Top 25 Best Romance Anime
As Tamako Market once put it “everybody loves somebody”, and there’s nothing quite as huge as the mountainous heap of romance anime. Whether you’re a guy who likes girls, a girl who likes guys, or are looking for a peek into the world of forbidden love, there’s a romance anime for everyone. To save you from wading through endless piles of soulless romantic shows, I’ve collected the best romance anime in this list and have been sure to include a little something for everyone.
Romance in anime, of course, is not only restricted to the romance subgenre.
Many of the other genres such as Shonen, Fantasy, and Sports anime tend to have romantic plots as a central part to the story (this varies widely, however). For example, the dark fantasy horror anime Berserk features a major love story as a central part of the narrative. So you don't have to look far when watching anime to find romance.
The romance genre itself is in fact one of the most popular genres of fiction and cinema. There's tons and tons of romance books released each year in the United States, and it's one of the biggest money making fiction genres (check out our Best Romance Books website to get romance novel recommendations if you are looking for any)
If this list of romantic anime is not enough for you, then we have a bunch of other lists that are romantically bent. Check out our Top 25 Best Harem Anime list for our picks for amines that are, well, basically about a guy surrounded by a lot of hot anime girls who all want to tear his clothes off (or the anime version of this).
Then there's the anime for the pervs (I mean fans) where the whole point of each episode is to show less and less clothing on the female characters while making the viewers laugh about how it happens. Ecchi usually involves some harem plot, though not always. And many tend to have a romantic element. So make sure you check out our picks for the best ecchi anime
And finally, take a look at our Best Magical Girl Anime list which is about, well, who basically kicks some serious ass..and maybe just falls in love to boot.
I don’t usually include sequels in these lists, but with Clannad already being a must-watch anime, After Story immediately comes to mind when thinking about the ultimate romance anime. Going beyond just a high school romance like so many other shows, After Story shows Tomoya and Nagisa’s relationship after they graduate and even marry.
After Tomoya and Nagisa’s final year of high school, they go out into the real world and must care for their relationship outside the sheltered grounds of school. As the couple grows up, they must think about how they’re going to live their lives, and eventually make the big commitment most anime couples never had the guts to make – they marry.
There are enough disappointing sequels to make a Top 50 list, but thankfully After Story is a wonderful, faithful continuation of the anime that captured so many people’s hearts. It has much the same tone, still features the main cast of characters and has a believable progression. There’s nothing disappointing about this sequel.
Why it made the list: Clannad: After Story continues the romance tinged with sadness as it shows its characters growing up. There’s more of a focus on family, and the slice of life approach makes that more apparent than ever. Drama and sorrow is still a huge part of the series (as expected of the studio handling it) but love and hope are again the biggest themes.
Watch if you like: Crying; sobbing; uplifting shows; character-centred arcs; high school; changing your life; simple soundtracks; anime based on visual novels.
Makoto Shinkai, the director that finds delight in suffering (and who brought us Garden of Words), directs the long distance relationship of 5 Centimeters per Second. Centering on the themes of distance and longing, this anime movie deals with the more depressing side of romance.
Takaki and Akari are close friends and classmates who begin a deep and loving relationship. But because films need to have a bit of drama, Akari’s family moves away, separating the two and forcing them into a long-distance relationship. Although they keep in touch via mail, the two grow further apart and can only remember the good times while wondering if they’ll ever meet again.
The film is a bit more than the average love story, preferring that bitter-sweet feeling you get with distance and making you suffer through the pain of separation. The characters handle things incredibly realistically, all adding to the high amount of detail in the film and giving it all a very artistic feel.
Why it made the list: 5 Centimeters is probably the modern romance anime, perfectly capturing both the joy and sorrow of falling in love. The director mentioned this film was all about the feeling of “yearning” and by god do we get a movie that perfectly defines that word.
Watch if you like: Your heart being broken; romance; long-distance relationships; scenery porn; Makoto Shinkai; growing up and stories about the stages of life; short movies; soundtracks.
