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Top 10 Greatest Anime Romance Movies

VO: Lisa Yang WRITTEN BY: Hannah Collins
Prepare to have ALL the anime feels! For this list, we’ll be choosing the cutest, funniest and most heartfelt films about love from the world of Japanese animation. For a movie to qualify, romance has to be central to its story, not just a subplot. Our list includes “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time,” “Whisper of the Heart,” “Doukyusei,” “Howl’s Moving Castle,” “The Last: Naruto the Movie,” and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Anime Romance Movies.

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Top 10 Anime Romance Movies

Prepare to have ALL the anime feels! Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top ten anime romance movies. For this list, we’ll be choosing the cutest, funniest and most heartfelt films about love from the world of Japanese animation. For a movie to qualify, romance has to be central to its story, not just a subplot.

#10: “The Garden of Words” (2013)

Romances with significant age gaps can be controversial, but this tale of what could have been handles its tricky subject matter with great poignancy. Made by Makoto Shinkai, its centers on the chance meeting of a 15-year-old male student and a 27-year-old female teacher. Both shirk their usual responsibilities of school and work to regularly meet in the same garden, finding comfort in their shared feeling of non-conformity even when they’re separated by almost a decade in age. Despite the film’s title, dialogue is used sparingly, allowing writer/director Makoto Shinkai’s impossibly detailed visuals to do most of the talking, while the character’s subtle expressions and movements speak louder than words ever could.

#9: “The Last: Naruto the Movie” (2014)

We know, we know… a romantic “Naruto” movie?! But, “believe it!” - the 10th entry to the film series, spun off from the show of the same name, is about as lovey-dovey as the shonen genre gets. Picking up two years after the Fourth Great Ninja War, the story sees our spiky-haired hero assist his new beau, Hinata, to rescue her little sister who is mistakenly kidnapped instead of her. For old fans, the film is a sweet and satisfying pay-off to finally see Naruto return Hinata’s long-held feelings for him. And risking it all for love despite the loss of your most powerful ability is as grand a romantic gesture as it gets.

#8: “Hotarubi no Mori e” (2011)

Romance and the supernatural often go hand-in-hand. This film, whose title translates to “Into the Forest of Fireflies Light,” is about the relationship between a human girl, Hotaru, and Gin, a magical silvered-haired boy adopted by the forest spirits. The pair meet when Hotaru becomes hopelessly lost in the woods that Gin inhabits. After he comes to her aid, they form a bond that he warns her can never be physical, as he will vanish if a human ever touches him. Their relationship remains strong despite this, though as Hotaru gets older, they both realize their romantic feelings for each other, and the distance between them becomes harder and harder to bear.

#7: “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” (2006)

This 2006 film from “Digimon: The Movie” and “Summer Wars” director, Mamoru Hosoda effortlessly blends sci-fi, coming-of-age drama and the clumsiness of first love. The titular “Girl” is high-school student Mokoto, who mysteriously gains the ability leap through time… quite literally: While some would use this ability for good or evil, Mokoto simply uses it to fix every little problem in her life, including an unwanted confession of love from one of her best friends: Chiaki. She soon discovers that her time leaps are actually limited, and - more shockingly - that Chiaki knows more than he’s been letting on. The question then becomes: will she acknowledge her own feelings for him before it’s too late?

#6: “5 Centimeters per Second” (2007)

Makoto Shinkai wrote, directed, and produced this ambitious 2007 film. It’s a story told in three parts: “Cherry Blossom,” “Cosmonaut,” and “5 Centimeters per Second,” starting in the ‘90s and moving through to the then-present day. Our main protagonist is Takaki, a boy who moves around a lot because of his parents’ work lives. When he befriends a girl named Akari, they become pen pals after life pulls them in different directions, a long-distance relationship that becomes strained as they grow older. But even as they fall into relationships with other people, neither can completely forget the special bond they developed as teenagers. Critics impressed by the movie hailed Shinkai as “the next Miyazaki.”

#5: “Whisper of the Heart” (1995)

Did someone say Miyazaki? The Studio Ghibli legend’s films are always infused with romance, and “Whisper Of The Heart” is one of the more underrated. At the start, we’re introduced to 14-year-old book worm, Shizuku who is irritated to learn that all of her favorite library books were checked out by the same person - a boy named Seiji. She finds him just as irritating when she meets him, but this eventually gives way to feelings of affection. Seiji’s ambition of becoming a violin-maker makes Shizuku realize she has no ambitions of her own, inspiring her to write her own books.

#4: “Doukyusei” (2016)

This classic “opposites attract” love story originally began life as a popular 2006 manga by Asumiko Nakamura, with the well-received anime adaptation coming a decade later. Sajou is a straight-laced honor student while Kusakabe is an outgoing musician - and popular with the ladies. However, to Sajou’s surprise, he only has eyes for him! Together, they navigate societal stigma and their own growing pains. Boys Love stories can feature problematic themes, but “Doukyusei” is a shining example of what the genre can do positively: offering a subtle and grounded depiction of awkward, angsty, and passionate teen love that is both universal and distinctly queer at the same time.

#3: “The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl” (2017)

Masaaki Yuasa, of “The Tatami Galaxy” fame, applies his unique animation style to this unconventional rom-com. Contrary to the title, the story unfolds over one, long and boozy night, following a female university student known only as “Otome” as she parties her way through the streets of Kyoto, which are peppered by a cast of peculiar and not-quite-human characters. Along the way, she keeps running into her “senpai,” meetings which aren’t exactly by chance, as he longs to admit his feelings for her. The problem is, he just can’t pin her down to tell her. It’s a colorful, psychedelic journey that has been described as “Lewis Carroll” meets “Ulysses.” Perfect for those with alternative tastes.

#2: “Howl’s Moving Castle” (2004)

He’s a beautiful and selfish wizard, and she’s a kind-hearted shop girl with an old soul. After a chance encounter brings Howl and Sophie together, magic forces them to stay together, as Sophie is cursed with an ageing spell by a jealous ex-lover of Howl’s. She finds herself playing housekeeper in the rebellious mage’s mobile home, where she learns that underneath his vanity and pride, he’s a scared and lonely boy. In turn, he begins to fall in love with her inner beauty, even as he becomes more and more monstrous on the outside. “Howl’s Moving Castle” is a perfect modern fairy story, and has become one of Studio Ghibli’s most beloved films.

#1: “Your Name” (2016)

Makoto Shinkai cemented his status in the world of anime in 2016 with “Your Name,” and currently the highest grossing anime feature ever. Two complete strangers - a girl living in a rural town - and a boy living in the city - become connected when they keep waking up in each other’s bodies. Once they get over the initial shock, they communicate with one another through notes and try to fix each other’s problems. Eventually, they decide to try and meet properly, but forces out of their control may make that an impossibility. It’s a love story truly unlike any other, as we watch and hope that the red string of fate will eventually bring these two together.

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