School life anime dots a large portion of the medium. A lot of people, even past their teenage years, often find a lot of relatable things that remind them of their past – or a story they might’ve heard.
And sometimes school life gets a little bizarre, where there’s magic, or murder mysteries if you want to get more interesting.
And sometimes I just want a relaxing fun story about kids doing dumb kid things.
It can be cathartic & nostalgic to get back to the basics.
Whatever you’re looking for with a school life anime, are some of my personal favorites.
25. Rosario + Vampire
Rosario Vampire was actually one of the first anime I ever watched. And admittedly, it’s a pretty standard ecchi harem romcom.
But what’s stuck with me all these years are the characters.
Moka, Kurumu, Yukari, and most importantly Mizore, are such a colorful and cute cast of girls. So colorful that I’m able to remember this show fondly, far past its shelf life.
The jokes are fun, the girls are cute, and it really only has this spot on the list because of my own personal nostalgia, and once again, Mizore.
24. My Hero Academia
MHA takes this spot only due to school life and romance not really being its “main genre”.
But when we do see the students of UA just chilling at school, they’re some of my favorite moments.
The idea of a bunch of high school students that just have access to superpowers, albeit in a world of people who all have these powers, is such a fun concept.
I honestly wish we could get a spin-off series that’s just the dorm-life adventures of class 1-A.
But I’m more than happy to settle with the bits that we have right now, as spread out as they may be.
23. Baka and Test
Imagine a setting sort of like Yu-Gi-Oh! where there are schools that are dedicated to what’s essentially a game that determines how well you do in class.
Now make the show take itself 90% less seriously, add in a near braindead protagonist, and some really cute and funny romcom moments.
That’s my best description for Baka and Test.
I remember this one keeping me laughing for most of its runtime.
So if you’re just looking for some simple and mindless laughs, this is a great choice.
Everything here is normal.
Nothing crazy ever happens in the average life of a young schoolgirl, never ever.
Alright, if you know, you know.
Nichijou is one of those shows very famous for a few scenes that are just… crazy. Not like a world ending crazy, but a “Man, I feel that” crazy.
If real world physics were just a little bit more loose, and laws just a bit more lax, then Nichijou isn’t that far off from reality.
And while any romance here is fairly one sided, it’s cute and funny to follow.
Also did I mention this show is funny? Like really, really funny? Because it is.
21. The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
If you’ve ever wanted to get out of a situation you clearly weren’t enjoying, but end up getting pulled back in by someone who you care about, this anime might resonate well.
A group of eccentric and rowdy characters populate the Sakura Dormitory, and our protag Kanda gets stuck there after being kicked out of his dorm.
And he does not want anything to do with the “weirdos” of Sakura.
But then that one girl, you know the one, makes him re-contextualize his own situation – and keeps him from trying to leave the dorm quite so adamantly.
It’s a really cute story about growing up in unconventional circumstances, and the anime handles that topic well.
20. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU
I feel like a lot of us were at least a little cynical as teenagers.
I know I had a phase where I certainly felt like I was so “above” the typical high school drama.
That’s one of the reasons I related to the main character of this show when I watched.
Though as the show progressed, it’s actually one of the reasons why I got over myself
Between being forced into a volunteer service, and forced with a girl who loves to give the cold shoulder, Hikigaya’s situation of being forced to be humble and help people is very fun.
I love mystery stories.
Whether they’re murder mysteries, or simply just solving some puzzle, or anything along those lines.
If there’s a question to be answered, I’m all in.
Hyouka is such a fun mystery because it’s not some overly serious topic.
One of the biggest things to be answered is that which surrounds everyday life.
The idea of character growth through solving mysteries is an overarching theme throughout the show, and it’s a very effective tool that kept me engaged the entire time.
18. High School DxD
Here’s an absolutely insane show with an equally insane premise.
Yusei dies on his first date, making this already a different type of romantic comedy show.
And while it does fall into a lot of tropes with some generic romcom harem stuff, along with an absurd amount of ecchi. But like… it’s so over the top here that I find it incredibly fun.
While you can choose who you ship Yusei with, Rias is the only queen that can really keep him under control.
17. Silver Spoon
Silver Spoon is a really interesting take on school life shows.
