10 Must-Watch Japanese Romance Anime | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

10 Must-Watch Japanese Romance Anime

By Armie Jan 24, 2019

There is always an anime to match your liking. There are a lot of popular Japanese anime series or movies of different genres, be it action, drama, fantasy-thriller, post-apocalyptic, comedy, and of course romance, that are produced for a wide range of viewers.

Perhaps the most popular genre, especially among young adult, is romance. There is something about these romantic anime television series or movies that gives viewers a shudder, that feeling of elation every time you watch your fave anime characters hug or kiss.

When was the last time you watched a Japanese romance anime? If you’re planning to watch again, especially on long weekends, on long winter nights, and on those random days when you need something to spice up your life:

Here Are 10 of the Best Japanese Romance Anime You Must Include in Your List:

1. Lovely Complex

It is also known as Love Com, a romantic comedy anime based on Aya Nakahara’s romantic comedy shojo manga. Lovely Complex is a 24-episode anime series that was shown in Japan in 2007. It’s a cute, funny and lovely complex story about high school students, Atsushi Otani, and Riza Koizumi, the former is 5 ft 1 and is way below the height of an average Japanese boy, while the latter is 5 ft 8 and is way much taller than an average Japanese girl.

One of the issues dominant in the series is heightism or the prejudice against people based on height, especially against those whose height is not within the normally acceptable range of height in a population. There is a conscious bias against short men more than short women, especially in Japanese society, and that was one of the challenges Otani had to face in the series. Koizumi, meanwhile, believed her being tall made it more difficult for her to find a suitable romantic partner.

I’ve watched this anime five years ago but I still want to watch it again and again. If you can’t get enough of the anime just like I was, I would also suggest that you watch the live action movie. It’s not your typical love conquers all kind of anime but it will surely make you believe in the beauty of love that breaks some of our society’s norms.      

Also, if you want to learn the Kansai-ben, you definitely should watch this anime. The setting of this series is Osaka that is why most characters speak the language of the Kansai region. You can definitely brush up your language study while watching this series.

2. From Me To You (Kimi ni Todoke)

This 38-episode anime series was based on a Japanese shojo romance manga by Karuho Shiina. The story revolves around Sawako Kuronuma, called Sadako by her classmates because of her resemblance to Sadako of The Ring, and Ryu Kazehaya, a school heartthrob. As they got to know more about each other, sweet love blossomed as well.

As individuals, we all long for acceptance – that sense of wanting to be belong to a group, a community, and to someone. This coming-of-age issue and how most of the time it is difficult for some people to find the place and the people where and whom they belong are some of the few significant highlights of this anime series.

I love the fact that this series is empowering in a way that the turn of events in the life of the main characters showcased how people should learn to change the way they perceive themselves first before they long for others to change how they perceive them. Acceptance starts within ourselves and the only time other people will accept us for who we are is when we have also accepted who we truly are.

On a lighter note, one of my favorite episodes was when Sawako-san confessed her feelings for Ryu. A live action movie of this anime series was also made in 2010.

3. Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso)

This Japanese romance animated series is based on Naoshi Arakawa’s manga, Kimiuso. It’s a melodramatic romantic story between two musical prodigies. The pianist boy who could not hear the sound of his piano anymore after his mother’s death and his breakdown, until he met the violinist girl who helped him love his music once again and come back to the musical performance world.

It’s quite a sad love story, but it’s definitely worth the watch. It showcases different aspects of young love. It will also remind you how to live each moment and continue living despite everything. I got so emotional watching it, especially when I figured out why the title was “Your Lie in April” and what was the “lie” the title was referring to. It’s one of those anime series that you would want to change the ending if only you could but then again changing it means changing the valuable lessons in it.

If you love to listen to the piano and violin and you can tolerate sorrowful melodies, this anime is for you. Your Lie in April has a live-action adaptation, as well.

4.  Ano Hana (The Flowers We Saw That Day)

The original title of this 11-episode anime series is Ano Ho Mita Hana No Namae o Bokutachi Wa Mada Shiranai which means “We still don’t know the flower we saw that day.”

The story centers on a group of six childhood friends who drifted apart as they grow up after one of them died in an accident when they were little. It often takes people quite a long time to move on from a traumatic experience and the consequence isn’t always good. Forgiving themselves for what happened in the past and moving on from the pain are among the issues and challenges the main characters of this series had to overcome. You can watch this with your best friends and peers.

