Laughter, sadness, excitement, and anger. Myriads of emotions pass through us as we watch beautifully-constructed romance shows that barely scrape the light. Here are 10 underrated romance anime!
10 Underrated Romance Anime:
10. Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou
From a critically-acclaimed shoujo manga series, Kare Kono involves itself with Yukino Miyazawa, the popular female class rep who excels in academics, athletics, and aesthetics. She aims to be praised by others so she can feel good about her achievements. Truthfully, she’s not as graceful at home as school; studying for hours, special weight-training, fashion magazine, etc. However, when Soichiro Arima, the male class rep who recently transferred, starts beating Yukino in everything, she gets hurt and struggles for the spotlight.
When she finally beats him, he congratulates her to her shock and confesses. Due to her pride, she rejects him and gloats about it but the next day, Souichiro comes over to return a borrowed DVD and he sees her in her normal clothes, blackmailing her. Now forced to spending time with Soichiro and doing his student council duties, Yukino slowly starts to learn more about Souichiro.
For a predominantly non-shoujo fan myself, I found this series to be quite amazing. Despite it is not as underrated as others would claim, many still think it has not received the proper acclaim that it deserves. The dynamics between Yukino and Souichiro as we discover more about his past opens new venues into better side stories and adds to the drama. It is definitely a great anime and the manga is even better.
Kare no Kano seems to have a similar animation style to scenes in FLCL which could also be a factor in why I took an interest in this specific shoujo series. Using FLCL’s mono-texture color tones with the fluid movement of the shoujo genre, Kare no Kano creates an animation that seems real and tangible for something that is a moving drawing.
Kodaka Hasegawa, the misunderstood blonde “yankee,” is transferring to a new school and he wants to remake his impressions to even get some friends. Unfortunately, he’s labeled as a delinquent right away due to his scary look and blonde hair. Wandering endlessly, toiling away at the time wondering if he would ever make high-school memories, he walks into an empty classroom after school to see another loner Yozora Mikazuki, a girl standing by herself talking to an imaginary friend in an empty classroom.
The two share complaints about how tough it is to fit in high school when Yozora proposes to break their status quo and make friends by creating the Neighbor’s Club. A club created for people with no friends, the members learn how to interact with each other, play social games, and just mess around as normal friends would. Kodaka will encounter more and more girls who join the Neighbor’s Club, forming new connections and finding friends out of these oddities.
This might seem to be one of those classic “ecchi/harem trash” anime that seem to hold no real plot or story development through it but Haganai is different. The anime brings a refreshing flavor to the generic ecchi/harem shows which panty shots and breasts but no actual reason or story. Haganai focuses on the individual relationships that Kodaka creates over the year with the girls.
The characters in the show are also hilarious and their design makes them a perfect fit for the show. Sena Kashiwazaki the stuck-up eroge/otaku daughter of the school’s principal, Rika Shiguma the perverted mad scientists, and Yukimura Kusunoki, a cross-dressing reverse-trap with absolute loyalty to Kodaka as his self-proclaimed servant, much to Kodaka’s distaste.
8. Amagami SS
Christmas is always a day of sadness and betrayal for Junichi Tachibana. Two years ago, he was stood-up for a date on Christmas Eve. In the present, Junichi has a hard time expressing his true feelings to anyone in fear of being rejected or abandoned again like last time. Still, he wishes for love, longing for someone to love him back.
Lucky for him, he might have another chance at love as he becomes involved with: Haruka Morishima, the cute-loving energetic upperclassmen coveted by all; Kaoru Tanamachi, Junichi’s tomboyish middle-school friend; Sae Nakata, the shy and timid transfer student one year younger; Ai Nanasaki, a cute, short-haired girl on the swimming team who doesn’t like Junichi initially; Rihoko Sakurai, a childhood friend who loves sweet things; and Tsukasa Ayatsuji, the prideful and perfect class president who holds deep secrets. Follow Junichi in each timeline as he courts each girl in six separate stories\
7. Hataraki Man
Hiroko Matsukkata is a 28-year old woman who works for a weekly magazine. Everyday, she comes into work on time, works extremely hard and sometimes even works overtime – showing her dedication to work – and is headstrong and straightforward. No matter how good her life at work is, her social life is still lacking a bit.
