Action Romance Anime: What is it?
Action romance anime is often overlooked despite its attractive features. Most anime could be categorized into multiple genres. Action romance is one of these combined genres. This underappreciated type of anime combines the popular action genre with the romance genre (if you couldn’t tell by the name). It provides a good balance of adrenaline pumping excitement with relatable characters and relationships you care about. If you want to know more about this genre, take a look at our action romance anime reviews!
Action anime is exciting and energetic. The focus of action anime is the characters’ actions. Often dialogue will be quick and consists of shouting and battle cries. This does not mean that action must have lousy dialogue; just that dialogue is not the focus.
Fluid and Thrilling Animation
Often the characters’ actions are shown as quick, fluid movements that make for a thrilling animation. One of the best examples of these incredible scenes is from Saitama vs. Lord Boros in One-Punch Man. My words alone can’t do the scene justice, so take a look yourself. (The video is cut oddly because the uploader is trying to avoid copyright claims.)
The scene is a grand spectacle with very detailed and fluid animation. The stimulating animation and direction make this over-the-top fight look magnificent. Each strike has an impact you can feel as a viewer.
Everything Can Be Intense
Other times over-emphasized animation makes even the most mundane task feel intense. While not the most mundane task, Jotaro vs. D’Arby from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is an excellent example of turning up a moderately exciting scene into an exhilarating one. This scene is super intense. Without too many spoilers, it takes place during a high stakes poker match between Jotaro and D’Arby. Jotaro mentally outmaneuvers his opponent by bluffing his way to victory. However, there is more to this scene. The exaggerated speech of D’Arby, the sound direction, the expression on all of the characters’ faces, all of this adds a significant amount of intensity to this scene.
Lots of action anime move at a brisk pace, so there is back to back action with little downtime. This leads to great fun and compact storyline. Kill la Kill is the perfect example of a tremendous fast-paced action anime. Its fast pace lends itself well to its over-the-top visuals. The entire show keeps your blood pumping and your heart beating.
These bombastic characters and displays appeal to people because they give plain fun and enjoyment. Many people love action-packed stories and animation. A lot of (but not all) action characters are simple and to the point. Unless the action show in question is a long-running Shonen series, there will be little downtime between the action.
A romance anime provides depth to its characters and their relationships. Since romance anime focuses on the development of its characters, it is imperative that those characters are relatable and not one dimensional.
The focus of a romance plot is usually centered around one close relationship between two protagonists. However, in many harem anime or romance anime with more than one couple, multiple relationships are going on. A harem anime that was able to have compelling characters was Akatsuki no Yona. Harem anime is traditionally known as inferior, but this show does it correctly. The main character isn’t a crybaby loser, and the side characters each have their backstories. The characters, especially the main character, feature strong character development and have relatively profound relationships. These intimate relationships string a lot of the characters together so that you end up caring about all of them.
Engaging and Believable Characters
Characters are the center of a romance anime, so they need to be well-developed for the anime to be appealing. The anime movie, Doukyuusei, was a fantastic romance film due to its character development. The two main characters stood on their own. They had their own lives outside of each other. For example, one character was in a band and had his own friends while the other character was a nerd who had goals of getting into a prestigious university. They didn’t exist just for the sake of their relationship. These types of characters are the most realistic and relatable characters. The viewer cares about what happens to these characters, even if the subject matter is dull. A show about relationships without compelling characters is not worth watching.
Many (but not all) romance anime move at a leisurely pace. Romance anime need to move slowly to make the relationships have time to develop an actual relationship would. Anyone would be creeped out if someone came on too strong too quick. Toradora! paces itself slowly to create a more ‘natural’ connection. The two main characters don’t like each other at all and need time to build a relationship. What results is an excellent romance anime.
The attention and detail given to the characters in a romance anime make the viewer care about them and their relationships. As a result, emotional highs and lows resonate with almost anyone watching.
Action and Romance Anime Together
The features of action and romance anime blend to cover each other’s weaknesses and combine their strengths.
