15 Best Coming of Age Anime Series

Best Coming of Age Anime

Coming of age is one of the most popular anime genres lately, which is highly recommended to both Japanese anime beginners and advanced watchers. It focuses on adolescent characters presenting their growing-up stories, daily lives of schools, bittersweet loves and other heartfelt moments. You can see a variety of exciting and emotional dramas depending on a character in the coming-of-age anime.

For all anime fans across the world, I’d like to introduce 15 best coming-of-age anime to watch now containing the classic movies and the recent series. You can also get a flavor of what real Japanese cultures and minds of young people might be in the authentic anime.

1. Violet Evergarden

Many fans from from all corners of the world look on Violet Evergarden (ヴァイオレット・エヴァーガーデン) as the best coming-of-age anime series of all time. It’s originally released as a light novel in 2015, which is adapted into the finest anime series by Kyoto Animation. The first 13 episodes aired in 2018, followed by a spin-off film Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll in 2019 and a sequel movie Violet Evergarden: The Movie in 2020.

It concentrates on a young girl named Violet Evergarden living alone in the European world. She lost her arms and got separated from her dearest Major Gilbert during the large war. After the war’s end, she works at the CH Postal Companywear as an Auto Memory Doll, who writes letters on behalf of customers, wearing metallic prosthetic limbs. Her emotions expressed little becomes diversified and she is grasping the meaning of the last words left by Major Gilbert “I love you” through the work.

Coming of age: ★★★★★

Aired: 2018

Episodes: 12

Studio: Kyoto Animation

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2. A Place Further than the Universe

A Place Further than the Universe (宇宙よりも遠い場所), which is usually abbreviated to Yorimoi in Japanese, is one of the top-rated original coming-of-age anime series produced by an animation studio Madhouse. It contains 12 episodes airing in 2018, which also adapted into a 3-volume manga series.

Set in Gunma Prefecture, A Place Further than the Universe centers on an ordinary second-grade high school girl Mari Tamaki called Kimari. One day, she picks up an envelope including one million yen and later restores the money to its owner Shirase Kobuchizawa, who is also a student of the same high school as her. Shirase sets aside the money to go to Antarctica where her mother went missing as a member of the Antarctic observation crew three years ago. Following her firm determination, Kimari and two more girls aim to reach the South Pole.

Coming of age: ★★★★★

Aired: 2018

Episodes: 12

Studio: Madhouse

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3. Weathering with You

Alongside of Your Name in 2016 and Suzume in 2022, Weathering with You (天気の子) is one of the greatest works made by Makoto Shinkai, released in 2019. Chosen as the Japanese entry for Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards, it won the 43rd Japan Academy Film Prize. The successful romantic drama is featured by beautiful landscape depiction based on the real world, emotional narrative and an element of fantast that characterizes the story.

Weathering with You takes place in Tokyo in the year 2021. The story begins with a first-year high school boy, Hodaka Morishima, who runs away from home in Kozushima, a remote island in Tokyo, to the main island. The boy, who has no financial means to live in the middle of a big city, meets a girl, Hina Amano, who works at McDonald’s. Hodaka learns that she has a special ability to make the weather temporarily sunny. He is all alone after running away from home, and she lives alone with her younger brother without parents. Facing the harsh realities of society, they use Hina’s special ability to make a living. “This is a story only she and I know about the story of the secret of this world.”

Coming of age: ★★★★☆

Released: 2019

Running time: 112 mins

Studio: CoMix Wave Films

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4. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

Categorized as coming-of-age, slice-of-life and drama, Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない。) is often named as one of the masterpieces that make you cry as well as Clannad and Violet Evergarden. As an original anime series that is not adapted from anything, it was made by A-1 Pictures with the director Tatsuyuki Nagai, the screenwriter Mari Okada and the character designer Masayoshi Tanaka, who are also called as Super Peace Busters and was in charge of the production of Toradora! (2008-2009).

