Classroom of the Elite was originally a series of light novels by Shōgo Kinugasa before it became a manga and anime series. On the surface, it looks like an ordinary high school series about the Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing School. Instead, it’s a place where students are divided by class, and lead character Kiyotaka Ayanokōji finds himself in the lowest ranks of D-class. Once he gets involved with fellow students Suzune Horikata and Kikyō Kushida, things just get more complicated.
But it’s not the only anime set in a school to offer chills, thrills, and spills. Here are a few more school-based shows to check out once fans have finished beating the Elite.
Updated September 18, by David Heath: Classroom of the Elite is nearing the end of its second season as of this writing, and it may be another year or so until a 3rd season arises. That’s quite a bit of time to hang around for Kiyotaka, Suzune, and Kikyō’s further adventures. So, this list has been beefed up with 3 more show suggestions for a total of 10 classroom anime dramas to keep fans hooked in the meantime. Some may be more light-hearted than others, and others might be darker. Yet altogether there’s plenty of choice for everyone. So, here is the new list.
10 Blue Period
Tsubasa Yamaguchi’s coming-of-age drama gave Netflix a show about the joy of painting without being The Joy of Painting. Instead of a curly-haired, soft-spoken Bob Ross-type, it gives viewers Yatora Yaguchi. He’s a somewhat popular high schooler who does well in his subjects, but is left unfulfilled and frustrated. But when he discovers his school’s art club, he develops such a passion for art that he gains a new goal in life: to get into the Tokyo University of the Arts.
It’s a long, hard road to get there though. He has to simultaneously work with and compete with his club members, taking in their different approaches to art, and their criticisms. Some are more valuable than others, like the mentor-like senior Mayu’s advice over the cutting comments from his classmate Yotasuke. While others open his eyes to deeper issues, like the non-binary Yuka, the religious Maru, and the imposter syndrome suffering Maki. The show is more grounded than COTE, though no less dramatic.
How about something more cosy? Toradora! is more gentle compared to Classroom‘s drama, despite having one of the more violent tsunderes in anime. The title is a play on the symbolism between the fiery, emotional tiger (Tora in Japanese) and the cooler yet stern dragon (transliterated in Japanese as ‘doragon’). Since Ryuji has a crush on his classmate Minori, only to get confronted by her best friend Taiga, who has a crush on Ryuji’s friend Yusaku.
The two come to an agreement to help each other get with the person of their dreams across the series, except they spend so much time together people think they’re a couple. Which is ridiculous. Opposites attracting in a romcom series? Just because the two like to hang out, visit each other at their homes, and doing odd jobs for each other doesn’t mean they like each other…right? Maybe the dragon-like Ryuji and tiger-esque Taiga have a more complicated arrangement than they think.
Getting back into more dramatic territory, ReLIFE has a curious premise. Arata Kaizaki is a 27yr old with a dead-end job and no prospects. It’s while he’s working that a mysterious man called Ryō Yoake offers him a better way ahead. He just has to take part in the ReLife experiment, a process that’ll make him look 10 years younger. His mission is to undergo this process, then head back to high school to test his youthful looks.
The idea is that the experiment could help him fix his lingering problems and “live his ReLife to the fullest”. While he fits in surprisingly well, thanks to his youthful looks and forgetting most of his high school education, it brings up some other issues. Some come with the territory, like him being acutely aware he’s a decade older than his 17yr old classmates. Others get brought up as he relives his past and meets other ReLife subjects. Why was he chosen for the experiment? Who chose him? And just who is behind the ReLife experiment itself? Check out the show on Crunchyroll to find out.
7 The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
This one is more of a sci-fi comedy than a thriller, yet it might’ve been the most obvious suggestion. Haruhi and her various series were all over the place back in the day, from light novels and manga to an anime series and a bunch of films. The original series saw its lead Kyon pulled into an after-school club by the titular Haruhi, where its members investigate mysterious events.
Except they turn out to be caused by Haruhi herself, who is unaware she has the power to change reality. Thus, Kyon and co have to keep her occupied to prevent her from inadvertently destroying the world. It leads to some mind-bending plot developments like time loops and alternate realities leading into spin-offs like The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, which itself got its own spin-off in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan.
