One-season romance anime to watch with your partner this Valentine’s Day

A collage of romance anime moments
Graphic: Petrana Radulovic via Polygon | Source Images: Various

What’s more romantic than competitive figure skating, or MMORPGs?

It’s the season of romance — and what better way to spend a cozy evening than binge-watching a romantic anime with your boo?

While long-running series like Fruits Basket or Love is War are absolutely delicious to dig into, they also require a certain level of investment (especially as you grip the edge of your couch on the emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows). Luckily, there are some prime one-season romance anime out there, perfect for one or two evenings of cuddling on the couch.

Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku

A pink haired office woman clutches a dark haired man’s arm, the background all pink and dreamy Image: A-1 Pictures/Prime Video
Gamers deserve love too

Where to watch: Prime Video

One of the best parts of this show is that the couple gets together in the first episode. Two childhood friends reconnect when they find themselves working at the same company. After yaoi-fangirl Narumi laments about how her geeky interests are off-putting to potential suitors, gamer Hirotaka proposes that they should just date, since they’re both otaku. Thus begins a very sweet romance interposed with fun nerd culture quirks, like cosplaying, gaming, and conventions. Narumi and Hirotaka strike up a quick friendship with two of their coworkers — who also happen to be major geeks in a relationship. These two have been dating since high school, though, so the juxtaposition of a new couple and a seasoned one is particularly fun.

The Ice Guy and his Cool Female Colleague

A white-haired man falls asleep on a brunette woman’s shoulder as they ride public transport Image: Zero-G/Crunchyroll
The classic nodding off on public transport

Where to watch: Crunchyroll

Another workplace romance, The Ice Guy and his Cool Female Colleague takes place in a world where mythological Japanese beings live and work alongside humans like it’s no big deal. The titular Ice Guy is smitten with his stoic female co-worker, especially since she doesn’t freak out about his ice powers like most people do. It’s a very slow burn (slow… melt?) romance that builds up the friendship between the two characters. Like Wotakoi, part of the fun is the quirky side characters and their own little romances, especially since many of them are also fantastical creatures!

Recovery of an MMO Junkie

A dark-haired woman looks at two video game characters having an intimate moment on screen Image: Signal.MD/Crunchyroll
We found love in a hopeless place (a MMORPG)

Where to watch: Crunchyroll

Take the basic premise of You’ve Got Mail, but instead of anonymous email penpals, it’s MMORPG guildmates — with some fun gender play as well. Moriko Morioka is a recently out-of-work woman who gets back into MMORPGs, where she plays a dashing male character named Hayashi. She bonds with one of her guildmates, who plays a sweet female character named Lily. The twist is that Lily is actually played by Yuta Sakurai, a businessman who keeps accidentally running into Moriko, before either of them realizes each other’s identities. It’s a sweet romance about connecting in the digital world.

Yuri!!! On Ice

Victor collapsed on top of Yuri Image: Mappa/Crunchyroll

Where to watch: Crunchyroll

This sports anime sure can pack a lot of queer longing in it! Come for the ice skating, stay for the sweet love story between a very anxious professional skater (and winner of our inaugural Who Would Win Week competition) named Yuuri Katsuki and his idol-turned-coach Victor Nikiforov. After fumbling at his last competition, Yuuri decides that he’s going to step away from the professional skating world .. until a friend secretly films one of his routines and it goes viral, attracting the attention of highly acclaimed skater Victor, who’s experiencing a bit of professional burn out on his own. Victor travels to Japan and declares that he will coach Yuri, and the two of them navigate Yuri’s anxiety, the tense world of professional skating, and their own burgeoning feelings.

Skip and Loafer

(L-R) A blonde-haired anime boy (Sosuke), A black-haired anime girl with pigtails and glasses (Makoto), and a brown-haired anime girl (Mitsumi) stare forward at their picture being taken in Skip and Loafer. Image: P.A. Works/Crunchyroll
Baby’s first selfie

Where to watch: Crunchyroll

This sweet high school anime turns the tables a bit on conventional tropes. Usually, it’s the female character who is the super popular/beautiful unattainable one, like in Komi Can’t Communicate. But this time, the female lead, Mitsumi Iwakura is very very average — a bit of a country bumpkin with grand ambitions but no real social skills, considering she comes from a school with eight students in her class. On her first day in her new Tokyo high school, she befriends the super popular, super handsome Sōsuke Shima. They strike up a sweet friendship, with hints of slow burning attraction between the two of them. But it’s the sort of relationship that pushes both parties to be better, and thus very satisfying — even with only one season to go off of!

Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun

A tall young man with dark hair holds his arms out so that his coat covers a small girl with orange hair in order to shield her from the rain. But he’s stacked over her and positioned so that his jacket also covers his head. He looks very serious, she looks vaguely annoyed. Image: Doga Kobo/HIDIVE
Yes, THAT is where this meme image comes from

Where to watch: HIDIVE

Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun hinges on an absolutely hilarious misunderstanding. Cheerful high school student Chiyo Sakura works up the courage to confess to her crush, the stoic Umetarou Nozaki — but he thinks she’s found out his secret identity as a best-selling romance manga author! From there, Sakura gets pulled into Nozaki’s publication drama, helping him ink his ongoing series, while learning about the highs and lows of shoujo manga publishing. She still has a big ol’ crush on him throughout, which is made even more hilarious by all the romantic tropes he keeps performing on purpose in order to help facilitate his writing research.

Ouran High School Host Club

Characters from Ouran High School Host Club — Tamaki, on the right, grips Haruhi by the shoulders. She looks unfazed but is looking back up at him. His expression is intense. Bones Inc.
He’s just really passionate

Where to watch: Crunchyroll, Hulu

A disclaimer about Ouran High School Host Club: Some of the jokes haven’t aged well, but it’s still a laugh-out-loud classic. Haruhi Fujioka is an androgynous scholarship student at the elite Ouran Academy. She accidentally stumbles into the school’s host club, where a group of five rich and good-looking male students, led by the flamboyant and self-absorbed Tamaki Suoh, entertain the school’s female students. Haruhi breaks an expensive vase and in order to repay her debt, she must work as one of the hosts. It takes the whole first episode before the members of the host club realize she’s actually not a guy, but she still poses as one in order to properly entertain the guests. It’s full of wacky hijinks, made even more ridiculous by the school’s absurd affluence. Almost everyone flirts with the levelheaded Haruhi, but it’s Tamaki who tries the most to impress her, which ends up leading to some reality checks for this delusional king.

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