There is nothing quite as tragic as forbidden love. Due to social standings, war, or racism, it is an element that adds an interesting flair to love stories.
Incest is the most common use of the trope, but we want to explore other uses (mostly) of forbidden love. Get ready to shed a tear or two in the process!
1. Romeo x Juliet
Type of forbidden love: Warring factions.
Quick pitch: Based on Williams Shakespeare’s classical play Romeo and Juliet.
On the floating island of Neo Verona, the Montague family leads a deadly coup against the Capulet family. 14 years later, Juliet is the sole surviving member of the Capulet family, and fights against the Montague as a masked vigilante named “Red Whirlwind.” Her life changes after meeting Romeo, a kind prince of the Montague family. However, seeds of retribution and violence are in motion.
Type of forbidden love: Warring factions.
Quick pitch: The Iga Tsubagakure and the Kouga Manjidani are two rival ninja clans, and have been in a blood feud spanning centuries. A tenuous cease fire was created due to the two clans being conscripted to serve the Shogun. Peace is destroyed after the Shogun announces his retirement, leaving his seat for one of his grandsons. The two clans support a different grandson, and agree to send 10 of their best ninja to partake in a blood battle to determine the new shogun.
This rekindled feud threatens the love of Oboro and Gennosuke. Finding themselves on opposite sides of the battlefield in a fight they want no part of, they must choose to kill the person they love or to destroy their own clan.
3. Marmalade Boy
Type of forbidden love: Step-siblings
Episodes: 76 + 1 movie
Quick pitch: Miki Koshikawa’s life is turned upside down after learning her parents are getting a divorce after a trip to Hawaii. The strange thing is that her parents are swapping partners with a couple they met while on the trip. In order to include Miki in the decision, her parents invite her to a dinner party to meet the couple and their son. After meeting her handsome step-brother Matsuura Yuu, Miki thinks she can adjust to the new situation, but never planned on developing feelings for Matsuura.
4. The Rose of Versailles
Type of forbidden love: Social classes (Stable boy, Royal Guard, politician, and queen.)
Episodes: 40 + 1 OVA + 1 Movie
Quick pitch: Marie Antoinette is born to a royal Austrian family and lives a life of luxury. However, at the age of 15, she must leave her family to marry the crown prince of France.
At the same time, a sixth daughter is born to General Jarjayes, which sends him into despair. General Jarjayes decides to raise his youngest daughter as a man and names her Oscar. Oscar is trained to become the leader of the Royal Guards and is responsible for protecting Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution.
5. Emma – A Victorian Romance
Type of forbidden love: Social classes (maid and master.)
Quick pitch: Social classes are sharply drawn in 19th-century London, England. Social standing determines one’s place in the world. Emma is a hardworking maid, but she feels she is a burden. However, her view changes after meeting William, the eldest son of a wealthy family. William’s kindness captures Emma’s heart, but could they truly fall in love despite social tradition?
6. The Garden of Words
Type of forbidden love: [highlight for spoiler: teacher-and-student]
Episodes: 1 Movie
Quick pitch: On a rainy morning, 15-year-old Takao Akizuki decides to skip class so he can sketch shoe designs in a beautiful garden. He meets a mysterious woman named Yukari Yukino, who is visiting the garden while skipping work. Offering to make Takao shoes, the two unknowingly bond during the rainy season and ease the burdens in each other’s hearts.
7. Hotarubi no Mori e
Type of forbidden love: Human and spirit.
Episodes: 1 Movie
Quick pitch: Six-year-old Hotaru Takegawa loses her way in an ancient forest while visiting her uncle. Alone and desperate for help, Hotaru meets a masked spirit named Gin. While Gin is willing to help Hotaru, he warns her not to touch him, or else he will disappear forever.
Despite this, the two become close friends over the years as Hotaru visits Gin every summer. When romantic feelings form, their resolve is put to the test.
8. Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade
Type of forbidden love: Warring factions (Terrorist and anti-terrorist.)
Number of episodes: 1
Quick pitch: Constable Kazuki Fuse fails to follow an order to execute a frightened young girl moments before she commits a suicide bombing. Scarred from the event, Fuse is ordered to go to training camp for re-evaluation. During some down time, he visits the grave of the girl and meets Kei, who is the deceased’s sister. Over time, they form a peculiar bond.
9. Snow White with the Red Hair
Type of forbidden love: Social status (prince and herbalist.)
Episodes: 24 + 1 OVA
Quick pitch: Shirayuki is a cheerful girl working as an apothecary at a local herbal shop. After being threatened to join Prince Raji’s harem as a concubine, Shirayuki flees town only to be rescued by Prince Zen Wistalia. Hoping to repay her debt to Zen, Shirayuki trains to become a court herbalist in Zen’s home country. While they slowly develop romantic feelings, the country’s social expectations forbids Zen from pursuing a relationship with anyone of lesser social status.
10. Super Lovers
Type of forbidden love: Same-sex relationship between adoptive siblings.
Episodes: 12 (2nd cour is currently airing)
Quick pitch: Haru Kaidou travels to Canada after hearing his mom is on the verge of death. However, this was a trick to get him to take care of Ren Kaidou, who is his adoptive brother. Ren is anti-social, but slowly gets comfortable around Haru.
11. Candy Boy
Type of forbidden love: Same-sex relationship between twin sisters.
Quick pitch: Yukino and Kanade Sakurai are twin sisters who share a student residence while attending high school in Tokyo. Sakuya Kamiyama stalks Kanade and bribes Yukino with candy for photos. Over time, Kanade feels her relationship with Yukino has been drifting.
Type of forbidden love: Warring factions (demon and demon-hunter.)
Quick pitch: Shokujinki are a race of flesh eating monsters that can appear as humans and live in the shadows. The Kifuuken is a martial arts style passed down through the Momota family which is used to combat the shokujinki. Toshihiko is a part of the Momota family, and he falls in love with Yuka, a woman who is a shokujinki.
13. Nagi no Asukara: A Lull in the Sea
Type of forbidden love: Race
Quick pitch: Long ago, all humans lived beneath the sea. As time went on, people started to migrate to the surface and abandoned the sea. The small community of Shioshishio remains under the sea, but the children must go to school on the surface due to a lack of funds to operate a school. The four friends learn to adjust to their new environment, and try to get past prejudices that harm the relationships between Shioshishio and the surface.
What are your favorite forbidden love anime?