Top 35 Best Romance Anime Series & Movies (Ranked)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
For a lot of people, anime is the best form of escapism. It’s hard to think about your student debt while Goku is discovering his next rainbow transformation.
But honestly, nothing gets you more involved in a world than some well-written romance.
We’re all just out there looking for love, right? Nothing to be ashamed of.
But until we find our true soulmate (rats to you who already have) we might as well watch the whatever romantic stories anime has to offer. So here are our top 35 picks!
35. Kiss Him, Not Me! (2016)
I want to start off with this one simply because the idea alone made me laugh.
Okay, try to stay with me while I explain the chain of events that lead to this plot hook. An overweight girl is really into anime, especially BL.
Then one of her favorite characters dies. She gets so depressed that she stops eating, she loses weight, and becomes the babe of the school. Boys start falling at her knees, but she wants them all to make out rather than be with her.
You can’t tell me that’s not a joyride of a pilot episode…
34. Kuzu no Honkai (2017)
I’m going to be frank: this show is pure masochism, but like in a good way.
There are no real fairy tale endings, connections that are stronger than life itself, or grandiose airport proposal scenes.
It’s just a bunch of teens trying to figure things out.
How to be intimate, how to truly care for another, and how to move on. It can definitely kill the mood at times. But if you like this approach more so than the Disney princess counterpart, I’m sure you will enjoy the series throughout.
33. Snow White with the Red Hair (2015)
This show is just very relaxing to watch.
It has that rom-com vibe where the chemistry is rather consistent. And there’s no looming threat that would disrupt the progression of the character’s relationship.
Not to say that nothing happens. But it is just very chill.
The protagonist is a herbalist, her love interest a charming prince, it’s all so wholesome.
If you ignore the other not so charming prince who abuses his power, that is.
32. Ore Monogatari!! (2015)
This show just makes me happy. I love unconventional romances and giant teddy bear protagonists, both things this show delivers on.
The focal point for my adoration is this large sweetheart known as Takeo Gouda.
He’s just out there looking for love. But also to just make everyone as happy as they can be.
He protects, he forgives, but most importantly he cares. He also has the body composition of Shrek, which as we all know is peak male performance.
So there’s more than enough eye candy.
31. Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You (2009)
The two main actors in this show are Sawako and 2000s horror.
Okay, that is a bit misleading. But in short, the main female protagonist Sawako can’t seem to find any friends because everyone thinks she looks like the girl from the Ring.
How they could look at that adorable face and think that is beyond me.
But there’s one feller who has a functioning pair of eyes, Shouta, and he’s her golden ticket to friendship.
Or maybe even more than friendship. Kidding. Unless…
30. Hotarubi no Mori e (2011)
This movie just fills you with all the good feels you need in life.
It has a very fairy-tail like quality but still stays close to reality, at least in terms of human affection.
It’s all about a girl who comes into contact with a spirit of the forest.
It was supposed to be a one and done encounter, however the two end up getting very close.
The catch is that she can never touch the spirit or he’ll vanish.
Such a simple premise and yet it adds so many layers to it all; no adorable head pats but still a real connection.
29. Spice and Wolf (2008)
If you don’t want your romance to be set in the plaid-out scenery of a high school than Spice and Wolf is probably more your speed.
It’s more of an adventure where our protagonist Lawrence comes into contact with a wolf-like deity named Holo.
The end goal is for Holo to return home but the journey is filled with intriguing dialogue, Holo being adorable and stubborn, as well as the merchant life.
Like seriously, I did not expect to learn this much about what it’s like to be a merchant in their world.
The chemistry is on point. And to be honest, Holo is just wifey material straight out.
28. Lovely Complex (2007)
Aside from Meliodas, short kings don’t get nearly enough love in the community.
And tall girls somehow just end up the butt of some joke. Well, Lovely Complex is here to change that. As it’s all about the unconventional love between the short-stacked Atsushi Ootani and the tall beauty Koizumi Risa.
The story is very cute and their chemistry is written well. But most of all I really dig the message the show carries.
Sure, lots of shows have a “love yourself” message.
But Lovely Complex does it in a more “show don’t tell way”, making it land just a little more gracefully.
27. 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007)
This movie got a lot more real in 2020, as it’s all about separation and the fight to maintain a relationship without being together.
If you and your significant other/best friend chose different colleges after high school, then you should already be more than familiar with the feeling of drifting away.
The protagonists of the show really try to maintain the flame they made. But fate can really make it difficult sometimes.
