Japanese Anime is a universe in itself. It covers a variety of genres, a variety of storylines, and a plethora of themes. Of these genres, romance is one of the more popular ones.
Conventional romance anime (in the shoujo demographic) are usually rife with a lot of drama and love triangles. It is not everyone’s cup of tea. Many out there crave to watch a romance anime that is totally wholesome. An anime that concentrates mainly on the character development and romance between the characters.
These kinds of wholesome romance anime warm up the heart, make you feel fuzzy, and set high standards for singles for the kind of partner they want.
The love stories in these anime are sometimes better than the conventional and sometimes even boring ones like Romeo and Juliet and, in the Indian context, Laila Majnu. However, one important thing these anime teach is that you don’t need to build a monument for the person you love. You need to love them wholeheartedly. And that is what makes these anime so wholesome to watch.
To all those otakus who are hopeless romantics yet want to stay away from drama, here are the top 15 wholesome romance anime that will provide you with an immersive experience about another take on love stories that are unconventional and fictional but still feels real to the bone.
Best wholesome romance anime to watch
20. Bloom into You
Director: Makoto Katō
Release: October 2018
Bloom into You is a wholesome romance anime that follows Yuu, who loves Shojo manga and waits for her chance to confess her feelings which would send her heart to aflutter with butterflies in her stomach and blushes. However, her crush doesn’t react to her confession.
Disappointed and confused, Yuu is in a fix about how to respond to the situation. That is when she comes across the beautiful student council president Nanami. She turned down a suitor with such sensibility and maturity that awed Yuu. The story begins with Yuu and Nanami getting to know each other, and before you know it, Nanami falls for Yuu and confesses to her. And from then on, Yuu’s Shojo manga-like journey begins.
Bloom into You is an anime that reminds me of the complexity and unconventionality of love. Numerous philosophers, artists, and laymen have tried and expressed their feelings of love. It could be a close friend, a forgotten friend, or whoever. But there might have been times when they didn’t respond to us or vice versa. This complexity helps one understand the meaning of love. Being okay with rejection and loving from a distance.
This series uses that feeling, which we cannot decipher, and creates a refreshing and unique plot that will fascinate viewers.
19. Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie
Director: Kioge Maki
Release: April 2022
This title is a more recent addition to the wholesome romance anime genre. It revolves around Izumi and Shikimori, the typical high school lovey-dovey couple until Izumi gets into trouble. Shikimori steps in as the very cool heroine who captivates everyone’s hearts. Izumi comes across as an upbeat and friendly kid. But he has had terrible luck his entire life. He is unassertive but hopes to become bolder like her girlfriend, Shikimori.
Shikimori has excellent reflexes and is always there to rescue Izumi from precarious situations. Her persona changes to this cool heartthrob of the high school, who seems to be everyone’s crush. She is sometimes sensitive, especially when Izumi gushes about other girls and women he sees in the media.
This show is a mixed bag. Some think this is the best romance they have ever seen in the anime. Seeing the chemistry between Izumi and Shikimori makes them happy. This show also sets up expectations of viewers of how their girlfriends should be.
18. Tanaka-kun is Always Listless
Director: Shinya Kawatsura
Studio: Silver Link
Release: July 2013
While it really doesn’t look like it, this anime falls under the wholesome romance anime category. It is about Tanaka-kun, who is exhausted when he’s awake, so he does everything possible to get enough sleep. The act of being “listless” is a way of life for Tanaka-kun.
He has a dependable friend Oota who helps him work through his tasks throughout the day as the lethargic teenager always has to deal with situations that prevent him from experiencing the peaceful days he longs for.
The relationship between Tankana and Oota is kind of “parasitic.” Tanaka seems to be completely dependent on Oota. This seems like a parasitic and toxic relationship in a way. But as Tanaka states, because of Oota’s caring nature, he sees him as the perfect candidate for marriage.
He has said that he admires Tanaka’s ability to be listless in any given situation. He also feels that Tanaka’s personality makes him miss out on things like romance and love.
