The Best Romance Anime of 2021 (So Far)

We may only be just over the halfway mark of 2021, but this year has already been filled with some funny and magical romance anime, such as Fruits Basket and My Next Life as a Villainess.

Despite the popularity of those returning series, there are a few outstanding new romance series that may have flown under viewers' radar. These original and somewhat underrated 2021 anime are absolutely worth watching for their unique takes on love.


Koikimo, also known as Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui (It’s Disgusting to Call This Love) is a rom-com web manga created by Mogusu. Protagonist Ryo Amakusa is a 27-year-old womanizing salaryman who falls head over heels for his younger sister’s friend, Ichika Arima after she saves him from falling down a flight of stairs. Ryo courts Ichika by sending her one flower a day and outwardly expressing his love for her, but she finds his advances “creepy.” Eventually, though, Ichika starts to realize her own feelings in return.

Many Koikimo viewers found their age gap questionable, with Ryo being much older than Ichika. However, it's clear that both Ichika and Ryo's family members and friends approve of their relationship. The series maturely handles the age gap, addressing how it is a real challenge for them to be together since it’s inappropriate on society’s terms. Overall, Koikimo is an unrealistic guilty pleasure romance anime. Even though Ryo’s love for Ichika is cliché and cringe-worthy, it’s still adorable.


Horimiya is a shonen rom-com anime starring Kyoko Hori and Izumi Miyamura, who both live secret double lives. Hori is seen as the bright popular girl in school, while Miyamura is the quiet “emo-looking” nerd. When Hori’s little brother Sota is escorted home one day by a guy with tattoos and piercings, Hori learns it’s her classmate Miyamura and gets embarrassed that he sees her homebody appearance. The two decide to keep their true personalities a secret from everyone except each other, resulting in a strong friendship that eventually turns into a relationship.

Though the series primarily focuses on Hori and Miyamura's evolving bond and their everyday antics with friends and family, it also pays close attention to Miyamura's individual character development as he goes from a loner to a kind and caring friend. Horimiya successfully shows that self-love is as equally as important as being loved by others.

The Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent

Sei and Hawke are holding hands while strolling around town.

The Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent is based on a light novel series written by Yuka Tachibana and illustrated by Yasuyuki Syuri. The anime follows a modern-day office worker named Sei Takanashi who gets transported to a magical world known as Salutania, where she becomes an herb and potion researcher at the Medicinal Flora Research Institute. While adjusting to her new life, Sei’s saintly powers continue to grow, giving her more responsibilities in protecting Salutania.

Although The Saint's Magic Power primarily focuses on Sei’s daily life experiences as the Saint in Salutania, there’s a budding romance between her and the Commander of the Third Order of Knights, Albert Hawke. Sei saves Hawke from death using a high-quality potion, which leads him to become interested in her. The story's slower pace may put off some viewers, but it works well because we get to witness Hawke’s subtle but sincere courting of Sei step by step. Hawke is the ultimate gentleman who can easily fluster Sei. For Snow White With the Red Hair fans, in particular, this isekai series is a must-watch.

The Duke of Death and His Maid

Alice is feeding the Duke.

Created by mangaka Koharu Inoue, The Duke of Death and His Maid stars a young male noble who receives a curse from a witch. He now kills every living thing he touches, resulting in an inability to be physically intimate with others and the unflattering nickname "Duke of Death". This curse leads him to be estranged from his family, so he lives in a mansion with his childhood friend and maid, Alice Lendrott, as well as his butler Rob.

The story is centered on the daily comedic antics between the Duke and Alice. Alice is quite risqué, often making flirtatious advances toward the Duke despite his condition, which results in him being shy around her. The Duke makes an effort to reciprocate her feelings, hoping to break the curse so they can hug and hold hands someday. The Duke of Death and His Maid showcases how love and affection can be felt beyond physical touch.

From a dreaded curse to unexpected romances blossoming from friendship, 2021 has provided us with some bewitching romance anime so far. Let’s hope the fall and winter anime seasons continue to entertain with more entertaining, heartfelt and occasionally wacky relationships.

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