Hiroko is lacking romance in her life. She’s only regarded as a workaholic who butts heads with Kunio Tanaka of another department, smokes too much, is too brash and crude, etc. The complaints pile on with Hiroko being on the point of not caring. Will Hiroko ever get a fulfilling life?
The idea of a meaning to life is something that isn’t explored much in mainstream anime. Even most non-mainstream anime do not explore the complicated and realistic relationships that develop between adults. Responsibilities, socioeconomic status, family ideals, location, there are infinite things to worry about as an adult but sometimes it seems almost stagnant.
Akin to Inio Asano works, this anime explores the growing pains and worries of adults in modern times dealing with death, overwor, dissatisfaction, and most importantly, stagnation. Hiroko doesn’t want a static life where nothing changes but she wants romance, some spice that will take away from her “Hataraki man” persona.
6. 3D Kanojo
Life is tough for an otaku like Hikari Tsutsui. Since he’s socially-inept and awkward, he immerses himself into the 2-D realm while he is ridiculed and shunned by his classmates except for his one friend Yuuto Itou, who wears cat ears and shares Tsutsui’s interests. One day, Tsutsui’s forced to clean the pool as of late punishment and he meets Iroha Igarashi, well-known for being a homewrecker for high-school girls.
He steers clear from her but as she tries to be friendly with him, he outbursts at her to leave him alone and not play with other boys’ feelings. Regretting his outburst just slightly, he sees Iroha being pulled by a persistent upperclassman who beats Tsutsui as he tries to yank his hand off Iroha to save her. Iroha, interested in why he would come back and save her after abandoning her to do the pool work, kisses him and asks him to go out with her. In a daze, he says something that sounds like “yes” and the two start dating.
3D Kanojo might get a bad reputation for the way it portrays high-school. That may be part of why it isn’t so popular but portraying high-school in such a polarized manner serves to emphasize a point that many anime gloss over with humor: the way people treat otaku culture needs to be changed. This anime serves to show redemption from being a bully, romance between others, and a variety of drama problems between the couple. However, the progression of their romance grows nicely all towards the end.
Youto Yokodera wants to be a pervert! Wait, to rephrase that, he wants to be seen as a pervert by the people in his school. Still lost? Youto Yokodera is always misunderstood and never gets the short stick, maintaining the trust of his iron-fisted track club captain Tsukushi Tsutsukakushi. Tired of living a lie, he does numerous lewd actions that keep being misinterpreted as good intentions, only making the situation worse.
One day, he hears rumors about a stone cat statue (actually known as Waraineko or smiling cat) that can remove any unwanted trait from you in exchange for something else. Youto hastily agrees and leaves after it’s done. Or so he thinks… with the presence of another girl at the same time as him. Tsukiko, the girl behind the statue hiding, also makes a wish as well and both Youto and Tsukiko’s wishes become intertwined.
Henneko resembles the romance-infused stories of Monogatari and the romantic classic Rascal Does not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai. These romance stories are pushed forward by a supernatural presence. In Monogatari, it was the Sawarineko, Pubescent Syndrome in Bunny Girl Senpai, and the wishes that the stone cat statue granted.
Youto continues to meet more people who ask their wishes to be removed by the Waraineko and as all the main characters start to get closer together, undiscovered rules and guidelines behind the game were revealed. Henneko is a surprisingly good anime given my apprehensions from the name itself. It tackles similar events in Monogatari and Bunny Girl Senpai but Henneko is a more refreshing breeze to it and keeps the same feeling of an ecchi/harem anime.
4. Scum’s Wish
Hanabi Yasuraoka and Mugi Awaya are dating. They are the perfect couple and always love being intimate with each other as a sign of their love. Well, only the intimate and dating part are correct. In reality, Hanabi and Mugi share a similar pain: the pain of their love being taken away. Hanabi’s much-older childhood friend and neighbor Narumi Kanai is a Japanese literature teacher at her high school and is seeing the music teacher Akane Minagawa.
