Bokura ga Ita (aka We Were There). This is a manga with an anime and a live-action film. I started by watching the anime; for me this really is up there in the top tier. I've been comparing it as I go with Kare Kano, Honey and Clover, and Clannad.
The first thing to say, though, is that like Kare Kano it only tells half of the story that the manga takes through to a conclusion. However, unlike Kare Kano, which peters out indecisively for reasons that are well known, Bokura ga Ita comes to a pretty decent conclusion. It breaks off at the point that most issues have been resolved, although the last episode does clearly line up some of the things that will change the direction of the subsequent story (after a time-skip!) - there was pretty clearly an assumption that there would be another season to finish it properly, as Honey and Clover and Clannad were able to.
Maybe Kare Kano is more stylish - OK, yes it is; but Bokura ga Ita doesn't lack style, though not everyone likes it! However, the exploration of the characters, and in particular the effect of their past on their present and how they handle it, is a common aspect of these two works, and in that respect I give Bokura ga Ita the edge. It also has superb pacing. Sure, it's very slow; but it's consistent, and (as I said previously) it doesn't drag. Every pause has a purpose (like some of the long pauses in Eva, indeed, though less dramatic even though much more frequent); and if you like romance (it's not a harem show though - there are only five important characters, one of whom is dead before the start), and are not too antsy to watch it at all, you should have no difficulty being engrossed right to the last frame.
There's a live action film in two parts, which presents the whole manga. The first film thus parallels the anime, and I've just watched it as well. The limitations on runtime mean that the important back-story of the main character is somewhat simplified, but the essence is there and presented in just as well-balanced a way as the anime managed. I'll be watching the second film shortly.
Neither the anime nor the film version has been released officially in the West (at least, certainly not in English), so it's off to your favourite hush-hush site if you want to watch them. But you can buy the manga in English - I have done so, and while waiting for delivery have read a pretty piss-poor scanlation of the second half. Knowing now how the story continues I can only say that it really is a crying shame that the second half of the manga wasn't animated - another season, as well done, could have taken this solidly into the pantheon of truly great series.
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