6 Komi Can’t Communicate
Perhaps easier to find nowadays thanks to Netflix, Komi Can’t Communicate is a cuddlier school adventure. Based on Tomohito Oda’s manga, the series is about a young girl called Komi. She finds herself the most popular girl in school based on her looks and poise. Komi also suffers from severe social anxiety and has a communication disorder that only her classmate, Hitohito Tadano, knows about. With his help, she aims to overcome her issue and make 100 friends before graduation.
It’s more of a slice-of-life romcom, but one with some self-awareness. Notably in how Komi’s pretty anime features become more cartoony when her disorder gets the better of her. Whereas the other characters play up the roles the moment they’re introduced. Notably how their names essentially translate to ‘Ordinary Guy,’ ‘Childhood Friend,’ ‘Country Bumpkin,’ etc.
5 Baka and Test
Baka and Test could almost be a comedy spin-off of Elite, as it has a very similar premise. Fumizuki Academy divides its students and budget into classes, with the best students and supplies going to Class A and the worst to Class F. The only way students can move from one class to the other is to pass tests with spirits called ‘Avatars.’ The more hits their Avatar receives, the more points they lose until they get a zero score and get demoted.
This happens to Mizuki Himeji, who ends up in Class F despite being highly intelligent. Alongside the other misfits in her class, notably Akihisa ‘Baka’ Yoshii, they declare war on Class A and vow to take their classroom for themselves. The series started off as a light novel series by Kenji Inoue; then it gained a 2-season anime series and a two-episode OVA that can be seen on the Funimation Channel.
4 Assassination Classroom
For those that thought Classroom of the Elite needed a little more shonen in it, Assassination Classroom should scratch their itch. Created by Yusei Matsui, it’s about an alien who threatens to destroy the entire planet. Being a sporting extra-terrestrial, it gives the Earth a whole year to produce someone strong enough to kill it in battle.
The alien will even teach them itself, taking on the name ‘Koro-sensei’ and becoming the homeroom teacher at a Japanese high school. The students think they’re outmatched, but with a little studying, they can find the creature’s weak point. The original manga was one of Shonen Jump’s more popular series during its original 2012-2016 run, and the anime series continued the trend. Throw in an OVA and two live-action films, and people got a brief but strong run.
For something with fewer yuks and more mystery, Hyōka is an anime adaptation of Honebu Yonezawa’s Classic Literature Club novel series. Broadcast across 2012 and available on Crunchyroll, the series follows Hōtarō Oreki as he’s forced to join the school’s literature club to keep it from disbanding. He befriends Eru Chitanda, a fellow member who makes him join her and solve mysteries. Notably the disappearance of her uncle, the ending to a bizarre film, and a series of robberies across the school.
It’s a charming story about a boy who learns to use the energy he prefers to conserve, with some urging from his friends and family. The anime received favorable reviews for its light mystery focus, and it has a manga series that’s still running to this day. There’s even a live-action film from 2017 for those who really want to delve deep into the franchise.
2 Scum’s Wish
All the aforementioned series are good and all, though is there something closer to Elite’s psychological drama? Mengo Yokoyari’s Scum’s Wish brings the romance, then makes things more complicated than just a simple meet-cute. In it, Hanabi Yasuraoka is in love with her childhood friend Narumi, but they’re in love with their music teacher Akane. She bonds with another student called Mugi, who has a similarly unrequited love for Akane.
To stave off their loneliness, Hanabi and Mugi agree to maintain a fake relationship until their crushes fall for them. It’s a decision that only leads to further complications, especially when other love rivals turn up. Originally a manga was published by Square Enix(!), it received a 12-episode anime that’s available to watch on Amazon Prime if fans want to test their nerves as well as their heart.
If Elite’s classes were separated by class, Kakegurui’s are determined by the luck of the draw. At Hyakkaō Private Academy, only the children of the country’s wealthiest and most influential figures make it in, with its graduates guaranteed to join their ranks. The hierarchy of the school isn’t determined by grades but by gambling. Those that bet big and win big earn the esteem of their peers, while the losers become their debt slaves.
Luckily for new student Yumeko Jabami, while she looks like a chipper high schooler, she’s a compulsive gambler addicted to the thrill of high stakes. Her sheer joy for betting without anything but sheer intuition shakes up the school and draws the attention of the Student Council. How far can she go before her luck runs out? Find out in Homura Kawamoto’s original manga, or more easily, find the series and its sequel Kakegurui xx on Netflix.
MORE: School Anime Everyone Should Watch