This list is exactly what it is, comprising of the top 20 must-watch drama anime. But first, we must define what a ‘Drama’ anime is. Often times, drama anime contains some sort of story twists, or plot holes, which creates an intense feeling of ups and downs for its viewers. Whether you are a lover of tear-jerking, emotional roller coasters, love triangles, or whatever you want to call it, there is always something for everyone. So sit tight, strap up, and let me show you the top 20 must-watch drama anime shows of all time.

1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

fullmetal alchemist: brotherhood - drama anime recommendation
  • Episode: 64
  • Season: Spring 2009
  • Source: Manga
  • Studio: Bones

After conducting an illegal alchemy experiment, the Elric brothers lost their limbs as a punishment for their deeds. Despite this failure, years later, the brothers were still seeking ways to bring back their mother through the powers of the Philosophical Stone. However, mythical objects were meant to be left untouched. Because soon, the two brothers suddenly found themselves uncovering the ugly truth of the Philosophical Stone itself and its connection to their national secrets.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the perfect anime for those in love with the drama genre. It features an ever-changing plot that entails surprising loopholes, as well as meaningful character development. Definitely come check out the epic adventure of the Elric brothers.

2. Clannad

clannad - drama anime recommendation
  • Episode: 23
  • Season: Fall 2007
  • Source: Visual Novel
  • Studio: Kyoto Animation
Tomoya Okazaki is a delinquent who thinks that life is boring as it is. One day, as he walks to school, Tomoya met a strange girl who seemingly stared into space while uttering strange words. Her name was Nagisa, and they quickly become friends. Slowly and gradually, as their bonds deepened, Tomoya realized that life was not as boring as it is.

The Clannad series taught its viewers meaningful lessons about relationships and adulthood. Through dramatic events, each and every character struggled to find their own happiness. Clannad is the ultimate emotional roller coaster, an essential element for every masterpiece drama show.

3. Code Geass

code geass - drama anime recommendation
  • Episode: 25
  • Season: Fall 2006
  • Source: Original
  • Studio: Sunrise
In 2010, the Britannia Empire has established itself as the ultimate military nation. Despite this, there remains a group of people who wanted to set themself free from Britannia’s rule. The terrorist group, Area 11, was then formed. Lelouch, a Britannian student, found himself amidst the battles between the two parties. There, he met a witch who gave him a strange power called Geass. Using his Geass, Lelouch embarks on a journey to forever revolutionize Britannia.

Code Geass showcased the ultimate struggles and difficulties experienced by its protagonists. Having the entire world against you is a lonely feeling, and Code Geass did extremely well conveying such emotion. With a complex storyline filled with plot holes and twists, this show is undoubtedly an excellent drama that will undoubtedly keep you engaged throughout.

4. Violet Evergarden

violet evergarden - drama anime recommendation
  • Episode: 13
  • Season: Winter 2018
  • Source: Light Novel
  • Studio: Kyoto Animation
After The Great War, Violet, a soldier survivor, was hospitalized and seemingly left confused with the last words of her beloved Lieutenant: “I Love You”. Hoping to understand the final message, Violet begins working at a Postal Service as an “Auto Memory Doll”. This is the story of postwar recovery, as well as the growth of an emotionless soldier throughout Violet’s new daily life.

Violet Evergarden is an emotional roller-coaster that will not fail even its most poker-faced viewers. Throughout the show, the viewers experienced a wide range of emotions, from sadness and regrets, to joy and happiness.

5. Anohana

  • Episode: 11
  • Season: Spring 2011
  • Source: Original
  • Studio: A-1 Pictures
Jinta Yadomi, while enjoying leisure time at home, was suddenly visited by the ghost of Menma, his dead childhood friend. According to Menma, Jinta must fulfill her wish, which she herself could not recall. Will Menma be able to grant Menma her wish? Only time can tell.

As an emotional roller coaster, Anohana does pretty well in keeping viewers engaged throughout a simplistic yet meaningful plot. With exceptional character development, the anime showcased the ups and downs of each protagonist, as well as their past backgrounds and trauma. Ultimately, viewers are left with an awe feeling after experiencing the pain and happiness the friend groups gone through.

6. Nana

  • Episode: 47
  • Season: Spring 2006
  • Source: Manga
  • Studio: Madhouse
Nana Komatsu is a naive young girl who can’t help but constantly falls in love with those around her. Meanwhile, Nana Osaki is a badass and punk rock vocalist who is seriously trying to become a professional artist. After their fateful encounter during a trip, the two friends are brought together to eventually share an apartment with one another. This is a story featuring the life struggles of both close friends.

