Top 10 Best Romance Anime of 2021 [Recommendations]

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2021 was a great year for anime and it got off to an amazing start, crescendoing into an incredibly memorable year. Romance anime was especially great in 2021, with some titles that were long-anticipated adaptations of great manga and light novels, so we’re going to put together the ten best romance anime to come out last year! We’ve had adorable confession scenes, beautiful relationships blossoming, and seen characters in the springtime of their youth frolicking in the meadow of romantic bliss. So, let’s get to it, top 10 romance anime of 2021!


28-year-old Hashiba Kyoya’s been full of regrets ever since he left his office job to pursue a career in the video game industry, but the company he worked for shuts down. Now living with his parents, Kyoya greatly envies “The Platinum Generation”, a highly successful group of artists who also happen to be his peers, and he deeply regrets not going to an arts college when he was younger, but it seems that he’s going to get a second chance when suddenly, Kyoya is sent back ten years in time to just before his decision to attend college! He decides to change his life and follow his dreams, running into people he knows from the future. Finding himself in good company, Kyoya is finally in a position to be excited about his own life!
This show is a wild ride from start to finish, and there is a lot going on throughout, so the romance aspect does seem to be an afterthought in the beginning, but a relationship between himself and his favorite artist in the whole wide world in his previous life, Shino Aki, soon blossoms and by episode 10, we know that at the pace at which they were going, Kyoya and Shino Aki were going to get married, have a child, and be extremely happy. Here’s where “romance” develops several meanings, though, as the very premise of Kyoya going back in time and meeting the people whose art kept him alive while in the throes of depression is at its core romantic. It’s where fantasy meets passion, and so Remake Our Life! is one of 2021’s best romantic anime in several ways!

The second season of the very popular BEASTARS picks up after the intense drama of the first. Louis is missing, meaning that the most likely candidate to become the first BEASTAR in years is gone. The killer of Tem the alpaca is still out there, and the student council seeks to reward anyone who can capture the murderer with the title of BEASTAR. Legoshi the wolf finds himself in a precarious situation at school given his attack of Haru the white rabbit and subsequent development of a friendship and romantic feelings for her in the current climate.
BEASTARS 2 is the continuation of an unlikely romance story, something that history has proven that we love. The blossoming relationship is between predator and prey, with the themes of the show addressing the nature of such a relationship and whether or not it’s possible, all while creating a compelling narrative of anthropomorphized animals that is made all the more interesting by the love triangle between Haru, Louis, and Legoshi and the growing tensions between the denominations of herbivore and carnivore. BEASTARS is a lovely romantic story that shows how far people can go for the sake of those whom they love, and just how illogical such love can be in the first place, which makes this, as wild a journey as it is, very relatable.

Shima Takahiko has a pessimistic outlook on life after he loses his right hand and his mother in an accident. Deemed incapable of anything by his remaining family members, Takahiko is sent into exile in the mountains by his wealthy relatives. One night, Takahiko hears knocking at his door and finds 14-year-old Tachibana Mizuki, who claims to be his wife!
This romance anime came late in the year and felt like just the kind of show to close out 2021. Despite the outdated themes and arranged marriage, the show blossoms into an adorable romance between teenagers in a simpler period. In a similar fashion to the above-mentioned The Duke of Death and His Maid, this show features a relationship between an isolated aristocrat and someone meant to serve them. This blossoming relationship, despite the power differential and various unfortunate circumstances surrounding the main characters, gives it weight thematically and makes us care about the characters and their blossoming romance.

