settings, which means that we are going to have quite a diverse list. In any case…
10 Best Realistic Anime
A Silent Voice
Release Date: September 17, 2016
Runtime: 130 minutes
Created By: Yoshitoki Ōima
The story revolves around Shoya Ishida, a boy who, along with his friends, bullied his deaf companion Shoko Nishimiya when she was in elementary school. When Nishimiya changed schools because of this, all of his friends and teachers placed the blame only on him, leading him to isolate himself until high school, at which time he decides to make amends for his mistakes.
He suddenly reunites with Nishimiya, who has no friends due to her shyness; realizing that they are both suffering from her past actions, Ishida embarks on a path of redemption by trying to reunite Nishimiya with their old classmates, as the girl never got to befriend them back then, including Naoka Ueno, who holds a grudge against Nishimiya for “causing” Ishida’s isolation; Miki Kawai, their narcissistic former class leader; and Miyoko Sahara, a kind girl who was the only one who tried to befriend Nishimiya years ago.
They also make new friends like with Tomohiro Nagatsuka, a fat boy who was defended by Ishida against a bully; and Satoshi Mashiba, Kawai’s boyfriend. The seven begin to work together, when Nagatsuka’s plan to make a film for a competition, which was initially supposed to include only Ishida and himself, draws the attention of Ueno, Kawai, Sahara and Mashiba, with Ishida also inviting Nishimiya. to participate in the project.
During filming, the seven face various personal conflicts and even have a quarrel when Ishida tries to isolate herself again by insulting her comrades, leading Nishimiya to feel sorry for him as he tries to confess his love for her to Shoya. This has an impact on others, who start solving their problems by putting the project on hold.
Once he comes to his senses, Ishida reconciles with his friends and finally completes the film with them, which, although it turns out to be a failure, has led to the pacification of the group. One year after high school graduation and subsequent separation, the seven reunite for the school festival.
At that point, Ishida has stopped ignoring the people around him and now has many friends. In the evening, Ishida and Nishimiya head to the elementary school reunion hand in hand, hinting that they have started a relationship.
Original Run: 11 January 2007 – 25 March 2010
Episodes: 45 + 4
Created By: Tomoko Ninomiya
Genres: Musical, Romantic Comedy
In his childhood, Shin’ichi Chiaki traveled with his father, a world-famous pianist, and his mother through Europe and got to know and love classical music. The conductor Sebastiano Viera often took care of him and became his role model. At the age of twenty-one, he studied at the Momogaoka College of Music.
His fear of airplanes and the sea keep him from studying abroad. Although he has dedicated himself to playing the piano at college and is considered one of the best students, his real dream is to become a conductor and composer. Shin’ichi is arrogant and sees most of the other students as unskilled. Megumi Noda, often called “Nodame”, also studies piano at the Momogaoka College of Music and has her apartment next to Shin’ichi’s.
She is also talented, but not good at reading music; she mainly plays through her hearing – the latter is extraordinarily pronounced. Megumi is portrayed as a slob, but she has numerous serious symptoms of compulsive hoarding – her apartment succumbs to chaos and is full of trash. Megumi herself even neglects her personal hygiene. She stands in extreme contrast to Shin’ichi, who cultivates a perfectionist, orderly nature.
When Shin’ichi falls out with his piano teacher at the college, he receives someone else who is said to only take the rebellious students. Megumi is with the same teacher, and they then often get lessons together and are supposed to study pieces together. Megumi falls in love with Shin’ichi.
By chance, Megumi met the famous German conductor Franz von Stresemann, who immediately recognized Megumi’s talent. He introduces himself to her as Milch Holstein and due to the fact that Nodame thinks this is a real name, she calls him Milchi. It turns out that Stresemann is an old friend of the director of the university and thus receives a visiting professorship at the university, where he leads the school orchestra and teaches Chiaki.
Chiaki is prevented from fulfilling his dream of becoming a world conductor because of his fear of airplanes and the sea. Nodame helps him overcome this fear. But Chiaki also supports Nodame and encourages her to take a more serious look at playing the piano. They travel to Europe together. Nodame studied piano in Paris, while Chiaki secured a reputation as a conductor, including leading the renowned Roux Marlet Orchestra.
