Nothing pulls you into a fictional world more than romance. A well-told love story can make us laugh and cry in equal measure, and these anime series have gone down in history as model examples of the genre.
Snow White with the Red Hair
Who doesn’t love a forbidden romance? Shirayuki is a sweet, red-haired peasant girl from the country of Tanbarun. While working as an apothecary, her life is changed forever when she is noticed by the country’s prince Raji, who attempts to make Shirayuki his concubine.
In an attempt to flee, our heroine cuts off her hair and escapes into the forest. There, she is rescued by Zen Wistalia, the second prince of a neighboring country. Hoping to repay the man’s kindness, Shirayuki pursues a career as the court herbalist in Zen’s country of Clarines. As the two pursue their goals, they slowly begin to fall in love.
Blending romance with an engaging fantasy adventure, this 24-episode series might inspire you to find your own prince or princess.
Snow White with the Red Hair is available to stream on Crunchyroll and Hulu.
My Love Story!!
Those looking for a feel-good series that will restore faith in humanity will adore My Love Story!! Takeo Gouda isn’t your typical high school hunk. Standing a foot taller than his peers, his intimidating stature doesn’t fit his personality. Courageous, courteous, and kindhearted, Takeo is a great guy all around. However, finding a girlfriend isn’t easy when you scare all the ladies away. Another problem? Takeo’s best friend Makoto is one of the most handsome guys at school.
One day, Takeo saves the adorable Rinko Yamato from a pervert and falls in love with her at first sight. Rinko begins spending time with him, and as time goes on, their relationship begins to bloom against all odds. After all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
My Love Story!! is available on Crunchyroll.
One of the most beloved romantic comedy series of the 2010s, Toradora! is an easy watch. The series follows a mismatched couple that falls in love after trying to set each other up with their best friends. Ryuuji Takasu is a kind boy with a love for housework, but his intimidating face makes most students think he’s a delinquent. Taiga Aisaka is a short girl who looks like a sweetheart, but her feisty personality and wooden sword often get her into trouble. With a relatable main cast and a script that has stayed fresh over the past decade, you won’t want to miss this one.
You can stream Toradora! on Netflix, Crunchyroll, and Amazon Prime Video.
Spice and Wolf
If you’re looking for a slow burn, Spice and Wolf is a series that doesn’t rush a thing. Holo is a powerful wolf deity, revered in the town of Pasloe for blessing the yearly harvest.
As the decades pass, the villagers become more self-sufficient, and tales of Holo transform into folktales. When a traveling merchant named Kraft Lawrence arrives in Pasloe, Holo offers to become his business partner if he agrees to take her to her home in the north, called Yoitsu. Kraft agrees after seeing Holo’s impressive skills as a negotiator. Hoping to own his own shop someday, he travels with Holo through the countryside, slowly finding more than he bargained for as his goals and dreams begin to change.
Spice and Wolf is available on Hulu and Funimation.
High schooler Miki Koishikawa is met with the shock of a lifetime after a trip to Hawaii. Without warning, her parents get a divorce. Soon after, they each announce that they will be remarrying and swapping partners with a couple they met in the states! Invited to dinner with this new couple, Miki meets Matsuura Yuu, the couple’s very handsome son.
Immediately developing a crush on the boy, Miki and Yuu’s romance quickly blossoms, though the two have to survive a number of threats to their relationship as the series progresses. With 76 episodes, Marmalade Boy is sure to keep you busy for a while.
The classic series Marmalade Boy is available to watch on Crunchyroll.
You can never judge a book by its cover, and no story encapsulates that saying better than the 2021 series Horimiya. On the outside, Kyouko Hori seems like the perfect combo of beauty and brains. On the other hand, Izumi Miyamura looks like the dictionary definition of a nerdy otaku and a studious bookworm. In reality, Hori is a homebody who prefers wearing sweatpants, while Izumi is a punk with nine piercings and plenty of tattoos. When the two discover the truth about each other, they find themselves becoming closer as they keep up appearances at school.
Watch Horimiya on Crunchyroll and Hulu.
Do you have regrets? If you could go back in time, what would you change about how you lived your life? Orange tackles this common dream by telling the story of Naho Takayama, a high school student who receives a letter from her future self. The strange note also warns Naho to keep an eye on the transfer student Kakeru Naruse, as he has lost his life in the future. Using the letter as her guide, Naho seeks to protect Kakeru and to change her life for the better–before it’s too late.
Orange is now streaming on Crunchyroll.
Kodomo no Omocha
Sixth-grader Sana Kurata has it all. She’s the star of a children’s television show, her mother is a successful author, and she has plenty of friends. After enrolling in a normal school, Sana is met with total chaos in her classroom. This madness is led by the troublemaker Akito Hayama, who constantly butts heads with Sana and who disrespects almost every adult in his life. Sana decides to figure out why Akito is such a jerk, and in doing so, she realizes that the boy is hiding more than she thought. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll miss 90s anime after binging this lengthy series.
