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Best Shonen Romance Anime, Ranked

Highlights

  • Shonen romance anime often features unassuming male leads and female characters that are seemingly “out of their league” or aloof.
  • Shonen romance anime offers a unique perspective compared to shojo romance, as it focuses on the male protagonist’s point of view.
  • 2024 is set to be a solid year for shonen romance anime, with promising titles like Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable!, Alya Sometimes Hides Her Feelings in Russian, and the Blue Box anime adaptation.


While shonen is known for it’s action subgenre, with shows like One Piece, Naruto, Jujutsu Kaisen and Chainsaw Man taking over the internet, merchandising, and general popularity, very few recognize the merits of the shonen romance subgenre. Moreover, even fewer recognize that there is a distinction to be made between shonen romance anime and shojo romance anime.

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Unlike shojo romance, shonen romance is largely told from the perspective of a male lead. It often features unassuming male characters, and female characters that are seemingly “out of their league” or aloof in some way or another. Either that, or the male lead falls into a harem!

Updated by Taynne Wallace on January 12, 2024. This year has some great shonen romance anime titles to look out for. With Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable!, Alya Sometimes Hides Her feelings in Russian, and the announcement of the Blue Box anime adaptation, 2024 is looking like a solid year for shonen romance anime. While 2024 has some promising titles coming fans’ ways, 2023 has brought the community two new hits with Tomo-chan Is A Girl and The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten, both of which are available to watch on Crunchyroll.


17 Golden Time (2013-2014)

MAL Score. 7.74

a red haired woman in a blue dress stands in front of a group of people

  • Studio: J.C. Staff
  • Number of Episodes: 24
  • Streaming Platforms: HIDIVE, Crunchyroll

Lost on his way to his first day of law school, Banri Tada meets a series of people that he soon develops close relations with. One of which is Koko Kaga. This quirky romantic comedy is best going into without any spoilers. Golden Time is based on the light novel series by Yuyuko Takemiya and Eji Komatsu. It is available to stream of Hidive.

16 Ao-chan Can’t Study! (2019-)

MAL Score: 6.72

A purple haired girl sits at a desk, tiny people sit atop the desk

  • Studio: Silver Link
  • Number of Episodes: 12
  • Streaming Platforms: HIDIVE, Crunchyroll

Unlike many shonen anime and manga, Ao-chan Can’t Study is told from the perspective of a female character. Ao Horie has a secret about her family that makes her avoidant of all social interaction, especially with boys. In contrast, Takumi Kijima is a popular boy in their high school, and he wants to get closer to Ao. This romantic comedy is a pleasure to watch, it’s a little bit ecchi and very sweet.

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Ao-chan Can’t Study was nominated for “Couple Or Ship of The Year,” “Comedy Anime of The Year,” “Romance Anime of The Year,” and “Slice of Life Anime of The Year” at the 2020 Anime Trending Awards.

15 Gamers! (2017)

MAL Score: 6.76

a blonde haired girl stands next to a brunette boy

Gamers

Gamers!

Studio
Pine Jam

Number of Episodes
12

When videogame nerd Keita Amano is confronted by popular school idol Karen Tendo, he has no idea what she could want from him. Despite meeting in a game store, Keita finds it hard to believe that Karen could like gaming as much as he does, but when she asks him to join the gaming club he realizes that she does.

Gamers! is an adaptation of Sekina Aoi and Saboten’s light novel series. It was nominated for “Best Comedy of the Year” at the 2018 Crunchyroll Anime Awards. It can be streamed on Crunchyroll.

14 Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie (2022)

MAL Score: 6.92

five friends stand together

Shikimori's Not Just A Cutie-1

Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie

Studio
Doga Kobo

Number of Episodes
12

Very few romance animes start off with the main couple already dating, but Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie defies tradition like no other. Yuuki Izumi is a clumsy guy that always runs into trouble. Whether it’s tripping on a rock on his way to school, or getting a hard time from his friends for having a girlfriend that’s too good for him, Izumi has the worst luck. In contrast, Shikimori is good at everything and has a quick wit.

This romance follows Izumi and Skikimori as they grow together, learning more about each other’s true selves. It was nominated for “Best Romance” at the 2023 Crunchyroll Anime Awards.

13 The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten (2023)

MAL Score: 7.81

the girl next door spoils me rotten

The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten

The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten

Studio
Project No.9

Number of Episodes
12

On one rainy day, Amane helps out his cute neighbor by letting her use his umbrella. Though they’ve never spoken before, they live alone in apartments next to each other and go to the same high school. Although it may have been an innocent gesture towards the angel next door, she returns the favor by helping Amane around the apartment. With this time spent together, the two get to know each other and Amane realizes he has feelings for Mahiru. Could this situation lead to something more?