17. Arakawa Under The Bridge
Director: Ken Lizuka
Studio: The Studio Shaft
Release: April 2010
Arakawa Under the Bridge” is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hikaru Nakamura. The manga was later adapted into an anime series. The anime adaptation, produced by Shaft, first aired in 2010.
The story is set beneath the Arakawa Bridge, where a unique community of eccentric individuals resides. Kou Ichinomiya is the son of a wealthy businessman who holds a firm belief in his elite status. As such, he is determined to avoid becoming indebted to anyone. One day, he ends up falling in the river running beneath the Arakawa Bridge. Luckily, he was saved by Nino.
As a form of gratitude, Kou promises to fulfill any wish that she has. This is where things take a BIG turn as this might be his worst mistake (or is it?). Nino asks him to be her boyfriend. Having no choice but to accept, Kou is forced to move in under the bridge with Nino, who by the way, lives in a cardboard box.
The anime depicts the simple, beautiful yet hilarious life they lead under the Arakawa bridge alongside their out-of-the-box quirky community. Thus the name “Arakawa Under the Bridge”. Other than exploring themes of acceptance and going out of one’s comfort zone, this anime is also known for its eccentric character design and again, “out-of-the-box” humor.
16. Ice Guy and His Cool Female Colleague
Release: July 2019
Himuro works at an office that belongs to a race of supernatural beings with strange powers. He subconsciously makes his colleagues experience a close rendition of the Arctic each time he is deeply immersed in work. But Himuro is a friendly and kind person. Sadly, he likes cats and flowers but can’t get close to them.
He has a crush on his colleague Fuyutsuki, a calm and composed person who can provide simple solutions to the most unconventional problems. Whenever Fuyutsuki does something for Himuro, there is a raging snowstorm of emotions inside his heart that even the rest of the office gets to experience.
Himoru’s feelings for Fuyutsuki are apparent to everyone. And fueled by love and desire, Himuro is all geared to do whatever it takes to win her heart.
It can’t be stressed enough how the director has maturely dealt with workplace romance and relationships in anime. These kinds of stories are more relevant today than the usual high school romance. The anime is adorable, heartwarming, and enjoyable, with loveable characters and plenty of fuzzy moments.
15. Recovery of an MMO Junkie
Director: Kazuyoshi Yaginuma
Release: October 2017
Animated by Signal.MD, a Japanese animation studio, the anime is based on the web manga of the same name written and illustrated by Rin Kokuyo. Recovery of an MMO Junkie originally aired in 2017 and gained popularity for its unique premise, focusing on the lives of adult characters who connect through an online MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game).
Moriko Morioka is a 30-year-old successful career woman who decides to quit her taxing corporate job and become an elite NEET and find a more fulfilling life. She joins an online MMORPG Fruits de Mer and creates a male character named Hayashi as her avatar.
In the game, Hayashi meets another character Lily, a high-level player who helps him learn the game. Hayashi and Lily become close friends and he joins her guild, @HomeParty.
Meanwhile, in the real world, Moriko has a chance encounter with a handsome elite company employee, Yuta Sakurai, who may have ties with her online life.
With this unique of a premise, do not miss on this! Although it explores themes of friendship and romance, it also depicts the consequences of blurring the lines between reality and virtuality.
14. Komi-san Can’t Communicate
Director: Yoshihito Okashita and Eiji Ishii
Studio: TV Man Union
Release: September 2021
How many times do you see an ordinary boy doing extraordinary things for a girl in school? Hitohito Tadano is an ordinary boy who sets out on his first day of school with the clear intention of steering clear of trouble and doing his best to blend in with everyone.
Unfortunately, he fails to do so and to make things worse, he is sitting beside Shouko Komi – the most beautiful girl in class, however, with a big problem of hers. His peers now want to downsize him to get a chance to sit next to Komi.
