1. Fruits Basket
- Year: 2001
- Genre: Romance/Comedy/Drama/Fantasy
- Director: Akitaro Daichi
What would you do if you were cursed to turn into an animal every time that you hugged a member of the opposite sex? Fruits Basket explores this concept in a funny but thought-provoking anime that’s about love and acceptance just as much as talking cats. How much loneliness would you hide from others? When would you decide that human contact was worth the transformation?
2. Skip Beat!
- Year: 2008
- Genre: Comedy/Romance/Revenge/Coming of age
- Director: Kiyoko Sayama
When a spunky teenage girl realizes that her idol boyfriend is just using her for free labor, she vows to enter the entertainment business and beat him at his own game. What follows is a wild ride of laughs, tears, new friends, fresh romances and epic cackling laughs of vengeance. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
3. Kimi ni Todoke (From Me to You)
- Year: 2009
- Genre: High school/Romance/Slice of life
- Director: Hiro Kaburaki
One of the best romance anime in recent years, Kimi ni Todoke follows an awkward outcast girl who falls in love with the most popular boy in school. Their relationship has just as many ups and downs as you would expect, but they make it work. It’s a feel-good series with lots of sweet and romantic moments to make you sigh. As a bonus, it’s also palatable to male and female viewers, so it’s the perfect anime for a couple.
4. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)
- Year: 2014
- Genre: Music/Romance/Drama
- Director: Kyōhei Ishiguro
If you feel like crying intermittently for 22 episodes, Your Lie in April is one of the best romance anime for the job. It follows a young and depressed pianist who meets a fun, free-spirited violinist and undergoes a journey of healing. It’s the kind of anime that will make you appreciate your loved ones during weepy cuddle sessions on the couch, so prepare your heart accordingly.
5. Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers)
- Year: 1996
- Genre: High school/Comedy/Opposites attract
- Director: Shigeyasu Yamauchi
This oldie-but-goodie has one of the best anime romances of the “golden” era. It was so popular that it spawned movies and live-action dramas from six different countries! It’s about a young, feisty high school girl who punches an arrogant rich kid in the face. To her surprise, that’s just the start of her love story.
6. Nagi no Asukara (A Lull in the Sea)
- Year: 2013
- Genre: Romance/Drama/Supernatural
- Director: Toshiya Shinohara
Nagi no Asukara tells a beautiful and fantastical story about a group of young people who live in the sea but are forced to come on land after their underwater school shuts down. In addition to the usual pains of crushes, love triangles and unrequited feelings, they also have to adapt to their new environment and its tense relations between human folk and sea folk. It’s a layered anime on multiple levels.
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7. Romeo X Juliet
- Year: 2007
- Genre: Action/Drama/Adventure
- Director: Fumitoshi Oizaki
In this turbulent animated version of the Shakespearean classic, Juliet is the sole surviving member of her family after Romeo’s family killed them all, and she’s devoted herself to justice by living as a masked vigilante. The duo fall in love despite everything, but their star-crossed story is just getting started. Put Romeo X Juliet at the top of your list if you’re looking for the best action romance anime to get your heart pumping.
8. Princess Tutu
- Year: 2002
- Genre: Fantasy/Romance/Mystery
- Directors: Junichi Sato and Shogo Koumoto
Despite the somewhat silly name, Princess Tutu tells a tightly-woven story filled with metaphors, plot twists and fairy tale references. It follows the struggles of a young ballerina to restore the missing pieces of her intended’s heart, but she’s challenged by the fact that her and her friends are only meant to be characters living out a tragedy written by a long-dead author.
9. Lovely Complex
- Year: 2007
- Genre: Romance/Comedy/Shenanigans/Opposites attract
- Director: Konosuke Uda
Lovely Complex revolves around a too-tall girl and a too-short boy as they bicker their way into a relationship. It’s a funny series, but it also tackles relatable themes like not fitting in and navigating your growing feelings for someone. It’s one of the best romance anime to put a smile on your face!
5 Centimeters Per Second
- Year: 2007
- Genre: Romance/Drama/Slice of life
- Director: Makoto Shinkai
You might recognize this director as the man behind Your Name, the best-selling romantic anime movie in Japanese history. However, he also directed the lesser known 5 Centimeters Per Second a few years prior. It’s about two friends who are separated by a move, but they continue to write each other over the years, keeping their connection alive. It’s a visually stunning movie with a beautiful story to match it.
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