When you’re completely absorbed in an enchanting anime with a tantalizing romance, questions start swirling in your mind. Will they or won’t they? What obstacles will they face? How on earth will they conquer them? These anime don’t rush to spill the beans. Instead, they masterfully build up the suspense as the relationship blossoms over time. These shows often showcase both intense romances that warm your heart and just the right amount of turmoil.
If you’re in the mood for a romance that takes its sweet time and will have you laughing until your sides ache, give Kaguya-sama: Love Is War a whirl. This series takes the whole idea to outrageous levels. If shedding a few tears is what you crave, Fruits Basket might be the perfect pick for you. And for those moments when you simply want to plunge headfirst into a whirlwind of emotions, Toradora! is a tried-and-true classic. Have we happened to mention any of your all-time favorites?
1. Fruits Basket
Fruits Basket is a captivating and intricate tale that revolves around a teenage girl named Tohru Honda. In this story, Tohru finds herself entangled in the lives of the Sohma Clan’s Zodiac members, who possess the ability to transform into animals from the Chinese Zodiac. However, don’t be fooled by the seemingly adorable premise, as their existence is marred by the control of a cruel and tyrannical God-like figure. Moreover, many of them have endured severe abuse at the hands of their own parents.
As Tohru endeavors to assist them in navigating their personal struggles, she herself is grappling with the tragic loss of her mother. Amidst this tumult, she unexpectedly forms a relationship with Kyo Sohma, who is considered an outcast within his own family. Kyo stands out as one of the few individuals who genuinely encourages Tohru to prioritize her own well-being, rather than solely focusing on the needs of others. Simultaneously, Tohru emerges as one of the rare individuals who wholeheartedly confronts and accepts Kyo for who he truly is, even when he transforms into a fearsome creature.
Throughout the series, their love gradually flourishes, and by the end, it is beautifully justified and intricately developed.
2. Kimi ni Todoke
Kimi ni Todoke is often hailed as one of the best romance anime out there. If you’re a fan of slow-burning love stories, this one is definitely worth a watch. The protagonist, Sawako Kuronuma, is a shy girl who bears a slight resemblance to Sadako from The Ring. As a result, she struggles to make friends. However, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to Shouta Kazehaya, a genuinely kind person who effortlessly connects with others. Sawako greatly admires his ability to effortlessly attract people and yearns to learn the same skill.
Sawako’s life takes a turn when Kazehaya invites her to a test of courage, a pivotal moment that becomes a catalyst for her to establish better relationships with her classmates. Meeting Kazehaya feels like a dream come true for Sawako. Little does she know, their connection is not one-sided. Kazehaya, too, finds immense joy and fulfillment in being with Sawako.
3. Yona of the Dawn
In Yona of the Dawn, the story starts with Yona, a sheltered princess who hasn’t experienced hardship. However, her peaceful life takes a drastic turn when her father is assassinated. Fortunately, she manages to escape with the help of her childhood friend and bodyguard, Son Hak.
As Yona explores the outside world, she starts to uncover the numerous issues that plagued her kingdom, problems that the royal family had neglected to address. This realization pushes her to step up and become a true leader. To achieve this, she embarks on a journey to find the solution to an ancient mystery. Accompanied by Hak, her trusted companion, Yona sets off on her quest.
However, things are about to get complicated for Yona and Hak. Unbeknownst to Yona, Hak harbors romantic feelings for her, which adds an extra layer of complexity to their relationship.
4. Snow White with the Red Hair
Shirayuki, a cheerful and dedicated young woman, finds fulfillment in her work at an apothecary. However, her life takes an unexpected turn when the prince of her nation demands her to become his concubine. Resolute in her principles, she firmly declines this proposition. Fortunately, Zen, the second prince of a neighboring country, comes to her rescue and offers her a place in his palace.
Despite accepting Zen’s offer, Shirayuki makes it clear that she has one condition: she insists on continuing her work as an herbalist. She fears being perceived as someone who relies on the prince’s generosity. Zen, understanding her desire for independence, agrees to her terms and treats her with the utmost respect befitting a member of the court.
Although faced with resistance from other members of the royal family, Shirayuki and Zen cannot deny the undeniable connection between them. As time goes by, their bond grows stronger, eventually blossoming into a deep and genuine love for one another.
