We deal with a wide spectrum when it comes to anime. If you thought anime was just about supernatural, mecha, action, think again. The anime genres are varied, out of these, one of the genres that’s wildly popular is romance. The romance genre is even further divided into many subgenres, so there’s something for everyone. On one hand, you have light-hearted romantic comedies and on other, there are dramatic romances.
Romance genres may additionally be a part of Shōjo (targetted at teenage female demographic) anime or slice of life. Really, there is no strict clubbing here. With that being said, here are IMDb’s top ten romance anime of all time.
Update April 8th, 2020 by Louis Kemner: Through the 2000s and the 2010s, the shojo genre has gained some serious ground, and the very idea of romance anime is bigger than ever. Many drama and comedy series make sure to include a romance plot, and for good reason: the fans can’t get enough of it! Everyone wants to be loved, and they want to see their favorite anime characters also get their happily-ever-after. So, we found five more highly-rated romance anime series on IMDb to mention.
15 MAID-SAMA! (2010) IMDB 8.0
This charming rom-com stars the tough and independent Misaki Ayuzawa, who sets an example at her high school as the strict and no-nonsense school president. The school only recently became co-ed, and Misaki is surrounded by boys.
But she also works at a maid cafe, and one day, her classmate, Takumi Usui, discovers Misaki’s secret maid life! To put it simply, all kinds of hilarity, hijinks, and awkward but earnest teenage romance soon follow, and fans of the shojo genre won’t want to miss this one.
14 KAGUYA-SAMA: LOVE IS WAR (2019-Current), IMDB 8.0
We’ve decided to add some ongoing anime to this list, and we have good news: the super-popular Kagyma-sama: Love is War is definitely getting a second season. Set in a prestigious private high school, this show depicts some amusingly high-IQ romantic encounters day in and day out.
The class president is Miyuki Shirogane (pictured at left), and he’s the 2nd best student at school, behind the brilliant Kaguya Shinomiya (pictured at right). They have a huge mutual crush, but they’re too proud and stubborn to make the first move! So, they try to trick each other into making the first big romantic gesture, and it’s so much fun to watch.
13 LOVELY COMPLEX (2007), IMDB 8.0
Also known as Love Com, this series brings viewers a hilarious love square where a rather tall girl and short boy try to help each other launch a relationship with their respective crushes. Nothing like doing a favor for a friend, right?
Of course, things get tangled fast, and each character’s feelings and interests soon get mixed up! It’s also worth noting that nearly every character in this anime speaks in the kansai-ben Japanese dialect, highly unusual for anime.
12 NODAME CANTABILE (2007), IMDB 8.1
Nothing like beautiful music to bring people together, right? In this anime, viewers will meet the ambitious and by-the-book violinist Shinichi Chiaki, who longs to become a top star in the music world but has a phobia of both airplanes and the ocean. So, he’s pretty much stuck in Japan for now.
He soon encounters the free-spirited pianist girl named Megumi Noda, who takes in instant liking to him, and they launch a friendship. It takes time for Shinichi to get used to Megumi and her musical style, but when he does, a beautiful romance lataer follows.
11 MAISON IKKOKU (1986-1988), IMDB 8.1
Next up is Maison Ikkoku, an anime that traces romance between Yuusaku Godai and his landlady Kyoko Otonashi. Your landlady may not the best person to hit on, but once you see the two fall head-over-heels in love with each other, you can’t help but root for them.
Kyoto is particularly a character that stays with you for long after the anime has finished. She’s a woman battling her own demons. She’s a widower who thinks she’s incapable of falling in love. Along comes the tenant-charming who meets her in her mess and sweeps her off her feet.
10 KAMISAMA KISS (2012), IMDB 8.1
Based on the manga by the same name by Julietta Suzuki, Kamisama Kiss combines Shōjo and the supernatural. It traces the story of a young girl, Nanami Momozono rendered homeless by her father’s debt. Unfettered by her woes, she’s a sweet little darling who goes out of her way to help strangers.
As fate would have it, Nanami saves a man from rabid dogs and her life is no longer the same. As a token of gratitude, the man kisses her on the forehead before offering his abandoned place to stay. Turns out, Nanami is now a diety and the abandoned place, a shrine.
In a weirdly supernatural fashion, she falls in love with her familiar Tomoe (a fox). The romance cuts deep as it explores the range of love between humans and nonhumans.
9 TORADORA! (2008-2011), IMDB 8.1
Toradora! is one of those school comedy and romance anime. It tells Ryuuji’s tale, who is nothing near to his delinquent appearance. Same is the case with his neighbour, Taiga who’s feisty for her size. Resting on the ‘appearances are the deceptive theme’, the two neighbours help each other with their respective crushes. But before you know it, they fall for one another.
