Japanese society is a little reluctant when it comes to expressing love. Japanese people do not like much PDA, they say “aishiteru” which literally translates to “I love you” but say “daisuki” which means like than love.
But that does not mean that Japanese people are not romantic. Their love is sweet, simple and subtle.
There is romance in brushing hands, there is romance in walking through the rainy road under the same umbrella (yes I’m talking about the famous ‘Ai Gasha’), there is romance in just sitting in the park with Cherry blooming in the trees.
Japanese people prefer to show their love through gestures rather than words.
Romance is an integral part of anime. It has lots of shades. From a one-sided puppy crush, tingling tension between two hot-headed rivals, to a full-blown serious relationship even lust. Anime has it all.
The romance genre in anime has hit more than just heterosexual relationship. The same-sex relationship is very popular in Japanese anime.
They are more commonly known as ‘BL’ or ‘Boy’s Love’ and GL which is “Girl’s Love”.
In this article, I will recommend 20 best romance anime that you don’t want to miss.
Before that, however, let me tell you this list is not ranked. I have just listed down my favourite ones for you.
20. Howl’s Moving Castle
We talk about anime movies and don’t talk about Ghibli? That is a crime.
Released way back in 2004, Howl’s Moving Castle is still one of the best romance anime movies.
Sophie meets a wizard named Howl when she is visiting Lettie, her sister. But she was cursed by the Witch of the West while returning. Sophie turns into an old woman. To break her curse, Sophie leaves home and embarks on a journey.
She meets a scarecrow who tells Sophie to visit Howl. Sophie visits Howl and self-employed herself as the cleaning staff in Howl’s castle. As the war starts Howl is summoned by the king to fight for him which Howl rejects cleverly.
But when the King sends his own wizard and attacks Howl. Sophie helps Howl. There is a lot of magic, war and time travel in the plot. Howl’s Moving Castle is a cult film in my opinion. It portrays love at it’s finest.
So, were you able to read until the end? Well, congratulations. And as a gift I will recommend a bonus romance anime movie only for you.
19. A Silent Voice
I’m dropping masterpiece after masterpiece. And yes Silent Voice is a gem of a movie.
High school student Ishida Shoya tries to commit suicide. But at the last moment refrains.
Throwback to childhood.
During his elementary school a girl transferred into his class. Her name was Nishimiya Shoko and she was deaf.
After some time Ishida starts to bully her. All the classmates would do nothing to stop, secretly enjoying it. After a lot of tortures, Nishimiya left the school.
And Ishida was bullied by the same classmates who would smirk when he was bullying Nishimiya.
The stigma crushed his spirit and self worth. It clung to him in his middle school days. Ishida started to learn sign language.
One day suddenly he comes face to face with Nishimiya. She was at first scared but slowly started to speak back with sign language. And she fell in love with him.
Once again, the ending is heart-wrenching. A little warning. This movie has sensitive things like bullying, attempt to suicide etc.
So if you are someone who does not like such things, be a little wary before you watch it.
18. Weathering with You
Another eye candy of a romance anime movie.
Tokyo is being hit by the incessant rainy season. Hodaka Morishima leaves his small and boring island life and comes to Tokyo. But he has no means to eat and no place to sleep.
Amano Hina pities him and gives him some food.
A man he met on the ferry gave him his business card. Hodaka visits his office for work. That man Suga Keisuke lives in a shabby office and is the editor of a magazine that reports supernatural stories. Hodaka finds almost all of them are lies.
Later Hodaka starts a business with Hina whom he saves from some shady alleyway. Apparently whenever Hina goes to her small shrone on the rooftop, the sky clears and the sun starts to shine.
They start a business around that. But one day Hina’s body starts to melt into water. And one day she vanishes along with the clouds in the Tokyo sky.
But Hodaka, already fallen in love with her, vows to bring her back.
Did he succeed? Watch the movie. Trust me you will not regret.
17. Your Name (Kimi no Na Wa)
I’m very sure you have heard about this film. Do you know the concept? The time and space boundaries are lost to true love? Okay, I might have exaggerated a bit. But the film is just that.
For some weird reason Miyamizu Mitsuha and Tachibana Taki are changing bodies, like literally. One day they started waking up in each other’s bodies.
Taki becomes Mitsuha and Mitsuha becomes Taki. After some days they were back to normal. But this keeps happening again and again. And then one day it did not anymore.
