So, let’s have a generic post about anime series you can munch to recapture the doki doki you had last Valentine’s.
The Valentine’s Day may be over and all but you can always catch these shows if you are up for heartwarming shoujo (and josei) flicks.
Akagami no Shirayuki-hime
Summary: “In the kingdom of Tanbarun lives Shirayuki, an independent and strong-willed young woman. Her resourceful intelligence has led her become a skilled pharmacist, but her most defining trait is her shock of beautiful apple-red hair. Her dazzling mane gets her noticed by the prince of the kingdom, but instead of romancing her, he demands she be his concubine. Shirayuki refuses, chops off her lovely locks, and runs away to the neighboring kingdom of Clarines. There, she befriends a young man named Zen, who, SURPRISE, is also a prince, although with a much better temperament than the previous one. Watch as Shirayuki finds her place in the new kingdom, and in Zen’s heart.” – Funimation
Samui’s Take: I daresay Shirayuki-hime is the quintessential shoujo flick for the past two years (Sorry Oremonogatari) because of the engaging cast and its refreshing spin on cliched shoujo tropes. Rare in anime are romantic leads with equal footing with each other and a heroine who isn’t unsure about her resolve (or her feelings) to her sparkly partner. Shirayuki is a damn fine female lead because she resembles a strong woman without removing her femininity. Zen might err towards your generic handsome character but his comrades (Obi, being the most interesting among them all) are more than enough to compensate this major weakness.
Also, I died multiple times due to spazzing whenever our leads were caught up to some dramatic flairs. Probably you have seen these moments before but Shirayuki-hime’s strength lies with the chemistry among its characters.
Itazura na Kiss
Summary: “A high school girl named Kotoko Aihara finally tells a fellow senior named Naoki that she has loved him from afar since she saw him on their first day of high school. However, Naoki, a hottie “super-ikemen” (handsome male) who is smart and good at sports, rejects her offhand.” – Wikipedia
Samui’s Take: Well, Itazura na Kiss is a slow burner. It took me a while to like this series because Kotoko and Irie are darn unlikable in the beginning. However, something happened near in the middle of this series and their chemistry just became fun to watch. Either Irie is a tsundere, or Kotoko is such a persistent suitor that she made the coldest man on Earth fall for her. The preppy presentation also made Itazura na Kiss an aberrant as against your slow paced shoujo flicks. Lastly, this and only CLANNAD had the guts to present what happens to high school couple if the anime extended this to college, and beyond.
White Album 2
Summary: “The story centers around a college junior named Haruki Kitahara and his relationships with Setsuna Ogiso and Kazuki Touma in the light music club.” – uncredited.
Samui’s Take: On the other side of the spectrum that is near School Days, there lies an organic but equally brutal series in the name of White Album 2. Do not be fooled with the bland summary because bland is the last thing you can say with White Album 2. Full with potent romantic moments and some good NTR towards the end, prepare to squeak and bleed your hearts out as these stupid teens fail to convey their feelings towards each other. Lastly, music is the core of this series – so bail out now from Fuuka and watch this instead!
Honey and Clover
Summary: “Yūta Takemoto, Takumi Mayama and Shinobu Morita are three young men who live in the same apartment complex and are students at an art college in Tokyo. One day, they are introduced to Hagumi Hanamoto, the daughter of a cousin of Shūji Hanamoto, an art professor, who has come to live with Hanamoto and has become a first year art student at the art school that everyone attends. Yuta and Shinobu both fall in love with Hagu, but Yuta hides his feelings and tries to be a friend to Hagu while Shinobu expresses his love in ways that seem only to scare Hagu, such as calling her “Mousey” and constantly photographing her. Hagu herself, though initially timid and afraid of company, gradually warms up to the three.” – Wikipedia
Samui’s Take: My most favorite in this list, Honey and Clover boasted a complex relationship web but still maintained a good mix of comedy and drama. I just do not recommend this series for couples because damn, this might be the ultimate series for brokenhearted teens and young adults trying to find themselves in the busy (and cold) world of adults. Do you want to re-experience those days when you chased someone who has no interest with you beyond friends? Or someone taken a liking on you but cannot reciprocate back? Go and marathon this series! Honey and Clover is also full of introspective moments Sangatsu no Lion is great at, but also pulls comedic punches the latter series failed to do in its run time.
