The international day for lovers is drawing close! Is anybody ready? This is supposedly the most romantic day of the year, and we’re going to celebrate it as otaku with a list of toothache-inducing romance manga!
What comes to mind first when you think of romance manga? That’s right, shoujo manga, here we come.
Sweet Enough to Make You Swoon
My Love Story!! by Kazune Kawahara
The quintessential high school romance! While our male lead isn’t the typical bishounen (pretty boy) that leads shoujo romances, Takeo grows on you with his loud, oblivious good heartedness. Female lead Yamato is as sweet and lovely as possible, with a surprising stubborn streak. The secret star of this manga is actually Sunakawa, Takeo’s long-suffering childhood best friend. He’s exactly whom you would think would be the male lead of a shoujo manga—but the surprise here is that he stays simply the best friend. The romance is pure and lovely, and there’s absolutely no love triangles to stop me from my cavities!
Love at Fourteen by Fuka Mizutani
Our lovely main characters are actually only in their second year of middle school. This is a slice-of-life story of first love. Kazuki and Kanata are considered the most mature of their class, and they take pride in exuding their maturity. However, secretly the both of them are just as childish as they were in elementary school with a nice helping of keeping their relationship a secret from their friends! The sweet moments stolen together on campus, the secret glances that they exchange on the sly—you can just feel the tender feelings blooming with each page.
Say I Love You by Kanae Hazuki
This is more along the lines of typical high school shoujo romances, but blunt-spoken Mei is a refreshing breeze of fresh air with popular Yamato. Once both of them are aware of their own and each other’s feelings, they don’t allow others to interfere. There are minimal to no misunderstandings due to actually trusting and communicating with each other. And, stunningly, Mei and Yamato actually have character development! Most of the story is from Mei’s POV, so you’ll see her change the most. You’ll be cheering her along until the very end!
Horimiya by Hero
Horimiya is such a fun read! Hori is headstrong and rougher than her looks would suggest, and Miyamura is a lot gentler than his outside persona. When you add them together with a bunch of zany friends, you get a hilarious lighthearted story! Our titular characters get together pretty fast, with none of the blushing misunderstandings that are rampant in shoujo manga. The daily life of them slowly developing their relationship while at the same time hanging out with their friends never gets boring.
Snow White with the Red Hair by Sorata Akiduki
This one is just a little bit different from the previous recs, but I love this manga for its romantic elements, so I couldn’t leave it out. This is fantasy, and the premise starts out as a play on the Snow White fairytale. But Shirayuki is definitely not Snow White and won’t take a random man demanding she become his concubine. She escapes and runs into Zen, a prince of the neighboring country, and thus starts their adventures together. The romance is slow burn, and you’ll find yourself blushing with them as they slowly become attracted to each other. This one is also the only one still ongoing in Japan. Good luck to us readers chasing it!