What is it about the romance genre that tugs at the heart? The innocence of first love? Butterflies and anticipation when confessing to your crush? Or the horrors of rejection and heartbreak? Whatever we may have felt in our love life, romance anime—specifically OVAs—are always entertaining, allowing viewers to become involved and engaged with various characters. There are many anime series that provide us with a ton of entertainment, setting the bar high for what’s to come. From these series exist OVAs, sharing these very stories in condensed and/or alternate versions. We know there are a lot of series that are noteworthy, but here are the top ten. Let’s get right into it!
10. Koi to Uso OVA (Love and Lies)
- Episodes: 2
- Aired: November 9, 2018
The Japanese government implements a system called “The Red Threads of Science” in order to increase the number of successful marriages and birth rates. Using a guideline, teens reaching the age of 16 are assigned marriage partners. It’s the law to remain in this relationship, or else the consequences are severe. Yukari Nejima is an average guy who believes this system will propel his life into a more than average existence. As Yukari approaches his 16th birthday, he confesses his love to his crush, Misaki Takasaki. When he finds out that he is assigned to Ririna Sanada, Ririna becomes oddly fascinated with the way relations will advance between the three of them.
The main characters are in a relationship where they test the boundaries of their current status and expressing feelings for more than one person. The main character also exhibits guilt and conflict within because they have feelings that they’re afraid of letting the other person know about. Essentially, as we watch our star characters work out their issues, we observe their progression as each resolution unfolds, showing that romance can occur with more than a single person.
9. Boku no Kanojo ga Majimesugiru Sho-bitch na Ken OVA (My Girlfriend Is ShoBitch)
- Episodes: 2
- Aired: March 26, 2018
My Girlfriend is a Shobitch centers on the life of Haruka Shinozaki. Haruka has been interested in Akiho Kousaka. Akiko has everything a guy could ever want: attractive, active, and is hardworking. This year, Haruka and Akiho are in the same class. Feeling brave and confident, Haruka decides to confess his feelings. And, to his surprise, Akiho agrees to date him!
At first glance, Akiho is perfect, but over time, Haruka learns that she is more innocent and peculiar than he imagined. Haruka is her first boyfriend and Akiho vows to please him in any way possible. Every guy’s dream right? Maybe, but Haruka thinks Akiho is coming on too strong! How about taking shelter from the rain at a love hotel? Patrons can’t leave if they haven't had a good time! Forward much?
8. Kimi no Hikari: Asago to Kase-san. (Your Light: Kase-san and Morning Glories)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: July 25, 2017
Yui Yamada is a timid and klutzy girl who enjoys spending her time around the flower gardens at her school. For some time, these magnificent flowers have brought her happiness. One day, something else catches her attention; Tomoka Kase, or Kase-san, is a bubbly, high-spirited girl, and the star of the track and field club. Polar opposites, Yamada and Kase-san see something there that wasn’t there before, a sparking romance. Although they don’t have much in common, can these two learn from each other how to make romance bloom and blossom? This romance OVA reveals to viewers how falling in love can catch us off guard.
7. Hajimete no Gal: Hajimete no Bunkasai
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: December 26, 2017
Oh, Spring! Where flowers blossom, birds sing, and romance blooms. It is the quintessential season of love. Junichi Hashiba is determined to find himself a girlfriend, but doing so is harder than it seems. Junichi’s friends think it is time for him to gain some confidence by confessing to the gal, Yukana Yame. Of course, things don’t go quite as he expects. As the school festival rolls along, we watch the hilarious pair experience their share of romantic firsts! The highlight of the festival is the ending folk dance. It’s been said many times that when a pair dances together, they’ll become a couple. Could this finally be Junichi’s big break? This OVA is a great addition to the anime storyline with fun and silly events bringing the characters to life. Can we say our busty cups are overflowing with laughter?!
6. Okusama ga Seito Kaichou!: Seitokaichou to Ofuro Asobi (My Wife is the Student Council President OVA)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: January 27, 2016
It’s the time of year for student council elections! In the running are Hayato Izumi and Ui Wakana. With the results in, Hayato loses the campaign to Ui, who promises the entire school free range on romances with the campaign on holding hands. This is a shocking proposal in and of itself! Overcome with defeat, Hayato goes home and is later visited by Ui. Has she come to boast? No. Only to tell Hayato that she’s moving in because she’s his fiancée in an arranged marriage! What?! Helping him bathe due to an accident the same day, Ui thinks of interesting and eye popping ways to get around this task. LOL, lose your wash cloth? Ui has something that works just as well! This romcom OVA tells a substory from the original and is as funny as the anime series.
5. Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san OVA (Teasing Master Takagi-san OVA)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: July 12, 2018
Nishikata is a victim of constant humiliation and teasing. His classmate, Takagi regularly teases him. Because of her extensive knowledge of Nishikata’s moods and reactions, he finds returning the deed near impossible! However, Nishikata is determined to snap back, giving her a taste of her own medicine! As it is summertime, it is the perfect occasion to go to the water park. Rumor has it that if two people ride down the water slide together, they'll fall in love with each other. Takagi hopes Nishikata keeps his promise on that! An adorably cute romantic premise, this OVA is short and sweet like this junior high love game.
4. Mikakunin de Shinkoukei: Kamoniku tte Midori-ppoi Aji ga Suru no ne.
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: March 28, 2014
Kobeni Yonomori is your average teenager. Coming up on her 16th birthday, she receives a surprise normal girls her age don’t usually experience. Kobeni finds out that she has a fiancé and a sister-in-law she never knew she had from an arrangement her grandfather made long ago. Hakuya, her fiancé, and Mishiro, her sister-in-law, moved from the countryside to the Yonomori home. Here is where the two families learn more about each other, for better or worse.
How do you expect someone to react when this alarming fact comes up so suddenly? Panic? Or take it as it comes? As the relationship grows between the Mitsumine and Yonomori families, they come to learn that the arrangement brings a sense of completeness. Moreover, in the OVA, we learn more about Kobeni and Hakuya, as they reflect on memories of their past.
3. Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji: Gishinanki – Happening Kiss
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: April 24, 2015
“A lie is a lie. No matter how big or small.”
Erika Shinohara wants to impress her girlfriends by telling them she’s with someone. In disbelief, the girls ask for a picture. Erika quickly snaps a pic of a cute guy who happens to be Kyouya Sata, mister popular, handsome, and super nice. Tangled in her sticky web, she confronts Kyouya and tells him the situation, hoping that he will be her pretend boyfriend. However, he’s not as nice as he appears. Kyouya’s sadistic side emerges, and he forces Erika to be his pet “dog”. With no choice but to accept, Erika comes to learn more about Kyouya. Unfolding the layers of his outward identity, the OVA shares their story after the series is complete, giving us a glimpse of how their relationship is faring. Are they still swimming in the sea of love or have relations plummeted?
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: December 22, 2017
Nekopara follows the story of Kashou Minazuki, a baker from a long line of bakers, who is looking to open up his own shop. “La Soleil” is ready to unveil, but upon moving out, Kashou discovers the secret of Chocola and Vanilla, two catgirls the family was secretly raising. Begging and pleading with Kashou, the three of them start their business venture together. With an aptitude for service and very eager to please, the catgirls try incredibly hard and equally fail to keep the patisserie running smoothly. So the girls ask to be tested on a number of things to see if they’re able to hide their kitty tendencies. Kashou commences with catnip, feather toys and tuna, but the girls can't hide who they are! Nekopara OVA is a silly rom-com, with a ton of catgirls to bring the story to life.
1. Date A Live II: Kurumi Star Festival
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: December 8, 2014
We’ve all heard the statement, “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.” If you haven’t, this phrase is used to tell people that they should try something before criticizing it. This is the case for Shidou Itsuka as he bumps into the creepy Kurumi Tokisaki at the Tanabata festival. She asks him on a date and he reluctantly says sure. The two spend time doing a bunch of things and he realizes that the infamous “Worst Spirit” is actually a kind-hearted spirit. In order to maintain humankind’s existence, Shidou dates this spirit, with plans of a wedding as their first engagement! Watch now or forever hold your peace!
“Swiping right” at an alarming rate, Shidou learns about various spirits as he goes on dates with them. Kurumi being the worst of them, changing Shidou’s perspective on what qualities are important in relationships. Romance starts with giving a person a chance, and after taking that big leap, one learns whether or not that person is worth a second date. Encompassing the essence of the romance genre, we place this OVA at number one, demonstrating that the heart is what really matters and is invisible to the eyes.
We hope you enjoyed our recommendations for the top 10 romance OVAs! What did you guys think of our choices? Do you agree that these were the best romance titles? As always, we truly appreciate you guys tuning in. Let us know if we’ve missed any other romance OVAs by commenting below! Later toots!
Intro: Hello, Loves.
It’s been a minute since we turned our lens to the world of romance, but what better time than the present to revisit some of the best romance OVAs available in our world. OVAs have the distinct quality of never hitting the silver or the small screen, but they still bring in the big bucks with their releases. Sometimes, OVAs encompass a stand-a-lone story, perhaps, an adaptation of a manga or light novel that has yet to be animated. Often times, the OVA is a side-story or an alternate telling of a popular anime, and can be included as a extra for fans. OVAs are distinct from both films and standard TV series releases, sometimes marked with superior animation. Sometimes, they have subpar animation. Today, though, we’ll be looking at the OVAs that did their best to get our romance hearts pumping.
