Anime is another form of escapism. We all love the giant robots, the super powered fighters and the crazy fantasy stories. However, one thing that otaku pride themselves on that their home grown cartoons (historically) didn’t do was tell real stories with human characters, breaking the “cartoons are for kids” stereotype. You can probably point to many shows that do this, but one particular show that captured the anime world’s attention was AnoHana. AnoHana has a lot of traditional anime calling cards; teenage cast, slight fantasy elements and tons of drama. What set Anohana apart was the realism it approached those clichés to create a highly relatable and touching human drama.
To recap, AnoHana followed the exploits of sullen Jinta, his former friends who have all grown up (and apart) and Menma, the ghost of an old childhood friend whom only Jinta can see. Ever since Menma’s death, Jinta has become depressed and his former friends have all gone their separate ways, while still being united by the haunting memory of losing their old friend Menma. Through the stories twists and turns, we learned to really feel for these characters and even see bits of them in ourselves. For those of you looking for more drama of a similar style, check out these recommendations for 6 anime like Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai below!
Similar Anime to Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai / Similar Anime to AnoHana: The Flower We Saw That Day
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2016 – June 2016
The time is the near future. The place is Sugimori City. What seems like a normal bedroom community is in fact a large scale test site for an experimental project known as the Kizuna system. The system aims to break down the doors between people’s hearts by allowing them to literally share each other’s pain. Enter young, emotionless high schooler Katsuhira. He along with his classmates are chosen as test subjects for the Kizuna System project. What does fate have in store for Katsuhira and the gang and who is the mysterious girl Noriko who seems to be behind the entire project?
Kiznaiver immediately gained early fanfare due to its writer Mari Okada, who also wrote AnoHana along with its animation studio Trigger. You may remember Trigger for such anime as Kill La Kill and Ninja Slayer From Animation. Kiznaiver inherits both Triggers’ bold visual stylings and Okada’s strong character drama work. The Kiznaiver aspect gives this work a bit of a science fiction/mystery flair but the story stays grounded in the interpersonal relationships between the characters. As you can see from the trailer, this is definitely a show to watch in HD!
2. Hanasaku Iroha
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2011 – September 2011
Staying on the penned by Okada train, we make our next stop at Hanasaku Iroha. This show follows 16 year old Ohana Matsumae, a level headed girl if somewhat dissatisfied with her life. It would be hard to be satisfied, always having to pick up after her lazy mother. One day, when her mom randomly springs the “I’m going to elope with my boyfriend” card out of nowhere, she foists Ohana off to the country to live with her grandmother. Seems to be just the jolt Ohana thinks she needs to shake up her dreary life. Only she finds that she is foisted off to an inn TO WORK where her grandmother is in charge and is the boss from Hell!
Hanasaku Iroha gained a sizable fan following due to the grounded character interplay and developing relationships between the inn’s employees. At the core of it all is Ohana, a cute little dynamo of positivity and initiative. While she and the rest of the workers have their own flaws and hang ups, it is a thrill seeing them grow as people and as a unit. While it is more optimistic and less moody than her other works, it still has the strong Okada touch of realistic dialogue and character growth. The great animation from P.A. Works doesn’t hurt either.
Hanasaku Iroha Trailer
3. Omoide no Marnie (When Marnie Was There)
- Episodes: Movie
- Aired: July 2014
We take a slight detour from Okada-ville and head into the bright lights of Ghibli City! The famed studio has created many a beloved film, mostly under the helm of Hayao Miyazaki. However, this film is one of the few Ghibli films not directed by him. That being said, it maintains the high standard of Ghibli quality. The story revolves around introverted 12 year old Anna who moves from Sapporo to the country to live with her aunt and uncle. While there she notices a strange abandoned mansion where she sees a young blonde girl who appears and disappears at night. Anna meets the young girl named Marnie and learns about her life and the mystery surrounding her existence.
Similar to Spirited Away, this film focuses on an inward looking young girl adjusting to a new environment. It also has a touch of fantasy, although the mood here is much more subdued and restrained than in Miyazaki’s masterpiece. Still it has the requisite high quality music and animation that we have come to expect from Ghibli, along with quite the tear jerker of a story. You will definitely need the tissues around during the end of this film.
Omoide No Marnie Trailer
Any Anime Like AnoHana: The Flower We Saw That Day / Any Anime Like Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai?
4. Plastic Memories
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2015 – June 2015
Plastic Memories is an original science fiction story from Doga Kobo studio. In the future android technology has developed so much that androids (named Giftas) are nearly indistinguishable from humans. They fit in seamlessly with human society but they have a short lifespan of 81,920 hours. When their time is up, it’s up to the SAI Corporation to retrieve the expired Giftas. We follow new Gifta retriever Tsukasa along with his Gifta partner Isla as they try to retrieve Giftas from their previous homes (which can be a painful process in many ways) along with watching them grow closer as a team….and maybe more.
While Plastic Memories has no shortage of cute girls (there is the tsundere, the onee-san, the gossip, the quiet one) and silly comedy, it has a surprisingly dramatic core. The core concept of a Gifta’s short lifespan and the grief caused for families by their leaving is surprisingly engrossing. The second main thing to watch is the growing relationship between and how it develops. This is a short but sweet series that is worth a look.
Plastic Memories Trailer
5. Natsuyuki Rendezvous
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: July 2012 – September 2012
Here is another show from Doga Kobo, based off a josei manga series. The story follows the love triangle between twenty-something Hazuki, the beautiful, older woman Rokka and Rokka’s former husband Shimao. A fairly standard romantic story setup except for the fact that Shimao is dead! What’s more, only Hazuki can see his ghost and he is none too keen on Hazuki putting the moves on his old flame!
This is a sweet, low key romance story that sets itself apart from its contemporaries by eschewing teenage romance and focusing on adults. Hazuki and Shimao’s constant feuding is amusing but Natsuyuki Rendezvous takes its adult romance seriously. The relationships are realistically portrayed and while there are some fantasy elements much like AnoHana, the focus is squarely on the main cast and their relationships. A very easy rec for AnoHana fans.
Natsuyuki Rendezvous Trailer
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2016 – ongoing
We finish up with a currently airing show. Orange is another low key tale based off a shoujo manga. Naho Takemiya is a bright and cheerful if somewhat shy high school sophomore who lives her life like any other girl. All this changes when she receives a mysterious letter. The letter in question is from her-self 10 years in the future! It also comes with a warning, telling Naho to prevent her “biggest regret”. That regret just happens to revolve around the new (and handsome) transfer student Kakeru Naruse.
Orange is a beautiful and accessible series about high school romance and relationships. Naho is a young character who is easy to root for and her male counterpart Kakeru is accessible and charming. However, quite why Kakeru is tied to Naho’s biggest regret is the key mystery to pay attention to. That is of course if you aren’t too distracted by the absolutely gorgeous background art care of TMS Entertainment. Make sure to check back during the summer for more Orange related articles here at Honey’s as we keep an eye on this title!
Orange Teaser Trailer
AnoHana created a real tough act to follow in the animated drama department. Its perfect balance of light fantasy and realistic character drama is unique and engaging. Due to these reasons, it became a sizable success both in Japan and abroad. However, we think that the above 6 shows should provide some more dramatic goodness. Keep it here at Honey’s anime for even more recommendations. Until next time, keep those tissues handy!