Romance has been the basis for any story since the history of man. From the stories of old to those that have just come out, romance will always be a big driving factor for any plot and Japanese anime is no exception. This genre of anime typically features a template for the plot involving some sort of star-crossed lovers who usually start the story at each other’s throats. It can get tedious going through all the anime in this genre and watching the same story over and over again. There are however a lot of anime which has brought meaningful stories and emotions to the romantic anime genre. The following list of anime are recommendations based on how much of an impact it made in the romance anime genre.
List of Must Watch Romance Anime Series
Clannad and Clannad: After Story
A must watch series on most anime lists, Clannad and its sequel, Clannad: After Story started out as a visual novel for the PC in 2004. This game was critically acclaimed and was the best selling PC game in Japan for the year it was released. This success spurred two anime adaptations to be made, as well as video games, manga, and novels. The first season received mostly positive reviews while the second season was considered to be one of the best anime series ever to be adapted from a game.
The story follows a young high school student, Tomoya Okazaki, who has lost meaning in everyday life. He generally finds his day-to-day life dull and believes that he would not find success and happiness in the future. Through the series, he meets and become friends multiple girls in his school. As he spends more time getting to know his schoolmates, he learns more and more about the problems they deal with. The series goes on as Tomoya one-by-one helps the girls overcome their respective problems from which he learns to appreciate his own life.
The second season, entitled Clannad: After Story, begins after Tomoya Okazaki and his partner Nagisa Furukawa graduate from high school. The series follows the problems that they have to deal with from the difficulties of their relationship to the uncertainty of their careers. The series ends with Tomoya maturing into a person who understands the value of hard work and the support of his relationship with Nagisa. The series also revolves around the strengthening of their relationship with each other as well as with others.
Toradora! Started out as light novel series, created by Yuyuko Takemiya and Yasu. From October 2008 to March 2009, and 25 episode anime series adaptation was made and directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai.
The series revolves around two high school students, Ryuuji Takasu and Taiga Aisaka. Ryuuji is a kind and gentle boy with the looks of a delinquent and a love for household chores. On the other hand, Taiga is a small and cute girl who is actually a terror to be around. With her trusty wooden sword and fierce attitude, Taiga had come to be known as the “Palmtop Tiger.”
The series start with the two cross paths and discover who each other has a crush on. Ryuuji apparently has a crush on Minori Kushieda, who happens to be Taiga’s best friend. The situation gets even more out of hand when it is revealed that Taiga has feelings for Ryuuji’s best friend and Student Council vice president, Yuusaku Kitamura. The series follows the attempts of the two to get close to their respective crushes and slowly follows their growing feeling for each other.
Hana Yori Dango
Hana Yori Dango is a Japanese shojo manga, a manga that is marketed to teenage girls, created by Toko Kamio. This manga has been such a hit that it has been adapted multiple times, including a 51 episode anime series and film. Both of the anime adaptations have been praised for closely following the original source material.
The series revolves around Makino Tsukishi, a young high school girl from a poor family. She goes to a well off school on a scholarship and wants to spend her last years there quietly. This all changes when she stands up to defend her friend from the F4. The F4 is the term given to the four most popular, handsome, and rich boys of the school. She is then targeted by the boys and thus begins their unusual relationship. The series follows the adventures they have and the blooming romance between Makino and one of the boys.
New Romance Anime of 2017
Originally a manga series created by Hazuki Takeoka and Tiv, Masamune-kun’s Revenge was aired as a TV anime adaptation during the winter season of 2017.
Masamune-kun’s Revenge follows the story of Masamune Makabe. As a child, Masamune suffered from the bullying of a rich and beautiful girl, Aki Adagaki. As he was on the heftier side of the scale, Masamune was constantly being called piggy. This spurred Masamune to exact a cruel revenge on Aki. He worked hard to change himself, turning into an astonishingly handsome, and somewhat vain, high school student. It was when he encountered his tormentor again in high school that he was prepared to enact his master plan. He sets out to build a relationship with Aki and eventually break her heart. As the series progresses, their relationship grows and doubts start to grow in Masamune. It is worth watching this series just to find out whether or not he fully enacts his revenge.
Best English Dubbed Romance Anime
Any anime enthusiast will say that it is best to watch anime in the native Japanese audio, but there are some who cannot stand to read subtitles and would rather watch the series in English. The English voice actors and dubbers actually take their job very seriously as they put great effort into translating every sentence into something understandable and relatable for English-speaking audiences. Sword Art Online and Ore Monogatari are two examples of great English dubbing of romance anime.
Sword Art Online is a series of Japanese light novels created by Reki Kawahara. It was a natural hit in Japan as it featured all the right elements of an action adventure novel. Much like most of the popular novels in Japan, it got an anime adaptation series. The first series aired in 2013 and a second aired in 2014. Though the series main draws you in with the setting and the action scenes, it keeps you hooked through the relationship that the two main protagonists have with each other.
