It's too bad, Japanese often just don't know how to grasp romance very well. More often than not, it comes across as lacking.
Same thing happens in American / Western works too, but it seems to be more glaringly bad in manga / anime. As such, I'm none too surprised.
I used to be one who 'had' to have a romantic angle in anything I was looking to get into, anime-wise. Trouble is, it got me into some series that, I admit nowadays, I can't help but be just slightly embarrassed to having in my collection. Lots of rather mediocre 'harem' type series and 'puppy love' situations in shoujo works. Watching stuff like 'Fruits Basket' (which didn't focus on romance as much as I felt it would at first......probably being a reverse-harem helped), and moreso, 'The Twelve Kingdoms', literally changed my mind and got me looking for deeper, more mature plotlines and characters.
Oftentimes, for that, you sacrifice other aspects.....romance and slapstick comedy are the biggest sacrifices, but these days I'll take something that'll last and have me wanting to rewatch a dozen times over, than something that may be good the first time, but every time thereafter, there's nothing left to discuss or question within the plot.
As for a pick for our viewing / discussion, I'd probably aim for the shorter titles.