Got 10-15 minutes to spare while stuck in supermarket checkout queues or traffic jams? Trapped in a room with a vaguely familiar acquaintance but you’re just not in the mood to make small talk? These quick manga romance oneshots may be just the thing for you!
As the name suggests, manga oneshots are stories that end in just one chapter. A chapter is usually 30-60 pages long, which is expected to cover the meetcute, the pining, the third party, the unnecessary misunderstanding, and finally, the confession scene. These oneshots are great in-between reads for folks like me who follow lengthy manga titles (hello, Detective Conan!) because they give us our much-needed story closure. However, the limited page count also means that character development and even plot coherence sometimes have to suffer along the way.
Hence, I outlined the few awesome ones that overcame the page count hurdle. Due to personal preference, most of the titles are under the Comedy / Romance variety, but there are a few Drama and Tragedy ones mixed in as well.
25 Great Manga Romance Oneshots
- Soleil (Ichinose, Kaoru ) – my most favorite oneshot, to date. It tells the story of Misia, a noble lady driven to poverty but who wants to hold on to her family’s pride, and her handsome and loyal butler, Jack. The subtlety of the romance, particularly in the last few pages, is soooo GOOD that I ended up re-reading it weeks after I’ve first finished it! Great art as well (I’m such a sucker for butler outfits).
- Yumenara Samenaide (Yasuko) – a collection of three oneshots, but I liked the eponymous first story the most. Sachika wakes up from a coma and sees a stranger at her bedside. Introducing himself as her only remaining (distant) relative, he brings her to his home. She knows he’s hiding something from her, especially about her memories, so she proceeds to piece together the fateful days that led to her accident. I loved the plot twist, and in the shoujo genre where kind men are so rare, I couldn’t help but love the male lead.
- Celeste Blue (Sakura, Amyuu) – “How do you cure a love sickness?” Romance-averse Eishi is asked by his teacher to tutor Uta, and their study sessions together introduce him to Uta’s unrequited love story for her childhood friend. The ending may not be satisfactory to some, but Eishi’s path to acknowledging his blooming feelings somewhat reminds me of Li Syaoran’s Kini Naru Aitsu montage.
- Mahoutsukai to Koi no Biyaku (Toyota, Yuu ) – Sweet-hearted Vanilla befriends aloof mage Kurou, and then asks him to make a love potion for a noble she’s about to marry. I love the small twist in the end + the resolution.
- Kuroori-hime to Kawaki no Ou ( Kusanagi, Mizuho) – When you know that the mangaka wrote the epic Akatsuki no Yona series, then you know you’re in for a treat! The characters look (and sometimes, act) like Yona and Hak, which is good news because Yona’s one of the best anime leads (male or female) ever, while Hak is the Hak. I won’t give a summary anymore– because I know the author’s name is enough for you to head over to Mangafox anyway.
- Koi Kyokusei OR Kimi Dake no Aki (Mitsuya, Omi ) – Both oneshots appear in the same volume, and are equally touching (though the latter felt somewhat contrived, it’s forgivable because tons of Pinoy soap operas are much, MUCH worse). Koi Kyokusei is the “star-crossed” love story of Sakura and Hirose (who wants to discover a star and name it after his beloved), while Kimi Dake no Aki makes us witness anew to the oft-spoken phrase, “till death do us part”.
- Rensou Mode (Okada, Haruki) – Aizome Maiko leads a double life: that of a straight-laced class rep, and her “perverted” secret alter-ego crushing on princely Kamii Yuu. But when she accidentally kisses her classmate Yajima Keisuke instead, she asks him to take responsibility for ruining her dream first kiss. I giggled at Maiko’s self-created manga fantasy sequences, while I lauded Keisuke’s patience in face of Maiko’s inane schemes. It’s cliche, but cute.
- Eikoku Kizoku Goyoutashi (Sakurakouji, Kanoko) – Another oneshot collection, and yet it’s another eponymous title again that I liked most. Chiyoko meets a blond foreigner who seems to fall for her at first sight. At the same time, rumors circulate about another blond foreigner who likes to con women out of their money. The girl annoys me, but the did-he-or-did-he-not nature of the plot engaged me to the end.
- By Hero (Sakura, Amyuu) – The oneshot stands out for its use of a spectator POV (a cynic bird of all things!) observing how human love works, as experienced by its unexpected savior, a tomboyish human girl named Kayana.
- Suki ni Naru Made Matte or 1/3 no Kareshi (Shimaki Ako) – Both are thematically tied by a blackmail plot. In the former, nerdy Asako accidentally breaks school prince Hikami’s cellphone, so she ends up as his lackey; in the latter title, mysterious guy Yuuya blackmails No-Boyfriend-Since-Birth (NBSB) Rei with an embarrassing photo, and she ends up meeting him frequently in order to keep him from spreading the photo at school. I’ve seen the plot twists of both stories coming miles away, but I really liked the execution in both. (Plus Yuuya is HOT!)
