The 25 Best Romance Anime of All Time, Ranked

Author

Romance films and series focus on passion, emotion, and the many challenges facing two (or more) individuals as they fall in love. Fans of the romantic genre are missing out on some of the best storylines if they avoid romance anime. Most anime films and series offer romance in some way, whether it be a shonen anime, where a few characters spend a great deal of time with romantic tension between them, or a supernatural dark fantasy, where one character saves the other, and they begin a relationship.

While these anime movies and series may only use romantic relationships as a subplot, there are plenty of great ones that focus entirely on the developing relationships between their characters. People appreciate a good love story that pushes them on an emotional rollercoaster of happiness, sadness, anger, betrayal, and several other emotions. Whether you are looking for complicated harems, angsty plotlines, or the classic will-they-won’t-they trope, here are the 20 best romance anime to watch next.

Updated on Jan. 6, 2024, by Soniya Hinduja: This article has been updated with additional content to keep the discussion fresh and relevant with even more information and new entries.

25 Monogatari Series: Second Season (2009-2016)

Monogatari Series: Second Season is an astounding anime that follows Koyomi Araragi and his team of close-knit friends as they encounter spirits, apparitions, and gods. With graduation looming overhead and time running out, he must choose between unraveling mysteries and personal demons. When Koyomi suddenly disappears and a new manifestation settles in to threaten teenage girls, it is up to Tsubasa Hanekawa, the group’s leader, to test friendships and foes.

A Stylish Supernatural Series

The anime tells a multi-layered story through its stylish direction and amazing dialogue. The season builds on its complex characters, whose absurd goals parallel real emotional growth. Although not branded as just romance, the anime features a lot of witty banter and subtle charms that lead audiences into a wonderland. With vivid colors and pop culture influences, it leaves a lasting impact. Stream on Crunchyroll.

24 Clannad: After Story (2007-2008)

Continuing the beautiful and heartwarming story of the beloved delinquent, Tomoya Okazaki, and his quirky muse, Nagisa Furukawa, Clannad: After Story now sees the pair in the second semester. They face challenges, meet new people, and have a more emotional and mature approach towards each other as they enter another phase of their relationship. But is staying in a small town where high school friends find purpose and support each other their only goal?

An Uplifting and Layered Approach to Relationships

Filled with grounded human drama and a lot of love, this supernatural fantasy romance delights fans of the original series by being even more beautiful. The characters are now fully realized. Though scarred by life, they are overjoyed as well. Years later, their subtle growth after facing so many triumphs and losses resonates with fans on an entirely different level. Moreover, its enduring message is that dark days don’t last long. Stream on Hidive.

23 The Tatami Galaxy (2010)

What’s not romantic about going back in time to win a girl’s heart? The Tatami Galaxy follows a lonely, regretful third-year student at Kyoto University who realizes that he may have wasted his precious years trying to break couples off on campus and following different clubs and paths that didn’t exactly interest him. Through philosophizing with his friend Ozu, he comes across an idea, but before he can act on it, he is hurtled three years back in time.

Otherworldly Aesthetics and Introspection

The psychedelic visuals and thrilling narrative make this one way different from other college-centered anime. The Tatami Galaxy captures the confusion of youth and its knack for experimentation in a way that hasn’t been done before – through time travel. Even though the show’s purpose is self-reflection, the protagonist’s journey of asking out the girl he has loved and fancied after getting a second shot at college makes up for imaginative storytelling. Currently unavailable to stream.

22 Weathering with You (2019)

Written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, Weathering with You is a popular anime that centers around high school runaway Hodaka, who moves to Tokyo and immediately finds a job at a small-time occult magazine. There, he meets a beautiful and mysterious girl who can call out the sun. After Hodaka discovers that she can control the weather, he swears to protect her secret. Thus begins a romance that blooms against the backdrop of extreme climate chaos.

Weathering With You Balances Fantasy and Reality

Shinkai commits fully to his vision and perfects the gorgeous animation of Weathering with You. Its bittersweet love story and fantastical elements only heighten the intrigue. Moreover, by setting it in a contemporary Tokyo, the director also adds elements of society and resistance that hinder a relationship from working out realistically. Both the characters are highly emotional and layered, so any change in each other’s lives as the weather shifts is shown with exquisite detail. Stream on Max.

