Romance is often blended into many anime genres, but it stands out most when it's coupled with a suitably hilarious premise.
Romantic comedies—also called rom-coms—are just as popular in anime as they are in movies and television. Who doesn't love to smile and laugh while having our heartstrings tugged?
Whether you're looking for a series grounded in reality or one with fantastical adventures mixed in, here are my picks for the best romantic comedy anime series that you need to check out!
5. My First Girlfriend Is a Gal (2017)
Comedy, Ecchi, Romance, School
Originally aired 2017
10 episodes (1 season)
First loves are always awkward, but the story of young love in My First Girlfriend Is a Gal is especially tricky.
Junichi Hashiba is desperate for a girlfriend as his classmates start pairing up all around him. So, on a dare, he asks out the beautiful Yukana, who surprisingly says yes to his proposal.
Soon, Junichi finds himself struggling—not only with his insecurities, but also with the affections of many other potential girlfriends.
While My First Girlfriend Is a Gal does fall prey to many of the typical harem tropes that appear in other rom-com animes, it stands out because it's also clever in how it subverts expectations in many ways.
Yukana is popular and beautiful, but she's just as uncertain about love as her new boyfriend is. As the two build a relationship with each other, the series is flush with wholesomeness—so much of it that you won't know what to do with yourself by its sweet end!
4. Ranma ½ (1989)
Action, Comedy, Ecchi, Fantasy
Originally aired 1989 to 1992
161 episodes (7 seasons)
Ranma ½ might be the oldest anime series on this list, but don't let that turn you away—it still holds up beautifully, even more than 30 years after it first debuted.
This rom-com anime is about Ranma, a young boy who has been studying martial arts his whole life, and has also been cursed with turning into a girl whenever he touches cold water.
Touching hot water turns him back into his boy form, which—as you might expect—causes all sorts of hijinks as he's forced to navigate his arranged betrothal to the ill-tempered Akane.
The romance in Ranma ½ isn't as pronounced as the comedy or the adventure aspects, but that just makes the romance that much more effective. The humor and creativity of the series carries it along.
Most interestingly, the premise of Ranma ½ allowed mangaka Rumiko Takahashi to explore gender in a way that was far ahead of its time. (The original manga first dropped back in 1987.)
Ranma ½ is filled with brilliant sight gags and lots of growth by characters who slowly develop over the series, making it one of the most enduring rom-com stories of all time.
3. My Dress-Up Darling (2022)
Comedy, Romance, School
Originally aired 2022
12 episodes (1 season)
If you've been to an anime or gaming convention in recent years, you know how big the cosplay scene has gotten. So, it's no surprise that an entire anime series about cosplay sprang forth from it.
My Dress-Up Darling is the story of Wakana Gojo, a young man who feels like he has to hide his love of hina dolls from his classmates for fear that they'll mock him if they find out.
There's also Marin Kitagawa, a popular young woman who's unashamed of her love of all things geeky.
Wakana and Marin strike up a friendship that's both endearing and sweet, yet full of comedic potential given the stark contrast between Marin's outgoing personality and Wakana's reservedness.
Marin is so hilariously extra in everything she does that we wonder how she can function in society at all. But that part of her is what eventually pulls Wakana out of his shell, and the process is beautiful to watch.
My Dress-Up Darling has everything you could ask for in a rom-com anime, including its message about embracing what you love and what makes you happy, even if other people might not get it.
2. Fruits Basket (2019)
Drama, Romance, School, Supernatural
Originally aired 2019 to 2021
63 episodes (3 seasons)
No list of rom-com anime is complete without the inclusion of Fruits Basket. This classic shojo anime series established so many of the tropes that define the genre as we know it today.
Tohru Honda is a young girl who becomes entangled with the strangely afflicted Sohma family: whenever a member of the Sohma family is stressed, weakened, or embraced by someone outside the family, that member turns into a creature of the Chinese Zodiac.
It's a weird concept, but it works well because Tohru is genuinely lovable and kind, serving as a sturdy balancing point to all the chaotic events that happen around her.
Fruits Basket features one of the most well-written and well-developed love triangles in anime history, taking a tired trope, infusing it with renewed life, and delivering incredible results with it.
Fruits Basket is one of the best introductions to rom-com anime, and it maintains an important place in anime history to this day. (It first released in 2001, then was remade in 2019.)
1. Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War (2019)
Comedy, Romance, School
Originally aired 2019 to 2022
37 episodes (3 seasons)
The core concept of Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War is simple: Shirogane and Kaguya are two elite students who serve as student council president and vice president, respectively.
Both Shirogane and Kaguya obviously have crushes on each other, but neither wants to be the first to admit their feelings. Instead, each tries to manipulate the other into confessing their love.
Supported by a cast of characters that are all eccentric and colorful, plus some of the best comedic gags in anime history, Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War shines as one of the best rom-com animes of all time.
Throughout the show, you'll really believe that these are two awkward teenagers just trying to navigate their first crush. There are heartwarming moments balanced with laugh-out-loud scenes that'll have you desperate to see what happens next.
With perfect balance between romance and comedy, Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War culminates in one of the greatest love stories in anime—one that feels realistic yet fanciful at the same time.