It’s February and we all know what that means; Valentine’s Day, or as I like to call it, Singles Awareness Day (SAD). The one day out of the year dedicated to LOVE, or at the very least, an excuse for businesses to make a mint off of lovestruck couples looking to drop a fortune on romantic dates with their significant others. But, what is love? Is it that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you see your crush enter a room or is it the quiet intimacy of two friends enjoying a movie at home? For many, love isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept, so why is it that the media always tries to sell us the same boring love stories over and over again? Where’s the variety?
Well, MANGA.TOKYO has you covered. This time around we’re bringing you an alternative list of 10 romance anime to fall in love with this Valentine’s Day! Because let’s face it, love comes in all shapes and sizes and it’s about time we celebrate that fact!! But, don’t worry, there will be some traditional romances thrown into the mix, for ‘balance’, but, I tried to get a good mix of romance options including some BL, Yuri, and Non-Traditional romance options as well!
So, get ready for some warm fuzzies. Here are 10 heart-pounding romance anime to fall in love with this Valentine’s Day!!
10 Alternative Romance Anime
My Love Story!! (Ore Monogatari!!)
Kicking off this list is a heartwarming rom-com about first-year high schooler, Takeo Gouda, whose rather intimidating appearance scares most people away, including the ladies. But, beneath his burly exterior, he’s a big ol’ teddy bear, desperately hoping for a love story of his very own… unfortunately, his bishounen best friend, Makoto Sunakawa, always manages to unintentionally steal every girl Takeo sets his sights on. He finally thinks his luck has turned around when he saves the cute Rinko Yamato from a would-be molester and falls head over heels in love. But, when it appears Rinko has fallen for his best friend, Takeo, makes the ultimate sacrifice, playing cupid for the girl of his dreams, despite wanting her for himself…
This is another ‘scary guy meets cute girl’ high school romance, but rather than beating us over the head with cliche after cliche, My Love Story manages to offer a rather sweet rom-com with a dynamic cast of characters!
I’m not usually a fan of incest anime, since generally speaking, there really is no tasteful way to depict them. However, Koi Kaze manages to make the whole thing seem a lot less cringy than oh, let’s say, Usagi Drop. Fresh off a difficult break up, 27-year-old Saeki Koushirou has a chance meeting with a 15-year-old girl, Nanoka Kohinata, that changes his life forever. As feelings of love well up in both their hearts, they soon discover that they are brother and sister… A taboo love between siblings that is, oddly enough, rather heartwarming and tastefully depicted.
While the series has many lighthearted moments, the bulk of the story focuses on the main pair and the realistic consequences of their feelings for one another. Incest is not played for laughs or used as a ‘gimmick’. It is a real problem and the series deals with it accordingly. Kaze Koi is a bittersweet and at times tragic romance that will touch your heart despite its rather taboo premise.
No. 6 takes place in a dystopian future in the walled city-state No. 6. The place is a veritable utopia where its citizens live a life free from sickness and poverty. But, in order to maintain their peace, the citizens of No. 6 must adhere to a strict set of rules, lest the city collapses into the barren wastes that surround their gilded walls. When Shion, a wealthy denizen of the city, takes in an injured boy from outside the wall, he and his family are stripped of their wealth and power, forced to seek out a living elsewhere. Years later, Shion and the boy, Nezumi, meet again and embark on a journey that will help uncover the dark secrets of No. 6 and the true price of utopia.
No. 6 isn’t a romance anime in the traditional sense but more of a sci-fi action anime that happens to have a rather compelling love story woven in and it’s probably one of the best BL romances I’ve seen in a long time. This anime proves that you don’t have to rely on sex or typical BL tropes to tell a good romance story. The romance is a slow burn and more than a little tragic, but the progression of Shion and Nezumi’s relationship is simply fantastic!
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After her mother gets remarried, Yuzu Aihara transfers to a strict conservative girls’ school, where she meets and immediately butts heads with the equally strict student council president, Mei. But, unbeknownst to Yuzu, Mei is actually her new step-sister?! What’s a girl to do when you’re forced to cohabitate with the person you hate? And then what do you do when that hate turns into something more?
Citrus is currently airing as part of the Winter 2018 season, but Yuri fans have been rallying for an anime like this for ages and it has finally come. Sure, it’s your run-of-the-mill high school romance, with all the cliches we love to hate, but buried underneath all of that is a rather sweet romance. Like the title suggests, it is sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet…
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Snow White with the Red Hair (Akagami no Shirayuki-hime)
Shirayuki is a cheerful herbalist in the country of Tanbarun, renowned for her skills as an apothecary and her unusual red hair. When her beauty attracts the attention of the spoiled Prince Raji, Shirayuki cuts off her long red hair and flees the country. On her journey, she meets the Zen Wistalia, the second prince of a neighboring country and the pair strike up an immediate friendship. With the help of the prince and his companions, Shirayuki sets out to make a new life for herself in Zen’s home country of Clarines.