21 Golden Time (2013)

After a sudden accident, Banri Tada enrolls as a law student and starts living in the university dorms in Tokyo. With his memory completely erased, he struggles to adjust to his sense of self but soon learns that he must start over. With only one friend, Mitsuo Yanagisawa, in tow, he’s ready to tackle the world. But meeting spirited student Kouko Kaga leads to new discoveries, like the fact that Mistuo and Kouko were supposed to get married at some point.

A Sweet and Gentle Romance

Golden Time has a quirky premise and flawed but lovable leads. But its heart lies in creating an unforgettable year for the protagonists and the anime does that with grace and authenticity. As the complex relationships mature and the past and present problems reconcile, the series swiftly shifts between comedy, drama, romance, and fantasy. It also features themes of self-discovery, moving forward, forgiveness, and embracing change. Stream on Crunchyroll.

20 My Dress-Up Darling (2022)

A truly heartwarming anime that combines harem and cosplay to weave a beautiful story, My Dress-Up Darling centers around high school student Wakana Gojou who harbors a secret within him – he loves making dresses for dolls. Inheriting the skill from his grandfather, Wakana works hard to perfect the art but never lets it known to his peers for fear of being ridiculed. When he befriends popular and breathtaking Marin Kitagawa, she notices something different about him and soon discovers his hobby. Turns out, Marin also has a hobby of her own: cosplay. As Marin takes sewing lessons from Wakana and coaches him on becoming a master cosplayer, the two develop a tender romance.

The Power of Being Known

The anime stands out for its stunning animation and attention to detail. The character details are very vibrant. Bringing the cosplay world to life through the eyes of its interesting characters is perhaps its greatest win. Moreover, the series also explores subjects of acceptance because the characters undergo personal growth throughout the story. Overall, My Dress-Up Darling is a must-watch for fans of romance. Stream on Crunchyroll.

19 Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai (2018)

Set in a world where teenagers suffer from “Puberty Syndrome,” which indicates the presence of paranormal quirks, we follow a shy and aloof guy named Sakuta Azusagawa, who, unlike his other classmates, believes that the myth is true. More so when he encounters Mia, a former actress who retired for unknown reasons. She now roams the corridors of the high school in a bunny costume and is visible only to Sakuta. The two form a friendship and Sakuta vows to get to the bottom of her condition. Eventually, Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai sees them developing an adorable, adolescent romance.

A Delightfully Unexpected Romantic Adventure

Quite surprising in its premise, this 2018 anime subverts its scandalous title by being poignant and whimsical. Few romance anime emerge as wildly clever in its writing. Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai excels at that and also graces us with memorable characters. The series combines two genres that have proven successful in Hollywood – supernatural and romance – and offers a unique twist on high school romance. The most engaging aspect of the anime is its pacing, though, which is so flawless and right that you cannot help but feel invested. Stream on Hulu or Crunchyroll.

18 Maid-Sama! (2010)

Maid-Sama! is as breezy as it is bold. The series is inarguably the best romantic comedy, and it features a delightful push-and-pull between two very opposite characters. On one hand, we have Misaki, who has created a formidable reputation in high school as “Demon President” by being the first-ever female student council president in a male-dominated school. On the other hand, we have the cool heartthrob Usui, who often rejects proposals from girls for the sake of it. When Usui finds out that Misali secretly works at a maid café, there is an enormous clash between the two. The mutually charmed rivals go from being in each other’s thoughts to hand-holding in his humorous little series.

The Ultimate Romantic Comedy

Maid-Sama! follows the ideal rom-com formula by balancing out its comedy and tenderness.It charms its audience with its animation style, which is unique and groundbreaking. The dark comedy blended seamlessly with romance results in a lighthearted and entertaining watch, which is perfect for unwinding after a long day at work. The chemistry between the two main characters is also a major highlight because their interactions are always hilarious and the comedic timing is on point. Stream on Crunchyroll.