Nana portrays love and relationship in a unique and memorable way. From a fated meeting between the two stranger friends, the anime showcased the struggles of each character. Along with them, viewers are able to experience pain, hardships, happiness, and ultimately, love. With an ever-changing plot, full of ups and downs, Nana is indeed a must-watch drama anime for all.

7. Vinland Saga

vinland saga
  • Episode: 24
  • Season: Summer 2019
  • Source: Manga
  • Studio: Wit Studio

Thorfinn is a young boy who loves to hear the tales of war and Vinland, a fruitful land perfect for farming. However, Thorfinn realized his life as a naive boy was over when Thors, his father, died under the hand of an old pirate named Askeladd. Now, Thorfinn follows the man around in seek of revenge for his father. Throughout his adventure, Thorfinn must discover the meaning of a True Warrior, as well as realize his true purpose in life.

Vinland Saga was truly a deep and meaningful anime filled with a variety of philosophical messages. Viewers were often challenged to ponder whether ‘revenge’ was truly the correct way to live. Evidently, our young protagonist suffered a trauma too great to heal, changing his life forever. Now, living life as a bandit’s dog, he must survival through the living hell of war, and find his own way of life. Ultimately, Vinland Saga is a truly worthy drama anime show for those seeking something out of the norm.

8. Kenpuu Denki Berserk

kenpuu denki berserk
  • Episode: 25
  • Season: Fall 1997
  • Source: Manga
  • Studio: OLM
Gut, a young mercenary known for his ruthless fighting style, was taken in by Griffith, the leader of the Band of the Hawk. As he fights through the ranks of the enemies, Gut proved himself to be a significant addition to Griffith’s force. Slowly, Gut realized that life was more than just slaying the enemies. Little did he know of the fate awaits him in the darkest depths of hell, and the tragedies that follows.

Berserk is definitely not an anime for the weak heart, featuring a cold-blooded protagonist who was able to brutalize through the enemy lines and defeat his foes. However, though possessing extreme strength, he still experienced pain and hardships just like us all. As a drama anime with a rich and meaningful storyline, Berserk will definitely not disappoint.

9. NHK ni Youkoso!

NHK ni Youkoso! - drama anime recommendation
  • Episode: 24
  • Season: Summer 2006
  • Source: Novel
  • Studio: Gonzo
Tatsuhiro Satou is a shut-in NEET who has no motivation in life. He struggled to leave his apartment and suffered even more with severe social anxiety. In addition, Satou assumed his shut-in life to be the conspiracy of an evil organization named NHK (Nihon Hikikomori Kyokai). However, his life changed forever after a seemingly fateful encounter with a young girl named Misaki.

NHK ni Youkoso features the daily life of a shut-in NEET. As the show progress, viewers are able to peek into the mind of the unmotivated protagonist and learn of his past traumas. With a deep and meaningful storyline, the NHK ni Youkoso is one of the best drama anime that will undoubtedly teach a valuable life lesson for all.

10. Monster

Monster - drama anime recommendation
  • Episode: 74
  • Season: Spring 2004
  • Source: Manga
  • Studio: Madhouse
Dr. Kenzou Tenma was a well-respected and talented doctor ready to ascend the stairs of the hospital’s hierarchy. However, after his decision to operate on a young boy instead of the town’s mayor, Tenma suddenly lost everything. His wife, social standings, and ultimately, his job. In addition, little did he know that the patient he rescued was also a cold-blooded killer. After nine years, the patient finally came back to haunt Doctor Tenma, endangering those around him. Now, Tenma must embark on a journey to get rid of the killer himself.

Monster showcased an intense battle between a former-surgeon and his murderous patient. Throughout the story, our protagonist faced difficulties and struggled with his inner self, as well as trying his best to stay alive. In the grand scheme of things, incorporating such an intense mix of varying themes allowed Monster to be the perfect drama for those seeking a deep and paced action anime.

11. Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu

Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu
  • Episode: 25
  • Season: Spring 2016
  • Source: Light Novel
  • Studio: White Fox
When leaving a convenience store, Subaru Natsuki found himself teleported to a strange fantasy world. However, contrary to his initial excitement, Subaru was soon beaten by a group of thugs. Fortunately, he was rescued by a beautiful girl named Satella. She told him she was looking for an insignia. Wishing to repay this stranger, Subaru offered his help. Despite this, after a fruitless attempt, Subaru experienced a gruesome death only to find himself reawakens to the familiar scene. It was as if time was repeating itself.

