Highlights

  • 2023 was a great year for romance anime, offering a variety of love stories for fans to enjoy.
  • Quantity and quality were both present, with some standout shows that will be remembered in the long run.
  • Fans can catch up on 2023 romance anime before diving into the new offerings of Spring 2024.



In 2023, romance anime was in vogue. Each season produced a couple of love stories, many of which were among the quarter’s best series. Even the weakest of the bunch, Fall 2023, delivered the cute Our Dating Story along with one of the more ridiculous entries in the genre in a long time. It was a good year to be a fan of romance, regardless of demographic.

Along with quality, 2023 also produced quantity, especially during Spring 2023. Naturally, some shows are better than others, and it is these series that will likely be remembered in the long run. Which are the best 2023 romance anime?

Updated April 3, 2024: With the Spring 2024 season getting underway, anime fans have plenty of new romance anime to sink their teeth into. However, if they are tired of waiting for episodes to drop, they can check out some 2023 romance anime they had previously skipped.

Here are the main criteria for this discussion:

  • To qualify, an anime must have started in 2023. Sequels are fine, provided the season launched this year.
  • Only TV shows. No movies.
  • Each anime’s MyAnimeList score is included as a reference, but this metric is not the ranking’s sole determining factor.
  • While a show’s overall quality matters, the romance is the primary focus.



8 Sugar Apple Fairy Tale

MyAnimeList: 7.45 (Season 1)

Sugar Apple Fairy Tale
Release Date
January 6, 2023

Studio
J.C.Staff

Based On
Light Novel

Creator
Miri Mikawa

This spot was a toss-up between Sugar Apple Fairy Tale and Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts, two shojo anime that blend fantasy and romance well. Neither series garnered a lot of attention during 2023, but they were both consistently enjoyable and told complete stories thanks to lasting for two cours. Ultimately, Sugar Apple Fairy Tale received the nod for this discussion, but it could have easily gone the other way.

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Following in her mother’s footsteps, Ann sets out on a journey to become a Silver Sugar Master. As protection, she hires a warrior fairy named Shall Fen Shall, with the promise of freeing him once their trip comes to an end. Sugar Apple Fairy Tale takes place in a fantasy universe where humans treat fairies as essentially slaves, a situation Ann naturally opposes.


Throughout the two seasons, Ann and Shall’s relationship slowly blossoms from general dislike to proper affection, with both characters growing in the meantime. Sugar Apple Fairy Tale does not emphasize romance too heavily at first, but it becomes a central focus during the second half of the series.

7 My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999

MyAnimeList: 7.81

My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999
Japanese Title
Yamada-kun to Lv999 no Koi wo Suru

Release Date
April 2, 2023

Studio
Madhouse

Based On
Manga

Creator
Mashiro

My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999 is cute. After a particularly bad breakup, Akane heads to a game convention in the hopes of getting revenge on her ex-gamer boyfriend. However, she ends up making a fool of herself and also meeting Akito Yamada, a well-known pro player. Awkward first encounter aside, Akane and Akito strike up something of a friendship, and this relationship also causes the former to join a gaming guild and make a few new friends.


Except for one surprisingly dark moment that paints a secondary character in a terrible light, My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999 generally keeps things lighthearted and fluffy, two elements enhanced by Madhouse’s soft visuals. Akane is a well-rounded female lead who is effortlessly charming without coming across as idealized. Meanwhile, Yamada’s social awkwardness is depicted fairly realistically, which adds legitimacy to his slow realization that he is genuinely interested in Akane.

6 The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You

MyAnimeList: 7.80


The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You
Japanese Title
Kimi no Koto ga Daidaidaidaidaisuki na 100-nin no Kanojo

Release Date
October 8, 2023

Studio
Bibury Animation Studios

Based On
Manga

Creator
Rikito Nakamura

The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You almost did not make the cut since it is associated primarily with the comedy and harem genres, but the show is nevertheless all about romance. More importantly, the anime does an admirable job of balancing a plethora of relationships as its protagonist, Rentarou, builds the harem to end all harems.

Unlike most of that genre’s representatives, 100 Girlfriends eliminates the “best girl” argument by simply promoting everyone to that role, and all of Rentarou’s partners are well-defined and granted time to shine. They even build charming friendships with each other. The characters are also very direct in showing their interest, a refreshing change of pace from most traditional romance anime.

That said, 100 Girlfriends‘ humor will be the determining factor in whether the show strikes a chord with a viewer.

5 Tomo-chan Is A Girl!

MyAnimeList: 7.81


Tomo-chan Is a Girl!
Japanese Title
Tomo-chan wa Onnanoko!

Release Date
January 5, 2023

Studio
Lay-duce

Based On
Manga

Creator
Fumita Yanagida

Tomo-chan Is a Girl! is simply entertaining. Tomo has a crush on her best friend, Jun, but their long history makes it difficult for the latter to see the former as a potential partner or initially a girl. To get his attention, Tomo is encouraged by her close friend, Misuzu, to alter her behavior and appearance to emphasize her feminine traits. Unsurprisingly, this project does not quite work as intended and winds up producing plenty of confusion along the way.