- Dr. Rabbit (Ogura Akane) – This oneshot tests the limits of your suspension of belief. Child prodigy Fumio invented an AI stuffed rabbit named Alice, and while in Japan, has to be protected by university student Nishizaki who part-times for his family-owned security firm. Nonetheless, it’s a cute read.
- Happy Every Day (Sakuraba Yui) – Konno’s daily highlight at her convenience store job is meeting her “prince”, and as always in shoujo romances, she fails to notice someone close to her who already loves her for who she is. Not a big fan of the art style, but I liked the little revelation at the end that answers a seemingly minor question, but which actually drove the story all this time.
- Moujuu wa Ori no Naka (Toyota Yuu) – Captain Carla rescues a beast from the circus, christening him as Hazel and later training him to be part of her team.The plot had a refreshing wealth of context and back stories, but nearly collapsed beneath all of it due to the page count limit (could have worked better as a small series than a oneshot). Nonetheless, I loved the art style and the uniforms.
- Gar to Ouji-sama (Saitou Ken) – For differing purposes, Witch Gar and Prince Rei Strauss team up to find and defeat a powerful witch who lives in a mystical forest. I liked how the usual shoujo traits of gullibility and kindness are transferred to the male lead for a change, and the ending was hilarious.
- Watashi no Mahoutsukai-sama (Koga Yoshiki) – Loner Sakura accidentally spies on Yoshino getting rejected by her crush, and he decides to cheer her up with his magic tricks. Friendship and typical high school romance ensues, but the art is quite nice. The save-the-damsel-in-distress and confession scenes are sweet, as well.
- Gekkou Romance (Hibiki Wataru) – A lowly dancing girl named Shara volunteers to head to Malachite to inform its infamous devil king, Rook, of their princess’ intention to refuse his marriage proposal. To say what I liked about this oneshot will spoil the story, but I can vouch for is its lovable male lead.
- Honeymoon wa Anata to (Leigh Michaels/Amane Ritsuka) – English-novels-turned-to-manga are the worst victims of limited page count. Understandable, since it’s nearly impossible to condense 300+ pages of paperback to just 60-70 pages while keeping character development intact. Nonetheless, this oneshot may just be the best of the lot, much thanks to its likably super nice male lead. Millionairess Kathryn escapes her wedding with the help of reluctant Jonah, son of their family gardener. Attraction and romance ensues.
- Wasureyuki (Amano Shinobu) – One of the few oneshots that stunned me with its ending twist, featuring aspiring male tsundere Tomo and his like/hate kind of love for the always-dependent Miyako. The last couple of pages kicked me right in the kokoro.
- Sheet no Sukima (Yoshihara Yuki) – oneshot collection galore. Its first oneshot is funny, but the eponymous Sheet no Sukima shines the most among all the stories, humor and romance-wise. Page 1 had me giggling already, and by the end of the oneshot, I was fawning over the super sweet male megane lead. MUST-READ!
- Edo Karuta: Kimori AND Akaishinyo (Ame Arare) – It’s not often that manga acknowledges the existence of non-villain fat people, more so as leads. So Kimori was a refreshing read about a sweet lass who couldn’t find a husband due to her weight. She then meets a handsome, well-built samurai who didn’t hesitate to defend her in public. Has she found her chance at love? Meanwhile, Akaishinyo is another forbidden love / bodyguard romance, which will find you rooting for the pair. I like historical romances, so this made me enjoy the oneshots even more.
- Merry Unbalance Christmas (Tomofuji Yu) – Bratty rich boy Sousuke meets rich-hater Tsumare after an incident at a bakery. From then on , he strives to make her his woman using the ways he knows how. Clueless spoiled rich men always make for an amusing read, hence this rec.
- Usotsuki na Pierce (Iwashita Keiko) – Miku meets her puppy love Kasai Minoru again, but after the rejection she got from him and her family when they were younger, Miku has changed. Can Kasai change back her mind and heart? Its playground swing set scene left such a dokidoki impression on me.
- Oresama Kiss (Nagae, Tomomi) -Kana falls for her new step-brother who just happens to have an unrequited love for her older sister Hina. Aside from the fact that the male lead sports eyeglasses, I liked the art style and the cute revelation made by the male lead at the end of the story.
- Doctor Bird (Takahashi Pochi) – Yuka dreams to be a “doctor bird”– a doctor who travels around the world via his own plane. Unfortunately, her childhood friend has beaten her to it. The female lead is annoying, but I liked the concept of doctor birds and the idea of a female pursuing a STEM career. The male lead was likable enough, too.
- Sono Me, Kuchi hodo ni (Mio, Nanao) – Tsukasa proposes to Aoi on the first day she met him, claiming it’s his late grandfather’s last request. She is understandably freaked out, but this pheromones-expelling man has made it his life’s mission to realize the said request! I enjoyed the humor of this oneshot, as well as the ways Tsukasa shows his affection for Aoi.
Think there’s a oneshot that should be in this list? Let me know in the comments.