As romantic comedies increased in popularity in the early 2000s, the decade brought forth many great anime for fans to enjoy. With lighthearted comedy and heart-fluttering romance, the genre provided a perfect blend of happiness for audiences to escape from reality.
While many rom-coms like Fruits Basket and Clannad defined this decade of anime, many more contributed to the genre's rise over the years. Here are the five best, underrated rom-coms of the 2000s that have fallen out of anime's collective memory.
Airing in 2008, Special A stars two tsundere leads who excel at academics while competing with each other since early childhood. Given their competitive nature, a romance initially seems impossible between Hikari Hanazono and Kei Takishim, as their comedic rivalry takes center stage in the series. While Hikari is hyper-focused on finally beating Kei, to whom she's always come second place, Kei taunts Hikari by calling her "Miss Second Place" to provoke and encourage her to finally surpass him.
This causes the pair to partake in absurd challenges and competitions to see who's the best at everything while entertaining viewers. Despite their overwhelming personalities and crazy antics, Hikari and Kei begin to realize that true love lurks beneath their age-old rivalry.
Skip Beat! is a fun rom-com revolving around show business that aired from 2008 to 2009. When Kyoko Mogami was 16 years old, she had a crush on her childhood friend Sho Fuwa, who asks her to move with him so he can pursue singing. After moving to Tokyo together, Kyoko takes care of all their housework while working multiple jobs to financially support Sho's dreams while being frugal with herself.
As Sho reaches celebrity status in Japan, Kyoko overhears him insulting her and flirting with his manager. Upon realizing she was being used by him the entire time, Kyoko decides to get payback by outperforming him in show business. Kyoko transforms herself and becomes a popular actress while growing closer to a fellow actor named Ren Tsuruga.
Kimi ni Todoke
First airing in 2009, Kimi ni Todoke centers around a tragically misunderstood girl named Sawako Kuronuma who happens to look like a popular horror character. Given her resemblance to the scary character, her classmates avoid her and project their fears upon her. This misunderstanding makes it incredibly difficult for Sawako to make friends despite being an incredibly kind and genuine person.
Finding it difficult to dispel the rumors circulating about her because she's socially awkward, she remains alone until classmate Shouta Kazehaya suddenly approaches her and discovers her true personality. After forming a close and romantic bond with Shouta, Sawako finds it easier to make friends and be herself so she can finally step out of the horror character's shadow.
Itazura na Kiss (ItaKiss)
ItaKiss is a 2008 rom-com starring a bubbly and childish girl named Kotoko Aihara who has a crush on an attractive and popular senior at her school. Known for excelling in both academics and sports, Naoki Irie is used to girls liking him and instantly turns Kotoko down when she musters up the courage to confess her true feelings to him. Soon after, Kotoko's house is suddenly destroyed in an earthquake, and she's forced to live at her father's best friend's house for the time being while their house gets rebuilt.
By a stroke of luck and fate, Naoki happens to be the son of her father's best friend, and the pair are forced to live together and get along. Naoki is surprised to find that he soon develops protective and romantic feelings for Kotoko despite turning her down previously and believing she's too clingy. While the ItaKiss manga had great success and several live-action series were adapted from it, the 2008 anime adaptation didn't receive the same level of popularity.
As the oldest rom-com on this list, airing in 2006, Nana stars two completely different girls with the same titular name. Nana Komatsu is a girl from a small town who moves to Tokyo with her friends and boyfriend, while Nana Osaki is a popular punk rock artist who wants to hit it big in Tokyo. The two Nanas end up being roommates in an apartment in Tokyo and become friends despite their wildly different personalities and dreams.
They both struggle with love and relationships in different ways and work to overcome these obstacles to find happiness in the big city. Not only does this series offer romance and comedy, but it's also full of life lessons and teachable moments about growing up and discovering yourself.