The romance genre is undoubtedly one of the most impactful ones in popular culture, and it has given the world some of the most heartbreaking, moving, and unforgettable stories. With the maturation of anime as an art form, shows dealing with the complexities of love have become common, and there is no dearth of great romantic series to choose from. If you, too, find yourself facing a similar dilemma and wish to watch good love stories with well-developed characters that are worth your time, then allow us to be your guide. Here’s some of the best romantic anime ever made. You can watch some of these shows/films on Hulu, Netflix, Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Amazon Prime. We have provided a link at the end of each recommendation.
25. Kimi no Na wa (2016)
‘Kimi no Na wa’ revolves around two teenagers named Mitsuha Miyamizu and Taki Tachibana. Mitsuha lives in the countryside and is no longer interested in staying there as she dreams of living in Japan’s bustling capital, Tokyo. Meanwhile, Taki Tachibana lives in Tokyo and is disillusioned with city life. He is kind-hearted but does not have enough patience and can sometimes get really stubborn. He is pretty busy balancing his part-time job and his school life. One ordinary day Mitsuha and Taki wake up to find that they have switched places. However, it is not just a location swap, as they have essentially switched bodies. As they try to return to their real home, it marks the beginning of a strange journey that makes them eventually fall in love with each other. You can watch the film here.
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24. Bakemonogatari (2009)
‘Bakemonogatari’ follows Koyomi Aragi, a third-year high school student who has superhuman abilities that include fast healing and the ability to see in the dark. These powers are remnants of the vampiric capabilities that he had got after being attacked by a vampire. He was saved by a man named Meme Oshino, who protected him from vampirism and helped him live a normal life. Aragi is a laid-back teenager who usually struggles with studies, but he is good at maths. He is a noble person and is always willing to put his life on the line to save others. One day his classmate Hitagi Senjougahara falls down the stairs only to be caught by him. Aragi realizes that Hitagi is abnormally weightless. He understands that there might be something supernatural going on and offers to help her. As the show progresses, we see Aragi help other people with their supernatural problems and fall in love. The show is accessible on Funimation.
23. Clannad (2007)
‘Clannad’ is romantic anime that is based on the theme of self-realization. The show centers upon Tomoya Okazaki, a teenager who feels boring and dull. He has given up on his life and has made peace with the fact that he will never achieve anything. Along with one of his closest friends, Youhei Sunohara, Okazaki skips classes and wastes his time. One day he encounters a girl named Nagisa Furukawa. She seems to be muttering something to herself and suddenly exclaims ‘Anpan!’ which catches Okazaki by surprise. Nagisa then claims that they are friends even though Okazaki ignores her. But as the series progresses, he gets more and more attached to Nagisa and learns that she has been held back a year because of her illness. Nagisa dreams of reviving the drama club. Okazaki finally decides to become her friend and help her fulfill her dream, which unexpectedly helps him learn more about himself. The anime is available on Hulu.
22. Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo (2012)
‘Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo’ revolves around Sorata Kanda, a good-natured and kind-hearted boy. So when he finds abandoned kittens, he cannot let them go until he can find a suitable owner for them. But since his dorm does not allow pets, he realizes that he will have to move to Sakura Hall, which is a dormitory filled with eccentric individuals. While there, he needs to find owners for the cats so that he can move back to his own dorm. But during his stay with the strangers there, he gets to know more about the other members of the dorm and grows close to them. The show is available here.
21. Ouran Koukou Host Club (2006)
If you like watching anime with a cross-dressing protagonist, then there’s a good chance that you might find ‘Ouran Koukou Host Club’ quite entertaining. Ouran High School is a place for society’s elite and rarely houses commoners. Haruhi Fujioka is an intelligent girl who is naturally quite good at academics and gets a scholarship to study at a prestigious school. Being a commoner, she is one of the few students who actually indulges in studies. One day while Haruhi is finding a quiet room to study, she unexpectedly ends up in the music room. There she meets the members of the renowned club, who like to entertain the beautiful girls of the academy. As Haruhi tries to exit the room, she accidentally breaks a costly vase. Thus, to repay for it, she starts working for the club, running errands for them. But due to her masculine appearance and favorable attitude towards girls, she is promoted to become a host and eventually starts cross-dressing to entertain the girls. You can stream the show here.