If you are in for the long-haul, Toradora! is a special treat for it shows how love brews over time.
8 CROSS GAME (2009-2010) IMDB 8.2
Cross Game has successfully attempted all anime genres at once: sports, romance, comedy, and school. It is one of those ‘young-love’ stories that take you straight back to school. It tells the tale of Kou and Aoba who are foes in the beginning. The cat and mouse game is a treat to watch.
Although Kou is destined to be with Aoba’s older sister, that’s not how the story goes. Turns out the game of baseball was all that Koi and Aoba needed cataclysm their romance. A typical Adachi -anime, it deserves every bit of the praise.
7 NODAME KANTÂBIRE (2007), IMDB 8.2
A musical rom-com anime that traces Shinichi and Nodame’s romance. Shinichi, a musical prodigy dreams to play with the elites of Europe. The only thing keeping him back is his fear of flying. And Cupid, of course.
As a result, Shinichi is forced to enroll at a music university in Japan. It is here that he lands onto Megumi Noda. Unimpressed by her ditzy behaviour at first, he soon learns about her musical genius. Opposites truly attract, first Megumi and then Shinji. Nodame Kantâbire is a roller-coaster romance, both heartwarming and endearing.
6 ANOHANA: THE FLOWER WE SAW THAT DAY (2011), IMDB 8.2
Coming from the lead production unit of Toradora! is another romantic anime Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day. This one’s different though, it combines elements of supernatural and romance.
It begins with Jinta Yadomi, a loner who plays video games all day. As he sees a vision of his long-dead friend Menma, we find the missing puzzle in Jinta’s story. As Menma frequents Jinta’s life, he and his friends from the past reunite to lay her spirit to rest. This anime broaches on the subject of loss of a loved one. Jinta Yodami takes to the life of a recluse to cope up with grief from loss of a loved one.
5 KIDS ON THE SLOPE (2012), IMDB 8.3
Another musical romance in the list, Kids on the Slope leaves a long-lasting impression. Not only does the anime do justice to romance. It is an endearing representation of friendship, love, and music.
It is a period drama, from 1966 which begins with Koru Nishimi, a loner. That is until he meets his opposite in a Jazz fanatic, Sentarou Kawabuchi. Along comes Ritsuko Mukae, a lovely girl who befriends the two. Together, the three bond over jazz, while exploring love.
4 FRUITS BASKET (2019-Current), IMDB 8.3
This is a must-watch series for any fan of shojo anime, and guess what? There’s more than one! In the early 2000s, there was indeed a Fruits Basket anime, but its visuals are now a bit dated. So, this gorgeously animated remake was launched.
The classic story of Tohru Honda and the cursed Sohma family is back and looking better than ever, and it has everything: people turning into animals, high school hijinks, intense drama and tragedy, great humor, and some of the best romance we’ve seen in anime.
3 NANA (2006-2007), IMDB 8.4
Nana Komatsu is someone every girl resonates with, in one way or another. In her post-adolescence, she tends to fall in love without caution. On this occasion, Nana chases her boyfriend Shouji Endo, musician.
She boards the same train as Nana Osaki, also a musician traveling to Tokyo. The two Nanas begin to gel quickly. What starts as a casual conversation, turns into a bond of affection. As the two women become roommates, we see how day to day hurdles begin to affect their friendship.
2 CLANNAD: AFTER STORY (2008-2009), IMDB 8.6
This is an after story to the critically acclaimed slice of life anime, Clannad. As Tomoya and Nagisa graduate high school, their relationship crosses the extra mile. Tomoya, the fatal hero is helped by Nagisa to lead a quality life. The couple takes life head-on and their love grows deeper with time. Fair reminder: Clannad: The After Story is steeped deep in tragedy.
The true essence of Clannad: After Story lies in its music. Combine that with fantastic animation, you will get why it stands at number 2 on the list.
1 YOUR LIE IN APRIL (2014-2015), IMDB 8.6
What is it about musicals and romance? What is it about musical prodigies and ditzy girls? Apparently the stories resonate with audiences (Nodame Kantâbire). Similar plot aside, Your Lie In April will always find a place in every coveted list.
It tells the tale of a pianist, Kousei Arima who gives up on things after the death of his mother. But you know what they say, love meets you in your mess.
Enter: Kaori Miyazono, a beautiful violinist who helps Kousei restart his life. Here’s a side note: don’t let the over-simplistic description fool you, Your Lie In April is a tragedy rooted in love, it is a take on the hard-hitting subjects of loss, pain, acceptance and learning to move on.
There's plenty of romance in anime, and these romantic anime series are by far the most binge-worthy according to IMDb.