What really hooked me in Ano Hana was one of its soundtracks, the Secret Base. It’s really a lovely song and it’s one of the most played soundtracks on my playlist.

5. Nana

It’s quite a long series and probably the oldest one in this list but you’ll surely love it! This 47-episode Japanese romance anime is based on Ai Yazawa’s manga of the same name. It’s the story about two girls of the same name, Nana, and their quest for happiness, fame, and love.

We can never have everything we wanted all at once. Most of the time, we even have to choose which one to prioritize first between career, fame, friendship or love. We can always try to balance our choices but it isn’t that easy. The two Nana in this series has made different choices, one pursued fame, and the other pursued love.     

If you can’t get enough of the long series, you can also watch the two live-action films that became popular because of Mika Nakashima.

6. Say “I Love You” (Sukitte Ii Na Yo)

This 13-episode Japanese romance anime series is based on Kanae Hazuki’s manga of the same name. It’s a story about how opposite attracts in a relationship. Mei Tachibana, a timid girl, met a popular boy in school, Yamato Kurosawa.

This anime will remind you of those times when you also liked someone you thought was out of your league. Sometimes, we judge people based on what we know about them from other people but most of the time we judge people based on how we judge ourselves. One of the reasons why it’s hard for us to trust others is because we also find it hard to trust ourselves. Apart from the love aspect of this anime series, it’s a good story about how we should give ourselves and other people a chance to not only prove themselves and be trusted but to be comfortable being who they really are.

7. The Garden of Words (Koto no ha no Niwa)

It is a 2013 Japanese romantic-drama anime film by Makoto Shinkai. The story revolves around a 15-year-old boy and a mysterious 27-year-old woman who is meeting at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.

It’s a pretty symbolic anime film about a state of solitude one will experience in love. In love, it isn’t always happy, especially when the people involved have different priorities, goals, and ways of looking at life.

I had to watch the movie thrice before I convinced myself that there’s no other suitable ending for this movie. You would know what I mean when you watch this yourself. If you liked Shinkai’s Kimi No Nawa, you’ll surely like this as well.

8. 5 Centimeters per Second

Do you still remember your first love? Even before Makoto Shinkai produced The Garden of Words and his globally famous anime, Kimi No Nawa, he also did the romance anime film 5 Centimeters per Second in 2007.

This Japanese romance anime has a tinge of drama in it. It’s about how your first love can affect your future decisions in life and it’s also about how to deal with the pain of being separated from someone close to your heart. While the love story will surely make you sob, the superb animation will surely make you look for more of Shinkai-san’s works.

9. A Silent Voice (Eiga Koe no Katachi)

Another tearjerker Japanese romance anime that will redefine the meaning of love and friendship is A Silent Voice. This 2016 anime film written by Reiko Yoshida and directed by Naoko Yamada was based on Yoshitoki Oima’s manga of the same name.

It’s a moving story of Shoya Ishida, a school bully, and Shoko Nishiyama, a girl with a hearing disability. Bullying, especially among people with disabilities, was one of the issues raised in this movie. The story was successful in making people see, hear, and feel the weight of frustration and pain of those bullied and of those who do the bullying, as well.

10.  Howl’s Moving Castle (Hauro no Ugoku Shiro)

Last but definitely not the least on your list is this 2004 Japanese romance-fantasy film directed by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli. The anime is actually based on the novel of Diana Wayne Jones. You will surely fall in love with the wizard named Howl and the young lady named Sophie.

While it’s partly a love story, this animated film has also touched other significant themes like feminism and call for anti-war movements, among others. Of course, the first you watch you will never be able to pay attention to these subliminal messages but you definitely will when you watch it more than once just like I did.

Watching anime series and movies are not only for hopeless romantics but for everyone who has experienced love and all its aspects. Not all relationships portrayed in Japanese romance anime are realistic but watching these romantic anime makes you feel good, too. Some of these really showcase the hardships, pains, struggles, and tragedy of human relationships.

Watching Japanese romance anime reminds you of how to build relationships, and of what you need to be in order to make relationships last. These Japanese romance anime teaches you to be understanding, loving and forgiving in order for your relationships to prosper. Sometimes these series and movies can also give you a glimpse of what you can do when you’re faced with the same situation.

Romantic anime series or movies also allow you to feel different emotions and this is one of the reasons why these connect very easily to the people. Have you seen these Japanese romance anime yet?


Wanna learn Japanese language? Then check out this article:

Best Dramas to Binge Watch and Learn Japanese