Which genre should you start reading manga with or dig deeper? Romance, which has been popular worldwide among fans of movies, TV series and novels, is also the classic and familiar category for manga readers. In manga, the genre of romance divides into several subgenres such as romantic comedy, fantasy romance and harem. Many popular romance manga have been translated into English and various languages and been adapted into anime series recently.
As a perfect genre for both beginners and advanced freaks, romance is still one of the most popular genres in manga. Today, I’d like to introduce 10 best romance manga of all time covering from latest ongoing comic books to the completed classics.
Enjoy the romantic relationships between cute and cool characters!
1. Fruits Basket
For every fan of romance manga, Fruits Basket (フルーツバスケット) is one of the best-selling Japanese shojo manga, classified into romance, drama and fantasy. Written by Natsuki Takaya, it was serialized on a semi-monthly shojo manga magazine Hana to Yume from 1998 to 2006. There are 23 volumes in the manga series of Fruits Basket, followed by a sequel titled Fruits Basket Another, which has 4 volumes published between 2015 and 2020. Fruits Basket was adapted into the first anime series in 2001 and into the three-season second series in 2019-2021.
Fruits Basket tells the story of a female high school protagonist Tohru Honda and her interaction with the Sohma family. She, who lost her father in her childhood and her mother after she entered the high school, gets to stay at her classmate Yuki Sohma’s house. The Sohma family’s 13 members are obsessed with the curse of the animals of the Chinese zodiac and are transformed into them. Fruits Basket depicts the relationships between the characters focusing on Tohru.
Manga artist: Natsuki Takaya
Serialized on Hana to Yume
2. Your Lie in April
Your Lie in April (四月は君の嘘) is one of the most successful romance manga in the 2010s, which is exactly classified into romantic drama. Written by Naoshi Arakawa, the manga artist also known for the sports manga series Farewell, My Dear Cramer, Your Lie in April started on Monthly Shonen Magazine in 2011 and completed with the 11th volume in 2015.
Set in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, Your Lie in April follows a 14-year-old boy Kosei Arima, who used to be known as a genius pianist strictly taught by his mother. He has not been able to hear the piano and has distanced himself from playing the piano since his mother died three years ago. His life is changing at the point he encounters a cheerful same-aged girl Kaori Miyazono. The fantastic violinist tried to take him back to the world of music.
Manga artist: Naoshi Arakawa
Serialized on Monthly Shonen Magazine
3. Ao Haru Ride
For many romance manga fans, Ao Haru Ride (アオハライド) is a great completed manga in modern days, serialized on a Japanese shojo manga magazine Bessatsu Margaret from 2011 to 2015. Written by Io Sakisaka, it comprises 13 volumes. It has been more famous since the romance manga was adapted into the anime series and the live-action film in 2014.
A 16-year-old high school girl Futaba Yoshioka, who is bothered with relationships with female classmates since they are jealous of her popularity among boys. Futaba meets Kou Mabuchi for the first time in three years at the end of her first year of high school. He, her first love, suddenly transferred to another school without notice when they were middler school students. She finds out his family name is changed as well as his personality.
Manga artist: Io Sakisaka
Serialized on Bessatsu Margaret
Horimiya (ホリミヤ) is a popular romance manga, which is also categorized as romantic comedy. It was serialized on Monthly G Fantasy from 2011 to 2021. It is based on its predecessor manga Hori-san to Miyamura-kun made by Hero in 2007-2011, completed with the manga artist Daisuke Hagiwara. There are 16 volumes in the manga series of Horimiya.
Horimiya depicts the ordinary high school life of two main characters Kyoko Hori and Izumi Miyamura. Kyoko, a popular beautiful student as a central part of her class, spends most of her time after school doing things around the house and taking care of her little bother instead of her working parents. One day, a man with characteristic appearance takes her injured brother home. She finds him as Izumim one of her classmates who is gloomy and overshadowed.
Manga artist: Hero (Writer)/Daisuke Hagiwara (Illustrator)
Serialized on Monthly G Fantasy
5. Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku
A unique rom-com manga Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku (ヲタクに恋は難しい) has received positive reviews from lots of female readers who like Otaku culture as well as existing manga fans since its publication started in 2014. Written by Fujita, Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku was serialized on a Japanese online creative community Pixiv and later on an online manga website Comic POOL between 2014 and 2021. Total 11 volumes constitute 60 chapters in the manga series. Its anime adaptation by A-1 Pictures in 2018 elevated its popularity even more.
As the title suggests, Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku has the theme of Otaku, who like pop cultures and subcultures including anime, manga, light novels, video games, idols, etc. It centers on a 26-year-old Fujoshi woman Narumi Momose, who hides the fact that she is an Otaku. She is dumped by her ex-boyfriend for her secret being out but has a reunion with her childhood Otaku friend Hirotaka Nifuji. It depicts the changing relationship between the two Otaku geeks in the modern romance story.