Komi is universally adored and immensely popular. But she has a mysterious persona. She has crippling anxiety and a communication disorder that stops her from socializing with her classmates. When Komi begins interacting with Hitohito through writing on the blackboard, he realizes she cannot communicate properly. So he picks up the chalk and begins writing on the board. Eventually, he discovers Komi’s goal to make a hundred friends. The man is then on a mission to help Komi and thus also becomes his first-ever friend.
This anime leans more towards wholesome than romance (at first), but this show does show the bond between Komi and Hitohito, which grows strong as he begins helping her. The fact that someone is being this supportive of a person with crippling anxiety and a communication disorder is rare, even in the real world.
This certainly justifies its inclusion in the list of best wholesome romance anime of all times!
13. Science Fell in Love, So I Tried to Prove it
Director: Masatsugu Asahi
Release: January 2020
Shinya Yukimura and Ayame Himura from Saitama University are researchers who use data science to analyze the world’s system. But somehow, Ayame ends up confessing her love for Shinya. They both agree that they need to approach this issue scientifically, including measuring heart rates under various circumstances.
It is believed that science has rational explanations and solutions to many phenomena in our universe. However, there are many things that science can’t explain. It can monitor the physical and scientific aspects of what is visible but cannot decipher something abstract and can only be felt. The most notoriously abstract of these is the concept of love.
This show shows that someone who is considered practical and rational as a scientist and knows nothing more than science can fall in love as well.
12. Tada-kun Never Falls in Love
Director: Mitsue Yamazaki
Studio: Doga Kobo
Release: April 2018
Mitsuyoshi Tada is a quiet, friendly soul who has never experienced love. On a regular day in the cherry blossoms, Tada heads out to take pictures, and while he’s at it, he meets a transfer student from Larsenburg, Europe, named Teresa. She got separated from her travel companion after arriving in Japan.
Tada decides to help her and takes her to his grandfather’s coffee shop. With the passage of time and the bonding strengthening between Tada and Teresa, Tada finally understands the meaning of love, and his life changes forever.
Tada-kun is a nice and enjoyable anime that keeps you waiting for what will come next. If you are a viewer, who wants a solid, bubbly, and romantic anime that isn’t heavy on romance, look no further.
The mixing and matching of two or more characters with drastically different personalities and how they interact with each other is fun to watch. As with any good romance comedy anime, Tada Kun is character driven to a large extent, where it gives equal screen time to all characters. The story moves from character to character, from their interactions to relationships, more than just focusing on the plot. Surprisingly, the show has done a decent job of portraying a character-driven story.
The combination of night and day characters is the key to the anime being pushed past “just another good anime to watch.”
Director: Takeshi Furusawa
Studio: TMS Entertainment
Release: July 2016
ReLIFE is a Japanese anime series based on the web manga of the same name written and illustrated by Yayoiso. The anime adaptation was produced by TMS Entertainment and aired in 2016.
Although ReLIFE isn’t as popular like Kimi no Todoke or Angel Beats!, it still has many fine qualities which helps it in standing out. The story revolves around Arata Kaizaki, a NEET who lies to everyone about having a job despite trying and failing for many years. He quit his job after working for only three months and now works part-time at a convenience store where he meets Ryo Yaoke.
As the name of the show suggests, Arata was given a second chance at life. He participates in the “ReLIFE Project”, where he is given a pill which transforms him into who he was 10 years ago, i.e, 17 years old. All he has to do is attend high-school again and take descisions which might change his life this time.
The plot sure sounds simple and straight forward, but deep down we all know the complexities of getting a “Second chance”. Maybe that’s why this anime is complex and simple at the same time as we all yield of getting a “Second chance” at life. Even though getting a second chance sounds sweet, it doesn’t necessarily change someone’s future.
10. Tsurezure Children
Director: Hiraku Kaneko
Studio: Studio Gokumi
Release: July 2017
Tsurezure Children is an ideal example of the fluffy wholesome romance anime trope. It explores various romantic stories about how characters find it hard to say “I love you,”; It’s something we’ve all been through at some point in our lives, making it a good hook for the show. As for the characters in the show, the viewers easily find the one they relate to most or find a similar situation they’ve experienced in reality.