The story revolves around Jinta, a reclusive boy who has just started his first year of high school, and his childhood friends. They were good friends in elementary school and formed a group called the Super Peace Busters to play together. On the other hand, while they share a past that includes the death of their childhood friend Menma, their relationship has faded and a sense of distance has developed as they have become high school students. Menma, who was supposed to be dead, appears in front of Zinta. And she has grown up. This is an anime that emphasizes drama and deals with the content of bonding and growth.

Coming of age: ★★★☆☆

Aired: 2011

Episodes: 11

Studio: A-1 Pictures

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5. Chihayafuru

Chihayafuru (ちはやふる) is one of the most famous and popular coming-of-age anime series all over the globe, which is also categorized as romance and sports. It was serialized as manga series written by Yuki Suetsugu between 2007 and 2022, and its anime adaptation first aired with 25 episodes in 2011 and 2012. The 25-episode second season and the 24-episode third one followed it in 2013 and 2019-2020.

Set in a high school in Tokyo, Chihayafuru focuses on a young girl named Chihaya Ayase, who has been absolutely charmed by Hyakunin Isshu Karuta (a traditional Japanese playing card game) with her childhood friend Taichi Mashima and a transferred classmate Arata Wataya since they were elementary school students. There are powerful Karuta games, changing relationships between the main characters and everyday comedy scenes throughout the anime.

Coming of age: ★★★★★

Aired: 2011-2012 (Season 1)/2013 (Season 2)/2019-2020 (Season 3)

Episodes: 25 (Season 1)/25 (Season 2)/24 (Season 3)

Studio: Madhouse

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6. Fireworks

Fireworks (打ち上げ花火、下から見るか? 横から見るか?), which is also known as Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?, is a Japanese animated classified into romance, coming of age and fantasy. It is partly based on the same-titled youthful drama television play directed by Shunji Iwai in 1993. The anime movie is directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, the anime director also known for Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Monogatari Series.

The story takes place during the summer vacation of first-year junior high school students in a seaside town. Due to her mother’s remarriage, Nazuna Oikawa has to leave this town during the summer vacation. Two boys, Norimichi Shimada and Yusuke Azumi, have feelings for her. They compete in a swimming race to go with her to the summer festival and fireworks display to be held tonight. The story is about friendship between the boys who have a liking for the same girl and love over her, who is struggling with family problems. A mysterious ball that can rewind time sets the story in motion. The film’s charm lies in the beautiful scenery depicted alongside the painful reality.

Coming of age: ★★★☆☆

Released: 2017

Running time: 90 mins

Studio: Shaft

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7. Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea

A modern coming-of-age title Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea (凪のあすから), also known as Nagi no Asukara, is an original anime series adapted from no other works. It was produced by a popular Japanese anime studio P.A.Works, which the famous scriptwriter Mari Okada joined. There are 26 episodes airing from 2013 to 2014.

The coming-of-age anime, also categorized as romance, presents the growing-up stories of seven main characters. Living under the sea, a middle schooler Hikari and his childhood friends Manaka, Chisaki and Kaname transfer to a school on the ground. They come into new relationships with people on the ground, and their long relationships are changing.

Coming of age: ★★★★★

Aired: 2013-2014

Episodes: 26

Studio: P.A.Works

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8. Clannad

Speaking of the anime that presents an adolescent story, Clannad is definitely an essential title. Clannad was originally released as a visual novel game developed by Key in 2004, which made into the two seasons of anime adaptation from 2007 to 2009. The first season is titled Clannad and the second one is Clannad After Story. The quality of the drama anime is guaranteed by Kyoto Animation, which has produced lots of good coming-of-age anime series and movies. There is a strong tinge of emotional drama mixed with coming-of-age. If you want to experience an anime that makes you cry, Clannad is a must-watch.

The story is divided into two major parts: the school arc and the After Story arc, which depicts the main characters after they graduate from high school. Tomoya Okazaki, a high school senior who has become a delinquent after giving up basketball due to injury, meets the main heroine Nagisa Furukawa. Nagisa, who is sickly and weak, aims to rebuild the drama club, which is in a state of disuse, and Tomoya and their friends help her do so. There are also several other attractive heroines. The episodes include background information on each heroine and a touching story of Tomoya and Nagisa’s growth. Clannad is a masterpiece of animation, so much so that it is often referred to as “Clannad is life.

