Franchises staring figure skaters and time-travelling robots make the list.
As we’ve seen before, anime usually isn’t trying to be completely realistic. If anything, it’s often the opposite, with creators taking advantage of the medium’s potential to create settings and situations unlike anything that would be possible in the real world.
Still, many anime fans would say that in the series they’re the most passionate about, they see some sort of truth about the human condition. Internet portal My Navi Gakusei no Madoguchi recently polled 403 Japanese university students (203 men and 200 women), asking them which anime or manga series they felt showed true-to-life relationships and interactions between human characters, with the following five franchises being identified as particularly praise-worthy stand-outs.
1. A Silent Voice
If nothing else, A Silent Voice gets credit for exploring the complex, fluid nature of interpersonal interactions as we get older, exploring the reasons behind a young boy’s antagonizing his deaf classmate and subsequent attempt at redemption during his teen years. It was also commended by respondents for highlighting the potential damage of childhood bullying, which has become an increasingly large concern in modern Japanese society.
2. Sound! Euphonium
While plenty of anime follows youth sports teams, Sound! Euphonium is one of the few to focus on school music club activities, which are as popular a choice for Japanese students as they are for their counterparts in the West. “The series realistically portrays the awkward, strained relationships that can come about in that atmosphere,” commented one survey participant.
3. Yuri!!! on Ice
2016’s breakout hit about professional figure-skating portrayed several facets of its characters’ lives, earning it the respect of not only those with whom its depiction of male homosexual romance resonated, but also viewers who appreciated the show’s willingness to dive into the relationship between athletes and coaches, as well as main character Yuri’s complete set of psychological strengths and weaknesses.
Yes, the plot of Doraemon often hinges on the antics of a time-traveling robot cat. But as one respondent put it, “There’s just something that feels real about the other characters,” and since Doraemon’s elementary school-age costars have been captivating young fans for generations, it definitely seems like young kids can see something of themselves and their friends in the anime’s human cast.
5. Running Away is Shameful but Helpful/We Married as a Job
Like Doraemon, Nigehaji (as this mnga-turned-live-action-TV-drama is known to Japanese fans) doesn’t have the most realistic-sounding premise, with a man and woman living together and pretending to be married due to a set of contrived circumstances. Nevertheless, supporters bought into the burgeoning romance that develops once all the players are in place, particularly the “careful depiction of subtle emotions.”
Or maybe everyone just really loves the Koi Dance from the drama’s ending credits.