The best romance anime of all time

From Ouran Highschool Host Club to Clannad: After Story, or Nana to Fruit Baskets - here are our top picks for the best romance anime of all time

Best romance anime: Clannad After Story

What is the best romance anime of all time? When it comes to heart-pounding TV series and movies, anime is one of the most effective mediums to trigger all our collective feels. From tragedy to cute shoujo storylines, it is an art form that has produced several timeless love stories, as well as emotionally scarring, heart-breaking scenes that continue to live in our minds rent-free.

From cute high school confessions under cherry blossom trees to the fantastical but star-crossed relationships between mere mortals and colourful gods, there are plenty of romantic anime series to pick from. And, let’s be honest, trying to find the perfect fish in the huge sea of loved-up content can be a tricky task for any fan. With that in mind, The Digital Fix has put its matchmaker helmet on and is ready to dish out the best candidates for your binge-watching date.

From light-hearted fluff to tearjerking relationships, we’ve made a list of shows to satisfy every romance fan’s tastes and preferences. So sit back and get ready to feel the love; here are the best romance anime of all time.

What are the best romance anime of all time?

  • Ouran Highschool Host Club
  • Kaguya-sama: Love is War
  • Inuyasha
  • Maid Sama!
  • Nana
  • Sword Art Online
  • Snow White with Red Hair
  • His and Her Circumstances
  • Fruit Baskets
  • Clannad: After Story

Best romance anime: Ouran High School Host Club

Ouran Highschool Host Club (2006)

Ouran Highschool Host Club is shoujo romance at its finest and most wacky. If you are in the mood for constant laughter and self-aware satire toward every anime romance trope in the book, then this is the series for you. The show tells the story of the Ouran Host Club, a group of the most handsome students in school who have too much free time on their hands.

The greats: Best anime series 

One day Haruhi Fujioka, a scholarship student, finds herself in debt to the strange club and is forced to join their ranks – posing as a boy and entertaining the ladies of the school as a result. Besides being downright hilarious, Ouran High School Host Club is a brilliant example of early romance.

At its core, the anime shows the cute dynamics between Haruhi and the club’s members as they navigate silly misadventures along with their adolescent romantic feelings.

Best romance anime: Kaguya-sama Love is War

Kaguya-sama: Love is War (2019-Present)

First, you fall in love, then you confess it… that is, if you aren’t a stubborn teen fixated on winning at least. In the battle of young love, Kaguya and Miyuki are obsessed with power dynamics, and refuse to be the first ones to confess their feelings for each other as a result.

Set in the senior high school division of the prestigious Shuchiin Academy, the student council president Miyuki and vice president Kaguya become the subject of rumours in the hallways. Everyone wants to know the big question: are they dating?

Well, despite being perfect for each other, both don’t want to be the first to admit it – because, in their warped game of love, that is how you lose. The result of this quirky premise is a side-splitting romance anime as the two constantly engage in psychological warfare, trying to trick one another into a confession.

Best romance anime: Inuyasha

Inuyasha (2004-2011)

Based on the manga series of the same name by Rumiko Takahashi, Inuyasha is a bonafide classic. While many of our entries on this list are set in modern times, sometimes you can’t beat a fantasy romance, especially one that involves love triangles, demon dogs and time travelling.

Demon Dogs?! Best horror anime

Inuyasha tells the story of Kagome Higurashi, a fifteen-year-old middle school girl who is transported to the Sengoku period after a mishap at her family’s shrine. When she arrives in her new setting, she meets the half-demon dog, half-human man named Inuyasha, and the two embark on a thrilling adventure.

Inuyasha deals with some dark and complex issues intertwined with its main supernatural and action plot. Sometimes feelings hurt, and your past, or should we say (spoiler alert), past life can lead to strain and even heartbreak.

Best romance anime: Maid Sama!

Maid Sama! (2010- 2011)

If you are a shoujo anime or shoujo manga fan, chances are you know about Maid Sama! The 2010 series is a long-time fan favourite choice, thanks to its enduring central couple, quirky art style and classic fluffy storyline.

Seika High used to be an only boys school that recently changed to co-ed. The transition isn’t exactly the easiest, and tensions continue to rise when Misaki Ayuzawa, a girl, gets elected student body president. She also isn’t afraid to keep the lads in check with an iron fist. However, Misaki has a secret – she works at a maid café for her part-time job. Unfortunately, her popular classmate Takumi Usui discovers her dark secret.

Maid Sama! Is one of those rare shows that you can watch no matter your mood. It’s over the top, cute, and all in all enduring as Misaki realises that maybe Takumi isn’t as annoying as she originally thought.