Taki starts researching why that happened and comes face to face with a horrible story. He only has Mitsuha’s name to set everything right.
Kimi no Na Wa shows such a beautiful soulmate story across time. Keep some tissues at hand because you will need them.
16. Garden of Words
If you have not watched this movie yet, you are missing out my friends.
Despite the name sounds that the movie will have some chatty dates in a cafe, it is actually the opposite. The movie has barely any words spoken at all. Just some dialogues passed here and there
The story opens with Takizuki Takao, a teenager and aspiring shoemaker. He bunks some of his classes in school and visits a beautiful garden to draw shoe designs.
There he meets an older lady. Yukino Yukari just sits there, mostly reads books, sometimes smokes and eats chocolates. Yukari is also skipping work.
They keep spending time together, often without uttering a word. The twist at the end is the best.
Garden of Words is a masterpiece. A heavenly treat to the eyes, ears and all of your senses. The artwork is probably the best I’ve ever seen.
You can say so many things without even saying anything. I would not have realised this if I had not watched it.
15. Kannazuki no Miko
We talked about relationships between men and women, men and men. And now it is time to talk about love between women and women.
Kannazuki no Miko presents a different take on the Japanese folklore Yamata no Orochi (the eight-headed man-eating snake).
Himemiya Chikane and Kurusugawa Himeko are in the same school. Chikane is more outgoing and strong. She likes the shy and timid Himeko.
She grows jealous if Himeko speaks to a boy called Soma. The girls are the reincarnations of the legendary lunar and solar priestesses.
The two had to fight along against Yamata no Orochi. Chikane’s crush grows to almost an obsession. Under the serpent Orochi’s influence.
However, in the end, she comes back to Himeko and the two of them reconcile. And despite being shy, Himeko also acknowledges her feelings for Chikane.
If you like Girl’s love anime go for it. It has some strong girl portrayal. There are not many very famous GL anime but this one surely takes the cake.
Now that we have come this far, if I don’t put these names in this list it will be totally incomplete
Movies. Yes, let’s talk about the best romance anime movies.
14. Yuri!! on Ice
Did you think I would forget this one? No way!
Yuri on Ice!! Is not only famous for the amazing depiction of ice skating but also for the soft and tender feelings between Victor Nikiforov and Katsuki Yuri.
Katsuki Yuri loses the Grand Prix Final of figure-skating and returns home. He starts having second thoughts about continuing skating anymore.
His family and friends are worried. But he does not get out of his gloomy mood.
He visits his old friend and on a whim, he skates a skating routine done by his idol, Victor Nikiforov. It gets online and viral in moments.
Even Victor himself is charmed by it and lands at Yuri’s home in Japan. He proposes to coach Yuri himself.
Slowly they grow closer. Now there is no formal proposal or “I like you” said in the anime but action speaks louder right?
Even if you are not fond of BL, make sure to give it a chance. Yuri!! On Ice is a highly praised anime for its real-life portrayal of ice skating.
13. Junjou Romantica
The anime series follows three male couples and their secret love endeavours. But the main couple is a college student and his teacher.
Takahashi Misaki is starting college.But failing his exams a lot. So he asks his older brother’s close friend Usami Akihiko to tutor him.
Usami Akihiko is a popular writer. He is a prolific BL author. Usami agrees to tutor Misaki but he secretly loves Misaki’s older brother, his friend.
However, he learns that Misaki’s older brother is already engaged. He feels heartbroken and Misaki takes it as his duty to console him.
Soon their feelings start to develop and they fall in love.
If you are a BL lover then you should watch it.
12. Ore Monogatari
If you want some unconventional theme in romance anime, then this is for you. Ore Monogatari follows a unique love story.
Gouda Takeo is not your typical handsome protagonist. In fact, he’s far from what is the social norm of “pleasing to the eyes”.
He’s huge, scary looking but has a golden heart. And Gouda Takeo lands himself a beautiful girlfriend.
Yamato Rinko is a beautiful sweet girl. Takeo saves her from perverts on a train and she falls in love with him immediately.
She loves Gouda Takeo too much and is very proud of him. But sometimes has impure thoughts when she sees Takeo. This is a beautiful story of an unconventional couple to find perfect love.
