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Love is simultaneously a simple and complex emotion.
People feel thrilled and get confuddled when it comes to matters of the heart.
But what about more complex stories? Like ones that present romance with a variety of mystery or thriller elements.
If you’re looking for anime shows to get your heart racing, then maybe check out one (or more) from the list below.
10. Detective Conan Movie 21: The Crimson Love Letter
While the 25th film premieres in Japan in 2022, check out The Crimson Love Letter from 2017.
This is a refreshing detective case because it’s not overly complex, which sometimes ruins the flow of the movie.
But don’t get me wrong:
This will still provide a satisfying mystery for you to unravel before Conan does.
Aside from the familiar thrill of identifying the culprit, The Crimson Love Letter entertains viewers with a love triangle featuring Heiji Hattori, Kazuha Toyama, and Momiji Ooka.
Heiji and Kazuha aren’t always around in the series, so it’s nice for them to return here and even become crucial to the ongoing case. Plus it’s fun to witness competitive karuta card games.
9. Eden of The East
Higashi no Eden is another entry to the legendary sci-fi portfolio of Production IG.
It’s an award-winning anime-original project spanning one season and two feature films, all of which are as brilliantly animated as you’d expect from the studio.
And how can Eden of the East not be so intriguing?
For one, there’s a missile strike in Japan that somehow has no casualties.
Then you have Akira Takizawa, the naked MC who doesn’t know who he is or what he did and mysteriously has a cellphone with billions of yen digitally stored inside.
Saki Morimi has no idea of the danger looming, but she’s not leaving Akira behind.
The final movie Paradise Lost loses much of its romance and focuses more on the political & suspenseful elements centering around Akira. But you should still watch it if you want the complete Higashi no Eden experience.
8. Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches
Yes, this is a supernatural school harem featuring body-swapping as a core element and a lot of witches.
But it’s well worth checking out.
The first witch is the beautiful but cold Urara Shiraishi. With exceptional academic wit and a slender, well-endowed figure, Urara should ideally be popular at school — but it’s the opposite that’s happening.
Due to precisely these characteristics, other students have cast her out from their circles.
One day she accidentally kisses Ryuu Yamada and learns about her body-switching power.
With it, they can help each other to become less socially withdrawn and form lasting friendships.
But who are the remaining witches at school — and what can they do?
That’s a job for Urara, Ryuu, and the rest of the Supernatural Studies Club.
7. The Tatami Galaxy
The Tatami Galaxy goes through dialogues and inner monologues at the speed of light by design.
Its loose art style and highly dynamic animation work together to represent the confusion and chaotic fun arising from his different choices in college, that all somehow result in the same undesirable ending.
But as you start to feel hopeless and frustrated like Watashi with each passing episode, the final stretch grabs you by the collar and reminds you (and our MC) about what matter most.
Which (of course) involves his crush, Akashi.
Shingo Natsume takes the directorial role from Masaaki Yuasa for the second season – which makes this even more interesting, since they’re two of the most eccentric figures in the anime industry today.
Kaiba imagines humanity in the far future.
People can essentially live forever by keeping their memories in storage chips. When their bodies perish, they conveniently find a new one.
But this isn’t utopia.
Class warfare still exists, and has been exacerbated by this technology.
The rich have the means to choose ideal bodies – while the poorest of the poor must sell their bodies to survive.
And just like in Eden of the East, the titular MC has lost his memories.
From one stellar Madhouse and Masaaki Yuasa project to another, Kaiba is as unconventional as it gets in terms of art style and storytelling.
If I didn’t say it was from 2008, you may think that it was one of the pioneering anime shows from the 1960s or 1970s.
Gosick stars Victorique de Blois and Kazuya Kujou as two mystery-solving buddies studying at Saint Marguerite Academy in the European nation of Sauville.
Kazuya is from Japan, which explains his dark hair and brown eyes.
There’s nothing strange about his looks – but the other pupils think he’s the fabled Black Reaper who’s traveled from afar to cause death.
As for Victorique, she’s a 15-year-old gothic lolita who behaves like she’s decades older.
Her favorite hangout spot is the conservatory at the school library, and this is where she and Kazuya begin their long-lasting story.
With big and small riddles alike and undeniable chemistry between the MCs, Gosick is a lovely watch.
4. Princess Tutu
Princess Tutu is similar to Kaiba in how its art style may dissuade teens and adults from seeing it, mostly because it looks like it’s only meant for kids — but it isn’t.
At the heart of this series is Ahiru Arima.
She’s a duck who can transform into a human girl, or even a magical girl named Princess Tutu.
But regardless of her form, all she wants in the world is to make the emotionless Prince Myuuto smile once again, for him to feel alive and know what it’s like to be happy, angry, or sad.
This is a modern classic for viewers of all ages.
It’s an anime-original that celebrates the magical storytelling of fairy tales, while having its own spin, complete with outstanding ballet suites and complex characters.
3. ef: A Tale of Memories.
In 2007, Shaft presented its stunning adaptation of the ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two. manga series.
The first season is ef: A Tale of Memories, which has intertwining stories of love and sorrow.
For one, the romance between mangaka Hiro Hirono and Miyako Miyamura began when Miyako stole Hiro’s bike & wrecked on Christmas Eve.
Another chapter focuses on Kei Shindou (Hiro’s neighbor who’s jealous of Miyako) and Kyosuke Tsutsumi.
But what seals the deal is the story of Renji Asou and Chihiro Shindou.
It’s their relationship that truly defines ef: A Tale of Memories.
There’s also the sequel called ef: A Tale of Melodies, which highlights the life of the supporting characters from the first season. And you’ll want to at least catch the sections about Himura Yuu and Amamiya Yuuko.
The highest-ranking Shaft production on my list is none other than Bakemonogatari, which remains to be my favorite TV series installment from the Monogatari franchise.
You’ll still see other top-tier girls like Nadeko Sengoku, Tsubasa Hanekawa, and Suruga Kanbaru on here.
But this is undoubtedly the story of Hitagi Senjougahara.
She suffers from a mysterious illness that makes her weightless, forcing her to become reclusive to stop anyone else from finding out. Koyomi Araragi discovers this by accident, however, and promises to cure her.
This is one of the landmark titles of Shaft.
Every episode is fantastic, but the final episode (and the final scene) is the most beguiling of all.
1. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
It was a close fight between this and Bakemonogatari, two masterpieces from 2010.
But the acclaimed film sequel to Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu (once the most popular TV anime series in the world) takes the cake.
Here’s what we get:
One day, Kyon realizes that his world has changed overnight.
Everyone else has forgotten about Haruhi Suzumiya and the SOS Brigade. The others either don’t know him, have gone missing, or have drastically changed in behavior.
What’s going on?
And does he want things to remain this way?
If the first season was filled with Kyon’s reactions to the supernatural developments in his not-so-normal high school life, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya places him at the center and forces him to assess his beliefs and feelings.
Yes, Kyon still loves his lengthy inner monologues here.
But each succeeding train of thought is a revelation about him, not just as an ordinary human, but as an ordinary human who knows of Haruhi’s existence.
Kyon’s final inner monologue, in particular, is a work of art that brings out so much emotion.
This is a highly satisfying watch whether you’re looking for romance or mystery. And this series (once again) highlights Kyoto Animation’s creative and technical prowess.