I have made it no secret that I am a sucker for a good romance, whether it’s manga couples or anime couples. Even when there is no romance to be found in manga or anime, I will make it happen with my imagination. I am shipping trash, and I’m sure a lot of you can relate. And listen, what is a story without some heartfelt confessions and warm fuzzies?
But it can be hard to find good, established relationships in a story’s canon. Often, I see this problem in Shonen, where romance must take a back seat (obviously), for the main plot or conflict to go forward. It could be an accessory that aids the plotline, but never will be the main focus. And so, characters may power up in terms of their skill, but rarely as full individuals that interact with each other. Hence why a lot of Shonen couples almost come out as forced, rather than stemming from organic growth.
That’s not to say Shonen has no good romances. It’s just that it’s rarer and, while that makes it a little more special, we can’t help just want a little more lovey-dovey affection in the stories we read. Like I love a good fight scene but give me a good enemies-to-lovers plotline in the said fight scene (maybe with a cute first kiss?) and I’m sold!
But, hey, isn’t that why Shojou exists? Shojo is much more romance-focused and gives the character more room to grow emotionally. So, automatically, you get much more passionate manga couples that actually work well together. The relationships in Shojou almost always involve the chase, but there is some great manga out there where we have an established duo from the start, and we follow their journey. Again, the variety is endless when it comes to romance.
Some manga, both Shojo and Shonen, have set the gold standard for pairings that you can’t help but swoon over whenever you see them interact on a page. And here are our top couples from manga over the years!
1. Kyo Sohma x Tohru Honda – Fruits Basket
It’d be criminal for me to not start with the original ‘will-they-won’t-they?’ couple.
Kyo and Tohru is the main pairing in the manga Fruit’s Basket, a manga prolifically known for its love triangle to end all other love triangles. Tohru’s unwavering faith in Kyo is further cemented by how she pushed him to be more open, less guarded, and hostile towards those who cared about him. And then we had Kyo actively working to better himself for Tohru, instead of being prickly, trusting her while demonstrating fierce loyalty. Is there any doubt that these two were endgame?
2. Narumi Momose x Hirotaka Nifuji – Wotakoi
More! Working! Adult! Relationships! In! Manga!
Momose and Hirotaka are both geeks working at an office, have known each other since they were children and so, the progression their relationship takes is so genuinely normal. Momose is sweet but self-conscious, so she has her insecurities when it comes to romance.
Hirotaka is a great foil to that, with his stoic nature but always showing that he cares incredibly about Momose. I mean, the man offered to grind for loot in the games she plays! How cute is that?!
3. Ritsuka Uenoyama x Mafuyu Satō – Given
Given is the greatest story about love and loss ever written. There, I said it.
As genuine as the romance between Ritsuka and Mafuyu is, it always brings me tears. The way those two are written is outstanding. Mafuyu is such a broken individual after what happened to him, so when he tries settling with that grief through music, Ritsuka is with him every step of the way. Even when Mafuyu exasperates him with a lack of communication, Ritsuka never gives him any heat for it.
They are just two kids on the cusp of adulthood, experiencing all the highs and lows together. And the music that stems from that pain and their subsequent love just tugs at every heartstring.
4. Tamaki Suoh x Haruhi Fujioka – Ouran High School Host Club
Flamboyant but caring himbo meets smart but exasperated intellectual is a trope that will never get old.
Haruhi and Tamaki are complete opposites, but they complement each other so well. Haruki is overworked and done with life and then comes Tamaki, always caring, always compassionate. Of course, he has his pain, things he suffers from, but he never fails to be tender to both her and the people around him.
Exactly what our Haruhi deserves! I’m sorry Kyoya stans but even as a 12-year-old, I knew these two were going to end up together!
5. Takeo Gouda x Yamato Rinko – Ore Monogatari
Need I repeat myself? Gentle giant x sweet smol bean supremacy!
Gouda is kind, sweet, gentle, and adores his girlfriend, Rinko. I mean, the dude is such a bro he was willing to forgo his own crush just so his bestie could have a chance! And Rinko, man. I love when a female lead can be cute and gentle but also not shy to say what she wants. Gouda and Rinko are so wholesome, even when their interactions lead to awkwardness.
Honestly, some toxic Shojou manga couples could take a lesson from them in communication.
6. Winry Rockbell x Edward Elric – Full Metal Alchemist
I told you shonen had some good manga couples out there!
Winry and Edward are such a classic, man. Even in an anime as emotionally charged and action-heavy as Full Metal Alchemist, there is space for these two characters to interact and grow. Winry serves as unshakeable support to Edward during his hardest times.
Edward is oblivious to his feelings, but he’s so overprotective of Winry and always gets flustered when she’s brought up. It’s just a strong, gradual relationship and who doesn’t like that?
7. Sasaki Shuumei x Miyano Yoshikazu – Sasaki to Miyano-Kun
This is my comfort couple for a very good reason.
Sasaki and Miyano are one of those rare manga couples where there is no inherent conflict, or issue that leads to the chase. Nope, it’s just pure serotonin boosts all over. Sasaki is patient and so accepting of everything Miyano does.
The guy is always open to trying new things, encouraging Miyano to not feel ashamed about the things he likes. And Miyano is sensible but never judgemental, taking his time to sort through his feelings. The two are complete role reversals on the normal tropes you see in yaoi, it’s refreshing!
8. Kyoko Hori x Izumi Miyamura – Horimiya
The best example of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover!’ I’ve seen in manga so far.
Hori and Miyamura are hilarious together, but also such a mature couple? Under all the floweriness, there is hidden darkness between the two. Hori is overworked, cutting herself no slack and Miyamura isn’t just dreary, his ostracization once compelled him to consider suicide. But then they see each other outside of the masks they wear at school and accept what’s in front of them wholeheartedly.
And listen, the fact that Hori is the more dominant personality in their relationship while revealing that, sometimes, she likes being treated harshly by Miyamura and him just straight up panicking over it? It’s so dumb, and I love every minute of it.
9. Usagi Tsukino x Mamoru Chiba – Pretty Guardian: Sailor Moon
Usagi and Mamoru are magical together and I will take NO slander against them.
As someone who is also a cry baby, I adore how Mamoru is gentle and loving towards Usagi aka Sailor Moon during her tantrums. Even when he’s teasing her, the tone is so sweet and cute.
And in return, I love how there are times when Usagi must be the one to save him, balancing their dynamic well. I mean, their love is something that literally crossed time and space to persevere! How do you top that?!
10. Inuyasha x Kagome Higurashi – Inuyasha
Is this technically enemies to lovers? Whelp, it is now!
Okay but you must admit when the show first started, the two couldn’t stand each other. Of course, as time went by, their distrust and disdain towards each other morphed into something new.
Their arguments still happened, but they had great chemistry. For one thing, they started communicating. They worked on their issues together, moving on from the ghosts of the past that hold them back.
And I mean come on, they fought demons together! And resurrected exes! They were equals, on every level which is what made their relationship so exciting.
So, out of this list, who is your OTP (One True Pairing)? Or do you have a different one? I know I have so many that technically aren’t canon, but the subtext is there, and I will fight anyone who dares argue! But let us know what manga couples you like, or even ones you don’t! Sound off below.