At first glance, Re: Zero might seem like your everyday harem/fantasy anime. But don’t be trick, because there is more to the show than its initial impressions. The storyline of Re: Zero is choke-full of plot twists and surprises that keep the viewers engaged throughout. So for those looking for a quality drama anime, then Re: Zero might be the perfect show.

12. Oregairu

Oregairu - yahari ore no seishun love comedy wa machigatteiru
  • Episode: 13
  • Season: Spring 2013
  • Source: Light Novel
  • Studio: Brain’s Base
Hachiman Hikigaya is a pessimistic high schooler who thinks that everyone around him is lying to themselves about the joy of youth. After submitting a ‘truthful’ essay to his teachers, he was forced to join the Volunteer Service Club. Strangely enough, the only other member is an unlikable girl named Yukino Yukinoshita. As Hachiman solve other student’s problems, the question remained. Will he be able to change his ways for good?

Yahari ore no Seishun offers to viewers an interesting insight of young love and their romantic struggles. Evidently, our main protagonist is a loner who has trouble understanding those around him. Despite this, he still tried his best to enjoy his seemingly dull and unfulfilling high school career. Along with the unnecessary drama Hachiman encountered daily, this perfectly set up the scene for a deep and meaningful drama show.

13. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 - drama anime recommendation
  • Episode: 11
  • Season: Summer 2009
  • Source: Original
  • Studio: Bones , Kinema Citrus
Mirai Onozawa is fed up with her parent’s constant fights. One day, out of anger, she agreed to take his brother to a Robot Exhibition in Odaiba. Seemingly out of nowhere, an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 suddenly struck, shattering the entire building. Fortunately, the siblings were able to escape. After a fateful encounter with motorcyclist Mari Kusakabe, the group decided to survive and to reunite with their families.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 perfectly showcase the distress and despair of those who lose their families to natural disasters. The anime details everything, from the mass panic, to group conflicts, and fortunately, even teamwork and compassion for fellow victims. Indeed, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 teaches its viewers to stay strong and believe that everything will be ok. Not only that, but viewers can also really feel fear and sadness within the victims. Which serves to greatly enhance the overall satisfaction of the anime dramatic experience.

14. Death Parade

Death Parade - drama anime recommendation
  • Episode: 12
  • Season: Winter 2015
  • Source: Original
  • Studio: Madhouse
After death, humans do not simply goes straight to heaven or hell. There exists a bar named Quindecim. It exists between the border of hell and reincarnations, and behind the counter stood Decim, a seemingly mysterious bartender. Ultimately, he gets to decide your fate, whether it be a simple game of bowling, darts, air hockey. And one mistake will cost its participants an entire lifetime.

For those looking for something with a dark and moody theme, then look no further than Death Parade. Unlike typical anime that follows a linear plot, Death Parade is rather episodic in nature. However, executing character development within one episode is definitely not an easy task, something which this anime excels at. As a result, each episode will feature a hectic and dramatic story build-up perfect for those looking for a thriller drama anime series.

15. Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - drama anime recommendation
  • Episode: 24
  • Season: Fall 2012
  • Source: Light Novel
  • Studio: J.C.Staff
After numerous incidents relating to lost cats, Kanda Sorata was unfortunately forced to move into the infamous Sakura Hall of Suimei High School. There, he encountered its strange and eccentric residents ranging from a skillful womanizer, a genius programmer, to an ambitious voice actress. Most important of all, he encountered Shiina Mashiro, a genius artist hoping to become a professional mangaka. At Sakura Hall, Sorata was forced to learn more about himself. And along with his new dorm-mates, learn about success, as well as failures.

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo features the daily lives of young adults wishing to accomplish great things in the brutal and unforgiving world. Throughout the anime, viewers are shown the shortcomings of each character, as well as their goals and ambitions. Like anything in life, these characters oftentimes experienced ups and downs and must learn to never give up. For the drama anime fans seeking to learn meaningful life lessons, then look no further than Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo.

16. Mahou Shoujo MadokaMagica

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica - drama anime recommendation
  • Episode: 12
  • Season: Winter 2011
  • Source: Original
  • Studio: Shaft
Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki are middle schoolers leading a mundane life. However, that all changed when they encountered Kyuubey, a magical white cat, and Homura Akemi, a mysterious transfer student. Kyuubey offered the two girls a tempting deal: become a magical girl in exchange for any wish they want. However, only Akemi, a magical girl herself, knows the ugly truth of Kyuubey and his tempting offer.

