Within even the more adventure or sci-fi focused visual novels, coupling options are plentiful. For such a big list, this one was a toughy. My choices for sure will change given the more visual novels I manage to finish, but as of 2020, these are my favourite visual novel couples across the genre I’ve had the fortune of indulging in.
Koba Youka and Ariu Aki from Kindred Spirits on the Roof
Welcome to Yuritopia! When it comes to wholesomeness, there is very little competition to rival the sheer pleasure and cuteness of Kindred Spirits. With a cast of over 6 high schoolers each with developing crushes and love waiting to blossom, this yuri title is one of the best of this niche genre as you go around playing match maker with your fellow class mates and even ghosts. Since I get too emotional when it comes to the ghosts my preference is in one of the living couples of the title to negate my tears.
Youka and Aki are the “opposites attract” of the title, Youka being very rock and roll and excitable, while Aki is quiet and stoic. Youka is especially a loud mouth, but it makes for the majority of humorous dialogue and scenes. This is topped off with Aki loving each and every moment of Youka sprouting whatever at every given moment. It’s an absolutely adorable chemistry which steals every scenes they’re in alongside anyone else. I almost wish Kindred Spirits was all about them! Kindred Spirits on the Roof is more cute than anything else, even with its vanilla material in its Steam release.
Kindred Spirits on the Roof is available on Steam only.
Shirogane Takeru and Kagami Sumika from Muv-Luv
Considering that my first ever anime other than Pokemon was Rumbling Hearts, my bias really shows with this one. Both titles are well known visual novels from the company age. The two cross over in yet another visual novel from the company called Kimi ga Nozomu Muv-Luv, and Rumbling Hearts is even set in the world of Muv Luv Extra specifically, with characters from the title briefly appearing in it. The links do not stop there, as I’ve always felt that the character designs are very similar to one another, reinforcing my very rapid falling for Sumika, as her look alike of Rumbling Hearts’ Haruka Suzumiya. Futhermore, she’s an extremely sympathetic character due to her receiving the short straw in not winning over her love she thought she’s dating even when her own best friend was her love rival (Mitsuki Hayase is one of my most hated anime characters, your best friend has been in a coma for three years for heavens sake!).
In comparison, Sumika fares a lot better in the romance department (in some ways), being the popular pairing of the heroine options in Muv-Luv. In a trilogy that spans different timelines and universes with a whole plot point of a love so strong it transcends space and time itself, Sumika’s complete adoration and unrelenting love for Takeru is glorious. You may get annoyed at her overtly chirpy personality, but you can’t put it past the girl for being so dedicated no matter the time, place or location. And in the end, even Takeru becomes convinced she’s deserving. Better late than never!
The Muv-Luv trilogy is available on Vita and Steam.
Saihara Shuichi and Kaede Akamatsu from Danganronpa V3
I know, I know, it’s not Kaede and Hinata, rage all you want in the comments! When it comes to fan favourites across the Danganronpa main trilogy entries, each consisting of around 12 new characters, there are many shipping options. This has even caused the creation of a Danganronpa wiki shipping page! What I love about this pairing isn’t only because it’s the most obviously mutual interest between the two compared to everyone else, but it’s touching in every chapter to see Shuichi remind himself of Kaede despite knowing her for such a short amount of time (how many times does their first CG together of them hand holding appear, hmm?).
In such brief moments between them, Kaede’s positive outlook on life and staying hopeful in situations and being so wholeheartedly genuine, kind and opportunistic inspires Shuichi to the point of being outspoken and confident during the class trails. And in a promise to Kaede, he moves his hat to reveal his face throughout the rest of the game. Further prove is with her love hotel event confirming her ideal type of partner, and with other characters acknowledging their interest in one another (Maki and Korekiyo).
Danganronopa V3 is available on Vita, PS4 and Steam.
