Romance anime is (mistakenly) considered a genre that is only meant for a female audience. But how many of these shows are from a female perspective? In line with that, here are some of the best romance anime with a female lead.
With yuri anime still a rather limited romance sub-genre, it can be difficult to find anime romances that are only from a female perspective, but we tried to include some of those, too.
Below, we list and recommend some titles that prioritize the heroine.
Fruits Basket has a big ensemble cast of characters and many get about equal screen time, but Tohru Honda is the undeniable protagonist.
Tohru starts off as a homeless teenager who is taken in by a classmate and his cousins only to find out that her new housemates are afflicted by a curse.
Her story is too well-known to analyze, and the multiple potential romantic partners might occasionally seem more well-developed.
While Tohru's characterization occasionally leaves depth and backbone to be desired, her influence on the plot is significant.
Much of the soul-searching, change, and healing throughout the show wouldn't have taken place if not for her presence.
While she cheerfully assumes a traditionally feminine role, she knows her heart and shows agency where her romantic life is concerned.
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War focuses almost equally on both parts of the couple and their eternal mind games.
That being said, Kaguya Shinomiya comes off as the protagonist, and not only because she's the titular character.
Both Kaguya and Miyuki are rather arrogant, cold, and afraid of showing emotion.
While all the show's characters develop over time from tropes to people, Miyuki might still feel a little flat compared to Kaguya.
As we delve more deeply into the story, Kaguya's upbringing as the daughter of an unimaginably rich family, who provides for her materially but not emotionally, brings new aspects of her personality into the light.
Under these lenses, the plot becomes about Kaguya trying to grow into her true self, and learning to experience and accept love.
Yona of the Dawn
Yona of the Dawn is a shoujo anime with an iconic female lead.
Growing up in Kouka – a fantasy nation based on a combination of ancient Asian cultures – Princess Yona never had to worry about the future.
But on her 16th birthday, her father is murdered by her treacherous cousin, Su-Won.
Watching Yona navigate her fantastic nation and learn more about it and herself is a very interesting adventure.
She goes from a pampered princess to a resilient heroine, and her many possible romantic options will keep you wondering for some time.
High school romance might feel trivial when we get older, but for young people experiencing it, it can be really serious business.
Tenma Tsukamoto is a cute though rather childish high school girl who dreams of confessing to her crush, Oji Karasuma, a nice but mysterious and rather distant boy.
Meanwhile, Kenji Harima, another classmate and a delinquent with a bit of a reputation, finds himself in a similar position as he struggles with his unconfessed feelings for Tenma.
If you enjoy the spiritual and romantic elements of Fruits Basket, Kamisama Kiss is another interesting anime with a female lead.
Nanami is a high-school girl who ends up staying in the house of someone she doesn't know all too well and learning his supernatural secrets.
After helping a man who turns out to be a shrine god, she's allowed to live in his house.
Little does she know that the said house is a shrine, and Mikage, the man she helped, intends for her to serve as a replacement deity.
Embracing her new life, Nanami tries to keep the shrine in order and becomes romantically involved with a hot-headed fox familiar.
Nanami is a sweet protagonist who tries her best to balance school duties, shrine duties, and unexpected love.
Ouran High School Host Club
Ouran High School Host Club follows Haruhi, a scholarship student in an elite school who, unlike her popular classmates, has no social status.
When she finds herself in the spaces of an all-male elite club and accidentally breaks a precious artifact, she finds herself in serious debt.
To pay the boys back, she starts serving as a host alongside them, which becomes possible due to her masculine appearance.
Once again, the concept of Ouran High School might not have been as successful today as it was back in the day.
But Haruhi is still a likable protagonist who remains adorably impassive to the outrageous things around her.
Kaichou wa Maid-sama!
Another iconic romance title from the 2000s, Kaichou wa Maid-Sama! features a female protagonist who leads a double life.
At school, Misaki Ayuzawa is the first female student council president, and she acts harshly, imposing an iron rule upon her classmates.
After school, though, is another story. Secretly, Misaki works in a maid café to support her impoverished family.
In this job, she shows a meeker, more quiet aspect of her personality in order to survive.
So, what will happen when a classmate finds out about her secret?
Misaki's attempts to balance two different layers of her life, and eventually, a romantic connection, are fun to watch.
Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku
If you're looking for romance anime where they get together early, Wotakoi is an excellent option, especially if you'd also like a romance that features working adults instead of teenagers.
Narumi Momose is an office worker with a secret; while she presents as a conventionally mature adult, she's actually a nerd and enjoys gay fanfiction.
Meanwhile, Hirotaka Nifuji is an old friend of Narumi's, and the two unexpectedly bump into each other.