This anime is too sweet and super fun. Probably the only anime where a handsome hunk has to act like a third wheel. Takeo’s best friend Sunagawa has the true protagonist look.
But Takeo gets the best girl and he tags along. Sunagawa is very supportive of Takeo and Rinko. Nonetheless, it is just hilarious.
All right. Until now I have been listing the anime that have one thing in common. All of them follow heterosexual couples. But love does not know any boundaries.
So, I will list down some of the best romance anime series that portray or hints at homosexual love.
11. Kamisama Hajimeshita
This anime has won hearts all over the world.
Momozono Nanami just wants to live a normal life. But her useless father has collected lots of debt. And now Nanami has to pay all the debts.
But she is unable to do so and is kicked out of her home by debt collectors. Now homeless, Nanami roams to the park to think through her life.
She sees a young man on the tree chased by dogs. She helps him and he gives her a home to stay.
Nanami is shocked to see that her new place is actually a shrine and the man whom she saved is a god. She is positioned at his place as a god until he returns.
The familiars of the shrine were now at her command. Nanami falls in love with one familiar. One certain white-haired fox.
The rest of the story is the most amazing development of their relationship, some heartbreak and some realisations.
10. Ouran High School Host Club
Another high-quality romance comedy anime for you. If you love reverse harem and genderbending anime, this is a treat for you.
Fujioka Haruhi is a scholarship student at the rich people’s school Ouran Academy. She tries to find a quiet space to study.
After some searching, she finds an empty room which is used as a Host Club. Six rich male students entertain women clients with sweets, tea and flirting.
Haruhi mistakenly breaks an antique flower vase. To repay the debt she decides to work in the Host Club.
Due to her skinny features along with a short hairstyle, they assume Haruhi is a boy. But soon they realise their mistakes.
But Haruhi is extremely good at her job and the president of the Host Club falls head over heels for her.
This is a fun romance anime full of humorous incidents. Great for a weekend binge-watch.
We can’t talk about romance and don’t mention Inuyasha. Inuyasha is one of the most popular anime in Japan that has a woman manga artist, Rumiko Takahashi.
Higurashi Kagome is the descendant of a Shinto priest family. She lives in a shrine. On her fifteenth birthday, she gets attacked by a centipede monster who takes her into an old well in their shrine.
She meets a boy with white hair. Stuck into a huge tree with an arrow stuck into his body, he looked like he was sleeping. But soon he awakens.
And as Kagome frees the boy and he kills the centipede saving her.
Kagome gets to know that the boy is a half-dog demon, she has landed 500 years back in time and to make it even worse, she is the reincarnation of the dead priestess Kikyo.
Inuyasha is a very popular anime that shows love triumph over time. The anime has beautiful artwork, amazing theme music and a plotline.
There is a love triangle between Inuyasha, Kagome and revived Kikyo. But that is a story for another time.
8. Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku
This anime is perfect for the nerds. I’m not even joking. Wotakoi presents two sets of couples who are otaku themselves and how difficult it is to find love.
Protagonist Momose Narumi is secretly a BL manga lover, a fujoshi, loves to draw BL doujinshi and sell them at Comiket.
Her ex-boyfriend has left her after knowing that she’s a fujoshi. She is super excited to start a new job and hopes to start her life anew.
But to her bad luck, she finds Nifuji Hirotaka, her childhood friend, as her colleague. Hirotaka is a video game nerd.
Her two seniors Kabakura Taro and Koyanagi Hanako reveal that they are also secretly otaku. Narumi and Hirotaka start dating each other because finding a love interest for otaku is difficult.
Little does Narumi know, Hirotaka had been in love with her from childhood.
This is one of the best romance comedy anime to watch. Characters are so relatable, amazing artwork and top-notch voice acting.
7. Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso)
Music is an element that goes best with romance. When an anime has both that means it’s gotta be great.
Arima Kosei is a piano prodigy. But after his mother’s sudden death Kosei stops playing the piano. He lost all the feelings for it.
Enters Miyazono Kaori, an eccentric violin player. Kaori helps Kosei break through his shells once again. She shows that music needs to be carefree, fun and liberating. And needless to say, Kosei falls in love.
A must watch anime.
This anime is one of a kind. The protagonist Takamiya Naho gets a letter from her future self regarding the new transfer student Naruse Kakeru.