Kimi ni Todoke
Summary: “Sawako Kuronuma – dubbed Sadako by her classmates for her resemblance to the character from The Ring – has always been feared and misunderstood because of her appearance; rumors around school report that she can see ghosts and curse people. However, despite her ominous appearance, she is actually a sweet and timid girl who only longs to be able to make friends and be liked by everyone else. When her idol, the popular boy Kazehaya, begins talking with her, everything changes. She finds herself in a new world, making new friends and talking to different people, and she can’t thank Kazehaya enough for giving her these opportunities. Slowly, but surely, a sweet love blossoms between the two as they overcome circumstances and obstacles that stand in their way.” – Wikipedia
Samui’s Take: Chances are you have already seen this warmhearted shoujo flick, and probably you have swooned to the moon whenever it pulls those doki-doki scenes out from a list of shoujo cliches. Hell be damned because Kimi ni Todoke deserves to be called the most known shoujo series of the 2010s because it hits all the right notes for romance-centric shows. Misunderstanding as the main conflict? Check. Emotionally powerful confessions? Check. And a good antagonist in the name of Umi wraps the deal with this series. Be patient with the frustratingly slow second season though.
Summary: “Oreki Houtarou is a minimalistic high school boy. One day, he joins the Classic Literature Club at his elder sister’s request. There he meets Chitanda Eru, Fukube Satoshi, and Ibara Mayaka. Chitanda is a calm beautiful girl but she turns into an embodiment of curiosity once she says, “I’m interested in it (Watashi, Kininarimasu)”. Fukube is a smiling boy with a fantastic memory who calls himself a database. Ibara is a short girl and is strict with others and herself. She loves Fukube, but he always dodges her approaches. They begin to investigate a case that occurred 45 years ago. Hints of the mystery are buried in an old collection of works of the former members of Classics Club. The collection is titled Hyouka.” – MyAnimeList
Samui’s Take: A slow burning love story with great payoff towards the end, it is fun to see how Oreki changed and showed interest with Chitanda through the course of this series. Hyouka is the least romantic in this list but the highest moments are just as potent as your regular shoujo. Perhaps the marvelous execution of the mundane elevates this show to sheer excellent, making Hyouka the most visually arresting Kyoto Animations show to date.
Summary: “Ryuuji Takasu is a gentle high school student with a love for housework; but in contrast to his kind nature, he has an intimidating face that often gets him labeled as a delinquent. On the other hand is Taiga Aisaka, a small, doll-like student, who is anything but a cute and fragile girl.” – MyAnimeList
Samui’s Take: People now may be ambivalent with an Okada show but she also had some gems among her mixed bag of work. Toradora is basically an Okada adaptation that restrained her penchant for bad melodrama and dialed the lol-meter for maximum fun. This is the only harem show (OreGairu is not counted) that I love because on how Ryuuji’s character was written. Toradora also boasts one of the anime’s premier couple and I can say their chemistry is the best as far as high school couples are concerned.
Summary: “Yukari Hayasaka has led a life of boredom, until a group of students, Miwako Sakurada, Arashi Nagase and Isabella Yamamoto, from Yazawa School for the Arts discover her. They want her to be their model in the school fashion show, but Yukari outright refuses. Their leader George Koizumi, has set his sights on her after seeing her school photo, and will not take no for an answer.” – Wikipedia
Samui’s Take: Do you think Nana is way too long? Watch this series instead. Paradise Kiss flirts the young adult demographic as it deals with topics not normally seen with romance in anime. Perhaps the characters can leave you out a little cold, but that’s not the main essence of Paradise Kiss. It tries to tell us not all love stories have to end gleefully to be good, and you can use a little more of realism to amplify the impact of the plot.
PS: Paradise Kiss is also the most fashionable show in this list. From avant-garde to street chick, the series never fails to deliver visually enthralling dresses.
