Happy Valentine’s Day!!
I hope you all are doing fantastic! To celebrate the fluff and mush of this love-tacular day, I decided to build a stack of my favourite manga serials that I love to read on Valentine’s! While some of them do have butterfly-inducing romance in them, most of these titles are genuinely feel-good types of stories with positive and uplifting themes on friendship, life, and being happy. I know that I’m not the only person out there who isn’t too much into the romance-esque nature of this holiday, but I still like to feel warm and fuzzy nonetheless, especially when the Cat Clan decides to run away… damn brats…
Anyhoo, I’ve narrowed down my pile to my 8 go-to manga for the day of love and puff! I hope you all enjoy, and find something fun to read! I apologise ahead of time that this post became so damn long. My excitement for sharing these titles kind of picked me up and swept me away like a megalodon infected tidal wave.
Happy reading & happy romancing.
GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka by Tohru Fujisawa
GTO is a manga series that revolves around 22-year-old virgin, Eikichi Onizuka, and his journey towards becoming the greatest teacher in Japan! The former leader of a biker gang, sets out on the career path of education amid a bunch of delinquent middle-schoolers. He uses his talents from his previous life to help discipline the kids, and to teach them lessons on life, friendship, and growing up. I recommend this for Valentine’s because it’s hilarious! In between all the raunchy humour and bad-mouthing teenagers, there is a lot of positivity about self-love, self-acceptance, family, and what it means to be yourself. I always find myself feeling very happy after reading Onizuka’s tales of tantrum-slaying. For a great read on friendship and being a bona-fide badass, check out GTO!
Yona of the Dawn by Mizuho Kusanagi
Yona of the Dawn is a story about a princess named Yona, who once lived in a beautiful palace with her childhood companion (and bodyguard) Hak. Then her father, King Il, is suddenly assassinated and the throne usurped! Yona and Hak find themselves fleeing the castle with their lives hanging in the balance. Along their journey, they must confront their rage and their grief, as well as concoct a plan to retrieve what is Yona’s rightful throne. I know, this sounds severely serious and not at all fluffy or happy. But I promise, that it does have its moments and those moments are what makes this a great pick for Love-Day! Yona and Hak end up meeting people on their journey with whom they formulate deep and meaningful relationships. Yona grows into a very strong and independent woman, a powerful and headstrong lady. The romance is subtle, but beautifully realistic as two people begin to develop feelings as they face terrible obstacles together. This is a Valentine’s rec. from me because, while it does have its serious undertones, the friendships formed and blossoming love are just spectacularly heart-touching. If the feelings of romance don’t make you gush butterflies, all the friends the twosome encounter sure as hell will. Did I mention that the friends they meet are all devilishly handsome and charming?
Natsume’s Book of Friends by Yuki Midorikawa
This is a story about a boy named Takeshi Natsume, who inherits a book from his grandmother called The Book of Friends. Like his late grandmother, Natsume can see and interact with spirits and demons. As a child, upon losing his parents, he was terribly ridiculed and teased for being “mental” because he would see things that weren’t necessarily there, which caused him to be passed from one family member to the next because no one wanted him. One day a childless distant relative decides to adopt Natsume. Upon moving into the new area, Natsume encounters many spirits who have their names written in the Book of Friends, but wish to have their names returned to them. As Natsume helps these spirits, he discovers that friendship can come in all shapes, sizes, and embodiments. He learns to respect his family, and all the bonds that he’s created along the way—human or otherwise. This is the ultimate feel-good series (and one of my favourites of ALL-TIME!) that focuses entirely on friendship, family, and self-love and that’s why I recommend this for Valentine’s. If you’re anti-romance, then this will suit you even more as there is very little to no romance in this series. But it will warm your heart in ways you never expected!
Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori
Ouran is simply hilarious as all hell. A very famous series, it revolves around a young girl named Haruhi Fujiwara, who’s a poor girl that worked her bum off to be able to attend the prestigious Ouran Academy. One day while searching for a private room to study in, she stumbled into the Host Club room instead. In her haste to escape, she ends up breaking an extremely valuable item. The only way to pay back her debt is to join the school’s host club and work it off. Lucky for her, she looks so much like a boy that they shanghai her into the clan as soon as possible, none-the-wiser. This is a great series that introduces you to (and pokes fun at) the different character tropes typically found in manga and anime, yet it does it with flamboyant comedic affect and delightful themes of romance, individuality, friendship, and the notion that you really can’t judge a book (or rich boy) by its cover.
Say, I Love You by Kanae Hazuki
Mei Tachibana is a loner, who’s a bit eccentric and broody. Yamato Kurosawa is your typical playboy punk, with deliciously dashing good looks and charisma to melt a kitty; there’s nothing or no one he can’t get. But he’s also a very nice guy. One day a chance, and slightly violent encounter, completely entrances Yamato with Mei. She’s independent, headstrong, and stubborn. Deviant plot elements ensue and the two end up being in a relationship together. The serial follows them as they learn what it means to be in a relationship. This is my favourite romance manga EVER because it’s genuine. The characters have insecurities and problems that are normal when you’re a teenager, whether you’re in Japan or Timbuktu. The manga doesn’t shy away from serious topics relating to body image (eating disorders), fear for the future (not knowing what to do after high school), sex (how it can negatively impact your self-respect whether you’re a boy or a girl)—things of that nature. Because their relationship—obstacles and happy moments—are so realistic, it’s exactly why it’s a great Valentine’s read. It can get serous, but their love for one another and how they grow, as a couple as well as individual people, is so beautiful that you can’t help by feel fluffy and tingly on the inside.