I wasn’t sure whether to add it or not, but honestly, it’s just a different kind of school.
Instead of the usual city or suburban school, Silver Spoon tackles a more rural location.
There’s farms, farm animals, and plenty of lessons that come along with that setting.
I never grew up around farms, so it was really nice to see some depictions of people who had a different experience than me when they were in school.
16. School Rumble
Here’s a classic in the genre of school life, especially if you like anime that have love triangles.
It follows our characters Tenma, Karasuma, and Harima.
And the formula goes like this:
Tenma loves Karasuma, but Harima loves Tenma, and because of that, Harima projects plenty of idealized fantasies of winning over Tenma.
But in true romcom fashion, whenever someone tries to confess, something goes wrong.
While it’s not one of the first, I think it does these tropes in one of the most fun ways.
The concept of starting over is something that I think a lot of people can sympathize with.
I know there’s a lot of things that I wish I could do over.
And ReLife (not to be confused with sensationalized anime Re:Zero) is a bit more of a grounded story.
Even if the kickoff point is a little more supernatural, the bizarre is not the focus here.
A man is given a chance to start his life over, being returned back to his final years of high school so that he can try not to fall into the frustrating tedium that he did in his adulthood.
Given such a relatable plot point, it’s really nice to see someone getting a chance to make their life something better than on their first try.
14. Ouran High School Host Club
This show was super popular with my friends back in high school. And it’s not hard to see why.
I didn’t watch it until a few years after high school, but it’s extremely fun.
Most know the jumping off point of the story, the vase breaks, and Haruhi has to pay back the damages by dressing up as one of the hosts in the host club.
From this moment there are plenty of fun and silly moments where we get to see Haruhi’s reactions to the different eccentric members of the club itself as well as their “responsibilities.”
13. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Speaking of a different Haruhi…
This show has a lot of moments that are extremely memorable.
Haruhi is such a fun and interesting show, and one that I would consider a milestone in anime.
Though it sports a lot of wacky and sometimes random humor, there’s this underlying intelligence to it all.
Haruhi herself as a main character is extremely charismatic, and it’s not hard to see why everyone, reserved protagonist included, around her gets wrapped up into all of her schemes.
This series also has some of the best animation on this entire list.
I think this is a show that everyone should at least view once, since it just has so many iconic moments.
There’s something so fun and interesting about the idea of two friends helping hook each other up with their best friends, but then falling in love with each other.
Toradora is an absolutely adorable story about two unlikely friends who grow closer by trying to help each other get with their best friends.
But during this process, they grow closer themselves, causing more of a close and intimate bond to build up.
It’s a super cute idea for the wingman to become your real love interest.
One of the VN turned to anime kings.
Clannad has a storied history, and with good reason.
Though it takes some time to get off the ground, Clannad does have a really good storyline.
Making use of the “cynical guy falling for a sweet and introverted girl” trope is one that I do like quite a lot myself, and their romance is so nice to see unfold as they try to revive the drama club.
Though the VN has a lot more routes, the show focuses a lot more on a single path forward and is all the stronger for it.
10. My Love Story!!
I instantly knew I was going to love this anime the second that I saw its conceptualization.
This show is wholesome to the extreme every episode.
Takeo’s always had a rough appearance to people around him, but Rinko loves him despite that.
There’s no real bizarre twists to this show though – just two people forming an adorable connection.
I always love stories where the romances are just so sweet and lovey-dovey. It’s extremely vanilla, but I don’t care.
9. Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai
Here’s one anime that features such a sweet romance, that it instantly has a fascinating concept to draw you in.
The main relationship between Sakuta and Mai starts with Sakuta being the only one able to see her bunny suit.
Like I mentioned before, I really enjoy mystery elements in shows… and Bunny Girl does have a lot of interesting questions running parallel to the romance itself.
This show gets very relatable at points, and has a lot of interesting explanations about its internal logic, including the idea behind Puberty Syndrome – and I think it’s worth giving it a shot.
Not to mention this features one of the most recognizable bunny anime characters ever designed.
8. Fruits Basket
We start off with a really sad situation, where Tohru is forced to move from place to place after losing her mother.
You really can’t help but want to root for the poor girl.