The show beautifully shows the awkwardness and nervousness of the characters when their crushes are around. The characters have no formal introductions, and no backgrounds are mentioned. All I see is their personalities and feelings; before I know it, I am eavesdropping on conversations between them and their crush. Quite atypical and unusual, but it works out well as it relates to the viewers right from the get-go.
This series is about Young love – it comes in unique and fascinating forms that flourish as children grow into adults. From struggling to confess to their crush to know what real love feels like, characters go through various obstacles when they begin to understand the romantic attraction for the first time.
It is also one of the cutest romance anime out there!
Director: Hikaru Yamaguchi
Release: July 2019
Given is wholesome romance anime follows the lives of four students in an amateur rock band and the dual romantic relationships between vocalist Mafuyu Sato and guitarist Ritsuka Uenoyama and between bassist Haruki Nakayama and drummer Akihiko Kaji. But the story begins following the life of Mafuyu.
The series begins with Mafuyu, who still wasn’t a part of the band. He was alone in a big high school and was mourning the death of his boyfriend, Yuki. Everyone assumes Yuki’s death to be suicidal. The story has hard-hitting moments, like the one where Mafuyu discovered his boyfriend’s body after a fight they had. This is a solid emotional opening; however, the rest of the episodes follow the traditional anime romance genre after that.
There are moments when Mafuyu remembers the trauma of losing his boyfriend, like when he explains to Ritsuka that he has a problem showing the right emotions at times or feels awkward when someone asks about Yuki’s guitar.
But the series isn’t all about trauma and tragedy. Moments of comedy and romance come through in the front and center of the narrative. Mafuyu is timid and his inability to write is propelled by his song lyrics in the narrative.
An example of some of his lyrics are:
Your everything has lost its tomorrow
And now is wandering around eternally
Along with me
Who was unable to say goodbye or move on
Director: Yasutaka Yamamoto
Studio: Felix Film
Release: April 2022
It is hard not to think of Aharen San when you are suggesting a wholesome romance anime to someone. The plot follows Raido Matsuboshi, who finds making friends in the first year of high school difficult.
One fine day, Raido tries to talk to his classmate next to him. He thinks she is ignoring him. But he later realizes that her other classmates have shunned her for being clingy, awkward, and timid.
Raido decides to help his classmate, Reina Aharen, to present herself better and, in turn, change himself from being an oddball.
Aharen lacks the ability to gauge personal space, yet the two oddballs spark their unlikely friendship (which was a struggle), as even the simplest tasks like talking seemed impossible for them.
But not giving up on each other, the pair navigated through pointless challenges. The imaginative and thoughtful Raidou is ready to do whatever it takes to befriend the indecipherable Aharen.
Aharen’s character is similar to Komi, and Raidou’s is similar to Hitohito. Seeing two misfits trying to help each other fit in is wholesome and heartwarming. They need not be lovers necessarily. But these friendships are so rare in real life that it is as good as something romantic for viewers.
Hitohito and Raidou set a benchmark for girls for the kind of boyfriend/best friend they would want to have by their side. The show also highlights the acceptance of a person the way they are. That is another rare quality to find in today’s world.
7. Skip and Loafer
Director: Kotomi Deai
Studio: P.A Works
Release: April 2023
Skip and Loafer is a Japanese manga written and illustrated by Misaki Takamatsu and has been serialized by Seven Seas Entertainment for its English release. Skip and Loafer” is a light-hearted narrative of Iwakura’s journey in high school, where she creates new bonds and experiences while staying true to her nature.
Skip and Loafer” centers on Mitsumi Iwakura, a small-town girl with big dreams that begins her life high school life in Tokyo. Mitsumi’s headstrong focus on her future aspirations blinds her from the realities of big-city living as she gets spectacularly lost, but thanks to the curious guidance of a handsome yet kind boy named Shima, Mitsumi makes it to school.
