The anime industry is known for churning out a lot of “slice of life” comedy and drama series, and they often take place in a high school. This isn’t an accident; many anime viewers are high school themselves, so this academic setting is relatable and familiar. But that doesn’t have to make for stale, routine storytelling. Some high school anime go above and beyond.
Some high school anime are just so charming, so heart-warming, and so funny that anyone who’s getting into anime for the first time can try them out as an introduction to the anime world. The students in these ten high school anime have a lot on their plate: homework, insane teachers, bullies, crushes, or even a harem of magical girls or robot classmates!
Updated April 4, 2020 by Louis Kemner: The whole high school anime genre is such a huge and diverse field, we decided that a list of 10 isn’t long enough to showcase the impressive variety of high school anime out there. We’ve all been to high school at some point, and that makes this genre so flexible and relatable: bullies, crushes, weird teachers, trying out for sports teams, and the bittersweet feelings of graduation. We collected five more high school anime that deserve a spot on our list, so here we go.
15 Magical Sempai
This is a short, recent anime that streamed on Crunchyroll during its summer anime season. It’s a tiny series, since each episode is just 12 minutes, but that’s still enough time for all kinds of magic. An unnamed sempai (upperclassman) launches her own stage magic club at her school, and recruits a hapless underclassman to help her out.
But this poor girl suffers from dreadful stage fright, and her tricks go wrong in all kinds of ways. Still, it’s a fine way to learn tricks with coins, ropes, and even mind reading.
Sometimes, adults might wonder what would happen if they could just do it all over again. Enter ReLIFE. In this 12-episode series, a frustrated job seeker named Arata Kaizaki meets a mysterious young man who offers him a pill to become ten years younger, and right back in high school!
It’s part of an experiment, and Arata dives right in. He learns a few life lessons along the way, and some of his classmates might have a few secrets of their own.
13 Oresuki: Are You The Only One Who Loves Me?
Many of the high school anime titles on this list are hilarious and exciting, and Oresuki is no exception. If you thought love triangles were complicated, just wait until you watch this anime. In it, the main character (who goes by Joro) is asked to speak privately with two different beautiful girls. He hopes that he’s about to get some love confessions.
But no! Both girls are into his friend, Oga, and he hopes to date whichever girl Oga rejects. But the quiet library girl, Sumeriko, then confesses to Joro, and Oga is interested in Sumeriko! And things only get more complex from there.
12 We Never Learn: BOKUBEN
This heartwarming high school anime has a roughly similar premise to The Quintessential Quintuplets (which we’ll cover later). This anime isn’t quite on par with Quintuplets, but it comes close, and we love it all the same.
Meet Nariyuki Yuiga, a humble but smart boy who becomes the private tutor for these three girls: Fumino (left), Rizu (center) and Uruka (left). Yuiga only meant to tutor them… but he soon gets involved in a whole lot more than that!
This anime has a thriller edge to it, and unlike many other anime on this list, it’s not just a collection of high school hijinks. Instead, we visit an elite school where the students are the children of wealthy families and business owners… and they’re enrolled to learn the ways of gambling!
These boys and girls are the smartest, most cunning, and most daring high school students we’ve ever seen in anime, and some truly high-stakes poker, blackjack, and roulette all lie ahead. All the chips are down… literally.
10 Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
That’s quite a name, and the title really only covers the first arc of this short series. Meet Sakuta, a high schooler who meets his upperclassman in the library in a bunny girl outfit. But this is not a cheap, erotic series. Instead, Sakuta and his senpai, Mai, start a quest to help their classmates, who suffer from “adolescence syndrome.” Anyone with this syndrome seems invisible and unheard, and they are terribly lonely.
Along the way, Sakuta helps his little sister Kaede (pictured) overcome her fear of the outside world and become a member of society once again.
9 Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches
Now we get a harem anime, and not only that, but a set of seven magical girls, as the name suggests! As expected, this anime packs all kinds of high-voltage high school hijinks, and it all starts when Ryu Yamada trips and knocks over his classmate on the stairs. But then they swap bodies, not unlike Freaky Friday or Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name.
Turns out, this school is home to seven witches, and kissing them means borrowing their powers! Now Ryu faces body swapping, mind reading, invisibility, and more.
This high school comedy is truly wacky and insane, even by anime standards! You never know what you’ll get with each episode of this whiplash anime, and none of the characters are as simple as they look. Except possibly for Yuuko, who mostly reacts to the lunacy around her (and struggles to study, too).
