“Clannad: After Story” sets the stage for “Kaguya-sama: Love is War,” a romantic masterpiece that is common in anime.
However, it is left wondering:
Because of the constant influx of new anime, are there any series that have remained relatively unknown due to the competition?
Even throughout the years, I’ve noticed numerous titles that failed to establish a large audience even though they were respectable or even fantastic. They dropped out of the limelight as the season ended and moved on to the new fresh anime on the horizon.
And thus, I’d like to point out some of the least well-known, but excellent, romance anime for you (and aficionados of the genre).
25. Honobono Log
Generally speaking, short anime programs have a difficult time competing with shows that are around 20 minutes long.
Honobono Log is among the nicest short anime series, with all ten episodes finished in 20 minutes.
A show that ran for only one season in 2016 that focused on the variety of ways that people express love and affection was called “minimalist.”
Honobono Log doesn’t include anything deep, and that’s exactly what the play is trying to say.
If you want to relax after a hard, fatiguing day, then this is the anime for you.
It serves as a reminder that even the smallest occurrences add value to life.
The 13-episode TV series Happy Lesson is well conscious of its cliched harem setting.
Even yet, it embraces the long-standing tradition, as it presents an orphan male lead character and five female supporting characters who live with him as their biological mothers.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like that in a romance harem show before.
And as if to complete the picture, Chitose Hitotose has also adopted her younger sisters.
As a result, Happy Lesson distinguishes itself from other series with relative ease. Also, it deals with other life lessons, such as learning about things that adults have to learn about, such as having children, and how different the mothers in the film treat Chitose.
Maburaho was created in 2004, meaning it was newer than Happy Lesson, but it was still incredibly outdated in the grand scheme of anime.
This is an excellent demonstration of anime-style graphics in a classroom setting.
In short, the young Shikimori Kazuki becomes the focus of three young women, all of whom are magical-blooded and evaluate people on the basis of their magic ability.
Maburaho’s primary harem won’t have any issues convincing the audience why they’re the best, and the MC is as uncharitably amusing as a typical male MC in a show like this.
It’s definitely true that there are much more racy shows these days. However, Maburaho incorporates nostalgic character design and story clichés to give it a retro feel.
22. Peach Girl: Super Pop Love Hurricane
One of the most instantly recognizable characteristics of Peach Girl is Momo Adachi, the young woman with long black hair and dark skin.
However, like the title suggests, get ready for a raging love storm.
Athlete: Momo is in love with one.
As it turns out, though, this fellow favors girls with lighter complexion.
She could be having an affair with a large number of males and this friend is the one circulating stories about it. And on top of everything, a well-known classmate has confessed his love for Momo to the entire school.
It’s possible that Peach Girl is not suitable for everyone. Some may argue that no one can refute the tumultuous premise of this long-running romantic drama from 2005.
21. Sonny Boy & Dewdrop Girl
Anime originals already lack the benefit of having a built-in fan base — but Sonny Boy & Dewdrop Girl also has to deal with being a short film.
Released in 2013, this 18-minute movie from Studio Colorido is well worth your time – whether you’re looking for refreshing visuals or interesting storytelling.
This is about a young boy, Hinata, who has trouble communicating his feelings for his classmate, Shigure, who’s leaving soon with her family.
Yes, it all sounds so simple and familiar. But Hinata no Aoshigure elevates the story by choosing to let the art and animation shine.
Hinata’s great at drawing. And the short film uses this to offer vibrant and stylish moments that capture the imagination and creativity of the main character.
It’s sweet, short, and deserving of more love.
See the movie in deep review: Sonny Boy & Dewdrop Girl
20. Origin: Spirits of the Past
Studio Gonzo will forever be one of the most noteworthy anime studios.
But this studio isn’t all about NHK ni Youkoso or Gankutsuou.
Origin: Spirits of the Past was released in 2006.
It’s an anime original film that combines romance with adventure, and a very interesting sci-fi premise:
Three centuries ago, the forests in the world mutated and became sentient, causing massive conflict against humankind. Now a boy named Agito finds a mysterious girl in a peaceful slumber — inside a strange machine.
Known as Toola Cm Sacl (yes, that’s her name), this girl could bring back harmony between forests and humans, unless some individuals want more chaos…
Moving from one anime original sci-fi romance to another, Classroom Crisis is a series from Lay-Duce.
No, this isn’t related to Assassination Classroom in any way whatsoever. But it’s also filled with intrigue.
The show is set on Mars where a group of promising students are tasked to lead the future of Kirishina Corporation. Then comes Nagisa Kiryuu, the transfer student who happens to be the CEO’s brother — and he wants to stop the entire program.
In response, the class led by Kaito Sera hurries to create the best rocket they’ve ever built.