At first glance, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica definitely gives off a childish and innocent vibe. But as much fluffy and unicorn vibes the anime can be, Mahou Shoujo soon takes a dark turn with its own tragedy and dramatic events. Ultimately, the anime can blow away some of its most skeptical viewers. Featuring philosophical and deep problems encountered by characters within the anime, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is definitely a fitting drama anime that deserves to be on this list.

17. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso - drama anime recommendation
  • Episode: 22
  • Season: Fall 2014
  • Source: Manga
  • Studio: A-1 Pictures
Kousei Arima was once nicknamed Human Metronome due to his inhumane ability to accurately play and win piano competitions. In short, he was a prodigy. However, after the death of his mother, Arima suddenly developed a trauma that prevented him from hearing his own sound. As years passed by, he met a prodigy violinist named Kaori Miyazono. Once again, Arima was forced to confront his fear, and face his music head-on.

If you are looking for a great drama anime, then you can’t go wrong with Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. Though its story might not be revolutionary, it does an excellent job in terms of character development. Throughout the anime, viewers really get to understand the past traumas of the protagonist. No doubt, the drama between the relationships portrayed within Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is one of its kind. So if you are looking for yet another great drama anime, then look no further than Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso.

18. 3-gatsu no Lion

3-gatsu no Lion - drama anime recommendation
  • Episode: 22
  • Season: Fall 2016
  • Source: Manga
  • Studio: Shaft
Rei Kiriyama is a Shogi prodigy who became professional during his middle school years. However, due to such accomplishment, Rei suffered constant pressure both from his parents, as well as the competitive Shogi world. At 17, he decided to move to Tokyo seeking independence. Unexpectedly, at his new apartment complex, he meets the Trio sister, Akari, Hinata, and Kawamoto. Gradually, they shared a familial bond that ultimately allowed Rei to combat his fears and social anxiety.

3-gatsu no Lion showcased the daily struggles of its main protagonist, teaching viewers a thing or two about compassion and family. Within the show, the young professional Shogi prodigy must sort out his discomfort of social interactions, as well as understand those around him. In truth, 3-gatsu no Lion is a beautiful show, and a truly must watch drama that offers a valuable life lesson.

19. Shinsekai Yori

Shinsekai no Yori - Drama anime recommendation
  • Episode: 25
  • Season: Fall 2012
  • Source: Novel
  • Studio: A-1 Pictures
In the near future, humans were able to undergo genetic mutations and obtained psychokinesis abilities. Ultimately, such powers caused a drift amongst nations. After centuries of conflict, mankind was finally able to form a peaceful Utopia upholding the utmost strict and complex laws. However, such beliefs were changed when Saki Watanabe, along with her friends, accidentally stumbled upon a shocking discovery. Watch as they unveils the ugly truths behind the history of their seemingly perfect Utopia.

Set in a seemingly perfect Utopia, Shinsekai Yori features a group of friends who set out to challenge society’s rigid hierarchy structure. Soon, as they dig deeper into the truth, they gradually realize the atrocity of the Utopia itself. Shinsekai Yori, through a gloomy and thrilling adventure, will undeniably keep its viewers engaged throughout. Ultimately, this anime definitely deserves to be on this list as a must watch drama show of all time.

20. Angel Beats

Angel Beats - drama anime recommendation
  • Episode: 13
  • Season: Spring 2010
  • Source: Original
  • Studio: P.A. Works
Otonashi woke up in a strange world with no prior knowledge of himself except his name. There, he met a strange girl named Yuri who told him that he was dead, and that this was the afterlife. Later on, Otonashi learns that Yuri is the leader of the Shinda Sekai Sensen, or short for SSS. Their goal is to defeat a formidable girl named Tenshi. But while SSS claims that Tenshi is evil, Otonashi found himself oddly drawn to the mysterious girl.

At first glance, Angel Beats might be confusing for some viewers. After all, the main protagonist did wake up after death only to begin a new and strange adventure with those sharing his fates. But worry not, as the story progress, viewers will soon realize the beauty of the story, as well as have their emotions totally wrecked. So for those looking for a tear-jerking anime series, then Angel Beats will definitely not disappoint.


So there you have it, the top 20 must-watch anime of all time. Once again, in one way or another, these shows will leave you with a sort of empty and questionable feelings at the end. Now, like a protagonists within a drama anime show, it is up to you to do what you want with those pent up feelings!!

And for the veteran anime fans, what did you think of this list. Were there any drama anime that you would consider replacing? If so, feel free to share in the comment section below!!

An anime enthusiast who writes about things he likes