10. Bird’s Song (Tori no Uta)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Jan. 2007
Tori no Uta is an intriguing and softly told love story on the background of ga-nime, which is an animation style that is similar to hearing the reading of a picture book. The art of the anime can be a little distorting, but also intoxicating. In the case of Tori no Uta, the art style enhances the dreamlike story of a fleeting encounter between a young man and a mysterious girl and their fantastical reunion.
The narrator in his youth takes a new way home only to get caught in a sudden shower. There he meets a colorful girl and falls for her as they take shelter from the rain together. The girl gives him a feather, saying they will meet again for sure if he takes the feather with him. No matter how much he searches, he can’t locate the girl. He even searches in his dreams. Returning to his hometown 50 years later, he embarks on a strange journey in which “reality is a dream, and the dream is reality” with the young girl from his past. Tori no Uta is an abstract romance that somehow seems very much like the colors of love itself.
9. World's Greatest First Love Episode 0 (Sekaiichi Hatsukoi Episode 0)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Mar. 2011
Episode 0 of World’s Greatest First Love tells us the background story we’ve been dying for to the popular BL anime, World’s Greatest First Love. In the original series, we quickly learn that Onodera Ritsu and Takano Masamune had dated in high school, but what exactly happened back then? With endearing, heartfelt confessions, we get to see how Ritsu’s love for Takano blossomed and Takano’s response to him. Perhaps not as much romance is involved as we had expected, but it’s a slightly different side to the pair that we don’t get to see in the original series.
8. Blue Spring Ride: Unwritten (Ao Haru Ride: Unwritten)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Aug. 2014
This OVA is an addition to the anime series Blue Spring Ride. “Unwritten” is a prologue episode, also known commonly as Episode 0, and tells the story of Kou and Futaba’s relationship in middle school, when the pair first developed feelings for each other. This background story is often seen in flashbacks in the anime, but in the OVA, it is a pure and simple story of a puppy love that could have been. The story is both sweet and measured in its telling and doesn’t stray from what we already know as canon. Of course, we know how this OVA ends, but the beautiful development in its unfolding is certainly worth the watch.
7. Snow White with the Red Hair OVA (Akagami no Shirayuki-hime: Nandemonai Takaramono, Kono Page)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Jan. 2016
It’s not often you come across an OVA of a TV anime that seems like it should have belonged in the original series, so that’s what makes Snow White with the Red Hair’s OVA that much more interesting. The OVA outlines a date between Zen and Shirayuki. The story contains background for Zen’s lifelong preparation for the date along with fun and beautiful character interactions between Zen and his faithful companions, Mitsuhide and Obi. Then, the date happens. Shirayuki, who is a little nervous before the date, enjoys her alone time with Zen, while we learn more about the relationship between Kiki and Mitsuhide.
The quality and the storytelling are both worthy of being included in the TV series. There is enough character development to make one question why it wasn’t. As Zen and Shirayuki have an actual date out in the town, they act like their usually selves, but much more couple-like than what we’re used to seeing. As a holding-hands-though-town couple, Zen expresses his feelings for Shirayuki in very romantic fashion. Fans of the anime will be more than satisfied by the couple-ness in this OVA.
6. She and Her Cat: Their Standing Points (Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Apr. 2002
There is something beautiful and pure in the love of cat, and She and Her Cat is one of the most intriguing portrayals of this love. Short and sweet, clocking in just four minutes of your time, She and Her Cat is a heartwarming but strangely thought-provoking OVA from Makoto Shinkai, creator of the critically acclaimed Kimi no Na wa (Your Name). She and Her Cat is told from the point of view of Chobi, a stray cat who has fallen for the woman who saved him from the streets. Is the love of a cat, however, enough to save his owner?
This is just a short and relatively older OVA, but it became the inspiration of a 2016 manga series and a 2016 TV series She and Her Cat: Everything Flows, which depicts a fuller relationship of a young woman and her cat. The OVA She and Her Cat: Their Standing Points, on the other hand, is a much more poignant story. It’s not a love story between humans, but the encompassing and unconditional love of this beautiful purring soul is nothing short of romantic perfection.
5. Hori-san to Miyamura-kun
- Episodes: 3
- Aired: Sept. 2012 – Mar. 2015
Hori-san to Miyamura-kun is a school, slice-of-life OVA series, based on a web comic manga of the same name. Hori is an outgoing high school girl with an equally outgoing appearance. Miyamura quiet and introverted high school boy, but outside of school, he has a different image: He has multiple ear piercings and a large tattoo. Hori discovers Miyamura’s secret life outside of school and becomes more interested in the quiet boy. They grow closer while keeping Miyamura’s secret together.