Manga artist: Fujita
Serialized on Pixiv (Formerly)/Comic Pool
▽This Complete Manga Box Set is highly recommended if you want to collect all volumes!▽
Nana is one of the greatest romance manga of all time, serialized on a Japanese shojo manga magazine Cookie since 2000. There are 21 volumes in the incomplete manga series. It has been on hiatus since the author Ai Yazawa started a long recuperation from an acute disease in 2009. The classic romance with the theme of music is also well-known worldwide since it was serialized on Viz Media’s magazine Shojo Beat for readers in North America from 2005 to 2007.
Nana revolves around two girls with the same name: a cool but kind vocalist Nana Osaki and a cheerful and innocent woman Nana Komatsu. The romantic drama story begins when they encounter each other and decide to live together. It follows the members of Nana Osaki’s band Black Stones and her boyfriend Ren Honjo’s band Trapnes.
Manga artist: Ai Yazawa
Published: 2000-2009 (It has not been completed yet.)
Serialized on Cookie
7. Kaguya-sama: Love Is War
A large number of fans of modern manga and anime series have enjoyed Kaguya-sama: Love Is War (かぐや様は告らせたい〜天才たちの恋愛頭脳戦〜) lately, classified into romance, comedy and slice of life. The high-school-themed manga started its serialization on Miracle Jump in 2015 and has been serialized on Weekly Young Jump since 2016, written by Aka Akasaka, who is also known as the writer of Oshi no Ko. Finally, it came to the end with the 28th Tankobon volume in the end of 2022. The popular romance manga has been made into three seasons of the anime adaptation with the latest anime movie The First Kiss That Never Ends by A-1 Pictures since 2019.
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is set in a fictional prestigious high school Shuchiin Academy. Kaguya Shinomiya, the titular heroine and the vice president of the student council, and its president Miyuki Shirogane dominate the rom-com story. They fall in love with each other, but they can’t reveal their honest feelings. The extremely proud girl and boy think they will lose if they express their love to each other. The humorous romance manga presents a variety of psychological games played by them.
Manga artist: Aka Akasaka
Serialized on Miracle Jump (Formerly)/Weekly Young Jump
8. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas
Some top-selling novels are adapted into anime and manga series, and I Want to Eat Your Pancreas (君の膵臓をたべたい) is a successful media mix title. Its original novel written by Yoru Sumino was published in 2015, which was made into a manga adaptation and a live-action film in 2017, and then, an anime movie in 2018. The 2-volume manga is recommended to beginners of Japanese romance manga.
The moving romance and drama story tells the story of two high schoolers: Haruki Shiga and Sakura Yamauchi. Haruki, the narrator and the protagonist, finds a diary titled Living with Dying in a hospital. He is astonished to discover that it belongs to Sakura, his cheerful classmate who can hardly be expected to have a serious disease. According to her diary, she doesn’t have that much time left due to a fatal pancreatic illness.
Manga artist: Izumi Kirihara
Serialized on Monthly Action
As a popular modern romance manga, Orange has been read by many people since its serialization began on Bessatsu Margaret in 2012. Written by Ichigo Takano, the slice-of-life romance manga moved to a different manga magazine Monthly Action from 2014 and was completed with 22 episodes in 2015. Its spin-off part re-started in the following year. Orange was adapted into a live-action lilm in 2015 and an anime series and movie in 2016.
Set in Matsumoto, Nagano, Orange places an emphasis on a second-grade high school girl Naho Takamiya, who makes efforts to change the already-known future with her friends. One day, she receives a letter from the future her 10 years later who feels regretful about the school days. The letter’s prediction that Kakeru Naruse is transferred to the school from Tokyo becomes a reality, which makes her believe that. According to the wishes of her from the future, Naho seeks a way not to regret any passing day with five her friends.
Manga artist: Ichigo Takano
Serialized on Bessatsu Margaret (Formerly)/Monthly Action
Volumes: 5+2 (Spin-off)
10. Strawberry 100%
Strawberry 100% (いちご100%) is a popular romance and comedy manga series read by many boys on Weekly Shonen Jump from 2002 to 2005. 19 volumes of the Strawberry 100% manga were written by Mizuki Kawashita, which was adapted into an anime series by a renowned anime studio Madhouse in 2005. In 2017, Ichigo 100% East Side Story, a sequel to Strawberry 100%, was released on Jump GIGA.
The rom-com manga, mixed with harem, presents the story a third-grade middle school boy Junpei Manaka until he graduates from high school. The story is initiated when he falls in love with a beautiful student at first sight who is later found to be Aya Tojo. In addition to the less-represented heroine, he is forming changing relationships with a popular girl Tsukasa Nishino and an energetic classmate Satsuki Kitaoji.
Manga artist: Mizuki Kawashita
Serialized on Weekly Shonen Jump
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