Manga and anime have been at the forefront of romance fiction for decades. But figuring out where to start in a genre that might not always have been your first choice is a big step. We’re here to help you get started in the world of romance manga with a selection of classics, cult favorites, and contemporary hits. There’s something here for every type of reader, whether you’re looking for comedy, action, fantasy, or even romantic crime stories. So get ready to get romantic!
Top 10 Love Manga
Also check out our guide to the best love animes for even more entertainment.
10. Rose of Versailles
While this is more of a historical story containing multiple romances than a classic love story, it is visually and sonically one of the most romantic manga ever made. The series begins in pre-Revolution France and follows a fictionalized version of Marie Antoinette and a commander in her guard, Oscar François de Jarjayes. This groundbreaking shojo manga became an industry breakthrough due to its complex narrative centered around politics and sexuality. Creator Riyoko Ikeda is nothing short of a manga legend, and Rose of Versailles is a masterpiece that’s a great entry point for those who want more romantic manga in their lives.
9. My androgynous friend
Some of the best manga ever made feature people making manga for a living. My Androgynous Boyfriend continues this tradition as its protagonist Wako is a manga editor. While she struggles with her day job as a publisher, her glamorous boyfriend Meguru does what he does best: look beautiful online and gain even more followers. See, Meguru is an androgynous fashion influencer who loves nothing more than putting on makeup and looking cute for Wako. This humorous slice-of-life romance celebrates their radical relationship while having lots of fun. Also, Wako and Meguru are a couple you always support.
8. Catch Those Hands!
Ever wanted to read a romance about adult rowdy delinquents? Then catch those hands! got you covered. Takebe has left her violent criminal days behind. Although she used to be the easy winner in every fight, she now takes it easy. At least, that’s her plan until one of her old rivals, “Bloody Cardigan” Soramori, shows up in her life. But she doesn’t just want to fight with Takebe. Instead, she wants to date her! This hilarious and cute manga by Murata is only a few volumes old but has already established the early days of a romance that could easily become a new favorite for readers of the genre, especially those who had wasted youth!
7. Restart after returning home
This beautiful gay love story by Cocomi inspired a hit live-action film just a year after its release. Mitsuomi Kozaka is far from happy about having to return to his country home after losing his job in the big city. It’s a huge change, but when he meets Kumai Yamato, a neighbor’s adopted son, he realizes that returning home might not have been the worst thing in the world. This charming, sweet tale is the kind of life story that infuses instant nostalgia and warmth. As the two become friends, they grow closer and begin to open up to each other. They embark on an unexpected journey that will change their lives for the better.
6. A token of affection
Another recent romance that has taken manga fandom by storm is A Sign of Affection. This sweet love story between Yuki, a deaf girl, and Itsuomi, a hearing boy, is a skillful and innovative manga that makes the most of its visual format. After a sweet chance meeting, Yuki and Itsuomi begin a budding friendship that could become so much more. But there’s a problem: Itsumi doesn’t speak sign language. Suu Morishita creates something truly surprising and delightful here that will likely become an icon in the field of manga romance for years to come.
5. Skip beat!
You can’t write about romance manga and not include Skip Beat! This popular rom-com by Yoshiki Nakamura revolves around a young girl, Kyoko, whose childhood friend, Sho, becomes a famous celebrity in Japan. The couple lives together, but Sho is conceited and cruel, eventually leading to Kyoko vowing revenge by becoming a bigger star than Sho. We follow Kyoko’s journey to fame and fortune as she tries to find her footing and exact revenge. Of course, love is in the air when she meets a cranky actor named Ren. But will the two ever get over the anguish of their romantic past? You must read Skip Beat! find out.
4. The Demon Prince of House Momochi
What would you do if you inherited a famously haunted but beautiful home? When exactly that happens to Himari Momochi, she feels like she has no choice but to move in. Shockingly, the legends are true and the house acts as a gateway between this world and the spirit realm. As if that wasn’t weird enough, when she arrives at her new home, it’s already inhabited by some supernatural beings. One of them is a “beautiful demon guardian” and suddenly Himari’s whole life is turned upside down in this enchanting and fantastical story by Aya Shouoto.
Inuyasha is the first of two Rumiko Takahasi entries on our list, and arguably her most famous creation. While this is definitely a fantasy action story at first, it focuses on a hilarious romance that has become one of the genre’s defining stories. When Kagome is drawn into a well in her grandparents’ Shinto shrine by a strange monster, she finds herself transported back to the Sengoku period. She soon encounters the half-dog, half-demon known as Inuyasha. Thanks to one of her ancestors, Kagome possesses strange magical powers and the ability to control Inuyasha with a special necklace and the “sit boy” command. Together, the bickering couple must search for a series of artifacts closely tied to their entangled history in one of the greatest manga stories of all time. It’s also a great anime series worth checking out.
2. Sweat & Soap
One of the biggest rom-com hits of recent years, Kintetsu Yamada’s Sweat & Soap has a unique concept. In the center is Asako. Working at Lilla Drop, a famous perfume company, is almost too good to be true. Not only does she love her products, but her soap is key to getting rid of body odor, which she is very sensitive to. So when the company’s sexy boss starts talking about the smell he just can’t get enough of… he couldn’t be talking about Asako’s sweat, could he? And what would that mean for a woman who’s always been ashamed of it? This delightfully dirty office romance feels both radical and exciting as it explores a blossoming romance amid the worlds of perfume, scents and perspiration, subjects most of us don’t talk about.
1. Maison Ikkoku
Rumiko Takahashi is here twice for a reason. She is one of the most prolific and great mangakas alive and has created many popular manga that also contain radical romances. Her most classic love story is this cheeky slice of life about a young widow, Kyoko, who becomes a manager at a boarding house. Once there, she finds herself surrounded by a motley group of neighbors, including a young student, Godai, who falls in love with her almost immediately. Across the 15 volumes of this beautifully illustrated series, the two struggle with fear, awkwardness and very nosy neighbors as they try to figure out if they should be more than just friends.
Rosie Knight is an Eisner-awarded journalist, author, and comics writer. She is co-host Crooked Media’s X-Ray Vision Podcastto pop culture from superhero films to prestige television to the best fantasy novels and of course comics.
Check out her related work best junji ito manga and the Best sad anime any times.