Sometimes people ask: “Why bother with animated romantic comedies? They aren’t even real people.” To that I say, “Peter Kavinsky is also a fictional character, and leave me alone, animated boys can be just as dreamy.”
But until I meet an anime hero with some sort of tragic backstory of my own, these five rom-com animes will help me bide my time.
1. Kaichou Wa Maid Sama
A cult favorite among rom-com anime enthusiasts, “Kaichou Wa Maid Sama” is an adorably cliché story that is still worth watching the fifth time around.
Determined to bring a rowdy, testosterone-jacked high school to order as the student council president, Ayuzawa Misaki is the perfect anime girl crush with a not-so-perfect life.
Hiding her much-needed after-school job as a cosplay server at a maid cafe, Ayuzawa eventually finds her double life intruded upon by the high school heartthrob Takumi Usui who (shockingly) becomes fascinated by her tenacity and her tender alter ego.
The reason why this anime appears on almost every “Top X Rom-com Anime” list is simply because of the sweet, sweet chase. It is satisfying as a woman to watch Ayuzawa realize that femininity doesn’t signify weakness and to have Usui as a male protagonist who respects Ayuzawa for her tsundere ways. I’ve also heard that the manga the story is based upon is also a fantastic read, so there is no need to feel sad after finishing this anime.
2. Kimi Ni Todoke (From Me To You)
Cursed with a solemn aura and a creepy resemblance to Sadako (the ghost from “The Ring”), Kuronuma Sawako is a tragically sweet girl everyone tries to avoid. Despite years of ostracism, the female protagonist persists as a surprisingly refreshing and optimistic character who realizes she is capable of sustaining relationships with other human beings.
Aptly titled “From Me To You,” Sawako’s story is more than just about fluffy romance — it’s about how one learns to truly communicate their feelings. The anime is about how people interact with one another and how genuine friendship and affection can forge lasting relationships.
Here’s to all the shy boys and shy girls who want to break out of their shells. This anime is for you.
3. Ao Haru Ride (Blue Spring Ride)
Does your heart ever twinge or ache when watching rom-coms? “Ao Haru Ride” is sure to do exactly that.
In order to avoid being cast out by her female classmates, Yoshioka Futaba tosses aside her gentle and feminine middle school self in favor of a boisterous tomboy persona. The abrupt transformation has Yoshioka rethinking her boy-repellant stance when Mabuchi Kou — the single outlier in the male population she actually liked — unexpectedly returns to her life.
The anime takes the viewer on a spring ride full of both happy and sad tears and nurtures a hopelessly withered romance into a satisfying ending. There will be times where the characters are frustratingly dense, but you could find yourself rooting for the couple all the same. (BTW, the manga by the same name: 10/10 would recommend.)
4. Ouran Highschool Host Club
Up on the same level of notoriety as “Maid Sama,” “Ouran Highschool Host Club” never fails to end up on anime fans’ top 10 lists — including mine.
Accepted into Ouran Highschool as a scholarship student, Haruki finds herself in a pinch and in massive debt when she stumbles upon the Host Club, a group of boys dedicated to charming and serving the female student body. Of course, she finds that there is more to life than endless studying and begins to find joy in making other people happy.
The writers of the anime don’t care about gender roles or the stigma behind those who blur gender lines, and that’s exactly what makes the story great. The anime does a great job of de-emphasizing the importance of assigning gender roles and allows their characters to embrace both traditionally feminine and masculine ideals, regardless of their sex.
While this isn’t as romantic as other animes on this list, it is sure to squeeze a laugh or two out of audiences.
5. Snow White with the Red Hair
Possibly the cutest rom-com anime in existence is “Snow White with the Red Hair,” which puts a fun spin on the classic snow white story with a bold heroine. When Shirayuki, the town herbalist with a shock of apple red hair, is forced to become the crown prince’s concubine, she decides to run away for her freedom.
While on the run, she accidentally befriends Zen, the second prince of a neighboring country. As one does when running away.
In a turn of events, she begins her life anew in Zen’s country, determined to hone her skills as an herbalist and serve the crown to her utmost ability.
The reason why this story is so appealing is because it begins with a pure friendship that slowly blossoms into a sweet love. Both Shirayuki and Zen rely on each other for growth and motivation in a way that many anime relationships don’t. The fairytale is a wonderful combination of both paving your own destiny and letting the red string of fate guide the way, and the narrative is much less problematic than most Disney princess movies.
I literally smiled throughout all two seasons (24 episodes in total), and I’m sure to keep smiling because (rumor has it) Season 3 is in the works and might be dropping in 2019!
Wolf Girl and Black Prince
What can go wrong when you lie about being the most desirable high school boy’s girlfriend? Oh, he’s also kinda psycho? No biggie.
Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior
The only guide you will ever need when you wind up living with your crush in a dorm-like house with a couple of oddball roommates. Also, the art is amazing.
My Little Monster
Come watch a nearly soulless girl tame a monster-like teenage boy. Guaranteed a good time and a few rom-com butterflies for the stomach.
What is more fun than watching one couple fall in love? Watching four of them all at the same time. How the writers manage to come up with unique love stories for 4+ couples is beyond me.
Niijiro Days (Rainbow Days)
Someone once thought making an anime about a group of four boys each finding girls that suit them unexpectedly well was a good idea. They weren’t wrong.