Akane Minagawa is Mugi’s tutor from middle school and has always been in love with her. Crushed by the attraction of both their crushes together, they decide to let each other lick their wounds and be intimate with each other to fill the holes in their hearts. Hanabi and Mugi meet by chance in the ahllways after seeing each other spy on their crushes.
The two lonely students spend time together and people might quote that the Law of Attraction would then make that person fall for you in the end. Truthfully, licking each other’s wounds is exactly what it sounds like. The wound isn’t taken care of itself and it’s sitting there with saliva that starts to burn the injured area. Scum’s Wish is about exploring the true identities and personalities of the people around us wearing a mask.
This show got very emotionally-heavy at times and some things seem unanswered as the show ends but the journey of watching this couple go through different sexual partners while dating to heal their wounds is portrayed in a very tragic way, almost like a desperate attempt to feel warmth.
3. Kokoro Connect
Five random drifters at Yamaboshi Academy find out they have no clubs to socialize or fit in with so they group to form the Student Cultural Society (StuCS). The members are: Taichi Yaegashi, a compassionate hard-core pro-wrestling fan; Iori Nagase, an air-headed optimist; Yui Kiriyama, a small cute-loving karate champion, and Yoshifumi Aoki who is the jokester/class clown.
One day, Yui and Aoki switch bodies shortly. Trying to figure out how to deal with this supernatural phenomenon, the group encounters more phenomenon that puts their relationships to the test.
This show will truly show you how to know a friend. Each supernatural phenomena they use fits the moral of the arc perfectly with plot twists and curves that don’t distract from the main story’s focus. Kokoro Connect symbolizes how hearts are connected physically when bodies are connected so the soul could also be connected.
Sharing frustrations, anger, sadness, and disappointments allows people to become closer because they are aware of each others’ weaknesses and acknowledge each other as someone just like them.
2. The Fruit of Grisaia
Yuuji Kazami is a transfer student at Mihama Academy to live a normal high school life but it might be impossible. Mihama Academy consists of only five girl students and a principal. Yuuji gets close with each girl, discovering more about the truths behind their personalities and behavior.
He eventually connects to them all to have some sort of extreme trauma and that Mihama Academy is a school that rehabilitates these girls in a safe environment. Like the fruit that fell from the Garden of Eden, Yuuji is the tree, and it’s up to him how he protects his fellow classmates or “apples” but how?
The Fruit of Grisaia anime franchise prides itself on its unique storytelling. The Fruit of Grisaia uses subliminal messaging and foreshadowing to establish a setting that would allow Yuuji to transfer into a school like that. Different puzzle pieces of who Yuuji really is are uncovered by each girl and we, as the audience, get to enjoy seeing Yuuji when he has something to protect.
This show is very good and despite having a strong emphasis on the harem perspective, it has great storytelling and action. The Fruit of Grisaia might not be mainly a romance anime but it is underestimated a lot for the romantic undertones that hide in each story, despite a girl confessing or not.
The final year of junior high that will lead to the final portion of K-12 education. New school years bring new classmates and with new classmates bring lots of new experience. Akane Mizuno is a star member of the track team and is paired in the same class as aspiring novelist Kotarou Azumi. Akane and Kotarou are not very straightforward and noticeable people anyway. Initially complete strangers, they slowly see themselves in situations where they talk to each other and get closer. Longing gazes into each others’ starry eyes and the burning heart will push Kotarou to forward the march of his young love.
With Akane and Kotarou as an example, Tsukigakirei amazes in showing a hyper-realistic anime. Fluid graphic and shading animation makes this look like a CGI film compared to anime in the mainstream. Many manga series expect an overly-eccentric romance with characters that keep the reader interested just as much as the story does. Akane and Kotarou are the most normal high school students you can find in any high school in Japan.
This anime is great and the top of this list in the way that it portrays the romance between two completely normal people. Fights, disagreements, and falling-outs are common between two people that are. so close that they can hurt each other the easiest. These traits are not exclusive to beautiful girls or playboy protagonists in shoujo manga.
This is a story between two completely equal people. In most manga, either the woman or man is in a higher position socially and falls in love with the less-social character. However, these two are somewhat “equal” in their status, giving us more insight into problems that run in from other places and how they struggle. to fix them.