Yet corporate cover-ups and personal histories abound, and friendly and romantic relationships alike are taking shape.
18. Venus to Mamoru!
Venus to Mamoru is about a young boy named Mamoru Yoshimura.
He got into the Tokyo Beatrice University Attach High School, an academy filled with students who have a bright future as users of magical powers called Beatrice.
But then a girl known as Beatrice’s Angel of Death confesses her love for him – and she makes him join the student council.
Who is she exactly? And why did she choose Mamoru?
At its core, Venus to Mamoru is a lighthearted comedy that viewers can just sit back and enjoy — and you have 24 fun episodes to binge.
17. She, The Ultimate Weapon
This series is nearly 20 years old.
And much like “Origin: Spirits of the Past”, The Ultimate Weapon is another underrated sci-fi romance from Studio Gonzo — but this isn’t a show for kids.
It’s also not the kind of romantic anime to watch if you want to feel happy.
As you may have already guessed, the series features a girl who was forcefully turned into a killing machine. A cyborg that can easily take the lives of thousands of people.
She’s a weapon of war.
But she’s also Shuuji’s dear girlfriend, and they actually started out as childhood friends.
Obviously, this isn’t what they expected their future to be like together. But Shuuji has to face the depressing reality.
She, The Ultimate Weapon explores the relationship between Shuuji and Chise, no matter how pointless it seems for Shuuji to desperately change Chise back to normal.
16. The Moment You Fall in Love
Suki ni Naru Sono Shunkan wo.: Kokuhaku Jikkou Iinkai is the sequel film to I’ve Always Liked You.
But while the first movie had a decent reception, this one wasn’t that popular or liked as much.
Being released in 2016 didn’t help either — because that was the year of both “your name.” and “A Silent Voice”.
Still, I implore you to give this a chance.
Some people find the story simplistic.
But there’s an appeal in uncomplicated stories if it’s done right.
The Moment You Fall in Love has fantastic visuals and an engaging soundtrack. Furthermore, it has a clear focus on the romantic lives (and fumbles) of the main characters.
You may sometimes be annoyed at their actions. But you’ll understand why they’re like that, and you’ll always cheer for their happiness.
15. Bokura ga Ita
Here’s the thing:
This show was admittedly quite popular when it aired. Unlike other classic romantic anime series, however, Bokura ga Ita barely gets mentioned these days.
And it’s painful to see this anime being forgotten.
Granted, Bokura ga Ita doesn’t have the most detailed art or high-quality animation at all. But its style actually fits the manga source material — and it never fails to be so evocative even after having seen it many times already.
I love the tracks here, and the quiet moments can be beautiful or utterly devastating.
The main couple here is one of my all-time favorites, and even characters like Masafumi Takeuchi and Yuri Yamamoto are believably human in their flaws and (teenage) emotions.
14. Magic-Kyun! Renaissance
Studio Sunrise may be known for Gundam and Gintama the most.
But it also has this anime-original series from 2016.
In Magic-Kyun Renaissance, the female MC Kohana Aigasaki is tasked to organize the annual cultural festival of Hoshinomori Private Magical Arts High School.
This all seems typical of a school anime, until you learn that her love life features six dazzling guys, each with their own magic art.
They want to be successful in the (magical) entertainment industry — and the upcoming festival is a great way to showcase their skills.
But if Kohana is the festival’s princess, who among them will be the main prince?
And even if this reverse harem isn’t your thing, you might still appreciate its character design and art direction.
If you only knew what the girlfriend was doing, you’d think this was a creepy and possibly psychologically dark show — but Momokuri is far from that.
In truth, this 26-episode ONA series is completely adorable.
Momokuri stars Yuki Kurihara, a girl who some may describe as a stalker. Especially since she’s secretly taken many photos of her crush, Shinya Momotsuki, and loves ‘observing’ him.
Thankfully, Yuki never becomes uncomfortable to watch.
In contrast, she’s funny and sweet. And soon she confesses her love for him, and Momo becomes her boyfriend.
There’s nothing unnecessarily complex about this.
But this is Momo’s first relationship, and you have two teenagers in love, awkwardly traversing these new emotions as they meet interesting folks in school.
12. Ao-chan Can’t Study!
Many people still think that shounen shows are all about big fights. Ao-chan Can’t Study proves that it can also take the form of a romcom, admittedly with a notable amount of fanservice.
Produced by Silver Link, this short series from 2019 is about Ao Horie, a girl yearning to separate herself from the reputation of her father who was a popular writer of erotic material.
Then Takumi Kijimi appears in her life.
This good-looking, gentle-mannered classmate confesses his feelings for her.
Takumi isn’t perverted at all, and simply loves Ao. However, she can’t help but imagine these hilarious lovey-dovey scenarios whenever they’re together.
