“We are all fools in love,” Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice. The words penned by Miss Austen in 1813 tend to ring true for most of humanity. We are also convinced these words are a perfect fit for many of the characters in anime, whether they succeed or fail in romance. The breakups and heartbreaks are what make tales of romance interesting and give the genre a sense of catharsis. The genre attracts lonely hearts and hopeless romantics, and some become so invested in the relationships, whether the ending is happy or sad, they find themselves blubbering in a pile of used tissues. If you are one of those gluttons for punishment or have a need for some vicarious romance in your life, we have some suggestions for you as we count down Honey’s Anime Top 10 Romance Anime.
10. Clannad: After Story
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Oct. 2008- Mar. 2009
Clannad makes many of the lists describing great love stories in anime, and Clannad: After Story, the sequel, is often considered the better anime. In Clannad: After Story, we find Tomoya and Nagisa are still together. The young couple has married shortly after graduation. Shortly after the wedding they learn Nagisa is pregnant. We see things looking up for the young family. We watch as Nagisa becomes bedridden during her pregnancy. She becomes weaker and weaker as the months go on. Tomoya is working as an electrician and is plagued by guilt and worries that he has to leave his young bedridden bride during the day. His heart is eventually filled with joy at the birth of their daughter and simultaneously drained of that joy at Nagisa’s death shortly after. The story gradually becomes one of increasing hardship and loss. We hopeless romantics thrive on tragedy, knowing that the saddest stories can find ways to end the happiest. The romance of this story comes in the in the Illusionary World, a separate narrative that seemingly doesn’t have anything to do with reality and appears throughout the anime. The World reappears and we watch it collapse and give birth to hope. A new narrative is created where Nagisa and Tomoya’s story is relived; this time she doesn’t die and their child lives a healthy life. We get to watch a family that sees a lot of tragedy have a chance at the happiness they deserve.
We suggest Clannad if you are a hopeless romantic and glutton for emotional punishment. The story does a great deal to get you to invest in the characters and feel their pain before rewarding you with the fairytale ending. A cynic would call that kind of storytelling manipulation, but a lonely heart would simply call it romantic.
9.Doukyuusei [Doukyuusei- Classmates]
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Feb. 2016
Sajou is one of those genius guys who scored perfectly on his high school entrance exam and is a model student. Kusakabe is a bad boy and a heart breaker. The two boys live in different worlds. One day they meet when Kusakabe offers to help Sajou with an upcoming choral concert. The boys begin to develop a connection as they talk and plan the concert. Kusakabe and Sajou are like when two different instruments play together and create harmony.
At first Kusakabe seems to treat love as a game with seemingly frivolous gestures. The false confidence of Kusakabe’s actions cause Sajou to pause before taking action. We watch both boys open their hearts to each other in what is often considered of the most confusing time of a young life. Kusakabe and Sajou become each other’s support system as they navigate the waters of their developing sexual identities. A couple formed in a crucible of judgement for nonconformity becomes tempered and strong.
8.Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai [Anohana: The Flowers We Saw That Day
The story of Anohana is a tale of a haunting and a first love. Jinta lives his life under the radar, avoiding school and friends and spending his days at home. His peaceful life is upended by the return of a childhood friend named Menma. She simply askes him a favor, to grant a wish. He could tell Menma to go home, leave him alone, and he’s in no capacity to grant wishes, but he doesn’t because Menma is a ghost. Jinta is forced to seek out their childhood friends as he convinces them that they need to find a way for her spirit to move on. The biggest problem is that Menma can’t quite remember the wish she wanted to be granted. Convincing others that they need to do something to set the ghost of a dead childhood friend at ease isn’t exactly easy. He is accused of a lot of things, from being crazy to not being able to get over Menma’s death (which he hasn’t). We find that Menma’s ghost isn’t the only thing that needs to move on. The group of estranged friends need to face their regrets and their feelings about each other so they don’t remain stuck in the most tragic moment of their youth. The story has some romantic overtones as we see how Jinta, even at such a young age, truly loved Menma and that she loved him. We are certain that if the two childhood friends would have had the opportunity to grow up together they would still be together this day. Anohana is a story of young love as a pure love and it will warm your heart.
Aonhana ~ The Flower We Saw That Day PV
7.Kaichou Wa Maid-Sama [Maid Sama!]
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr. 2010- Sep. 2010
Misaki is a badass. She is an excellent student, student council president, and defender of virtue (sometimes through force) of Seika High School. The tall, strong Misaki does her best to handle the conflicts that are bound to arise between girls and boys in a school that just went co-ed. She feels her behavior needs to be above reproach in order to have the moral authority to run the school as the student council president. Misaki has a secret, though; she works part-time as a maid at a maid café one town over. She isn’t just working for the fun of it, either, she is forced to work to help her economically struggling family.