Arguably, romance anime relies more on its characters than any other anime genre. Though as we’ve seen with previous entries, shows can also use their setting or support their plot with a non-romantic complication that affects relationships. With Toradora, setting and plot doesn’t matter at all, and the show blazes full speed ahead with its characters, ultimately being a great anime because of it.
Ryuuji is a guy with bitchface syndrome, and Taiga is a pocket-sized buddle of violence. When the two literally bump into each other, Taiga is quick to leave a fist-shaped hole in Ryuuji’s face, but after they continue to meet, they discover they have a similar goal. As both awkward kids are in love with their respective friends, Ryuuji and Taiga decide to team up as some kind of scary, awkward wingman to each other. Don’t pretend you don’t know where this is going.
Of course, Toradora is so high on this list for something that’s pretty unique to the series. It’s comedic but settles into a more serious tone. It’s playful but is very committed to its outcome. It uses tropes but fleshes its characters out enough for them to be very relatable, no matter how they act. Toradora has the guts to go places with its characters and draws you in like nothing else.
Why it made the list: Toradora is fairly predictable, but in getting the overall plot out of the way, it opens up to a touching story of opposites and teenage love. The characters make this anime more than anything, and everyone having the same depth of character makes their interactions much more meaningful. Not to mention that the show has the guts to wrap itself up very neatly.
Watch if you like: Odd couples; fulfilled romance; love triangles; quirky side characters; appearances; drama; parrots; tigers; a concrete conclusion; comedy.
Ghibli movies tend to have a little romance, but none moreso than the fantasy adventure that is Howl’s Moving Castle. A quality and thoroughly enjoyable movie, it’s hard not to think of it when considering carefully made and fun romance anime.
Sophie is a young girl who prefers to make hats for her family business more than chase after boys or clothes. One day, she crosses paths with the Witch of the Waste, cursing her to become an old lady – the kind of person Sophie thinks she is inside. This sets off wizard Howl’s granny radar and the young wizard whisks Sophie away to his magical decrepit castle where she lives as a cleaner and fusses over the handsome wizard.
Howl’s Moving Castle is an anime for the romantics and the granny-chasers with magic and fantastical lands to boot. There’s a lot to enjoy in the movie and the characters are so charming that you can’t help but love them to death – even the ‘bad’ characters have their charms.
Why it made the list: Out of the long line of great Ghibli movies, Howl’s Moving Castle is a favourite that you can watch time and time again. While romance isn’t for everyone, the movie’s world is mystical and inviting as well as richly detailed and not without its charm. It’s hard not to fall for the movie as the characters do for each other.
Watch if you like: Fantasy; mechanical houses; magic; handsome men; much older women; fantasy lands; travel; Studio Ghibli; movies based on a book; good English dubs.
Nearing the top of this list is an anime that by all appearances seems like the most mindless of anime rom-coms. But as with everything else on this list, there's a lot more behind the premise that makes this series an absolute gem.
Sorata is the kind of guy who doesn't have the heart to say no. It's this reason he ends up in a special dorm where his school's more troublesome students are kept. Not long after he moves in, another student is sent to the dorm – art prodigy Shiina Mashiro. Sorata, the most capable person in the dorm, is quickly paired up with the creative airhead and now must spend his time juggling her weird habits as he navigates his stressful high school life.
The romance aspect of this anime is always present yet isn't put on a pedestal. What Sakurasou makes important is the struggles of average people who can never seem to live up to those with innate talents. The drama is not so much from love but from a pointless struggle as Sorata and the other characters try to find their place when they know they need to work so much harder at life. It can be depressing, but it's amazingly refreshing.
Why it made the list: Sakurasou isn't immediately recognisable as a harem anime, even though it is. The series does away with the usual boobs-in-your-face attitude, instead giving each girl their tender moments along with the protagonist getting his own dramatic arc.
Watch if you like: Games; high school; career plans; girls; cats; dorm houses; art; genius vs average person; comedy; drama; character flaws; personal growth; character dynamics.