Kodomo no Omocha (or Kodocha) is available on Amazon Prime Video for an additional fee. The series was recently released on Blu-ray by Discotek Media.
Kimi ni Todoke
In school, it’s tough to be the odd one out. Sawako Kuronuma, a high school freshman in Hokkaido, is constantly called Sadako by her classmates for her resemblance to the terrifying character from The Ring. Feared and shunned, rumors even claim that she can curse people and see spirits. Deep down, Sawako is kind and helpful, but has long given up on having any friends. One day, Shota Kazehaya, the most popular boy in class, starts a conversation with the quiet girl. Soon after, Sawako finds herself making her friends and starting to open up. Filled with gratitude, she starts growing closer to the boy who made it all possible.
Watch Kimi ni Todoke on Hulu and Crunchyroll.
To love someone is to risk losing them. Ritsuka, a high schooler with a long history of playing guitar, has given up on playing. One day, he meets a boy named Mafuyu on the school’s staircase, curiously holding a broken guitar. It’s clear that Mafuyu knows nothing at all about the instrument, and unwillingly, Ritsuka offers to teach him to play. After inviting Mafuyu to a jam session with some friends, the group discovers that Mafuyu has the voice of an angel. But why does the boy carry around a broken guitar day after day? What secrets is he hiding?
If you’re ready to experience some serious emotion, Given is now streaming on Crunchyroll. The Given film is also available to stream.
Sometimes, things that are worth having don’t come easily. The town of Clock Hill is home to Maison Ikkoku, an old boarding house filled with unique occupants. Yuusaku Godai is the only quiet tenant in the place, and after putting up with his neighbor’s noise for long enough, he decides to move out. His plans are interrupted, however, when he meets the new boarding house manager, Kyoko Otonashi. It’s love at first sight for Godai, but wooing Kyoko won’t be easy, as she is still mourning the loss of her late husband. Will the two be able to find a happy ending?
Maison Ikkoku isn’t currently available to stream. However, you can still experience the story by reading the manga series.
An anime adaption of one of the most beloved visual novels of the 2000s, Clannad has been a powerhouse in the romance genre since 2004. Spawning four manga adaptations, an animated film, two anime series, two OVAs, comic anthologies, light novels, and plenty of art books, it’s clear that Clannad is made of something special.
The story follows Tomoya Okazaki, a high school student who has lost all zest for life. One day, Tomoya meets Nagisa Furukawa, a soft-spoken girl who is repeating a grade after an illness caused her to miss most of the previous school year. Her goal is to join the drama club, and after deciding that he doesn’t have much else to do, Tomoya decides to help his new friend along with four other girls from school. The characters shine in this series, and each is hiding much more than meets the eye.
Clannad is currently streaming on Hulu.
Sometimes, we don’t understand the meaning of love until it’s too late. Violet, the series’ protagonist, was once a soldier in a terrible war. Treated like a weapon, she is terrible at expressing her emotions. After leaving the hospital after the war’s end, she begins work as an Auto Memory Doll–a ghostwriter for people who cannot write or are looking for help expressing their feelings in written form. In an effort to understand the final words said to her by Gilbert Bougainvillea, the most important person in her life, she takes on the difficult work, hoping to discover more about herself along the way.
What were Gilbert’s final words to Violet? “I love you.”
Get the tissues ready: Violet Evergarden and the Violet Evergarden film are both streaming on Netflix.
The Vision of Escaflowne
An ordinary schoolgirl with an interest in fortune-telling, Hitomi Kanzaki isn’t expecting to be pulled into another world. One night, a boy named Van Fanel appears from the sky along with a terrifying dragon, whom he soon slays. A pillar of light sweeps them off to the mysterious land of Gaea, where Hitomi finds out that Van is a prince. His kingdom of Fanelia is under attack by an evil empire, and as Hitomi travels with the mysterious boy, their relationship evolves into something more than simple allies.
The Vision of Escaflowne is streaming on Funimation.
After Tohru Honda’s mother dies in a car accident, the high school student finds herself living in a tent on her own. After her secret is discovered, she ends up moving into the home of her popular classmate Yuki Sohma, along with his cousin Shigure and Kyo, Yuki’s rival. If you’re expecting another high school drama, Fruits Basket adds some oddities to the mix: after falling into Kyo, the boy transforms into a cat. Tohru is told that the Sohma family is cursed, with each member possessed by a spirit from the Chinese Zodiac. This means that when stressed, weak, embarrassed, or embraced by a member of the opposite sex, they will transform into their zodiac animal.
The curse is much more damaging and deep than Tohru expects, and as she tries to find a way to break it, she must overcome challenges that may threaten her very life. Fruits Basket may feature an incredible romance at its heart, but it also does something miraculous: it makes the viewer feel like a part of the Sohma family.
The 2019 version of Fruits Basket is available to watch on Hulu and Crunchyroll.