Coming of age: ★★★☆☆

Aired: 2007-2008 (Season 1)/2008-2009 (Season 2)

Episodes: 22+2 spin-offs (Season 1)/22+2 spin-offs (Season 2)

Studio: Kyoto Animation

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9. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

As one of the best modern anime movies in all genres, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (時をかける少女) has been top-rated by a wide range of people since it was released in 2006. The adolescent anime film mixed with science fiction made time travel in Japanese animation a general topic, which is known as Time Leap in this movie. It is set in the world of the same-named novel written by Yasutaka Tsutsui in 1967, who is also famous for Paprika (1993). However, it takes place 20 years after the story of the original work. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is regarded as one of the masterpieces of the anime director Mamoru Hosoda.

This is a coming-of-age story featuring Makoto Konno, the niece of Kazuko Yoshiyama, the protagonist of the original novel. Makoto, a second-grade high school student at a school in downtown Tokyo, plays baseball and other games every day with Chiaki Mamiya, who transferred this spring, and her friend from middle school, Kosuke Tsuda. One day, Makoto almost collides with a train due to brake failure on her bicycle. But when she comes to, she finds that her clock has gone back to the time just before the accident. Somehow, Makoto discovers that she can travel through time, and she makes use of this ability in the smallest of situations in her high school life, but a big drama awaits her.

Coming of age: ★★★★★

Released: 2006

Running time: 98 mins

Studio: Madhouse

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10. Whisper of the Heart

The renowned Studio Ghibli often focuses on youth and romance in its movies, and Whisper of the Heart (耳をすませば) is one of the most popular Ghibli teen romance anime films especially among Japanese fans. Based on Aoi Hiiragi’s Shojo manga series published in 1989, it is directed by Yoshifumi Kondo with Hayao Miyazaki as a screenwriter. The romantic drama was released in 1995 with Hayao Miyazaki’s directed seven-min film titled On Your Mark.

Shizuku Tsukishima, a third-year junior high school girl who loves to read, borrows many books from the library where her father works. Then, she sees a record that every book she borrows has been read by a person named Seiji Amasawa just before she borrowed it. While she is curious about this person, Shizuku finds a mysterious antique shop called on her way to the library and a statue of a cat named Baron Humbert von Gikkingen there. The story mixes the purity of teenagers with the reality of their having to think about the future.

Coming of age: ★★★★☆

Released: 1995

Running time: 111 mins

Studio: Studio Ghibli

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11. March Comes In like a Lion

A Japanese anime studio Shaft made its masterpiece of coming of age in 2016: March Comes In like a Lion (3月のライオン). Its original manga series serialized on Young Animal by Chica Umino since 2007 was made into the anime adaptation. The first season was broadcast in 2016-2017 and the second season in 2017-2018, and each consists of 22 episodes.

March Comes In like a Lion has the theme of shogi that is like Japanese chess, revolving around a 17-year-old talented shogi player Rei Kiriyama. He lost his parents in an accident in his childhood but lives alone iin the severe world of professional shogi. He is also given much care by Kawamoto family’s three sisters Akari, Hinata and Momo, who frequently invite him to their house for dinner.

Coming of age: ★★★★☆

Aired: 2016-2017 (Season 1)/2017-2018 (Season 2)

Episodes: 22 (Season 1)/22 (Season 2)

Studio: Shaft

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12. Flavors of Youth

CoMix Wave Films released a fine anthology drama film Flavors of Youth (詩季織々), which is mixed with Japanese anime and Chinese donghua. The animation studio was founded in 2007 to manage Makoto Shinkai, one of the leaders of modern anime directors, at first. Flavors of Youth is composed of three short coming-of-age episodes: The Rice Noodles, A Little Fashion Show and Love in Shanghai, which are directed by Jiaoshou Yi Xiaoxing, Yoshitaka Takeuchi and Li Haoling. Li Haolin is a director who has been inspired by Makoto Shinkai’s 5 Centimeters per Second.

