Here’s Some Anime You Should Watch With a Box of Chocolates on Valentine’s Day
Senpai will definitely notice you with these anime.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, more importantly, the day after Valentine’s Day when all the candy goes on sale is just around the corner. As I prepare to activate maximum puppy dog eyes so my wife goes to grab my favorite discounted candies, I thought I’d write up a list of anime one could watch while eating various chocolate treats (or whatever candy is your favorite).
As always with these lists, I’ll include a summary, where each series is available to watch, and why the series might be something you’re interested in. I’m stopping at fifteen because if we’re talking “romance” and “anime” there are endless possibilities, but hopefully, this list is a good start.
Bloom Into You
Summary: Yuu has always loved shoujo manga and awaits the day she gets a love confession that sends her heart aflutter, yet when a junior high classmate confesses his feelings to her… she feels nothing. Disappointed and confused, Yuu enters high school still unsure how to respond. That’s when Yuu sees the beautiful student council president Touko turn down a suitor with such maturity that she’s inspired to ask her for help.
But when the next person to confess to Yuu is Touko herself, has her shoujo romance finally begun?
Where to watch: HIDIVE
Watch if you’re in the mood for: a love story between two girls that actually addresses how it feels to think there’s something wrong with you because you don’t feel anything toward boys. So many people talk about girls ending up with boys that Yuu thinks that’s how it’s supposed to go, so she legitimately wonders if there’s something off about her, or that maybe she should say yes because surely, her heart will catch up, right?
I hate when anime calls out my feelings like this.
Both Yuu and Touko bond over that, and through that bond Touko goes from “I’m not interested in anyone” to suddenly feeling something for Yuu. Yuu is still trying to make sense of how the whole thing works, and the series just feels like a season’s worth of validating the feelings I had while growing up.
Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?!
Summary: “If you’re still a virgin when you turn 30, you turn into a wizard.” The urban legend whispered to be true became reality!!
The magical power gained by 30-year-old virgin Adachi is the modest ability to read the mind of anyone he touches. Unsure how to handle his useless power, Adachi accidentally reads the mind of his colleague Kurosawa, the company’s most handsome ace employee. Kurosawa’s mind turns out to be full of love for Adachi!
Adachi can’t believe his colleague, much less another man, is in love with him, and Adachi is bewildered by the inner monologue dripping with affection he hears every time he touches Kurosawa. However, with no way of knowing his feelings have been discovered, Kurosawa continues trying to win over Adachi. Will the handsome man’s sincere feelings for the virgin come to fruition?!
Where to watch: Crunchyroll
Watch if you’re in the mood for: a live-action boys’ love series (based on the manga of the same name) where behind its absurd premise is a wholesome love story between an anxiety bunny and the handsome man who has fallen for him.
Initially, I thought the series would spend its entire runtime focused on Adachi doing his best to avoid Kurosawa because he can’t believe his coworker likes him. In reality, the series is about Adachi working through his anxiety so he can be with the guy he’s falling for. Adachi can’t fathom why someone as cool as Kurosawa would be interested in him, so the series is really about this man gaining some self-confidence and NOT relying on the power he has to get what he wants.
Because Adachi’s got the ultimate cheat code, but can you really build a relationship with someone if you aren’t actually talking to them and are, instead, reading their mind?
The series also has some fun side characters, including a secondary couple and an absolute queen who cheers Adachi on. Honestly, Cherry Magic is proof that as we work to get more queer anime brought to the U.S., we REALLY should be including live-action works in that conversation.
Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro
Summary: Nagatoro is a freshman in high school who loves teasing and torturing her older male classmate! What’s her motivation and why does Senpai put up with her? Does Nagatoro just want to create misery for Senpai? Or maybe she secretly likes him?
Where to watch: Crunchyroll
Watch if you’re in the mood for: the anime equivalent of “your crush picks on you to express their feelings,” only instead of a boy pulling a girl’s hair, it’s a girl being a chaotic gremlin toward her upperclassman.
This generally isn’t the type of anime I go for, but something about Nagatoro makes her oddly fun to watch as she makes her Senpai’s life a living hell. That might be because buried beneath the constant teasing, you catch glimpses of genuine moments between the two, which leads to you waiting for the day where “Miss Nagatoro” actually stops toying with her Senpai.
