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The winter anime season kicked off just as 2016 began. And now that we’re a couple of episodes into the series, we can get a pretty good idea where these shows are going. Today we’ll be sharing what the anime world has for us this season in regards to Drama. And there seems to be something for everybody! From supernatural creatures, Slice of Life stories, Mysteries and Action, this winter has a lot to offer.
So if you’re a fan of Drama anime and haven’t had time to check out absolutely every series to see how you feel, don’t fret! I’ve done the work for you. 😉
So sit back, get warm and comfy and check out this winter season’s dramatic anime offerings to see if there are any you’d like to watch.
Here they are in no particular order. Enjoy!
1. Divine Gate
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 8, 2016 – Mar 25, 2016
The Divine Gate opened and connected the human world, the fairy world and the demon world. Nobody knows why the gate opened, and in time it became a myth in a world where beings from all three worlds coexist. However, some people still believe in the existence of the Gate and some even claim to have seen it. Young people with special powers also began to appear and are recruited by the World Council. If these youths follow their desires to reach the Gate, they can change everything. Will it be for better? Or worse?
Divine Gate begins with a beautiful demonstration of special powers and introduces 3 of the main characters. Akane is the fiery, short-tempered boy; Midori is cheerful and pure like the wind and Aoto is a gloomy rain cloud with a dark, dark past. From the first episode, the backstories are pretty emotional and there are a lot of mysteries behind most characters and the nature of the Divine Gate as well.
The dark shading and the CG animation are just like in the video game and add a unique feel to the show. Some might love it, some may hate it. You be the judge! There’s still a lot to uncover in Divine Gate and coming from Studio Pierrot, you just know it’s worth the watch!
2. HaruChika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru (Haruta & Chika)
- Episodes: N/A
- Aired: Jan 7, 2016 – Ongoing
Chika Homura just entered a new high school, and she has decided to join the wind instrument club and become a new her. On her first day at the club, she runs into her childhood friend Haruta Kamijou who is a talented member of the club. Their friendship is rekindled with a bit of rivalry mixed in and they tackle mysteries that take place in the school, all while working towards making the wind instrument club the best it can be.
HaruChika brings School Life and Mystery together with a bit of an unexpected rivalry between friends. It has the feel of Hibike! Euphonium with a bit of Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note style mystery. The kids work together to improve as performers, compete with each other and uncover secrets and riddles that keep popping up each episode.
The art in HaruChika is smooth and beautiful, and the characters’ eyes are some of the most unusual ones this season. In a good way of course. Thankfully, this isn’t just another music club anime; there are some romantic interests and character backstories that will keep viewers coming back. If you like a little drama in your School Slice of Life, or you just like looking at beautiful art, give HaruChika a try!
3. Durarara!!x2 Ketsu
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 9, 2016 – Mar 26, 2016
There’s a lot going on in Ikebukuro. People are in the hospital, others’ lives are being threatened, and there is a power struggle being waged for control of the city between the Dollars, the Yellow Scarves and Saika. Somehow, during this time of turmoil almost everyone ends up in Shinra and Celty’s apartment looking for shelter. And then… Celty’s head appears on the news.
If you haven’t watched the previous installments of Durarara!!... we can’t be friends. Just kidding! I’m sure you have your reasons. However, this is not a good place to start watching, so go back and watch the whole thing! For those following the story so far, you’re more than likely thrilled to follow the exciting conclusion that’s been in the making for so long and I may not need to tell you anything about it.
Mikado seems to have manned up, Anri is coming to terms with herself and Saika and others are switching teams left and right. Izaya is having the time of his life, Celty knows where her head is and there are still 9 more episodes left!! It’s definitely gearing up to be a grand finale for the Durarara!! series!
4. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jan 9, 2016 - Ongoing
(Rakugo: a one-man-show style of Japanese comedic storytelling told using only a fan and a handkerchief as props. The actor portrays all the characters in the stories by changing his voice and mannerisms).
Set in the Showa period, this is the story of an ex-convict who finds his passion in Rakugo when a well-known storyteller, Yakumo, comes to the prison to perform. From that moment, he decides he will become his apprentice and goes to find him as soon as he completes his sentence. Yakumo is stern and has never taken an apprentice, but for some reason, he gives the ex-con a chance and nicknames him Yotaro. There is somebody else in Yakumo’s care though. Konatsu is the daughter of another well-known performer and she’s been in Yakumo’s care since her father’s death. She also loves rakugo, but there is no room for women in that world.
Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is really more of a Period Drama. It’s very historical and educational. If you would like to know what Japan was like during the Showa Era, learn all you need to know about rakugo and learn some traditional Japanese stories in the process, don’t miss this series. The art and animation are beautiful, and it transports you to a different time and place with its artistic use of music, and woderful voice acting. There is comedy, mostly in the rakugo itself and sprinkled comic relief here and there. It is definitely a drama, but if you’re into learning more about Japan and enjoy a great story about struggling artists and their difficult pasts, you’ve got to check out Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu!
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jan 16, 2016 to ?
Ajin are immortal humans that appeared in a battlefield in Africa 17 years ago. Only 46 are known to exist in the world, but it’s impossible to know who they are until they are killed and come back to life. They are feared by society and coveted by the government who experiment on them when they find them. These experiments usually involve killing them over and over again to learn about their powers. One day after school, Kei is hit by a truck; and his life is turned upside-down.
Ajin is certainly not for the faint of heart. It is graphic, bloody, violent and showcases probably all the worst traits of humanity. Fear of the unknown, hunger for power, discrimination, violence, you name it. There’s definitely a lot we still need to learn about Kei and his mysterious friend Kaito as well as the shady Ajin-chasing organization. In a very Tokyo Ghoul fashion, Kei is faced with becoming (or realizing that he is) the monster that everybody fears in his society.
Ajin is without question, an exciting anime. The character design is crisp and clean, the story is dark and seems promising so far. However, the CG animation isn’t as fluid as it could be. (The CG in Divine Gate is definitely better). This may be off-putting for some but if it doesn’t’ bother you; you’re in for a treat! It is really dark though, so watch it with the lights off.
6. Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (Erased)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 8, 2016 – Mar 25, 2016
Satoru Fujinuma is a struggling manga writer working part time to make ends meet. He has trouble expressing himself, and is overall a bit jaded. However, he has an ability that sends him back in time before catastrophes occur so that he can prevent them. Usually it’s a short amount of time, but one day, he comes across an incident in which somebody dies and he is the main suspect of the murder. As he tries to grasp what’s going on and run from the police, he is sent back to his childhood a month before his classmate Kayo’s disappearance. In his 10 year old body, he must now save his friend Kayo and solve the mystery that sent him there in the first place.
This was probably one of the most anticipated Drama anime this season. The story is intriguing, as are the mysteries behind it and the characters. Once again, this series is also graphic, though in a different way; little Kayo lives a very rough childhood, there’s a murder in the first episode and who knows what else they’ll throw at us! It's like a dark, supernatural Detective Conan.
While it’s a serious dramatic show, there is a bit of dry, dark humor from Satoru who is a jaded thirty-something year-old stuck in the body of a child. The story will engulf you from the start. And it is also lovely to look at. The art is smooth and beautiful and the animation is well done. Coming from A-1 Pictures, expectations are high for Erased!
So there you have it. So far, 2016 anime has not disappointed, at least not in the Drama department. Most series are barely on their 3rd or 4th episode, so it’s still easy to catch up and enjoy the rest of the ride.
Which Drama anime are you watching ? Will you pick one up after reading this list? Do you have high expectations for anything in particular? Please share in the comments, and stay tuned for info on other genres this season!