A mode of function and fiction represented by performance through plays, ballet, opera and even miming. Drama can also be a genre of poetry and in this case…anime. Drama has been around since the Ancient Greeks, Romans, and the Middle Ages in which liturgical drama was used in annual celebrations. While many of us correlate the word “drama” with Shakespeare’s England during the Renaissance era, this time period actually began in Italy, where music, song, and dance were implemented into plays produced in new indoor theaters.
Literary Devices states that the word drama comes from, “the Greek δρᾶμα (drama), in which it means “action.” Thus, the definition of drama includes the sense of live action occurring. Note that originally drama did not necessarily connote a genre characterized by serious themes and the absence of comedy. Indeed, both comedy and tragedy on stage are considered drama under this definition, because they both include action presented to an audience in real time.”
Famous drama pieces in literature include Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Antigone by Sophocles, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, and The Crucible by Arthur Miller. More famous modern pieces include Citizen Kane, The Godfather, The Shawshank Redemption, God Will Hunting, and Brokeback Mountain. For anime you might think of Angel Beats, Nana, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Violet Evergarden, or Honey and Clover. The art of drama has made its way into all forms of media these days and it isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
My love affair for drama anime started many moons ago, but it wasn’t until I watched Nana that I fell MADLY in love with it. Nana original premiered in April 2006 and ran until March 2007, but I did not watch it until just a few short years ago. I don’t know why I waited so long to watch it. To say Nana is an amazing anime is a complete understatement. I cannot stress enough how life changing Nana was for me. Not only was Nana a life changing anime for me but so was Honey and Clover. These two anime series are the LITERAL definition of drama anime. But I can’t just give Nana and Honey & Clover all the credit! Other shows such as Nagi no Asukara, Natsuyuki Rendezvous, March Comes in Like a Lion, and Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju all play a pivotal role in my love for drama anime.
I think why I love all of these anime so much is because of their portrayal on the human condition. For those of you who don’t know what the human condition is, it is the characteristics, key events, and situations which compose the essentials of human existence, such as birth, growth, emotionality, aspiration, conflict, and mortality. More ambiguous topics under the human condition scope include “the meaning of life” or “moral concerns.” In my opinion, these anime series explore what it means to be human on a level that is incomparable to any other anime.
With Nana you have two young women trying to navigate growing up, their past/present relationships, what it means to find one’s self in a sea of many, and self-worth. Honey & Clover takes on similar topics but all in the realm of college life and moving into adulthood. Nagi no Asukara deals with growing up from being a child into being a teen in the throng of first loves and heartache. Natsuyuki Rendezvous dives into the harsh reality of losing someone you love to being able to love again. March Comes in Like a Lion scope on depression, bullying, and being able to form with relationships with people was a breath of fresh air for the anime community. Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju interweaves loss, life long regrets, secrets, betrayal, and what it means to be in love with not just a person but your passion during the 1920’s. A time period in which we all know lead up to the horrors of World War II.
Drama in anime makes for some of the best character development. I adore this genre not just for the relatability, but also how these characters develop from all the thorny problems they have to deal with. Most drama characters are placed in these situations to show how they will respond and how they will change over time. This is exactly what we do in our day to day lives. Growth and knowledge are two human traits that are infinite and that is one thing I relish in. The idea that the human condition is limitless is such a scary yet enticing thing. In the grand scheme of things all anime is dramatic, that’s probably why we all love it so much, but drama anime itself is a vexing thing. Drama anime is there when you need a good laugh, a good cry, and an overall sense of why you exist on this planet. I mean…how many times have we asked ourselves, “Why was I born?” or “What is my purpose in life?” I can say for myself I have probably asked these questions a million times in my twenty-nine years of life.
These life events we experience throughout our lives are what shape us into the people we are today. The stories of Nana, Honey & Clover, Nagi no Asukara, Natsuyuki Rendezvous, March Comes in Like a Lion, and Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju are all one’s I could connect to on a deeper emotional level. Something inside me went, “Ah yes. This is exactly how I felt at a particular moment in time.” That thread of connection to the stories and characters I was watching made me realize that I was not alone for once. The inner turmoil churning and brewing within my mind was finally put to ease as I watched these characters grow from a small sappling into a splendid full fledged tree. As Cheeky Kid states over on ReelRundown drama anime is, “something that is able to touch hearts and make feelings and emotions flow. Usually, you’ll know it’s a good drama show you’re watching when tears are evidently streaming from your eyes or there’s some feeling of sadness, or a mixture of this and others, pounding deep inside you.”
Drama anime isn’t the only genre of anime that can “make you feel something” though. All genres of anime can make a viewer feel this way. As I have covered on my blog before, an anime series should have some type of relatability for the viewer. Relatability is the understanding, like, or having sympathy for a specific thing because of similarities to oneself or one’s own experiences. If you want to read more on this topic you can check out these two articles here: https://kawaiipaperpandas.com/2017/08/15/topic-tuesday-why-are-anime-villains-so-alluring/ and https://kawaiipaperpandas.com/2019/01/20/whats-in-a-masterpiece-a-compiled-list-of-anime-series-i-consider-masterpieces/.
I would like to share an ideology about why humans like drama written by Graham Gordy over at Oxford American. “If we’re being completely honest with ourselves, we would admit that life is often nasty, brutish and, if we’re lucky, not so short. If we like movies and plays, we generally like them better than we do our lives because they compress life and remove all the useless deliberation, unpleasant equivocation, the waiting in lines, the arduous getting from point A to point B, and the general mundane bullshit. They also eliminate one of the most vexing things about everyday life: the vexing part. Drama keeps the characters in the dark and the audience in the light, and gives us, the viewers, a world of clarity and certainty. Even if we are watching a tragedy, we feel that we are living more fully through the intensified experiences of a character because not only is time compressed but action and meaning occur simultaneously. What takes months, or years, to figure out in real life takes no time at all in films and plays. We are able to comprehend the full impact of events as they happen because we have a God’s-eye view of the proceedings.”
What can I say? There is something special about drama anime. I adore this genre of anime oh so much. That’s why I am writing this post. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without the influence of drama anime. All anime in fact…but drama anime holds a very special place in my heart ❤ Whether you’re a HUGE fan of drama anime like myself, or just anime in general, each genre of anime holds a particular je ne sais quoi for us all. Drama anime is that for me. There is no one reason as to why we might love drama, but it does play an important role in our lives. For some, drama creates a life that many of us envy, while for other’s it is a form of entertainment. As humans drama is exciting and it connects with our emotions. Since the dawn of drama in ancient times humans have thrived off the entertainment of stories. We love drama because it provides us with a story to tell others. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Some stories are mysterious, while others are more tantalizing. Drama is a key element that provides fodder for a compelling story.
(Disclaimer: All imagery and photos come from searching for them on the internet. I have no claim or right to them. If I find any links I will always post them this usually entails fan art or any other work affiliated with an artist).