17 Given (2019)

Based on the manga illustrated by Natsuki Kizu, Given explores love and loss among its four crucial characters. The series is known for being one of the swoon-worthy BL anime. It follows Ritsuka, Mafuyu, Akihiko, and Haruki, four bandmates brought together through music and sticking together to heal each other’s hidden wounds. A Gibson-clutching Mafuyu Satou meets a mysterious Ritsuka Uenoyama and what begins is a lyrical exchange of the souls. Slowly, we learn about their pasts and how they share traumas. Akihiko and Haruki form the secondary couple in the series but are just as passionate about one another.

Romance at Its Peak

As far as touching romance anime goes, Given has the most realistic portrayal of love and relationships. Watching the feelings of these two pairs gracefully blossom is the sweetest thing ever. Along with telling a beautiful story, it also navigates themes of loss, grief, and growing out of it with a focus on the psychological journeys of its characters. The music is exceptionally good, and it adds depth and resonance to the overall narrative. Stream on Crunchyroll.

16 I Want To Eat Your Pancreas

An exquisite anime that not only breaks your heart but also shakes you to the core, I Want To Eat Your Pancreas centers around the introverted bookworm Haruki who is so involved in his own little world that he never registers anything else. One day, he stumbles upon a journal, titled Living with Dying, and begins reading it and learns that his aloof classmate Sakura is secretly battling a terminal illness. At first, he’s unbothered, but the more he learns about Sakura, the more enchanted he is by her spirit and buoyancy. They form a tender bond that shifts Haruki’s worldview.

Related

The 15 Best Horror Anime TV Shows, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes

The thrills, chills, nightmares, and terror are real in this list of the 15 best horror anime TV shows, ranked by Rotten Tomatoes.

A Romance that Will Change Your Perspective on Life

An anime romance that is beloved among a wide audience, I Want To Eat Your Pancreas tells a poignant story with unbelievable ease. The art style, the animation, the unusual premise, and the stunning characterization, all these elements work together to enhance the heartfelt moments between the main leads. The film also received massive critical acclaim for its mature storytelling and its ability to make the viewers feel things. Be warned though, the anime will leave you utterly shattered by the depth of their relationship and how inevitable it is for their love to end. Currently unavailable to stream.

15 Your Lie in April (2014)

Your Lie in April is a romantic drama anime series adapted from Naoshi Arakawa’s manga series of the same name. The series follows Kosei Arima, a 14-year-old piano prodigy who becomes famous after winning several music competitions. However, after his mother dies, Kosei has a mental breakdown at a piano recital, resulting in him becoming unable to hear his piano, despite his hearing being unaffected otherwise. Two years later, Kosei has not touched the piano and views the world in monochrome. When Kosei meets the audacious, free-spirited, 14-year-old violinist Kaori Miyazono, his life turns upside down. Kaori helps Kosei get back into playing and shows him that his playing style can be free. As the two get closer, he realizes he’s falling in love, though she seems to only be interested in his friend Ryota.

Falling in Love With Music and Romance

There’s an unspoken tradition among real anime fans to re-watch Your Lie in April every year. The reason fans commit to the tradition is because the series presents its romance in an unparalleled way. The beautiful rendition of emotions and the performances of the characters during their individual musical journeys never lose their charm. Also, that breathtaking finale is so riveting that it is hard not to fall for the anime over and over again. Stream on Hulu or Crunchyroll.

14 Inuyasha (2000-2004)

Originally running from 2000 to 2004, with four feature films and a sequel spin-off, Inuyasha is a fantasy adventure romance shonen anime series. It follows Kagome Higurashi, a 15-year-old middle school girl from modern-day Tokyo who falls into a well in her family shrine, transporting her to the Sengoku period. There, she meets the half-dog demon half-human Inuyasha. The sacred Shikon jewel reemerges from Kagome’s body, and it shatters into dozens of fragments that scatter across Japan. So, Kagome and Inuyasha, joined by the monk Miroku, demon slayer Sango, and fox demon Shippo, journey to restore the jewel before it falls into the hands of the evil half-demon Naraku.

An Epic Tale of Romance and Adventure

Inuyasha is a classic romance anime that guides viewers to its fantasy world and does not let them go. The series is a combination of several genres like action, adventure, drama, and romance, which anchors its narrative. The result is an impeccable series that spans across time and dimensions. Staying true to the manga illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi, the seven-season-long anime retains both the depth and dynamics of its source material. Stream on Netflix.