20. Howl no Ugoku Shiro (2004)
‘Howl no Ugoku Shiro’ is a heartwarming romantic movie that revolves around Sophie, a simple village girl. Her father works as a hat maker in the town. One day she gets involved in an incident but is saved by a handsome wizard by the name of Howl. This enrages the Witch of the Waste, who turns Sophie into an older woman by using a curse. Embarrassed to return home, she decides to find Howl and ask for help. Luckily, a scarecrow helps her and takes Sophie to the moving castle, which is the abode of Howl. There she meets Calcifier, a fire demon, who promises to help Sophie if she can free him from the handsome wizard. Sophie starts working as a cleaning lady in the castle, trying to find a way to free Calcifier, which marks the beginning of an emotional story that could grip anyone’s attention. The film is accessible for streaming here.
19. Kimi ni Todoke (2009)
‘Kimi ni Todoke’ is a refreshing love story that breaks several shoujo romance anime stereotypes. The anime follows Kuronuma Sawako, a nice high schooler who is sweet and simple but is often misunderstood by her peers. The staple reason for this misunderstanding is Sawako’s appearance which greatly resembles the ghost girl from the horror movie ‘The Ring.’ This has earned her the nickname of Sadako from her peers. But Sawako wants to be a normal girl and have a close friend. She finds herself drawn to Kazehaya Souta, who is the most popular guy in the class. One day Kazehaya starts speaking to her. This makes Sawako very happy and gives her the false hope of having a nice friend and, if possible, a romantic relationship as well. But will her story transpire as she imagines? You can watch the show here.
18. ReLIFE (2016)
‘ReLIFE’ is a slice of life romantic anime that follows Arata Kaizaki, a 27-year-old man who does not have any real goal in his life. People around him have labeled him a loser, and he doesn’t do anything to make them question their cruel judgments. He lives his life bouncing from one job to another. One day Arata meets a girl by the name of Ryou Yoake. She says that if he takes the pill she is offering, he will have an opportunity to turn his life around. Arata doesn’t give it much of a thought and takes the pill. The next day when he wakes up, he finds that he has become 17 again. It turns out that Ryou was working for a medical firm by the name of ReLIFE Institute. Arata is now a test subject for their new drug. To carry on the tests for the drugs, he needs to attend high school as a transfer student for one year.
Ryou is also a student at the school and is meant to keep a close watch on him. Though Arata thinks that his superior ten years of experience will make things quite easy for him, he learns the hard way that reality is quite far from that. Everything has changed over the past ten years. Now, he needs to avoid making the same mistakes he made when he was a student. You can watch the show here.
17. Koe no Katachi (2016)
Shouya Ishida used to be a troublemaker as he never cared for anyone’s feelings as long as he and his peers were entertained. So, when Shouko Nishimiya, a deaf transfer student, get enrolled in Ishida’s school, he leaves no stoned unturned to bully her just for a few laugh. When her mother eventually complains to the school authorities, everybody, including his closest friends, blames Ishida. Nishimiya transfers to a different school, and Ishida is singled out and left alone as no one talks to him following the incident. While in the third year of high school, Ishida regrets his actions and decides to make amends by meeting Nishimiya and becoming her friend, unbeknownst to the surprises that are awaiting him once he chooses that path. ‘Koe no Katachi’ is accessible for streaming here.
16. Hotarubi no Mori e (2011)
Whenever anyone asks me which anime movie to watch, ‘Hotarubi no Mori e’ is one of the first names that come to my mind. The film follows Hotaru, a six-year-old girl who is intrigued by the stories of mountain spirits. While visiting her uncle during summer vacations, she decides to go to the mountain forest. However, she gets lost and is helped by a human-like spirit named Gin, who wears a mask. Despite Gin asking her not to come back, Hotaru returns each of the remaining days of her summer vacation and promises to pay him a visit next summer as well.
