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The best romance anime to watch on Valentine’s Day

By February 14, 2023March 29th, 2023No Comments11 min read

Valentine’s Day: a celebration of romance, love, big gestures, and candy. While the holiday definitely gets a bad rap for mostly being an ad for excess, there’s also plenty of satisfaction in celebrating love for love’s sake. Just like western animation, anime isn’t one to shy away from making stories all about romance, maybe even more so than in the west. In honor of Hallmark’s favorite holiday, some of the anime writers of InBetweenDrafts are sharing their favorite anime love stories for you to put on with your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day.

5 Centimeters Per Second

The first of two Makoto Shinkai films on this list, 5 Centimeters Per Second might not be the director’s best known picture, but it’s certainly his most visually rich and textured. Broken into three sections which depict the protagonist’s relationships with the women in his life, the film derives plenty from its character beats but the animation’s soft, bleeding colors and delicate, painstaking detailing make it a truly hypnotic experience. [Allyson Johnson]

Where to Watch: Rent onVudu and Apple TV+

My Love Story

The magic and twilight charm of My Love Story is built into it’s simplistic narrative. Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, they fall in love. Of course if that was all there was to the series it wouldn’t have been much of one, but those defining traits of the characters and their shared, professed, and developing romance deliver a tangible warmth. It’s impossible not to love Takeo and Yamato. [AJ]

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

I Want To Eat Your Pancreas

In line with what seems to be a heart-wrenching, yet effective theme, I Want To Eat Your Pancreas chronicles the abbreviated life of Yamauchi Sakura and her blossoming relationship with the class wallflower (whose name I’ll purposely omit, since the effect of learning it is a major beat in the story). The two meet for the first time in a hospital, where he learns of her terminal pancreatic illness entirely by chance. Fascinated by what comes to be revealed as a diary, he exists as an oasis in her otherwise predictable melancholy. Filling out Sakura’s ideal of living life exactly how one wants to, in spite of and beholden to the time she’s been given, her bucket list adventures give him exactly the perspective he needs to bloom on his own terms. [Jordan Lee]

Where to Watch: Netflix

Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku

With only 11 episodes, Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku is the epitome of a quick binge; and you’ll be regretting just how quick when you’re finished and don’t have any episodes left. Following Narumi, a woman hiding the fact she’s a yaoi fangirl, changes jobs and reunites with her childhood friend Hirotaka, a hardcore gaming otaku. Wotakoi is charming in its depiction of Narumi and Hirotaka’s passions, both indvidually and shared, their friendships with fellow office fanatics as well in the developing romance and contrasting personalities of the two leads, creating characters you want to spend time with. [AJ]

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime 

Your Name

Red strings of fate, time travel, meteor shows, and declarations of love – Makoto Shinkai didn’t mess around in creating the lush and intoxicatingly paced Your Name. A romance of happenstance, the characters and their emotional turmoil due to being teenagers put into bizarre circumstances is matched with visuals that explode on the screen, his skies having never taken on such rich blues. Shinkai understands that good drama is elevated by tone, and he accomplishes this with land and cityscapes that stand out boldly on the screen. [AJ]

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll, Rent now from Vudu, Amazon Prime, and Youtube TV


Perhaps due to its unpolished mid-2000s look, Toradora doesn’t instantly leap out as a must-watch series, especially with the low-stakes at the start. However, the spark develops with greater tension and urgency as the series moves, as we realize that each character – especially our two leads – are dealing not just with burgeoning feelings of love but also contending with who they like and why affects their own self-perceptions. Not to make it sound too deep, it’s just that the balance of playful humor, animation style, and drama is deftly handled in a way that’s disconcerting until it’s masterful. [AJ]

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll, Netflix, Amazon, Funimation

Urusei Yatsura

A list of romance anime wouldn’t feel remotely right without at least one entry from the iconic works of Rumiko Takahashi, and lucky for us that her very first hit is getting the reboot treatment from the masters of adapting 80’s manga over at David Production. Urusei Yatsura is different from a lot of the anime on this list in that while its characters are fun and adorable, they’re also incredibly cartoony and much more interested in doing more than engaging in building romance primarily. Even so, seeing Lum’s commitment to winning over the galactically thirsty Ataru all for herself is consistently fun. David Production has applied the same ethos and respect they had for Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and have expertly replicated Takahashi’s character design and vision while making some genuinely bold moves in presentation, making this a must watch for fans of both Takahashi and David Production even they’re if not in the mood for romance – and doubly so if they are. [Travis Hymas]

Where to Watch: HiDive

Your Lie In April

Your Lie In April feels like a romantic spin on what can be seen as a Pinocchio story. Crestfallen after the death of his mother, Kousei Arima loses the ability to hear his own music. As a child prodigy, he was pushed to be as flawless as one could be on the piano, with his mother driving him relentlessly to be a pinnacle of mechanical performance. As a result, his outlook on the art has dulled to monochrome, and it becomes more of a discipline than anything. Enter Kaori Miyazono, a mercurial violinist who–while demonstrating a virtuosic proficiency of her own–maintains an air of freedom about her performance that ultimately enraptures Kousei, and the two’s mutual admiration of each other reignites his passion for performance. [JL]