The letter forbids her things to do to save Kakeru who is supposed to die by suicide. At first, Naho does not believe it. But as the incidents told in the letters start really happening, she gets paranoid.
Orange is a pining and slice-of-life anime. It will make you feel all sorts of warmth and melancholy.
5. Maid Sama (Kaichou wa Maid Sama)
If we are discussing the best romance anime series then this one is a classic. Ayuzawa Misaki is the school president who also works in a maid cafe.
Usui Takumi is the school heartthrob. Everyone is head over heels for him except the school president. So Usui starts to take interest in her and starts flirting with her. Misaki does not like it at first but later she also starts to fall for Usui.
This rom-com anime is famous not only in Japan but outside as well. The romantic buildup is as amusing as it is heartwarming.
Also, Usui Takumi is one of the best voice actors done by Okamoto Nobuhiko. So if you’re like me you’ll love this anime.
4. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki Kun (Gekkan Shoujou Nozaki Kun)
If you are into tummy grabbing comedy then this is the best anime for you. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki kun portrays some of the funniest characters in the anime world.
Sakura Chiyo has had a crush on Nozaki Umetarou from the day she met her on the first day of high school. She tries to confess her love to him. But instead of saying she likes him, she says she’s his fan.
Unbeknownst to Chiyo, Nozaki is actually a famous manga artist under the pen name Yumeno sensei. He misunderstands her confession as a fan’s admiration and employs her instead.
So Sakura Chiyo becomes his friend and employee but unable to clear the misunderstanding.
This anime features multiple couple-ish people from whom Nozaki derives his plots for manga. Some are totally oblivious of love, some are just stupid.
The manga is hilarious. The voice acting is so good that the experience is very good.
3. From me to you ( Kimi ni Todoke)
Romance anime lovers must watch Kimi ni Todoke. The protagonist 15 years old Sawako has an uncanny resemblance to the ghost Sadako from the film Ring.
Her classmates ostracise her for that. Only one person saw her for her real worth. Kazehaya Shota is her classmate.
Shota displayed her open-mindedness to befriend Sawako. Sawako is grateful to Shota. Gradually the friendship turns into something more special.
Kimi ni Todoke displays beautiful blooming romance, slice-of-life of high schoolers and humour.
2. Snow White with Red Hair (Akagami no Shirayuki Hime)
If you like chill anime with established relationships, no forced love triangle then this anime is for you.
The protagonist is Shirayuki, a redhead girl. She’s a herbalist who catches the eye of the prince of her kingdom. The prince wants her as his concubine.
Not wanting to be subjected to that fate, Shirayuki runs away. She meets prince Zen of the neighbouring kingdom and falls in love with him.
The story loosely follows the story of Snow White. Spoiler Alert: But instead of the girl, it’s the prince who eats the apple. You know what I mean.
1. Horimiya (From Hori San to Miyamura kun)
A popular girl in school falls in love with the resident loner boy whom she finds is actually cool as heck!
Hori Kyoko is fawned over by boys all over the school. Girls are jealous, boys are smitten. Miyamura Izumi is a loner. The polar opposite of Hori Kyoko.
HoriMiya is one of the best romance anime to watch in 2021. It follows high school love that explores sweet love between a fierce girl and the loner boy who loves each other despite everything.
The show also follows multiple couples who are very much emotionally connected. The soft undertone this anime has will bring you tears with content feelings.
HoriMiya started airing in 2021 and has already garnered lots of praise. With a beautiful presentation of love, HoriMiya has taken a position in the new romance anime list.
Conclusion with Bonus: Wolf Children
Ever seens a film that leaves a deep impact in your heart for a long time? Wolf Children is that kind movie.
Hana falls in love with an older mysterious man. At first the man tries to be elusive but soon gives in. Hana finds out that man turns into a wolf. But already in love, she married him and they had two children. But soon Hana’s husband meets his end.
Now Hana as a single mother tries her best to raise two half wolf half human children.
This movie touches so many strings. Love beyond the boundaries, a single mother supporting two children and at the end letting them go as they want.
A life cycle in three and half hours of time. This film has tender love between hana and her husband, affection with the children, deep sorrow at her husband’s death and ultimately a sense of freedom. It makes our heart wrench and eyes moist but we can’t stop smiling as well.
And that is it folks! What are the best romance anime you have seen? Let us know in the comments. We would love to update our list.