Romance is a genre that often does not stand out on its own. Like adventure and action, it is often mixed with something like Shoujo or even Dark fantasy. Despite not being stand out, these anime embody the genre to their best.
Despite being a shounen fanboy all my life, I often found myself going back to romance anime. I remember growing up on series like Inuyasha and Ranma ½ on Animax and sticking to the genre for quite some time. Some of those anime have made the list, along with some recent additions.
On a popular streaming service like Funimation, these are the top 10 anime that are the best of the genre.
10Ouran High School Host Club
Ouran High School Host ClubAir Date: April 5, 2006 Status: Finished Studio: Bones No. of Seasons: 1 No. of Episodes: 26
This is what many people consider to be a classic. With its fast pace rom-com shenanigans, it might be a little dated for some people. But I think it is still worth watching. Its English dub is especially good for its time.
Haruhi Fujioka is a middle-class scholarship student at the prestigious school of Ouran Academy. She ends up breaking a vase worth eight million yen and is forced to join Ouran Host Club to repay the debt.
Ouran Host Club is a group of idle rich boys with exceptional looks who entertain girls at their school. Haruhi’s boyish looks and natural ability to serve intrigue the boys. They allow her to become a full-time host at their club, but what they do not know is that she is a girl.
9Tsuki ga Kirei
TsukigakireiAir Date: April 7, 2017 Status: Finished Studio: feel. No. of Seasons: 1 No. of Episodes: 12
This is one of those anime that is too realistic for our time. Tsuki ga Kirei portrays feelings of first love brilliantly. The interactions between Kotaro and Akane over text are what makes this anime unique for me.
Aspiring writer Kotaro Azumi and track team member Akane Mizuno are third-year students at junior high school and are classmates for the first time. They become closer after they are put in charge of the equipment of the sports festival through texting.
Both of them discover each other and themselves in each other’s company. Although quite unsure how they feel about each other amongst conflicting feelings of people around them, Kotarou asks a question that changes their quiet relationship.
8Snow White With the Red Hair
Snow White With the Red HairAir Date: July 7, 2015 Status: Finished Studio: Bones No. of Seasons: 2 No. of Episodes: 25
The combination of good character writing and work done by studio Bones make this rock-solid for me. The medieval setting is not what you see very often in romance anime. If you are into that kind of setting, this one is for you.
Shirayuki is a red-haired herbalist living in the country of Tanbarun. She functions as a joyful independent girl until her hair is noticed by Prince Raj of the Tanbarun kingdom, who orders her to become his mistress.
Not wanting to give up her freedom, she cuts her hair and escapes to the neighboring country of Clarines with the help of Prince Zaji and her two aides. To repay her debt, she works hard to become the court herbalist and eventually becomes closer to the prince.
7Kimi no Todoke
Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to YouAir Date: October 7, 2009 Status: Upcoming Season 3 Studio: Production I.G No. of Seasons: 2 No. of Episodes: 37
This series may seem quite generic at first glance but that is not the case. This series brilliantly discovers the nature of cloudy feelings that high schoolers experience. Sawako’s altruistic personality makes her instantly likable.
Despite her sweet and timid nature, Sawako Kuronuma is misunderstood and feared by her classmates because of her resemblance to the character from The Ring. This makes her unable to make any friends until she meets Shouta Kazehaya.
Kazehaya is the most popular boy in class. Sawako looks up to him for his ability to be the center of attention.
This interaction makes Sawako discover a whole new world of making friends and talking to different people. She experiences new emotions that she never felt before and feels thankful towards Kazehaya for changing her. What she does not know is that Kazehaya feels something for her too.
HorimiyaAir Date: January 10, 2021 Status: Finished Studio: Studio CloverWorks No. of Seasons: 1 No. of Episodes: 13
It is amazing how much difference a small interaction can make. Things we often deem insignificant end up being the most important things we ever do and end up changing us for the better. That is the best way to describe a series like Horimiya. The drastic change in expectations and circumstances of Izumi during the duration of the show hits too close to home for me.
Izumi Miyamura is a gloomy guy with long hair and glasses who only keeps to himself at school, but outside he is a good-looking punk dude who wears earrings. He finds himself interacting with Kyouko Hori, the popular girl at her school with beauty and brains.