Lacking Character Development
A weakness of action anime often overlooked is character development. The single best example of poor character development from an action anime is Naruto. Naruto would have been an outstanding anime if its characters (other than the main character) were given clear goals. Naruto’s rival, Sasuke, seemed to have no real goals at all. Additionally, I felt many of the side characters fell in love with Naruto for no reason at all. All of this could have been solved if the story had delved deeper into each of the characters and what drives them.
Sluggish Plot Lines
A common complaint about romance anime is there is the plot can come to a crawl. Kanokon suffers from very slow to nonexistent plot and character development. I mean, there were other problems with the show, but a lot of them could have been fixed with a clear purpose and sense of progression. No one wants to watch a stagnant relationship that’s not going anywhere.
Strengths of Action and Romance Enhance Each Other
The blood rushing animations plus relationships the viewer cares about make for a compelling anime. A fluid and fantastically animated fight scene can captivate an audience, but it can go even further with a purpose. If the viewer cares about the participants’ reasons for fighting, the fight gains dimensionality. No longer is it just two brawlers duking it out, but it is now a fight that contains the very essence of those characters.
Brief Action Romance Anime List
Here are several action romance anime broke down into three categories. The best action romance anime are what truly define this genre. Anime worth a watch is influential in this genre but aren’t necessarily the best. Finally, bad anime is what you should avoid. They are lazy attempts to create action romance anime which we should pretend never existed.
Best Action Romance Anime
No Game No Life – While not ‘action’ in the traditional sense, this anime is a great watch. The genius protagonists end up in an alternate universe where everything is decided by playing games. Essentially the only way to succeed in life is to play games.
Code Geass – This is mostly a mecha/action anime, but there are very strong romance elements within the show. The main relationships would be between the protagonist and his best friend (not gay, but an intimate friendship), the protagonist and his sister (not incestuous but love like a sibling), and the protagonist and his love interest. If you love grand planning, mecha, and an emotional plot, this anime is for you.
Fate/stay night – Probably one of the most iconic in this list, Fate/stay night is one of the exceptional looking anime around. The action sequences are gorgeous. The overall premise doesn’t make sense at all, but the interpersonal relationships are where the story shines.
Worth a Watch!
Akatsuki no Yona – This is a story about a princess exiled from her country after being betrayed by her cousin. Her goal is to find the legendary dragons to prepare for the future. Most of the characters have unique backstories and personalities, but the series was too short to explore them all. The main feature of this anime is the development of Yona, the main character, from a pretty princess to a hardened warrior.
Re:ZERO – This anime is quite contentious among the community. Personally, I enjoyed it. The main character is sent to a fantasy world with the power to go back in time when he dies. The overall look and feel of the show is good, but the main problem lies in the main character. I won’t spoil the story, but the main character is hopelessly in love with another character for reasons that don’t make sense in the context of the story. Also, the main character is just too stupid while being too smart at the same time.
Angel Beats! – A favorite among many, Angel Beats! Is about a group of deceased students that refuse to move on to the afterlife. They all have some tragic backstory or reason as to why they can’t move on from their purgatory. The actual story is shown in pieces, and it is sort of a puzzle to put those pieces together. Overall this is an anime that is worth your time.
Sword Art Online – By far the most well known and influential anime on this list, Sword Art Online is a story about a bunch of gamers getting trapped in a VRMMO. The catch is that if they die in the game, they die in real life. Many people love this show for its romance and cool action scenes, but I disliked it for its nonsensical plot and bland characters. The one thing it has going for it is the main character actually decided on who he wanted to be his girlfriend instead of being wishy-washy.
Worst Action Romance Anime (Don’t Bother)
Strike the Blood – This is not the absolute worst show possible, but it adds nothing worthwhile. It also suffers from a bland main character with a cliché cast of supporting characters.
Asterisk War – Possibly the worst anime in existence, Asterisk War is not worth anyone’s time. The story plain doesn’t make any sense, no character is relatable at all, and the animation isn’t even particularly good. I wish it gave me my hour of watch time back.
- Reviews – See our favorite (and most hated) action romance anime!
Recent Action Romance Posts
Have you ever been so torn between two genres, that you couldn’t decide which one to watch on a Friday night? On the one hand, you just want to curl up in bed and cry because your otp just became canon – but on the other hand, you just can’t resist a good fight with ...