Ah, high school—a place where budding hormones float through the air, as we all navigate our way through adolescence. Seeing as high school is where most people experience their first love or crush, it’s the perfect backdrop for anime love stories.
Those of us who watch high school romance anime likely do so for the same reason, to experience moments of nostalgia that remind us of our first experiences with love. The romance anime on this list will surely do just that and are guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings.
1. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is honest and thought-provoking, things that all anime about death should strive to be. This anime film follows a quiet male protagonist whose name isn’t revealed until the end of the film. As a self-proclaimed social recluse, he tries to shut himself out from the rest of the world as he attends his classes.
One day he finds a diary titled “living with dying,” on the floor of a hospital waiting room. Upon picking it up, he meets Sakura, a girl in his class who has a chronic pancreatic disease. Afraid that her friends will treat her differently, she confides the secret of her illness to him and only him.
While films about dying girls are becoming rather cliche, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas still manages to be both heartfelt and heart wrenching.
While films about dying girls are becoming rather cliche, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas still manages to be both heartfelt and heart wrenching. Sakura isn’t perfect, and her actions reflect someone who is lost and scared, yet trying to put on a brave face and keep herself together.
The film isn’t without its faults. The ending is a bit rushed and poorly executed. However, I was surprised by how real and tangible the characters were, despite the cliche plot. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is reminiscent of both Your Lie in April and Nicolas Sparks’ A Walk to Remember. If you want a good cry, give this film a go.
- Genres: drama, romance, tragedy
- Available on: Blu-ray
Many high school romance titles employ common tropes or similar formulas, but ReLife uniquely approaches the genre. Elements of science fiction, slice-of-life, and romance combine to create this polished and fast-paced adventure.
The anime follows Kaizaki, a 27-year-old part-timer at a convenience store who was bullied out of his previous job after standing up for a female coworker. Embarrassed by his current situation, he lies to his friends and parents and fails at getting a new job.
Since he is technically 10 years older than his classmates, falling in love is out of the question.
One day, Kaizaki is approached by a businessman who offers to refer him to a list of well-established companies. However, he first has to prove his worth by participating in the ReLife experiment and relive one year of high school. To do this, he’s given an experimental drug that reverts his body to its 17-year-old state. Throughout the experiment, he must do well in his studies, help the people around him, and realize his self-worth.
Since he is technically 10 years older than his classmates, falling in love is out of the question. More importantly, after the year is over he will be wiped from his classmates’ memories. This turns out to be a bit heartbreaking, as Kaizaki finds himself forming strong bonds with his classmates, including a socially inept girl named Hishiro, who he vows to help make friends.
If you’re a sucker for stories about blind love and enjoy powerful female leads, then Toradora is the perfect anime for you. Silly moments and a great sense of humor are part of its charm, but it still has heartfelt scenes that will hit you right in the feels.
Toradora follows Takasu and Taiga, two classmates who happen to live in adjacent apartments. The two meet when Taiga accidentally puts a love letter meant for Takasu’s best friend in Takasu’s bag. Coincidentally, Takasu also has a crush on Taiga’s best friend. Thus, the two embark on a quest to help each other pursue their love interests. Little do they know that throughout their adventures, they will create a bond stronger than any high school crush could hope to match.
4. Clannad: After Story
Clannad: After Story follows Tomoya and Nagisa as they journey into the perils of adulthood. Technically the second season of the anime, After Story was included because of its down-to-earth plot and mature themes that are rarely seen in anime.
While Clannad is a great anime on its own, Clannad: After Story is where things get interesting. After Story features real problems that most couples will eventually face. Challenges such as finding work to support your family, coping with loss, and forgiving neglectful parents. Moreover, the story is deep. It’s not often we get to see a couple go from high school to marriage and then onto having children.
That’s not all, though. A small sci-fi twist that you’ll never see coming brings the anime to a perfect close. If you want to have a good cry, turn on After Story and have a box of tissues ready.
With elements of time travel, love, and parallel worlds, Orange is one of the most heartwarming high school romance anime I’ve ever seen. Based on a manga of the same name, Orange has gained enough positive reviews to warrant a live-action feature film.
The anime follows high school student Naho Takamiya, and her quest to prevent the suicide of one of her closest friends. One day, she receives a letter from someone claiming to be herself 10 years in the future. Similar to 13 Reasons Why or the visual novel Root Letter, each letter explains the different reasons behind her friend’s suicide and advice on how to prevent it.
Filled with heartbreak, real-world struggles, and mature themes, Orange will keep you engaged throughout all 13 episodes.
Genres: drama, romance, sci-fi/fantasy
While all of the above titles are high school romance anime, they all approach the genre with unique and fresh ideas. If you are looking for an anime that will make you laugh, make you cry, or make you believe in love again, one of these anime are sure to do the trick.