Thankfully it isn’t too long before she’s taken into a home and given a place to live, but that’s when things get a little supernatural.
The curse that causes people to change into zodiac animals provides an interesting, if not strange circumstance for the idea of our main love interest between Tohru and Kyo.
This show actually has two runs, and I personally prefer the more recent one that released in 2019.
It’s more complete and far more fleshed out.
7. Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions
Growing up is awkward, no matter how you acted as a kid.
But what happens when you don’t want to let go of some of those childish things?
Chunibyo is interesting, as the main love interest of Yuuta and Rikka are sort of on opposite sides of a coin. Yuuta wants to grow up and abandon the childish image, but Rikka embraces it.
Despite these differences, the two of them fall in love, and teach each other about the other side.
And while Rikka does still pursue these childish things, it’s clear that she can grow still.
The show doesn’t take a hard stance on which one of them is right, at least not to me, and I think that’s an important step in letting them both learn from each other.
6. Kaguya Sama: Love is War
Confessing is hard. And sometimes you don’t want to be the confessor, but the one to be confessed to.
That’s the problem in Love is War.
This is probably one of the most interesting ways to depict a romantic war between two people who aren’t trying to pursue the same person, but rather each other.
Going as far as they do to force the other into admitting they like one another is always so much fun, and makes me grin whenever they have internal monologues trying to outsmart each other.
Also Chika is the best, that is all.
5. Angel Beats!
Imagine you’re sent to an afterlife where you’re given a chance to come to terms with how you died, and in the process, meet someone that you truly love.
What a story to tell.
Angel Beats! is a show that has a lot of heart in its characters, storytelling, and the romance between Otonashi and Angel.
Though as the show progresses, it gets very sad, and leaves you with a lot of emotions and specifically hope for the main characters that once they move on, they’ll meet again.
After all, what is the afterlife, other than a new beginning?
4. Your Lie in April
Depression is hard to deal with. There’s very few ways to escape it simply, and sometimes life is really against you when you’re trying to move on.
Thankfully, sometimes we meet people during the worst times in our life that can create some of the best moments.
Your Lie in April is a very sweet show about being pulled out of depression.
At its core, despite its sad start, it’s a show about hope. And about meeting new people so that you can move forwards, being reintroduced to music after being unable to hear it for so long is powerful.
It’s at this moment when Kousei meets a violinist who can give him the strength to not only listen to, but also enjoy music again.
3. A Silent Voice
Sometimes it’s hard to come to terms with bad things that you’ve done in the past.
Maybe you spread a rumor you couldn’t take back, or called someone names, or even hurt them.
When you grow up, it’s important to understand when you were in the wrong as a child.
And sometimes it’s a fine gesture to try and make up for it.
A Silent Voice is one of those stories.
A former bully not only trying to apologize, but eventually falling for the person that they’re trying to make things right with is a dangerous topic, as you don’t want to romanticize bullying.
But this film shows a very real way that people are able to grow past their old selves and be someone better – not just for someone else, but for themselves too.
2. Your Name
Swapping bodies has always been a plot point in the media.
Whether it be for comedic purposes, or to help the other person learn a bit of perspective.
In either case, I think that it can cause some very engaging stories to come from it. Your Name is doubtlessly one of the less happy-go-lucky romances on this list.
There is a constant sense of longing for these two to be able to meet and finally kindle their relationship, and following that journey throughout the many times they swap bodies is beautiful.
Even if it is a more melancholic story, I think there’s something very special about this film.
1. Wandering Son
Now it’s time to get personal, yay!
As a trans person myself, I have a lot in common with the struggles presented in this show.
It’s probably the best, if not one of the best representations I’ve ever seen in anime.
But most importantly to this list specifically, there are the troubles with romance.
Sometimes a partner just doesn’t understand what you want from them.
Sometimes the person you love is in a similar situation, and because of that, they’re not sure if they can handle a relationship.
Sometimes romances don’t work out, but that’s okay.
Just because something doesn’t immediately work out for you, doesn’t mean you won’t find something later.
Alongside the personal relatability of this show, as well as the beautiful visuals, Wandering Son is one of my favorite anime of many genres. And it probably will be for some time.