As time passes, Hotaru grows and matures, but Gin remains the same. A budding romance develops between the two. Gin wants to touch and feel Hotaru, but there’s one problem. If Gin is ever touched by a human, he will disappear. With the strange conditions in place, will the unlikely romance between the two ever work out?
15. Toradora! (2008)
Based on Yuyuko Takemiya’s light novel series of the same name, ‘Toradora!’ is a romantic comedy anime. The show follows Ryuuji Takasu, an often misunderstood second-year high schooler who wants to get close to his crush Minori. While he tries to impress her, he unexpectedly crosses paths with Taiga, a seemingly sweet girl on the surface but hot-tempered from the inside, who can get really mad for the smallest reasons. She eventually agrees to help Ryuuji if he helps her with her crush. But as their attempts to help one another fail one after the other, the duo eventually starts developing feelings for one another. The anime is available on Crunchyroll.
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14. Kaichō wa Meido-same! (2010)
‘Kaichō wa Meido-same!’ is a romantic anime that focuses on the student council president Misaki who is trying to maintain order in the school and prevent problems from happening. She has a tough job to do since the school had recently become coed. Although she tries to act tough, deep down, she harbors a deep secret. Misaki works as a maid in a café to support her family but everything changes when a boy named Takumi finds out about it. Will he use this secret to mock her? Is he here to make her life heaven or hell? You can stream the anime on Hulu.
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13. Shōjo Kakumei Utena (1997)
Utena Tenjou wants to become a prince. This strange desire had been harboring inside her since she was consoled by some prince after her parent’s death. He had left her a ring a long time ago when they first met. Years later, she finds herself in a school where other students with similar rings fight to get the Rose Bride, Anthy, and her magical powers. Utena not only participates but also wins and gets Anthy which marks the beginning of her journey of romance and darkness. In case you wish to learn how the story unfolds, you can watch ‘Shōjo Kakumei Utena’ here.
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12. Doukyuusei (2016)
‘Doukyuusei’ recounts the emotional love story of two boys. Rhito Sajou would have never met Hikaru Kusakabe, but fate pulls them together. The boys are completely different from one another. While Hikaru is a guitarist in a popular band and Rhito is a studious A-level student. While their paths should have never crossed but when the former has to teach the latter to play the chorus, the two suddenly find a strange attraction towards one another. Slowly they start meeting more frequently, and before anyone knows it, they fall in love. You can stream the anime here.
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11. Rabu★Kon (2007)
‘Rabu★Kon’ or ‘Love Com’ is a romantic-drama anime based on Aya Nakahara’s manga series. The story follows the life of Atsushi Ōtani, a short-statured boy, and his tall classmate Risa Koizumi. When a handsome student from another class shows up and catches Rias’s eye, she can’t help but get attracted to him. Meanwhile, Atsushi has his eyes on another girl. The duo decides to help each other with their love life, but they themselves develop feelings for one another. Aware of the societal pressure, can the duo confess their love for one another?
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10. Ore Monogatari! (2015)
‘Ore Monogatari!’ follows Takeo Goda, a big muscular student whose crushes end up falling for the charming Makoto, his best friend. But his lonely life is complicated when Rinko, the girl he saves, ends up falling in love with him. Conflicted by his complex love life, can Takeo ever find peace of mind and the stable relationship that he deserves? All episodes are accessible for streaming here.
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9. Orange (2016)
‘Orange’ follows the life of Naho Takamiya, a high school student. One day she receives a letter, and it turns out that they are sent to her by her future self. The letter details her regrets and mistakes in life and what she needs to do to ensure that she does not repeat them. The story is beautifully written, and the anime brings the character to life by touching upon complex emotional and mature topics. If you wish to learn how Naho’s story unfolds, then you can watch the anime here.