Those familiar with the popular Bakemonogatari will know this anime as the prequel to the story of one of the characters, and as such can be watched without knowing any of the other series. It does help if you know some of the characters, though. Or if you already have a fetish for watching the protagonist being torn to shreds.
After a meddlesome cat spirit is drawn into the body of high school student Tsubasa, it begins to leak out in dangerous and life-threatening ways. As Tsubasa deals with her abusive family and a one-sided love, the cat spirit takes over at night and ravages the people of the town, draining their energy to deathly low levels. Tsubasa’s friend Araragi, a vampire and something of a supernatural fetishist, interferes and tries to free her from the cat but ends up being hooked into a love story.
Nekomonogatari brings the unique visual style it has in its sequel Bakemonogatari, presenting enough design eye candy for you to drool buckets over. The strong focus on dialogue accompanied by smooth animation and design makes it quite a different kind of romantic anime treat.
Why it made the list: Nekomonogatari is one of the more abstract romance anime. While it all comes down to how two characters feel about each other, the show itself is a thoughtful exploration of feelings vs lust plus hidden emotions, all wrapped in a supernatural plot. It’s not the typical fluffy shoujo sparkles affair, and deserves to be recognised for its approach.
Watch if you like: Studio SHAFT; cats; the supernatural; angst; harem anime; comedy; unique visual style; slideshows; high school; vampires; heavy dialogue; short series.
One of the very few anime on this list to feature life after school is Honey and Clover, the college romance anime. The graduation to tertiary education thankfully brings with it a more mature outlook on romance.
Five art students have to survive with little money long enough to graduate into a life of… slightly more money. But being poor students doesn’t stop them being happy with life, or falling in love. When 18-year-old Hagumi appears on the scene, everyone needs to sort out their feelings for the just-legal girl.
Along with Honey and Clover’s graduated setting is a more mature tone, looking at romance through the eyes of a college student rather than a highschooler. While there’s nothing boring about its slice of life progression, there’s a calmer feeling about the series that separates it from the crazy comedies aimed at younger audiences.
Why it made the list: Honey and Clover features romance in the slightly new setting of college, and brings with it a more mature tone. Its creative use of multiple perspectives makes the series fun while its slice of life pacing gives you enough time to love and relate to each character.
Watch if you like: College life; slice of life series; multiple perspectives; a cast of relatable characters; friendship; josei; comedy; conclusive sequels; light timeskips; college nostalgia.
If you're in it for the anime boys, nothing beats a cast of characters that show off their various tropes, knowing they're playing it up. While there's no doubt you'll get to see a lot of high school boys flirting to their strengths, this anime has some surprisingly mature moments.
Haruhi is a smart kid who manages to land a spot in an elite rich-people school purely out of smarts and luck. But her luck runs out when she comes across the school's host club; she breaks a valuable vase and is forced to work for the club as a way to pay for it. But what the club doesn't realise is that behind Haruhi's messy hair and baggy clothes isn't the socially awkward boy they thought – Haruhi's a girl, and now she has to romance girls as part of the school's male host club.
Comedy is king in Ouran, but each character gets their mature moments and a bit of backstory. Haruhi almost has a superhuman power to see through everyone's disguises, and is the show's source of simple wisdom. Beneath the shoujo sparkles, Haruhi shows you that there's more to tropes in people, or at least this bunch of characters.
Why it made the list: Ouran hides some mature, thoughtful moments behind veils of harems and high-class high school romance. The surprising insights are the gems in this series but is still very enjoyable for the shoujo show it is.
Watch if you like: Crossdressing; men; meaningful moments mixed with fun; character-focused episodes; cast of colourful characters; backstory; rich people.
Ninth place on this list is Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai (also known as Chuu2koi), the anime that basks in second-hand embarrassment and revels in its terrible early teenage years. It’s a romantic story for the older teens, or a bit of a wake-up call for anyone younger.