Her actions don’t feel malicious, it really does feel like a girl with a crush on an older boy and instead of saying anything, she teases him, because teasing is easier than admitting that you like someone. It fits her character and ends up being a lot more entertaining than I expected it to be.
Summary: Tohru Honda thought her life was headed for misfortune when a family tragedy left her living in a tent. When her small home is discovered by the mysterious Soma clan, she suddenly finds herself living with Yuki, Kyo, and Shigure Soma. But she quickly learns their family has a bizarre secret of their own when she accidentally hugs Kyo and he turns into a cat!
Where to watch: Funimation/Crunchyroll/Hulu
Watch if you’re in the mood for: family drama to run alongside your romance. Fruits Basket has such a nice, warm vibe, but as Tohru gets closer to the Soma family we uncover all kinds of secrets that violently take hold of your heart and not let up on it until the whole thing is over.
That being said, Fruits Basket has such interesting, dynamic characters, with compelling motivations and a whole lot of moments that’ll make you scream WHAT at the screen because, wow, the Soma family story is a LOT to take in. While several of the series on this list have one central romance (or maybe two), this is one where you’ll be rooting for several pairings and drawing prayer circles around them.
Basically, don’t be fooled by the soft art and the tranquil music, you are in for a RIDE with this show.
Summary: Somehow, the guitar that he used to love to play and the basketball games that he found so fun just lost their appeal… that was until Ritsuka Uenoyama randomly met Mafuyu Sato. Ritsuka had started losing his passion for music in his everyday life, but then he hears Mafuyu sing for the first time. The song resonates with his heart and the distance between them starts to change.
Where to watch: Crunchyroll
Watch if you’re in the mood for: a second chance at love after a devastating loss… depending on what couple the series/movie/live-action series is focusing on. There are several ways one can go about watching Given, and all of them end up making you love the franchise even more.
Given deals a lot with working through grief and wondering whether or not you’re allowed to move on after losing someone you love – especially if you feel at fault. There are also themes of falling out of love with someone, but being afraid to walk away because you’re so used to them being around.
It sounds like a lot to process (and it is) but Given tells the story through its music and its characters, offering plenty of fun, optimistic moments to balance with the heaviness at hand. Yes, you’ll need tissues, but there’s always a silver lining at the end of each story.
Ritsuka still, to this day, has my favorite reaction to finding out that his feelings are mutual. Also? Him being told that it’s okay that he likes boys? Bless.
Summary: A secret life is the one thing they have in common. At school, Hori is a prim and perfect social butterfly, but the truth is she’s a brash homebody. Meanwhile, under a gloomy facade, Miyamura hides a gentle heart, along with piercings and tattoos. In a chance meeting, they both reveal a side they’ve never shown. Could this blossom into something new?
Where to watch: Funimation
Watch if you’re in the mood for: high school romance between two people who hide who they really are while they’re at school followed by a surprising amount of relatable content in regards to becoming more comfortable with yourself.
Watching characters come to the realization that they not only have friends, but these friends truly looked forward to them being part of the group, is just as much a part of the story as the romance is. There are also some “feelings are complicated” story arcs where characters who are friends start to feel more toward each other, but they aren’t sure how to approach it, especially when they end up watching their friend/crush receive love confessions.
Much like Fruits Basket, the cast is what makes the series great. Despite the title focusing on “Hori” and “Miya” the story is about the ensemble as a whole. The romance, the friendships, and learning to love yourself make Horimiya an instant slice-of-life classic.
Kaguya-sama: Love is War
Summary: Known for being both brilliant and powerful, Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya lead the illustrious Shuchiin Academy as near equals. And everyone thinks they’d make a great couple. Pride and arrogance are in ample supply, so the only logical move is to trick the other into instigating a date! Who will come out on top in this psychological war where the first move is the only one that matters?
Where to watch: Funimation/Crunchyroll/Hulu
Watch if you’re in the mood for: a hilarious, overdramatic look at not wanting to be the first to say “I love you” when you both obviously love each other.