So be prepared to question rekindling some old flames as well as shedding some tears when watching this movie.
26.Junjo Romantica (2008)
It would be stupid to feature only heterosexual romance shows on this list, as God knows these past few years have highlighted the amount of grey when it comes to sexuality.
Junjo Romantica is all about boy on boy love.
Well, I say “boy” but there are some older characters as well.
The show really tackles quite a few personality types as it follows three separate couples.
Some are aware of their homosexuality, some are still searching, some are younger and some are older.
The show covers a lot of ground. The characters are all well written and if you want some yaoi but don’t like ice skating, this could be your fix.
25. Kokoro Connect (2012)
Kokoro Connect takes your average high school rom-com, adds one supernatural element, and makes a whole new experience.
The hook of the show is that a group of friends start randomly swapping bodies with each other, in a similar vein as a movie further down on the list.
This of course leads to lots of funny moments. But it puts a nice emotional weight to it all.
Because if someone is in your body, they will learn things about you regardless of how hard you try to keep it a secret.
Your life at home, your health, and most importantly your browser history is all up on display now!
And maybe later on some different stuff starts happening, but you didn’t hear that from me.
24. Nisekoi (2014)
I see Nisekoi as a reversed Romeo and Juliet.
Let me clarify: we have two opposing gangs and the leaders of said gangs have a son and a daughter, respectively.
However, instead of the two sneaking out and being together in spite of what their parents say, it’s actually the parents that want them to date, and the kids are the hesitant party of this story.
So the two play pretend to keep the peace.
They initially aren’t that into each other, but newsflash this is a rom-com so that’s bound to change one way or the other.
23. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun (2014)
You have probably seen dozens of harem anime where every girl on the street is head over heels over some oblivious, “kind of nice”, bland male character.
But this time it all makes sense.
The series protagonist is a major league shoujo mangaka. He’s the Justin Bieber of the anime world.
And the focal point of our show in an attempt to get his number becomes his assistant instead.
If that leap in logic doesn’t give it away, well this show is a comedy series with a backbone of romance and some mangaka insight. And it’s worth checking out.
22. His and Her Circumstances (1998)
This show feels like if Oresuki was done just a bit better… okay a lot better.
Because it also highlights how the pitch-perfect student could have some messed up things in their closet, but how they can also learn to love while being true to their somewhat nasty self.
There’s no bench-kun unfortunately.
But the leading duo has such a fun and dynamic chemistry that it makes up for it.
I mean, the first few episodes feel like they are straight out of Mean Girls or something with how they act.
The show does end out of nowhere. But the section that has been adapted is still worth a watch.
21. Kaichō wa Meido-sama! (2010)
This starts and we’re introduced to an all-boys school that recently decided to go co-ed.
This certainly ruffles up some feathers as high school is awkward enough as it is, let alone when you throw plot twists into the mix.
A girl gets elected president and the boys are less than pleased with her up-tight attitude. You may have looked up at the title at this point and wondered “where do the maids fit into all of this?”
Well, that same tyrannical president actually works as a maid. And one of the Chads just discovered this little fact.
Grab some popcorn, it’s about to get messy.
20. Ao Haru Ride (2014)
Overcorrections can be a real issue in life; you think you’re undesirable one way so you do a one-eighty, and now the people from your past don’t know what to feel.
That is the central theme in Ao Haru Ride, as the main female protagonist goes from a “girly-girl” to one of the boys, thinking that because she couldn’t confess to the boy she liked in middle school, she has to change in order for that to never happen again.
But whoopsie daisy, the boy is back for round two!
And is very confused this time… so what happens next?
Romance, confusion, and some chuckles.
19. The Pet Girl of Sakurasou (2012)
Okay, I know the title seems a bit wrong, and honestly even when I give you the synopsis it will seem a bit odd… but you just have to believe me that the show knows what it’s doing.
Basically, our male protagonist really wants a cat. But since he can’t just make any place his kitty’s home, he has to move to Sakurasou.
But in Sakurasou, all the oddballs also find their refuge. Most regarding quirks and such, alongside a girl who can’t seem to take care of herself.
The duty then falls on our MC to help this fair maiden out, while sparks fly as per usual.
Again, give it a watch. It’s not as smutty as it sounds, not in the slightest.
18. Tamako Love Story (2014)
If I tell you that Tamako is a character in this movie, could you guess what the premise is?
How did you know! So who is Tamako?
