It's Valentine's Day soon, so what better way to celebrate than by watching cartoon characters fall in love?

There's a wealth of romance series out there, so this will only provide a brief snapshot of what's on offer. Feel free to post your own recommendations in the comments.

The World is Still Beautiful

Imagine you're a princess, and then one day in order to maintain your kingdom's autonomy you have to marry a terrifying monster of a king. Except it turns he's still a bratty kid. That's the world Princess Nike is thrown into when King Livius comes after the Principality of Rain. The two are initially at odds, but as the series progresses a strong bond develops between the two.

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It's a nice fantasy romance series, with a strong female lead, so great if you're looking for something not set in high school. Just remember, singing can solve anything.

There are some questionable issues with the series, like Livius' age, and the time he threatens to raze her country to the ground, so it might not be for everyone.

The series can currently be found streaming on Crunchyroll.


His & Her Circumstances (Kare Kano)


If you're a slightly older anime fan, this was the romance anime back in the day.

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Yukino and Soichiro are model students at the top of their class, but are both hiding secrets. Yukino is actually a lazy slob, but her competitive spirit drives her to be perfect at school. Soichiro strives for perfection so that he won't be abandoned again, like his parents did.

The rivalry between the two turns into love, and together they both try to break down the facades they've built up. Along the way you also get to see the budding relationships between their friends.

Just watch out for the latter part of the series, because by then creative differences with the original creator and budget issues have basically made the show collapse. One episode resorts to using drawings attached to sticks instead of animation, and by the final episode it's pretty much just still drawings with speech bubbles.


Honey & Clover


Honey & Clover is a story of 5 university friends trying to work out what to do with their lives, and who they want to spend it with. This series will resonate most with those who are in the same transitional period of their lives.

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Unlike most of the other series on here, there aren't straightforward and happy romances, and unrequited love abounds. You'll also never look at the game of Twister again in quite the same way.


REC

REC is a short romance series from Shaft, back in the days before they went all headtilty.

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After her flat burns down, aspiring voice actress Aka ends up living with salaryman Fumihiko, and the two struggle over what exactly their relationship with each other is. Their work ends up intersecting when she lands the role of the new mascot for the snack company he works at.

Aka idolises Audrey Hepburn, which you'll see played out in the opening and the title of each episode.

Unusually for an anime, the main couple sleep together in the first episode.


Aoi Hana (Sweet Blue Flowers)


Yuri series are usually either played for laughs, or as fanservice for male fans, so it's rare to find a serious one like Aoi Hana make it into anime form. It tells the story of childhood friends Fumi (with the glasses) and Akira (with the twintails), who meet again in high school when they find out their schools are just down the road from each other.

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Despite what the promotional art might suggest, the anime version doesn't really cover the relationship between these two characters, instead focussing mainly on Fumi coming to grips with her sexuality. It's only by the end of the series that we see there might be something between the two of them, but given poor sales, we'll never see the conclusion in anime form.

If you want a grounded, realistic romance series you're not going to do much better.


Welcome to the NHK


Bet you weren't expecting to see this come up in a romance article! Despite being a dark comedy about dealing with crippling social anxiety, it's also a love story, just one between the two most dysfunctional people on the planet.

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Nothing says romantic comedy like falling for pyramid schemes and offline meets for suicide chat rooms.


Chihayafuru


This is an epic tale of love between a teenage girl and a traditional Japanese poetry card game. Oh, and there might be guys vying for her attention too, but who has time for them?