The era of Fruits Basket is finally over, with its series finale recently airing on Crunchyroll and Funimation. The original anime was released in 2001, but it only ran one season. TMS Entertainment launched a reboot in 2019, which ran for three seasons before concluding in late June 2021.
Fruits Basket is a cult favorite among fans of romance anime with its compelling storyline, serious character development, and a truly heartwarming plot. Now that it's over, fans may be left hanging for their romance anime fill. Not to worry -- there's plenty of similar anime to Fruits Basket that can fill the void.
A newer anime from the Spring 2021 lineup, Koikimo tracks the growing relationship between Ichika, a high school girl, and Ryo, her best friend's older brother who works as a salaryman. Similar to a few other romance series, Koikimo is about a relationship with an age gap (10 years), but while it might not be comfortable for every viewer to watch, the subject matter is handled with tact and respect.
Ryo is saved by Ichika one fateful afternoon, and he becomes absolutely smitten. Meanwhile, Ichika initially wants absolutely nothing to do with Ryo, considering it's her best friend's brother. But Rio, her best friend, actually supports their budding relationship. It's a push-and-pull kind of romance, with Ryo constantly vying for Ichika's attention and love. But it's an endearingly gradual hatred-turned-love, not so dissimilar to the way Kyo in Fruits Basket reluctantly comes to terms with his feelings for Tohru.
Blue Spring Ride
Closer to the Fruits Basket vibe, Blue Spring Ride is a high-school romance anime as wholesome as it is emotional. Futaba, a teenage girl who feels her life is uninteresting, runs into her old childhood love, Kou, at their high school. But Kou is a completely different person from when he was a kid -- now he's cold, uninterested, and standoffish. Futaba finds out this change in his character is due to his mother's passing in his childhood.
Over time, she helps Kou process his grief as friends and slowly starts to fall back in love with him. Blue Spring Ride is a story about positive change and growing from trauma, just like Fruits Basket. It uses bonding and friendship as anchors for a developing romantic relationship and really focuses on the emotions, not just the payoff.
Sing "Yesterday" For Me
Sing "Yesterday" For Me takes a more adult approach to romance, following two sets of relationships that weave between one another. The protagonist Rikuo has resigned himself to a bleak and uninteresting life when his routine is disrupted by a younger girl named Haru who comes to visit him at work. Simultaneously, Rikuo struggles with his feelings for an old college friend and crush, Shinako.
Unfortunately for Rikuo, Shinako is facing her own emotional obstacles in getting over a former boyfriend who's passed away. That boyfriend's younger brother, Rō, is smitten with Shinako as well. It's a tangled mess of emotions between the four characters, but a very mature look at how complicated human relationships can actually be.
The anime focuses on how love fully takes over a person and how it can change so much, even from a minute action by the right person. Though the premise may seem complicated, Sing "Yesterday" For Me pulls it off with grace and balances both relationships out perfectly.
Though it has more of a sci-fi twist, Orange is an extremely compelling romance anime. It follows Naho, a high-school student who starts to receive letters from her future self, warning her about a new transfer student named Kakeru. After a few of the letters' predictions come true, Naho begins to take more stock in them. Gradually, because of the letters and her own piqued interest, she grows closer to Kakeru and starts to hang out with him both inside and outside her friend group. Without giving too much away, Orange really balances the romantic aspect with the mystery of the letters quite well.
Kakeru and Naho's relationship development is slow but incredibly meaningful, and so much more than a typical high school romance. Orange is one of those anime that will stay in viewers' minds forever due to its memorable relationships and unique story. While it may be a far cry from Fruits Basket, fans will have their romance appetite fully satiated with this one.