I must admit, while I love darker anime and frequently lean toward action, mystery and horror, I certainly have gathered quite the collection of romances as well. What makes one romance work for me and another fail is usually whether or not there is a story outside of ‘and they all fell in love’ and whether or not the characters grab my interest and support. So the following is an entirely subjective list and I will explain my reasons, but feel free to add your favourite romantic anime below.
Please Note – There are spoilers below. You have been warned.
Honourable mentions this week go to Clannad (which I know should be higher on the list but I find this more dramatic than romantic so have left it off), Dusk Maiden of Amnesia (because while there is a romance in it, it really isn’t a romantic anime), and Karin (because while the romance seems fundamental early in the series, the end seems to forget about this and goes off on a tangent).
Number 5: Kamisama Kiss
While this is one of my favourite anime on this list, it isn’t my favourite romantic anime. Kamisama Kiss is a great story with humour and drama and we really get to watch Nanami grow into her role as a god, but her relationship with Tomoe is extremely slow moving. So, if someone asked me for a good romance I probably wouldn’t recommend this one straight up because the romance itself is actually pretty frustrating. Why did I include it in my top 5? Tomoe, of course. He is great value as the object of Nanami’s affection even while he suffers from a range of personality disorders that would actually make dating him painful in the extreme. Plus, he is really good looking for an anime character which when combined with the generally good looking animation makes Kamisama a very pleasurable watch.
Number 4: Golden Time
I really questioned whether to include this one. Yes, it is a romance but there is a lot else going on in this anime. Ultimately I decided to include it because the ending of it clearly establishes that yes, the whole point was for these characters to end up together. Tada Banri has amnesia (surprise) and has forgotten his past but is now ready to forge a new future at college. There he meets Koko, a girl totally obsessed with another guy. Jump ahead and watch these two fairly inept characters steal your heart away and become one of the sweetest couples going. Just so you know, Koko is crazy and obsessive and Banri is possibly one of the most wishy washy guys I included on this list, but they have a certain charm and will grow on you by the end. Certainly they hit a lot of bumps along the way but the ending is adorable (if a little unrealistic). Besides, it gives you hope realising that even these two can work it out.
Number 3: My Love Story
This is a relatively new addition to my list of romantic anime but I absolutely fell in love with this story. It makes me laugh and smile and I just really want the two main characters to be together. And unlike so many others on this list, the characters actually are together in a relationship (albeit a slow moving one) from the second episode, so the frustration of whether or not they are going to date and admit their feelings is not present. Add in some really amusing and interesting supporting characters and you have a romantic anime well worth the watch. The focus on the male character is also a refreshing change in this genre.
Number 2: Akagami no Shirayuki
Another relatively new anime but this one completely stole my heart. I remember watching this and then binge watching it again instantly. At it’s core it really is a fairy tale romance (hence the Snow White with the Red Hair) title but it is so much more. It has characters that feel fleshed out and real (even if they are all overly sweet at heart) and Shirayuki is perhaps my favourite female lead in any romance. While I didn’t give this the number on sport, Shirayuki is by far the preferred leading lady as she is confident and self-reliant but still falls in love and has to find the balance in herself. Partnered with Zen (I still don’t get that name), this is a fantastic couple. Zen isn’t useless so that the girl can show her stuff. He is capable in his own right and has his own life aside from pursuing and saving the girl (though he certainly does do that as well). If you just want something sweet but do not want to see the simpering girl pining for the guy or being dependent on him, this is the romance for you.
Number 1: Kimi ni Todoke
This show defines love story. So Kazehaya and Sawako’s relationship moves incredibly slowly, but it remains the focus of the series even while we see Sawako develop her other relationships and the usual school events (sports carnivals and festivals) occur. While the slow pace might frustrate some, it feels necessary given initially the large gap between the protagonists experiences and expectations. Besides, even Sawako’s friends agree that if she dated Kazehaya while still feeling indebted to him it wouldn’t really work out. There is very little unexpected in this story, but the combination of characters and the way it is presented makes this a truly pleasurable watch. Well worth making it to the end of this romance story.
What are your favourite romantic anime or did I include yours on the list?