Yuuta has retired from his former life as the Dark Flame Master – a supreme being who surfaced within him during middle school. In reality, he’s graduated from eighth grade syndrome, and wants to start his high school life anew. Unfortunately, a girl called Rikka stumbles upon his past and clings to him in hopes of reviving his clearly better persona (I mean, the voice actor does the Lelouch voice after all). Thus ends Yuuta’s brief time as a normal student.
Chuu2koi is heavier on the com than the rom but manages to include a serious plot that gives reasons to everyone’s delusions. The female side characters are also fairly strong and barely even take the series into a love triangle, keeping comedy at the front of everything.
Why it made the list: Chuu2koi digs up your hidden teenage delusions of grandeur and makes a romcom out of it. Surprisingly deep as it is funny, this anime has a great balance of comedy with touching moments. It also showcases Kyoto Animation’s wonderful animation when it comes to fantasy battles and magic.
Watch if you like: Embarrassing teenage years; magic; fantasy; Kyoto Animation; romantic comedies; high school; emotional drama; backstories; banter; anime-original plots; comedic side-characters.
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Moving on to the more creative side of this list, Millenium Actress is a romance series that uses the medium well, blending the format so much in itself that it must be some new form of inception.
To celebrate a fictional movie studio’s 70th anniversary, filmmaker Genya creates a documentary about the actress who practically funded the studio for thirty years. As former leading actress Chiyoko Fujiwara reminisces on her acting past, she weaves a vivid and slightly confusing tale of how she leapt from movie to movie in search of a mystery man she adores. That’s right, she was the driving actress for hundreds of movies all to chase one man she met for a few hours once.
Premise aside, Millennium Actress is a very creative approach to romance, weaving fiction and truth together to make a damn confusing story when first watched. Those who know director Satoshi Kon’s movies will realise this mild drug trip when you see it, and it’s entertainingly creative.
Why it made the list: Behind the confusing stories and layers of Millennium Actress is a simple story of devoted love and how many individual events are tied together by one person. The whole movie is a creative exercise and there’s a lot more to think about than the initial romance element, although it’s still a driving force behind the whole story.
Watch if you like: Movies; history; acting; being confused; Satoshi Kon; adventure; genres; memories; reminiscing; interwoven stories.
Love dodecahedrons tend to be an exercise in never-ending pain, and Nagi no Asukara isn’t much of an exception. With a cast of seven young teens each looking at someone else (not to mention the supporting characters), it doesn’t seem like the show could be much more than twenty-six episodes of pain – but it is.
Hikari, an energetic and stubborn boy, lives in the ocean. We’re not dealing with mermaids though, it’s just that a large group of people in the world can live, breathe and cook underwater. Never once having boiled himself alive, Hikari goes about his ordinary life with his three childhood friends. But when they have to attend a school on the surface, Hikari is thrust into dealing with a whole race of people different from his own and left wondering if his childhood friend will be stolen away by a strong and stoic boy on the surface.
Nagi no Asukara manages to be more than fish falling in love as it seems to bring the whole world of the story into the love affairs of seven teenagers. It goes above Romeo and Juliet levels of family-against-family and puts the fate of the world in the balance as the people from the surface and the not-mermaids try to reconcile their differences over who wants to marry who. It’s more than just first loves, and is great because of it.
Why it made the list: No excuses, Nagi no Asukara’s set-up seems like another love dodecahedron story where everyone angsts until the end. But instead of wallowing in unrequited love for the most part, this anime builds its world to make it more than relationships, at the same time not making them out to be insignificant. Everything works together to make Nagi no Asukara a little more than a romance anime.
Watch if you like: Setting; the ocean; love dodecahedrons; school life; family; first loves; folklore; fantasy; drama; fish.
Our next girl-meets-guy romance anime is more on the bright side, where the main couple even act like a comedy duo. If light-hearted romance is your thing, Lovely Complex is your answer.
Risa and Otani are opposites – Risa is a towering girl and Otani is the shortest of the short. Together, they’re a bunch of funny friends, but as time goes on, Risa notices that she may see Otani as more than a friend. With the two such comedic opposites, it’s hard for Risa to get through to her dense friend, but she can’t just give up now.
