Ah, Valentine’s Day is almost upon us. Love is in the air, couples are doing their couple thing, and it’s time for those of us without relationships to stay inside and watch romantic anime. Because. Ya know. That’s obviously the correct thing to do.
Romance in anime is everywhere. It’s kind of inescapable, and you KNOW that any anime ever conceived has had some sort of character pairing, official or unofficial. Of course, among these romances, there are some that stand out. A pairing of two characters that bring the best out of each other, help each other when the other person is down, and are just freaking adorable together.
I’ll admit that romance is not my forte when it comes to anime, but at the same time, when I see a good one, I can’t help but just absolutely enjoy what I see. This list will basically consist of the couples in anime that I consider to be the best. They were good for each other, made each other happy, and their time on-screen together made my heart that much warmer. Let’s get to it!
1. Edward Elric and Winry Rockbell (Full Metal Alchemist)
Starting off, we have a classic couple in the anime world- the Full Metal Alchemist himself, and Winry Rockbell, master mechanic.
Edward, needing automail from a young age, had to rely on Winry, who at the time, was his next door neighbor, in order to provide support. Only 11 years old, Winry was able to build a whole new automail arm and leg for Edward. Since then, she acted as Edward’s personal automail mechanic.
Despite both Edward’s and Winry’s stubbornness, they are always there for each other through thick and thin. Regardless of what trouble the Elrics get into, Winry was always there with a sarcastic quip and a helping hand. The other way around, Edward has always been overprotective of her, blushing with embarassment at the mere mention of anything more than a friendship. However, come the end of his journey to save Amestris, they’ve both grown, to the point where they can admit these feelings to each other, and boy, it is cathartic.
I don’t know about you, but normally, I’m not a fan of romance in adventure anime. Sometimes it feels shoehorned in, or I just can’t get behind it, or it feels like it lacks depth. However, with this couple in particular, the mixture of their personalities just works really well. It doesn’t rely on the girl being excessively cute, nor on any explicit character drama- they’re just a good match for each other.
2. Kousei and Kaori (Your Lie in April)
These two- the cold, reserved piano playing machine, and the free-spirited, cheerful violinist, heavily, heavily contrast each other. They’re a textbook example of “opposites attract,” and it works so, so well.
Kosei Arima is a piano prodigy- relentlessly drilled by his abusive, sick mother from a young age, he came to be called the “Human Metronome,” for his robotic, perfect performances. However, his mother, being sick, eventually passed away, leaving Kosei traumatized, unable to play, even hear the piano. Thinking perhaps, he might never play again, Koseit resigned himself to a life without music- that is, until he met one Kaori Miyazono, who apparently likes his best friend. Despite this, Kaori grows closer to Kosei, or, as we come to know him, “Friend A,” and she does her best to get him out of his shell, to play the piano again, in a way that he never knew he could.
These two are among my favorite pairings of anime, despite spending so much of their story not even knowing each other’s feelings. What they did for each other, however, cannot be understated- Kosei was able to give Kaori a goal, something to strive for, and Kaori was able to give Kosei a reason to play the piano, to move past his mother’s shadow.
Their on-screen interactions were cute, funny to watch, and the affection they had for each other, although not explicitly shown, could be seen through how they treated each other.. I loved how Kairi pushes Kosei, and how he responds to said pushing. They were so obviously good for each other, and despite how the events of the show turned out, I’ve gotta put them on here as one of my personal favorite couples of anime.
3. Tsukasa and Isla (Plastic Memories)
What would you do if the love of your life had only a few months left to live?
Tsukasa and Isla, despite an unconventional relationship, are among my favorite romances in anime, partially because of just how well they work together. Isla, despite being a Giftia with a limited life span, has very real, very concrete emotion, which is very clearly displayed at multiple points. They have little quirks that many real-life couples have, and makes them that little bit more relatable. Cute and clumsy Isla, with the genuine, nice guy Tsukasa, it’s a match that worked great!… Except for the fact that, Isla, being a Giftia, had only 2,000 hours left to live.