Enter Takumi Usui, who in all the maid cafés in all world happens to walk into hers. He has a choice: destroy her reputation with what she considers a deeply embarrassing secret or use this secret to get closer to the aloof student council president. The fun of the romance comes from watching suspicious Misaki thinking that the only reason that Takumi wants to be around her is to torture her. She doesn’t seem to think that Takumi might just happen to like her and want to spend time with her. Takumi proves again and again that he’s not just there to mock and torture Misaki -- although sometimes that is the case. He defends her and even gets physical in his defense of her, kicking some creep’s ass. We aren’t entirely sure if it was from the get-go, but at some point, Takumi really began to like Misaki and despite her resistance, Misaki begins to really like him too. We see two young people hiding behind masks until they finally find the right person they’re willing to shed those disguises for. Maid Sama! is great romance with some great rom-com moments that will have you laughing as this pair of strong personalities get together.
6.Akagami no Shirayuki-hime [Snow White with the Red Hair]
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul. 2015- Sep. 2015
Shirayuki (Snow White) has hair as red as an apple, a trait that is nearly unheard of in the medieval world. Her hair makes her a target of men who want to possess her as a trophy. After the local lord decides just that, she flees her country to seek sanctuary elsewhere. She is quickly captured by bandits in a forest. Shirayuki is fortunate to be rescued by Prince Zen of Clarines and his companions. The hero and his friends look just like they stepped out of the pages of a fairytale. The attraction between rescued maiden and prince charming is immediate. Zen offers her refuge in his kingdom and even a job at something she excels at -- being an apothecary. The romance really takes off at that point as the courtship of a prince and a commoner begins in court.
We love watching Zen wrestle with his feelings for Shirayuki as he balances his responsibilities to the kingdom and his love for the red-haired maiden. He is also a classic man of action who finds it easier to charge into unknown dangers than express his feelings for the woman he loves. Shirayuki is also cautious, especially when it comes to dealing with men. We get the privilege of watching her overcome her insecurities and build a trusting relationship with Zen. The young couple, who everyone in their orbit knows should be together, gradually figures out who they are as people first before diving headlong into a relationship. We get to watch them each discover their own hopes and dreams as they grow closer. Shirayuki and Zen are possibly one of the cutest and most romantic couples in anime.
Akagami no Shirayuki-hime PV
5.Sasameki Koto [Whispered Words]
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Oct 2009- Dec. 2009
Marasame is a popular high school girl who excels in athletics and academics. She is tall with straight black hair and comes from a traditional Japanese family that runs a karate dojo. Marasame excelled in karate and earned the nickname violence-Marasame. Kazama is a cheerful girl who is admired for her beauty and is best friends with Marasame. She is about average height, loves frills and is a bit of a girly girl. She shares a small apartment with her brother who writes shojo light novels. Kazama is also very open about her love for cute girls. Kazama is gay, though she is never referred to as such, but she has no interest in guys and is only attracted to girls, so the assumption isn’t that far of a reach. Marasame hasn’t thought a lot about love or sexuality; she is simply in love with her best friend Kazama and she doesn’t know how to express her confusing feelings. Marasame also doesn’t think Kazama would like her that way even if she does confess because she doesn’t consider herself a cute girl.
We have a wonderful slow-burning romance of two people who care deeply for each other and yet don’t see exactly how deep those feelings run. The two girls face a confusing world of expectations and societal norms that they, and Marasame especially, find challenging to overcome. This coming-of-age romance follows the heroines as they deal with their evolving relationship. A true sense of will-they-or-won’t-they overcome the obstacles in their path permeates the whole story. You truly believe that they are meant for each other and can visualize them living a happy married life. Whispered Words is a perfect example of a romance that doesn’t rely on melodrama and feels grounded in reality.
4.Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso [Your Lie in April]
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: Oct. 2014- Mar. 2015
Your Lie in April is a masterpiece of storytelling and tragic romances. A young piano prodigy named Kousei Arima has suffered deep emotional trauma and can no longer hear the music he plays. He is simply content to leave the world of music that he once loved and never again reach for anything greater. A spring breeze blows and changes his life when he meets a beautiful violinist by the name of Kaori Miyazono. Kaori is dating his athletic best friend. She’s a bright light that shines in the night and pushes back the darkness for everyone she meets, especially Kousei.
Your Lie in April is about love and life. It’s the story of two people who communicate and connect through their music more than anything. Kousei finds himself drawn to the energetic girl who is filled with the passion for music. She makes him confront the reality that despite his talent, he never really had any passion (hence his nickname: the human metronome). You quickly become invested in the journey of the characters and join them on the emotional rollercoaster. Kaori seems to like him too, yet she often refers of him as having the role of “friend A,” a nod to the generic supporter friend of the main protagonist in a story. Yet he is the one person she gravitates toward. The music that is used to express their unsaid feelings will make your blood race. You so desperately want them to admit their feelings, to hold each other close in their darkest hours. The romance of the story is the tragedy of what can be left unsaid, reminding you to share your feelings with the ones you love.
