Not every romantic anime has a happy ending, despite what many people think. Some relationships end in disaster before they had a chance to grow, while others end with heartbreaking good-byes. In any event, there is no need to search further if any anime viewer wants to lament a fake union. These ten anime romances ought to do the trick.
Orange Is The Perfect Starter Romance For Non-Romance Fans
For a romance anime with a sci-fi twist akin to films like Your Name, Orange hits that sweet spot with the right group of fans. This 13-episode series has a different take on romantic tearjerkers; the story revolves around Naho Takamiya, who suddenly receives letters from a future version of herself.
The letter implores the younger Naho to prevent her friend, Kakeru Naruse, from committing suicide by looking after him. To complicate the plot, Naho soon realizes she has to pursue her romantic feelings for Kakeru, but the cost is sacrificing her happy marriage and new family she's created in the future.
Plastic Memories' Romantic Is Beautifully Finite
It's pointless to pursue a romance doomed to fail. That's the challenge Plastic Memories' Tsukasa Mizugaki and Isla want to face. The anime does a fantastic job of showcasing a bittersweet romance between two unlikely individuals and highlights the realities of their technologically-advanced world.
High school graduate Tsukasa is lucky enough to land a job in SAI Corp, or the "Sion Artificial Intelligence Corporation." They manufacture androids called "Giftia," near-perfect human replicas but with only nine years to live at most. Tsukasa gets paired with a Giftia named Isla for a specialized job, but in true romance anime fashion, he falls for her. The problem is Isla's life as a Giftia is nearly over. Any romance she pursues with Tsukasa will only be a fleeting moment of respite for her cold, mechanical heart.
8. Full Moon
Full Moon Combines One-sided Love, Mythical Beings, & A Deadly Illness
Living with an illness may prevent a person from achieving their lifelong dreams. Anime fans in this position can relate to Full Moon's Mitsuki Kouyama as she struggles between a life-saving surgery and pursuing her dreams as a singer. She wants her music to reach her childhood crush, Eichi Sakurai, who moved to America before she could confess her feelings.
However, Mitsuki suffers from throat cancer with only a year left to live, and her grandmother is pressuring her to give up on her singing dreams. From the beautiful music to the loveable characters — albeit its occasional funny moments — Full Moon is a fantastic watch. Shojo manga titan Arina Tanemura crafted a lovely story that will tug on any viewers' heartstrings. Fans will get emotional watching Mitsuki fight her hardest to make her last year count.
7. The Wind Rises
The Wind Rises Features A Romance That's As Fleeting As The Wind
The Wind Rises is another of Hayao Miyazaki's masterpieces, set around World War I. The movie is a beautiful story of a real-life engineer, Jiro Horikoshi, who is passionate about building airplanes. He travels across to learn from the best and soon meets his soon-to-be lover, Naoko Satomi.
Jiro gets a job as a weapons engineer but travels back and forth to spend time with Naoko. They plan to marry once she recovers from her illness, but the tragic tale unfolds as Jiro's very creations contribute to her deteriorating health. What's worse is when Naomi passes away while Jiro is on a business trip, where he never has a chance to say goodbye.
6. Princess Tutu
Princess Tutu Combines Fairytale Romance With Magical Girl Elements
Despite its strange premise, anime fans shouldn't underestimate Princess Tutu's emotional impact. It's a beautifully written yet sad love story that takes artistic and musical inspiration from classical ballets like Swan Lake and fairytales like The Ugly Duckling. Princess Tutu is a classic in anime history. A storyteller, Drosselmeyer, decides to bring one of his stories to life.
Drosselmeyer sets his eyes on a duckling, Ahiru, who has fallen in love with an amnesiac human boy. He grants Ahiru a human body, immersing her in a world of talking animals and magic, and gives her a task: she must help the boy regain the fragments of his heart, not as herself but as her magical alter ego: Princess Tutu. But there's a catch — Ahiru must never tell the boy her true feelings lest she vanishes.
5. Hotarubi No Mori E
Natsume's Book Of Friends Fans Will Love Hotarubi No Mori E
Fans of the beautifully-executed Natsume's Book of Friends will love this short but sweet film by the same mangaka. Hotarubi no Mori e is a perfect choice for romance anime fans who love the whimsical and supernatural. Like most sad romance anime, Hotarubi no Mori e features a love that will never materialize — Hotaru, a human girl, and a forest spirit named Gin.
Their relationship starts awkwardly, as Gin is standoffish as he tries to avoid her. He cannot be touched by human hands, for the mortal realm's fragile magic will cause him to disappear. Their bond eventually develops into mutual love as they spend more time together. Alas, all good things must come to an end – a beautifully sorrowful end, in this case.
4. Clannad: After Story
Clannad Tackles The Realities Of Adulthood
Older anime fans may be familiar with Clannad and its direct sequel, After Story. The anime comes off light-hearted as fans become familiar with Tomoya Okazaki and his classmates. But moving into After Story will leave viewers bawling their eyes out. The first season touches on Tomoya's strained relationship with his workaholic father and disinterest in school. Clannad gradually moves into his mental and emotional healing after meeting his soon-to-be girlfriend, Nagisa Furukawa.
After high school, the two grow up together, experiencing the highs and lows of life and taking steps further into their future. Tomoya encounters his life's best and worst moments, forging a path with every new change. Clannad's tale is not usually covered in most slice-of-life anime and prominently highlights the difficulty of adulthood through mostly Tomoya's perspective.
3. I Want To Eat Your Pancreas
I Want To Eat Your Pancreas Gives Our Protagonist A New Outlook On Life
I Want To Eat Your Pancreas sounds odd and almost off-putting, but it has a much deeper meaning that warrants a serious watch. This over-90-minute film centers around an antisocial male protagonist, Haruki Shiga. He's a bookworm far detached from the world around him until he accidentally discovers that his charming female classmate, Sakura Yamauchi, has a terminal illness in her pancreas.
Haruki's the only person to know this saddening truth and starts off unsympathetic to Sakura's struggle. As time passes, a bond slowly builds between them as Haruki warms up to Sakura. In turn, she gives Haruki a new sense of purpose and meaning to his mundane life. Ultimately, Sakura ends up saving Haruki from his painful existence, though, sadly, he couldn't return the favor.
2. Fruits Basket
Fruits Basket Immerses Viewers In A Twisted Family Curse
Fruits Basket quickly solidified itself as a classic tear-jerking romance with its 2019 reboot. Underneath the colorful cast of characters is a deep-seated trauma caused by a horrific family curse. What seems to be a simple life for the zodiac members of the Sohma clan is a much sadder, more isolated existence than they would like to admit.
Other than the Sohmas, Tohru Honda is a plucky, cheerful girl with more than enough emotional baggage. Most people quickly underestimate her upon the first encounter, but her inner strength and open-mindedness have pushed her through some of life's biggest curveballs. After meeting the Sohma clan, she's sucked into their dark, twisted world. New viewers will be more interested in seeing how she maneuvers through it.
1. Your Lie in April
Your Lie In April's Protagonist Learns To Love Music Again
Most anime fans are familiar with Your Lie in April, but it's much too good to pass up; it's the perfect romance anime meant to wrench the tears out of any viewer. Your Lie in April focuses on piano prodigy Kousei Arima, who loses his passion for music after his strict mother's death. All that changes when he meets a carefree violinist, Kaori Miyazono.
The two grow closer with every fight as Kaori pushes Kousei to his limits, re-introducing his heart to music again. However, Kousei fears pursuing a relationship with her, convinced that his feelings are one-sided. The viewers watch through his eyes as he watches Kaori thrive in front of him as he fights the urge to chase what he truly wants.