Skip and Loafer is a bit complex of a show, but in a subtle way. Being visually and aesthetically entertaining, the anime’s nature is rather pleasing. If you’re looking for a simple high school romantic comedy with an appealing cast and a wholesome plot, this is for you!
6. Lovely Complex
Runtime: 23 Minutes
Director: Konosuke Uda
Studio: Toei Animation
Release: April 2007
There is a saying that love sees no gender, age, caste, or creed. But in the case of Lovely Complex, the love between the characters surpasses their physical stature. Risa Koizumi and Atsushi Ootani strive to find their perfect partner in high school. However, Koizumi is 172cm tall (more than an average girl in high school), and Ootani is shorter than an average guy at 156cm.
To their bad luck, their crushes fall for each other, leaving them flustered and heartbroken. Their homeroom teacher calls them a comedy duo because of their day and night differences in personalities and heights.
Nevertheless, Koizumi and Ootani encourage each other to find love and eventually become close friends. They discovered that they had similarities in music and fashion tastes. Their chemistry is still a mystery to viewers, but could love blossom between the mismatched pair?
Is Lovely Complex one of the best wholesome romance anime out there? It sure is!! Also Risa and Atsushi are considered on of the cutest anime couples out there!
5. Tonikawa: Over the Moon For You
Director: Hiroshi Ikehata
Studio: Seven Arcs
Release: October 2020
Tonikawa needs no introduction for fans of the wholesome romance anime genre. It is a diabetes inducing romance anime for all we know. While it is often seen as cringe by many, many fans, fell in love with the fluffy story of the anime.
Tonikawa follows a young prodigy who accepts a proposal from a mystery woman and ends up falling in love with him after saving her from a near-death experience. Young prodigy Nasa Yuzaki ranks first in the national mock exam and aims to be admitted to one of Japan’s Ivy League-like schools. He is absolutely certain that he has his entire life mapped out.
Fate takes a 360-degree as he falls in love at first sight. One snowy evening, Nasa’s eyes fall on a peerless beauty across the street. Absolutely captivated by her, Nasa approaches her. But they are blindsided by an approaching truck.
Nasa saves the girl’s life. To him, the girl resembles Princess Kaguya leaving for the moon. Refusing to give up on possibly the last chance to meet her, injured Nasa chases her to ask her out. Surprised by his own foolhardiness and sheer resolve to pursue her, the girl accepts his request but only under the condition that…
IF THEY COME TOGETHER, HE WILL HAVE TO MARRY HER.
Tonikawa’s beauty lies in its simplicity and innocence. It’s not just both fluffy rom-com. There is little to no drama and gradual inter-character development. Tonikawa is different from any other wholesome romantic anime. They ease you from the exhaustion of life and refresh your mood.
You would like to either sit with your boyfriend with a bucket of popcorn or with a tub of ice cream to enjoy this anime.
Director: Yoshimasa Hiraike
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Release: April 2018
The story is about Narumi Momose, who is late for work in her new office. As she runs to catch the train, she promises that none of her viewers, her coworkers, wouldn’t find out her dark secret: that she is an otaku and a fujoshi.
Her plan and her promise failed when she ran into Hirotaka Nifuji, an old friend from middle school. Although she tries to keep her secret under wraps by inviting him out for drinks after work, her truth is out when he asks her whether she would attend the Summer Comiket.
Later that night, the pair enjoy their night with drinks and catch up after all the years apart. Narumi complains about her previous boyfriend breaking up with her as he didn’t want to date a fujoshi. Hirotaka suggests that she should date an otaku, subtly hinting at himself.
He promises he will be there with her all along, support her and help her farm the Monster Hunter. Amazed and excited, Narumi agreed immediately, and from then began the love story between two otakus who share an awkward yet cute romantic relationship.
This anime is a refreshing break from high school and office dramas and presents a love story between two people who like a particular kind of fandom. As a concept, this is quite quirky and interesting. Also, in an era of fast dating where two people agree to date each other on a whim but end up staying together because of a hook like their love for anime, you couldn’t ask for anything more fulfilling and wholesome.