Tsuki ga Kirei
Original Run: April 6, 2017 – June 29, 2017
Created By: Seiji Kisihi, Yūko Kakihara
Genres: Romance, Coming-of-Age
The somewhat shy and reserved Kotarō Azumi comes in the third year of middle school for the first time with the sporty Akane Mizuno in a class. During the preparations for the sports festival, they get to know each other a little better and exchange their line contact details. Soon they are texting each other regularly on their cell phones and getting closer.
Both spend their free time very differently: Kotarō is active in a traditional festival association, works in a bookstore, and is often in the school library. He writes stories himself and wants to be a writer. His role model is Osamu Dazai, whom he often quotes. Akane, on the other hand, is a runner in the athletics club and is also successful at it. She represents the school in competitions. After a while, they finally admit their love for each other.
Both can be enthusiastic about each other’s hobbies and simply feel good together. But at first, they are still unsure how and when to organize their time together. In addition, her friends don’t know about their relationship. So there is some tension after Akane’s friend Chinatsu tells her that she has fallen in love with Kotarō.
At the same time, Takumi, a popular runner from the sports club, is in love with Akane. Eventually, Akane and Kotarō reveal their relationship and defend their love. Towards the end of the school year, the students have to decide which high school they want to go to. Akane and Kotarō want to be able to continue to see each other at school every day, but Akane’s father is transferred and the family has to move.
She should go to a school with a good reputation in the new city, whose entrance exam Akane should pass with her good grades. Kotarō already has an argument with his parents because they reject his literary ambitions. Now he still wants to go to the same school as Akane and pass the difficult test and then commute every day. Although he impressed his initially horrified parents with his new eagerness to learn, he did not pass the exam.
So both set up a long-distance relationship but swear to stay together. Despite the distance, the two stay in contact and visit each other. Years later, in the last scene at the end of the anime, you see Akane and Kotarō, now married and with one child.
Original Run: October 16, 1993 – March 23, 1996
Episodes: 101 (+ 5 films)
Created By: Takehiko Inoue
Genres: Comedy, Coming-of-Age, Sports
Slam Dunk tells the story of Hanamichi Sakuragi, whose evolution as a basketball player and as a person is the central theme of the anime. Sakuragi is a troubled 15-year-old and gang member with an impressive record of love rejections behind him. At the beginning of the series, Hanamichi does not know anything about sports or more than anything about basketball.
At the beginning of the play, we see Sakuragi, a fearsome and violent high school bully, newcomer to Shōhoku High School and dejected by his latest sentimental failure, which he attributes to the fact that his last girlfriend was in love with a basketball player which provokes him a deep rejection of that sport. Everything changes when he meets Haruko Akagi, whom he instantly falls in love with and whom he tries to impress through basketball thanks to her great stature and surprising innate physical condition.
However, Sakuragi is completely unaware of the rules of this sport, as well as completely lacking in technique. This situation is aggravated by his arrival in the team, when he realizes the enormous basketball skills of Kaede Rukawa, also a first-year player and with whom Haruko is in love.
Sakuragi ends up getting into a fight with Rukawa which causes a misunderstanding with Haruko and consequently, reinforces his hatred of basketball, which reaches extreme levels when he unintentionally provokes the captain of the basketball team, Takenori Akagi, Haruko’s brother. Akagi, passionate about this sport, hearing Hanamichi say that basketball is for losers, considers it a serious insult and challenges Hanamichi to a match in which if he manages to score at least one basket he will win the game.
Hanamichi with many difficulties, manages to score and Akagi recognizes his defeat, Haruko who was present surprises Hanamichi with the news that the captain of the basketball team with whom he has just faced is nothing more and nothing less than her older brother, so Hanamichi now also tries to impress Captain Akagi, but Sakuragi intends to flatter him with gifts and informing him of things the captain likes, but more importantly, he must show his tenacity.