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8. Butūmu! (2012)
‘Butūmu!’ is an action/romance anime that revolves around Ryouta Sakamoto, a clueless gamer who gets trapped in a real-life version of a game he plays. Now, he has to kill the other participants to win a token of victory in the form of a green crystal if he wants to return home and live an ordinary life. Luckily, he has his in-game wife Himiko by his side, who helps him through the thick and thin. The two start getting really close to each other while trying to survive this life and death game. The anime is available on Crunchyroll.
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7. Ai Yori Aoshi (2002)
Kaoru Hanabishi meets a girl at the station. When he realizes that she is confused, Kaoru decides to help her find her destination. As they continue searching for the girl’s destination, Kaoru discovers that they are walking in his own neighborhood. Later it turns out that there was an empty space where the girl was supposed to go to. Kaoru invites her to his house to solve the mystery and soon realizes that this girl is his childhood friend and fiancée. Perplexed by the sudden revelation, Kaoru must come to terms with his responsibilities and unravel the mysteries that surround their strange and confusing meeting. You can stream it here.
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6. Kareshi Kanojo no Jijō (1998)
‘Kareshi Kanojo no Jijō’ follows the life of two people, Miyazawa and Arima. At school, Miyazawa is the perfect student, polite and nice, who is always in everyone’s good books. But on the inside, she is arrogant and would do anything to be the best. Enter Arima, a boy who suddenly challenges her academically and forces her to take him seriously. This pisses off Miyazawa. To add to her trouble Arima finds out her façade and uses her to get his work done. But slowly, things take a surprising turn when it is revealed that Arima loves Miyazawa.
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5. Chobits (2002)
‘Chobits’ is technically based on the interesting and thought-provoking question- ‘Can Humans fall in Love with A.I.?’ Hideki Motosuwa is a student who finds an abandoned Persocom, computers which look like humans. It turns out this is a defective piece that can only say the word Chii and cannot download information. So, Hideki decides to teach her the ways of the world himself while trying to find out the truth about ‘Chii.’ You can watch the series here.
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4. True Tears (2008)
Imagine living in the same house as your crush but cannot make a move since she is cold towards you. This is what happens to Shinichiro, who cannot understand how to help Hiromi move on from her tragic childhood when she lost her parents. In addition to this, an eccentric girl named Noe from school takes an interest in him while his parents want him to take dancing lessons which he is not interested in. He needs to manage all this while trying to open up Hiromi. In case the premise sounds interesting, you can watch ‘True Tears’ on Amazon’s official website.
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3. Fruits Basket (2019 – 2021)
‘Furūtsu Basuketto’ or ‘Fruits Basket’ is a romantic anime based on Natsuki Takaya’s manga series of the same name. The story follows the life of Tohru, who finds herself homeless after the death of her mother. She receives shelter from a classmate Yuki. She soon finds out that Yuki’s family is cursed, and the members turn into Chinese zodiac animals when hugged by the opposite sex. Natsuki promises to keep it a secret and continues living inside the house, soon finding herself falling in love with Yuki. You can watch the anime here.
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2. anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (2011)
‘anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day’ is a great coming-of-age story. The show follows Jinta, a social recluse who has liked to live alone ever since his friends drifted apart following the death of their friend Meiko. One day Jinta sees the ghost of Meiko, who says she cannot pass to the next world since one of her wishes is left unfulfilled. The story then follows Jinta reviving their old group back in order to fulfill Meiko’s wish so that she can finally find peace. The anime is accessible for streaming on Funimation.
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1. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (2014)
Death often has a life-changing impact on people who get to experience it from close quarters. It inevitably brings gloom and sadness. If it is a loved one who dies, then it seems like the world has come to an end. A similar misfortune happens to the genius pianist Kousei Arima when his mother dies. He feels sad and cannot play the piano. Depression takes over him, and two years pass without him striking a single chord. Fate starts taking a turn when he meets violinist Kaori, who helps him move on and get back into music. But unbeknownst to him, she is also keeping a dark secret from him, which can potentially push him over the edge and take his own life. Can Kousei heal from the trauma of losing his loved ones and find an optimistic outlook on life? You can watch the anime on Hulu.
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