Will Ao ever find the time to concentrate on her studies? Or will Takumi teach her a lesson or two in love?
11. Sky of Iriya, Summer of UFO
In 2005, Toei Animation produced a six-part OVA adaptation of a light novel series — and Sky of Iriya, Summer of UFO was remarkable.
Naoyuki Asaba, a timid young guy from the newspaper club, spends his summer looking for rumored UFOs at a military facility.
Sadly, he goes back home without a single UFO sighting.
All hope seems to be lost for his extraterrestrial interests. But then he spots Kana Iriya, the mysterious new transfer student at school.
She may have a big secret — something that involves the entire world.
Sky of Iriya, Summer of UFO excels in its romance, while juggling elements of typical anime fanservice, sudden suspense, and dark revelations.
10. Holmes of Kyoto
The summer of 2018 was a fairly big anime season with titles such as Attack on Titan Season 3, Grand Blue, and Banana Fish.
And on the sidelines was Holmes of Kyoto, a mystery romance about two people working at an antique shop, solving peculiar cases from customers — and this show felt like a nice reprieve from all the action-heavy and loud titles.
Based on a light novel series, it features reasonable voice acting, music, and art direction.
Viewers who were looking for a highly suspenseful anime because of the title might be disappointed, and understandably so.
But if you wanted romance with a degree of mystery, Holmes of Kyoto is certainly worth a try.
Plus the novel series is still ongoing, so you can dive into them right after.
9. Mashiroiro Symphony: The Color of Lovers
Mashiroiro Symphony: The Color of Lovers is about Shingo Uryuu becoming part of a test trial.
An all-girls private school and a co-ed (or mixed-gender) are set to be combined. But people want to ensure that this change won’t be disastrous for the students.
And so Shingo is one of the first boys to step inside the Yuihime Girls’ Private Academy — and not all girls are happy about this.
Yes, this is a harem series. But I love that the male MC is neither gross, nor does he quickly panic at the sight of cute girls approaching him.
The characters have decent backstories too. And the ‘main’ girl at the start might not even be the ‘winning’ girl in Shingo’s harem.
Thus, you’ll probably change your picks for favorite girl and couple each episode.
8. The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was once the world’s most popular series.
It had a dance sequence that was parodied and performed at anime conventions countless times, and each new episode of Season 1 got the entire community talking.
Nine years after Haruhi Season 1, this spinoff featuring Yuki Nagato premiered — and it never got as much love or attention, even with 16 episodes and an OVA.
Is The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan terrible?
Far from it.
This offers a very intriguing take on the world of Haruhi. Here, viewers are treated to an alternate world where everything is ordinary. The characters’ personalities have either been amplified or changed, and it’s all really fun to see them in a new light.
Loaded with comedy, drama, and cute romance (Yuki likes Kyon a lot, of course), The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan sadly had to deal with needlessly high expectations. So it’s certainly an underrated gem.
7. At The Mercy of The Sky
Fittingly, Studio Comet produced the game, At the Mercy of the Sky.
It is a slice-of-life seinen romance, so people who enjoy slice-of-life romance and older teenagers will feel totally at home.
Manimani means “constellation.” In it, you’ll follow the main character, Saku Ooyagi, as he and his childhood friend Mihoshi Akeno make new friends and explore the night sky together with other members of the astronomy club.
I appreciate that this show is not in a rush, allowing the characters to grow and strengthen their relationships while allowing the plot to progress smoothly.
While there are a few girls who clearly have a crush on Saku, this is common behavior for most girls. However, I thought the notion of romanticism in At the Mercy of the Sky never came across as syrupy.
I was pleased to see how many doses of comedy the author included to this novel, and the characters are given enough of time to think about themselves.
As a matter of fact, the skies in the program are lovely, and each time we see a piece of astronomy, it’s a wonderful treat.
6. El Hazard: The Magnificent World
People who remember childhood memories will wonder why El Hazard: The Magnificent World, a popular classic from many years ago, has apparently fallen from public memory.
The fact that El Hazard: The Wanderers had poor ratings is understandable.
This seven-part OVA was, nonetheless, quite incredible.
Isekai concerts continue to bring in more viewers every season because of the global success of Sword Art Online.
Allurement is seen in people who are transplanted to another world (including and especially video games).
For anyone interested, the anime series El Hazard: The Magnificent Planet is, in addition to being nicely animated, very colorful, and comedic, about a group of high school students who are taken to a mystical world named El-Hazard.
As if that weren’t enough, it’s an original story, too.
Despite being somewhat short, this anime features an interesting tale, great world-building, interesting characters, and the male protagonist Makoto is excellent in the role of a harem lead. Specifically, he shows admirable courage, and is utterly attractive.
5. My Sweet Tyrant
The 25-episode Akkun to Kanojo anime is rather short.