The series starts in the near future with the release of a virtual reality video game, named Sword Art Online. Using the futuristic technology available, the game allows players to jump in the game and control their avatars with their mind as if their consciousness has transferred into the digital world. This leaves their bodies in a coma-like state. The main protagonist, Kazuto Kirigaya, is one of the first 10,000 players who were able to get their hands on the game. The game is set in a world filled with monsters and martial weapons. For the first few hours of the game, everything went well and every player immersed themselves in the new experience. This enjoyment soon turned into panic as people started to discover that they could not log out of the game. The game’s creator had trapped them in the game and it is revealed that should you die in the game, you die in real life. The 10,000 players were given one mission to set themselves free; clear the game. The series revolves around Kazuto’s experiences in the game and the bonds that he makes, the most important of which is with Asuna Yuuki. The series evolves from an action adventure into once of romance as Kazuto’s actions are heavily influenced by his love for Asuna.
The second season takes away from the looming danger presented in the first season and focuses on life after the tragedy of Sword Art Online. This season features two new virtual worlds and even features a story arc with Asuna as the main character.
Ore Monogatari, or My Love Story!!, is a Japanese romance manga series, created by Kazune Kawahara and Aruko. The popularity of the series brought about an anime television series, which began airing in April 2015.
Ore Monogatari revolves around the pursuit of the love of Takeo Gouda. Takeo is not the average romantic comedy protagonist as he is tall, muscular, and intimidating. However, behind his strong appearance is a gentle soul who is considered to be an image of masculinity and chivalry by his fellow boys. Though these traits might sound attractive, his heart of gold is masked by his lack of social skills and rough exterior. If that isn’t enough to make finding love difficult for Takeo, his best friend, Makoto Sunakawa, is the epitome of the cool and handsome Japanese student. Every girl that Takeo had ever like only talked to him to get closer to his best friend. This all changed when Takeo saves a small girl, Rinko Yamato, from a pervert. He falls head over heels for this girl, yet years of insecurity had caused him to suspect that she has feelings for his best friend. For the first half of the series, Takeo constantly acted like cupid, trying to bring the two together, despite his own growing feelings. The series takes an unexpected twist when Rinko falls for Takeo, which turns the series into an unconventional romantic comedy. The beauty of this series is that it rewrites the typical stereotypes of a romance anime, which often adds a lot of comedic value to the story.
Best Romance Anime Movie
Kimi no Na wa, which means Your Name in English, is a Japanese anime film. This movie was written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, animated by CoMix Wave Films, and distributed by Toho. It had received wide critical acclaim for the amazing visuals and emotional depth presented in the film. It is considered to be a major commercial success, grossing more than 353 million US dollars. Its success is seen as it has been included in the top 10 highest grossing traditionally animated films, highest-grossing Japanese films, and highest-grossing anime films. It’s success was also tied to the amount of promotional material and advertising that was done in order to get the movie to a wider audience.
Kimo no Na wa starts with Mitsuha Miyamizu wanting to live the life of a boy she sees in her dream. The boy’s life is quite different from her own as in her dream he lives in Tokyo, while she lives a simple life in the countryside. Meanwhile, in Tokyo, Taki Tachibana lives in the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the city. The movie picks up pace as one day Mitsuha awakens to find herself within the body of the boy she dreamed of, which happens to be Taki. On the other hand, Taki similarly wakes up in the body of Mitsuha. This movie revolves around the strange phenomenon that drew the two unlikely pair to each other and how their actions impact each other lives in a dramatic way.
This film was released in Japan last August 2016 and in the US last April 2016.
Romance Anime with a Strong Male Lead
Zero no Tsukaima, which translates to The Familiar of Zero, is a romantic comedy set in a fantasy world. The anime, which aired between the Summer of 2006 and the Spring of 2012, was based on a series of Japanese light novels by Noboru Yamaguchi.
This series follows the unlikely partnership of Louise Francoise Le Blanc de La Valliere, a mage who can’t cast spells, and Saito Hiraga, a normal Japanese boy. Louise has always had a problem with magic as nothing ever goes the way it should. Earning herself the nickname “Louise the Zero,” she set out to impress everyone during the ritual of summoning. This was the time where mages would perform a ritual to gain their partner creature. To her dismay, she had summoned a boy, Saito. The series starts out with the two forming an unlikely slave-master relationship, but as the story progresses between the 4 seasons the two end up falling in love.
Saito is considered to be very powerful as he comes from another world. He has the ability to use any weapon to the best of its abilities. He is also courageous and straightforward with his emotions as he would constantly chase women, much to the annoyance of Louise.
Essentially romance anime revolves around the relationship that one character forms with another. It usually starts out with two people who would never have thought they would end up with one another. It’s the start contrast between two people and the sacrifices they make to each other that define the genre.