9 Romantic Anime That Are Better When You’re An Adult

For too long Western culture has categorized animated fiction as children’s entertainment. And while that stigma has largely dissipated over the past few decades, especially in the past few years, there are still people in the general public who assume that anime is only for teens and teenagers.

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But that’s never been the case in Japan, where anime and manga have always been presented to a wide range of demographics. When it comes to romantic anime, many series are teen romances, slice-of-life love stories set in high schools. But that’s just a small ray on the romance anime spectrum, and other romance anime are meant to have a bigger impact on adults.

9 Spice And Wolf is deeply nuanced


spice and wolf

From the outside, reject spice and wolf is too easy. An anthropomorphic heroine who is naked the moment she meets an older man seems like painful ground for fetish material. Corn spice and wolf has more in common with Mushishi than he does with Dragon Maid. It’s high fantasy with a nuanced approach to world-building, a show about economics and earning a living rather than fighting medieval monsters.

While most fantasy series focus on swords and magic, kings and queens, knights and dragons, spice and wolf focuses on peasant life and the tribulations of ordinary people who live in a fantasy kingdom. The romance between Holo and Lawrence is the slowest of burns, and when they fall in love, it’s utterly believable because it took time, shared experience, and gradual understanding to happen.

8 Reality is difficult, and so is Nana


granny never lost its charm. With each passing decade, Ai Yazawa’s classic enchants a new generation of fans. The series is so raw and relatable that it’s more than earned its status as a beloved cult classic, despite its likely indefinite hiatus.

Two girls named Nana meet in Tokyo with stars in their eyes, each hoping to fulfill their dreams. They have so much hope when they collide on a train and become roommates, the world seemingly within their reach. But true love isn’t always dreamy, and grannyThe cast of face everything from drug addiction to unplanned pregnancy, from broken trust to suicide. granny is not for the faint of heart, but neither is the world. Adults know better than anyone that some things are bound to fall apart. That is why granny is able to resonate so well with older audiences.


7 Welcome to the NHK Addresses Dreams Thwarted


Tatsuhiro and Misaki from Welcome to NHK

Although not all children grow up with high ambitions, a large majority do, and children considered “gifted” are especially laden with high expectations starting in kindergarten. This leads to entire generations of people who feel they have wasted their presumed potential by the time they reach adulthood, bewildered by the time they face failure. The label of being “gifted” is overwhelming, misleading, unfairly placed and misplaced.

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In the case of Welcome to NHK, interpreted failure is also linked to mental illness, an opponent as vicious as any other. As children, success and failure seem black and white. But adults have to face the truth – life is complicated and hard, and no one can live up to all expectations and hope to find happiness. Few series confront these ideas with as much charm, humor and self-mockery as Welcome to NHK.


6 Wotakoi Features Real Adults Working Real Jobs


Wotakoi Love is hard for Otaku anime

Otaku are a diverse group, but no otaku is exempt from growing up. Very often, as children, people are expected to outgrow their interests or shift them to more socially acceptable hobbies and habits, but such expectations can be devastating. Given social pressure, many adults in Japan and elsewhere feel the need to hide their true interests from the world, especially in the workplace.

Wotakoi focuses on the relationships between adult otaku from multiple gangs. Narumi is a true fujoshi, Hirotaka is a hardcore gamer, and Hanako is a secret cosplayer. They all work together in an office, trying to balance what they really like with a more socially acceptable image. The title says it all: love is really hard for otaku, but that doesn’t make it impossible.


5 Howl’s Moving Castle is an ode to self-esteem


Markl, Howl Pendragon, Sophie Hatter, Heen, Calcifer and the Waste Witch

A child will be as amused by Calcifer’s antics, Sophie’s determination and Howl’s temper tantrums as any adult. Even so, many of the best aspects of Howl’s Howl’s Moving Castle become more apparent as its audience ages.

Sophie’s initial lack of self-esteem and gradual acceptance of herself is all too relatable for any viewer past her prime, as is the curse that prematurely turns her into an old woman. Howl’s outbursts of self-pity are also painfully relatable, the culmination of the challenges against his fragile self-image. They are flawed characters, often brash, who nonetheless try to do the right thing. Sophie and Howl don’t change One and the other; they help each other to be the best versions of themselves. It is a dream that everyone can aspire to, at any age.


4 The fruit basket has more depth than its surface implies


Fruit basket

A series about cute kids who turn into zodiac animals when hugged by the opposite sex sounds like pure teenage plush, but Fruit basket is anything but tasteless. The series deals with the resonant impact of trauma, the condemnable nature of unwanted legacy, and the overwhelming aspects of harmful traditions. When entire generations are to inherit a curse that will determine the trajectories of all their lives, nothing good can come from such a legacy.

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Breaking the Sohma curse is a labor of love but also a challenge. Adults watching Fruit basket are likely to remember the curses that afflict their own families, dismantled only by love and sacrifice.


3 Given exists for those who have loved and lost


There is no doubt that the teenage public has widely embraced Given. This tale of love and music would appeal to almost any demographic, and the tragedy at the heart of the story appeals to teenagers as well, dealing with death, self-harm, and love for the first time.

But loss is a more familiar experience for adults, and death becomes an increasingly strong force in life as people grow older. Watching Given as an adult is likely to reawaken painful youthful memories, but the story, like these experiences, is not hopeless. Older viewers who watch Mafuyu cry know what Mafuyu doesn’t – he will get through this pain, because he has to, as everyone has to at some point. These characters can love and lose and love again because that’s a big part of what life is all about.




2 My love affair is wholesome and medicinal


Taeko Gouda and Rinko Yamato

While not all young otaku are obsessed with aesthetics, teenagers tend to admire characters that are beautiful. When a shojo leader is good-looking or a heroine is pure fanservice, young fans are often the most enamored. After all, it’s easier for a young viewer to imagine a romantic scenario with an idolized partner than it is for adults who have learned that reality is rarely so perfect.

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Monogatari Ore disdains the idea that love is tied only to conventional beauty. For older viewers, the series is almost medicinal, a well-deserved respite from the usual standards of romance. These adorable characters don’t need a makeover; they see the strengths already present in each other, and the weaknesses too, and embrace them as a whole.


1 Princess Medusa refuses to rank her characters


Princess Jellyfish character group photo

While younger generations care less about gender than any previous generation, this change has been gradual. Many people are still tormented by what it means to be a “real boy” or a “real girl”, fighting a battle they never committed to. As if in silent protest, Princess Medusa exists at the juncture between low self-esteem and proud acceptance, her distribution caught between what she wants to be and what society expects of her. A series about a family of quirky otaku girls and the drag queen who shines with them is both utterly unique and utterly believable.

These characters know who they are and have realized what too many adults do – the challenge is not to know, but to understand how the person you are fits into the world around you. Princess Medusa makes this balance not only possible, but vital.

NEXT: 10 Animated Movies Critics Love But Audiences Hate

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