Lovely Complex has a really bright feel to it and the animation to match. Characters have extreme expressions and everything has a very light-hearted feel. It’s definitely something to watch between intense dramas, or something cute to help you relax.
Why it made the list: Lovely Complex is the anime to go to if you want a standard-length series that goes from friendship to love. The way the main characters’ relationship progresses is the central point to the show and is a sweet and honest approach to a falling in love story.
Watch if you like: Odd couples; comedy; shoujo series; friendship to romance; exaggerated characters; school romances; average length anime.
Also known as Haganai, I Don't Have Many Friends is a strange anime that takes girls from more recent popular series and puts them together in interesting ways, making both a funny comedy show and an interesting will-they-or-won't-they harem situation.
Kodaka has always had a bit of trouble making friends. Because of his half-English, half-Japanese heritage, he comes off looking like a delinquent with blonde hair. It seems like Kodaka will never be able to approach anyone without them running away, but when he stumbles across a girl talking to her imaginary friend, the two establish the Neighbours Club, a place where they can finally make friends... Except all the club members are girls who love Kodaka.
Haganai quite shamelessly pulls its main cast from popular characters of other series, giving them enough of a unique personality to be memorable, but still highlighting their obviously attractive points. The show isn't so much romance as it is a place where girls get thrown at the protagonist, but it's very enjoyable for the character interactions and its light-hearted tone.
Why it made the list: Even though Haganai is about how none of the characters have friends, the series is all about character interaction and the group's shenanigans. The romance aspect is always somewhere in the background, but for the most part this is a comedic harem anime with some playful intimate moments.
Watch if you like: Comedy; harems; a variety of characters; clueless male leads; little girls; girls who fight each other; high school; clubs; fantasies; meat; maids; socially awkward teenagers; a second season.
As much as this list covers all forms of love, it also covers all stages of love, from preparing for relationships, to falling in love, to relationships, to marriage. Love Lab is one of the “preparation stage” anime, giving you a bundle of laughs as the cast of girls try to figure out how to get a boyfriend.
Maki, the student president of a very prestigious all-girls school, is a very proper and traditional girl. But when boyish Riko stumbles upon her practicing kissing with a hugging pillow, she’s forced to keep the president’s other side a secret. And there’s no better way to keep a secret than to invite three other students to practice being just like Maki in a secret club.
Love Lab has a bit of everything for everyone. Guys can appreciate a club of cute and funny girls, and girls can appreciate all the squealing over guys. There’s also a bit of yuri moments, and overall the series is a bundle of fluffy and comedic moments.
Why it made the list: The entire aim of the game is preparing for romance, and Love Lab has a certain quirky charm with how the characters approach it. From making fun of common anime situations to just being plain weird, Love Lab is hilarious every episode and still delivers on those fluffy romance feelings.
Watch if you like: Girls; hugging pillows; schemes; a small cast of characters; high school, clubs; all-girls schools; comedy; crossdressing; short series.
Of the five or so actual boy’s love shows that are not straight-up porn, Gravitation is a solid series even after a decade. It’s also a fine step into the boy’s love genre and many people’s first BL anime.
Shuichi is still just a teenager, but he’s trying to make it big in the music industry as a lyrics writer. Although on the path to success, he finds himself struggling to write a new song. That’s when he meets Yuki, the epitome of tall, dark and handsome, who awakens Shuichi’s inner gay by insulting his writing ability. When Shuichi gets all fired up about trying to prove the mysterious yet sexy man wrong, he needs to consider if he’s just striking back or if he really wants to take the leap into being a BL protagonist.
Gravitation weaves its romantic plot with a simultaneous music plot, pitting its romance aspect against the daily lives of its characters. The show is refreshing in that it’s not a love-fest from start to finish and acknowledges that characters have their own lives and may sometimes want to further their careers more than each other.