Director: Masashi Ishihama
Release: January 2021
If there’s any way to describe the characters in the series, it would be “Discordia Concorde.” The thought of Kyouko Hori and Izumi Miyamura, who have opposite personalities yet share similarities, is beyond anyone’s imagination. The fateful meeting between Kyouko and Izumi lay hidden from their classmates for the longest time.
Even though she is popular, Hori is immersed in housework, and because of this, she has little time to socialize with friends. Miyamura looks like a gentle delinquent, covering his body with secret tattoos and piercings.
The two soon become friends and spend much time in Hori’s house. As they get to know each other and venture out of their shells, they share a side of themselves that is usually concealed from the outside world.
The characters are the mojo of this anime which makes the anime more entertaining than other rom-com animes. The two main characters complement each other and create moments with each other that lovers in real life might never have.
2. Ore Monogatari!!
Director: Morio Asaka
Release: April 2015
Ore Monogatari!!, also known as “My Love Story!!” is 2015 shoujo romance anime adapted from the 2011 manga series. We all know what a “Shoujo” anime is at this point. If you don’t, just know it’s something you’ll really enjoy absorbing with your brain. Some famous Shoujo anime include Fruit’s Basket, Kimi no Todoke, Berserk… wait, wrong list!
Before the anime starts, we get to see the story of the red and blue oni. Let me summarize it for you. Everyone was scared of the red one because of his size and strength. The blue oni helps the red oni mix with the humans by acting as a villain so he could be the hero. The red oni was accepted by the humans, while the blue oni went away.
The story follows Gouda Takeo, a “not your average” MC. Despite his big size, he’s the sweetest main character you’ll ever meet! Despite his kind nature, Takeo often finds himself in the friend zone, as girls are more interested in his best friend, the handsome Makoto Sunakawa. His life takes a turn when he saves Rinko Yamato (our cute female protagonist) from a harasser.
This is a show which will make you feel “genuine” happiness and swell your atom-sized heart to an inhumane size. Known for its heartwarming moments, humor, and the genuine portrayal of love and friendship, Ore Monogatari!! (with not one, but two !’s) is a must watch!
1. Tsuki ga Kirei
Director: Seiji Kishi
Release: April 2017
During teenage, fateful chance encounters can stir innocent desires within hearts. A lingering gaze or a smile can make their heart flutter. These hallmarks of young love gradually enter their lives as fate makes their paths cross.
Two strangers, aspiring writer Kotarou Azumi and track team member Akane Mizuno are in the same class. But a few fateful encounters makes desire bloom within their hearts. The tiny teenage hallmarks of love crawled into their lives as love united their fates.
However, love is also patient and kind. And not always straightforward. It meanders like a river that flows to meet the sea. Kotarou and Akane discovered that. Despite the comfort they found in each other’s company, anxiety, pain, and heartache came along when they pursued the feelings in their hearts.
With the uncertainty of not knowing how the other truly feels for the other and the people around them competing for their affection, the road ahead isn’t clear and easy. Nevertheless, in one beautifully moonlit sky, Kotarou gathered his courage to ask a question that changed their relationship forever.
The significance of the “beautiful moonlit sky” is quite significant in Japanese culture as it is a subtle way of saying “I love you.”
From the hyper-realistic setting of scenes with fantastically crafted backgrounds to its effortless communication of emotions at the right time, the show has your attention from the very first minute. Sad yet hopeful, happy yet dismal, euphoric yet wistful, Tsuki ga Kirei is an emotional rollercoaster ride for viewers. The beauty of the wide array of emotions can make you tear up in almost every episode defying logic.
But then, for those unaware, Tsuki ga Kirei is touted to be the best wholesome romance anime out there for everyone to watch!!
What are your thoughts on these wholesome romance anime that I suggested above? Let me know which of these you have seen or if you’d like me to add any titles to the list!