If you crave more romance stories in your life, there's an anime out there just waiting to hook you. From everyday school life to high fantasy and everything in between, the genre is bursting with love stories to check out.
Below are some of my recommendations for 14 addictive romance anime you can watch right now. That being said, these options only represent the tip of the iceberg. If you have favorites of your own, share them in the comments below!
Howl's Moving Castle
A young milliner named Sophie is cursed and transformed into an old woman, then meets the wizard Howl, who hopes to use her to escape conscription into an ongoing war. She joins him in his moving castle, which travels the countryside on a pair of chicken legs powered by a magical furnace. But while their life in the moving castle is magical and idyllic, they can’t escape the war for long, and soon it will be up to Sophie to save Howl and everyone inside the castle.
This 2004 film by Hayao Miyazaki was loosely based on the Diana Wynne Jones novel of the same name. Much of the film is devoted to Sophie’s growth as a heroine, but the genuine affection between her and Howl highlights moments of tenderness throughout the story. It’s easy to see why Howl’s Moving Castle is one of Studio Ghibli's most beloved films.
Romeo x Juliet
Juliet is the lone survivor of House Capulet, which ruled Neo-Verona until all its members were slaughtered by House Montague. Just days before Juliet comes of age, a boy riding a dragon-horse saves her–setting off a conflict that will soon consume the city.
Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the romance between the title characters is more realistic than it is in the iconic play. In Romeo x Juliet, the title characters know each other for much longer before falling in love than they do in the source material, and both develop much more as characters throughout the story. Shakespeare himself shows up as a recurring character, and Shakespeare nerds will have a blast finding all the references to the Bard’s works, from his most famous to the more obscure.
Izetta: The Last Witch
This alternate-history fantasy is set in an analog for Word War II-era Europe. The story focuses around the tiny alpine nation of Eylstadt and follows the relationship between Eylstadt’s leader, Ortfine, and Izetta, whose power may be all that stands between Eylstadt and the threat of invasion. As the last witch of her line, Izetta risks everything to protect Eylstadt with her power, and Ortfine must grow into the leadership role she was born for in order to save the girl she loves.
Izetta: The Last Witch has a wonderful romance between Princess Ortfine and Izetta, and Ortfine’s conflicted heart–wanting to keep Izetta safely away from battle, but fully aware Izetta is Eylstadt’s only hope–puts their love story at the heart of the series.
A duck falls in love with a prince, and her love grants her a human form and the power to become Princess Tutu, a magical heroine with the ability to restore the prince’s shattered heart. Enrolling in the same academy the prince attends, heroine Ahiru (Duck in the English dub) seeks not only to catch Prince Mytho’s attention, but fend off her rival Rue—another girl in love with Mytho who can transform into the magical Princess Kraehe—and Mytho’s roommate and de facto bodyguard, Fakir.
Inspired by several ballets and fairy tales, including Swan Lake and The Ugly Duckling, this anime is almost dramatically romantic, featuring love polygons (like love triangles, but with more players—a common theme in romance anime) and lots of angst. While incorporating some elements of the popular magical girl anime genre, Princess Tutu is almost a love letter to ballet: the dancers, the performance, and the stories this art form has immortalized.
This Boy is a Professional Wizard
Wizarding elite Chiharu’s magical talent and hard work have earned him a position as one of the most important employees of the magic department’s counter-crisis division. But nothing can prepare him for the confession from Toyohi, another customer at the bar he frequents. Chiharu has never tried to do anything other than develop his talent for magic—and his budding relationship with Toyohi is entirely new territory. Does Toyohi like Chiharu for himself—or is he in love with Chiharu the wizard?
Consisting of four episodes that make up approximately the length of a short film, This Boy is a Professional Wizard is a lighthearted romance anime from 2016 to give you a quick burst of sweetness.
Yona of the Dawn
Sixteen-year-old Princess Yona of the Kingdom of Kouka has little on her mind besides how she’ll convince her father to marry her off to her beloved Su-Won—until she witnesses her father’s murder at Su-Won’s hands and flees the castle. Determined to take her kingdom back from Su-Won’s rule, Yona and her bodyguard Hak set off to gather the legendary Four Dragon Warriors, who may be the only people who can help her save her kingdom. But despite everything that’s happened, Yona still can’t forget about Su-Won…
This lush fantasy romance anime in a Korean-inspired setting is full of action, romantic tension, and as much high-stakes drama as you could want, and Yona is a heroine you can’t stop yourself from rooting for. (On the other hand, with so many options of love interest, you absolutely get your pick of guys to root for!)
Recovery of an MMO Junkie
Overwhelmed by her demanding corporate career, Moriko Morioka decides to quit her job and take up a new life immersed in the MMORPG Fruits de Mer, where she hopes to find more fulfillment. There, her (male) avatar becomes close friends with a player called Lily–just as she first encounters Yuta Sakurai, a good-looking young man who might be more connected to her world than she first assumes.
