In any shounen anime, there are multiple aspects that keep you hooked and wanting more. “Bromances” are a thing of the Western world where you can have a guy friend that you’re incredibly close to and can tell anything to. In anime, this concept is fully fledged out and is so intimate that it can’t even be considered a “bromance”. Many fans who watch certain shounen anime will see the interactions between two male characters and think — “that’s it!” — and immedi-ately start seeing them as something that’s similar to a couple — hence, the title “bishounen”.
Put your shipping goggles on, because below is a top ten of the best bishounen pairings in anime!
10. Light and L (Death Note)
- Episodes: 37
- Aired: October 2006 — June 2007
Notoriously known for its incredible psychological pressure and question of what “God’s” job really entails, Death Note is definitely one of the more popular anime that is not popular merely because of the romantic aspects. The anime itself does not glorify romance and label it as a “prize” for the characters to win, as it’s usually dictated as such in anime sometimes. The main goal of Death Note is for Light Yagami to realise that his self-acclaimed God title will result to nothing, as he is a mere human. Of course, what good would this anime be without suspense and without the plot moving forward at a significant pace?
L is one of the most loved characters throughout anime in general, and not just limited to Death Note itself. He is in-credibly insightful and intelligent, but he is also a person who feels that human interaction is almost unnecessary. Be-fore “Kira” became a dangerous case, L refused to involve himself in the case, despite the many requests of the local and private police. When the killings were becoming more frequent, L admitted that “Kira” intrigued him, without at first knowing that Light was “Kira”. When these two characters began to interact, many fans saw the potential in their relationship, as L acknowledged Light as his “friend”, and claimed that they were the exact same.
The fact that they eventually worked for different ends of the spectrum made their relationship seem more tantalizing, and much more forbidden, which was what ultimately appealed to the audience. In the end, when Light was the one to kill L, their friendship and bond would stay forever in Light’s mind, as he too, considered L to be a good friend, despite believing in vastly different ideals.
9. Kageyama and Hinata (Haikyuu!!)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2014 — September 2014
To all characters in Haikyuu!!, volleyball is immensely vital to their survival in school. It is the air they breathe and they all want to eventually become better at it, to be good enough players to win enough games. Of course, that is the ob-jective of every sports anime — but there’s something that’s so lovable about the characters in this anime that make you want to watch more. Like many protagonists, Hinata Shouyou is a little ball of energetic sunshine that brings a smile to most people’s faces, if they don’t think he’s annoying (which, of course, some might!). A prime example of someone who thinks he is too energetic is Kageyama Tobio, the boy who he becomes close with and forms a friendship with.
The tsundere and ray of sunshine trope is incredibly popular in anime and there are various examples from other anime that can be used to prove this theory. Kageyama and Hinata are no different from this trope, but what makes Haikyuu!! fans excited about these two is that Kageyama, despite being known as a cold-hearted person who is a lethal volleyball player who plays the position of setter, is incredibly different around Hinata. He admires the orange-haired boy for his determination despite people telling him that he will not make it.
Since they both love volleyball as much as they do, it serves as a topic for conversation, even if they don’t have much else in common, and being boys who are about fourteen years old, competition is everything. What makes their friendship and bromance so interesting is the fact that they are supposed to be rivals, but the fact of the matter is that they spend so much time together and trust each other 100% in terms of their volleyball skills. The only reason they are not as close as they would like to be is because people would see them — and it was a huge offence to be seen being close to your rival, because that was quite possibly a mistake neither of them wanted to make public.
8. Tanuma and Natsume (Natsume’s Book of Friends JPN: Natsume Yuujinchou)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2008 — September 2008
Natsume’s Book of Friends is somewhat difficult to classify in terms of its genre, because it’s so many things at once. While it’s about the supernatural world, it’s also about Natsume’s life and how he grew to be the person he is today. Throughout the anime, we learn that Natsume is incredibly lonely and yet, he is still so kind to those around him. While we feel sympathy for him, we also love him because he’s so considerate of everyone else’s feelings. Living with people who aren’t directly related to him makes him someone that appreciates what others give him, and he is ultimately someone that we all admire and love.
When Natsume meets Tanuma, it is in the hallways of his high school. What surprises the audience is that Tanuma no-tices Natsume’s features, such as his eyes and his nose and his hair — and this is the first hint that their relationship seems to be a little more than a “bromance”. When Natsume falls ill, Tanuma is one of the people who rushes to make sure that he is alright. Even though Natsume is always looking out for Tanuma and doesn’t want him to get involved in the world of spirits and ghosts, the guy always insists that he wants to help and ultimately, Natsume cannot refuse him.
The fact that Tanuma wants to understand Natsume’s world is enough of an indication of how much he really cares for his friend (who might be more than a friend to him, suggested by the way he notices Natsume)!