Hoshino Ichika and Mineo Enomoto from Collar x Malice
In the glorious world of otomes, tropes and archetypes have become staples of the genre, much like how tsunderes, lolis and imoutos run rampant in visual novels. This makes for very quick understandings of characters within their respected routes, and with expectations forming since we see such types frequently within the genre. Both Impey Barbicane and Enomoto are Genki types (happy-go-lucky), with my man right here being a bit more hotheaded (I have a type, yes). Enomoto has some very obvious and passionate likes such as wearing an eye-patch as an indication for his love of the historical figure Masamune Date, with Ichika being very quick to be on this list once on his route.
The dynamic of the pair is the best of the couplings, with these two being the closest in age and you can see what that does to them with their heated back and forth’s before the eventual acknowledgment that it’s because of a burning passion of love. While Enomoto can be quick to spurt out whatever he’s thinking, Ichika has the same tendency, with her straightforwardness raising Enomoto’s awkwardness and temperature to show on his reddening face. His route also provides a lot of moments with fan favourite Kazuki, Ichika’s younger brother, showing more sides to the siblings’ relationship and development. There are also plenty of unexpectedly sweet moments exclusive to the pair, from Enomoto giving Ichika a piggyback ride after twisting her ankle when she’s chasing him, and threatening a group of guys who harass her, passionately yelling that she’s HIS partner (it’s all very cutely oblivious of course, bless).
Collar x Malice is available on Vita and Switch.
Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa from Clannad
Who else could it have been? When we talk about the company Key, it’s no surprise they’re one of the leading developers of visual novel titles. From Little Busters! to Air, they’ve never failed to touch the hearts of thousands of us, but if there’s one couple that have had the stronger and most lasting impact on us then it’s no surprise it’s Tomoya and Nagisa.
While the original title has multiple love interests (routes), arguably its canon pairing is Tomoya and Nagisa, with the two ending up together at the end of the visual novel and being further explored in their lives after school in the anime Clannad: After Story. This even shows the pair married and with their child Ushio Okazaki. The two compliment each other so well, from them being polar opposites since the start with Tomoya having a bleak and bored perception of living while Nagisa is making the most of it while being as optimistic as possible. Nagisa is so damn pure, wholesome and sweet, deserving of not only love but being the central heroine of Clannad, so seeing the development of Nagisa’s relationship with Tomoya more so out of every other heroine is, of course, damaging to our watery eyes but also so beautiful and rewarding.
The relationship of Nagisa and Tomoya encapsulates everything that love is; its ups and downs, its sweet yet bitter, its joyful yet its painful. Tomoya and Nagisa is an incredible and unforgettable coupling, and with the adaption of the visual novel as an anime, they will be remembered as this for years to come.
Clannad is available on PS4, Switch and Steam.
Okabe Rintaro and Kurisu Makise from Steins;Gate
Out of every single one of my picks, this one won’t be a surprise. As the winner of Reddit’s very own best visual novel couples back in 2015, and considering the popularity of Steins;Gate even as an anime, Okabe and Kurisu are a major ship in both the video game format and anime adaption. The key word for this is chemistry. In a story that does not involve any romance at all with a focus on its time bending plot over everything else, the always growing relationship between the pair of geniuses is divinely subtle. From their immediate teasing and nagging of one another at the start to their motivations that consider one another by the climax of its story, the dynamic duo’s love for one another may not be as blatant as others, but its especially natural. From Okabe naming another invention of his after the nickname she gives him to his whole motivation during the end game time of saving her, there’s a lot of love in it that cannot be denied.
Steins;Gate is available on Vita, PS3, PS4, Switch and Steam.
Yuuji Kazami and Yumiko Sakaki from Grisaia
With a lackluster route compared to the other love interests of the title, Yumiko still manages to capture the majority of the series’ fans simply due to her being the one and only Yumiko. As one of four other leading ladies of Grisia, each are explored and developed wonderfully, expected due to their traumatic backgrounds and stagnant living standards. The progression of Yuuji with Yumiko specifically had my heart racing multiple times as I watch it unfold and blossom. Both Yuuji and Yumiko are loner types so seeing them progress into a couple is realistic of their personalities and so rewarding to see come to fruition. And what hits most is Yumiko’s underlining issues that causes her to think this way of being better of alone yet still yearns for attention and affection. She’s a walking contradiction.