Tadano Hitohito approaches his first year in high school with a simple thought: don’t stand out. Unfortunately, his plan fails from the outset when he’s seated next to Komi Shouko, the school’s most beautiful and popular girl. Despite being quiet and mysterious, the long black-haired Komi is beloved by everyone at school. However, none of them seem to realize that her silent nature is brought on by a crippling social anxiety. Tadano becomes the first person to realize Komi’s condition, and soon discovers that she has a dream to make 100 friends, so he decides to become friend #1.
While the premise is about friendship technically, we can’t help but pair Tadano and Komi romantically because of their closeness compared to Komi in her other developing friendships. As her first real friend, Tadano has a special place in Komi’s heart, and for Tadano, Komi is someone he is clearly attracted to. Their relationship is so special that Tadano often receives death threats (among other kinds) from his classmates and anybody who thinks highly of Komi, which indicates that other characters suspect that something more romantic is developing underfoot.

A young duke is doomed to a life of isolation because of an unfortunate power which renders anything he touches lifeless. This death touch has made his family force him to live in isolation with only his butler, Rob, and his maid Alice, who is around his age. The Duke has harboured feelings for Alice for a very long time, and it doesn’t help that Alice is naturally flirtatious and even goes as far as coming deathly close to him. Unfortunately, his power makes it impossible for that relationship to develop normally, and so he seeks a way to break his curse.
The best thing about The Duke of Death and His Maid are the visuals. While the characters are animated in a CGI kind of style that screams digital art, the backgrounds are done with traditional paint on canvas. You can see the texture of the canvas if you look closely enough. This aesthetic choice seems to link with the plot and themes of the series, as the non-living backgrounds are done with a human touch, while the living characters are done digitally. It’s almost as if they had to be constructed by non-human hands to avoid killing them. Romantically, Alice and The Duke are very compatible, as she is able to change the ambience of a moment with a single look, a teasing gesture, or even a few words. The fact that he can’t touch her but is in love with her and refuses to allow himself a moment’s weakness in that regard is tragic, but it’s also highly romantic.



Mukai Naoya finally gets to date the girl of his dreams after years and years of unrequited love. His girlfriend, childhood friend and neighbour Saki Saki finally accepts his proclamation of undying love, but things are thrown for a loop when Minase Nagisa, a younger student at their school, confesses her love to Naoya. Charmed by her efforts, he can’t reject her, but he doesn’t want to break up with Saki either, so his solution is to march over to his girlfriend and talk to her about the prospect of dating them both! Saki is stunned, but she is also charmed by Nagisa’s genuine nature and adorableness, so she agrees to a polyamorous relationship in a moment of weakness!
This is perhaps the funniest show on this list, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the kind of romance that tugs at your heartstrings. While being an unusual kind of romance due to the depiction of a non-monogamous relationship at the centre of it all, Girlfriend, Girlfriend only seeks to give us twice the romance, and twice the comedy. Despite it leaning more into comedy, there are a lot of tender and romantic moments. Everyone in this relationship cares and wants to make it work, all while dealing with their personal romantic desires, milestones and even their insecurities. It’s not necessarily the Capulets against the Montagues in this show, but there is a lot of conflict that the main characters overcome through the sheer strength of their romance, and Naoya’s blatant stupidity!

Ever since an unfortunate encounter with a group of girls in the library, Hachiouji Naoto has suffered the attention of one Nagatoro Hayase, a cute junior of his who derives no greater pleasure than when she is giving him a hard time. At first, her antics simply leave the socially-inept “Senpai” embarrassed and frustrated; however, they grow in intensity and frequency. Despite the fact that Naoto absolutely hates what his life has become with her in it, there’s just something about her that makes him want to keep her around.
Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro! became a hot topic with its presentation of a rarely seen anime archetype: the sadodere. This sadistic archetype expresses affection through acts of humiliation, torment and just general emotional scarring. Nagatoro Hayase’s sadism isn’t always devastating, but it’s intense in the sense that it does still come across as cruel. Despite this, her affection for Naoto is real, and his affection for her perhaps even more so, and there are scenes of wholesomeness in the show. We soon see that Nagatoro’s interest in Naoto is not purely based on the fact that he’s a fun toy, as she gets annoyed whenever he is mistreated by other people. This show ranks high up on the list of romances because of its subversion of tropes and a reimagination of what a confession looks like, making this perhaps the most outright romantic show on this list.

