9 Meaningful Anime Shows That Reflect Real Life Problems

Tomoya Okizaki And His Daughter Clannad

Problems are a part of life.

There’s no escaping that.

But how you deal with those problems is what gives life meaning and value.

That in of itself is what makes the difference in how you handle life’s challenges.

Speaking of meaning and value, today I want to talk about some meaningful anime series that reflect real life issues.

The types of issues we face in our society, in our everyday lives, and in certain parts of the world…

So let’s get to it.


Anime Shows That Portray Real Life Issues:


1. ReLife

Meaningful Anime Shows That Reflect Real Life Problems
The story?

Kaizaki Arata’s a struggling 27 year old NEET who can’t find a job.

And by chance he runs into a guy who gives him the chance to turn his life around.

That’s the short version of it.

How does this anime reflect real life issues?

  • Chizuru Hishiro has always struggled to make friends.
  • Growing up, Chizuru moved from school to school, so it was hard to keep any friends.
  • One of Kaizaki’s mentors in his old job is bullied and picked on because of jealous co-workers.
  • Another character from ReLife struggles with the insecurity of being “2nd best”.

And there are deeper elements baked into this anime series.

Which you’ll have to see for yourself to avoid spoilers…


2. Black Lagoon

Meaningful Anime Shows That Reflect Real Life Problems

Black Lagoon follows the lives of independent criminals. Also known as: The Lagoon Company.

What’s so realistic about this anime?

  • Smuggling drugs and weapons in and out of countries, towns and cities.
  • Shoot-outs and gun crime is also a real thing in Black Lagoon. Again, a real issue in our society.
  • Criminal gangs with dangerous leaders are shown throughout this anime.
    • Certain parts of the real world reflect this type of lifestyle.
  • Gritty towns and cities that seem “lawless”. Though uncommon in the real world, it is a real thing.
  • Being a victim of rape, and never reporting it to anyone.This is a deep issue in our society.
  • People who grow up in dangerous neighborhoods with few opportunities.

While the “action” in Black Lagoon may be flashy and dramatic, under the surface it’s a realistic series.

And these types of issues are rampant in specific parts of the world.


3. Hell Girl

Meaningful Anime Shows That Reflect Real Life Problems

Hell Girl is a horror series with a similar theme to the anime: Death Note.

Here’s how Hell Girl reflects real life problems:

  • A sadistic woman spreading false rumors around your neighborhood to tarnish your reputation.
  • Kids bullying you, and using you as a “bank” to take money with a false promise of paying it back.
  • Abusing pets, and leaving them for dead.
  • Jealous people accusing you of cheating on your wife or husband.

These are a handful of dark themes running throughout Hell Girl from start to finish.

As awful as it is, these things DO happen. Even if it’s uncommon.

And in some cases, it’s irreversible and can ruin your reputation for a lifetime if taken too far.

Related: 6 Ai Enma Quotes From Hell Girl That Will Make You Think About Life


4. Clannad

Meaningful Anime Shows That Reflect Real Life Problems
Clannad starts off as a light romance/slice of life. 

Then transitions into a darker, deeper story surrounding romance elements.

Why it’s meaningful:

  • Parenting is tough. And Clannad (season 2) paints the ugly truth of this perfectly.
  • Depression is not something to be taken lightly.
  • The pain of losing someone you love is also expressed in Clannad.

Without spoiling too much, that’s all I’ll say.

But when you look at those 3 points – these are real problems that are difficult to handle.

And for some of us – it tips us over the edge, and eventually we slip.


5. It’s You Guys Fault I’m Not Popular!

Meaningful Anime Shows That Reflect Real Life Problems
Watamote (Japanese name) is a slice of life anime focused on a lonely introverted girl.

Why this show is meaningful:

  • Not having any friends is tough as a teenager with anxiety.
  • Not being able to socialize with others makes your life lonely and awkward.
  • A lack of self confidence makes life 100X more problematic and difficult.
  • Despite these elements of Watamote, the importance of never giving up is key.

These are the main themes running throughout Watamote.

I can’t help but feel for Tomoko Kuroki. Because there are people like her in real life.

Plus as an Introvert, I can relate.

Related: 15 Of The Best Anime With An Introverted Main Character


6. Elfen Lied

Meaningful Anime Shows That Reflect Real Life Problems
A horror/psychological anime series filled with sadness, immorality, and strong themes.

More reasons why this anime reflects real life:

  • Child abuse. Yes, this is a real and horrible thing that’s show in Elfen Lied.
  • Running away from home. This is a result of the last point.
  • Abuse towards animals. Again, this is horrible and wicked down to the core.
  • Some people are born into cruel circumstances, for no fault of their own.
    • Though the experiences in Elfen Lied are superficial, it’s still real and relatable.

Despite the immense gore and colorful language in Elfen Lied, the underlying theme is authentic.

Related: 5 Lucy Quotes From Elfen Lied That Go Deep


7. Orange

Meaningful Anime Shows That Reflect Real Life Problems
An anime series that dives into the world of depression from the perspective of a male character.

Meaningful highlights:

  • Dealing with the loss of your mother is something any teenager would take HARD.
  • Dealing with suicidal thoughts everyday is a serious issue.
  • And then believing you’re beyond help, or that the best solution is suicide… Is a real, upsetting issue.

The main themes in Orange tackle this, and is so relatable for anyone who’s dealt with the same thing.

I’d recommend watching this series for those emotional, meaningful reasons.


8. School Live

Meaningful Anime Shows That Reflect Real Life Problems
School Live looks cute on the surface, but it’s much darker and emotional in reality.

It’s a horror/psychological series.

Meaningful highlights of School Live:

  • It focuses on PTSD, Psychosis and mental illness. An absolutely tough subject to deal with.
  • Form start to finish, you witness how the main character deals with this issue.
  • And lets not forget the stress and mental struggles each character deals with in general.

School Live is not an anime you watch for entertainment, as it’s so much deeper than that.

While it is entertaining, the meaningful elements hit you hard.

i’d give it a try if you haven’t.


9. Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends

Meaningful Anime Shows That Reflect Real Life Problems
The main theme is all in the title. But besides that:

  • Bullying is also a highlight of Haganai.
  • The awkwardness of making friends, meeting new people and loneliness.
  • Being mis-judged based on how you look, and how you deal with that personally.

There’s also a couple more meaningful elements expressed throughout Haganai.

And that’s what makes this school/slice of life series stand out among others.

Related: What Anime Should I Watch? Here Are 17 Recommendations


Honorable Mentions:

  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple (bullying, self improvement).
  • Vivid Strike (bullying, etc).
  • Psycho Pass (crime, the law, etc).

What meaningful anime show would you add to this list?


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I'm the Founder of Anime Motivation. An international retailer of official anime merchandise, toys and figurines. I've been a fan of anime for over 10-15+ years, with the first anime show I watched being Dragon Ball Z.

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