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Although entirely driven by romance, Tomo-chan Is a Girl! is first and foremost a comedy, with most episodes prioritizing laughs over everything else. Misuzu and Carol, the anime’s funniest characters, steal nearly every scene they are in, overshadowing Tomo and Jun in the process. Still, when romance takes center stage, the show handles it well, largely thanks to the main couple’s undeniable chemistry. Tomo and Jun are made for each other, and they also make complete sense as a couple.


4 My Happy Marriage

MyAnimeList: 7.77

My Happy Marriage
Japanese Title
Watashi no Shiawase na Kekkon

Release Date
July 5, 2023

Studio
Kinema Citrus

Based On
Novel & Light Novel

Creator
Akumi Agitogi

My Happy Marriage is a mixed bag; however, the core romance between Kyoka and Miyo is generally fantastic. Coming from an abusive household, Miyo is sent to be married to a military noble with a reputation for being distant. Due to suffering years of humiliation, Miyo lacks any self-worth, and she cannot imagine a future where she is allowed to be happy. Kiyoka takes an instant interest in his new wife-to-be, and he proves to be a far kinder person than rumors suggest. As the season progresses, the two characters start to lower their walls, paving the way to a relationship built on mutual respect, trust, and love. It is amazing to behold.


Unfortunately, the rest of My Happy Marriage constantly threatens to fall flat. Miyo’s harrowing home life produces its share of intense moments, but they are somewhat undermined by one-dimensional antagonists who could have benefited from a hint of humanity to make them seem more real. The anime also introduces a supernatural element that does not add much to the overall experience, although this could be improved upon in a sequel.

3 The Dangers In My Heart

MyAnimeList: 8.25


The Dangers In My Heart
Japanese Title
Boku no Kokoro no Yabai Yatsu

Release Date
April 2, 2023

Studio
Shin-Ei Animation

Based On
Manga

Creator
Norio Sakurai

Streaming Service(s)
HIDIVE

Now, this was a pleasant surprise. At a glance, The Dangers in My Heart seems like another one of those “popular girl rescues a lonely boy” romances that are very common in manga and anime. Just to be clear, this concept can be done well, but it also tends to be formulaic and, at times, dull. Although taking a few ingredients from this recipe, The Dangers in My Heart supplements them with well-written characters who undergo impressive development in just 12 episodes.

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An edgy teen who fantasizes about killing his schoolmates, Ichikawa accidentally befriends Yamada when they meet in the library. This encounter starts a wholesome friendship that allows both characters to explore and reveal different dimensions of their personalities, and they come across as real people who are learning to process intense emotions they have never experienced before. Despite their differences, Yamada’s interest in Ichikawa feels earned, particularly towards the end of the Spring 2023 season.

The Dangers in My Heart
‘s Winter 2024 season is so good that it puts the whole show above any other release from last year; however, since this article focuses solely on
2023 romance anime
, the sequel’s content has been ignored.


2 The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten

MyAnimeList: 7.81

The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten
Japanese Title
Otonari no Tenshi-sama ni Itsunomanika Dame Ningen ni Sareteita Ken

Release Date
January 7, 2023

Studio
Project No.9

Based On
Novel & Light Novel

Creator
Saekisan

Another title that suggests a clich√© story, The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten is anything but typical. Although not an outcast, Amane is not among the most popular guys at his school, and he certainly does not move in the same circles as Mahiru, the academy’s resident angel who happens to be his neighbor. One day, Amane sees a seemingly depressed Mahiru sitting in the rain, and he decides to lend her an umbrella. This small act of kindness opens a line of communication between the two, one that leads to friendship and support before romance.


The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten largely consists of Mahiru and Amane talking to each other while sitting on a couch in the latter’s apartment. While not the most visually captivating romance anime of 2023, the show allows its protagonists to exist in each other’s company with almost no distractions, granting them room to breathe as they steadily build a powerful connection. Although slightly dense at times, Amane is a likable male lead who winds up being Mahiru’s “angel” rather than the other way around. Season 2 could be great.

1 Insomniacs After School

MyAnimeList: 8.08


Insomniacs After School
Japanese Title
Kimi wa Houkago Insomnia

Release Date
April 11, 2023

Studio
LIDENFILMS

Based On
Manga

Creator
Makoto Ojiro

Streaming Service(s)
HIDIVE

Although not quite reaching the same heights as Makoto Ojiro’s manga, Insomniacs After School was nevertheless the best romance anime of 2023. Suffering from insomnia in silence, Ganta Nakami feels trapped in a lonely and impenetrable world; however, that changes when he finds Isaki Magari, another insomniac, sleeping in their school’s observatory. As they believe they can only rest while inside this building, they revive the astronomy club, which also allows them to spend more time together.

Moving at a relatively slow pace, Insomniacs After School is grounded in reality, and most of its “big” romantic moments are fairly ordinary in the grand scheme of things. This extends to Ganta and Isaki’s characterization, as they are both relatable and flawed in their own right. In most romance anime, the main couple are usually on a collision course from the start, and they have to get through their share of misunderstandings and contrivances before coming together in the end. In Insomniacs After School, Ganta and Isaki’s love just blooms naturally as they grow more comfortable around each other.


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