As a slice-of-life, this OVA series is a relaxing watch with cute and sweet moments between our protagonists and their other classmates. These characters are also unbelievably cute in their interactions. Hori is popular at school, but Miyamura tends to stick to himself. Through Hori, Miyamura also starts to get along with other classmates, as well. Soon, what seems to be an odd couple will have everyone rooting for them.
4. Winter Cicada (Fuyu no Semi)
- Episodes: 3
- Aired: Feb. 2007 – Apr. 2007
Fuyu no Semi is a historical fiction, yaoi anime, comprising of three 30-minute episodes, set in a war-torn era of Japan during the Bakumatsu in the early Meiji Period. Although from different social standings, the Akizuki Keiichirou and Kusaka Touma meet by coincidence during an attempted arson at the British Embassy. They meet again years later, and Akizuki begins to teach Kusaka English, though the two must meet in secret because of their conflicting clans. Their love for each other grows and continues to hold strong even after years of battles has left the two men totally different people than when they first met.
Fuyu no Semi’s historically-inspired, star-crossed lovers tale adds layers of depression fuel by delving into the effects of a war’s aftermath. Much of the dialog holds onto its historic roots, while we are presented with a complex story of honor, friendship, and love. We learn, however, that the love that Akizuki and Kusaka share, much like their ideals, is far too pure for the broken world they must live in.
3. Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team (Kidou Senshi Gundam: Dai 08 MS Shotai)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan. 1996 – Jul. 1999
At the heart of this mecha battle anime is a love story of two star-crossed lovers, again. This Gundam side story was presented as a 12-episode OVA that was later aired as a series in the USA. Ensign Shiro Amada is the leader of the 08th MS Team of the Earth Federation. They fight off Zeon in the lush green forests of Earth, but before going to Earth, he has a run-in with a Zeon pilot, Aina Sahalin, during a rescue mission. Will their love for each other be able to survive as fight for their respective sides?
While Gundam titles often have at least one romance somewhere, The 08th MS Team takes a strong step in establishing the relationship as a major conflict in the series. This OVA series is, in fact, a series, telling a simple but deep story in the throws of war. The love between the two opposing pilots is filled with curiosity and respect for their respective strength. Even people who wouldn’t necessarily call themselves mecha fans will find themselves being drawn into this intricate love story.
2. Voices of a Distant Star (Hoshi no Koe)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Feb. 2002
Voices of a Distant Star is a 25-minute OVA from Makoto Shinkai. The animation itself may appear unsophisticated, but most viewers are entirely way too distracted by the intoxicating story to even notice. In search for aliens, Nagamine Mikako is selected to join a space expedition, leaving behind her classmate Terao Noboru. Truly, distance makes the heart grow fonder, leaving both Mikako and Noboru wondering what could have been. The two communicate through email messages, but as Mikako travels farther and farther into space her messages take longer and longer to reach Noboru. Love, however, truly knows no limits.
Much like many of the 1-episode OVAs on this list, Voices of a Distant Star manages to tell a deep and fulfilling story in a miniature amount of time. The space travel spin on this long-distance love tale adds heft to an otherwise simple story, leaving behind only a flood of emotions and feels. Your everyday love story, that’s actually not so everyday, has enchanted viewers for over a decade and can easily be seen as a stepping stone to Shinkai’s newest blockbuster hit, Kimi no Na wa (Your Name).
1. Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal (Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen)
- Episodes: 4
- Aired: Feb. 1999 – Sept. 1999
Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen tells the story of Kenshin before he became a rurouni, starting from when he was a young boy and saved by a passing swordsman, who would become his master. Compared to the TV series, this OVA is intensely dark and intensely heartbreaking. As Hitokiri Battosai, Kenshin slays many, including a man named Kiyosato Akira, who desperately does not want to die, giving Kenshin the first half of his iconic cross-shaped scar. As we know, Kenshin will eventually receive the finishing half of the scar from the dead man’s fiancé, Yukishiro Tomoe.
What Tsuiokuhen reveals, in beautiful realism, is the said fiancé crosses paths with Kenshin, and the two grow feelings for each other. Even after Tomoe realizes the man she has grown to love is the man who had caused her so much pain in the past, she still stays true to her heart. It’s a heartbreaking story that does well for such a popular character, adding much more depth to Kenshin through a young and tragic love story.
Some romances are short-lived.
While OVAs have often given us many short and sweet love stories, the short OVA format has proven to be a perfect vehicle for bittersweet and tragic love stories. It’s just enough time to enter our hearts but not overstay their welcome. Displaying the essence of quality over quantity, these titles were able to add new dimensions to some of our favorite characters or introduce us to a whole new narrative filled with love, feels, and intrigue. Dramatic but not burdensome, we viewers are left free to indulge in the story in front of us until, sadly, they pass as quickly as they appeared.