7. Nezumi and Shion (No.6)
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: July 2011 — September 2011
Overthrowing the government and maintaining a romance with the boy you met years ago when you were running away from the police and needed a place to hide is always such a thrill, and definitely one of those stories that you’d want to read in a book. No.6 is a fantastic anime in terms of plot and how it’s not completely centered around romantic relationships, though that does have a minuscule stake in it. The fact that No.6 focuses on its dystopian society more than the relationship between Nezumi and Shion doesn’t mean that there aren’t incredibly heart-warming and heart-wrenching moments between the two protagonists. It is their show, after all!
From the very beginning, you can taste a hint of the relationship between these two, from the moment that Shion al-lows Nezumi inside to dry off from the heavy storm. Eventually, because he housed a fugitive, Shion got in trouble and was to spend the rest of his life doing whatever it was that the government required him to do, without any questions. When he meets Nezumi again after years since the rainy day incident, it is almost like magic — and just like that, Shion and Nezumi’s relationship only continues to grow as they care for each other and make sure they are safe.
Of course, in this case, there is a confession that they love each other, which makes the condition of their government much more bearable, as long as they have each other to keep on going without giving up hope every so often.
6. Kurou and Yashiro (K Project)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: October 2012 — December 2012
If you have seen K Project, you know that the essential message of the anime is that loyalty to your leader is a very important trait to possess in that universe. Without a leader, you were lost, and if you were lost, your life could genu-inely be in danger, since the ones who do serve a leader will be after you. Yatogami Kurou was a free agent who was being hunted down by both the Red Clan and the Blue Clan before he met Isana Yashiro, who eventually stuck by his side to fight against the authorities to prove their innocence.
Much like No.6, K Project explores the theme of changing a system that has been in power for too long, finding flaws in a system that claims to be fair. While trying to find ways to make changes that were beneficial for everyone including the biggest clans — the Red and the Blue — Kurou and Yashiro are placed into various predicaments throughout only thirteen episodes.
Appearing cold at first, Kurou found Yashiro to be reckless and absolutely oblivious to his life being in danger at times. This bothered him and gave him a sense of responsibility and a desire to protect Yashiro. When Kurou was first intro-duced in the series, he was a lone wolf and refused to belong to any clan. The more he formed a relationship with Yashiro, the more loyal he became to him. As if that wasn’t enough, it was also discovered eventually that Yashiro turned out to be the king or leader of the Silver Clan, a Clan that had supposedly died out and was therefore considered to be strong and elite.
Without a doubt, Kurou vowed to protect Yashiro, his new king, with his life and his sword. Of course, this was the def-inition of character development having gone well, as Kurou finally came to care about someone’s life other than his own.
5. Hideyoshi and Kaneki (Tokyo Ghoul √A)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2015 — March 2015
Kaneki Ken’s life changed when he discovered that he was Ghoul, which meant that he feasted on human flesh and found normal, human food to be repulsive and distasteful. Throughout the first season, we see that he struggles with coming to terms with his new identity, and to accept that he is not really human, nor is he really a Ghoul, either. When he first became a Ghoul, he wanted to desperately to keep this a secret from Hideyoshi, his best friend.
Despite his best efforts to protect Hideyoshi, we as the audience know that he secretly does know about Kaneki’s new identity, and has already made his peace with it. Without pushing him, Hideyoshi merely expects him to tell let him know when he’s ready, which of course, is the mark of a great friendship or relationship since there is so much trust.
The most heartbreaking thing about Tokyo Ghoul as a whole, is that despite Kaneki’s best efforts to protect Hideyoshi from the Ghouls, he still failed to keep him safe and ended up losing him in the process. When all the damage had taken place, Kaneki was the one that carried out his best friend in his arms — the very best friend that he had known since he was a child, and had wanted to go home safely with. Although Kaneki was soft-hearted in the beginning and grew to be a hard-ass, when he sees that he lost his best friend right in front of him, the residues of his old heart resurface and the one thing he loved more than himself and wanted to protect more than anything was gone.
Not only did this break Kaneki’s heart, but it broke the fans’ hearts as well, as they had hope that Kaneki would directly tell Hideyoshi that he was a Ghoul one day, and there would be no secrets between them.
4. Kagami and Kuroko (Kuroko no Basket)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2012 — September 2012
There’s an ongoing joke amongst fans on the internet that post on social media such as Tumblr and Twitter that say that sports anime is essentially “a whole lot of gay”, and the reason for this is because of the incredible care that teammates on a sports team have for each other. This is a debatable concept as in Japanese culture, people on sports teams are incredibly close to each other that can mislead people into thinking that there is something more going on.
However, when Kuroko no Basket was aired, many viewers fell in love with the closeness that was exhibited between the main characters who all happened to be on the Seirin High School team. Naturally, a common trope that people choose to fall in love with is the best friend trope — because how can a relationship exist if you aren’t friends first?!
