The childhood friend. What image does that phrase conjure up?
Well…that’s actually true for a majority of series, but we’re not here for that! Here are some romance anime that explore the childhood friend trope in fun and different ways!
1. Tamako Market / Tamako Love Story
Tamako Market and the Tamako Love Story movie is centered around the sweet childhood romance between Tamako and Mochizou. The series doesn’t hide the pair’s feelings, but it does throw in some family drama to make things spicy.
2. Nagi no Asukara
We have four childhood friends, who all have feelings for each other. This alone leads to a complicated web of hormones, but let’s add three outsiders to the mix! There are plenty of twists and turns to keep people guessing.
3. Cross Game
Cross Game is a very good and dramatic twist on the childhood friend twist. Off the bat, Ko is dating his childhood friend Wakaba, which causes her little sister Aoba to become jealous.
Don’t run away, because NTR is nowhere to be found! Fast-forward a few years, and we see how Ko and Aoba’s love for Wakaba leads to a strong if contentious, bond.
The whole premise is that Raku promised to marry one of three childhood friends, but he is too stupid to remember who he proposed to.
5. Ai Yori Aoshi
Ai Yori Aoshi is another series that doesn’t hide the childhood romance roots! Amnesia plays a role in the story, as Kaoru is bewildered upon meeting his long-lost fiance. However, he has met other women that interest him during his time in college, which leads to some interesting drama.
6. Amagami SS
Amagami SS is cheating a little. The series is an omnibus, meaning that all of the girls have a winning story arc. Fans of this trope are in for a treat since Amagami SS has TWO childhood friends that get their own arcs!
7. Hanasaku Iroha
One of the Ohana’s main sources of growth is based on her feelings for Kōichi. After Kōichi confesses to her, Ohana is filled with a whirlwind of emotion! She has feelings for Kōichi, but she also despises how she’s so dependent on him. Hanasaku Iroha isn’t just focused on romance either, but with Ohana’s transition from a lost child to a young and responsible woman.
8. Love Hina
Love Hina started most of the popular harem tropes we know and love, including the childhood friend! It’s a fun (if a bit dated) look at the origins of the popular genre.
Haganai is a neat if cynical, inversion of the childhood friend trope. Most romance fans tend to root for the childhood friend and argue that they are entitled to the protagonists love simply because they have known each other the longest. Haganai plays with this opinion and shows how flawed that point-of-view is.
What are your favorite series that explore the childhood friend trope?