The ANgel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten has been nominated for Anime of the year, boy of the year and girl of th year at the 2024 Anime Trending awards.

12 Tomo-chan Is A Girl! (2023)

MAL Score: 7.82

tomo-chan is a girl

Tomo-chan Is A Girl!

Tomo-chan Is a Girl!

Studio
Lay-duce

Number of Episodes
13

Tomo-chan Is A Girl! is a quirky shonen romance title that explores Tomo’s gender presentation as she wants her oldest friend, Junichirou, to finally see her as a prospective romantic partner. Unfortunately, Junichirou, first and foremost, sees Tomo as a friend and rival. However, when Tomo starts trying on feminine clothes, talking to other boys, and spending more time with her female friends, Junichirou must open up to the fact that Tomo is a girl.

This is a romantic comedy unlike any other. It pits two skilled martial artists against each other in a battle of love. Further, it’s a great combination of classic shonen tropes and fan-service, but told from the perspective of a female lead that is atypical to the genre. It is nominated for best romance at the 2024 Crunchroll awards, as well as at the 2024 anime trending awards.

11 Rent-A-Girlfriend (2020-)

MAL Score: 7.03

a brunette girl stands next to a red haired boy

Rent-A-Girlfriend

Rent-A-Girlfriend

Studio
TMS Entertainment

Number of Episodes
36

Rent-A-Girlfriend is a feel-good harem-esc anime centered around college students Kazuya Kinoshita and Chizuru Mizuhara. Like the title suggest, this series is a little ecchi, and follows Kazuya as he tries a girlfriend-for-hire service following a breakup. Although Chizuru and Kazuya start off on the wrong foot, their chemistry is hard to ignore.

This series was nominated for “Best Couple” and “Best Girl” at the 2021 Crunchyroll Anime Awards. It can be streamed on Crunchyroll.

10 Plastic Memories (2015)

MAL Score: 7.91

A white haired girl stands in the foreground while a brunette male looks at her from the background

plastic memories

Plastic Memories

Studio
Doga Kobo

Number of Episodes
13

Plastic Memories is an original anime about the love between a human and a Giftia, or, humanlike androids with shortened life spans. It follows Tsukasa Mizugaki as he starts his new job working as a “spotter” to Isla, a Giftia that works for SAI Corp. The two recover Giftia that are close to the end of their lifespan and erase their memories, as per protocol. In doing so they grow closer, seeing the heartbreak people feel upon losing their Giftias over and over again.

This series is 13 episodes long and has been nominated for 2 Anime Trending Awards. It is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

9 Your Lie In April (2014-2018)

MAL Score: 8.65

four friend lay down with their heads together

Your Lie In April

Your Lie in April

Studio
A-1 Pictures

Number of Episodes
22

MyAnimeList Score
8.65

Kosei Arimi is a child prodigy pianist with trauma that makes him unable to play the piano anymore. Kaori Miyazono is a genius violinist that plays every song like it’s her last. After two years of not playing the piano, Kosei lets Kaori inspire him to take up his instrument again.

Your Lie In April is a slice of life romance anime with great music and a heart-wrenching storyline. It was nominated for “Couple Ship of the Decade” at the 2020 Anime Trending Awards, and “Anime of the Year” at the 2015 Anime Trending Awards. Your Lie In April can be streamed on Crunchyroll and Netflix.

8 Re: Zero – Starting Life In Another World (2016-)

MAL Score: 8.23

four people stand with their backs to each other, buildings burn in the background

  • Studio: White Fox
  • Number of Episodes: 25
  • Streaming Platforms: Crunchyroll, Funimation

This anime follows Subaru Natsuki as he steps into a parallel world full of magic and demihumans. Here he meets a half-elf named Emilia who he proceeds to help throughout the series. Re: Zero is light on the romance compared to other shows on this list, but the storyline between Subaru and Emilia is one of the main plot points in the show.

Re: Zero won “Best Fantasy” at the 2021 Crunchyroll Awards, and was nominated for “Best Anime Series” at the 2016 IGN Summer Movie Awards. It is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

7 The Quintessential Quintuplets (2019-2021)

MAL Score: 7.66

five red haired girls joke around with each other

The Quintessential Quintuplets

The Quintessential Quintuplets

Studio
Tezuka Productions, Bibury Animation Studios

Number of Episodes
24

This series is way more wholesome than it sounds. The plot is misleading, so if fans are looking for something lewd, they’ve come to the wrong place. The Quintessential Quintuplets is an upright tale of Futaro Uesugi as he takes on tutoring the Nakano sisters. Anime fans might be skeptical of the romance element in this anime, but they’ll just have to watch and see.