Once in the team, Hanamichi Sakuragi must learn everything related to basketball from the basics, just at the arrival of the regional high school tournament in Kanagawa, but at the same time, Rukawa will also enter the team which will start their rivalry. As the play progresses, Sakuragi will try to rival him despite his low level and this rivalry will serve as a push to improve progressively throughout the manga.
He eventually begins to really appreciate basketball, perhaps the only activity in which he excels outside of fights and although he still wants to impress Haruko at all costs, this will cease to be his only motivation. The incorporation of Sakuragi will make the Shohoku team stronger, which, led by Akagi, will face the Kanagawa tournament for the first time and later the national one with real possibilities of success.
With the passing of history, a young man who will befriend Hanamichi will join the Ryota Miyagi team since, like him, he has problems in love with a student from his school, being in his case a young woman named Ayako who would also join the team as an assistant, but with a strong history of violence since he was only able to join the team due to a fight he had with another young man who would also join the team, Hisashi Mitsui who in his youth was the most valuable player in high school and who He became a criminal after not being able to overcome a knee injury that kept him from basketball.
Original Run: April 7, 2004 – September 28, 2005
Created By: Naoki Urasawa
Genres: Crime, Mystery, Psychological Thriller
The year is 1986. In Düsseldorf, a brutal murder was committed: an unknown person entered the house of the Libert couple and shot an elderly couple who lived there. Only the children survived: Anna and her twin brother Johan. Johan is wounded in the head and is in serious condition, he urgently needs surgery, and Anna has lost her memory from shock and does not react to the people around her.
It so happened that a brilliant young surgeon Tenma Kenzo lives and works in the same city, who successfully performs a serious operation and saves the boy’s life. This event will turn Dr. Tenma’s life around. Nine years pass, and Tenma meets again with Johan, who, in front of him, kills a patient with a smile. Tenma Kenzo realizes that he not only saved a human life, but resurrected a real monster, psychopath and murderer.
Meanwhile, Johan is seeking to find his sister, whom he lost contact with nine years ago. Anna Liebert, now Nina Fortner, lives in Heidelberg, in a prosperous family, studies at the university, but does not remember her past and goes to see a psychologist. Johan sends assassins to Nina’s new parents.
Nina, recovering, begins to remember the past and realizes that nine years ago it was she who shot Johan, and through her fault, he ended up in Tenma’s hospital. From this point on, the characters’ paths diverge. Tenma and Nina Fortner believe that their duty is to find and kill Johan, that is, to prevent the crimes that he will commit in the future.
Nina, who has already shot Johan once, is going to complete what she started, as well as avenge her parents. Tenma, who personally saved Johan during the operation, decides to correct the mistake. The heroes are looking for the same person, sometimes they meet, but they do not act together, but in some ways even against each other.
Tenma believes that the responsibility lies with him – therefore, he must pull the trigger, and Nina should not tarnish her conscience with murder. Nina’s reasoning is similar: a person like Dr. Tenma should not kill.
Hajime no Ippo
Original Run: October 4, 2000 – March 29, 2014
Episodes: 127 (+ 1 film + 1 OVA)
Created By: George Morikawa
Genres: Action, Comedy, Sports
Ippo Makunouchi is an extremely shy student who cannot make friends because he has to constantly help his mother run her fishing business. Because he stays to himself, he is bullied by a group led by Umezawa. One day he is badly beaten, but a passing middleweight professional boxer Mamoru Takamura stops them and takes the injured Ippo to the Kamogawa gym owned by retired boxer Genji Kamogawa. This treats his wounds.
After Ippo wakes up to the noises of boxing training, Takamura tries to cheer Ippo by letting him drain his frustrations on a sandbag. The men get a first glimpse of Ippo’s talent for boxing. After this incident, Ippo thinks a lot about the situation and decides that he wants to start a career as a professional boxer. In delivering this message to Mamoru Takamura, Takamura believes Ippo is taking professional boxing too lightly. He can’t turn Ippo down right away, however, especially because of his feat of punching the sandbag much harder than anyone in the gym except Takamura.