While not precisely a fantasy anime, Recovery of an MMO Junkie spends enough time in the game Fruits de Mer that it almost feel like one anyway, and Moriko is one of the most relatable romance protagonists of all time. Who hasn’t thought about quitting their job at least once?
Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid
After a night out drinking, Miss Kobayashi opens her front door to find a massive dragon staring at her, which promptly turns into a young woman named Tohru who offers to become her maid. Tohru seems determined to stay, so Miss Kobayashi sets herself to the task of teaching Tohru how to manage in the human world. As their domestic life unfolds, the pair takes in a young dragon named Kanna, and Miss Kobayashi is drawn into the dragon community, complete with their arguments and friendships alike.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is another lighthearted anime, though the story can get a little morose at times: underneath Tohru’s unfettered adoration is the story of two lonely people finding a home in one another and the found family both of them will go to great lengths to protect.
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches
Ryu Yamada falls down a flight of stairs and lands on Urara Shiraishi, accidentally kissing her–only to cause them to swap bodies. Ryu and Urara learn that the school has seven witches in total, whose powers activate with a kiss. Together, they revive the school’s Supernatural Studies Club—drawing the attention not only of the other witches, but also those who oppose the witches.
Framed as a romantic comedy–mainly involving the core cast running around trying to kiss each other–Yamada-kun does have a more focused love story between Ryu and Urara, for those seeking more love than fluff.
Kiss Him, Not Me!
Yaoi-loving Kae Serinuma is devastated when her favorite anime character is killed off. A week later, she becomes suddenly gorgeous, and catches the eye of four boys who start to pursue her. But Kae’s not interested in dating any of them–she’d rather fantasize about their romances with each other.
Though more comedic than romantic, Kiss Him, Not Me! is super relatable: if you weren’t Kae Serinuma back in the day (or even now), you’ve definitely known someone like her in your fandom. The series also takes an interesting crack at the tired harem/reverse harem genre, in which one protagonist has multiple suitors vying for their attention. But saying much more would be a spoiler, so you’ll just have to check this series out for yourself.
Snow White with the Red Hair
Shirayuki always has to be careful about who sees her rare hair color—and when a passing prince catches sight of her and demands to make her his concubine, she cuts her hair off and escapes to the nearby kingdom of Clarines. There, she works as a pharmacist in the royal household—and explores her blossoming relationship with the second prince, Zen.
This sweet story circumvents the popular trope romance anime (and let’s face it, romance in general) in which the heroine and hero dance around their clearly inevitable love for one another: Shirayuki and Zen have a clear immediate liking for one another, and neither of them attempts to push the other away despite their class differences. This romantic anime leaves viewers with a warm and fuzzy feeling.
My Love Story!!
Takeo Gouda only wants one thing when he starts high school: to get a girlfriend and have a beautiful high school life. There’s just one problem: Takeo’s huge and scary-looking, and every girl he has a crush on falls for his handsome best friend, Sunakawa. Then Takeo stops a molester on the train—and falls instantly in love with the girl he saves, Rinko Yamato. Takeo resigns himself to rooting for Suna and Yamato to get together—but Yamato seems to have other ideas.
If you love romance tropes getting turned upside-down, this unlikely pairing (complete with a “love triangle” completed by Takeo’s completely romantically disinterested best friend) should make it to the top of your list. Viewers will also fall in love with Takeo—his enthusiasm and pure sweetness is almost infectious.
Itazura na Kiss
After years of crushing on the seemingly perfect Naoki Irie, Kotoko Aihara finally works up the courage to confess her love to him—only to be bluntly turned down. But when Kotoko’s family home is severely damaged in an earthquake, her father’s childhood friend offers to let their family stay with him—and that childhood friend turns out to be Naoki’s father. How will Kotoko and Naoki survive living under the same roof when Naoki seems determined to dislike her?
The original manga of Itazura na Kiss was so popular that it has been adapted into three different live-action films, three Japanese live-action series, three Taiwanese live-action series, two Korean live-action series, a Thai live-action series, and a Japanese anime. With that many fans, this series is a must-watch.
One morning, a country girl named Mitsuha wakes up in the body of Taki, a boy living in Tokyo. The next day she wakes up in her own body again, and assumes the body-switching was just a dream. But she soon discovers that not only did she spend a day in Taki’s body–he spent a day in hers. And it won’t be the last time, either. As Mitsuha and Taki fall slowly in love through the notes and daily diaries they keep for and with each other, they become determined to meet each other face to face.
This 2016 film written and directed by Makoto Shinkai shattered box office records in Japan and worldwide. Gorgeously animated, Your Name is a love story that reaches through time — this is an anime not to be missed.
Featured still from "Your Name" via Toho