I’ve made no secret that romance isn’t my favourite genre. It’s not my favourite thing in real life either. My poor friends want to tell me all about their crushes and I’m just waiting until the part where we can debate the logistics of biomechanical mechas like in Evangelion. If you’re wondering, that part never actually comes… So even in anime form, my preferred form for most things in life, I rarely enjoy series where romance is an important element.

This is why when a romantic series actually manages to make me swoon, it’s doubly special for me. I won’t lie, even finding 5 titles with important central romantic themes was a challenge. I am a little proud of myself!

PS. I skipped harems since the ones I have seen tend to use very different tropes and structures so I wouldn’t put them in the same genre.

I keep forgetting how “classic” this anime looks

5) Skip Beat

I only recently watched Skip Beat for the first time and I really had a great time. I don’t know if it’s simply because it’s more recent but I think it’s probably the classic romantic shojo I enjoyed the most. I’m sort of putting it in the same…basket….as the old Fruits Basket, Maid-Sama, The Wallflower…

Don’t get me wrong, all those anime are in fact good and if you like the genre I recommend them all. But for me, it all came down to MC. I simply related to her much better than her more docile and outlandishly “good” almost perfect counter parts. She’s petty, and has bad tastes in men and spends most of the series plotting revenge. I get this girl! Oh and the series sort of ended before the getting to the romantic part….

MMO junkie
this anime deserves more fanart

4) The Recovery of an MMO Junkie

I guess this is an odd fit. In essence the story is about finding connections with each other and the strength you can draw from that, and there’s definitely a romantic potential. But Moriko is at a place in her life when she needs to focus on herself and ultimately the series tells us that’s a good thing.

Love or at least strong like doesn’t always have to lead to romance. Sometimes you can find a support system and a rewarding friendship and that’s just as good. For Moriko it may be better in fact. And who knows what the future holds!

It’s an unusual message for a romantic series to have and one I happen to think is important and underrated!

found it here

3) Ouran High School Host Club

Hmmm I said I was skipping harems didn’t I….well it’s a reverse harem, that doesn’t count. Besides there’s really only one couple to speak of in the anime. Also it’s the first generally romantic anime I remember really enjoying so I couldn’t leave it off this list.

I’m not sure why I’m justifying this so much. You guys forgive me for breaking my own random arbitrary rules don’t you? I’m sneaking in a romance adjacent one. Besides, Ouran is tons of fun!

I should review Given as a full series some day

2) Given

Aaahhhh Given! On paper I should not have enjoyed this series. In fact, on paper I didn’t as the manga never managed to charm me in the same way despite repeated reads before and after watching the anime.

This has a lot of the tropes I tend to dislike. Unbearable tragedy, damaged leads, characters that are so oblivious to their own feelings it gets worrisome. But it also had so many unexpected elements for a romance series. Decisive and direct communication, respect for personal space and feelings, an understanding that a lot of the time relationship are build on small unimpressive moments.

Given is by far the most romantic series on this list. If you had told me it would end up one of my favorites of the year I would have laughed long and hard, yet here we are!

I love this show so much – by KANapy 

1) Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

Boy do I love Nozaki-kun. It had everything I like. An imperfect heroine with some bite. An oblivious but really nice leading man. A fantastic extended cast that all have their own development and arc. And it’s really funny!

Sure you could not pick and point out that no actual couples really form throughout the series but why would you do that?

I don’t know how to explain it other than it was the perfect combination of cute and laugh out loud funny. I also ended up calling in love with pretty much all the characters. I watch the entire series over the course of a few days and it kept my smiling for those entire days!

You know, I realize that most of these series are extremely light on romance. I don’t know if anyone goes on an actual date in any of them. Only one (potentially 2) end up with a couple by the end. That’s such a weird coincidence….

I have to admit, putting this top 5 together has actually put me in the mood for a romantic anime! Do you have anything to suggest. Maybe not as tragic as Given though and preferably without any tsunderes. I’m being picky again…

by Pixiv Id 299009 

39 thoughts

  1. Seconding Ore Monogatari and MMO Junkie.

    Wish Upon the Pleiades (mentioned in the comments) is a magical girl show first and foremost, car advertising/romance/space show second. Be aware of that. (Likewise, I consider UBW a battle royale first and a romance second…I’m not particularly a fan of UBW’s romance by the way – I haven’t quite put my finger on why exactly given I finished it fairly recently, although this may be because I’m not a fan of Rin’s tsundere antics.)

    1. I don’t quite remember the anime. I do remember the game quite well but that wasn’t my favorite route. And yeah, the romance is pretty thin. I thought it was hilarious how they tried to make the very sexual content pg in the show without completely cutting out those scenes.

  2. You don’t hear much about it anymore since it’s more than 30 years old – and I’d bet it probably felt “nostalgic” even when it first premiered in the 1980s – but whenever I’m asked, I have to say the the best anime romance is Kimagure Orange Road. Even though it’s full of slapstick and includes weird esper powers, it’s the most realistic story of teen romance I’ve ever seen, with fully developed characters and a soundtrack that is the equal of anything before or since. Not to mention that after being unlicensed forever, it’s now back on Crunchyroll!

  3. A resounding “hell yes!” to your #1-3 spots (I haven’t seen #4 or #5). I’d also be inclined to add Toradora, and maaaybe Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun to my own list.

  4. I loved The Garden Of Words. It’s so beautiful and sweet and sad. I also really enjoyed Natsuyuki Rendevous. Again, it’s simply beautiful as far as the art and the romance isn’t painful at all. (Yeah I kinda hate romance as a genre overall)

  5. Monthly Girls is a perfect pick. I can’t remember a series that was so easy to enjoy. And I think it was a romance. A very realistic romance! No one ended up together.

