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10 Best Enemy-to-Lover Romances in Anime

Anime is known for pushing creative and storytelling boundaries. The vibrant adventures and complex characters, especially in the romance genre, always subvert fans’ expectations and delight them in new ways.

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While some anime follows a traditional meet-cute and a blissful romance between its primary or secondary characters, others choose to play around with the freshness and appeal of will-they-or-won’t-they tension. Nothing stirs more passion than a forbidden bond between enemies. Two absolutely contrasting and combustible personalities thrown together in the frame lead to an abundance of emotion.

When they clash, fans are transfixed by their hatred. From heated exchanges to masked devotion, there is drama in every scene. The 10 anime series on this list follow their protagonists’ journeys from mutual loathing to cathartic realizations in the best possible ways. So, without further ado, let’s dive into some of anime’s best enemies-to-lovers romances.

10 Nisekoi – Raku and Chitoge

A hilarious rom-com, Nisekoi follows Raku Ichijou and Chitoge Kirisaki, who are the heirs to rival gangs. Despite being close as children, when they grow up to become teenagers, they clash on a daily basis and absolutely hate each other’s guts. However, in order to please their yakuza families, they get into a fake relationship, and eventually unlock long-held and long-denied feelings.

Their Story Adds to the Show’s Tension

Nisekoi plays with both the fake dating trope and the enemies-to-lovers trope with crackling authenticity. Both Raku and Chitoge bicker, prank, and deny their growing affection. The inclusion of Onodera, a sweet and soft-spoken girl who likes Raku, and the leads’ mafia families, adds to the tension and drama and makes viewers root desperately for the two to dissolve under their pretenses and show real intimacy. Stream on Funimation.

9 Digimon Adventure 02 – Yolei and Ken

Taking place four years after the events of Digimon Adventure, this fifty-episode sequel takes you to Digital World, which is invaded by a reformed evil Digimon Emperor determined on ruling and enslaving this world. To stop him, three DigiDestined are recruited. As the team battles evil using their skills and wits, they also deal with scars from their past and reflect on their insecurities. Yolei Inoue was among the new DigiDestined; she had heard of the boy genius Ken Ichijouji and was practically a fan. But her feelings were crushed when it was revealed that Ken was indeed the Digimon Emperor.

One of the Most Classic Examples of the Trope

Turning distrustful towards each other and slowly beginning to drift, Yolie and Ken only allowed their bond to evolve after acknowledging the traumatic roots that caused them harm. A classic example of an enemies-to-allies-to-lovers arc, Digimon Adventure 02 ends on a delightful note with Yolie and Ken marrying and having three kids. Stream on Hulu.

8 Masamune-kun’s Revenge – Makabe and Adagaki

Masamune Makabe was a plus-sized kid, head-over-heels in love with a rich, beautiful girl named Aki Adagaki, who broke his heart by bullying and tormenting him for being overweight. Swearing revenge on her, he grew up into a handsome teenager and transferred to Aki’s school. When he’s about to kick-start his meticulously laid plan on the Brutal Princess, however, he receives a mysterious letter that addresses him by his childhood nickname.

A Strange Plot Twist

Masamune-kun’s Revenge is predictable in its premise and indulges in some outdated tropes. But it stays hilarious and sweet throughout, and even uses a strange plot twist to keep the viewers engaged in the story. The partnership between Masamune and Aki is thoughtful but volatile. The former wishes to use his good looks to make the latter fall for him, and across two seasons, their character development remains poignant and consistent. Stream on Crunchyroll.

Related: 20 Anime Series With One Season You Can Binge in a Day

7 Princess Tutu – Ahiru and Fakir

A ballet-centric fairy tale romance, Princess Tutu tells the story of a funny and bumbling Ahiru, who lives in a town inhabited by talking crocodiles and witty cats. Blessed with the ability to transform into a human girl whenever she wishes, Ahiru soon realizes that the purpose of her life is to heal the turmoil in people’s hearts. One of her projects is a young prince, who has shattered his heart into several pieces to seal an evil for life.

A Believable Storybook Romance

Ahiru is not an ideal protagonist, but her quest makes her storybook love story more believable. Fakir is the brooding swordsman responsible for protecting the prince. He is suspicious of Ahiru’s magical abilities and often gets in her way. But when a common goal forces them to work together, they gain trust and become affectionate. Stream on Prime Video.

6 Toradora! – Taiga and Ryuuji

In Toradora!, two young souls who have a crush on different people try to help each other pursue their respective love interests. Because of his intimidating personality and anger issues, Ryuuji Takasu is often labeled as a delinquent at school. Taiga Aisaka, on the other hand, has a doll-like face and a feisty attitude. When they cross paths, their misadventures and misunderstandings turn them into enemies.

