Today I bring to you a list of some of my favorite romance anime. This list includes series that have romance as a major theme and/or is based off a shoujo manga. Since I can’t attest to anime I haven’t seen, this list is only based off the anime that I have completed (making most titles from the early 2000s to the early 2010s). Unfortunately, I have yet to watch more famous shoujo series like Kimi ni Todoke or Clannad, so you won’t be finding them on this list. There are also a lot of good BL and Yuri romance series out there as well, but I’ll save that for another article.
About the Writer
I'm Sophie, a university student in Tokyo. You may have seen me on the MisoDog TV YouTube channel! I'm not especially great at writing, but hopefully I can improve a bit through practice. In my spare time, I read a lot of manga, watch a lot of anime, and listen to a lot of Japanese music. My favorite genres of anime are slice of life, romance, and drama.
This article is an introduction to some of my favorite romance anime! Most of them are slice of life, but there are also a few that include supernatural, fantasy, or action elements. Check them out and let me know what you think!
My Romance Anime Recommendations
15. Tsurezure Children
Length: 12 episodes
Tsurezure Children is the shortest series on this list, featuring only 12 13-minute episodes. Every episode follows one of four high school couples all experiencing their relationships in different ways. There is not a whole lot of backstory or drama, but each episode is guaranteed to have a cute romance scene seemingly straight out of a shoujo manga. You can watch the entirety of Tsurezure Children in a few hours, so I recommend this series to anyone who wants a quick, light-hearted watch.
14. Special A
Length: 24 episodes
An older and maybe lesser known series, Special A is about a group of seven high school students who are part of a separate class at the top of their school. Protagonist Hikari has always been second place to Kei, and she vows to beat him in anything possible (to no avail). Their rivalry eventually leads to love—more accurately speaking, it is already love on Kei’s end, but Hikari is your typical dense, headstrong main character. It being a 2008 series, the art and animation is definitely not up to par with what you can find nowadays, and you might have to overlook the ridiculous body proportions to get through it. However, this is a series in which you want to cheer the protagonists on until the very end.
13. Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai/Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
Length: 13 episodes, 1 Movie
The most recent and probably most popular anime on this list, Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (shortened to Aobuta by Japanese viewers) includes not only romance, but tackles many issues of adolescents struggling to fit in with their peers and find themselves. With the amount of female characters, you would think that this series might fit into the harem genre, but it becomes clear after the first three episodes who the protagonist Sakuta will end up with. Thanks to that, you get to enjoy the romance that ensues between the two main characters for the remaining 10 episodes. Aobuta is a recommendation for anyone who likes cute girls and cute romance with a few heavier themes thrown into the mix.
12. Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai/The World God Only Knows
Aired: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Length: 3 seasons (12 episodes each), ONA (2 episodes)
The World God Only Knows is a comedy/fantasy/harem anime with each arc focused on a different heroine. Protagonist Keima is a self-proclaimed “God” of romance simulation games, but he has no experience with girls in real life. When demon hunter Elsie appears before him, he is tasked with getting rid of demons that take over the souls of young women by making them fall in love with him. Maybe because Keima is awkward and not very cut out for romance, it makes the romantic scenes between him and the different heroines all the more sweet.
11. Kaichou wa Maid-sama!/Maid-sama!
Length: 26 episodes
Kaichou wa Maid-sama is on this list simply for the nostalgia factor and the “good old romance.” The series features the typical tough-girl protagonist who ends up falling for the guy who she thinks she hates. If you grew up with anime in the early 2010s, you’ve probably already gone through the stage in your life where you had a crush on the main hero, Usui. This series is a must-watch if you’re a fan of stereotypical shoujo anime.
10. Akatsuki no Yona/Yona of the Dawn
Length: 24 episodes, OVA (3 episodes)
Yona of the Dawn is a fantasy series set in a fictional kingdom within a world that resembles ancient Asia. Princess Yona watches her father die through the betrayal of her beloved cousin and must flee the castle along with her servant, Hak. Although the romance is a given, a point worthy of note in this series is Yona’s character development as she grows physically and mentally stronger throughout her journey.
9. Plastic Memories
Length: 13 episodes
Plastic Memories is a series most likely forgotten by everyone except the fans, but I cannot stress how much I want everyone to watch it. The story takes place in a future in which androids have developed into functioning speaking and feeling beings. A romance between an android and a human, the story deals with what it means to be human and coping with the loss of the ones you love. If you are quick to cry, I do not recommend watching this series in public (I was a mess after just the first episode).
8. Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo/The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
Length: 24 episodes
I have cited that Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo is one of my favorite anime, and although this is true, it does not exactly end up as number one on my list of personal favorite romance anime. The reason for this is that there are more important themes in this series outside of the romance between the two main characters (the side couple is also cuter than the main one in my opinion). Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo deals with coming to terms with who you are, understanding that there will always be those who are more talented than you, and that it’s okay to be normal. I recommend it for those who like a good drama and coming-of-age story.
7. Ore Monogatari!!/My Love Story!!
Length: 24 episodes
Ore Monogatari features a protagonist who does not fit into the normal box of shoujo manga hero. With a little-too-manly physique, main character Takeo has never been popular with girls. One day, he saves Yamato, a small girl, from being molested on a train. She bakes sweets for him as thanks and they become close. The two develop feelings for each other but Takeo believes that a girl like Yamato would never go out with him, and Yamato is unable to tell him how she feels. It is fun (and at the same time a little painful) to watch Takeo and Rinko overcome their misunderstandings again and again.
6. Inu x Boku SS
Length: 12 episodes
Inu x Boku is a supernatural romantic comedy series featuring youkai protagonist Ririchiyo and her loyal bodyguard Miketsukami. If you follow voice actors, this series is sure to have someone who you are familiar with. As a fan of Nakamura Yuichi, I may be a little biased with this one, but the romance between Ririchiyo and Miketsukami is one of my favorites.
Aired: 2010, 2011, 2015
Length: 3 seasons (13 episodes each)
Set in Hokkaido, the northernmost island in Japan, Working follows the staff who work in a family restaurant. This is mostly a slice of life anime and it may seem as if there is no romance at first glance, but the reality is just that the romance takes the first two seasons to fully develop. Each of the characters are unique and lovable and you want to cheer them on as you watch them get closer. Working is a good anime to watch for some light-hearted comedy and is a big recommend to those who are looking for an easy-to-watch series.
4. Ouran Koukou Host Club/Ouran High School Host Club
Length: 26 episodes
The nostalgia is big in this one. Ouran High School Host Club was one of my first introductions to anime after Haruhi Suzumiya and Lucky Star, and even now I can go back and rewatch all the way through without feeling bored. The main character Haruhi is not your typical shoujo manga protagonist, with a cool exterior that truly does not betray her, unlike so many other heroines that turn into the typical “maiden in love” trope halfway through the series. Although technically a romantic comedy anime, Ouran High School Host Club is lacking in the type of fluffy romance that many fans were looking for—if you feel unsatisfied after watching the series, I suggest picking up the manga.
3. Hachimitsu to Clover/Honey and Clover
Aired: 2005, 2006
Length: 2 seasons (24 episodes in season 1, 12 episodes in season 2), Specials (2 episodes)
Considering all the romance anime (anime in general, honestly) that feature high-school-aged characters, it is refreshing to have a slice-of-life romance series that focuses on college students. Honey and Clover is a coming of age story that features different types of relationships and internal conflicts that face individuals who are about to make their way into the real world. Being a josei series, the romance is much more toned down and realistic than your average shoujo manga.
2. Servant x Service
Length: 13 episodes
By the same original creator as Working comes Servant x Service, a much shorter but just as satisfying series about civil workers in a ward office. Again, an anime featuring adults is fun to watch as a breather from the high school setting that makes up a majority of the slice of life category. The series never takes itself too seriously, making the budding office relationships entertaining to watch.
1. Sukitte Ii na yo./Say “I Love You”.
Length: 13 episodes, OVA (1 episode)
The story of Say I Love You features heroine Mei who is an outcast at her high school and believes she does not need friends. One day, she meets Yamato, the most popular guy in school who takes an interest to her. Many would probably disagree with me when I say Say I Love You is on the top of my romance anime list, but I must admit that I am weak for shoujo cliches. Of course, Yamato is the ideal male protagonist, but I found Mei’s character to be the most relatable, with very realistic insecurities and a likable personality.
What did you think? I’ve definitely left out some of the classic series simply because I have not watched them yet, but this is my personal list of recommendations. Let me know what your favorite romance anime are down in the comments below!