Compared to last season, I feel like this season is lacking on some diverse romance options. As you can see, there are a four animes I can talk about, but definitely not as much of an offering as we saw last time. What I see lacking this year is our token shonen-ai series or the once and awhile shoujo-ai series. However, what we do have for options this season are a lot stronger than last time, and I can say now that I can recommend almost every show on this list. I’ll also list some other anime’s I’m watching outside the romance genre at the end or you can follow me on My Anime List to see what I’m watching and what I’ve dropped.
Love and Lies is an anime that I was relatively interested in when it first came out at the beginning of last season. The first episode caught my attention with its backstory based on a very real problem facing Japan today: the declining birthrate and subsequent aging population. Its an issue I’ll go into in more depth later on, but suffice to say it’s an issue that can make or break a Japanese Prime Minister depending on how they handle it. This anime took this highly relevant and contentious issue and decided to use it as the backbone of their story — and they failed. What was set up in the first episode as a romantic drama surrounding a governmental mystery became a poor excuse for a romantic and harem anime. It brought up issues that could have made the story more interesting, but failed to capitalize on them. Honestly, its one saving grace is that Liden Films did a great job on the animation.
In this alternate Japan, every person receives a notice at the age of 16 that tells them who their assigned wife or husband is. The story specifically follows Yukari Nejima who has been in love with his classmate Misaki Takasaki from a young age. On his 16th birthday, Yukari decides to confess his love to her minutes before his notice is supposed to arrive. And minutes before that notice, Misaki returns his confession. Strangely enough, when Yukari gets the notification on his phone about his future wife, she is listed as Misaki. However, when agents show up with his hard-copy notice, his assigned wife is listed as another person — Ririna Sanada. When he meets her, though, Ririna is so taken with his love story they she allows him and Misaki to grow their relationship under her watchful eye.
Made in Abyss has to be one of the biggest surprises of the Summer 2017 season. I certainly did not see this show I had never heard of, that looked like it might be geared towards a younger audience, becoming one of my favorites. But once I started watching, I couldn’t stop. The world that was being built from one episode to the next, the characters, the overarching story, and even the smaller stories all combined to hold my interest. Though the romance aspect is a very small part of the show, I couldn’t help but write a post about this anime. Originally a manga created by Akihito Tsukushi, it was picked up by Kinema Citrus for the anime. In the US, Amazon’s Anime Strike service picked it up for simulcasting.
The anime centers around the city of Orth that surrounds a mysterious hole going deep into the earth, called the Abyss. In the city lived a young orphaned girl named Riko who is training to become a Cave Raider, or someone who ventures down into the Abyss to dig out and bring back ancient artifacts. On one raid, she finds and befriends a humanoid robot named Reg. Some time later, she is informed that personal effects of her mother, who was also a cave raider, were recovered in a deep part of the Abyss. One contains a note that encourages her to make the long and dangerous journey to the bottom of the Abyss.
Gamers! was an anime that I was honestly excited to watch when it first started airing this past season. The first couple episodes were funny and the characters were people I could relate to as someone who avidly follows videogame culture. Then the episodes started to get more and more into relationship drama and I finally had to take a break at episode seven. It strange to think that as someone who loves romance, has built this blog around romance, that I would find relationship drama in this show grating and way too awkward to watch, but I did. However, I came back to the show a few days ago to write this review and found myself oddly enjoying it for the most part. There were still moments that annoyed me, but that instinctual hatred of awkward comedy that I was feeling before was dulled. I’m still on the fence about whether I like the series or not, but logically I can see the good and the bad in it.
If you haven’t had a chance to catch up on the Summer 2017 season, Gamers! is a show that follows the life and troubles of five high school students whose love of videogames brings them together. Their friendship quickly becomes fraught with misunderstandings, relationship drama, and he-said-she-said moments. Originally an ongoing light novel series written by Sekina Aoi, it was picked up by Studio Pine Jam for its 12 episode run. While not one of the top-rated shows of the season, it still clocked in at 7.33 on My Anime list.
Reindeer Boy is written and illustrated by Cassandra Jean and picked up for publication by Yen Press in 2016. It came to my attention while I was scrolling through the recommendations on the graphic novel subreddit. The concept seemed intriguing: a romance between a girl and mysterious horned boy that shows up at her school. I could see some basic romance tropes already in the description, but I’m always willing to give a new romance story a try. Unfortunately, while the character designs were pretty cool, the story itself left me wanting and kind of disappointed. But perhaps people looking for a something fluffy to read during the holidays, this could be good.
Quincy has the same dream every year on Christmas Eve – of finding a little boy holding a special gift for her under the tree – and every Christmas morning, she’s awoken to find a gift wrapped in tinfoil with her name on it. When school resumes after the winter break, Quincy’s class discovers they have an unusual new transfer student named Cupid. Ridiculously cute and friendly, the new boy has everyone both enamored and confused. Those antlers can’t be real…can they? With Cupid having seemingly set his sights on Quincy, it seems she’ll be having a memorable year indeed! (Official summary from Yen Press)