Serious anime will always be popular. Whether the anime falls into the specific genre of drama, mystery, or the like, if the story itself is intense, it fits the brand. However, as with most things, there needs to be a balance. To be more palatable for the audience, a tale that handles grave matters needs to incorporate some whimsical or humorous nature in the undertone.
Some of these anime series are exceptionally well-known and often discussed, while others are known to a specific audience. Whatever the case, these anime series captivate audiences because of the initial dramatic pull, but become beloved because of the comedy that seeps in.
10/10 Nana Showcase The Complexities Of Love & Relationships
Nana is the story of two women who meet on a train to Tokyo on a snowy night; their meeting changes the course of both of their lives. They meet again in Tokyo while Nana Komatsu is looking for an apartment, and they soon become roommates. In the months that Nana Osaki and Nana Komatsu (or Hachi) live together, both women learn more about themselves, each other, and the people around them.
The narrative of Nana is dark. Despite the heavy subject of love, drug use, unexpected pregnancies, and untimely deaths, the anime injects a healthy amount of comedy to lighten the story and topics. Most of the humor comes from Hachi and the constant comparison to her being like a dog.
9/10 Fruits Basket Is About A Cursed Family & Their Curse Breaker
Tohru Honda becomes entangled in the lives of the Sohma Clan, learning that the family members suffer a strange curse that causes them to change into the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. The cursed members cannot have someone of the opposite sex hug them, or they will transform. This has isolated these members from the other members of their families and their peers in school. It is only with the persistence of Tohru that the curse is eventually lifted.
While Fruits Basket deals with serious issues, such as being rejected by a parent, the anime is littered with humorous moments. Many are provided by the relationship between Kyo and Tohru and the rivalry between Kyo and Yuki.
8/10 Yu Yu Hakusho Is About Understanding Human Nature
Yu Yu Hakusho begins with the protagonist, Yusuke Urameshi, dying after saving a child from being hit by a car. The anime follows Yusuke through his many trials, first to regain his life for his uncharacteristic good deed and then as he becomes the Spirit World’s Spirit Detective. The storylines of the anime pose different questions, particularly during the Sensui arch, where Yusuke meets the former Spirit Detective who went rogue after a case.
Yu Yu Hakusho has its comedic moments, provided mainly by Kuwabara, that make the anime extremely entertaining and help with the heavier points of the show. The comedy in Yu Yu Hakusho also comes through the wise-cracking nature of Yusuke.
7/10 Cowboy Bebop Features Fits Of Existential Boredom
Cowboy Bebop follows space bounty hunters, also known as cowboys, who seek new bounties to survive. While one storyline follows Spike Spiegal’s affair with Julia and his eventual battle with the Red Dragon Syndicate, most of the anime is about the crew of Bebop sitting around, being broke and hungry. This existential boredom is one of the anime’s central themes, which displays a different type of heaviness.
The existential boredom of Cowboy Bebop also gives the show its comedic undertone. When the crew is bored or hungry, it sparks the catalyst for a mission or a joke.
6/10 Rurouni Kenshin Is About Struggling With The Past
Rurouni Kenshin follows former assassin Kenshin Himura as he travels the countryside with the intent to help others. The acts of service Kenshin offers are the only way he feels he can atone for the sins he committed as the Battosai. In Rurouni Kenshin, Kenshin struggles with his need to atone for his past to move forward but struggles. These struggles are both external, with various men claiming to be the Battosai or rivals, and internal, as Kenshin stops himself from reverting to the assassin.
The humor in Rurouni Kenshin is similar to how humor is used in Yu Yu Hakusho. It helps digest the heavy themes of the main plot while keeping the anime entertaining and, at times, light-hearted.
5/10 Outlaw Star Is The Other Space Western
Outlaw Star is a space western anime following Gene Starwind and his crew as they obtain the “Outlaw Star.” The show’s themes range from anxiety to a romance between a human and a bio-android. Outlaw Star also expresses the battle of wanting more out of the life someone is currently living and making the leap to accept a new “destiny.”
While the anime tackles these themes, it also provides fun, comical breaks, especially with the likes of Aisha Clanclan, the Ctarl Ctarl officer who tracks the “Outlaw Star” at first before joining the crew herself. The anime also changes the pacing of the storytelling by adding missions the team accepts to pay for the expenses of the spacecraft.
4/10 Magic Knight Rayearth: A Tragic Love Story
Magic Knight Rayearth follows three junior high girls brought to a new world, Cephiro, to save this world. While the main plot revolves around the trials of the three Knights, the subplot is between High Priest Zagato and Princess Emeraude. As the Pillar of Cephiro, Princess Emeraude must think of and pray for Cephiro constantly.
When Princess Emeraude finds herself in love with High Priest Zagato, she realizes she no longer can think only of Cephiro when her heart wants Zagato. Magic Knight Rayearth balances the hardships of Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu and the subplot of the Zagato and Princess Emeraude love story with comedy, particularly when the art style changes and the girls are in a cuter chibi form.
3/10 Nodame Cantabile Is A Musical Lesson On Conquering One’s Fears
When Shinichi Chiaki and Megumi Noda (Nodame) first meet in Nodame Cantabile, Nodame instantly falls in love with him. What they come to learn is that both Chiaki and Nodame have specific fears or apprehensions. The two eventually learn to overcome these fears or anxieties together, and Chiaki learns to accept and love Nodame and her eccentric behavior.
Nodame Cantabile focuses on relatable drama between its characters. There are more serious plots, especially when delving into the past, but comedic characters counteract it. The strange habits of Nodame are mainly comical, making Chiaki the “straight man” in their comedy duo.
2/10 Blue Exorcist Explores Nature Versus Nurture
Rin Okumura from Blue Exorcist has always been a handful and usually gets himself into trouble. One day, he discovers that he, and his twin brother Yukio, are the sons of Satan, with Rin being the inheritor of the demonic power. With the murder of his adopted father, Rin vows that he will become an exorcist to destroy Satan.
During Rin’s training, he learns that his twin brother has become an exorcist and is his teacher. While the theme of Blue Exorcist is the question of nature versus nurture, the anime also allows itself to make jokes. Characters in Blue Exorcist have a powerful backstory, but they are also funny.
1/10 Bleach Is About Understanding & Overcoming Loss
Bleach includes various themes within each of the anime’s arcs. From repentance and loyalty to loneliness and betrayal, the anime has a great style of incorporating heavy topics. Each of the main characters has their internal battles as well that they have to overcome before being able to assist their group against the latest danger.
Yet, even with the plethora of darker themes and topics, Bleach adds comedic moments throughout the series. The anime also includes filler episodes that are both serious and comedic to change the pacing of each arc.
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