That’s why he asks Ippo to catch 10 falling leaves from a tree at the same time after a week of training. He firmly believes that Ippo will fail. Takamura runs away while he continues his road works. After a week of hard training, however, Ippo manages the technique on time. He waits for the jogging Takamura to go his usual way and surprises him by catching all 10 falling leaves with just his left hand. This impressed Takamura very much and he invited Ippo to the boxing hall for an introduction.
When they return to the gym, trainer Genji Kamogawa is not at all impressed by Ippo Makunouchi’s lack of fighting spirit and is prompted by Takamura to hold an exercise sparring against a member of the gym. However, Kamogawa decides to give Ippo a tough challenge and tells him to fight 16-year-old Miyata. Miyata is known as a boxing prodigy and one of the Kamogawa gym’s hopes for the future. This prospect worries Takamura, as Miyata’s abilities are far beyond his. As expected, Ippo loses by knockout, but only when Miyata tries to avoid his blows and finally ends the match with his trump card “The Counter”.
Coach Kamogawa realizes that Ippo has a great fighting spirit and decides to train him to be a Japanese champion with a world ranking, while Miyata is to become an OPBF (Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation) champion. High expectations are set in both of them that they will eventually fight each other for the belt of the world champion. The story focuses heavily on character development, and something is told about both athletes during the fights. Ippo has a habit of meeting his opponents before the fights to learn more about their backgrounds and even to sympathize with them. Ippo is an extremely shy and humble person who never thinks he’s strong enough. Instead, he encourages himself by seeing the strength of his opponent and realizing that he is able to hold his own against it.
Original Run: April 10, 2012 – December 26, 2012
Created By: Keitaro Takahasi
Genres: Action, Thriller
The series follows Koko Hekmatyar, a young arms dealer on behalf of HCLI, an international shipping company secretly involved in the arms trade. As one of the company’s unofficial arms dealers, Koko secretly sells weapons in many countries while avoiding local authorities and law enforcement as most of her work is actually illegal under international law. Her team of bodyguards travels with her, mostly made up of ex-soldiers and war veterans. The latest addition to her team is Jonah, a seemingly emotionless child soldier, incredibly skilled in combat but who ironically hates arms and gun smugglers. In fact, Jonah joined Koko in hopes of finding the arms dealer who killed his family and getting his own revenge.
Your Lie in April
Original Run: October 9, 2014 – March 19, 2015
Episodes: 22 (+ 1 OVA)
Created By: Naoshi Arakawa
Genres: Musical, Romantic Drama
Kōsei Arima, a piano child prodigy, dominated various music competitions in Japan and became famous among children’s musicians, but also controversial. After his mother Saki dies, he has a nervous breakdown at a piano competition, which leads to the fact that he can no longer hear the notes of his piano even though he can hear everything else normally. Two years have passed since then, in which Kōsei has not touched the piano and only perceives the world in black and white, without atmosphere or color.
His best friends, the softball player Tsubaki Sawabe and the soccer player Ryōta Watari, try to cheer him up and arrange a kind of “double date” in which Kōsei meets a girl who brightens up his colorless world again: Kaori Miyazono. The free-spirited 14-year-old violinist, whose playing style reflects her manic personality, helps Kōsei return to the music world by pushing him back to play the piano. By playing the violin, she also shows him that, in contrast to the structured and rigid style that Kōsei plays, she appears free and lively.
Kōsei also begins to play more freely and the more he does with Kaori, the more he begins to fall in love with her, even if she is apparently in love with his best friend Ryōta. During a joint performance with piano and violin, Kaori collapses after a moving performance on the stage and is hospitalized. At first, Kaori claims that she has anemia and only needs a routine check-up, but this turns out to be a lie when you see flashbacks to her past where she has collapsed numerous times.
Eventually, Kaori is released from the hospital and returns to her happy, crazy self, who invites Kōsei to play with her at a gala concert. However, Kaori does not show up on the day of the gala concert, and as her health continues to deteriorate, she begins to give up life. This time around, Kōsei is the one who inspires her to move on after playing a duet with Nagi Aiza, the piano-playing sister of a competitive opponent named Takeshi Aiza.
