After a traumatic incident in her past, Mei Tachibana swore off making friends, deeming all people as untrustworthy. While her quiet life seems to be going quite normally, her core as an introvert is shaken by a few chance encounters with the popular Yamato Kurosawa.
Although Say I Love You didn’t have the progression that people wanted (at least in the anime), it did set itself up away from a few notable romance tropes that made it interesting to watch, for a time. If you want more doki doki-inducing anime series like Say I Love You, well, we got you covered.
For Fans of Ostracized Girls
Kimi Ni Todoke
Quiet and relatively timid, Sawako Kuronuma is misunderstood by her classmates. Due to her long black hair and shyness, they have taken to calling her Sadako, the ghost girl from The Ring. Longing to make friends, she is drawn to Kazehaya Shouta, the most popular boy in school and his refreshing personality. However, when Kazehaya starts talking to her, Sawako’s lonely world begins to open up.
In both shows, the female main characters are ostracized by their peers, yet both are nice girls on the inside, they just struggle to show it. Mei is a little more jaded because of the incident, but she is comparably as sweet as Sawako. In both series, it is the male mains that end up helping them come out of their shell, which results in them not just falling in love, but making friends as well.
My Little Monster
Shizuku Mizutani cares little of others and only about scoring top marks. However, when she is tasked with taking something to her desk neighbor Haru Yoshida, her world begins to change. Haru, too, knows little of human nature and hasn’t been to school for awhile due to fighting. Yet, it is the lack of friends that they both have that soon forms a friendship between them.
Both female leads in these series have a certain amount of coldness to them that just keeps others at bay. However, they are both brought out of their shell by a guy. In Say I Love You’s case, the man is a popular guy while My Little Monster has an erratic delinquent, but both see something in these ladies that they find intriguing.
Ryuuji Takasu is a gentle student with a passion for housework, however his thug face causes his fellow students to think him a delinquent. Taiga Aisaka is small and cute, but with an attitude as fierce as a tiger. Both of these misunderstood students have a crush two classmates, and after a series of misunderstandings of their own, they find themselves in an unlikely alliance.
In both Toradora and Say I Love You, it is the attitude of the female mains that keeps most people away. However, while Say I Love You is more drama and Toradora is more comedic, these shows also focus around the girl’s inability to express their feelings for various reasons.
For Fans of Fashionable Men
Third year high school student Yukari is only into studying so she can get into any college outside of her boring town. One day, she meets a suspicious stranger with bleached hair and piercings. She tries to politely leave him, but ends up meeting his friends who are fashion design students for an art school. They want her to model, but she is afraid it will interfere with her studies. Still, she ends up agreeing and it leads her into another less boring world.
The notable thing that some love in Say I Love You is how fashionable and handsome the men are in it. While Paradise Kiss is in that same vein, its older animation somewhat limits how attractive the men are. However, both series have the male leads as male model types and the girls as more normal type girls.
Blue Spring Ride
Futaba Yoshioka was liked by boys and hated by girls in middle school, but she didn’t care as long as Kou Tanaka noticed her. However, after Kou moves away and she enters high school, she does everything she can to be less attractive to the boys in her class so she can have girl friends. Yet when Kou comes back, even though he is a different person, the feelings come back as well.
The similarities between these series come in the male mains and how the relationship progresses. Both male characters are cool in how they act and, in Kou’s case, his attitude. While the coupling dynamics are a bit different, both couples have their times of drama where they really struggle to express how they feel, dramatically slowing down the romance.
Four beautiful boys are offered a chance to rent a fabulous mansion completely for free, but there is a catch. They must turn the lady of the house into a actual lady. For you see, Nakahara Sunako isn’t your typical girl. She is gloomy, she likes horror movies, the occult, and is all around strange. Due to the trauma of being called ugly when she was younger, she doesn’t go out much and beautiful things hurt her eyes.
Both shows have the focus of cool, fashionable men trying to bring a girl out of her shell. While Sunako is willfully trying not to change, Mei is a little more welcoming to being more open and trusting people again. Both girls were hurt by a trauma in their past that serves as an obstacle. However, The Wallflower has quite a bit more comedy than Say I Love You.
For Fans of (Not-So-) Complex Teenage Drama
His and Her Circumstances
Yukino Miyazawa is the perfect student to her peers, but it is all just a front to get the praise and admiration she thrives on. So naturally when Soichiro Arima takes her spot as number one in the class rankings, she goes a little batty. Yet after Arima finds out her true personality, he begins to blackmail her with it.
The couple dynamics in these shows differ greatly, but they are both rare beasts in the romance genre. What is special about His and Hers Circumstances is that you get to see the romance progress past high school, but what they have in common is the very common and relatable relationship emotions that they display. The circumstances in which they are displayed are not always so realistic, but the emotions are pretty on point.
After a tragic accident, Banri Tada is struck with amnesia and forced to repeat his freshman year of college. After making a new friend at his Tokyo law school, his friend’s beautiful, but crazy stalker Kouko Kaga barges into his life and starts a whirlwind of love, mistakes, and friendships.
Both of these are romance series that have more of a mature tone. This works in Golden Time because they are in college. However, even the high schoolers in Say I Love You approach romance in a very mature way. There’s no fangirlish puppy love here.
Risa is very tall for a girl. Atsushi is very short for a boy. They are both in love with different people who actually end up dating each other. With both their loves taken, the two form an unlikely friendship that soon turns into something more.
While Lovely Complex has it whole “she’s tall, he’s short” hook thing, it crafts a great romance that address pretty accurate teenage romantic feelings. While Say I Love You deals with different feelings, it does this too in a more low-key way.
Did we miss any more good anime recommendations for Say I Love You? Let us know in the comments section below.