Why it made the list: Gravitation is a slice of BL history, but more importantly to its merits, the show itself is solid. By mixing its romantic plot with a separate music plot, this anime presents a realistic problem to the main characters while not tangling itself in an endless lovey-dovey spiral.
Watch if you like: Boy’s love (BL); the music industry; music in general; comedy; short series; tragic pasts; relationship decisions.
Opposite to Sakura Trick’s girls-kissing-girls-all-the-time antics, Aoi Hana is the yuri anime that shows romantic relationships between women without intense drama or the go-nowhere pacing of other shows.
After moving back to her childhood hometown, Fumi reconnects with her childhood friend, Akira. Even though the series looks like the two will get together, Fumi spends her time dating someone from her own school, and her relationship with Akira is more of a friendship. That doesn’t stop her from kissing girls, but the show is a little more than carefree gays.
Aoi Hana is an unusual balance of upbeat characters, light drama, romance and themes. While it deals with problems about being gay in Japan, it’s also fairly light-hearted and the strongest relationship in the show is friendship. Overall, it’s a calming series and a bit on the fluffy side.
Why it made the list: Amongst the handful of actual yuri anime out there, Aoi Hana is about the only series that puts the main character in a relationship that doesn’t necessarily have to work out. Or puts them in a relationship at all, really. It’s light on the drama
Watch if you like: Yuri; relationships; childhood friends; private schools; first loves; light drama; friendship.
The greatest incest story ever told is also one of the anime series to start using ass-long titles. Oreimo, as it is often shortened, is a stand-out series for being one of the most popular anime of late that supports wanting to bone your sister. It’s also pretty funny.
Kyousuke and Kirino are ordinary siblings; they bicker, are indifferent to each other and generally get along like every other brother and sister. All this changes one day when Kyousuke finds his little sister’s porn collection, featuring piles upon piles of brother x sister hentai. From that point on, Kyousuke has to deal with the hostile-but-just-tsundere affections of his little sister while another girl vies for his attention.
Oreimo is an odd anime with odder relationships but doesn’t differ too drastically from the usual romance anime. It doesn’t go into the creepy zone like it could, and sticks to a solid slice of life structure while slowly building everyone’s relationships.
Why it made the list: Points for originality here, Oreimo isn’t as creepy on the incest as its premise might make it seem. While it all comes down to wanting to love your little sister just a bit more, Oreimo pits the very different characters against each other for maximum comedy.
Watch if you like: Incest; love triangles; childhood friends; little sisters; otaku; odd couples; comedy series; slice of life.
Perhaps now you might be thinking about where the robot romance anime is. Well, look no further. For those of you with the persuasion for androids, Chobits presents the story of a man and a machine that eventually fall in love, and deals with what it means to do so.
Hideki, an idiot from the countryside who is trying to get into university again, wants nothing more than a cute robot. And because he’s the series protagonist, that’s exactly what he finds lying in the bin at the back of his apartment. After sticking his finger in the robot to activate it, he finds that the android is unique and suspects it may be one of the very few robots that can have human emotions. And of course, because she’s so irresistibly adorable, he falls in love.
This anime is a strange mix of comedy, drama, ecchi and sweet romance yet pulls it all off quite nicely. It doesn’t shy away from character development and features a strong supporting cast that lifts this anime up to be one of the greats.
Why it made the list: Chobits is a classic anime for considering what it means to fall in love. The comedy element is strong (as well as the ecchi) but it all comes down to a sweet romance that may well be an issue in the future.
Watch if you like: Androids; cute girls; comedy; ecchi anime; character development; boy-meets-robot; strong supporting cast.
Cute boys, cat ears, fantasy fighting and a psychological plot are what makes Loveless stand out as one of the (admittedly few) solid boy’s love series. Another classic of the genre, it’s also fairly plot-heavy and more than a simple romance.
After the murder of his brother and a lapse into amnesia, twelve-year-old Ritsuka is more than a little lost. When he meets a mysterious twenty-year-old man called Soubi, he’s told that a certain organisation may be behind the murder. Because fantasy battles are cool, the two team up to fight the organisation in some weird romantic-ish fantasy battle system. Also, everyone has cat ears that symbolise their virginity.