After listening to this tearfully, Kaori decides to undertake a risky operation that could kill her if she fails so she can play with Kōsei one more time. Kaori asks Kōsei to take part in the East Japanese Piano Competition and do his best, even if her life-changing operation takes place on the same day. While playing in the finals of the East Japanese Piano Competition, Kōsei sees Kaori’s ghost accompany him on the violin and eventually realizes that she died during the operation.
At Kaori’s funeral, her parents give Kōsei a suicide note that she wrote to him before she died. The letter reveals that she knew she had not much longer to live and that as a result she became freer both as a person and in her music. She also writes that she had been in love with Kōsei since she was five and was inspired by him to play the violin so that one day she could play with him. Her supposed feelings towards Ryōta were the “Lie in April” (Your Lie in April), after which the series was internationally named, and it was fictitious to get closer to Kōsei without emotionally hurting Tsubaki, who also harbored hidden feelings towards Kōsei.
After Tsubaki realizes her feelings towards Kōsei, she approaches Kōsei and promises him that she will be by his side for the rest of her life. Kaori also left a photo of her as a child; recorded at the concert that inspired her; on which you can see Kōsei going home in the background. Kōsei will later frame this picture as a souvenir.
Original Run: October 9, 2014 – March 26, 2015
Created By: Tsutomu Mizushima
Genres: Comedy, Slice of Life
Five best friends named Aoi Miyamori, Ema Yasuhara, Shizuka Sakaki, Misa Tōdō and Midori Imai all go to work in the anime industry after gaining experience in their animation club in high school. Their respective jobs will not be easy at all, so much so that the story describes daily difficulties, as well as their efforts to overcome them. In particular, the series focuses on the production of two anime television series, by Aoi and her staff at the animation studio Musashino Animation.
Rainbow: Nisha Rokubō no Shichinin
Original Run: April 6, 2010 – September 28, 2010
Created By: George Abe
Genres: Prison drama
The story takes place in the 1950s in the Japanese post-war period. It focuses on six juvenile prisoners and their supervisor at Shōnan Special Reform School near Tokyo and their life after leaving school. Ten years after the Second World War, in July 1955, the six prisoners, nicknamed Mario, Kohlkopf, Soldat, Schildkröte, Uncovered and Joe, are transferred to an educational institution. You will be referred to the head school doctor Dr. Sasaki is introduced, who examines her painfully rectally, and her sadistic and brutal supervisor Ishihara, who accompanies her.
Then they get to know their fellow inmate Sakuragi. After a few teething problems, Sakuragi’s strength gains respect from the other six boys and they get to know each other better. When Joe realizes that his younger sister is about to be adopted and he fears she would then be mistreated and he could never see her again, the other boys help him to escape. For this they are beaten up and put in solitary confinement. It turns out that Tortoise lost his entire family in the atomic bombing on Hiroshima and grew up on the streets. Joe reaches the orphanage and tries to escape with his sister, but they are caught by the police and he is brought back. His sister just tells him to forget about her and that she can manage on her own.
Overseer Ishihara hates Sakuragi because he is always calm about him. In order to beat him up and play the boys off against each other, he tells Uncovered, who grew up in poverty and famine and distrusts everyone around him that Sakuragi killed his own parents, so that Uncovered gets scared of Sakuragi. When a fire breaks out due to a cigarette, Ishihara is supposed to free the inmates. He throws away the keys to Sakuragi’s cell in order to kill him. But he’s already evacuated and outside Sakuragi confronts him for his fear of him before he helps save others from the fire. Uncovered, it is impressed that there are people who risk their lives to save others.
So he rushes to help himself, finds the keys and manages to free the boys against the resistance of Ishihara. Sakuragi is passed out and taken to the hospital, where he tells the nurse Setsuko that his five older brothers were all killed. Because his father was a broken man after the war, who yelled, got drunk, and was unemployed, he was no longer respected and committed suicide. Sakuragi sees the blame for this with himself, is afraid of loss and fled into boxing.
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