15 Best Anime About Adulthood & Growing UpThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
I’m pretty sure at some point, even the most loyal anime fan gets bored of every show starting and ending in high school.
Especially if you’ve moved on from that stage of life years go.
But no worries – even though there are fewer shows focused on adulting, there are some excellent anime based on the adult world, and one’s transition into it.
So if you’re looking for some anime to help you reflect on growing up, you’ve come to the right place.
15. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
When looking at the promotional poster for this show, I never would have guessed it would be as deep as it is.
At first glance, it’s just a show with giant robots and a girl in a bikini. Nothing we haven’t seen a million times.
However, the show matures throughout its run. And the second half deals with much more mature topics than “can my robot beat up your robot?”, as we get into politics, the danger of power, responsibility and so on.
It truly caught me off guard. And I’m really glad that it did.
Although Barakamon covers a very short stretch of time, it shows some extremely motivational character development.
It’s all about an artist, a calligrapher to be more precise, trying to figure out what his craft meant to him. And whether it had objective value.
As a person who has only respected forms and regulations up until this point, he has to now tackle the beast known as “creative liberty” and all the potential risks that come with it.
If you’ve ever dabbled in the arts, trust me, this is a must-watch type of show.
13. A Silent Voice
Although this movie does end in high school, I still think it holds a lot of important messages when it comes to growing up.
I mean, it tackles the subject of suicide before you can even eat half of your popcorn.
But more importantly, it focuses a lot on atonement.
And not the typical anime “have one dramatic monologue and everything is going to be okay” version. But the real life, raw counterpart.
It shows that it can take a really long time to build back some of those burned bridges. And it takes even longer to accept that you deserve that connection once more.
12. Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku
This show feels like a high school anime rom-com that has been upgraded on every level.
The most obvious part is that it all takes place at work. But the really interesting part is how they handled the relationships themselves.
With high school anime, you either have characters that are completely oblivious/uninterested, or those who are head over heels “I’ll take a bullet for you” in love.
In Wotakoi, there’s way more nuance to it. Lord knows emotions can be a fickle thing.
11. I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying
Since we’re already on the topic of otaku love, I would like to throw this one into the ring as well.
It’s probably the most wholesome seinen you can find on the market, as it details the relationship of a business woman and her otaku husband.
It’s a very short show, so you can watch it in a few hours.
But it still manages to cover so many important points of a relationship and of a marriage.
10. Princess Jellyfish
Now this show is all about that transition between being a teen with no worries, and then suddenly being an adult, also known as the hustle phase of life.
It follows a 19-year-old girl who’s chasing after her dream to become an illustrator.
And the show is very realistic in some regards.
One being that everyone is poor before hitting at least their mid-twenties, so she lives with five other girls.
Plus her social interactions are a hassle, and we even get a cross-dressing character absolutely slaying the scene.
It’s a josei, and I’m not the target demographic, but this show is fire.
9. 5 Centimeters Per Second
Let’s face it:
Most of us aren’t still in contact with all of our childhood friends. And I’m sure that plenty of us have stories of “the one that got away”.
This movie depicts just that situation, where childhood friends slowly drift apart as their lives simply branch off and go in separate directions.
And that truly is how it happens most of the time. You rarely know when that final video call is going to be, it just kind of happens.
Hey, I never said the choices on this list were going to be all that optimistic.
Just take two teaspoons of Beastars, mix in some Office, and then slowly infuse the batter with any comedic spices you have at your disposal. And you’ll get Aggretsuko.
It’s a phenomenal gateway anime for adults and teens alike, that focuses on a 25-year-old red panda and her everyday life at the office.
It isn’t ecchi, and it tackles some more serious topics like misogyny. And it has some sweet death metal in the form of karaoke.
So it’s safe to say that it stands out among other anime.
When it comes to relationships, it’s very common for anime to forever linger in the flirt stage.
Which can get kind of boring after a while.
This is where shows like Clannad come in, as here you see the entire lives of the characters in question.
Clannad gives you a really good base to fall in love with the characters. And its sequel, Clannad: After Story, fills in a lot of the blanks usually left by a “happy ever after”.
I do recommend having some tissues nearby, as it can’t always be sunshine and rainbows.
6. Kids on the Slope
Kids on the Slope is a coming-of-age story that I would honestly recommend to adults even more so than to teens.
This is because the story is set in the 1960s, and will give you such a powerful nostalgia kick that you might just want to leaf through that old photo album.
The story follows three main characters who have all banded together through their love of jazz.
As is standard, the three seem like the most unlikely friends at first. But god knows that music has its ways of connecting people.
This truly is a touching show that just might give you the spark you need to venture of into the arts yourself.
5. Honey and Clover
Maybe it’s because of my age, but anime set in college hits a lot harder than anime set in high school.
Honey and Clover not only covers that realm, but also has the main characters as art majors, which is a personal bingo.
And you have to give the show some credit – it handles the topics of adolescent love as well as finding one’s passion very tactfully and realistically.
There are plenty of wholesome and funny moments, of course.
But its ability to make you question your entire future is the real selling point of this show for me.
4. Only Yesterday
This one definitely falls under the category of “an oldie but a goodie”, as it came out all the way back in 1991.
However, the story holds up just as well now as it did back then.
It’s a movie centered around a 27-year-old woman who decides to take a break from the city life and visit her family out in the country.
She gets plenty of flashbacks, showcasing what she was like when she was young, and the contrast between her old city life and the new rural living is simply calming to the soul.
Plus, you might get a wild nostalgia trip from the 90s aesthetics, which is always fun.
Psycho-Pass initially seemed like a typical cop anime to me.
You have the rule abiding good cop, the badboy who gets results, the experienced old man, it has it all.
But the show dives in way deeper than I could have anticipated, as we truly get to see a character be reborn on screen.
I don’t want to spoil anything. But whether you want to define this event as the slow twisting of a young person’s ideals, or like a “full rebirth”, you’ll find a lot of food for thought in this show.
2. Welcome to the N.H.K.
I always like to recommend N.H.K. to people, as it’s one of the few shows that I think really captures the essence of depression/troubling mental health.
It’s about a hikikomori and his gradual reintroduction into the world.
Key word being “gradual”.
His progress gets derailed more often than one can count, and it’s never played up for laughs, as it can get straight-up depressing.
And I think that it’s an important side of adulthood to showcase. Since when you live by yourself, you’re the only one who can even identify that there’s a problem in the first place.
Nana is probably my favorite show when it comes to how it deals with relationships.
And it’s as complicated and dramatic as things tend to be in real life.
The show really pulls no punches when it comes to certain realities relating to love, fame, pride, friendships, and even parenthood.
Even though it starts off as a bright-eye wholesome slice-of-life show, it ends as a brilliant seinen that beautifully encapsulates the fact that we’re not all perfect, and that it’s okay to move on.
And if you’re only here for the depression points, go read the manga, and then realize that it’ll never be finished.