As an anime fan, watching romantic stories had always been a fantastic experience unless you’re bitter and have some frustrations in life. However, it can also be a light in the dark, and an inspiring element that could show you the path towards salvation and that is the power of a good narrative, and somehow, relatable and relevant stories.
As an enthusiast of good romance stories, I had always been a chaser, I always chase great stories even outside my comfort zone of watching Japanese animation, and such is the case why I fell in love with Chinese anime or what we called donghua as I’ve discovered precious gems among its roots, and it is surprising how so many people or anime enthusiasts haven’t trodden the path towards this discovery.
Best Romance Donghua from China
Whenever we talked about Chinese romance donghua, some titles often get into our heads immediately, while leaving behind what are those underrated series or titles that have been off our radar. Therefore, I would like to share a list of my top recommended romance donghua as well as several series that showcase romantic affairs between two hearts in varying degrees.
Big Fish & Begonia (Da Yu Hai Tang)
How much are you willing to sacrifice for love? This had been a common question and it has been a cliche but sometimes, we just can’t directly answer it, right? To be honest, sometimes, it means going against destiny, sometimes, it feels like bringing someone back to life from the abyss of death, and such is the case in the story of Big Fish and Begonia, a heartwrenching story of love and defying destiny in a journey that couldn’t be even more magical than it already is.
This is a mythic land where no outsider has ever set foot. The spirit-like dwellers there, however, know us, mortals, well. They are responsible for human emotions and desires, for seasons, weather, and the elapsing of time… Our protagonist, a spirit girl named Chun, has just turned sixteen and goes in the form of a dolphin to explore the earthly part of the sea, to see what the human world is like. While cruising at sea, Chun gets caught in a storm and finds herself enmeshed in a fishing net. A human boy spots her and comes to her rescue, trying to free Chun from the entanglement. By accident, the boy drowns leaving Chun wretched and heartbroken. Da Hai tells an absorbing and bittersweet story of sacrifice and redemption when Chun is determined to bring back to life the boy’s soul, now in the form of a little white fish. Da Hai is about an adolescent coming to terms with her limitations, and a spirit, coming into possession of her powers […] dealing with the difficult issues of death, love, and maturing emotions with empathy and nuance.Source: The feature film brochure
Cinderella Chef (Meng Qi Shi Shen)
When isekai and scrumptious antics were mixed together, we ended up with Cinderella Chef, an amazing Chinese romance donghua that sent us back in time along with its main character. It is one of the best romcom donghua and definitely a must-watch among new viewers of Chinese animation.
Ye Jiayao finds herself back in time in the body of Ye Jinxuan. After many twists, she thought that she would finally be able to lead a simple life and achieve her dream of opening the best restaurant in Huai Song. However, there are villains constantly trying to bring her down.
The Demonic King Who Chases His Wife (Xie Wang Zhui Qi)
Coming next is another isekai or transmigration donghua that highlights a journey of the world’s finest female assassin who was betrayed by her boyfriend, before dying she was transmigrated into a fantasy world that looks like Ancient China but with a magic and cultivation system exists. There, she possessed the body of a noblewoman who seems to be despised by her family. From there, she ought to make a new story for her life as she also met the tyrant king whom her heart will beat for later on.
She, a renowned assassin of the 21st century, actually crossed over to become Su Manor’s most useless good-for-nothing Fourth Miss. He, Jin Empire’s imperial highness, was an emotionless overbearing demonic tyrant with unrivaled talent. Everyone knew that she was idiotic and good-for-nothing and bullied her as they pleased. But only he, the overbearing tyrant with the discerning eye, wouldn’t let go of her even if his life depended on it. For the time being, let’s just see how the stubborn versus stubborn clash and play out in this good show of the chaser and the chased.Source: Official Webnovel
White Snake: The Origin (Bai She: Yuan Qi)
A heartwarming and gorgeous adventure of forbidden love between a snake spirit and a human. White Snake is a beautiful tale of love, adventure, acceptance, and defying destiny itself.
One day a young woman named Blanca is saved by Xuan, a snake catcher from a nearby village. She has lost her memory, and together they go on a journey to discover her real identity, developing deeper feelings for one another along the way. But as they learn more about her past, they uncover a darker plot of supernatural forces vying for power, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Conceived as a prequel to one of the most ancient and enduring stories in Chinese history, White Snake presents a sumptuous tale of trickster demons, deadly mythical beasts, assassins, wuxia action, and the promise of eternal love.Source: GKIDS
Memory of Chang’an (Shi Yi Chang’an: Mingyue Ji Shi You)
Adapted from a Chinese manhua called Prince, Don’t Do This!, the Memory of Chang’an is a visually stunning ride that tells a budding romance after a fixed marriage, but it is also clouded in politics as the couple involved are from a kingdom and an empire whose marriage had been an excused for a political alliance. Can real love outshine all of these elements? I must say yes, but it will take a lot of courage for our main characters to confess what they truly feel.