A Balance of Compassionate and Cute Moments

Rooting for these hotheads comes easy because of how hilariously comforting they are. As a romantic-comedy, the series balances its compassionate and cute moments quite deftly. The screwball humor and fumbling romance makes the whole concept too irresistible to look away from. Moreover, when Ryuuki and Taiga finally get over each other’s best friends and confess their feelings, it is the most satisfying feeling. Stream on Netflix.

5 Berserk – Guts and Casca

Known across lands as a formidable mercenary, Guts travels alone and accepts any job that pays him well. Upon a fateful encounter with the Band of the Falcon, he finds himself defeated at the hands of their leader, Griffith. After yet another duel, Guts joins the Band of the Falcon, and in three years’ time, he rises up the ranks as one of their greatest fighters.

An Intense Care and Appreciation

Casca too was a loyal member of the Band of the Falcon. She owed her life to Griffith and her allegiance towards him denied him the liberty of ever trusting Guts. Not only was she protective of Griffith but also jealous of how close he was becoming with Guts. However, when they shared the field battle after battle, Guts and Casca developed an intense care and appreciation for one another. Their love only grew stronger after Guts left the Band of the Falcon for good. Stream on Crunchyroll.

4 Dragon Ball Z – Bulma and Vegeta

For one of the most popular anime of all time to use the enemies-to-lovers trope is only natural. Created by Akira Toriyama, Dragon Ball Z follows the adventures of the Z warriors and Goku, who defend Earth by fighting all sorts of foes and making exciting alliances along the way. Vegeta is the prince of the fallen Saiyan race and one of the main antagonists in the series. Having killed more people than he could remember, he wasn’t exactly liked by many.

Their Relationship Resulted in the Birth of Trunks

Especially the feisty astrophysicist Bulma, who was a sworn enemy until she wasn’t. All of Vegeta’s rage and evil would pacify at the sight of Bulma. Still, the two fought constantly before getting together. Their hope for redemption and the birth of their son, Trunks, may have quelled some of their enmity, but it took Vegeta and Bulma seven years of fighting and being estranged to finally find tenderness in each other’s company. Stream on Funimation.

3 Angel Beats! – Otonashi and Kanade

Death and the afterlife have long been pondered by mankind. But only few ever learn the truth about it. When 17-year-old Yuzuru Otonashi dies and wakes up in a strange place with no memories, he learns of a high school in the afterlife that is run by the student council president, Kanade “Angel” Tachibana. A rebellious group called “Afterlife Battlefront” works hard to fight Angel because of her supposedly villainous actions.

It Takes a While, but Becomes Beautiful

When Otonashi becomes one of the lonely souls stuck in the afterlife, he has no choice but to believe what he’s told. He joins the Afterlife Battlefront and holds Kanade responsible for sticking him and the others in a limbo. It takes him a while to realize that she’s actually pretty adorable and simply wants to help lost souls pass on and redeem themselves. When he does, Otonashi and Kanade get together. Stream on Crunchyroll.

Related: 35 Greatest R-Rated Adult Anime Series of All Time

2 Cardcaptor Sakura – Sakura and Syaoran

Adapted from a manga series written and illustrated by the manga group Clamp, Cardcaptor Sakura centers around 10-year-old Sakura Kinomoto who accidentally discovers a mysterious book of cards. Upon tinkering with it, she unleashes a beast who informs her of the existence of the mystical “Clow Cards” and the evil they bring on humanity. Now tasked with finding and capturing all the Clow Cards, Sakura must deal with everyday life as a fourth-grader and fulfill her mission.

It Takes 70 Episodes for Them to Get Together

It isn’t until Sakura becomes the Cardcaptor that she meets Syaoran. Even though they’re low-key attracted to one another from the start, there’s hate bubbling underneath. Mainly because Syaoran gets in Sakura’s way of recapturing the Clow Cards. He is mean, demanding, and even steals some of Sakura’s cards. It takes them 70 episodes to finally warm up to each other, work as a team, and eventually fall in love. Stream on Netflix.

1 Code Geass – Villetta and Ohgi

Code Geass is an incredible mecha anime set in the year 2010, where the Holy Empire of Britannia and the Japanese resistance group are in a grave battle for dominance. The central character, Lelouch Lamperouge, unfortunately gets caught in the crossfire and learns of his responsibility in the ruthless slaughter. Villetta is a Britannian and Kaname is the leader of the opposing group.

A Rivalry Into a Complex Relationship and the Best Enemies-to-Lovers Romance

Naturally, their rivalry becomes the sub-plot of the series and adds intrigue amidst the mecha battles and breathtaking fights. Having fought each other for as long as they can remember, it isn’t until Kaname saves Villetta after she is shot that their complex relationship transforms into something deeper and persevering. They fall in love, then separate, and then reunite in the end. Stream on Crunchyroll.

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