Around her are classmates like Mio, the energetic manga author in training, not to mention Nano, a robot girl with a huge crank on her back. Don’t forget the kid genius Professor and her talking cat, Sakamoto!
7 Azumanga Daioh!
This is a staple high school anime, and the manga is a must-have for any collection. This series looks tame compared to some others on this list, but it holds up. Meet the core six girls, who each annoy each other, take up nonsensical challenges, daydream about another life, and run for their lives in the school festival. The tall, stoic Sakaki hides a soft side that adores cats, and Chiyo is a kid genius who’s still a bit naive despite her smarts.
Their homeroom teacher, Yukari Tanizaki, is more bratty than half her students are, and Mr. Kimura keeps shouting all kinds of inappropriate things. But still, it’s heart-warming to watch all these girls grow up together, and Azumanga Daioh! bids each character a fond farewell upon graduation. Where will life take them next?
6 The Quintessential Quintuplets
This is another harem anime, and it trades magical girls for a set of five identical sisters with clashing personalities. The male lead is Futaro Uesagi, a plain but very smart boy who is asked to tutor the five Nakano sisters, who struggle with their grades. Hilarity ensues as Futaro tries to juggle these boistrous and uncooperative sisters, though he gets a break as they start to appreciate him and what he can offer them.
Even more tantalizing is the mystery of which sister Futaro will marry! It’s made clear early on that Futaro will wed one of these girls, but not which. Future season may unveil the bride (so to speak) once and for all.
This high school comedy stars the tiny but tough girl Taiga Aisaka, who has a serious reputation for kicking butt. Meanwhile, she ends up in a surprise friendship with Ryuji, who certainly looks scary, but in reality wouldn’t harm a fly. At first, Taiga and Ryuji make a deal for mutual benefit, since they each have a crush on the other’s best friend.
But this love square gets even more tangled when, you guessed it, Taiga anda Ryuji get closer to each other instead! later, they run off together, and they need time to figure out their lives.
This high school rom-com is a Romeo and Juliet incarnation, and this time we get the son and daughter of two rival crime families! On one side we get Raku Ichijo, from a terrifying yakuza family, and Chitoge Kirisaka, from a mafia family. Chitoge moved to Japan for high school, transferring from the United States (she’s half American), and at once her family and Raku’s arrange them to meet.
Both young “lovers” are flabbergasted and don’t like being in the spotlight, but they try to at least put on appearances. Things get even messier when love rivals show up in force, and there’s the mystery of which girl gave Raku the locket he now wears around his neck…
3 A Silent Voice
A list of good high school anime is definitely not complete without this tear-jerker in it. This series has its funny moments, but ultimately, it’s a dramatic and heart-wrenching story of bullying, forgiveness, self-acceptance, and much more.
In 6th grade, Shota Ishida (left) mercilessly bullied his deaf classmate Shoko Nishimiya (right), and years later, he’s suffocating on guilt and disgust with himself. But he’s not giving up: he wants to put things right no matter what, and viewers will soon learn whether or not Shoko is in the mood to forgive her tormentor.
2 Great Teacher Onizuka
This is an older series, but that just means it’s a classic. This time, we’re seeing things from the perspective of Eikichi Onizuka, a tough gangster who becomes a high school teacher so he can make some inroads with the ladies.
It’s a pretty selfish motive, but he soon becomes a model friend and mentor to his many students. He can’t stand how patronizing and rigid the school system is, so he tries to connect with his students and nurture their minds on his own terms. Will he succeed? Watch and find out!
1 Fruits Basket
This is it, the juggernaut of the shojo world. Fruits Basket had a long-running manga series, and it had an anime in the 2000s, too. Now, a newer and high-def anime relaunch is streaming, and viewers can enjoy the tale of Fruits Basket like never before. Orphan Toru Honda is a kind and sympathetic girl down on her luck, until the mysterious and reclusive Sohma family takes her in.
Surprise: they’re all cursed with the Chinese Zodiac, and can transform into animals! Now Toru tries to balance her high school life with a complex web of budding relationships, not to mention contend with the Sohma curse and the cruel family head, Akito. It’s a shojo series for the ages, and a must-watch for lovers of high school anime and romance.
Tons of anime take place in some sort of high school setting, but these are the absolute best of them.