20 Pure Romance Anime Series You've Never Heard of

Izumi Miyamura kissing Kyoko Hori.
Credit: CloverWorks

Izumi Miyamura kissing Kyoko Hori.
Credit: CloverWorks

At the mention of the word "anime," most people would immediately think One Piece, Demon Slayer, or Attack on Titan. While the majority of the biggest anime titles of all time are from the action or fantasy genres, romantic anime releases every single season prove that the relatively less popular genre still has a pretty solid fanbase.

If you're in search of the best series to binge that doesn't involve any isekai, science, magic, or adventure, then you're in for a treat!

Here are 20 pure romance anime series to watch when you're in the mood for some beautifully written, feel-good love story.

  1. From Me to You

    Ghostly rumors surround Sawako Kuronuma, a pale-skinned, long black-haired, full bangs-wearing 15-year-old, whose life goal is to make friends. Nicknamed "Sadako" by classmates because of her resemblance to the classic Japanese horror character, she's actually really nice and just heavily misunderstood due to her shy nature. When Shota Kazehaya, the school's bubbliest and nicest boy, makes a move to befriend her, the rest of the school follows suit. Sawako's life begins to unravel... and so does her heart.

    From Me to You, or more commonly known by its Japanese title, Kimi ni Todoke, is a laid-back story that's equal parts relaxing and romantically exciting. It gets most viewers hooked right from the first episode because of its tone and cute plot. It's also incredibly hilarious, probably because it perfectly captures the awkward and giddy emotions that first love brings. The build-up can be dragging to some, but the pacing is consistent with the characters' personalities. The culmination to their love story definitely makes it all worth it.

    I would strongly urge everyone to watch this treasure of a series and come out of the experience with a much kinder perception of life, because while it is an effective romance anime on the surface, it also brings to light lessons of friendship, kindness, and self-love.

    Oh, and the art and animation are some of the softest and most adorable out of everything I've seen. You should check it out if you haven't yet!

  2. Garden of Words

    Fifteen-year-old Takao Akizuki is lonely and struggles to find meaning in the way he's currently going about life. He skips morning classes one rainy day and heads to a park where he meets Yukari Yukino, an older woman who also happens to be escaping her own reality. Without any explicit planning, the two begin to look forward to rainy days when they could let themselves loose in each other's company.

    Makoto Shinkai's Garden of Words is a visually stunning anime movie that tells a bittersweet story of love, heartbreak, and moving on. It's beautiful and poignant, but it's the fact that it's impossibly realistic that makes it one of the best romance anime there is.

    In less than an hour, find yourself enamored with the gorgeous world that Makoto Shinkai sets against a wistful love story that may be all too real for some people.

    Fair warning, the movie may or may not get the waterworks going so you might want to keep some tissue close, just in case!

    Related: 10 Heartbreaking Anime to Cry Over For Weeks

  3. Toradora!

    Ryuuji Takasu and Taiga Aisaka couldn't be any more different. Ryuuji is tall, gentle, and has a penchant for housework (particularly cleaning and making sure socks are always in pairs). Taiga is tiny for her age, unapologetically violent, and couldn't be bothered to even set her shoes properly when she takes them off. The only things they have in common are the ridiculous rumors about them and their huge infatuation with each other's best friend. In a silly turn of events, the two decide to help each other get with their respective crushes.

    Toradora! is your classic love square, where the four main characters become entangled with one another. This setup isn't the in-your-face type, however, and you'll even find the situation to be hilarious and necessary. It's pretty clear who's endgame, but trust me, you would definitely want to see how the two will get to that point (and how far they'll actually go).

    This is one of those classic romance anime shows that will always be a favorite of many, despite the never-ending flow of new romance titles every year. Personally, I'd give anything to be able to watch it for the first time again. Yes, it's that good.