After Narumi complains about her ex who dumped her due to her hobbies, Hirotaka suggests that she date a fellow otaku like him.
While both characters get screen time, the anime is mainly from Narumi's perspective.
RELATED: Romance Anime About Adults
Bloom Into You
Bloom Into You features not one, but two female leads, being a Girls' Love story.
Yuu Koito is intrigued by the idea of romantic love as she'd experienced it in manga and anime. However, she finds herself unable to feel that for any boy.
In high school, she witnesses another girl, Touko Nanami, decline when a guy asks her for a date.
However, when Koito goes to Nanami for advice, she doesn't expect that Nanami will confess to her.
Slowly, Koito understands that she's perfectly capable of the feeling that eluded her.
Bloom Into You is a great coming-of-age story, especially if you're looking for LGBTQ+ anime!
Kimi ni Todoke
Kimi ni Todoke is the story of Sawako Kuronuma, who is teased due to her resemblance to Sadako, the infamous creepy character from The Ring.
Because of this, her classmates think that she's frightening or mean, even though her sweet, mild manners suggest the exact opposite.
The anime focuses on Sawako's encounter with Shouta Kazehaya, the most popular boy in her class, and how interacting with each other changes both of them for the better.
As the two grow close, their relationship develops into more than a friendship.
If you like classic shoujo anime with good character development, then this one's for you.
Vampire Knight might not be the most high-quality of entries, but school romance anime tend to be a bit self-indulgent and we all deserve to remember our Twilight phase every now and then.
In true Twilight fashion, Vampire Knight follows a human girl torn between two love interests; Kaname, a pureblood vampire who rescued her years ago, and Zero, her childhood friend and an aspiring vampire hunter.
Is the female lead well-written by contemporary standards? Probably not, but the show will remind you a lot of what was iconic about 2000s anime.
Revolutionary Girl Utena
If you're looking for something more surreal and less heteronormative, give Revolutionary Girl Utena a go.
Some will argue that Utena isn't a yuri anime, but it's definitely considered an iconic and respected work by the yuri community, so it deserves a spot on our list.
Utena is a character that defies gender and genre conventions, identifying as female but fighting to be a prince.
Her quest to protect the princess by her side through complex, stylized, magical duels, is a journey full of twists and turns, and very, very strange symbolism.
The romance might not be as explicit as in other anime on this list, but there are clear romantic undertones in Utena's relationship with Anthy.
The latter is described as the rose bride, thus setting clear expectations about the sort of relationship she'll have with the person who wins a duel in her name.
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Only Yesterday is a film about memory. The main character, Taeko Okajima, a 27-year-old woman, agrees to a holiday in the countryside, where she gets free time to reflect on her life and sort out her childhood memories.
The film glorifies the ordinary in interesting ways. Romance might not be the main focus, but Taeko is involved in one.
Anyone who has struggled to choose between two ways of life, between a safe routine and an uncertain, but exciting future, will find her dilemma relatable.
Tomo-chan Is a Girl!
Tomo-chan Is a Girl! doesn't sound like much, but it now has a dedicated fanbase due to its themes. In it, we follow Tomo, a tomboyish girl who likes martial arts.
When she reunites with one of her childhood friends with whom she's always had a crush, she's frustrated to find out that he sees her as "one of the guys."
Her attempts to make her love interest see her as a girl, and his initial inability to understand his feelings for Tomo, show the ways in which gender stereotypes hinder authentic connection and love.
Skip and Loafer
Skip and Loafer is one of the most wholesome female-led anime of the past few years.
It's the story of Mitsumi Iwakura, a small-town girl who moves to Tokyo as part of her long-term plans for a prestigious education.
Her first day goes less than ideal, as she gets lost in Tokyo's chaotic commute. Thankfully, her new classmate, Sousuke Shima, is happy to help.
Skip and Loafer isn't as romance-focused as other entries, but it's a beautiful coming-of-age story with a relatable heroine, where the main leads' complementary personalities shine without overshadowing each other.
My Happy Marriage
My Happy Marriage is the latest romance anime that is restoring fans' hopes for the genre!
It follows Miyo Saimori, a young woman who is constantly belittled and abused by her father, stepmother, and step-sister, who reduce her to a servant's role.
When her family announces her betrothal to Kiyoka Kudo, Miyo believes that there's no way out of her desperate situation, as her new fiancée is notorious for having driven off all prospective matches.
But when the rumors prove false, and Kudo shows himself to be a secretly tender and kind man, Miyo gets a chance to break free, slowly heal from a lifetime of abuse, and find happiness.
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