The best part? Everyone already thinks that Miyuki and Kaguya would be the perfect couple, and they WANT to be a couple. They’re just set on making their crush confess first.
If you want the “drama” this Valentine’s Day to be “dramatically over-the-top” then I cannot recommend this series enough. The comedy is fantastic, especially when the two are plotting against (for?) each other while other classmates are around, unaware of the lengths they’re taking to get a simple “will you go out with me?”
The fact that the whole thing is being narrated by a sassy narrator just adds icing to the cake that one of these two will eventually get the other for Valentine’s Day.
Kase-san and Morning Glories
Summary: Soon after meeting, Yamada and Kase began to date! But dating isn’t as easy as it looks, and they must weather the storms all couples eventually face. Will their relationship continue to bloom as college entrance exams threaten to keep them apart?
Where to watch: HIDIVE
Watch if you’re in the mood for: a movie where the “will you go out with me” is already figured out and the focus is on how to be in a relationship.
A lot of romance anime (and romance in general) focuses on the couple getting together, but in Kase-san and Morning Glories, the girls are already dating. This leaves room for the two of them to get used to the idea of being with another person, from trying to figure out how to express your feelings, to the onslaught of nerves that hit when you realize you’re sitting in your partner’s bedroom with no adult supervision.
What I really love about the movie is that the uncertainty isn’t one-sided, both Yamada and Kase are clueless, sweet babies who really like each other, but executing that “like” can be completely overwhelming.
All and all, the movie is a sweet look at the age-old question, “I have a girlfriend now, what do?”
Komi Can’t Communicate
Summary: On her first day attending the elite Itan Private High School, Shouko Komi immediately receives an overwhelming surge in popularity due to her unprecedented, stoic beauty and refined elegance. However, only Hitohito Tadano, an exceedingly average schoolboy who sits next to her, discovers that behind her appearance, Komi has severe social anxiety.
Tadano resolves to help Komi reach her goal of 100 friends.
Where to watch: Netflix
Watch if you’re in the mood for: more comedy on Valentine’s Day with a story full of eccentric, lovable characters. Itan Private High School is full of weirdos (as the narrator tells us), but the end goal is to help Komi communicate and make friends.
It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this series. The assumptions Komi deals with are relatable, as everyone assumes she has her act together and is purposefully aloof when, in reality, she’s got a ton of anxiety to the point of not being able to speak. It’s hard dealing with everyone’s expectations, especially when they’re based solely on your appearance – even if their assumptions are positive.
Tadano helping her make friends is sweet, but what I really liked is how he decides to talk with her in a way that she’s comfortable with instead of trying to force her to tell him what she wanted to say. Tadano’s patience is delightful, as he doesn’t treat Komi’s communication issues like something that’s off-putting. Watching the two of them get closer is heartwarming and comedic, as the series has humor all throughout its episodes.
High school sure is a strange time.
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
Summary: High school student Chiyo Sakura has a crush on schoolmate Umetarou Nozaki. When she confesses her love to him, he mistakes her for a fan and gives her an autograph. When she says she wants to be with him, he invites her to his house and has her help with some drawings. Sakura discovers that Nozaki is actually a renowned shoujo manga artist working under the pen name Sakiko Yumeno, leading to her agreeing to be his assistant in order to get closer to him.
Where to watch: Crunchyroll/Netflix
Watch if you’re in the mood for: an absolutely oblivious boy and the girl who loves him for exactly who he is.
This is a series I haven’t thought about in a minute, but as I fall head over heels in love with Sasaki and Miyano (more on this later) and the premise of “boy who likes this thing doesn’t realize he is LIVING this thing,” I remembered this anime.
Chiyo’s affections for Nozaki are present and accounted for, but Nozaki remains oblivious… even if he writes these kinds of stories. Nozaki is so clueless that he mistakes her crush for her 1) wanting an autograph, and 2) wanting to help him do work on his manga. TO BE FAIR (I guess) her first confession has her saying she’s a fan, so that’s kinda on her?
But saying she wanted to be with him should’ve been enough, yet he takes it as… having an assistant.
