How Long Is The Romantic Anime Drought Going To Last?

Friday's Feature

It might seem odd to ask how long a drought on romantic anime will last at first. Largely because each season there are many anime tagged romance that come out and so many cute romantic couples appear for people to swoon over. Yet, I’ve found myself yearning for something from the genre and I decided to really think about what was missing.

It wasn’t an easy task. But ultimately I came to the conclusion that what was missing was the sweet and pure romances, the Hollywood fairy-tale so to speak, and while there were plenty of delightful couples, both canon and fan-shipped, I really just wanted another Zen and Shirayuki (Snow White With The Red Hair) or Sawako and Kazehaya (Kimi ni Todoke).


All of this made me ask the question:

Does pure romance not sell in anime?
Tada Never Falls in Love
Tesresa says no.

ow there’s not a particularly easy way to answer this question. Thinking back, the last sweet romance I watched was probably Tada Never Falls in Love and that anime, while cute and pretty fun, was hardly a stand out for the industry. But even then, a lot of the criticism I came across of the series involved the story being too predictable or the characters too cliche.

And really, with the exception of Teresa’s origin which isn’t much of a mystery, there isn’t much to distinguish Tada Never Falls in Love from many another story, and it has been done before.

That in turn made me wonder though whether a romance anime needed to actually have a gimmick in order to grab the audience’s attention in this culture of seasonal viewing and mass consumption? Do we need our romantic leads to be super-genius’ playing mind games before we’ll given them the time of day? Do we need an angsty back story and a potential same-sex couple before we’ll give something our full attention? Or do we need the female lead to literally be disappearing before we’ll tolerate a romance?

Dakaichi Episode 6 Junta and Takato

For some the answer will definitely be yes. They aren’t big fans of romance but will watch a romance when it is blended with another genre provided something catches their attention. However, what about fans of the genre? Those who were happy to watch romantic comedy movies about high school girls getting a new haircut and suddenly being super popular and weepy confessions sometimes with a song and dance thrown in just for fun seem to be getting the raw end of this deal.

Then there are these other cases.

Sure I can watch Domestic Girlfriend and I can’t deny that there’s romance at the core of that story, but it isn’t the uplifting and feel good story that I go into a romance for. It’s a fantastic melodrama to be sure (or at least a reasonably one) but ultimately it doesn’t leave the happy buzz of a romance.

There’s nothing inspiring about the premise of Love is War and certainly doesn’t make my heart stir. Even from reading the reviews of people who enjoyed that anime far more than me, it was the comedy and amusement that drew them in rather than warm and fuzzy feelings.

Even Bloom Into You, a very nicely made romance, isn’t one that is about to lighten your heart. There’s a very real character drama going on in that series and given the anime hasn’t brought us to a conclusion we’re largely left without the cathartic release one would normally seek from watching a romantic story.

In short, I miss a sweet romance anime.
Ouran High School Host Club
That’s the feeling I’m looking for.

I miss a story of simple boy meets girl (or you know, boy meets boy, girl meets girl, alien meets time travelling war lord) and they end up thrown together for whatever reason before they grow to fall in love. Something will cause a hiccup in the relationship but they overcome it and we end with a beautiful scene of the two together. Simple. Predictable. Beautiful.

That said, I certainly don’t want any of these other stories to disappear. They all have their place and their strengths. Whether it is biting humour and commentary, explorations of taboos, or a search for identity in a coming of age narrative, they all provide something of value to the appropriate audience. Maybe I want to have my cake and eat it too but is it too much to ask for a straight romance in amongst all the gimmicky ones.

Then again, the way we’re going we are going to end up with an edgy vampire lord who was reincarnated as a piece of cheese falling in love with a Princess from an alien moon who somehow found herself transformed into a housefly however the vampire lord has vowed not to fall in love with anyone until he’s learned to walk in his new cheese body.

Zero and Yuki - Vampire Knight
I could see Zero being reincarnated as a piece of cheese.

Again, do we really need so many distractions from the core story? Is it not enough to tell the story of two people falling in love?

While some would ask for novelty, I would ask for competence. Crafting characters that we dare to care about and building a relationship that has genuine chemistry. Using direction and music to set the scene and great dialogue to draw us into their story and their experience. Sure, we may have seen all the events before but that doesn’t stop them from having impact when told right.

Which is why all I want from the Autumn Anime season this year is a romance.
Sawako and Kazehaya - Kimi ni Todoke
Yes, I want sparkles and awkward smiles.

Not a comedy that happens to have romance in it. Not a melodrama or a coming of age story that uses romance as a catalyst or a complication. Certainly not an adventure or isekai that just happens to have a main character that falls in love.

While all of these would be great in their own way, what I want is a straight, pure, romance anime.

And that makes me want to ask you, if you made it to the end of this somewhat rambling post:

What was your last good romantic anime?

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

32 thoughts on “How Long Is The Romantic Anime Drought Going To Last?

  1. Last romance I watched was this week tsundere children it was soo adorable and the comedy worked was surpberb. But I was craving for something light and to uplift me as life hasn’t liked me recently. I’ll be writing a short post on it today hopefully.

    I think me and you miss Karandi have the same taste in romance Snow with the red hair fan girls till we die ahaha. As a romance fan I love watching anything no matter what it is. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a good straight up romance. There are two anime on my list that have been next in line for me to watch. When I’ve watched both I’ll do a post and hopefully might be another series for you to dive into. I’ll find you one miss Karandi 😉

  2. I think it’s real tough for a romance anime to really stick it out without any other genres backing it up. An action with some romance I can roll with or sci-fi. If it’s just romance, the last really solid one I can think of is Nisekoi and I suppose that one may not count since it’s also part harm and part comedy. The romance is the main part of the plot though and I found that series to be pretty enjoyable.