  4. Love Me, Love Me Not

    Yuna Ichihara is a timid high-schooler who befriends her new neighbor, Akari Yamamoto. The two are able to quickly hit it off despite their opposite demeanors and views on love. As the story progresses, Akari develops a crush on Yuna's childhood friend, Kazuomi Inui, who lives in the same building, while Yuna catches feelings for Akari's stepbrother, Rio Yamamoto. Beneath the soft hues and the relaxed animation is a complicated yet easy-to-grasp conflict that makes romance a bit difficult for the four teenagers, but not entirely impossible.

    Just like Toradora!, Love Me, Love Me Not is a love story involving four people that reflects reality in that not everything we know about love and romance is definite. How many times have we heard people declare there's no moving on from a past relationship, only to find a much better love later on? The anime proves that a change of heart is not wrong, and is, in fact, needed for growth sometimes.

    The anime skips some scenes from the manga to fit the standard duration for anime films, but it's still able to beautifully show the power of teenage love. Though the twelve manga volumes are cramped into a 124-minute long movie, the story doesn't feel rushed at all, considering the four main characters' feelings had to change a couple times.

    It's definitely a good watch, especially if you're looking for something light and quick. But don't take my word for it! Watch it and feel the love for yourself.

    Read up on this guide if you're wondering where you can legally stream anime.

  5. My Love Story!!

    Takeo Gouda hasn't had the best luck with girls and relationships despite his kind and gentle demeanor. Tall and huge, he is a stark contrast to his ikemen best friend, Makoto Sunakawa, whose looks meet all the conventional standards of handsomeness.

    When Takeo rescues the sweet Rinko Yamato from being molested one day, he develops feelings for her almost instantly. Based on his usual experience of being pushed aside by girls who only like his best friend, he proactively decides to play bridge between the two. But Takeo has to either give Yamato more credit or believe in himself more if he wants his love story to blossom.

    My Love Story!! is a breakthrough for the anime world. Though mismatched couples (by anime standards) are not entirely unheard of, Takeo and Yamato's story forces viewers to look into themselves and address deep-seated issues of negative self-image and the consequent undesirable perception of others.

    The show is able to bring those lessons to the surface without dampening the heartwarming romance that fans enjoy.

  6. Special A (S.A.)

    We can't have a top romance anime list without at least a mention of the unlikely love story between Hikari and Kei, two high-schoolers who have been rivals since they were kids. Presently teenagers who belong to the same special class for ultra gifted students, Hikari has made it her mission to beat Kei at something—literally anything—after losing to him once. However, Kei harbors romantic feelings for Hikari without her knowing at first, and the more time they spend together, the more Hikari gets confused by her own emotions.

    Special A is an anime that always comes to mind at the mention of romantic shows. The series is peppered with hilarity all throughout, especially because of the characters' logic-defying characteristics and actions. Fans of the classic shoujo sometimes call the characters "slendermen," as they are drawn with impossibly long and slender legs. This feature doesn't take away from the experience though, and fans even like to point that out as another reason to love the series.

    Kei always appears sure and sincere about his feelings for the dense Hikari, but it's the moment that the realization dawns on her that will make you feel like your heart could explode due to extreme happiness. It's a feeling I'd want to experience all over again, as you surely would too!

    Related: 10 Best Shoujo Anime for Beginners

  7. Kaichou wa Maid-sama!

    Make way for romance anime fans' OTP!

    Misaki Ayuzawa is a strong-willed student council president, as she should be at a predominantly male high school. After classes, Misaki has to take on a gentler persona as she secretly works at a maid café. When her classmate Takumi Usui accidentally stumbles upon the double life that she's leading, the two form a quirky friendship that soon blossoms into something more.

    Kaichou wa Maid-sama! is one of the most popular shows in this list, and rightfully so, since it's one that features a love story that many people could only dream of having. Misaki and Usui are unbelievably good-looking, which is why they work so well as the poster couple for romance anime. They're literally a match made in heaven: a husbando and a waifu ending up together like they should.

    I'm not jealous, you are!

  8. Blue Spring Ride

    Futaba Yoshioka is a pretty high school girl who acts "unfeminine" on purpose so she doesn't get shunned by female classmates, like she had been in middle school due to her popularity with boys. When Kou Mabuchi, a middle school crush whom she lost contact with, reappears at her high school, Futaba's past romantic feelings resurface. But this gloomy Kou who is now using a different last name is nothing like the boy she first fell for. Can she get that Kou back out of his shell, or will she have to deal with this changed man in front of her?

