The combination of romance and anime has been a highly appreciated form of art for several decades now. With different animation styles and unique storylines and genres, romance anime movies have become hugely popular and are some of the most acclaimed films in the anime world.
With each anime movie different from the next, the creators get to bring interesting plots to life in brilliant and limitless ways. There are hundreds of romance anime movies out today, and while it is impossible to rank the best films due to varying preferences, here are 10 films that frequently enter the conversation of appreciated romance anime movies of all time. Grab a tissue or two, as some of these are extremely emotional.
A film that took the world by storm, Your Name quickly became the third-highest-grossing anime film of all time and is frequently listed as one of the best anime movies ever. Released in 2016, this visual masterpiece revolves around a young boy and girl, located in separate places in Japan, who begin to switch bodies inexplicably. As they each begin to adjust to inhabiting the other’s body, and later agree to meet in person, unexpected twists and turns manifest, complicating both their lives. The storyline, animation, and musical score all serve to draw the viewer in, and the film received critical acclaim worldwide after its release.
5 Centimeters per Second
An emotional and realistic anime movie, 5 Centimeters per Second deals with the struggles of long-distance relationships. Told through separate moments in time, the story follows a young boy named Takaki Tōno and his relationship with his best friend Akari. Their relationship is put to the test when he moves far away to another city. While they vow to remain in touch, life gets in the way, and they continue to grow further apart. It’s a strong tale about the inevitability of situations we face and how life does not always move in the direction we want. The film was released in 2007 and received critical praise and numerous awards.
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas
Once you can get past the very unusual title, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is a beautiful story that teaches us not to judge a book by its cover. When a schoolboy stumbles on the diary of his fun and popular classmate and discovers she is suffering from a terminal pancreatic illness, the two forge a beautiful friendship as she lives out her final days. The story touches on the harsh and unfair realities of life and sickness, but viewers can attest that even though the movie has a lot of tearjerker moments, it equally offers heartwarming and wholesome scenes. The film is based on a popular novel of the same name.
Howl’s Moving Castle
This classic anime film by Hayao Miyazaki was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. A powerful and moving fantasy with strong anti-war themes, Howl’s Moving Castle is one of the most popular anime films ever — even commanding an ensemble cast of notable Hollywood stars for its English dub. It follows a young girl, Sophie, who a witch turns into an old woman. As she strives to become normal again, she is roped into the wild world of the only one who can help: an excessive wizard named Howl.
Weathering with You
One of the most recent anime movies on the list, Weathering with You was released in 2019 and features some of the best animation in anime so far. The director, Makoto Shinkai, managed to satisfy viewers who were nervous about his follow-up to the aforementioned Your Name. The story follows a high school boy who runs away to Tokyo and forms a friendship with a girl who has the power to manipulate the weather. While this is a classic romance story, Weathering with You takes things a step further with doses of comedy and heavily fleshed-out characters.
A Silent Voice
Another deeply emotional anime movie, A Silent Voice deals with the serious issue of school bullying. When an elementary school bully mercilessly picks on a deaf girl, causing her to transfer out, he is forced to face the demons of his past actions as he reunites with her years later in high school. As he sets out on a journey of redemption, they forge a unique friendship that makes for a very gripping and tear-jerking watch.
The Garden of Words
When a young boy keeps skipping classes to design shoes, he winds up in a garden, comes in contact with a mysterious older woman, and they repeatedly share moments of deep emotion and longing. Centered around discovering a partner with whom to share solitude and loneliness, The Garden of Words is a beautifully written anime movie with realistic characters and moments. The score is also brilliant, as many fans and critics have praised the calm and gentle tone. It is one of the short romance anime movies on the list, with less than a 46-minute runtime.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
In this fantasy drama, a girl uses her newfound power of time travel to her benefit, reliving the same day differently. Much to her surprise, she also affects the lives of others and generates consequences that influence her friendships, relationships, and future. A fun and interesting drama with a fantastic lead character, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a thrilling escape. Be warned though: It leaves the viewers with a unique end, up for numerous interpretations.
Whisper of the Heart
The oldest anime movie on this list, Whisper of the Heart was released in 1995 and received extremely positive reviews. Animated by the acclaimed Studio Ghibli, the musical coming-of-age romantic drama features a beautiful love story. A young girl dreams of becoming a writer and discovers that a mysterious boy has checked out every single library book she has picked out. An inspiring film about chasing dreams, this remains one of the most beloved romance anime movies of all time, and the impressive character development is also very noteworthy.
A simple and wonderfully drawn anime movie, Classmates tells the tale of two boys who are polar opposites. While Hikaru is a carefree boy in a rock band, Rihito is an honor student with perfect grades. As the two forge a unique friendship, they grow extremely close, and a blossoming love story emerges. Fans and critics have praised the subtle yet pleasant storyline and the loveable and relatable characters. It’s a film that never goes over the top, and that is one of its most unique selling points.