    1. I really need to get back to Nisekoi at some point. And yeah, there doesn’t seem to be a huge market for just romance. Lots of people are happy for romance to be thrown in with something else but just romance doesn’t seem to be the preferred option.

  3. Not counting harems, reverse harems and anime with romantic subplots (e.g. Konobi) and depending on how predominant you think the romance is, my last good romance anime was either ReLife Kanketsu-hen or Netjuu no Susume, which is early last year and late 2 years ago respectively.

    On the manga front…since I’ve been reading a lot of it lately, now that I think about it…some of the highlights are that I caught up to Blue Flag about an hour before replying to this post (no anime yet, but it’s getting a proper English release in 2020 so we can hope for an anime after that), finished Orange last month (need to finish the anime) and started Ao Haru Ride a few months back, so I’m not deprived of romance (the series I’ve named have some degree of drama in them as well, but otherwise they should be pure romance)…maybe you just need to look to manga for your fix, since I’ve found romance is generally better and more plentiful in manga than anime.

    I’ve noticed a lot of romance manga get dramas before/simultaneously with or even without anime (notably HanaKimi had a Taiwanese drama and a Japanese one IIRC…and the series didn’t age particularly well, so I’m not crossing my fingers for an anime for it).

    As for Raist’s petition, the forecast isn’t looking too good now that I look at it – Kono Oto Tomare and Chihayafuru are returning (and I haven’t caught up on either), but I think that’s the closest you’ll get to what you’re looking for.

    1. Oh, you are right about Netjuu no Susume. I think that one deserves double points because it was a sweet romance and featured older characters. But yes, looking forward it doesn’t seem like just straight, sweet romance is on the cards anytime soon, and certainly not a flood of them. Still, that makes the ones we do get and that work for individuals much more appreciated.

  4. Wow, good question. I could say Quintessential Quintuplets, although I feel like that leans slightly more into “harem comedy” territory than “romance” territory – having read all of the manga as far as it goes, though, it has all the ingredients to tip over into a proper romance once the guy chooses his girl, if the author wants to go that way. We’ll see.

    Otherwise, for the type of romance anime that you’re talking about I think I’d have to go all the way back to My Love Story in 2015, and I never did end up finishing that one (I enjoyed it as far as I went with it, though).

    Now the series I’d love to see get a full anime adaptation is Horimiya. I really enjoyed that manga, and it’s exactly the kind of romance story that you’re describing. Unfortunately the only anime it ever got were a few short OVAs, and those were adapting the original webcomic version instead of the manga so the art style was really crude.

    1. My Love Story was adorable. I absolutely loved that and when I’m really in the mood for something just sweet it is one of a few of my go-to binge anime.

    1. I still can’t watch the rest of that. I had a trial for the service briefly and started it but then discontinued the service. Hopefully I’ll see the end one day.

  5. Don’t delve much into the genre. . .I think that the last such one I watched was Momokuri (which, incidentally, I enjoyed enough to purchase for my dvd collection).

    1. That was cute though I think it was more the comedy than the romance that kind of worked. Still, they were a super cute couple in the end.

  6. Hmm…good question. I think that if you qualife the Quentessiantal Quintuplets as a romance, that is the last one I saw. Honestly…I though that story was pretty well done, and I especially liked the feel good ending. Than besides that I would go for Orange. But well yeah, not a lot of real romance animes out there at the moment I guess.
    I’m with you though: it would be nice if we would get a simple romance anime every once in a while to give us a nice break from all the demons/robots, vampires and what else is out there, and just give us a feel good feeling 😊

    1. One of those that just makes you smile and cry and then smile again and leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy. It would be nice.

        1. Then again, it has been a while since I’ve even found a good movie romance. I find a lot of the new ‘romantic-comedies’ to be heavy on gross out comedy and not so strong in the romance department. Maybe romance is old-fashioned?

          1. Ofcourse not! Romance is never old-fashioned! Not in my book anyway (this coming from the guy who saw Titanic 9 times in the theatre….😅😅) Yeah you are right though: it seems comedy is pretty much always the focus for romance movies these days, but a really great romance movies are well..not really there anymore😊 Guess we should extend the petition: we want a good romance movie/anime/tvshow: period! 😊

  7. I’m not much of pure romance fan, Toradora is about the only anime I can think of that I really love and count as romance, everything else is romance + something else. Depending on how Given goes that could be a great romance this season.

    1. That’s true. I am enjoying the set up to Given.
      But yeah, most stuff I was thinking of over the last few years was something else + romance or romance with a lot of angst or gimmicks thrown in.

    1. Fair enough. What is your favourite romance anime?
      Also, your comments have been going to my spam recently. I’m approving them when I find them, but just letting you know because I may have missed some and I don’t mean to ignore them.

  8. The last great romance I watched? Probably Bloom Into You if it counts (even though I noticed that it’s on your post here). Otherwise, probably Tsukigakirei.

    1. Bloom Into You was lovely. I found it more focused on the drama of the girls figuring themselves out and while the relationship was definitely a catalyst for that I just didn’t get the warm and fuzzy romance feeling from it. It also doesn’t help that the first season ended with things unresolved to a point. Still, it is certainly one of the closest anime to a great romance that I’ve watched recently. And I remember a lot of people liked Tsukigakirei. Was that last year or the year before?

    2. I’ll second Tsukigakirei, it’s a very nice first love romance The other one is Just Because, which was okay but ended up being too coy for me

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