Uesugi Futarou is a poor high schooler who prioritises one thing over everything: getting good grades. With his grade-topping performance, he becomes the prime candidate in the tutor search being conducted by a certain rich man for the sake of his daughters, the Nakano quintuplets, who all have struggles with academics. After some difficulty, Futarou settles into the role and soon becomes an important element in the lives of Ichika, Nino, Miku, Yotsuba and Itsuki. As they get closer, Futarou begins to suspect that their connection is actually several years old, and with romantic feelings beginning to stir in some of the girls, the relationship between tutor and student becomes even more blurred.
The second season brought up some plot-shaking events, such as the emergence of Futarou’s childhood friend; the “Unknown Nakano” from his childhood photo. The intense feelings developing in some of the Nakano quintuplets create an intense romantic storyline as sisters lie, deceive, and omit in order to get ahead in winning Futarou’s affections. When it came to romantic drama and gasp moments, The Quintessential Quintuplets ∬ was one of the best romance series from 2021 and we can’t wait to see more and eventually find out who exactly becomes Mrs Uesugi.

A teenage orphan named Honda Tooru finds herself homeless and unknowingly sets up camp on land owned by the wealthy Souma estate. When she’s found, members of the Souma family invite her to live with them for a while, and she soon discovers the Souma family curse, which manifests in them turning into their respective animal of the Chinese Zodiac whenever she hugs them. Knowing their secret, Tooru is determined to help her new family break their generational curses, but things are more tragic and complicated than any of us think.
The reboot of the classic Fruits Basket from the 2000s, this iteration of the series has been some of the best romance anime media we’ve gotten in recent times. Sporting brand new animation and a plotline that intends to give us more of the serious drama and romance we came for. This new version also has various differences to its predecessor in terms of in-universe markers of time like technology, as well as minor changes to visuals and designs. The fact that this version focuses less on trying to be humorous and leans more into the tragedy that is the story of Fruits Basket gives it more credence as a serious story and adds to its significance as a reboot. Not to mention the fact that this final season ends Fruits Basket in a way that left most fans very satisfied!

Miyamura Izumi and Hori Kyoko are two high schoolers living on opposite ends of the social pecking order. Miyamura seems like a boring, gloomy guy in glasses; while Hori is a social butterfly and exemplary student. One thing they have in common; however, is the fact that at school, they hide their true selves from everyone they know. At home, Miyamura allows himself to be decorated in piercings and tattoos, while Hori is actually a responsible older sister who has relinquished any possibilities of a true social life to help out at home. Certain circumstances lead to Miyamura and Hori learning each other’s secret, prompting them to become friends. As time progresses, they realize that they have more in common than they thought, and love soon blossoms.
Horimiya had been greatly anticipated by readers of the manga for several years, especially after the several OVAs that were released in the nine years between 2012 and 2021. Horimiya gave us a couple we wanted to root for and a romance that was pure but not without its hiccups. The best part is the way the side-characters are also given their own moments to shine in a romantic fashion, making Horimiya all about the romantic aspect of the characters’ relationships. It was a wholesome ride and a good adaptation of a beloved series, and after the number of teasing OVAs, it was a satisfying anime adaptation.

Romance and slice of life are some of anime’s most compelling genres because of the beauty of their stories as well as their characters. Shows like the ones we mentioned on this list evoke special emotions in the viewers who watch them, but they’re also relatable and speak towards the human desire for companionship and understanding. While these anime are romantic for different reasons, they still maintain the underlying aspect of passion and a loose sense of fantasy coming together to create a beautiful story. What was your favorite romance anime of 2021? Drop a comment below and tell us your thoughts!
Writer

Author: Hoshi-kun
I’m South African, harbouring an obsession for anything remotely related to Japan, mostly anime, of course. I draw sometimes. Some people call me Naledi, it’s my real name, or something like that. People think I’m stoic because I don’t smile often (I do sometimes). I like languages. Hoshi-kun and Naledi are the same side of the same coin.
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