    Yet another fan favorite, Blue Spring Ride is a gorgeous anime series that mirrors the beauty of youth and young love. It has likeable characters, especially when you take time to understand each of their backstories.

    One other thing that makes the anime great is its catchy opening theme that's very easy and fun to sing along to—it's been stuck in my head for the last few hours!

    Related: 5 Best Anime Opening Songs

  9. Scum's Wish

    Hanabi Yasuraoka and Mugi Awaya are in love, but not with each other and certainly not in the purest nor the happiest of ways. They each long for people they can't be with, and, finding comfort in the fact that they're in similar situations, decide to start a fake relationship with each other. To outsiders, they are the ideal couple. Behind closed doors, they're only using each other to unhealthily cope with the unwavering heartbreak. But time and fate are tricky, and the inauthenticity soon starts to give way for a more genuine connection.

    With its mature subject and scenes, Scum's Wish isn't a very appropriate choice for very young viewers. Adult audiences, however, would find the show to be engrossing, albeit in a twisted way, because here is an undeniably racy story that not everyone may have experienced when they were younger, but has at least happened to people we know.

    The anime ending doesn't give the answers to the many questions that will have piled up by the eleventh episode, but fans would do well to know that the manga sequel gives us the closure we need. Find out where you can read manga legally here.

  10. Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun

    The air is cool, the room is quiet, and the sunrays are just the right mix of yellow and orange. The mood is set and Chiyo Sakura is ready to confess her love for her classmate Nozaki. But instead of getting an answer, she gets an autograph. Nozaki-kun turns out to be a famous shoujo manga author. Any attempt that Chiyo makes at correcting the mix-up only does her further in.

    Now she's something like an assistant to Nozaki, helping him with things like coloring the manga sheets and acting out lovey-dovey stuff with him for research. That might not sound too bad at all, if only Chiyo could accept that setup.

    This romantic comedy is basically one hilarious misunderstanding after another. How it does that without the joke getting completely old is beyond me. I personally like how Chiyo isn't like the basic martyr character who would take and do anything for love without question. The thing is that she's actually aware of how absurd things are, and Nozaki is just too much of an airhead to notice.

    That's not to say that she's completely rational all throughout the series, as like any girl in love, Chiyo has her weak moments. As the story progresses however, she becomes less and less heartbroken when she mistakes Nozaki's actions for gestures that will only ever happen in her mind.

    Related: Do Nozaki and Sakura End Up Together in Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Explained

  11. Kaguya-sama: Love is War

    Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya are the president and vice president of the prestigious Shuchiin Academy's student council, respectively. The two are natural rivals, but not in the way you would think. Their pride prevents them from admitting they're in love with each other, so they take turns coming up with outrageous schemes to get the other to confess first.

    As the mind games become increasingly extreme, so do their feelings for each other. At the rate they're going, they'll probably become a couple without having extracted a formal confession from the other. Whether that will happen is yet to be seen.

    Kaguya-sama: Love is War is a consistent top-ranker among romantic comedies. Not only is the highly original premise brilliant, the gags and story progression are so masterfully laid out that none of the comedy feels forced nor out of place. The characters apart from the main couple are adorable, which is why almost none of the scenes are skippable.

    The show has consistently done well, proof being the production of two sequel seasons in just three years. But I'm not complaining! Kaguya-sama is one of the easiest binges I've ever done and I'm always ready for more.

    Related: Kaguya-Sama: Love is War Season 3 Drops New Character Posters

  12. Horimiya

    Kyoko Hori is smart, pretty, and kind. On the other hand, Izumi Miyamura is gloomy and socially withdrawn (one day, Hori discovers he's not very bright either). Outside school, the two look quite different: Hori doesn't care much about how she looks and is focused on housework and taking care of her little brother; Miyamura puts his hair up and puts jewelry in all his nine piercings. After a chance encounter while they're both in their non-high school appearances, Hori and Miyamura start to form an unbreakable bond that turns out to be exactly what both of them need.

