The 10 Best Romance Manga to Fall in Love With – IGN
Manga and anime have been leading the way in romance fiction for decades. But figuring out where to get started in a genre that might not have always been your first choice is a big step. We’re here to help you ease your way into the world of romance manga, with a selection of classics, cult faves, and contemporary smash hits. There’s something here for every kind of reader, whether you’re looking for comedy, action, fantasy, or even delinquent centered romance tales. So get ready to get romantic!
Make sure to also check out our guide to the best romance anime for even more entertainment.
10. Rose of Versailles
While this is more of a historical tale that features multiple romances than a classic romance story, visually and tonally it’s one of the most romantic manga ever made. Beginning in pre-Revolution era France, the series follows a fictionalized version of Marie Antoinette and a female commander in her guard, Oscar François de Jarjayes. This groundbreaking Shōjo manga became a breakthrough in the industry due to its complex narrative around politics and sexuality. Creator Riyoko Ikeda is nothing short of a manga legend, and Rose of Versailles is a masterpiece that’s a great entry point to those who want more romantic manga in their lives.
9. My Androgynous Boyfriend
Some of the best manga ever made feature people who make manga for a living. My Androgynous Boyfriend continues that tradition as its protagonist, Wako, is a manga editor. While she toils away at her publishing job, her glamorous boyfriend Meguru is doing what he does best, looking beautiful online and gaining even more followers. See, Meguru is an androgynous fashion influencer who loves nothing more than getting made up and looking cute for Wako. This humorous slice-of-life romance celebrates their radical relationship and has a lot of fun while it does it. Plus, Wako and Meguru are a couple that you always root for.
8. Catch These Hands!
Ever wanted to read a romance about grown up rowdy delinquents? Then Catch These Hands! has you covered. Takebe has put her violent delinquent days behind her. Although she used to be the easy winner in any fight, now she’s taking it easy. Or at least that’s her plan until one of her old rivals, “Bloody Cardigan” Soramori, appears in her life. But she doesn’t just want to fight with Takebe. Instead, she wants to date her! This hilarious and cute manga from murata is only a couple of volumes in but has already established the early days of a romance that could quite easily become a new fave for readers of the genre, especially ones that had a misspent youth!
7. Restart After Coming Back Home
This gorgeous gay romance story by Cocomi inspired a hit live-action movie just a year after its release. Mitsuomi Kozaka is less than happy about having to go back to his countryside home after losing his big city job. It’s a massive change but when he meets Kumai Yamato, the adoptive son of a neighbor, he realizes coming back home might not have been the worst thing in the world. This charming, sweet story is the kind of slice of life tale that instills an immediate nostalgia and warmth. As the pair become friends, they grow close and begin to open up to each other. They set out on an unexpected journey that will change both of their lives for the better.
6. A Sign of Affection
Another newer romance that has taken the manga fandom by storm is A Sign of Affection. This sweet love story between Yuki, a Deaf girl, and Itsuomi, a hearing boy, is a deft and innovative manga that makes the most of its visual format. After a chance meet-cute, Yuki and Itsuomi embark on a burgeoning friendship that could become so much more. But there’s one problem: Itsumi doesn’t know sign language. Suu Morishita crafts something truly surprising and delightful here that’ll likely become iconic in the realm of manga romance in the years to come.
5. Skip Beat!
You can’t write about romance manga and not include Skip Beat! This beloved rom-com from Yoshiki Nakamura centers on a teenage girl, Kyoko, whose childhood friend, Sho, becomes a famous celebrity in Japan. The pair live together but Sho is conceited and cruel, eventually leading to Kyoko vowing to gain vengeance by becoming a bigger star than Sho. We follow Kyoko’s journey to fame and fortune as she tries to find her footing and gain her revenge. Of course, love is in the air when she meets a cranky actor named Ren. But will the pair ever get past the torments of their romantic past? You’ll have to read Skip Beat! to find out.
4. The Demon Prince of Momochi House
What would you do if you inherited a famously haunted but beautiful house? When that exact thing happens to Himari Momochi, she feels like she has no choice but to move in. Shockingly, the legends are true and the house acts as a gateway between this world and the spirit realm. As if that wasn’t strange enough, when she arrives at her new home it’s already inhabited by some supernatural beings. One of them is a “gorgeous demon guardian” and suddenly Himari’s entire life is turned on its head in this charming and fantastical tale from Aya Shouoto.
The first of two Rumiko Takahasi entries onto our list, Inuyasha is arguably her most famous creation. While it’s definitely a fantasy action story first, there’s a hilarious romance at its center that has become one of the defining stories in the genre. When Kagome is dragged into a well at her grandparent’s Shinto shrine by a strange monster, she finds herself transported to the Sengoku period. Soon she comes across the half-dog half-demon known as Inuyasha. Thanks to an ancestor of hers, Kagome holds strange magical powers and the ability to control Inuyasha with a special necklace and the command “Sit, Boy.” Together the bickering pair have to hunt for a series of artifacts connected deeply to their entangled history in one of the best enemies to lovers manga tales of all time. It also makes for a great anime series worth checking out.
2. Sweat & Soap
One of the biggest rom-com hits of recent years, Kintetsu Yamada’s Sweat & Soap has a unique concept. At its center is Asako. Working at Lilla Drop, a famous perfume company, is almost too good to be true. Not only does she love their products, but their soap is the key to getting rid of her body odor, which she’s seriously sensitive about. So when the sexy boss of the company starts to talk about the smell he just can’t get enough of… he couldn’t be talking about Asako’s sweat, could he? And what would that mean for a woman who has always been ashamed of it? This delightfully dirty office romance feels both radical and exciting as it explores a blossoming romance amid the world of perfume, scents, and sweating, topics most of us don’t talk about.
1. Maison Ikkoku
Rumiko Takahashi is on here twice for a reason. One of the most prolific and awesome living mangakas, she’s created many beloved manga which also feature rad romances. Her most classical romance tale is this saucy slice of life about a young widow, Kyoko, who becomes the manager of a boarding house. Once there, she finds herself among an eclectic group of neighbors including a young student, Godai, who falls for her almost instantly. Over the 15 volumes of this beautifully illustrated series, the pair struggle with anxiety, awkwardness, and very nosy neighbors as they try to work out whether they’re meant to be more than just friends.
Rosie Knight is an Eisner-winning journalist, author and comics writer. She co-hosts Crooked Media’s X-Ray Vision podcast, discussing pop culture from superhero movies to prestige television to the best fantasy novels and, of course, comics.
Check out her related work on the best Junji Ito Manga and the best sad anime of all time.