    That probably says something about me…

    I loved Toradora. I see from your Aug 2017 review that it didn’t resonate with you. Maybe it was the people I grew up with. I saw a lot of similarities to my friends and acquaintances.

    I see some commenters mentioned Spice & Wolf. I thought it was a solid romance with interesting characters.

    I don’t know if it qualifies as romance, but it had one of the more realistic and healthy couple relationships I’ve seen for awhile: Chivalry of a Failed Knight. I’ve seen some people try to agree it was a harem series, but I’m pretty sure the MC didn’t see it that way!

    1. Yeah, I’m the one person who didn’t love Toradora….Chivalry of a Failed Knight is a great title. I’ll have to see if I can find it

  6. My list of wishes for a romance anime is as follows:
    1. MC is not a blank slate self-insert
    2. Good character and relationship development in the leadup to them getting together
    3. We actually get to see their relationship continue to grow and develop AFTER they get together
    4. Both characters have an actual sex drive, which includes showing an appropriate amount of physical attraction to each other
    5. The story has a clear and unambiguous ending

    Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult to find anime with a romance plot (or even subplot) that satisfies all of those wishes, especially 3 and 5 thanks to anime’s tendency to a) treat the confession itself as the end-all, be-all of any romantic arc, and b) leave us with open endings or “read the manga” endings. So I usually have to just settle for what I can get. Toradora probably comes closest to satisfying all of those criteria for me, but since Taiga is tsundere to the bone that’s off your list.

    With that in mind, these are the first TV anime (non-harem, non-tsundere subset) that come to mind that were either focused on romance or had a prominent romantic subplot as part of the larger story that I really liked: Spice & Wolf, Chunibyo, Princess Tutu, Your Lie in April, Gamers, Macross (because what’s a Shoji Kawamori mecha series without a love triangle?), Escaflowne (see: Macross), Bunny Girl Senpai, and Wish Upon the Pleiades. I think you’ve already seen quite a few of those, though, from what I can remember.

  7. Hm, maybe try Tsurezure Children. A 10-minute show which divides its attention between many couples. It’s a comedy focussed on teens being awkward about it, but instead of being embarrassing it’s actually just adorable and cute. It’s not too long, and if you don’t like one of the couples, well, they never have too much time all at once.

    You could also try Takagi-san, which is best described as “What if the Roadrunner falls in love with Coyote,” higschool-anime edition. It’s a good show to check out, because it’s got exactly one type of joke, and if you don’t like the first few minutes of episode 1, you’re not likely to like the rest, so not much time wasted. There’s actually a subtle development of the romance in the background, so it’s not as shallow as it appears – this isn’t an attraction in its own right, but it helps keep the repetitive nature of the jokes fresh.

    I really need to get around to Skip Beat one day.

      1. Romance is a pretty hard recommendation, though. My favourite romance shows aren’t necessarily ones I’d recommend to you (though there’s always a chance you’d like them anyway). And romance shows you’d like often don’t come to mind when I think of the genre (on your list that’s Ouran and Nozaki-kun, though they’re definitely part of the genre, I just don’t make the connection).

        Of my genre favourites, I’d say you’d probably have the best chance with Mysterious Girlfriend X, but even then I’m not sure. (Also, the anime adaption of Bloom into You is really good, but I didn’t want to recommend that, given that you’ve read the manga.)

        It’s probably the genre where our tastes diverge the most.

          1. The really, really cool thing about it? The girlfriend wasn’t just strong — she dominated the relationship. In a positive way. They both benefited from it.

            That was the only advice I ever gave my daughter about dating: “You take command of the relationship. You decide what is acceptable behavior and what is not. And I will back you utterly.”

            I was considerably less subtle back then!

  8. I haven’t really been big into the romance genre, but I always come back to The Place Promised In Our Early Days. I know romance isn’t the main genre in that one, but that movie does revolve around a love triangle amidst parallel universes and war.

  9. Thanks for these recommendations. 😸
    I actually do enjoy watching alot of Korean and Japanese dramas as well as anime.

    The most romantic animes that I have enjoyed:

    Princess Tutu – it is kawaii but so dark. If you haven’t seen this one yet, I would recommend it. It combines Grimm faerie tales with classical music. It seems so light and outlandish (even for an anime) but it becomes something deeper as it goes on. I think it is the most romantic because the love theme here is accepting people as they truly are.

    Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
    I usually watch anime for action and storyline and to hear Japanese… I don’t think this anime is a good example of what romance should be by any means. I don’t really have any logical reason why this anime is romantic, it’s just that I can’t stop thinking about the two leads.

    That is it. I have watched a lot of anime, but the others didn’t really make me continue thinking about the romantic character’s relationships (in a positive light) way after the anime ended except for these two.

  10. I’m still sad that Skip Beat isn’t getting s2. It ended just when things are already getting better! But yeah, I love that series a lot! (If you could, please read the manga, too, if you still haven’t.) Ouran is such a classic series! I adore The Recovery of an MMO Junkie and GSNK, too!

    Not sure what you’ve seen already, but here’s some of my recommendation: Wotakoi, Ore Monogatari, Lovely Complex, Nodame Cantabile. The currently airing Kyokou Suiri’s romance aspect is cute, too!

    1. I haven’t seen any of these. I tend to actively avoid romance but I have wanted to watch Ore Monogatari for a while. It looks like a lot of fun

  11. I liked Toradora, even though it did have some really unbearably stupid parts that seemed to be there only to extend the story. I know plenty of people who hated it, though. I can see why. I usually don’t like romance either, so I get where you’re coming from.

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