13 Snow White with the Red Hair (2015-2016)

Snow White with the Red Hair is a fantasy romance anime that aired from 2015 to 2016 in Japan. The series follows the titular Shirayuki, a herbalist in the Tanbarun kingdom with unique red hair that attracts a lot of attention. Due to this, she was raised to always be careful of showing her hair in public, tying it up with a red ribbon. The first prince, Raj, learns of her unusual hair and orders her to become his concubine, which Shirayuki refuses. She flees to the neighboring kingdom of Clarines, where she meets and befriends Prince Zen and his two aides, Mitsuhide and Kiki. She ends up working as a royal court herbalist in Clarines. However, Prince Raj develops feelings for Shirayuki and tries to become a leader she can be proud of. In Clarines, Zen and Shirayuki begin to fall in love.

Anime that Puts a Pep in Your Step

This cheery and exciting two-season anime from 2015 is particularly renowned among fans for its ability to enchant the viewers with its stunning visuals and charming characters. The series features vivid animation and colorful, stylized backdrops to bring its fairy tale world to glorious life. Moreover, the chemistry between the lead protagonists, Shirayuki and Raj, makes the heart of the show. Their sweet and genuine romance creates a delightful vibe and makes the series stand out. Stream on Hulu or Crunchyroll.

12 Your Name (2016)

The film tells the story of two high school students, Taki Tachibana and Mitsuha Miyamizu, who begin swapping bodies despite never having met. They unleash chaos in each other’s lives, though they try to set up ground rules for each other by leaving notes on paper, their phones, and their skin. Taki realizes that he’s falling for Mitsuha and attempts to call her, though she does not answer. Then, the body-switching stops. So, Taki goes searching for her. Tip: have tissues nearby.

One of the Most Heart-Wrenching Stories Out There

Inspired by Japan’s frequency of natural disasters, Your Name is a romantic fantasy film that was released in 2016. Fantasy, time travel, body swap, and romance – these are the elements that bind Your Name together. Despite being devastatingly sad in its ending, this breathtaking anime dives into the intricate details, routines, and psyches of its characters and makes you one with them. The film’s narrative unfolds at a beautiful pace as well. Your Name also garnered a lot of praise for its jaw-dropping landscapes, masterful storytelling, and mesmerizing final act. Stream on Crunchyroll.

11 Fruits Basket (2019-2021)

Fruits Basket is a supernatural romantic comedy, slice-of-life anime series that tells the story of an orphan girl who learns that 13 members of the Sohma family are possessed by the animals of the Chinese zodiac. These members are cursed to turn into their animal forms at literally the worst times — when they are weak, stressed, or embraced by someone of the opposite gender who is not possessed by the spirit of the zodiac.

Related

10 Anime That Are Completely Different From the Manga

While faithful recreations are every manga fan’s dream, original visions can also attract an entirely new audience to the anime landscape.

A Delightful Slice of Life

The anime series is bound to make you cry as much as it makes you laugh with its sharp writing and bittersweet storytelling. It explores themes of friendship, family, growth, and self-love. There have been complaints from fans about the main characters not ending up together, but that does not diminish the fact that the relationship is so well-developed and emotionally nuanced and filled with heartwarming moments, resulting in a very strong connection formed simply through the screen. Stream on Hulu or Crunchyroll.

10 Ouran High School Host Club (2006)

Based on the Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Bisco Hatori, Ouran High School Host Club is a reverse harem romantic comedy anime series following Haruhi Fujioka, a scholarship student at Ouran Academy, and the members of the host club. While searching for a quiet place to study, Haruhi stumbles upon the Host Club’s meeting place, where she accidentally destroys an expensive vase. To pay for it, she must work as the club’s errand boy. The Hosts accidentally mistake her for a boy due to her short hair, slouching attire, and ambiguous face. However, they soon realize her actual gender and that she’s naturally good at entertaining girls. So, they promoted her to a Host.

Hijinks, Hilarity, and Heart Abound

A very charming romance series that adorably combines humor and depth, Ouran High School Host Club is a series that packs so many misadventures and humor within its simple premise. The energy of all its characters perfectly complements the lighthearted tone of the story. Moreover, the jokes land right where it hurts, and the romance is adorable but not too sweet, making the series a favorite in the anime rom-com landscape. Stream on Hulu or Crunchyroll.