Princess Mingyue and Li Qiang, the emperor’s ninth prince, are forced to marry in order to keep the peace in their kingdoms. As the princess finally seems to be getting used to her new life in Chang’an (an ancient Chinese capital), plots are hovering against her and the royal family.
I’m Joybo (Wo Shi Jiang Xiaobai)
With plenty of plot twists, I’m Joybo is the Chinese romance donghua that won’t let you sleep soundly at night, knowing that it has disturbed your inner peace in many ways. Every episode has something new to offer, and most of the time, they are surprising twists that will incite your brain to think and look at the story from a different perspective and how it will evolve. Furthermore, this is an emotional ride like no other which was even intensified by its catchy and sometimes, heartfelt soundtrack.
Jiang Xiaobai starts his first-ever job as an editor. His new work partner, writer Tong Li, however, continually gives him a hard time. Then one day, he learns that Tong Li is a long-lost friend from his childhood. Gradually, their past is revealed.
God of Mountains and Jujube (Shanshen Yu Xiaozao)
Also known as the God and a Girl, it reminds me of the Japanese romance anime Kamisama Kiss but there’s a certain appeal to this donghua that makes it unique on its own.
Xiaozao is a girl who always brings misfortune to others. She has to move into a temple named God of Mountains Temple where lives a real god of mountains. Xiaozao met the god when she was a young girl and it seems it’s the god who cursed her. But, later on, they fall in love with each other! And their love story began much earlier than they thought?Source: Mangatoon, edited
No Doubt In Us (Liang Bu Yi)
It’s the body-switching antics, No Doubt In Us follows the story of an emperor and his empress who had quite a rough relationship but their strength and faith has been tested when they switch places and bodies, now, the empress has to go to war and defend the kingdom while the emperor has to deal with the toxic and competitive imperial harem. Will they be able to finally understand each other when they’re in each other’s shoes? Now, that’s a journey worth checking out, I swear.
A handsome emperor gets too close to an embarrassed queen, resulting in them falling into a pool together. Then they swap their bodies. The way to swap back is unknown. The most important thing is that the emperor is quite angry now!! Before everything comes back to normal, the emperor has to deal with his mean imperial concubines whom he never knows and the queen has to mediate between those ministries…Source: Webcomics
Psychic Princess (Tong Ling Fei)
A list of Chinese romance anime is not complete without the almighty Psychic Princess, the popular series that we all love. The arranged marriage aspect had been exciting and even more astounding all thanks to the mischievous side of our princess who won’t let herself become a damsel in distress and a display wife for her husband, the black-hearted prince of the Empire. The series follows their day-to-day life as a married couple despite their differences and random clashes.
Qian Yunxi, the oldest daughter of the prime minister was born with a special ability. Because of this she was deemed ‘abnormal’ and was raised at Mt. Lin Yun. Upon turning 16, she took her younger sister’s place to marry into the royal family of Ye. Rumors say Ye Youming is strange, cold, and cruel. Just how will Qian Yunxi’s fate play out?
Immemorial Love For You (Ai Zai Xi Yuan Qian)
Barely making it to our top 10 but a well-deserved series to be called one of the best Chinese romance anime, Immemorial Love For You is everything a romance story should be. There’s fantasy and drama but on top of that, the donghua is just a furball of exciting romantic tropes and we are all living for this adorable and heartfelt reunion.
Some aliens come to the Earth and one of them, becomes Babilonia’s King, building the Babel Tower in order to come back to his world. But, due to technical failures, his spaceship explodes, killing the main female character. The male lead and his troop stay on the Earth to find a way to come back. The female main character reincarnates 2500 years ago and met with him one more time. Then, what will happen now?Source: TV Time
If our top 10 is not enough for you, don’t be disheartened as we had prepared a long list of Chinese romance donghua that you might want to check and add to your watchlist too as follows:
- Crystal Sky of Yesterday
- My Cultivator Girlfriend
- Fox Spirit Matchmaker
- How to Steal 55 Kisses
- Whited Nighttime
- The Island of Siliang
- The Temptation of a Cat Demon
- No Choice But to Betray the Earth
- The Legend of the Sword and Fairy
- Lighter & Skirt
- Spicy Girl
- Battle Through The Heavens
- Cupid’s Chocolates
- Heaven Official’s Blessing
- Great Doctor Miss Nine
- Face On Lie
- Monster List
- Lan Mo’s Flower
- Soul Land
- Planting Manual
- Prince of Billiard
- Hey, Your Cat Ears Are Showing!
- Snow Eagle Lord
- My Heart Leaps Up
- Stellar Transformations
- Sweet Bite Marks
- Tales of Demons and Gods
- A Record of a Mortal’s Journey to Immortality
- Qian Wu Guren
- Dragon in Distress
- KisKis! My Boyfriends Are Mint Candies
- Unbreak my Heart
- Book of Spirits
- Shao Shuai Mei Tian Dou Zai Chicu
- Blue Wings
- Flower Beauty
- Yong Mei