Kagami Taiga was a new student at Seirin High School that had recently came back from L.A., and he was more than eager to try out for the basketball team. Kuroko Tetsuya, being a member of the infamous Generation of Miracles while he was in middle school, also tries out for the basketball team, despite appearing frail and small. He, of course, is not as tall as the rest of his teammates and seniors, but it is a feat when he makes it to the team, especially because he has a special skill that no one else has, which of course, can be used to the advantage of the team.
As the relationships between the teammates strengthened, so did Kuroko and Kagami’s friendship. As they became closer, Kagami felt an incredible need to protect Kuroko from harm and from anyone’s harshness, because he genuine-ly believed in Kuroko’s ability to do better.
3. Makoto and Haruka [Free!]
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2013 — September 2013
Before it officially aired, Free! was considered to be one of the biggest anime explosions of the summer of 2013. Many fujoshis were absolutely stoked to see that this anime was to be aired — an anime about men who swam and were shirtless half the time. Of course, Kyoto Animation decided that that wouldn't be enough and being a production studio that is notoriously known for creating stories that are moving, they decided that an emotionally moving plot would definitely help people to get invested. Along with character development and history that contributed to the series being such a success, there are, of course, multiple bishounen pairings that are supported throughout the anime.
Makoto and Haruka became extremely popular after the airing of Free!, although for some people, it took a few epi-sodes and a little bit more of investment before their brains snapped and rooted for these two best friends. They’re incredibly close and constantly look out for each other, and on top of that, they know each other’s ticks and fears. Without having to ask, they will protect each other and stand by each other, because that’s what defines their rela-tionship.
When Haru decided to give up on swimming, Makoto was the one who would occasionally bring up the water because he knew that more than anything, Haru loved the water. This attentiveness that Makoto displays for Haru is what made fans go crazy, because it was so subtle and yet so incredibly loud, it was almost impossible not to see these two together — even a little bit.
2. Kaworu and Shinji [Neon Genesis Evangelion]
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 1995 — March 1996
Neon Genesis Evangelion is more of an experience than an anime. The main plot of the series is stated and shown, and the audience is aware of it, but what people are drawn to are the emotionally heavy moments in the series when Shinji, Asuka, Misato and Ritsuko break down due to the intense repercussions of living in a world that is constantly terrorized by the Angels. The series is interesting because of its portrayal of what humans would do if they were faced in a crisis similar to this. However, among death and destruction there can also be lasting relationships that can change one’s outlook.
Shinji and Kaworu have an interesting friendship, to say the least. Shinji throughout the anime, is very reserved and rarely spoke to anyone, as if wanting to not take up room. Before he met Kaworu, Shinji was a very lonely person be-cause he had no one to connect to emotionally. There seemed to be no one for him that could understand him in any way. Kaworu seemed to change all that when he was introduced as a “replacement” for Asuka. Kaworu seemed to es-sentially be Shinji’s idealized self: confident and intelligent — something that Shinji never saw himself as.
Later on, Kaworu reveals his feelings for Shinji with the line “I really was born to meet you”. This made a major impact on Shinji because it’s an extremely powerful statement for someone who does not know such kindness and love. Shinji is a boy who was lonely, and he finally finds someone just for him and that in itself is beautiful and incredibly rare. Hav-ing someone when you think no one else can love you or even care for you can stir up intense emotions and make you feel at peace with yourself.
1. Naruto and Sasuke [Naruto]
- Episodes: 220
- Aired: October 2002 — February 2007
There are many layers to the series Naruto and it seems to be a never-ending cycle for some, although not all, of its fans. While the main plot of the series is something that can never be forgotten amongst fans, there are other aspects to the series, such as relationships between Naruto and those around him. Of course, Naruto’s power to get through to people, even if just a little bit, is most notable with those closest to him. The most adored relationship or friendship in the series, is, to no one’s surprise, Naruto and Sasuke.
From the very start, Naruto and Sasuke were rivals. They were always competing against each other to see who could become stronger, but what would later be revealed in the series is that both characters are incredibly lucky in terms of how much power they each possess. Training as hard as they can, Sasuke had done the one thing that Naruto wished for his entire life: acknowledged him as a person with feelings as opposed to a “monster” that destroyed the village twelve years prior to his birth.
In actuality, many adults of Konoha referred to Naruto and Sasuke as being the exact same, as they were both children who had no family as they grew up. This similarity between them is what caused their bond to be somewhat strong — because although they were as different as night and day, they understood each other. That was definitely the mark of a truly good pairing; that despite having differences and being existences that aren’t identical, they can still care about each other and support each other.
One thing that all these pairings have in common is that they all trust each other despite the odds that are against them. Perhaps that is what draws us to these pairings and makes us want to love them much more, as they are all healthy representations of what fictional relationships (and perhaps realistic) should at least look like. Without these bishounen pairings, we might not know the true meaning of friendship, trust, and faith. There’s a reason why they’re all popular pairings, and even more reasons why they all have made it onto this top ten list of top ten best bishounen pairings in anime!