5. Ouran High School Host Club
Ouran High School Host Club is a slow burn that leaves fans yearning for more, as the main couple doesn’t even come together in the anime itself. This has left us eagerly awaiting a reboot to finally see their love story unfold. It all begins when Haruhi Fujioka accidentally shatters a precious vase owned by the prestigious Host Club at Ouran Academy. Mistaking her for a boy due to her attire, they offer her a chance to work off her debt by becoming a host. Much to their surprise, they soon discover that Haruhi is, in fact, a girl, leading some of the club members to develop feelings for her.
Unfortunately, the anime concludes without definitively revealing who Haruhi will ultimately end up with. However, it does drop heavy hints that her heart may belong to Tamaki, the charismatic leader of the club.
6. Lovely Complex
Risa Koizumi and Atsushi Ootani are on a quest to find their ideal high school romance, but they’re facing some major obstacles. Risa stands out from the crowd due to her unusually tall stature, while Atsushi is shorter than your average boy, which makes them feel insecure. As if that weren’t enough, the people they have feelings for are now dating each other.
Despite their differences, Risa and Atsushi actually have a lot in common. However, they can’t seem to have a conversation without it turning into an argument. To make matters worse, their teachers and classmates find their quarrels amusing. It’s hard to see a way forward when everyone is constantly laughing at them.
But perhaps, if they can set aside their bickering, they will realize that they are a perfect match for each other. Maybe, just maybe, they can overcome their insecurities and find the love they’re searching for.
7. Kaguya-sama: Love Is War
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War takes the concept of a slow burn to a whole new level. The essence of the story lies in the fact that neither of the main characters is willing to make the first move and confess their feelings.
At their prestigious school, Kaguya Shinomiya and Miyuki Shirogane hold the positions of vice president and president of the student council. As fate would have it, they are both head over heels for each other. To win the affection of the other, they embark on a series of outlandish and often comical schemes. You might think this premise would become tiresome after three seasons, but it manages to stay fresh and endearing.
The burning question remains: will these two ever manage to become a couple? Only time holds the answer to that.
8. My Dress-Up Darling
Wakana Gojo has a passion for perfecting the art of making Hina dolls, which he considers to be the most important thing in life. However, he keeps this hobby a secret due to the past ridicule he faced from his former classmates. Little did he know that his popular classmate, Marin Kitagawa, would discover his talent and have a remarkably different reaction. In fact, Marin finds his skills to be awesome and even asks him to assist her with her cosplay.
As they spend more time together working on Marin’s outfits, a deep connection forms between them. However, throughout most of the series, both Wakana and Marin feel too embarrassed to openly acknowledge their feelings for each other.
At the beginning of Toradora!, Ryuuji Takasu and Taiga Aisaka aren’t interested in each other romantically. Actually, they both have feelings for other people. If you ask me, they wouldn’t even be friends if it weren’t for some unexpected circumstances. Taiga tends to get angry easily, while Ryuuji is more calm and kind-hearted. However, they make a pact to assist each other in winning the hearts of their crushes. But guess what? Things don’t go according to plan. Not only do they realize that their crushes are more complicated than they initially thought, but they also find themselves falling for each other.
Although there are numerous hints along the way, they don’t actually confess their feelings until the series is almost over.
10. Sasaki & Miyano
Sasaki & Miyano is a wonderfully heartwarming BL series that revolves around Miyano, a boy who introduces his upperclassman, Sasaki, to the world of BL books and manga. Miyano is a devoted fan of the genre, but he’s not inclined to bring those concepts into his real life. On the other hand, Sasaki, who wasn’t initially interested in BL, finds himself developing a genuine fondness for it simply because Miyano, the boy he has a crush on, is so passionate about it.
From the get-go, Sasaki openly expresses his feelings for Miyano, while Miyano takes a considerably longer time to untangle his own emotions.
11. Recovery of an MMO Junkie
In need of a break from the pressures of corporate life, Moriko Morioka takes a bold step and quits her job after dedicating eleven long years to it. Her chosen escape? Immersing herself in the world of video games. Specifically, she finds solace in an MMO game called MMO Fruits de Mer, where she assumes the identity of a male character named Hayashi. Within this virtual realm, Moriko embarks on countless adventures alongside a female character known as Lily.
Little does she know that Lily is actually Yuuta Sakurai, a corporate employee who happens to be acquainted with one of Moriko’s former colleagues. As their friendship blossoms both online and in reality, a spark of romance ignites between them. Moriko slowly begins to realize that perhaps there is more to life than just gaming.