The Quintessential Quintuplets won “Romance Anime of the Year” at the 2020 Anime Trending Awards, “Favorite Couple Ship” and “Favorite Romance” at the Winter 2021 Anime Trending Awards. It can be streamed on Crunchyroll.

6 Toradora! (2008-2009)

MAL Score 8.07

toradora and ryuji stands next to each other

Toradora

Toradora!

Studio
J.C.Staff

Number of Episodes
25

Streaming Service(s)
Crunchyroll , Tubi , Amazon Prime Video

Based on the light novel series by Yuyuko Takemiya and Yasu, Toradora! follows Ryuji Takasu as he navigates high school with the reputation of a delinquent and the heart of a really nice, wholesome person.

The romance in Toradora! is believable and enjoyable. The female lead, Taiga Aisaka, comes across as your classic tsundere character, but when Ryuji gets to know her, she becomes vulnerable and sensitive. This anime is 25-episodes long and is available on Crunchyroll.

5 My Dress Up Darling (2022)

MAL Score: 8.21

a blonde girl with pink tips of her long hair puts her arm around a taller boy

  • Studio: CloverWorks
  • Number of Episodes: 12
  • Streaming Platforms: Crunchyroll

My Dress Up Darling is an anime that masters the combination of ecchi and endearing. It follows Wakana Gojo, a hina doll maker, and Marin Kitagawa, a cosplay wannabe, as they become friends and maybe something more. Other than in appearance, Marin is not your typical gyaru. She longs for genuine connection with like-minded people, and her open mindedness allows her to befriend the quiet and isolated Wakana.

It was nominated for “Best Comedy,” “Best Romance,” and “Best New Series” at the 2023 Crunchyroll Anime Awards. It is available to be streamed on Crunchyroll.

4 Beastars (2019-)

MAL Score: 7.82

anthropomorphic animals stand on grass, three in the background, two in the foreground

  • Studio: Orange
  • Number of Episodes: 24
  • Streaming Platforms: Netflix

Rated TV-MA, this show depicts anthropomorphic animals as they live and go to school. Beastars follows Legoshi, a gray wolf, as he participates in the drama club, finds love, and solves crime. Although the romance in Beastars is more of a subplot, it takes up a large chunk of the first season and motivates Legoshi into action on more than one occasion.

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It was nominated for 11 Crunchyroll Anime Awards in 2021 and 2022 combined. It can be streamed on Netflix.

3 Kaguya-sama: Love Is War (2019-2023)

MAL Score: 8.41

a black haired girl stands in the foreground, a blonde boy sits at a desk in the background

Kaguya-sama_ Love Is War

Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War

Studio
A-1 Pictures

Number of Episodes
41

For two people with feelings for each other, Kaguya Shinomiya and Miyuki Shirogane have a funny way of showing it. As the student council president and vice president, Kaguya and Miyuki are close, both physically and emotionally, but one thing they just wont do is confess their feelings for each other.

This might sound tiring, but it’s incomparably funny. Kaguya-sama: Love Is War won “Best Comedy” at the 2020, and 2021 Crunchyroll Anime Awards, as well as “Best Romance” at the 2023 Crunchyroll Anime Awards. It is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

2 Horimiya (2021)

MAL Score: 8.2

a black haired boy and a brunette girl squish their cheeks together

horimiya

Horimiya

Studio
CloverWorks

Number of Episodes
26

Kyouko Hori and Isumi Miyamura are two seeming opposites, but one fateful nosebleed shows them that they have something in common: they are both hiding their true selves from their classmates at school. Horimya examines the intricacies of navigating high school social life, while too, showing the protagonists that if they give people a chance, they are more open-minded than they think.

Horimiya won “Best Romance” at the 2022 Crunchyroll Anime Awards. It is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

1 Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai (2018-2019)

MAL Score: 8.24

a girl in a bunny costume looks back at you

Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai

Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai

Studio
CloverWorks

Number of Episodes
13

Often referred to as just Bunny Girl or Rascal Does Not Dream, this romantic drama (with some comedy here and there) follows Sakuta Azusagawa and Mai Sakurajima as they help people with the supernatural phenomenon called “puberty syndrome”. The romance between Sakuta and Mai is unparalleled, both fighting off cliches and embracing them where needed.

Bunny Girl has 12 award wins and 15 nominations. It is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

More

15 Best Shojo Romance Anime, Ranked

Romance is commonly encountered in shojo anime, and these series are highly recommended.

Antonio Josse

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