The three short films are based on the idea of the foundations of Chinese life “clothing, food, housing and transport” overlaying youth and love. In The Rice Noodles, Xiao Ming is tired of working in Beijing and suddenly remembers his days in his hometown and the taste of the rice noodles he used to eat. A Little Fashion Show is a story of frustration and recovery for a fashion model Yi Lin and her sister Lulu, who live in Guangzhou. And Love in Shanghai, the highlight of the anthology, is set in the 1990s and tells the story of a boy named Li Mo and his childhood friend Xiao Yu, who used to live in a Shanghai’s Shikumen district. The two were junior high school students, but a few misunderstandings led them to go their separate ways, against their intentions. The film depicts their lives up to the present day.

Coming of age: ★★★★☆

Released: 2019

Running time: 74 mins

Studio: CoMix Wave Films

13. FLCL

FLCL (フリクリ) is a well-known surrealism comedy anime to anime freaks all over the world. With the two famous anime studios Production I.G and Gainax, it was made by the director Kazuya Tsurumaki, who served as an assistant director under Hideaki Anno for Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995-1996). FLCL was released as an OVA series consisting of six episodes in 2000-2001. It was followed by the two anime movies FLCL Progressive and FLCL Alternative in 2018.

The setting is the provincial city of Mabase, where a mysterious medical equipment manufacturer is the symbol of the city. There are three main characters: Naota Nandaba, a cocky sixth-grade boy; Mamimi Samejima, a 17-year-old high school girl who is the former lover of Naota’s brother; and Haruko Haruhara, a mysterious self-proclaimed 19-year-old “alien” who suddenly appears in front of Naota. Nothing special happens in Naota’s daily life, but from the day Haruko appears, it becomes full of impossible things. Strange symptoms appear in his head, and at the same time, a robot appears from an unexpected place. This is a rather surreal and funny anime that shows the creativity of Kazuya Tsurumaki at its best.

Coming of age: ★★★★☆

Aired: 2000-2001

Episodes: 6

Studio: Gainax/Production I.G

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14. Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!

As one of the highest quality coming-of-age anime series, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! (映像研には手を出すな!) has been welcomed by a lot of modern anime fans especially domestically since the first season was released with 12 episodes in 2020. which is also called just Eizouken, since it was broadcast in 2020. It is adapted from the original manga written by Sumito Owara since 2016 by a new-fashioned studio Science Saru.

Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is set in a futuristic Japan in the 2050s, mixed with nostalgic atmosphere. The coming-of-age and comedy anime follows a first-grade high school girl Midori Asakusa, who has dreamed to create an animation. She meets a moneymaker Sayaka Kanamori and a popular fashion model creator Tsubame Mizusaki in the high school. Their busy days to complete animated works are comically presented.

Coming of age: ★★★★☆

Aired: 2020

Episodes: 12

Studio: Science Saru

15. Silver Spoon

Silver Spoon (銀の匙) is a popular coming-of-age manga and anime series, also categorized as comedy and slice of life. The manga series was serialized on Weekly Shonen Sunday between 2011 and 2019, written by the renowned artist Hiromu Arakawa who is also famous for Fullmetal Alchemist. And, it is adapted into the anime series consisting of two seasons in 2013 and 2014.

Silver Spoon presents peaceful everyday in an agricultural high school in Hokkaido and growing-up stories of students. A protagonist Yugo Hachiken chooses to enter the rural agricultural high school to get away from the study competition and his demanding father. He learns a lot about agriculture and dairy farming, meeting various friendly students and teachers.

Coming of age: ★★★★☆

Aired: 2013(Season 1)/2014 (Season 2)

Episodes: 11(Season 1)/11 (Season 2)

Studio: A-1 Pictures

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▽Check out the list of best new anime series and movies released in 2023, too!▽

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