Well she’s just your average girl that lives in the moment, isn’t too concerned with the future as she has a sweet deal in her family’s restaurant, and just really wants to nail her baton performance.
What’s her love story?
A childhood friend is really into her but is a) scared to tell her how he feels, and b) has his mind set on studying in Tokyo, leaving Tamako behind.
How will all of this end up? Why are you asking me, go watch the movie!
17. Golden Time (2013)
The beginning of this show definitely threw me off as far as tone is concerned.
The first scene we get is a guy getting lost in the city, bumping into another guy who’s also lost, and then a girl pops onto the scene and hits the other guy with some flowers, thus initiating a Looney Toons chase.
You would really expect a beyond goofy show with an opener like that.
But to be fair, the show actually has a very good portrayal of relationships.
The characters seem fully fleshed out too. And most of what happens is natural. So never judge a book by its first pages, I guess.
16. Special A (2008)
If you’ve ever seen anime rivals and thought “just kiss already”, this show might just be right up your alley.
It focuses (most of the time) on Hikari Hanazono and Kei Takishima, both brilliant people who excel at everything they do.
The only catch is that Kei excels just a bit more, and Hikari really doesn’t like this second fiddle business.
So she tries her best to beat Kei in everything and anything, while Kei just secretly likes her. Sure, Naruto and Sasuke might have done it first. But it is still very satisfying to see a rivalry turn romantic!
15. My Little Monster (2012)
I know this might be a shock, but this show is actually not about the Lady Gaga fanbase.
I know, I too was devastated.
My Little Monster is amazing though.
It takes two people, both of whom really don’t understand interpersonal relationships but out of different reasons, and pairs them up.
In this unconventional duo the female lead, Shizuku, is a complete kuudere who can’t be bothered by anything.
And then we have Haru, a semi-delinquent who is full of passion and has a rooster for some reason (I really had to control myself not to make the obvious joke here).
It’s unconventional, it’s quirky, and it’s wholesome.
14. Honey and Clover (2005)
Honey and Clover is just a really good anime that happens to be a romance.
It’s all about the college struggle, in particular as to how it affects the arts.
Our five protagonists all go for different branches of creativity, with different motivations, ambitions, and so on.
To rephrase my initial sentence: the characters are so well written that you just feel like you are reliving your college years, which just happens to contain a lot of romance (hopefully).
There is some drama, comedy, and chill vibes thrown into the mix.
But honestly, the end goal of the show is for you to point to a character and just say “same”.
13. Weathering With You (2019)
I have to give it to this movie.
I surely haven’t heard a plot like this outside of folklore.
In short, we have our two main characters who are both barely staying afloat financially.
But one day they discover something quite peculiar. You see, in the Tokyo of the movie it is a constant downpour, but whenever the female lead prays for it, the sun bursts through those troublesome clouds and shines on us mortals.
Will this be a business? What will be the consequences? Is this the long-awaited rival of the Slavic Dodola?
Two out of three questions will be answered.
12. Zutto Mae kara Suki deshita.: Kokuhaku Jikkou Iinkai (2016)
That looks like an intimidating title. But in reality, it is just translated to “I’ve always liked you”.
Take that sentence, throw it into multiple dialogues and you have this movie.
And that is not a diss, but rather just a warning that everyone likes everyone in this movie. And they all suck at explaining themselves.
But they’re all so well-written and likable that even the tenth confession gets me all hyped up. And I truly cannot understand why.
It’s as pure as a high school romance can get. And even if that sounds like a turn-off, trust me, somehow it will end up being not quite what you expect.
11. Orange (2016)
I’m sure we all have some regrets in life, some bigger than others.
However when it comes down to saving a life, that guilt may just never go away.
This is the story of Naho, a girl who receives a letter from her future self, warning her to take good care of a new transfer student in order to make sure he sticks around in the future.
It can get heavy. It can get wholesome.
It’s a typical shoujo and yet can be enjoyed by anyone.
It definitely takes a different approach than another entry on this list, but both work in their own ways.
10. The Garden of Words (2013)
This movie feels like soul ASMR, to be honest.
It’s all about a boy who decides to skip class one day and ends up meeting a mysterious woman.
They end up meeting in this beautiful garden while the rain just trickles in the background. The boy decides to make her some new shoes, and so their encounter becomes more than a one-time deal.
Then some plot twist happens, I don’t know, spiritually I am still in the garden listening to the rain.
9. The Anthem of the Heart (2015)
Living in your own little fairy tale (the genre, not the anime) is all fun and games until it impacts real life.
