Romance is one of the most popular anime genres, but it’s too often that mature fans are stuck watching shounen and shoujo series. While those anime can be well written (like Nana), they often times cater to teenage fans.
Seinen and josei romance manga are rarely adapted into anime. But the few that are bring depth, character development, and romantic progression that some fans crave.
1. Nodame Cantabile
Studio: J.C. Staff
Episodes: 45 + 4 OVAs
Quick Pitch: Chiaki is a master pianist and violinist, and he wants nothing more than being able to pursue his musical career in Europe like his mentor had. There’s just one problem: he’s deathly afraid of flying. When Noda Megumi, another pianist with magical fingers, walks into the picture, that which follows is a warm tale of two people striving to make each other happy.
2. Kids on the Slope (Sakamichi no Apollon)
Studio: MAPPA / Tezuka Productions
Quick Pitch: Kaoru Nishimi has arrived in Kyushu to attend high school, but his constant moving to new towns has killed his hopes of fitting in. Kaoru prepares for another lonely year, but things change after an encounter Sentarou Kawabuchi and class president Ritsuko Mukae. The trio begins to bond over jazz music and they decide to form a band.
3. Emma – A Victorian Romance (Eikoku Koi Monogatari Emma)
Studio: Studio Pierrot (Season 1) / Ajia-do Animation Works (Season 2)
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?
4. Honey and Clover (Hachimitsu to Clover)
Studio: J.C. Staff
Quick Pitch: Yuuta, Takumi, and Shinobu are bachelors who share an apartment with no bath. However, the low rent is perfect as they try to eek out lives as art students. Their lives start to get a little more interesting when two girls move-in: Hagumi and her guardian Shuuji. Life of a young college student may seem fun, but it’s filled with pitfalls that are difficult to navigate.
5. Arakawa Under the Bridge
Quick Pitch: Kou Ichinomiya is an arrogant business man with one life goal: never be indebted to another person. After a run-in with some kids, Kou accidentally falls into the Arakawa River and nearly drowns, but is saved by a homeless girl named Nino. Unable to accept the fact he owes Nino his life, he demands to know how to repay her. Nino’s request is simple: be her boyfriend and live with her under the Arakawa Bridge.
6. Paradise Kiss
Quick Pitch: Yukari Hayasaka has dedicated her final high school year to study for the upcoming university entrance exams. One day, Yukari is accosted by a punk rocker and stylish lady who want to use her as a fashion model for their final project. Suddenly, Yukari’s dull life is spiced up by an eccentric ensemble of fashion designers called Paradise Kiss. If you are looking for a romance anime with a handsome male lead, you should definitely watch this anime.
7. Natsuyuki Rendezvous
Studio: Doga Kobo
Ryousuke Hazuki is in love with a flower shop owner named Rokka Shimao. Wanting to get close to her, he decides to get a part-time job at a shop. But there is one problem: Atsushi Shimao, the ghost of Rokka’s husband, will do anything to prevent Ryousuke from getting any closer to Rokka.
Now, the three are faced with a complicated situation between a woman who can’t let go of the past, a ghost who fears being forgotten, and a man who can’t profess his love.
8. Scum’s Wish (Kuzu no Honkai)
Quick Pitch: Hanabi and Mugi look like the perfect couple, but they are both harboring a dark secret: they love other people who are beyond their reach.
Hanabi has been in love with Narumi since she was a child, and was excited to learn that he is her homeroom teacher. Things source after Hanabi learns that Narumi and Akane, the music teacher, have a blossoming relationship.
Mugi has been in love with Akane ever since she tutored him in middle school. Now, Mugi and Hanabi enter a fake relationship as a way to satisfy their lust. But this simple deed slowly turns into a dark, manipulative fight to stave off loneliness.
9. Ristorante Paradiso
Studio: David Production
Quick Pitch: When Nicoletta was a young girl, her mother Olga abandoned her to remarry in Rome. 15 years later, Nicoletta has tracked down Olga’s location at a restaurant called Casetta dell’Orso. The charming restaurant is staffed with mature men, and Nicoletta’s hate begins to fade. After some thinking, she decides to become the only female staff member at the restaurant.
10. Princess Jellyfish (Kuragehime)
Studio: Brain’s Base
Quick Pitch: Tsukimi Kurashita is18-year-old otaku girl who lives in a women’s only apartment complex. She loves jellyfish and sees one in danger at a local pet store. To Tsukimi’s surprise, a beautiful woman helps Tsukimi save the jellyfish. When they go back to the Amamizukan apartments, Tsukimi is shocked to learn that the woman is actually a man named Kuranosuke Koibuchi.
11. Chouyaku Hyakuninisshu: Uta Koi.
Studio: TYO Animations
Quick Pitch: A modernized retelling of the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, which is an anthology of 100 romantic poems from 100 poets from the Heian period (794 to 1185).
12. Engaged to the Unidentified (Mikakunin de Shinkoukei)
Studio: Doga Kobo
Episodes: 12 + 2 OVAs
Quick Pitch: Upon turning 16, Kobeni Yonomori learns that she is betrothed to Hakuya Mitsumine due to an arrangement her grandfather made. Hakuya and his sister Mashiro move-in with Kobeni and her sister Benio, which leads to crazy and heartfelt moments.
Quick Pitch: Hideki Motosuwa is studying hard at cram school with he meets an abandoned Persocom named Chii. Persocoms are humanoid computers, but Chii seems to be defective and cannot download information. Hideki decides to take Chii in and teach her about the world. But, this simple relationship makes Hideki wonder if a human and a Persocom can fall in love.
14. Girl Demon Zakuro (Otome Youkai Zakuro)
Studio: J.C. Staff
Quick Pitch: In Meiji era Japan, humans and youkai live side-by-side. Japan has begun opening up to Western culture and people are starting to convert to Western religions. The Ministry of Spirits is established to help ease tensions between Eastern and Western faiths.
Human male soldiers and female youkai are paired up to help keep the peace, but the ministry has a slight problem. Kei Agemaki is terrified of youkai and Zakuro has a strong hatred towards Western culture. If you are looking for a romance anime with a handsome male lead, watch this.
15. Working Man (Hataraki Man)
Quick Pitch: Hiroko is a 28-year-old woman who is an editor of a weekly magazine. She takes her work seriously and has a “working man” switch that allows her to work at triple the normal speed. Despite Hiroko’s work success, she lacks romance in her life and she would gladly leave work early for a date.
16. Servant x Service
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Quick Pitch: Lucy Yamagami lands a job at Welfare Administration Section in the city of Mitsuba for one goal: to seek revenge on the civil servant who approved her long name at birth, which is Lucy Kimiko Akie Airi Shiori Rinne Yoshiho Chihoko Ayano Fumika Chitose Sanae Mikiko Ichika Yukino Reina Eri…
Her co-workers include Yutaka Hasabe, who is a flirtatious man who loves to slack off, and Saya Miyoshi, a girl who just wants to survive. Can the administration survive with these three eccentric personalities?
17. Wagnaria!! (Working!!)
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Quick Pitch: Souta Takanashi is enamored by small things and mistakes Popura Taneshima for a lost child. Upon learning that she is a year older than him, he agrees to work at a Wagnaria restaurant with her. He quickly discovers that his co-workers are a bunch of eccentrics and wonders how the restaurant manages to stay open.
What are your favorite seinen and josei romances?