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll, Funimation

Yuri On Ice

Yes, there’s no doubt this is about ice skating and the toll this type of career athleticism can take on young minds and yes, the animation is simply spectacular especially in how it emulates the real movement and fluidity of actual figure skaters. That said, it is, first and foremost, a romance, and it’s dazzling. Yuri and Victor might be polar opposites in terms of their demeanor but they both challenge one another and grow from it and watching as they progressively move closer and closer into one another’s orbit is one of the greatest thrills of the series. [AJ]

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll, Funimation


Despite only running for one season, Horimiya was a breath of fresh air in its depiction of romance in anime, mainly based on the personalities of the main two and how they balanced one another. Hori with her beauty and brains and Miyamura and his meek, quiet demeanor, might not seem fated on page, but together their dynamic is electrifying as both see in one another what those around them don’t – her work ethic and compassion at home and his boundary pushing style outside of school. Its animation prioritizes being light with breezy execution. [AJ]

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll, Hulu


While it lacks some visual finesse, Given is an achievement in character development as the first season and subsequent OVA’s. Demonstrating the possibilities of healing through music, Given is both a love story as well as a story about processing grief. Directed by Hikaru Yamaguchi with character designs by Mina Osawa, the series comes alive when our characters hit the stage and unload their feelings towards the onlooking crowd. [AJ]

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll 

Sasaki to Miyano 

This slice-of-life boy’s love series adaptation of Shō Harusono’s manga focuses on the titular characters Sasaki and Miyano as they grow close after an altercation leads them to each other one day after Miyano watches Sasaki step in to stop a group of bullies from targeting his friend. The character designs are expressive and the score filters in light and loose, dancing around the central duos dynamic. The greatest aspect though is how well the animation style captures the mood and tone of the story. With soft yet vibrant colors, the artists make sure that the suns placement is captured to reflect how their emotions waver and shift over time. [AJ]

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll, Funimation

Ride Your Wave

Legendary director/animator Masaaki Yuasa’s 2019 film Ride Your Wave channels the grief of losing a loved one through a whimsically surreal lens, complete with laugh-singing – be still, my beating heart! Neighborhood new girl Hinako is nearly literally swept off her feet when doting local firefighter Minato comes to her rescue after her apartment catches fire in a freak fireworks accident. Their mutual passion for surfing is what ultimately makes and breaks their relationship, however. Minato meets an untimely end trying to save someone from drowning, but due to his connection to Hinako and a particularly strong wish, she learns that by singing the song they first bonded over, he can return to her as an apparition in the water! While genuinely wholesome throughout, the film weaves in themes of self-efficacy, alongside the notion that those we love don’t always need to be physically there to be with us. [JL]

Where to Watch: HBO Max, Prime Video, Rent now from Google TV/YouTube, Apple TV, and Vudu

Tamako Love Story

From A Silent Voice and Liz and the Blue Bird to the slice-of-life series K-On!, director Naoko Yamada has a superb eye in building tactile worlds. Patient in the storytelling, Tamako Love Story isn’t quite as well known as her quietly devastating works but is a poignant coming-of-age story nonetheless which follows a friendship after one declares their romantic feelings for another. A Silent Voice may be her masterpiece, but Tamako Love Story shares in the DNA that makes all of her works such stunning pieces of visual and emotive storytelling. [AJ]

Where to Watch: HiDive, Roku Channel

My Dress-Up Darling

What sets My Dress-Up Darling apart from other “soft boy meets loud girl” stories is how normal the series treats all of its characters. While it is very easy to predict that the series’ long-term plan is to match gyaru icon Marin with the quiet Gojo, the series doesn’t make their romance the axel that the series spins on. Instead, the two come together in a much less romance-focused manner by centering the benefits that the two’s interests have to one another. Marin’s ability to draw Gojo out of his shell isn’t due to her being cute as all hell, she can do that because she shows his passion for designing hina dolls respect. Gojo does the same, effectively becoming an anime expert himself in response. They become closer naturally, with Marin’s feelings deepening in a way that shocks even her, as it had completely snuck up on her. While it may sound easy to write off this series as a fantasy for boys who just want their own gyaru – and let’s be clear, there’s a reason Marin is a popular character with fan artists – My Dress-Up Darling has some of the most natural feeling romance I’ve seen in any medium. [TH]

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll, Funimation

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War

Season one of Kaguya-Sama can be a bit of a burden to dig through but once the end of that season sails into view and we take off to season two, there’s no anime quite as consistently hilarious as this. Once the full five-character ensemble cast comes together, the brilliance of the series and the dynamics of specific relationships both platonic and romantic shine brightest. Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya are the perfect type of slowburn OTP. [AJ]

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll, Hulu

Fruits Basket 

One of the most iconic early 2000’s shojo anime recently got its own Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood style revival from TMS Entertainment and Funimation; which means fans of Fruits Basket can finally see the full story realized in modern animation. While fans will tell you that the real relationship endgame was always clear for this anime that put many suitors forward, seeing Tohru Honda adorably work towards to improving the lives of all the Sohma family that showed her kindness is the real reason you can’t wait to see her own happy ending. Being able to finally see this comedy all the way through is a great way to flash back to your teenage shojo obsession, if only to relieve the antics of a family that transforms into the Chinese Zodiac at the mere hug of a girl. [TH]

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Travis Hymas

Travis Hymas is a freelance writer and self appointed Pokémon historian out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Known to be regularly obessive over pop culture topics and gaming discourse, he is a published Rotten Tomatoes critic and has been featured on sites such as Uppercut and The Young Folks

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