10 anime that look like soap operas

The term “soap opera” is often used as shorthand for types of shows that are melodramatic or overly reliant on histrionics and outlandish plot twists. Anime has its fair share of primetime soap operas, and that’s no bad thing.

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While some of these love stories can be a little too dramatic, they still keep viewers engaged from episode to episode. That being said, there are also a number of animated soap operas that relish melodramatic excess – for better and for worse.

ten School Days is Anime’s Bloodiest Love Triangle


school days is only really known these days for its abundance of gore and the pretty boat that censored the original airing of the finale. That being said, there’s a lot more going on with this anime than meets the eye. In truth, the love triangle between Makoto, Sekai, and Kotonoha was a grim deconstruction of the harem formula.

Like all good melodrama, school days started off unassuming with Makoto wooing Sekai and Kotonoha. However, Makoto’s manipulative side slowly seeped in and his lies drove the two women out of deep and murderous ending. Anyone who wants to see a typical soap opera taken to its darkest extremes should give this polarizing cult favorite a try.

9 Citrus’ risque story about stepsisters sparked controversy


Yuzu and Mei have a citrus dinner

When fun-loving Yuzu transfers to an all-girls school, she struggles to adjust to the campus culture and quickly clashes with student council president Mei. However, things take an unexpected turn when Yuzu finds out that Mei is her half-sister. Now living under the same roof, the two begin to develop feelings for each other.

This is Citrus in a word, and it caused a sensation. Besides its incestuous themes, the anime has been criticized for Yuzu and Mei’s clearly toxic relationship. While polarizing, Citrus was not without its fans, who championed the more controversial aspects of the anime as they believed it spiced up an already risque soap opera even more.


8 Domestic Girlfriend is a Spicy Step-Family Telenovela


Natsuo and Hina hang out in a domestic girlfriend

Domestic Girlfriend has often been compared to a trashy telenovela, and it certainly earned that reputation. As if Natsuo’s love triangle between his friend, Rui, and his teacher, Hina, wasn’t enough, the three of them end up becoming family. It was thanks to Natsuo’s father who remarried sisters Hina and Rui’s mother.

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While everything about its premise is contrived and some of the lewd storylines are ridiculously transparent, Domestic Girlfriend treated his love conflict seriously. What started out as a raunchy comedy soap opera has slowly become a serious look at a very taboo relationship, and the anime’s resolution is sure to polarize viewers.


7 Given has two simultaneous love stories


Mafuyu takes on Ritsuka in Given

Given is one of the newer titles, but it still left an impact on BL (boy love) anime fans. Split into two parts that each feature a different couple, the anime focuses on the bonds that have formed between members of a high school band. The first arc featured guitarist Ritsuka and newcomer Mafuyu, while the second featured drummer Akihiko and bassist Haruki.

Things start well, but everyone’s insecurities resurface at the worst times. Serious melodrama in the form of dark stories and even some wrongdoing occurs, forcing the group to confront each other before they find love in others. The music rounds it all off perfectly, rounding off an already great romance.


6 White Album 2 is an old-school love triangle


Corn White album 2 is clearly a sequel, newcomers need not search for its predecessor. That being said, this underrated visual novel adaptation retains strong popularity even today due to its painfully realistic portrayal of a love triangle. Specifically, the one between Haruki and his new bandmates, Kazusa and Setsuna.

After performing the perfect set at the school festival and saving the Light Music Club from disbanding, their emotions set in. Haruki is torn between Kazusa and Setsuna’s affections for him, and lies and heartbreak ensue. White album 2 only adapted the first arc of its game, but that’s more than enough to make it a good animated soap opera.


5 Rumbling Hearts featured the classic coma-induced premise


Haruka and Mitsuki seen in Rumbling Hearts

Besides amnesia, one of the most popular cliches in soap operas is a coma. it is the story of Rumbling Hearts, where Takayuki and Haruka’s relationship is abruptly cut short when Haruka falls into a coma following a car accident. Haruka wakes up three years later, to find that her boyfriend has left with her best friend, Mitsuki.

Over the course of 14 episodes, Takayuki had to choose between loving his past or loving the present. Whatever he chooses, it would change everyone’s life forever. Rumbling Hearts treated its drama and tension seriously, which set it apart among the countless upbeat romantic anime that dominated the 2000s.


4 Scum’s wish had a complicated love flowchart at its core


Hanabi and Mugi get closer to Scums Wish

At most, the soap operas would focus on a love triangle made up of three characters. Meanwhile, Scum’s wish upped the ante by giving the lead couple, Hanabi and Mugi, multiple romantic prospects. Worse still, everyone clung to Hanabi and Mugi’s love and affection, despite their unresolved issues and past traumas.

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To complicate matters, Hanabi and Mugi weren’t even officially together. At most they were friends with advantages who began to like each other but denied it. To say that the love conflicts of Scum’s wish were complex would be an understatement, but it was all neatly wrapped up in the series’ bittersweet ending.




3 Nana is an irreplaceable theater classic


The two Nanas meet at Nana

When city girl Nana meets punk rocker Nana, the two quickly hit it off and become roommates. However, the evolution of their friendship into eventual romance is hampered by melodramas like infidelity and even death. All this is played seriously, which makes grannyAll the more iconic is the particularly realistic drama.

granny is not only one of the most popular Josei romances of all time, but also one of the most important. Although not the first yuri anime, granny paved the way for others to follow his example. The manga is unfortunately still on hiatus but thankfully the anime gave fans and the two Nanas the closest thing to closure they could get.


2 The drama of Orange transcended space and time


Naho and his friends enjoy life in Orange

Everyone regrets things they’ve done or, worse, things they haven’t done. In the decade since high school, Naho has had so many regrets that she wrote a letter to herself, listing heartaches and tragedies that can be avoided. OrangeNaho’s twist, however, is that Naho’s letter has actually found its way to her younger self, and she’s doing what she can to save the future.

Orange fulfilled the kind of power fantasy that is unique to the soap opera, namely that of emotional closure. Thanks to Naho, viewers were able to relive the best moments of their teenage years while fixing mistakes that would weigh heavily for years to come. OrangeThe premise and twists may be a little fantastical, but its drama is very relatable.


1 CLANNAD’s love story defied fate and reality


Naho and his friends enjoy life in Orange

When it comes to perfectly melodramatic anime, nothing comes close to CLANNAD. Not only is CLANNAD considered an excellent visual novel adaptation, but it’s widely regarded as one of the best anime ever made, period. Here, Tomoya finds a new interest in life when he befriends Nagisa and helps her form a drama club.

What followed next was not only Tomoya and Nagisa’s developing feelings, but Tomoya opening up in ways he never thought he could. Besides its confusing but emotionally fulfilling (in)famous ending, what really makes CLANNAD so loved is its unforgettable story of friends becoming family and, in the case of Tomoya and Nagisa, lovers.

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