Best romance anime: Nana

Nana (2006)

Few animes are as relatable as the hit series Nana. Focusing on the love between partners and friendships, here is a slice of life that isn’t afraid to show the ups and downs of being a young adult, making us smile, cry and rock out to some killer tunes.

The full story: Best anime movies

Nana Osaki and Nana Komatsu (aka Hachi) meet by chance while moving to Tokyo. Nana O is a musician looking to make it big on her own merits away from her successful ex-boyfriend’s shadow, and Nana K is trying to be closer to her boyfriend and friends. As the story unravels, these two polar opposites end up sharing an apartment and an unlikely but worthwhile friendship blooms.

Nana is an example of great writing with down-to-earth characters filled with sincerity and a bit of tragedy. It is a romance anime you won’t regret trying, and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

Best romance anime: Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online (2012)

You may be wondering why we included Sword Art Online in this list; technically, it is classed as a sci-fi and adventure anime, right? Well, yes, but when the entire plot turns into the relationship between Asuna and Kirito, you know we had to put this series in our top picks.

Based on the light novel series of the same title written by Reki Kawahara, Sword Art Online follows two players trapped in a virtual world. In order to be free from the simulation, the two have to clear all 100 Floors and defeat the final boss. Throughout the series, we see Asuna and Kirito growing closer, depending on one another and, in short, developing into a memorable couple.

From the get-go, you are rooting for the two of them to survive and stay together, resulting in one of the most involved and realistically paced relationships in the soppy genre.

Best romance anime: Snow White with Red Hair

Snow White with Red Hair (2015-2016)

Listen, romantic strife, heartbreak, and tragic star-crossed lovers are all well and good, but sometimes you just want to enjoy heart-warming fluff in peace. Snow White with Red Hair is one of the most relaxing and cosy romance animes on our list.

Feel good watch: Best rom-coms

However, saying that there is still a story here that will keep you hooked. Shirayuki is a herbalist with a striking head of red hair who catches the eye of the kingdom’s prince Raj. In order to avoid being his concubine, she escapes to the nearby kingdom Clarines where she meets our male lead, prince Zen.

Despite some opposition due to their differing social statuses, their relationship is a cute and easy-going watch, as we see the two connect and eventually fall in love. If you are after a wholesome romantic fix Snow White with Red Hair is the perfect choice to pop on your small screens.

Best romance anime: His and Her Circumstances

His and Her Circumstances (1998-1999)

Who would have thought that the director of The End of Evangelion, Hideaki Anno, would adapt a sweet high school love story? Bringing the same level of in-depth character analysis from his past work, Anno crafts an anime that focuses on how relationships contribute to individual growth.

Pilot that Eva: Best sci-fi series 

Yukino Miyazawa is the image of the perfect student, pretty, and popular. However when she gets home, she turns into a narcissistic slob who is obsessed with keeping the top academic position in her class. But, her world is turned upside down once the handsome and seemingly perfect Soichiro Arima beats her.

Both characters have built up fake personas, and as they slowly come together, the two overcome their individual struggles and fears of showing imperfections. His and Her Circumstances demonstrates how love can help humans as a whole, and reminds us of the value of being your true self.

Best romance anime: Fruit Baskets

Fruit Baskets (2019)

The reboot of the early 2000s anime of the same name, Fruit Baskets, brings the timeless story back to our small screens with a fresh new look. It is incredibly hard to dislike this show, as it pretty much ticks all the boxes for a top-tier shoujo romance. Likeable characters? Check. Funny moments? Check. A cute relationship that you can’t help but root for? Check.

Due to some pretty sad and extreme circumstances, Tohru Honda begins living in a house with her popular classmate Yuki Sohma and his cousin Shigure. While moving into her new home, she meets the other relative of Yuki, Kyo – who also happens to turn into a cat. Tohru discovers that the entire family is possessed by the spirits of the Chinese zodiac and are cursed to turn into animals when embarrassed or hugged by the opposite gender.

Fruit Baskets, takes tragic characters and places them into an optimistic and heart-warming show filled with romance, laughs, and fantasy.

Best romance anime: Clannad After Story

Clannad: After Story (2008)

Warning! You’ll need a box of tissues for this one. Clannad: After Story is the follow-up to the romance anime Clannad, and is nothing short of spectacular. In the first entry of Clannad (which we also recommend watching), we saw Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa become a couple. In Clannad: After Story, we see what comes after their confession and how hard relationships and life can be.

Love hurts: Best romance movies

Tomoya is constantly trying to build a future and happy family with Nagisa, but life keeps getting in the way – be it his father, or a tragic illness. From the get-go, the story is perfectly laid out to break your heart, as the likeable anime characters continue to struggle in their pursuit of happiness.

From its script to its visuals, here is an anime that will stick in your mind for years to come, and is some of the best and effective storytelling you can find, period.