A seven-book series can be completed in under 80 minutes.
The reason I place this high on my list is because of its effectiveness.
Tyrant is quite natural.
Momokuri’s Yuki Kurihara reminds me of Atsuhiro Kagari, since he’s just like a stalker.
Yes, he is listening in on his girlfriend’s discussions behind her back. This is just how Atsuhiro, as a boyfriend, deals with being not traditionally loving.
In public, he has this “serious” look, and that makes him nervous to kiss. Flirtatious or endearing chatter with everyone else in the room.
They may consider his behavior bizarre.
It is not the point whether his lover understands his true motives and appreciates his deeds; the point is that she is able to understand him, and that she feels adoration for his activities.
4. Koi Kaze
Even if you are able to locate a DVD of the film, I recommend seeing the first rendition of this story because it blends classic shoujo romance with a historic Japanese setting in the 1920s.
Benio is ungendered (remember, this was in the Taisho era).
She favors Western dress to traditional Japanese dress, drinks wine, and enjoys spending time reading novels over doing housework.
An additional significant aspect is that Benio respects the rights of women to both work wherever and whenever they want, and to select whom they marry.
But Benio’s father has already decided for her that she will get married, since he sees Shinobu Ijuuin, an elite military officer, as her future spouse.
Is she prepared to do all in her power to prevent the engagement?
If Shinobu really loves her, is it possible that she’s starting to have feelings for him as well?
Oh, and what about the war and the massive earthquake that is imminent?
Surprisingly complete and affecting, this first film of Here Comes Miss Modern is a bit of an anime gem that most people aren’t aware of.
3. Here Comes Miss Modern
I recommend seeing just the first film adaptation of this if you find a copy — and you may be surprised at how well it mixes shoujo romance with historical Japan in the 1920s.
The female MC, Benio Hanamura, isn’t conventionally feminine (remember, this was in the Taisho era).
She loves to drink alcohol, prefers Western clothing instead of the kimono, and would rather spend her time reading books than doing household chores.
More importantly, Benio supports the rights of women to not only work wherever and however they want, but also to choose who they marry – a contrast to the practice of arranged marriages back then.
But Benio’s father has already planned for her to marry someone — a dashing military man named Shinobu Ijuuin.
Will Benio do everything she can to stop the engagement?
What if Shinobu truly loves her and she’s starting to fall for him as well?
And what about the war and the looming big, historical earthquake?
Amazingly detailed and emotionally engaging, this first movie of Here Comes Miss Modern is a hidden gem in the world of anime.
2. Bluer Than Indigo
Most of the time, the most underappreciated harem romance is Aizawa Ai in Ai Yori Aoshi.
These problematic and nuanced characters were brought to life by JC Staff in 2002, when they starred in an adaptation of which two key characters share a melancholy shared history.
20-year-old Kaoru Hanabishi is studying in Tokyo.
His classmates are always absent, yet he does well in school, and he’s in the photography club. It’s not only that Kaoru doesn’t want to return to the Hanabishi Zaibatsu, a family he was mistreated by, but also that he would rather be anywhere else.
While Kaoru is sightseeing in Tokyo, he runs across his childhood friend Aoi Sakuraba, who identifies herself as his future bride.
When he was disowned by the tribe, their intended marriage was annulled. Aoi loves him, and that is why she would rather go off and look for him on her own.
Blueer Than Indigo criticizes the notion of tradition as being superior.
It recognizes that there are some families (or relatives) that one should avoid if one wants to be healthy.
Even if you already know that Aoi will marry Kaori in the future, this series delivers exceptional backdrop art, unique character designs, and fascinating personalities.
1. Hataraki Man
Despite the fact that the book’s title indicates otherwise, the main character in this story is actually a woman.
She is named Hiroko Matsukata, and her “Hataraki man” mode kicks in to help her fulfill any and all tasks.
I like this series because it features characters that are similar to teenagers instead of those who are only young adults.
Shinji and Hiroko thus are Hiroko and her boyfriend. Hiroko works hard at her job, but she is performing better now than she was when she first started.
Hataraki Man shows the harshness of balancing work and love (or life in general).
Hiroko and Shinji are interested in living their lives to the fullest. However, there is a cost:
Couples in their twenties routinely cancel dates, enjoy intimate moments that many other twenty- and thirty-somethings do not, and ultimately question why they put in so much effort.
You can’t help but question how much the Japanese economy and incredibly pressured business culture have destroyed the country’s familial and romantic connections.
So, maybe many of the stressed and exhausted millennials and the gen Z’ers can relate to these characters.
If you’re likewise chasing after job and love, then you’ll relate to the characters and situations in Hataraki Man.
And it’s a shame that it won’t grow in popularity because of its age. Even so, it’s worthwhile to experiment with it, especially if you are new to 3D imaging.