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Best Anime About Dating Sims

Dating sims, or ‘otome games’ used to be an odd subgenre brought up to illustrate how quirky Japanese games could be. They largely still are, but their influence has spread further. Sometimes they’re substories in bigger games, like Judgment or the Persona series, or are honest releases that play the premise straight.


Related: Great Dating Sim Games on Steam That Deserve More Attention

Other times they’re for yuks & chuckles like the horror based Hooked On You, or Hatoful Boyfriend, the bird-dating sim. Whatever their form may be, dating sims have inspired a brace of shows that either use their esthetics, or actually use a dating sim game at the center of their plot. Here are the best examples of dating sim anime to look out for.

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6/6 Excel Saga Episode #4: ‘Love Puny’

Excel Saga spoofs anything & everything under the sun. It got to the point where it played one episode entirely seriously because, at that stage in the show, it was more bizarre than another spoof. Yet episode 4, ‘Love Puny’, may be one of the earliest examples of a dating sim being shown in anime. Broadcast in 1999, Excel is tasked by her leader, Il Palazzo, to track down her missing partner Hyatt.

While she goes & does that, he wiles away the time by playing a dating sim featuring Excel & Hyatt. However, he’s unaware that his play also affects an F-city resident called Watanabe, who finds Hyatt & tries to woo her. Their choices are shown via a dating sim-style HUD, often with Excel interfering in one way or another. At least they’re both gentlemen as, despite temptation, they never choose the 3rd option to ‘stick it in’. If they did, it would likely turn out to be the Hokey Pokey.

5/6 Nyaruko-san: Another Crawling Chaos Episode #8: ‘Nyaruko’s Exciting High School’

Dating Sim Anime- Nyaruko-San Another Crawling Chaos

The work of H.P Lovecraft has seen some odd adaptations in its past century. An anime romcom has to be one of the oddest. In Haiyore! Nyaruko-san, Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, the Stalker Among the Stars, the Faceless God of a Thous& Forms, is now a cute girl wanting earth boy Mahiro to protect her from the other Lovecraftian entities. The show’s third season, Nyaruko-san: Another Crawling Chaos, saw Mahiro put into a qu&ary in its 8th episode.

Nyaruko has just confessed her feelings for him, but he’s left unsure on what to do. He picks up a videogame console from a market &, as soon as he switches it on, gets sucked into its game, which happens to be a dating sim. The only way to escape is to get a good ending with Nyaruko, Cthuga, Hastur, or the lone human option Tamao Kurei. Decisions, decisions.

4/6 Kami Nomi Zo Shiru Sekai

Dating Sim Anime- Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai

Single episodes are fine enough, but what about full series? There’s quite a few. Kami Nomi, or The World God Only Knows, twists things a little. Originally a manga by Tamiki Wakaki for Weekly Shonen Sunday, the series follows a high school student called Keima Katsuragi. When it comes to dating sims, he’s a player in every sense of the word. He can ‘conquer’ the heart of any 2D girl. But when it comes to the real, or 3D, world, he’s just another dork with glasses.

Related: Best Comedy Anime on HIDIVE (October 2022)

He’s invited to ‘conquer’ more hearts &, thinking it’s about otome games, he accepts. Then he finds out too late that Elsie, a demon from Hell, roped him into a challenge where he has to charm real women to prevent them from being possessed by evil spirits. If he goes ahead with it, he’ll have to learn how to talk to real women instead of relying on his dating game skills. But if he refuses, he’ll be decapitated by an unseen blade as per his ‘arrangement’ with Elsie. So now, the ‘God of Dating Games’ has to become a ‘God of Dating’ to save both himself & others from a grim fate.

3/6 WataMote

Dating Sim Anime- WataMote

It’s a good thing these shows have short h&s. Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dō Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! is a hefty mouthful to chew through. Its English translation, No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular isn’t much better. It’s a divisive series as some see it as an honest portrayal of social anxiety & similar problems à la Welcome to the NHK, while others see it as mean-spirited mockery.

But where do dating games Advance into Nico Tanigawa’s series? Well, it’s essentially like The World Only God Knows without the demons & magic. 15-year-old student Tomoko Kuroki prepared herself for high school by mastering dating games, only to find out the real world isn’t like her video games. Still, she aims to achieve her dreams by fixing her faults, improving her status, & inspire both the popular kids & her similarly gloomy friends in the process.

2/6 My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead To Doom!

Dating Sim Anime- My Next Life As A Villainess

My Next Life as a Villainess is one of the st&out examples of the dating sim story field, having inspired a brace of light novels about female villains. Satoru Yamaguchi’s series made the jump from a light novel to a manga, & then to two anime series & a film. Caterina Claes was an ordinary noblewoman in a fantasy kingdom until she bumped her head & realized she wasn’t who others thought she was.

She was actually a Japanese otaku girl who got sucked into Fortune Lover, her favorite dating sim & reincarnated as its villain. They’re the one character who’s either banished at best or killed at worst depending on the game’s path. So, now she has to find a way to avoid her fate & forge a new path. All with unintended consequences for her & the people around her.

1/6 Trapped In A Dating Sim

Dating Sim Anime- Trapped in a Dating Sim

Yomu Mishima’s series is perhaps the most obvious example, given it has ‘dating sim’ in the title. But Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for a Mob has managed to be popular in all its forms, be it the original light novel, the manga, or ENGI’s anime adaptation. In it, an ordinary office worker is made to finish an otome game by his little sister. Thoroughly uninterested, he leaves, hits his head, & dies.

That would be embarrassing enough, but he’s reincarnated as Leon Fou Bartfort, one of the game’s NPCs or ‘mobs’. Being a man in a matriarchal world, & a character meant to fade into the background, the odds are against him. But with the help of Luxion, the game’s cheat item, he manages to make a living in the dating sim’s world & get embroiled in all sorts of bizarre plots with the nobility. For a background character, he ends up in the foreground often.

More: Dating Sim Games That Got Their Own Anime


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