    Horimiya is well-liked on so many levels. The original source was Hori-san to Miyamura-kun (lit. Hori and Miyamura), a 4koma (four-panel) web comic that ran from 2007-2008. This web comic by author HERO resulted in a manga serialization in 2011 under the title Horimiya, which eventually became the source material for the 2021 anime adaptation. The series' popularity has not waned despite being around since the late 00s, owing to its calming slice of life elements and endearing characters.

    I leave you with a few words: watch it. You won't regret it!

  13. My Little Monster

    Shizuku Mizutani has no care for anything in the world other than her studies. Until one day, when she meets rumored delinquent Haru Yoshida, and suddenly her plans to focus on school are thrown off-course. Fortunately, though, Haru is actually far from being the bad guy everyone thinks he is, even topping school ranks despite putting little to no effort in his studies. He's very vocal about his feelings for Shizuku, who finds it irritating at first. It's his sincerity and her own willingness to make some space for friendships that eventually make him win her over.

    My Little Monster is more than just a simple love story between two socially awkward teenagers. It also sheds light on equally important topics such as being open to friendships and not misjudging people who we deem different from us. With just thirteen episodes, I highly think the series deserves a second season—not only because there's so much more to Shizuku, Haru, and their friends' lives that we should see, but also because we need more of their cute relationship. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

  14. Sing Yesterday for Me

    Rikuo Uozumi has used up whatever concern he had left for his future. Despite being a college graduate, he has no concrete plans to move his life forward and settles for working in a convenience store, where he meets Haru Nonaka, an eccentric high school dropout who frequents the store with her pet crow. When Rikuo's old crush who happens to be Haru's teacher shows up one day, an uncomfortable love triangle ensues.

    Sing Yesterday for Me is a bit difficult to watch. It gives viewers a ringside view to a painfully awkward three-way relationship that doesn't show any signs of being sorted out until the very last moments of the final episode. I found myself cringing at times, but not for the reasons you might be thinking. The story is very realistic and the realization that the characters' dilemma could very well be happening somewhere in the world right at the moment was what got me so bothered.

    It proved to be worth it though, since the ending definitely made for a satisfying conclusion to the heart-crushing and at-times enraging story.

  15. Tsuredure Children

    This is pretty tricky. Tsuredure Children, sometimes referred to as Tsurezure Children, is a genius weaving of several love stories between teenagers of different ages. Since the anime gives airtime to each of these tales at random, it would be a huge task to provide a summary without giving away too much. All I can say is that it's brilliantly made, with romance stories varying in seriousness and hilarity seamlessly coming together.

    Each story has its own plotline and so it's virtually impossible to pick out a favorite couple among all of them. Unlike anime couples that don't seem to make sense, the pairings in Tsuredure Children couldn't be any more perfect.

  16. Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop

    After a chance encounter involving a minor accident at a mall and an unwitting swapping of mobile phones, two teenagers who each have their own insecurities spend a bright, carefree summer together. Cherry and Smile find themselves embarking on a journey to help an old man find a missing vinyl record. What starts out as a simple friendship soon turns into a sweeter affair as they slowly pull each other out of their shells.

    True to the story it tells, Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop is a cheery and vibrant anime movie that centers on realistically awkward characters who each learn what they're truly made of. The line drawings, colors used, and the angles all come together to create a remarkable visual treat that's quite frankly incomparable.

    As for the story, the pacing is natural and genuine, with the two main characters' growths evenly spread across the 87-minute film. Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop has held a somewhat permanent place in my list of recommendations from when I first saw it, and I would gladly urge anyone who asks to give it a go!

  17. My Sweet Tyrant (Akkun to Kanojo)

    Atsuhiro "Akkun" Kagari is a textbook tsundere. On the surface, he appears to be overly cold and mean to his girlfriend, the cute and sweet Non "Nontan" Katagiri. Deep inside, he is intensely in love with her and acts on it almost like a stalker. Nontan doesn't mind at all, as she is able to see through Akkun completely.