Your Lie in April Trailer
3.Koe no Katachi [A Silent Voice]
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Sep. 2016
A romance usually starts with boy-meets-girl or boy-rescues-girl or maybe they meet and flirt or they meet and survive a life and death situation. The romance in A Silent Voice doesn’t start on such a sweet or overly dramatic note. An elementary school boy, Shouya, bullies his classmate, a girl named Shouko, simply because she’s deaf. Shouya is a bully and he bullies her simply because she is different and he is bored. The two even come to blows and both end up bloody on the classroom floor. Shouko transfers out and Shouya is suspended. We fast forward several years to their senior year of high school. Shouya has come to realize his sins and seeks redemption and forgiveness. He works tirelessly to earn money to pay his mother back for the financial hardship caused by his bullying, which involved the destruction of several of Shouko’s hearing aids. Shouya is attempting to tie up the loose ends of his life before committing suicide, a solution he thinks will make the lives of his mother, sister and niece easier. He only has one more loose end to tie up: apologize to Shouko.
The quest for redemption becomes romance when Shouya tracks down Shouko and begs for forgiveness, hoping he can die with that burden lifted from his soul. Shouya spent years learning sign language just so he could talk with her and apologize. It may have been her reaction or just coming face to face, but something in him changes and his desire for death begins to fade. Shouko, hesitant at first, allows Shouya to gradually become part of her life. Shouya realizes his tormenting of Shouko damaged her far more than he realized. The two troubled teens gradually grow closer over the course of time. Shouko has demons, too, suffering from depression and loneliness -- two things she has in common with her former tormentor. The most remarkable part of this story is that the acts of redemption are realistic. You don’t get a grand gesture or climactic moment that brings the couple together. You get the sense of two flawed and haunted young people who find they have a connection in their shared struggle to overcome their pasts. Shouya and Shouko’s romance feels realistic, creating catharsis through a raw emotional narrative. Fans should also read the manga series it was based on for an even more gripping tale of redemption.
Koe no Katachi Trailer
2.Kimi no Na wa. [Your Name.]
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Aug. 2016
You spend your whole life going through the motions, being tied to your daily routine and responsibilities of family and school until one day you look at yourself in the mirror and don’t recognize the person looking back. This exact thing happens to Mitsuha Miyamizu. She wakes up one morning and finds herself in the body of a boy in Tokyo, not the remote village she’s spent all her life in. A similar thing happens to Taki Tachibana; he’s going about his business of school, work and daily life when he wakes up in the body of a girl living in a remote village. The two get to know each other in the most intimate ways as they repeatedly swap bodies. You get to know a lot about a person by walking a mile in their shoes, not to mention their skin. The couple doesn’t understand what magic has brought them together but they’ll be forced to change the events of history when they do.
You could say Mitsuha and Taki’s relationship begins as pen pals as they constantly try to figure out what the other did in their body. A system of notes and ground rules are quickly laid out. Mitsuha and Taki also find ways to influence each other’s lives positive ways by taking the chances their natural selves might not want to take. The two find as time goes on, even without ever meeting, that they miss the other when they can’t communicate. You could say in a way it was a marriage, because in a marriage you share everything: family, friends, stresses in your lives and the intimate parts of each other. The fated couple of Mitsuha and Taki, even when the memories of their body swapping experience begin to fade, feel as though a large part of themselves is missing and are constantly searching for their missing half. We who love romance latch onto the idea that fate plays a hand in finding your other half.
Your Name. Trailer
1.Kotonoha no Niwa [Garden of Words]
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: May 2013
The rain has always found its way to set a romantic mood in stories and on screen. The setting for Garden of Words is no different. Takao Akizuki, a high school senior, decides to skip class one rainy morning and sketch designs in a beautiful park. He takes shelter in a small pavilion. There he finds Yukari Yukino, a beautiful older woman who seems to be hiding too from some part of her life by coming to the park and spending the rainy days of early spring. The conversations the two have let us learn a little about them, how Akizuki wants to design and make shoes, and how Yukino is on extended leave from her job because of an unnamed incident.
Garden of Words is a story driven by simple dialogue between compelling characters, quiet pauses and beautiful artwork. You watch two characters grow closer over time even though they only can see through a small window into each other lives. The couple’s love grows despite the attempts for the two to ignore their feelings. You can see their inner turmoil as they try to come to terms with their intimate yet platonic relationship. The relationship would easily blossom if they were only closer in age. The rainy season ends and the two are forced to meet less frequently even though they long to be near each other. We easily find ourselves wishing that things work out as the movie comes closer to a close and our hearts soar when they do.
The Garden of Words Trailer
We also have another way to look at our enjoyment of the romance genre, especially as we watch from the outside for entertainment. The will-they-or-won’t-they turmoil in the world of romance is one of the appealing things to those of us watching. We can sympathize and even laugh at the heroes and heroines as they discover their feelings, overcome the odds, or are forced to move on when their string of fate is cut or tangled. The characters in a romance anime lets us cry and laugh with and for them. Miss Austen once again states our views quite succinctly in Pride and Prejudice: “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn.”