Metaphors for BDSM aside, Loveless is a little more than a romantic anime, focusing on fantasy and battles to convey relationships. The plotline with murdered family members can get pretty complicated, so if you’re looking to sink your teeth into a plot that’s more than boys kissing, this anime does it.
Why it made the list: Loveless is another classic boy’s love series, a bit more on the psychological side than heavy on romance. With an ample mix of fantasy, battles and love, it’s hard not to enjoy the series’ outrageous story.
Watch if you like: The supernatural; fantasy; drama; cat ears; death; psychological anime; boy’s love; being lost; being confused; little boys; sanity; fighting; short series.
Don’t kid yourself – if you’ve ever seen or heard of this anime, chances are you only want to watch it for the girls kissing. Because that’s what it’s all about. Every episode is a set-up for the lead characters to kiss, revealing Sakura Trick’s ultimate genius of just getting to the pouint.
Haruka and Yuu are good friends from middle school entering their final years of education. After enrolling in high school together, they find that their school will be closed down and they need to enjoy their student lives extra hard to make up for them not getting to experience the joys of being sempais or onee-samas. Both girls decide to share something special between each other, which means smooching everywhere. In the classroom, in the halls, on the floor, at a concert. Everywhere. This is the entire anime.
Sakura Trick’s key is in its simplicity – and possibly also in its small cast that can easily be remembered by symbols. It’s not to say that this anime is mindless and boring, it’s just not forced drama so strong that it could act as a replacement for black coffee. It’s something to watch to wind down, or… to watch if you really want to see two anime girls kiss without the hentai label.
Why it made the list: Of the shallow pool that is actual yuri anime, Sakura Trick stands out as not being full drama all the time, but also in showing the characters actually doing gay things. Distant gazes are replaced by actual kissing, and deep friendships are replaced with… actual kissing again. The fact that everything is so simple makes the show easy to watch and pretty fluffy too.
Watch if you like: Yuri; girls; a small cast of characters; minimal animation; fluffy feelings; high school; friendships; forbidden love; kissing; green tea.
Our next romantic anime is very much a classic shoujo series – Fruits Basket. It combines everything a young girl could want, from cute boys to cuter animals, in a series that mixes in a bit of the supernatural with its shoujo sparkles and romance.
After the death of Touru's remaining family, she's moved into a new house… that also houses the most popular and handsome boys in her school. But the boys have a family secret: if any of them are hugged by a girl, they unwillingly transform into cute animals. What is potentially adorable however is a huge source of drama for the family and Touru needs to work things out so the boys can experience romance and affection.
Fruits Basket feels a lot like Ouran High School Host Club but differs in that it more readily jumps into the dramatic family history. As the slice of life story progresses, so too does Touru's efforts to get the two main boys to open up to affection.
Why it made the list: Fruits Basket mixes some unexpected elements, but when it comes down to it, it's innocent fun with a touch of drama and the supernatural. A perfect anime to watch while cuddling up with stuffed toys.
Watch if you like: Animals; chibi art style; girl meets boy(s); school romance; drama; comedy; slice of life series; the supernatural; pretty boys; shoujo; slow paced series.
There’s something strangely satisfying about the “odd couple” dynamic in romance anime. Whether it’s an aggressive girl with a gentle boy or an overly positive girl with an absolute grump, seeing two opposites try to work things out can make for some pretty entertaining and touching shows, Kaibutsu-kun being one of them.
Shizuku only has one thing on her mind: studying. Friends be damned, Shizuku will keep her nose permanently embedded in a book. When she crosses paths with the school delinquent, Haru, nothing changes. But as she has to deal with him like a misbehaving dog, Shizuku and Haru get closer and he confesses to her. It’s not easy getting a bookworm and a violent idiot to change their ways, but with new friends and competing love interests, something is bound to happen.