9 Toradora! (2008-2009)

Toradora! is a 25-episode anime adaptation that aired from October 2008 to March 2009. The series tells the story of Ryuji Takasu and Taiga Aisaka as they help each other confess their feelings to their respective crushes. The gentle Ryuji appears as an intimidating delinquent due to his eyes and has a crush on Minori Kushieda, whose best friend is Taiga. Taiga is considered the school’s “most dangerous animal of the highest risk level.” He has a negative attitude towards others and often snaps violently at people. She lives in an apartment facing Ryuji’s house and has a crush on Ryuji’s best friend, Yusaku Kitamura.

Romance Tropes Are Used to Great Effect

Do opposites attract? They do in Toradora! Often falling into its genre’s tropes, the series manages to emerge as equal parts complex and entertaining. The way the characters express themselves, the empathy they showcase, and the contrast of it all with the witty dialogue and soft romance is what makes it so exquisite and tender. Stream on Netflix, Prime Video, or Crunchyroll.

8 A Whisker Away (2020)

Released on Netflix in 2020, A Whisker Away is an anime romantic fantasy film. The film tells the story of Miyo Sasaki, an unhappy eighth grader in Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture. She and her stepmother, Kaoru, do not get along, and she is constantly getting rejected by her crush, Kento Hinode. Things begin to change when she receives a magical Noh mask that allows her to transform into a cat. Miyo uses this newfound power to spend time with Hinode, though the longer she stays in cat form has its consequences.

A Movie Wise Beyond Its Years

Directors Junichi Sato and Tomotaka Shibayama aim to suck the audiences into the story with whimsical animation and endearing characters. The film’s center of attention is the transformative power of love, and in the process of exploring that element, it touches upon themes of identity and friendship with utter grace and empathy. A Whisker Away may be set around a high school premise, but its protagonists are way wiser than their age. Stream on Netflix.

7 The Ancient Magus’ Bride (2017-2023)

A romantic slice-of-life storyline set in a surreal and supernatural world, The Ancient Magus’ Bride is a must-watch anime series. It aired from October 2017 to March 2018, a three-part OVA series in September 2021, and a second season that premiered in April 2023. The series tells the story of Chise Hatori, an orphaned high school student who has been ostracized by her relatives and society. She sells herself at an auction so someone else could take her in, and she could have a new home. She is bought by Elias Ainsworth, a seven-foot-tall humanoid with an animal skull for a head, who seems closer to a demon than a human.

A Complex World Made Accessible

The greatest win of the anime is its world-building and complex narrative. But not for a minute do these two elements bore you, because the narrative is so rich and immersive that you forget all the tough-to-understand fantastical themes and lose yourself in the evolving relationship between the main characters. Stream on Crunchyroll.

6 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007)

5 Centimeters Per Second is a 2007 romantic drama anime film consisting of three segments that each follow a period in the life of Takaki Tono and his relationships. The first segment, Cherry Blossom, begins in 1991 when Tono is in elementary school where he befriends Akari Shinohara after she transferred to his school. The second segment is Cosmonaut, which begins in 1999 when Tono is in his third year of high school. A classmate of his, Kanae Sumida, is in love with him, but Tono is still hooked on Shinohara. The final segment, 5 Centimeters Per Second, returns to the present day of 2008 and Tono is still in love with Shinohara. The segment depicts their lives during this time and the parallels between them.

Related

The All-Time 10 Best Villains from Superhero Anime

When superheroes appear in anime, villains aren’t far behind, and some have proven to be iconic.

A Lyrical Meditation on Love Over Time

Another masterpiece from the brilliant mind of Makoto Shinkai, 5 Centimeters Per Second is a visually stunning anime film that circles, quite beautifully, around themes of unrequited love, distance, and the fleeting nature of time. The meticulously detailed backdrops and fluid character movements make you forget that you’re watching an animated movie. Moreover, fans of the director delight in the fact that they have one more romantic story to swoon over for as long as they wish. Rent on Prime Video or Apple TV+.

Share This Article
Leave a comment