    The anime's episodes are never more than four minutes long, and while it can be disorienting to have to listen to the show's opening every two minutes, it's actually perfect the way it is. As each episode is a slightly different variation of the story's premise, the super short duration actually works in its favor. It also helps that we're treated to two other love stories from the same circle of friends as well.

    Quick trivia: Akkun is a good example of a tsundere, a character who acts hard and tough but is actually a softy deep inside. There are also what you would call yandere characters, which are those who wear their love on their sleeves, almost always to the point of unhealthy obsession and possessiveness.

  18. Nisekoi: False Love

    Raku Ichijou is the heir to a prominent yakuza family. Chitoge Kirisaki is the daughter of the rival gang's chief. In order to maintain peace in their city, their fathers force the two to become lovers. That all sounds nice and dandy, except it's really not. The only mutual feelings that Raku and Chitoge have are their passionate hate for one another, which they must hide beneath a pretend relationship so the tension between the two gangs is kept at bay.

    The situation is made even more complicated by Raku's search for the girl he made a promise to as a child, and surely, a fake relationship won't help with that.

    I find Nisekoi's plot to be unique and smart, and I like that there isn't a runaway choice for Raku. Will he find his promised girl or will he fall in love with Chitoge before he does? These are the questions that keep audiences hooked. I know I was.

  19. The Pet Girl of Sakurasou

    Sorata Kanda currently lives in Suimei University of the Arts' Sakurasou (Sakura Dorm or Sakura Hall), which is known to be a dorm for problem students. He isn't exactly what you would consider a delinquent in the anime world, though. In fact, he's quite average, at least by his own standards, and the only reason he's there is because he didn't have the heart to let go of the stray cat he'd rescued. The other dorm members aren't as much problematic as they are gifted, as he soon finds out.

    One day, Sorata is given the unusual task of babysitting transfer student Mashiro Shiina, a very talented girl his age who's extremely dense and can't pick up on social cues. Sorata initially finds the assignment to be unfair and exhausting, but the more he looks after her, the easier it becomes for him to see her innocence as it is. It turns out that Mashiro not only has a pretty face, she also has a heart that's just as beautiful.

    The Pet Girl of Sakurasou manages to make Sorata and Mashiro's ascent to romantic love the central story while offering so much more. It's easy to get attached to the other dorm members who each have their own struggles and quirks. And did I mention it has high-grade humor? There simply is no going wrong with this series.

    Related: Best Romcom Anime That You Should Definitely Watch

  20. As The Moon, So Beautiful

    Kotarou Azumi and Akane Mizuno are shy third-year middle schoolers who are in the same class but have no apparent connection whatsoever. Kotarou is an aspiring writer while Akane is the star of theirir school school's track team. After a group activity leads to them exchanging numbers, they begin spending a lot of time messaging each other. It's odd to them because they barely talk at school, but that virtual connection is more than enough to fuel their romantic feelings for each other.

    As The Moon, So Beautiful is probably the most laid-back series in the list. With two shy teens as the main characters, it wouldn't be wrong of anybody to assume there's not much verbal exchange going on. But the two eventually overcome this barrier and they're able to express emotions of love and jealousy like any normal couple their age would.

    For me, the anime's beauty lies in how it acknowledges that teens as young as Kotarou and Akane do feel romantic love, without forcing them to come off as any more mature than they're supposed to be at fourteen. The conflicts are realistic, considering it's usually that age when adolescents struggle to understand their feelings, much less articulate them.

    I also like that the creators did not make any attempt to exploit the series, ending at just the right time with twelve episodes. I can already see myself rewatching the anime soon, if only to find comfort in the pureness of young love.

    Related: 6 Best 12 Episode Anime Series to Watch

These titles are only a few of the many great romance anime series ever released, and it's pretty exciting what the approaching years have in store for the genre. Meanwhile, here are some anime to watch out for in 2022.

Is your heart already happy with these pure romance shows? Give your brain some loving next with these psychological anime.

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