With their seemingly contrasting personalities, they grow close to each other and become a couple. They discover new things about each other along with their peers and their complicated relationships.
5Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
Anohana: The Flower We Saw That DayAir Date: April 15, 2011 Status: Finished Studio: A-1 Pictures No. of Seasons: 1 No. of Episodes: 11
Watching this is going to be an enjoyable experience, but make sure you do so with a pack of tissues. The discovery of guilt and complex relationships over the span of just 11 episodes is nothing short of brilliant. This series brings out emotional surges through the slow discovery of characters, unlike many others who overuse tragic turns in the story.
Jinta Yadomi is a recluse who spends his time away from school playing video games at home. One day he sees his childhood friend Meiko Honma who died six years ago.
He is convinced that he has seen his ghost and is expected to fulfill his final wish. But he does not remember the wish.
To lay his friend to rest, he gathers his old group of friends believing they are the key to solve the problem. All the friends join the group reluctantly until they finally decide to shoulder the blame for Honma’s death. Long hidden feelings are rekindled as they relive their path of fear and guilt.
Toradora!Air Date: October 2, 2008 Status: Finished Studio: J.C.Staff No. of Seasons: 1 No. of Episodes: 24
This is one of the few series where the slow build-up to the main romance is actually worth it. Although Ryuji and Taiga interact throughout the series, they do not discover the true nature of their relationship until the very end of the show. I find this especially refreshing as the discovery is especially rewarding, given the buildup throughout the run of the show.
Ryuji Takasu is a second-year high school student with an intimidating face, leading to people mistaking him as a delinquent despite his gentle nature. He is best friends with Yusaku Kitamura and Minori Kushieda, the girl he has a crush on.
One day he meets Taiga Aisaka, a girl with cute looks and a feisty personality. She reveals she has a crush on his best friend Yusaku while she is best friends with his crush Minori.
They end up making an arrangement to set each other up with their crushes, unable to realize what their alliance is actually leading to.
3Kaguya-sama: Love is War
Kaguya-sama: Love is WarAir Date: January 12, 2019 Status: Upcoming Season 3 Studio: A-1 Pictures No. of Seasons: 3 No. of Episodes: 24
Probably one of the most unique romance series in existence. I never imagined that I would enjoy the interactions of two tsundere characters this much. The best pitch I ever heard for this anime was- Death Note but in romance.
Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya serve as the student council president and vice president at the prestigious Shuchiin Academy. Kaguya is the heiress to the wealthy Shinomiya empire. She is excellent at everything he does, while Miyuki is the top student of the academy and is well respected by his peers.
However, despite both having already developed feelings for the other, neither are willing to admit them. The first to confess loses, will be looked down upon and will be considered the lesser. With their honor and pride at stake, Miyuki and Kaguya are both equally determined to be the ones to emerge victorious on the battlefield of love!
Fruits BasketAir Date: April 6, 2019 Status: Airing Studio: TMS Entertainment No. of Seasons: 2 No. of Episodes: 43
This is one of those that you will always hear about and for a good reason. I remember misunderstanding the series as just silly run-of-the-mill romance. Although it may seem so at the surface level, the excellent character writing makes you want to just dive into every character’s personality.
Tohru Honda is a happy, cheerful girl who is forced to live in a tent due to her family circumstances. Unbeknownst to her, she is living on the property of the prestigious Soma family. One day she finds herself meeting Yuki Soma- the “prince” of her school and his older cousin Shigure.
After a storm, she ends up living with the Somas, where she uncovers a well-kept secret that if a member of the opposite sex hugs a member of the Soma family, they transform into the animals of the Chinese zodiac, something she was fascinated by as a child.
1Spice and wolf
Spice and WolfAir Date: January 9, 2008 Status: Finished Studio: Imagin No. of Seasons: 2 No. of Episodes: 25
This is easily my favorite romance anime of all time. This series discovers every aspect of emotion you can think of. Holo and Kraft’s relationship is easily one of the best you will see in anime. Along with the romantic elements, you might get good lessons in economics too.
Kraft Lawrence is a 25-year-old merchant who peddles different goods from town to town. He aspires to make enough money in order to open up his own shop.
One day he meets Holo, a powerful wolf deity who is a town’s goddess of the harvest. Having been neglected by the townsfolk, she aligns herself with Kraft in order to travel to new places and discover economic opportunities.