It’s no surprise many anime fans love the romance genre, as most are fun and enjoyable to watch. Romance anime comes in all shapes and sizes, and it’s irritating to see the same romance recommendations and tropes repeated over and over again.
Fruits Basket may be a popular shojo romance anime with the reputation of a proper classic, but it’s over-hyped, as there are much better choices out there. Here are five romance anime with the potential to be more memorable than Fruits Basket.
Kaguya-Sama: Love is War
Kaguya-Sama: Love is War may be a little newer in the eyes of anime fans, but it’s definitely worth getting into for fans of romantic comedies. Though the title may make the story seem unclear, the premise of Kaguya-Sama is actually quite simple. Kaguya-Sama focuses on two high school students working for their student council. Kaguya Shinomiya is the school’s student council vice-president, while Miyuki Shirogane is the student council president. There are rumors floating around Kaguya and Miyuki are dating — but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The pair put each other into a series of awkward and funny moments to see who will confess first — love is war, and whoever confesses first loses.
The premise might seem silly and ridiculous at a glance, but the series is full of great characters, especially Kaguya and Miyuki. Both have distinct personalities, but enjoy watching the other squirm when put into a hopelessly romantic scenario. While the beginning is a little slow, treating the chapters more like weekly TV episodes rather than an overarching story with multiple parts, fans who dislike episodic media might be glad to hear the story picks up after the first few chapters by introducing more characters and expanding on relationships between characters outside the main cast.
Toradora should be considered a classic by many anime fans, even if the English dub wasn’t well received. It may not be as old or recognizable as classic romances like Ouran High School Host Club and Fruits Basket, but Toradaora rightfully holds a special place in the hearts of anime fans. Toradora centers around high school sophomores, Taiga Aisaka and Ryuuji Takasu. Despite his scary appearance, Ryuuji is a kindhearted person. Taiga is anything but caring or kind, she’ll pick a fight with anyone who makes her mad.
Ryuuji accidentally finds Taiga’s love letter, addressed to his best friend, Yusaku Kitamura, and before he can realize it’s a mistake, Taiga breaks into his house and tries to kill him. As far as Taiga knows, he’s read her letter, which isn’t the case at all, so he tells her the envelope was empty. Hearing this, Taiga faints. With Taiga’s not-so-secret crush out in the open, Ryuuji confesses he likes her best friend, Minori Kusheida. So, Taiga and Ryuuji make a deal to help each other win over their crushes.
The Toradora anime has twenty-five, a series of light novels, and a manga with an inconsistent translation history. If you aren’t interested in diving into light novels or manga, the anime stands out among other romances, captivating readers with its eccentric characters and slow-burn romance between the two main characters. Toradora! relies on Taiga’s tsundere personality to carry the humor, so it can get a little repetitive. Plus, the way Taiga treats Ryuuji, by punching him and berating him can be unnecessary and irritating to watch. Despite its shortcomings, Toradora makes up for it with its lovable characters and drama. If you enjoy romantic comedies chock-full of drama and supportive best friends, Toradora will grip you from start to finish.
Often talked about for its ongoing and consistent hiatus, NANA stands out in more ways than one. NANA is an addictive shojo anime with an eye-catching and aesthetic art style. NANA features two young women named Nana; Nana Osaki and Nana Komatsu, who later receives the nickname “Hachi”. The two cross paths while moving to Tokyo and happen to sit beside each other on the train ride there. After learning their share the same first name, the two become fast friends and get along right off the bat. By coincidence, they end up renting the same apartment and becoming roommates. As the two Nana aspire to follow their dreams, experiencing love, heartbreak, and all sorts of trouble, it starts to put a strain on their relationship.
NANA may start out a bit slow; but quickly picks up once the girls get settled into their apartment. NANA is full of somewhat mature romantic conflict and complex relationships, making the story feel more like a josei than a shojo. A good example of this is the passionate, yet depressing, relationship between Nana and Ren. Hachi has a juvenile and naive personality that combats NANA’s seemingly “mature” themes, reminding readers of its shojo demographic. As one can aspect from a great story, no two characters in NANA are alike, each with their own, strong personality and motivations.
Your Lie in April
Your Lie in April is a fantastic anime that expertly balances music and drama; providing the viewer or reader with the right amount of each. Even without a background in classical music, this anime is deserving of attention, creating exciting musical performances for each of its musicians that are sure to please many viewers. Unlike other shonen romances, Your Lie in April has a relatively small cast of characters, so it’s easy to separate the main characters from the side ones and vice versa. The series also doesn’t shy away from creating distinguishable side characters, allowing the viewer to decide for themselves if they are likable.
Created in 2011, Your Lie in April is a romantic drama focusing on the main character, Kosei Arima, and his history as a piano prodigy who became famous in the music world after winning many competitions. After the death of his mother, Kosei stops playing, claiming he can no longer “hear the sound” of the piano. Oftentimes throughout the manga, and the anime — with the help of visual and audio aids — is shown as him being submerged beneath the water’s surface. Kosei’s life changes forever when he meets Kaori Miyazono, an eccentric violinist, who he agrees to accompany during a music competition.
Lovely Complex is one of the greatest romantic comedies from the early 2000s, arguably outshining Ouran High School Host Club despite its lack of popularity. The series is underrated for its time, and has some outdated humor, but it still manages to grip new and old readers with its hilarious main duo and adorable supporting cast. Lovely Complex follows Risa Koizumi and Atsushi Otani, two high school freshmen with a sizable height difference.
They constantly butt heads until they find out the other is close with their respective crush. So, like Toradora!, the two make a pact to help each other fall in love and win their crush’s hearts. The selling point of Lovely Complex lies in its characters, especially the dynamic between Otani and Risa. Though the slapstick comedy can get a little old at times, Risa and Otani’s relationship doesn’t stop growing throughout the series, making the series enjoyable from start to finish.
Fruits Basket may have a vice grip on fans for all the right reasons — but, to some people, it’s not the best romance anime out there. There are many underrated romance series that appeal to all sorts of anime fans, and perfect for binge-watching.