From cult classics like “Clannad” to the more recent “Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War”, romance is and always will be one of the most popular genres within the entertainment industry. And with a robust catalogue of critically acclaimed TV shows/movies built up in the fifty or so years, there is no better time to be an anime fan. However, an incredibly frustrating element of the genre is its tendency to leave the audience hanging with the actual love portion.
Whether this is due to the creator wanting to involve characters in a suspenseful situation or to feature a sudden shocking revelation, or even due to a limited run by the studio, several anime romances rarely let the love interests get together. As such, we at Honey’s Anime have created a list where a “notice me senpai” actually yielded relationships (with sometimes, the plot moving on). Without further ado, let’s get into it.
5. Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru (Oreshura)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jan 2013 – March 2013
Oreshura, to be honest, is just another harem rom-com except slightly better. The plot exceeded expectations, with a great cast of characters and some witty scenarios that make it stand out. It’s an anime that follows Eita Kidou, who is blackmailed into a relationship by a popular classmate named Masuzu Natsukawa in an attempt to stop the other boys from asking her out. However, his childhood friend also has a crush on him, and she tries to cover it by claiming that she just wants to be "popular". Now entangled in a fake romance with the most desired girl at school and his childhood friend, Eita's life is turned upside down. Whether he is envied by his peers or receives a confession, he must deal with his newfound relationship and all of its complications.
Despite the presence of a harem, it's a very unique show in that the protagonist isn't chasing love, but rather trying to achieve another goal. Overall, this anime is entertaining and humorous, especially since Kidou and Natsukawa's plan of pretending to be a fake couple ends with them realising they have feelings for each other, a public confession, and making the decision to officially start dating.
4. Kokoro Connect
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2012 – September 2012
Kokoro Connect revolves around the lives of five high school students, who are outcasts, as they don’t fit into any clubs at the school. Taichi, Iori, Inaba, Yoshifumi, and Yui come together to form the "Bunkenbu", also known as the Student Cultural Research Club. Shortly after the characters are introduced, they begin to face a bizarre phenomenon that causes them to randomly switch bodies throughout the period of each day.
This is a series that takes a supernatural plot, adds some well-written high-school romance and a lot of compelling drama, and wraps it all up in a brilliant package. When body-switching is involved, the initial love triangle between Taichi, Inaba, and Iori becomes more complicated. Although Taichi and Iori later kiss (they were duped into thinking Iori was going to die), their relationship never fully develops due to Iori's doubts about the sincerity of her feelings, and the two decide to remain close friends. Inaba, on the other hand, refuses to give up on Taichi, and they begin dating at the end of the Michi Random arc. Overall, it's well worth checking out.
3. Yesterday wo Utatte (Sing "Yesterday" for Me)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2020 – June 2020
Meet Rikuo Uozumi, our protagonist of the story. A college graduate with no future goals and a dead-end job has all but resigned himself to a bleak future. His monotonous life is interrupted when the peculiar Haru Nonaka makes a lively appearance, frequently dropping by his workplace to befriend him. When Rikuo learns that an old college friend and crush, Shinako Morinome, has moved back into town, he reaches out to further their relationship. Unrevealed to Rikuo however, Shinako is carrying painful memories from her past that were holding her back from accepting his feelings.
It's refreshing to watch a show that is more focused on human drama. Haru is a girl in love who genuinely wants Rikuo to acknowledge and reciprocate her feelings. The fact that she consistently refuses to give up, no matter how many times she's been turned down, combined with her perseverance, will have you rooting for her every step of the way. When they have a heart-to-heart to work out their problems and both agree that they are missing that connection, Rikuo finally realises that Shinako isn't the one for him. And finally, after what seems like an eternity (literally the last episode), Rikuo rushes to Haru and confesses his love.
2. Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2020 – June 2020
Oregairu revolves around Hikigaya Hachiman, an uninterested high school student who is shunned by almost the entire school. Surprisingly, this suits him perfectly because he prefers to be alone and does not want to make friends. However, his "happy" life is quickly shattered when his teacher forces him to join a club that is supposed to help fulfil people's requests, along with fellow classmate Yukino Yukinoshita, the smart and beautiful ice-cold beauty known for her chilly personality.
The romance in this anime is well-written and realistic (it does not fall into typical tropes), and while Hikigaya is quite perceptive and can accurately guess what others are thinking, he is also unable to emotionally grasp others' feelings. This causes a lot of confusion and misunderstandings, and at one point, Hachiman found himself in the middle of a harem anime with absolutely no idea.
In the end, we see Hikigaya and Yukino progress from being oblivious of each other (and even actively disliking one another) to developing a closer relationship. Finally, his emotions settle, and he admits that he must reach out before the year ends because he knows their ties will disappear. So he makes an awkward, heartfelt confession to Yukino, who initially hesitates and starts listing reasons why it wouldn't work but later accepts his confession. We even get a cute date scene before the season comes to an end.
1. Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (Saekano: How to raise a boring girlfriend)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 2015 – March 2015
Saekano, which debuted during the winter 2015 season, follows Tomoya Aki, who has a dream of creating "the ultimate galge" (dating simulation game). As a result, he enlists the assistance of his tsundere childhood friend Eriri as an illustrator and professional author, Utaha Kasumigaoka. They form a doujin circle and attempt to make a homemade game to achieve Tomoya's dream. He also invites his plain, emotionless classmate Megumi to join the circle, intending to model the game's main heroine after her. It's a ridiculous concept that doesn't take itself seriously, but it's surprisingly entertaining as a result.
If you're familiar with today's anime industry, including all of the moe and ecchi shows, you'll probably enjoy this show because it points out the clichéd nature of popular anime tropes on occasion. Following Tomoya's story, it became clear that he had fallen in love with Megumi because of her solid, reliable presence, and she obviously had a crush on him too, most notably when she felt jealousy at the suggestion that others might be interested in him. However, their less-than-stellar communication caused them problems, and the confession was delayed until the following film when they finally shared a passionate kiss and officially started dating.
When all is said and done, there are a variety of factors that come into play when dealing with the storyline and plot of anime in the romance genre. But it's nice to have shows where the protagonist of the story and the love interest, after going through several experiences and emotional growth, actually get together as opposed to using the lack of a proper happy ending to further the plot or pass a message. I mean, who doesn’t like an awkward confession followed by a fiery make-out session? Feel free to watch the anime on the list above and leave your thoughts in the comments section, and don't forget to share this article with your friends.