Nisekoi (only the first season)
Summary: “As a child, Raku Ichijo made a secret promise with his childhood sweetheart, keeping a pendant as a memento while his love took the key. He dreams of one day meeting his past love, but years later, reality smashes his hopes when Chitoge Kirisaki accidentally knees him in the face. Though Raku’s a normal high schooler, his family heads the notorious yakuza gang the Shuei-Gumi faction! And he’s dragged into family affairs when he’s forced into a relationship with Chitoge, the daughter of a rival gang’s boss!” – VizMedia
Samui’s Take: Yeah – this is a show that screams anime and delivers light punches in terms of romance (it made Toradora look CLANNAD) but hey, you can never go wrong with a shallow show once in a while. A lesser serious take on Romeo and Juliet is what I want in a long time and it mostly gave my need to chomp a light series. Perhaps Shinbou saved Nisekoi from being dull, but he can never redeem the second season from being blah.
Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou
Summary: “Thanks to his parents’ job transfer, high school freshman Kazunari Usa finally gets to enjoy living on his own in the Kawai Complex, a boarding house that provides meals for its residents. Ritsu, the senpai he admires, also lives in Kawai Complex, as do a few other “unique” individuals: his masochistic roommate Shirosaki; beautiful, big-breasted Mayumi who has no luck in finding men; and sly, predatory college woman Sayaka. Surrounded by these people, Usa never finds his daily life boring.” – Wikipedia
Samui’s Take: Another slow burning love story, Boku wa Minna Kawaisou is an absolute fun to watch from beginning to end. If neurotic rom-com is your thing, just skip Nisekoi and munch this one for your delight!
Nagi no Asukara
Summary: “Since long ago, human civilization had lived on the ocean floor. However, there were many humans who wanted to live above the surface and they moved to land creating a fundamental separation between the two. After their school closes down, four 14-year-old middle school students from the sea village, Shioshishio, have to attend Mihama Middle School on the surface. What follows is their struggles to adjust to a new environment and the relationships between the sea and land people, while dealing with their own newfound feelings that have just started appearing with the end of their childhood.” – Anime News Network
Samui’s Take: Arguably the best PA Works to date (Sorry, Shirobako is a mixed bag for me), Mari Okada probably used up all of her familiar tropes and amalgamated it to this one heck of a dramatic story. Well, at least there are no character deaths here – but a carefully crafted apocalyptic world and some engaging character moments. Hmmm? I am not that hot with the romance that went successful here. Instead, watch out for Miuna and her dive towards the teenage sized tragedy of unrequited romance.
PS: How about a love nonagon? Good luck building relationship webs in Nagi no Asukara.
Summary: “Tomoya has no interest in school until he meets Nagisa (Mai Nakahara) and, to impress her, he helps reform the drama club.“
Samui’s Take: CLANNAD is another rare anime series where your main characters extend their story beyond high school. More than romance, the series tackles life head-on as time flies in the eyes of Okazaki. Your mileage in this show will vary since the first season has a lot of fillers you might not need if you are just up for the Okazaki couple. By the way, did the two ever.. uhh… kiss in this show? I cannot remember to be honest. Anyway, just prepare for some huge emotional bombardment towards the After Story, because duh, a real man cries over an anime family.
BONUS: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
Summary: “High school student Chiyo Sakura has a crush on schoolmate Umetarō Nozaki, but when she confesses her love to him, he mistakes her for a fan and gives her an autograph. When she says that she always wants to be with him, he invites her to his house and has her help on some drawings. Chiyo discovers that Nozaki is actually a renowned shōjo manga artist named Sakiko Yumeno. She then agrees to be his assistant in order to get closer to him. As they work on his manga Let’s Fall in Love (恋しよっ Koi Shiyo?, Let’s Have a Romance)” – Anime News Network
Samui’s Take: So this show isn’t exactly romantic but is suitable for singles out there who want to poke fun at romantic encounters. Using misunderstanding as the linchpin to create powerful jokes, Nozaki-kun utilized the hell of its 4-koma cast to deliver every gag ever using shoujo tropes. Also, watch out for some delicious shipping wars!