Real talk, though, it’s entirely possible for someone to write romance but not be into romance in real life, and having Chiyo be happy to just be by Nozaki’s side is wonderful, after all, it’s not like he doesn’t like having her around. It’s clear that these two care about each other and the fact that Nozaki doesn’t have to change a damn thing about himself for Chiyo to see that?
Much like, well, every other anime on this list with an ensemble cast, it’s not just the main characters who make the series worth watching. Of course, we’re rooting for Chiyo and Nozaki, but the entire cast is a lot of fun to watch.
My Dress-Up Darling
Summary: High schooler Wakana Gojo cares about one thing: making Hina dolls. With nobody to share his obsession, he has trouble finding friends—or even holding a conversation. But after the school’s most popular girl, Marin Kitagawa, reveals a secret of her own, he discovers a new purpose for his sewing skills. Together, they’ll make her cosplay dreams come true!
Where to watch: Funimation and Crunchyroll
Watch if you’re in the mood for: cosplay hijinks with the overall message of letting people like things.
Your mileage will vary with this series. There are bits that will definitely turn people away, as there is a lot of fan service and the costume Marin wants (at the moment, the opening cycles through multiple looks) is based on an adult video game. There’s also a moment in the opening where it looks like Marin’s tanned her skin to be a darker complexion, which is THE nightmare topic of the cosplay community. Nothing has happened in the anime yet, so there’s a chance it won’t be a plot point at all, but if it is a plot point I can’t help but wonder if they’re going to address the subject or not.
For now, I found myself really enjoying the dynamic between Wakana and Marin. Marin’s passion for cosplay is infectious, and her encouraging Wakana to like what he likes (after he’s been made fun of for it) is nice to see. I also, admittedly, have a soft spot for the romance, as Marin not knowing how to sew yet wanting to cosplay is the exact cosplay relationship I have with my wife, who does all the sewing. Marin’s genuine excitement about being told “yes, I’ll make this for you” is exactly how I react every time I ask my wife to make a cosplay for me.
What I find interesting is how the fan service is treated as a part of the process. Wakana has to take her measurements, for example, and it just never occurs to Marin to be flustered about it because it’s part of the costume-making process. He’s having a crisis about it. She, however, is not. Because if you’re making someone an outfit you have to know their measurements.
Even Wakana reaches a point where he’s looking at the adult reference materials he’s given without a care in the world because, well, he has to draft up patterns, so he has to check the game out. How else do you get the back view of the outfit?
Overall, I feel like Wakana and Marin are good kids with solid chemistry together that reminds me of the times I’ve been told my interests were weird, leading to that euphoric feeling where someone says, “No they’re not.”
My Senpai Is Annoying
Summary: Being seen as a full-fledged businesswoman isn’t easy for Futaba Igarashi when her senpai, Harumi, treats her like a kid. Days for her are never typical, at work or outside of it, with all the antics going on in her life. As mishaps ensue, she’ll find herself growing closer with her loudmouth senpai. Maybe Futaba feels more than she lets on, but one thing’s for sure: she’s still annoyed!
Where to watch: Funimation
Watch if you’re in the mood for: a small, independent woman who don’t need no senpai… but is kinda starting to like senpai. The problem is senpai keeps treating her like a child because of her size instead of seeing her as a woman.
The developing relationship between Futaba and Harumi is really cute. Harumi is a big lug of a man who means well, he just doesn’t grasp how annoying his actions are toward Futaba. At the same time, he has genuine moments of showing her compassion, making it easy to see how she’s struggling between “you’re irritating” and “my heart does funny things around you.”
This is the show you watch when you expect someone in the relationship to go, “He’s an idiot, but he’s MY idiot.”
Assuming Harumi ever stops patting Futaba’s head like she’s a little kid.
Along with the main pairing we have coworkers Sota and Toko. These two are adorable to watch, especially since Sota is so monotone compared to how friendly Toko is. It’s clear that these two like each other, it’s just a matter of time before they finally say the words (or Toko will tease Sota just enough to get him to admit the truth).