What I love most about this relationship, is that it’s very…real. The feelings that we see that are exhibited on both sides- the sadness, the happiness, the pain, reacting to circumstances beyond their control, it felt incredibly sincere.
Just because of the setting of the anime, there is a mutual understanding that there will not, cannot be a happy ever after. The way in which they react to this reality is very honest, very blunt, yet both Tsukasa and Isla carry a sense of idealism the whole way. That perhaps, despite it all, because of their feelings, it must be worth it.
This romantic, idealistic defiance of their situation, combined with their acknowledgement of Isla’s final fate, makes their relationship tragic, but, in my opinion, just a wonder to watch unfold.
4. Ryuuji and Taiga (Toradora!)
Okay, so maybe I’ve been pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a couple for some of these listings. But I’ll end strong, promise.
Ryuuji and Taiga are stuck in an amusing situation at first. As fate would have it, the two find out that they’re actually in love with each other’s best friends! Because of this, their relationship is inevitably built upon acting as each other’s matchmakers. After many mishaps, fun little hijinks and adventures, Taiga and Ryuuji realize a growing affection between each other, escalating until, somewhere down the line, that affection turns into something a bit more. Come the end, we find the two together, able to admit their feelings, looking forward to the future.
I’m certain you’ve seen, or at least heard, of relationships with tsundere characters right? From my experience, many tsundere characters in anime are not taken quite seriously, or if they are, it’s not in any real romantic context. There are certainly shows that have such relationships but…that’s not the point.
The point here is that out of everything I’ve seen, Ryuuji and Taiga’s relationship, and growth as characters, is the best example of how a tsundere’s relationship should be done. Despite Taiga’s laughably over-the-top aggression, the Palm-Top Tiger’s reactions hardly ever feels excessive, especially next to Ryuuji. He takes the abuse, and defuses it, able to touch Taiga’s emotional side in a way no one else can. These odd, yet surprisingly sensible interactions are what make this couple a pleasure to watch. Both for the hilarity that they provide, as well as the emotional depth that they reach as characters.
5. Tomoya and Nagisa (Clannad/Clannad: After Story)
This is the one.
Have you ever thought that you wanted a family? Have you ever thought that you just wanted to live that happily ever after, but never believed it was possible? If so, this couple, and the series they star in, might speak to you.
Playing the role of jaded delinquent, Tomoya Okazaki lives a very colorless life. Having dealt with troubles with his father, his life isn’t exactly bad, but he certainly has his fair share of problems. This changes on the day that he meets Nagisa Furukawa.
A girl a year older than him, with the odd habit of saying to herself the name of her favorite food when she gets scared, Nagisa ends up dragging Tomoya around, in her quest to create a school drama club. Tomoya, before you know it, finds that he has fallen in love. Together, Tomoya and Nagisa confront the challenges of life- they grow each other, help each other face their demons, and strive to feel the joy of creating a family.
Okay, I’ll be honest here. I’m extremely biased with this choice, Clannad being only the second romantic anime I’ve ever watched, but even after re-watching the series, I feel that Tomoya and Nagisa are one of, if not the best romances in ALL of anime. Granted, I’m not exactly a romance anime expert, but man, their relationship is just so, SO good.
Nagisa’s idealism, with Tomoya’s jaded bitterness, somehow combine to make a relationship that I can’t help but love. It’s, plain and simple, above all, romantic, but doesn’t lose itself in the fantasy of a “happy ever after.” Grounded in reality, yet somehow, creating happiness with each other, for each other, Tomoya and Nagisa are without a doubt the best couple in anime- at least, in my opinion.
That’s all on my end. Do you have any suggestions, for good romantic anime to watch? To be honest, I’ve been meaning to get started with Golden Girl, but just haven’t gotten around to it. We’ll see. Also, of course, are there any couples in anime that you like? Leave a comment, let me know!