Despite being vaguely interested in each other from the onset, Shizuku and Haru’s relationship neither falls into an endless pit of despair nor graduates into a fluffy world of constant romance. If anything, Kaibutsu-kun is an anime that explores what relationships can mean to different people and captures that awkward “but what does it mean” phase of youth.
Why it made the list: Kaibutsu-kun is nothing new in the “odd couple” genre of romantic comedies but freshens things up with a confession in the first few episodes and a cast of quirky characters that aren’t out to ruin everything. Much of the series tries to figure out how two social outcasts can get together and dumps romantic angst for a comedic, light-hearted tone with a few more weird/dangerous moments.
Watch if you like: Odd couples; an average-sized cast of characters; honest relationships; weird guys; high school; love triangles; violent guys; clueless couples; friendship; bubbly bright animation; roosters.
Before you ask, yes, there is an abbreviation: it’s AnoHana. If you haven’t yet had your fix of bittersweet or outright sad romantic anime, AnoHana is here to fill the void and open up a whole new one.
Six childhood friends who once broke apart due to a tragic incident are brought back together by the ghost of their friend. The group’s social outcast is the only one who can see or hear the dead friend, so he has to tell everyone about how he can see dead people – and that their childhood friend has a wish but isn’t really sure what it is. What follows of course is a touching story of coming to terms with death and the guilt that surrounds it.
AnoHana draws in the stories of six different characters all reflecting on a single event. It gets pretty damn depressing at points, as a story about a child dying will be, but fleshes out everyone’s past very thoroughly. If you’re looking for an anime with thorough backstory, you’ve found it.
Why it made the list: AnoHana is depressing through and through, but offers some closure in a story where everyone feels guilty about a death. It’s a show that focuses on backstory and is great for a good cry or comfort if you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one. The show feels very real and is just that bit more moving because of it.
Watch if you like: Dead people; grieving; childhood friends; summer; episodic series; backstory; the supernatural; ghosts; drama; crying; short series.
What’s better than one couple? Three couples! That’s the formula behind Junjou Romantica’s stories, stringing together multiple gay relationships in a twelve episode celebration of all that is gay.
Junjou Romantica is split into three stories with strong relationships. From falling for a sexy tutor, to sexy chance meetings, to persistent sexy men, this anime follows how three different relationships come to be and progress. It also has a sequel if you’re still not satisfied by all this gay.
Junjou Romantica doesn’t carve a new path in anime or anything, but for a boy’s love show and one that focuses on multiple couples, it’s satisfying. You can easily go into the series and have your expectations met, which is really what anyone could ask for.
Why it made the list: Junjou Romantica is a great compilation of romantic stories that gives you just a bit more boy’s love for your dollar. With multiple couples, multiple stories and multiple chances to fangirl (or fanboy) over romantic scenes, this series pretty much meets your expectations when going into it.
Watch if you like: Boy’s love; multiple couples; short series; multiple stories; not being in high school; pretty boys.
The first romance anime on this list aimed at a female audience is also one where the lead girl kicks the lead guy down the stairs. It happens. You could even say he fell in love at that very moment.
Mei has learnt pretty early on never to trust anyone or make friends. She spends her high school life alone, and kind of aggressively pushes people away. When popular guy Yamato starts taking an interest, Mei doesn’t respond, but one night when she’s followed by a creepy man, she calls her less creepy classmate to save the day. Then their relationship starts with a forced kiss and leads into so much more.
As much as the plot screams wish fulfilment, it has the courage to say “I love you”, essentially, and put the two lead characters in a relationship from start to finish. How the couple grows and changes is what the series is about, and it’s a sweet little show to relax with.
Why it made the list: Sukitte Ii Na Yo is a short and sweet look into high school relationships between a couple that’s a little odd and still needs to work out their quirks in order to stay together. The series is definitely something for a younger audience but is still enjoyable to sit back and watch.
Watch if you like: Social outcast meets popular person; short series; confirmed relationship; shoujo anime; drama; high school.