Skip Beat! by Yoshiki Nakamura
Skip Beat! is a story about Kyoko Mogami. She follows her childhood friend, and first love, to Tokyo to help him pursue his dreams of becoming Japan’s number one musician. But as the plot unfolds, Kyoko quickly learns that Sho’s simply using her as his servant and harbours no romantic feelings for her at all, mostly because she’s so “plain and boring.” She vows to get her revenge by joining the entertainment industry and outshining him! Skip Beat! is the funniest fucking manga that I’ve ever read! It literally had me in tears because I was laughing so hard. If you’re not into romance, and you don’t really want to read anything that’s too mushy, then Skip Beat! is definitely for you as it’s a giant ball of mirth and fun. There are themes pertaining to tackling loneliness, fear, insecurities, and trust, but they are presented in such a way that your cheeks will be aching for days.
Hana Kimi by Hisaya Nakajo
Mizuki Ashiya is a star track and field athlete who follows her biggest athletic idol, Izumi Sano, to his high school. But since it’s an all-boys high school, she chops off her hair and finagles her lady parts into hiding so she can pass as a boy! Upon arriving and getting closer to Sano, Ashiya realises that he has some deep-rooted personal obstacles that are making him question his future as a track and field athlete. Determined to help him conquer those obstacles, she deepens their friendship and begins to tackle the issues that hold him back as they began to surface. Being another comical series, I recommend it because you’ll laugh. But there is much more to this series than laughter. It’s about facing your fears head-on and not letting them lock you down into a cage, preventing you from finding joy in the things you want to accomplish. I read this series when I was feeling dejected in life, and it really motivated me to keep fighting. It’s a very positive series. The love aspect is subtle and extremely engaging, without being frustrating and overbearing (or underwhelming).
Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya
I first experience this with the anime, which killed me with how funny and unbelievably pleasant it was! I’m so happy Yen Press picked up the manga series and is releasing them in gorgeous omnibus editions! ♥ Tohru Honda’s life is turned upside down after a family tragedy. But unwilling to give up, she pitches a tent in a wooded area and settles down. Very quickly, however, she comes to realise that she’s made a home on the Sohma clan’s property! As they reach an understanding, Tohru befriends members of the clan and soon comes to discover the clan’s family secret: whenever they are hugged by the opposite sex, they turn into animals from the Chinese zodiac! This series has it all! Fruits Basket is very funny, super engaging, and the romance is so feel-good and warm that your little heart will turn fuzzy like a bear. It does have its moments of seriousness, but overall, it’s a captivating tale of love, friendship, and lovable characters!
Hiyokoi by Moe Yukimaru
Hiyori Nishiyama is the tiniest girl in her class, making her the most darling thing ever! Then we have Yuushin Hirose who’s the tallest guy in the class. They have mutual friends and eventually befriend one another. The more they spend time together—in groups or alone—the more their feelings begin to develop until one of them confesses to the other! This manga is straight up one of the cutest fucking thing I have ever read in my life. The conflicts that they face as a couple, or as individuals, is so drama-free, which is a HUGE plus in my book. Most shōjo manga have crazy drama, but this one doesn’t. The issues that do come up are solved in an easy and straight forward manner, instead of taking a route around the most obvious solution (which is a shōjo pet-peeve that I have). This is strictly a romance manga with all the bunny rabbits and flittering butterflies that you can imagine. If you’re a fan of romance and are searching for love on this lovey-dovey day, then definitely check out Hiyokoi!
My Love Story!! by Kazune Kawahara
Very much like the manga above, My Love Story!! is about two characters who are quite different from one another, and how they come together to find love! Takeo Gouda is a huge guy—very tall and super ripped—to the point where people are intimidated by him (and shocked to learn that he’s only a freshman in high school). He’s not the type of guy that most girls attract to at all, unlike his best friend, Makoto Sunakawa, who’s dreamy with feathery hair and model-good looks. One day Takeo saves a bite-sized girl named Rinko Yamato from being assaulted on the train. She ends up developing feelings for him and the two begin a unique and precious romance together. This is the ULTIMATE VALENTINE’S DAY ROMANCE MANGA SERIES! I love that it focuses on a guy who isn’t your typical Mr. Perfect and Pretty, and how he gets the girl and makes it work beautifully! He’s so kind-hearted and caring, contrary to his appearance, which just adds even more delightful warmth to his characterisation. The romance between Takeo and Rinko is SO GODDAMN FRICKING SWEET that I literally just can’t even. My most-recommended Valentine’s manga serial is definitely My Love Story!!