And as a visual novel with the standard sexual content, Grisaia is one example where its explicit content reinforces character development. This is especially poignant in this title, as their first love making session has Yuuji realize how much better the pleasure is when feeling the sensation with someone he loves, while this is the first step for Yuuka to realize she is deserving of love. With a very rewarding happy ending, Yuuji and Yumiko together strikes a charming and natural connection more so than any others.
Grisaia is available on Switch and Steam.
Masaya Hinata and Misaki Tobisawa from Aokana
Masaya and Misaki are a coupling that already knew one another by the time our involvement in the visual novel begins. As a more unusual take on a relationship that actually excels in being a continuously engrossing development of a relationship (the childhood friend archetype always being the least interesting), their dynamic is paramount to the overall plot of Aokana. This is due to Misaki being the reason Masaya quit flying in the first place. Her route exclusively deals with the trauma head on, as both characters realize each others’ insecurities and help one another through them. Masaya explicitly asks Misaki to be there for him through dealing with his trauma while this is the catalyst in Masaya coming back to the group, not even doing so in certain other heroine routes.
Arguably Misaki is the canon heroine of the game, being the longest one and rarely involves any other character in the route other than the two. There’s a constant spotlight on the pairing, from Misaki continuously teasing Masaya throughout the common route to the quite quick realization of Masaya’s love for her once on her route. She’s already a brilliantly layered character, being a source of comic relief in the beginning, hiding her inner demons until on her route. Not only is she memorable and lovable to us players, but her relevancy to our main character Masaya himself is the cherry on top, indicating how important she is overall.
Aokana is available on Switch and Steam.
Cardia and Impey Barbicane from Code: Realize
So I may be VERY biased and partial to specific love interests, and this is no different. Impey is in continuous pursuit of Cardia, a young woman who has never known what being liked by someone is, let alone being flirtatious towards! Their relationship development was my favourite to see unfold, with the most romantic scenes within any otome I’ve experienced, and the exploration of Cardia’s newfound feelings of falling for someone as charismatic as Impey. Impey is so genuine through his loud mouth and excitable nature that his words just lift Cardia up, either by sweeping her off her feet (sometimes literally), or by raising her spirits. To see these feelings reciprocated, not just to Impey’s own surprise by Cardia’s confession, but also witnessing Cardia’s support to his engineering work that his late grandfather had a hand in influencing him is all so very wholesome and heart melting.
Code: Realize is available on Vita, PS4 and Switch.
Ueno Enju and Hattori Hanzo from Nightshade
Despite not being a favourite otome husbando of mine, the general consensus of Nightshade players is that Hanzo is the best love interest in the title. Hanzo is said to be one of the strongest shinobis in its universe, both mentally and physically, with a serious air to him and being short when he speaks. In his route, his strength is explored wonderfully since he’s not the leading character, instead giving the spotlight to Enju but gives her the all important helping hand that improves her through quiet confidence and reassurance.
Many other routes of the title suffers with Enju never being her own person nor finding the strength or resolve to better herself, such as by being protected throughout Gekkamaru’s route. While Enju improves her own mind and body, Hanzo also goes through a development of his own, not only by being once encouraging to Enju but later seeing her as admirable through her own achievements. His serious mask slips by the end of his route where his refined self has been able to relax with Enju around, even sprouting jokes with her. Not only is this a pleasant surprise to see unravel, but he can even be very romantic, such as the first time they kiss he remarks that her smile is beautiful. Both have respect for one another, and both become naturally and wholesomely in love with one another due to Enju reaching her full potential thanks to Hanzo, and Hanzo finding himself through confiding in Enju.
Nightshade is available on Switch and Steam.
Did I miss out on one of your favourite pairing? Fill me in on the comments below!
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