Valentine’s Day has come and gone for another year. For the anime community out there, Valentine’s Day would have meant settling down with a mountain of chocolate and watching some of the best romance anime that Japan has to offer. Most of the time, it’s fluffy nonsense, but occasionally, there will be an anime couple that truly touches the heart. So if you’re not quite ready to leave the spirit of Valentine’s Day behind, cosy up and watch some of these.
Nothing is more cheesy, more dramatic than a good old reverse harem, AKA: One female protagonist with a hoard of male love interests. A frontrunner in the world of reverse harems is La Corda d’Oro. Fancy romantic French title? Check. Cute girl surrounded by lots of pretty boys? We’re good to go.
Kahoko Hino is a student at Seiso Academy, which is divided into the general education department (for ‘normal students’), and the music department (where all the talented, good-looking musicians go). One day, she is visited by a fairy who gives her a magical violin and enters her in the school music competition. Kahoko is completely oblivious to the male attention around her from all the other competitors, particularly a blue-haired violinist named Len. Thus, the school-dubbed ‘violin romance’ blossoms, with many male students vying for her attention. La Corda d’Oro is great for the old-fashioned romantics out there, and has the backdrop of classical music to make it extra, extra gooey.
If that amount of corny anime wasn’t enough, have a look at Say ‘I love you’. It’s not as colourful, not as overstated. It almost accurately depicts the difficulties of a weird girl dating the most popular boy in school. Mei Tachibana has never had any friends, let alone a boyfriend, and she doesn’t find it surprising. She’s silent, standoffish, and is prone to violent outbursts. Rolling into her life is the insanely popular Yamato Kurosawa, who finds her both hilarious and interesting. Together they must navigate a first love, as well as all the gossip and drama that surrounds their relationship. The plot’s normal enough, but there’s something about Mei that is so relatable. She isn’t the stereotypical ‘kawaii but oblivious’ girl; she’s not the prettiest, but she is incredibly honest, and incredibly scared. We also get a lot of depth to Yamato’s ‘popular boy’ image— he’s had his fair share of personal issues and feels guilty about his past behaviour. For an honest, modest, and frankly adorable first love, watch this show.
There’s something that these two shows don’t have that My Little Monster does, and that’s comedy! Sure, we all love some tear-jerking romance, but sometimes we just want a laugh. Shizuku is nicknamed ‘dry ice’ for her unfriendly demeanour, and unbreakable dedication to her studies. She’d do anything to stay at the top, and that includes the sacrifice of emotions, friends, and fun. Her complete opposite is the playful Haru, who was suspended from high school on his first day, renowned for being a violent monster. In reality, he is kind and gentle. Their relationship is awkward and adorable, especially when there’s several love confessions within the first two episodes. Shizuku must help Haru fit in at school after his suspension, and in turn this expands her own world to include more friends and much more love. This is a classic example of opening each other’s lives up, and the gratitude causes them to fall in love. Plus, Haru’s hilarious personality totally steals the show.
If they weren’t enough (or if the anime veterans out there have already seen these classics) then there’s a whole host of corny romance to get you going. Here are some honourable mentions. For something more modern, try Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. It will never satisfy your cravings to see the couple actually get together in the end, but protagonist Sakura’s feeble attempts at getting senpai to finally notice her are side-splitting. It features a male tsundere, several romantic sub-lots, and is all based around the creation of manga. What more could we want? (Except for a cute love confession, but hey, we can’t have it all). Or maybe you could try Golden Time. For all its plot holes and the admittedly poor ending, it’s a unique romance that features the love between two college students. Forget high school romance. With jobs, driving cars and independence thrown in the mix, Golden Time can satisfy those looking for some older protagonists. On top of these two, there are romance anime being released by the bucket load ever year, so get watching.
These are some great shows to get emotions running high. Enjoy your Valentine’s gifts, enjoy some anime and rejoice in the fact that romance in anime is certainly not dead.