Riverdale, a modern reimagining of the Archie comic book universe, is a CW series that thrives on melodrama. This is not a criticism, but a fact. In Riverdale, human interactions are maximized and if something ridiculous and life-changing can happen, it probably will. Murders, gang violence, anachronistic wardrobe, possibly even witchcraft – Riverdale cares less about genre and more about entertainment.
Although Riverdale does not contain explicitly supernatural elements, the series is certainly and undeniably strange. Maple syrup cults, framing numerous characters for murder, ominous leaps in time, and even inappropriate relationships between family members are all part of the course. Anyone looking for a similar solution on their anime list won’t have to search far.
10 Golden Time
The anime adaptation of Golden Time was initially rejected by the public. Few directors fall as badly as Chiaki Kon in the anime community, and in fact, their character design is often lacking. But anyone who stayed until the fifth episode of Golden Time witnessed one of the best twists in anime history.
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We’ll avoid spoilers, but the series goes from bland college rom-com to deeply disturbing tale of personal loss and trauma in a single episode. From there, the series is full of drama and pathos. Highly recommended for anyone dealing with mental illness and seeking representation.
9 Kaguya-Sama: Love is War
Riverdale can be really fun sometimes. Characters like Cheryl and Veronica, when well written, have sharp tongues and enough cheek to fill an ocean. Anyone looking for over the top character interaction with a heavy dose of humor should look no further than the 2019 hit Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War.
Although it is clear that the two leads should be dating, they are both too proud to give in to the other and spend most of their energy trying to convince the other to ask them out first. In lower hands, this premise would quickly turn stale, but Kaguya-Sama is written with a great deal of wit and charm.
8 Kokoro Connect
It’s a very hackneyed trope in multiple forms of media: Body swapping. KokoroConnect contains explicitly supernatural elements, but the parallels to Riverdale run deeper. Kokoro focuses on a group of high school students who change bodies without warning, learning more about each other than they could have learned otherwise.
In most series, only the audience is aware of the secrets and lives of all the characters. But the core idea of Kokoro Connect allows friends to witness each other’s lives, for better or for worse.
7 Nagi no Asukara
Southside, Jughead’s territory in Riverdale, is obviously the hardest part of town. These clear divisions in small town communities are all too real, but what if the other side of the tracks were instead the bottom of the sea?
In Nagi No Asukara, the inhabitants of the sea have to transfer to a public school on the mainland due to the decline in population and the closure of their own school. The romance and drama between the people of the land and the people of the sea are significant. The series is certainly melodramatic, but it is often a poignant commentary on life at sea and adolescence.
In Riverdale, the death toll is ridiculously high even for the CW. If Riverdale High School were a real place, there would be many more students transferring, or there would be no students left by now.
Anyone looking for a similar casualty rate in their high school drama should watch Another. A horror series with great character development and every genre trope imaginable, from creepy dolls to non-existent classmates, Another remains the high standard of high school horror anime.
Street gangs. Murders in alleys. High quality female characters. Questionable cults. A young man in a silly jacket who does no good. These descriptions fit both Riverdale and Durarara !, the latter a series that became a smash hit in 2011.
As in Riverdale, at first glance the main characters in Durarara appear to lead rather mundane lives in Ikebukuro, but as the series progresses the idea of »normalcy » is thrown out the window next to a vending machine. In both series, fans can expect to be surprised and entertained.
Erased is a miserably dark series at times. At first it was an engaging exploration of childhood memories, but many fans were disappointed by the predictability of the plot elements in the latter half of the series. Still, or perhaps because it relies so heavily on clichés, Erased is the ideal series for acolytes of the Archieverse.
When Satoru Fujinuma is transported back to his childhood body, he attempts to save a young girl from an untimely abduction and death.
3 fruit basket
Placing Fruits Basket in the company of other melodramatic anime may not be fair to the series, but all the elements of Riverdale’s charm are here. Anyone who dismisses Fruits Basket as shoujo fluff has clearly not seen the modern version of the series or read the wildly popular manga.
The Sohma family is cursed not only with the tendency to transform into animals of the zodiac, but also with a deeply cruel patriarch who dictates their lives. These characters have endured painful cycles of abuse that generations of family members have indulged in. The series is, in fact, about escaping the shackles of an abusive family, and how the friendship of an empathetic heroine can save them all.
An undisputed modern classic of the romantic comedy genre, Toradora is not without its drama. Ryuji Takasu has a kind heart, but his furrowed appearance scares his classmates. Taiga Aisaka is adorable on the outside, but she is perceived by others as a short-tempered person.
As in Riverdale, characters are often defined by others based on their appearance or perceived notions of personality, rather than on their actual merits.
In Jun Maeda’s Charlotte, children exposed to comet dust develop supernatural abilities as they reach adolescence. What at first seems to sow the seeds of fun interactions between the characters – a pop singer who can commune with the dead, a boy with superhuman speed, body swapping and invisibility – turns incredibly bleak when the protagonist’s sister dies. because of his supernatural ability.
Riverdale is a decent coming-of-age story at best often hampered by melodrama. But in moments when all those elements of the story are balanced, the series, like Charlotte, can push the limits of its premise and become an authentic commentary on loss and life.