Our protagonist had to learn this the hard way, as her naivety leads to a secret getting out in the world and hurting people really close to her.
She now has a “curse”, or more like a seal, that prevents her from ever speaking again.
But then the school pulls the classic “calling on someone who didn’t raise their hand” move, and she gets chosen to take part in a musical.
It’s there that she meets mister Rockstar Sakagami, and as they say, the rest is…a spoiler.
8. Ouran High School Host Club (2006)
Ouran high school has a host club. But what is a host club?
It’s where rich boys get all dolled up and try to impress ladies in order to get that paper. Are one of these ladies the female interest?
Well not really. You see, a person completely unrelated to the host club ends up in dept and has to masquerade as a boy to pull it off.
It turns out she’s more of a Chad than any of them, which makes her the favorite among the ladies.
But she also has a killer personality “off stage”, so she becomes very popular with the men as well. It’s strange but entertaining.
7. ReLIFE (2016)
More optimistic than his Re brother (of the zero clan) but still kind of painful.
The central hook is this: we take a guy in his late twenties who is just failing at life, like we all are, and give him a pill that reverts him into a teenager.
He now has to attend high school all over again and relearn why teens have so much anxiety.
Will he fall in love along the way?
Whether that’s kind of weird given his real age, I’m not here to judge. But I will say that the show was the easiest binge.
6. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
Romance definitely plays second fiddle to the supernatural in this movie. But I think that it still does it justice.
As the name so elegantly puts it, our female lead gains the ability to go back in time.
Of course, she uses it to fix petty mistakes. But wouldn’t you know it, not all problems can be solved like that.
And then maybe that second fiddle starts playing in her ear and she’s tempted to use said power… but would that be fair to the other person?
Who knows, ask your local sci-fi pastor today!
In all seriousness, excellent movie. I like the aunt the most for unexplained reasons.
5. Kimi no Na wa. (2016)
This was an absolute behemoth of a movie. Quickly captured the entire anime community and even beyond that.
It does have supernatural elements. But it just feels so real: that search for your kindred spirit, chasing the red line of fate, maybe body-swapping a bit like it is Freaky Friday, all common things people do.
The art design is also on point in this movie.
Everything is crystal clear and fluid. And when paired with a powerful soundtrack it really makes for an amazing theatre experience.
4. Nana (2006)
This show is about a lot of things: music, friendships, aspirations, rivalries, etc.
But love, either between friends or partners, is a prevalent theme that goes in all directions.
I will warn you some of the ships in this show will make you want to pull your hair out. Some will make you cry, and others will be the purest form of goals you have ever seen.
The series just showcases both the ups and downs of relationships to such a degree that you legitimately feel like a fly on the wall.
It’s an older show, and neither the anime nor the manga are (or ever will be) finished.
Nevertheless I can’t recommend this show enough, absolutely worth checking out.
3. Toradora! (2008)
The beautiful thing about Toradora is the balance it makes between serious and goofy material.
Taiga can be just the cutest thing, attacking people with her sword, pouting like the tsundere queen she is, and chilling with Ryuuji and Inko.
But she also gets some pretty heavy monologues, themes, and acts.
I mentioned her attacking people with a sword as a goofy “ha ha” moment. But further down the line that same act left me on the edge of my chair.
All in all, it has a little bit of everything. And if you can get over the blue balling first half, you’ll find this show to be one of the best.
2. Your Lie in April (2014)
Your Lie in April is in all regards a bit tragic. And yet it manages to reach a high point that makes you feel like you can do anything.
You probably wouldn’t even see the depth of the show coming at first, as the very bright colors and chipper atmosphere of the first few episodes really lull you into a sense of an optimistic rom-com.
But then BOOM, the curtains drop and we see real people, with some messed up histories, in the process of healing.
Music is also a carrying theme in the show, which makes the whole thing very serene.
1. Clannad (2007)
Clannad is known as one of the best tear-jerkers around.
The world is so well developed, the characters detailed and intertwined, and the writing realistic, that you feel like you’re viewing real lives.
This is because not only is the spotlight of the show a bit larger, but relationships are taken to their logical conclusions.
Plus it’s not all down like Kuzu no Honkai, nor is it all up like a pure comedy. It goes up and down and each bend really hits you in the love muscle.
Heck, the soundtrack alone will make at least half of you reading this cry on command.
As far as romance anime goes, definitely one of the absolute kings that set the playing field for generations to come.