Sasaki and Miyano
Summary: It all started like a typical old-school boys’ love plotline—bad-boy senior meets adorably awkward underclassman, one of them falls in love, and so on and so forth. But although Miyano is a self-proclaimed boys’ love expert, he hasn’t quite realized…he’s in one himself. This means it’s up to Sasaki to make sure their story has a happily ever after!
Where to watch: Funimation
Watch if you’re in the mood for: boy likes boy who likes boys’ love, but boys’ love boy doesn’t see the signs of boy liking him.
I’ve already written about why this series is so great, but to shorten my thoughts, I’d say that this is the perfect series to watch if you’re looking for something that illustrates what it feels like when you have a crush on someone. Everything Miyano does is monumental to Sasaki, no matter how trivial it is, and Miyano doesn’t realize that he’s starting to feel the same way.
The boys’ love part feels more like a tool for them to bond over, but also a way to potentially make sense of what they’re feeling. Sasaki will have moments of admiring characters in the book who follow their feelings and goes so far as to say that the story HAD to have two boys in it. He often says things that normalizes what he’s feeling toward Miyano (whether he realizes it or not) and it ends up helping Miyano put things into perspective.
Honestly, these two are just really wholesome and I’m so glad that this is one of the new romance anime we got this year.
The Stranger by the Shore
Summary: The Stranger By the Shore follows the love story of Shun Hashimoto, an aspiring novelist, and Mio Chibana, a grieving young man, who both find more than they bargained for during a time of transition. As each day passes, both young men find themselves in an ever-unique, undisturbed voyage of friendship and romance. But self-doubt, family, acceptance, and fear will challenge these young men, as nothing worth fighting for goes without taking chances.
Where to watch: Funimation
Watch if you’re in the mood for: a movie that highlights the importance of coming to terms with your sexuality before getting your happily ever after.
Much like Sasaki and Miyano, I’ve already sung the praises of this film. Shun and Mio really do complete each other, as they both have something they have to work through before they can fully be together. Shun’s got so much internalized homophobia that it doesn’t even matter that he’s left the harmful environment that he was in, nor does it matter that he’s around supportive people.
Mio, on the other hand, is more than ready to be with Shun, as he’s already lost his mother and wants to be with this person he’s fallen in love with. The problem is Shun’s own mental blocks, his walls so strong that he straight up tells Mio that he should be with a girl instead of focusing on him.
There are parts of this movie that are hard to watch, mostly because the feelings being addressed are legitimate emotions that some people in the queer community have expressed having. Hell, in my baby gay years, I would have stray thoughts of things being easier if my girlfriend (now wife) had brought a guy home instead of me. But you can’t help who you love, more importantly, there’s nothing wrong with loving someone who’s the same gender as you.
That’s the lesson Shun has to learn, that there’s nothing wrong with him or his feelings, and once he does, he’s able to truly hold onto Mio.
My one “technically not labeled as romance but might as well be” pick: Yuri!!! on Ice
Summary: Yuri Katsuki makes his way to the Grand Prix ice skating competition as Japan’s top representative with his eyes on the prize. However, instead of celebrating, Yuri walks away defeated and ready to retire for good. But a run-in with champion Viktor Nikiforov and rising star Yuri Plisetsky ignites a new fire within him. With the two of them close by his side, Yuri will take to the ice once more.
Where to watch: Funimation/Crunchyroll
Watch if you’re in the mood for: pushing forward in your career after suffering a huge blow and falling in love along the way.
While sports anime is known for having some major “will they won’t they” vibes, Yuri!!! on Ice is one that is executed so beautifully that I’m pretty sure everyone in the entire world labels it as romance. The bond between its two leads can really only be described as “love,” not just because of a fleeting attraction or admiration for your idol, but because they truly bring out the best in each other.
Yuri and Victor need each other. They just do. Yuri needed to have someone encourage him to get back on the ice after feeling utterly humiliated, and unbeknownst to Yuri, Victor needed someone to give him a reason to really enjoy the ice again after winning so much.
Of course, all the other moments like “flinging myself into his arms” and “getting us matching rings that we kiss during serious moments” also add to the obvious “they’re married, you’re honor” vibes.
It’s a rom-com and it’s amazing.
Happy “eat your favorite candy and cry over your favorite fictional couples” day, everyone!
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