Top 10 Romance Manga of 1996
1. Cardcaptor Sakura
One day, Sakura Kinomoto accidentally opened a book containing dozens of magical cards called Clow Cards, and they scattered around her hometown of Tomoeda. Sakura was chosen to be the master of these cards and has been enlisted by the sun-based guardian Kerberos to use her magic and reclaim these cards before they make any more trouble in town. She is encouraged by her best friend Tomoyo Daidouji, and she meets a rival cardcaptor, Syaoran Li, who is a direct descendant of the creator of the Clow Cards.
(Source: Anime News Network)
Kira, a shy high school student, lives only for her art. Rei, An arrogant, rebellious and violent playboy, wears his delinquency like a badge of honor. They are exact opposites in every way, but when Kira sees Rei kissing a statue of Mars, she overcomes her fears and asks him to model for her. And, to everyone's surprise, Rei agrees.
3. Hana-Kimi: For You in Full Blossom
Japanese-American track-and-field star Mizuki has gotten herself to transfer to a high school in Japan...but not just any school! To be close to her idol, high jumper Izumi Sano, she's going to an all-guys' high school...and disguising herself as a boy! But as fate would have it, they're more than classmates...they're roommates! Now, Mizuki must keep her secret in the classroom, the locker room, and her own bedroom. And her classmates--and the school nurse--must cope with a new transfer student who may make them question their own orientation...
Volume 1: Natsu no Ori (The Cage of Summer)
Volume 4: Kawaki no Tsuki (The Thirsty Moon)
4. Tokyo Crazy Paradise
Life in the year 2020 in Tokyo is tough, as crime rates are high, and crimes against women rank second only to murders. To prevent their daughter from being exposed to these crimes, Tsukasa's parents raised her to be a male. Tsukasa aspires to be a policeman fighting against the yakuza, just like her parents. However, her parents died in the line of work, leaving behind Tsukasa and her 3 brothers to fend for themselves. Tsukasa must thus work as a bodyguard for her classmate, Ryuji, who happens to be the leader of the most powerful yakuza group in Tokyo, to pay off the family's debts.
[From ANN, edited]
5. Tomorrow's King
A country girl in the big city, Yu doesn't quite understand just how hard it is to make it big. So when she's enraptured by a play, she immediately declares it her life's mission to become a great actress. Unfortunately, she has no knowledge of the craft, no experience, and no skills aside from making good curry -- not that that kind of thing would ever stop her.
One night, a man named Shuichiro Kudo comes across a tiny angel trapped on a tree branch. He frees her, and in return she offers to grant him a wish. However, Shuichiro is a successful doctor, with a home and everything he needed; he declined the angel's offer. The persistant angel, named Kohaku, refused to give up, stating that "some wishes cannot be fufilled by oneself." After settling in at Shuichiro's home, Kohaku reveals her mission to track down the Angel Master of Wind, Hisui, who has abandoned heaven. That is, if her devil rival and his two catty servants would let her leave long enough to do so...
7. Land of the Blindfolded
Land of the Blindfolded is the story of high school student Outsuka Kanade who can sometimes see a person's future with a touch, and transfer student Naitou Arou, whose ESP is limited to past events. When Kanade glimpses an unfortunate incident coming, can she change it? She soon befriends Arou, who's no novice — he can turn his ability on or off at will, even using it to see an object's "memories." Are these teenaged seers of the past and future made for each other? And who's right: Arou with his "hands off" policy about meddling in people's lives, or Kanade whose more proactive stance has already had unhappy consequences?
8. Revolutionary Girl Utena
Utena Tenjou had a tragic childhood - her parents died when she was young, and she almost drowned, had it not been for her prince who came and rescued her. Because of the impact this prince had on her life, Utena strives to be just like him - to grow up to be a prince, not a princess, and to spread nobility, ultimately finding her prince and bringing revolution. (Source: ANN)
Shuichi Shindou is determined to take his band Bad Luck to the top of the Japanese pop charts. With his drive, talent, and satiny singing voice, he just might stand a chance. But Fate throws a wrench into his well-oiled machine in the form of a handsome stranger named Yuki, a romance writer with an attitude. Yuki is Shuichi's biggest critic, but as the two young artists gravitate towards each other, friendship, and perhaps something more, is sure to blossom. (Source: Tokyopop)
10. Ceres: Celestial Legend
Aya and her twin brother Aki thought they were going to a celebration of their sixteenth birthday at their grandfather's home, but the funeral-like atmosphere tips them off that something's not right. Their "birthday present" turns out to be a mummified hand--the power of which forces an awakening within Aya, and painful wounds all over Aki's body! Grandfather Mikage announces that Aki will be heir to the Mikage fortune, and Aya must die! But Aya has allies in the athletic cook and martial artist Yûhi, and the attractive, mysterious Tôya. But can even two handsome and resourceful guys save Aya when it's her own power that's out of control?