Love comes in many forms. That’s why we’ve compiled six romance manga that have their own spin on “true love.” You like reverse harems? Queer themes? Smut? We’ve got you covered.
Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori
Ouran is a classic rom-com that’s thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. It follows scholarship student Haruhi, who’s recruited into her prestigious school’s Host Club to pay off a debt. Led by the flamboyant Tamaki Suoh, the club fulfills the requests of mainly female classmates in the form of themed dates and offers help in personal matters. As a member of the all-male Host Club, Haruhi must conceal her gender while allotting a certain amount of “clients” before graduation.
The series is a spoof on common shoujo romance tropes, but the story also has a lot of heart, thanks to its fun-loving cast. You’ll easily grow attached to the self-assured Haruhi and her offbeat club companions in this iconic reverse harem.
Princess Jellyfish by Akiko Higashimura
In Princess Jellyfish, we get a less traditional male lead and a heroine who, aside from love, finds her passion. The story centers around jellyfish otaku Tsukimi — a NEET whose apartment building’s under threat of demolition — and Kuranosuke, the attractive crossdresser who tries to help her and her housemates. Upon discovering Tsukimi’s talent as an illustrator, fashion-savvy Kuranosuke encourages her to start a clothing brand that could be Amamizukan building’s saving grace.
With its coming-of-age themes and a prince who doubles as a fairy godmother, Princess Jellyfish is a new approach to a Cinderella story.
Is Love the Answer? by Uta Isaki
Trigger Warning: This manga contains some depictions of sexual assault.
Uta Isaki’s Is Love the Answer? looks at romance from an ace lens. It follows a girl named Chika as she discovers her identity as an aromantic asexual. Wanting to learn more, she seeks the knowledge of the college professor who sparked her epiphany, and engages with peers within the ace and queer spectrum.
While not your typical romance, this is an informative read that’s both poignant and enjoyable. Considering there aren’t many works about the ace experience, this one-shot is as refreshing as it is memorable.
Kamisama Kiss by Julietta Suzuki
This supernatural rom-com tosses its spunky lead into constant chaos. Nanami is a homeless high schooler who suddenly inherits a shrine and a familiar named Tomoe. Unfortunately for Nanami, the fox yokai is averse to humans — especially women — which not only complicates her duties as the shrine’s guardian, but her growing feelings for him too.
Kamisama Kiss is a blend of upbeat comedy, fantasy, charming characters, and a sweet love story. This is another staple series for romance lovers, and one that’s sure to become a comfort read.
Sweat and Soap by Kintetsu Yamada
Trigger Warning: This series contains depictions of trauma related to bullying.
Sweat and Soap is as wholesome as it is smutty. It begins with office worker Asako — a woman who’s insecure about her body odor due to a life-long sweating problem. One day, she gets approached by the head product developer at her toiletry company after he’s enticed by her scent. Inspired for his next fragrance, Kotaro takes an interest in Asako that soon leads to something more.
As kooky as this premise sounds, Sweat and Soap surprises with its emotional depth, carried through an incredible love story. Asako and Kotaro’s exemplary relationship makes for an A+ romance that befits spice lovers as well.
Kimi ni Todoke by Karuho Shiina
Kimi ni Todoke — From Me to You — is one of the best high school romance manga you’ll read. It pairs awkward sweetheart Sawako with popular boy Kazehaya. Sawako, who fails to make friends because of her resemblance to the lead in a horror classic, admires Kazehaya for the gravitational pull he has on their peers. Little does the girl know, the boy feels just as pulled to her. As far as shoujo romance tropes go, this manga does everything right.
Aside from its darling main couple, the series packs a punch with its themes of friendship, heartbreak, and growing up. If you only nab one pick from this list, you can’t go wrong with this one.
We hope any or all of these make it onto your TBR. Whatever you choose, we’re confident you’ll enjoy it. Happy reading, lovers!
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