By Kathleen Townsend
I’ve never been a huge fan of romantic comedies—not movies, books or even anime. I know, I know, there are some fantastic rom-coms out there and a few of them are even on my top favorite anime list, but it sure took some time to get me to sit down and watch them. That’s the hard part.
In a twist of fate, my husband’s favorite anime genre is—you guessed it—romantic comedy. Every night is a race to see who can open the Funimation app faster. What’ll we watch? This season’s newest rom-com or whatever new anime has the longest tournament arc?
And while the nightly battles can be fun in their own right, we don’t have to live this way. There are some great rom-coms that straddle multiple genres and, while I might have had to do the hard work of sifting through dozens upon dozens of romantic comedies, you don’t have to!
Let’s dive into five amazing anime that aren’t just rom-coms that you and your rom-com-loving partner (or BFF or roommate!) can watch together.
Kaguya-sama: Love is War?
Do you love shounen? Does your significant other love rom-coms? What about suspense and psychological anime? Your search is over! Look no further than Kaguya-sama: Love is War?! Because what is romance really, if not just one giant battle anime to win someone’s affection?
This is the story of Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya, two top students at Shuchiin Academy. As Student Council President and Vice President, respectively, the two have a prideful streak a mile long. This complicates the whole confession thing—neither wants to be the first to admit they’re in love with the other.
Plans are concocted by both parties to try and trick the other into admitting their feelings first. On top of lovely hijinks, each new plot is commentated on by a narrator, complete with “win or lose” scorekeeping!
Kaguya-sama: Love is War? is part-romantic comedy, part-shounen battle anime and part-suspense. The rom-com aspects will certainly delight your partner, but more importantly, you get a healthy dose of the genres you’re into too! It’s a win-win!
High school can be a wonderful time when you discover your first love, have no idea what to do about it, misunderstand the intentions of everyone around you, jump to conclusions all too easily and generally have a very chaotic time.
Never have I seen an anime portray the real-world high school experience quite as perfectly as Gamers!
Keita Amano loves video games and is a bit of a loner who finds a group of friends who love games just as much as he does. The only thing is that they all approach games differently—as a pastime; as something to perfect and win tournaments; or just because their significant other plays. But this isn’t really a show about games. It’s a show about the people who play them.
Amano and his friends are new to love and crushes. They don’t always understand one another’s actions and make fools of themselves. They jump to conclusions and get themselves into awkward situations they don’t know how to get out of. Gamers! is the sort of show that’ll have you squirming uncomfortably with secondhand embarrassment. You’ll likely catch yourself shouting “No, you fools!” at the screen because you’ve already lived this and don’t want to see others follow the same wayward-but-well-meaning path.
And that’s exactly what makes this so utterly amazing. So while your partner is enjoying the romance, you can sit back and enjoy the love prism’s utter chaos, the comedy of errors and the total messes the characters get themselves into.
Do you like slice of life anime? How about a series where “weird guy does weird things”? Comedy? School? Most importantly, how do you feel about giraffes? Good? Say hello to School Rumble.
Tenma Tsukamoto is a second year high school student and head over heels for classmate Oji Karasuma. He’s quiet, smart, and…isn’t interested in Tenma at all. However, someone does have a crush on her: class delinquent Kenji Harima. That’s where our story begins.
This is way more than just a typical rom-com. While we follow Tenma and Harima through their school days, new characters are introduced throughout the series and we get to know almost three whole classes full of them! Crushes are hidden and secrets are kept just like in any high school, but wild antics abound—and bad luck is always around the corner.
So while your significant other gets all of the delightful high school rom-com tropes with a slightly dense protagonist, you can stick around for the slice of life school story, ample comedy and utter chaos that is Tenma Tsukamoto and Class 2-C.
Ouran High School Host Club
Haruhi Fujioka starts at Ouran Academy on a scholarship and immediately breaks a priceless vase belonging to the Ouran Host Club. Of course, she’ll have to join the group in an effort to pay the thing off. Thus begins Ouran High School Host Club, a rom-com with tons to offer those who might not enjoy them.
While a story featuring a host club might sound extra romance-y, rest assured that there’s plenty of other genre influence at play there. All of the boys who belong to the Ouran Host Club might seem like tropey roles for the benefit of girls who visit, but when hosting duties are done, their personalities shine.
There’s also plenty of comedy and social commentary around the battle between upperclassmen and underclassmen and the clash between their two very different worlds.
Ouran High School Host Club is an anime that isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself. It’s a romantic comedy with so much more, and while your partner will be enjoying themselves with all of the burgeoning romance, you’ll have enough to keep you interested!
Never before have I watched an anime so utterly compelling. Sure, romance isn’t my favorite genre. But honestly? Toradora! is a winner. Not many rom-coms ever have me in such rapt attention that I binge the whole show in one sitting, but that’s exactly what I did with Toradora!
Ryuji Takasu is a kind, gentle high schooler who happens to look very intimidating and is often labeled as dangerous or delinquent as a result. Taiga Aisaka is small and a ball of utter fury. These two come from different walks of life, but fate keeps throwing them together as neighbors and classmates.
So what does this anime have to offer other than some simple high school romance? First, there’s nothing simple about it. Everyone, from the main characters to their parents and friends, are flawed. They’re all just people fumbling around and making mistakes. But they are honest mistakes, ones driven by real hopes, dreams and longstanding fears—reminders that we’re all human.
The comedy turns serious as a slice of life in a high school setting becomes a story about growing up, growing wiser and falling in love.
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