Yes, this is a romance, but rather than focusing on the main couple solely within the context of their relationship, the anime instead depicts them as independent characters with their own motivations and goals. Of course, their budding attraction for one another is apparent from Episode 1, but that’s not the ‘goal’ of the story. Instead, it’s about how they become better people through their association with one another and how that bond blossoms into love, which is a welcome change from the love at first sight romances that I was used to.
Wandering Son (Hourou Musuko)
Wandering Son is a series that looks at the complex notion of gender identity through its charming protagonists, Shuuichi Nitori, a male fifth grader that identifies as female, and Yoshino Takatsuki, a female fifth grader who identifies as male. This is a unique coming of age story that delves into the usual adolescent issues, while tastefully depicting the struggles many transgender individuals go through as they discover their true selves.
Right, so this isn’t a romance. So, why is it on this list? Well, because it touches on an aspect of love that is often overlooked, the ever important self-love. We get so caught up in the hearts-and chocolates love stories that we forget that self-love is an equally important and often neglected concept. The series does follow the romantic exploits of both protagonists, but at its core, this is a story of self acceptance and love!
3 Seasons | 36 Episodes
Ordinary high school student Misaki Takahashi is preparing for his college entrance exams when he walks in on his older brother and his friend in a rather compromising position. Much to his shock, the friend, Akihiko Usami, has set his sights on Misaki, and what unfolds is a turbulent and often comedic love story between a raunchy novelist and a hapless student. The series also follows two other couples, but the bulk of the story focuses on Misaki and Usami’s relationship.
Junjou Romantica is a much beloved BL classic that until recently I was avoiding like the plague… but, after actually watching the series, I found it surprisingly entertaining. Of course, it’s cliche as hell and at times cringy, but the romance is, oddly enough, done really well, all things considered. If you overlook some of the more questionable actions of the characters, there’s a solid albeit flawed love story buried underneath… and smut, did I forget to mention the smut?
Whispered Words (Sasameki Koto)
Murasame Sumika is a popular high school student with a secret: she’s in love with her best friend, Kazama Ushio. Unfortunately for our heroine, Ushio is only interested in cute petite girls, everything Sumika is not, and what follows is a bittersweet one-sided between two young girls in the springtime of their youth.
Before there was Citrus, there was Whispered Words… Rather than being a tragic love story, this anime is a cute lighthearted story with a fun cast of unique characters. The romance itself is a bit of an uphill battle, due to the character’s pre-existing biases, but it’s handled well, tapping into those complex emotions that come along with one-sided crushes that most of us have experienced at some point in our lives.
Emma: A Victorian Romance (Eikoku Koi Monogatari Emma)
2 Seasons | 24 Episodes
In the class-fueled society of 19th century London, an earnest maid, Emma, falls in love with a wealthy merchant, William. As heir to the Jones household, William is expected to marry into the peerage and help elevate his family’s name, but his feelings for Emma complicate his engagement with another more suitable young lady. This is a tumultuous love story that uproots the strict preexisting class systems of the time.
While Emma is another ‘girl meets boy, girl falls in love’ story, it takes place in 19th century London, an often underused setting in Japanese media, outside of fantasy. Rather than sugarcoating the difficulties of an interclass romance, Emma delves into the social and cultural implications of a love affair between a maid and a member of the gentry, and it’s just as heartbreaking as you’d imagine.
World’s Greatest First Love (Sekaiichi Hatsukoi)
2 Seasons | 24 Episodes
Tired of living in his father’s shadow, literary editor Ritsu Onodera, quits his job at his father’s publishing company in order to strike out on his own and joins a rival company, Marukawa Publishing. Unfortunately, rather than winding up in the literary department, Ritsu gets demoted to rookie manga editor, under the tough-as-balls editor-in-chief Masamune Takano, who happens to be his old high school crush!
World’s Greatest First Love is a spin-off of Junjou Romantic, I know, I KNOW… but, hear me out, there’s a method to my madness. *clears throat* So, where Junjou plays into many of the existing questionable BL tropes, WGFL goes in the opposite direction, offering a much more heartfelt love story about reclaiming lost love…progress at it’s finest! The romance between the main couple and the two B couples is well developed and honestly better than most BL anime romances I’ve seen in the past. Sure, it’s campy and dated, but it has a lot of heart… and that’s more than enough reason to check it out!
Put a little romance back in your life!
Love comes in many shapes and sizes, from the confusing and bittersweet first loves to the passionate love affairs that permeate pop culture. Each of these titles touches on a different aspect of love and the ups and downs that come along with it. As always, this isn’t the end-all list for romance anime. There are loads of wonderful titles out there for you all to fall in love with, so go out and uncover them for yourselves!
Of course, we at MANGA.TOKYO want to hear from you guys! Do you have any romance anime you think deserve a mention? Let us know in the comments section, and if you’re looking for more anime suggestions check out our other recommendation articles!!
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