What are some good manga/anime with decent writing, non-harem romance, and characters who act relatively realistically/calmly? Too many works these days seem to have characters who are incapable of interacting with the opposite gender in a normal setting (I'm talking about characters who blush crimson overthinking trivial things like hand-holding/indirect kisses and are unable to just act normal in or while pursuing a relationship).
Some examples include Horimiya, Akagami no Shirayukihime, Spice and Wolf, and most of Adachi's work (Cross Game, Katsu, Touch, etc).
Bonus points if the protagonists get in a relationship (or are essentially in one in all but name) mid-series rather than as the endgame.
Thanks I'll definitely look at some of those. I've actually read a bunch of them already though, and quite a few of them have characters that act a bit too silly for my tastes. But hopefully there's a gem or two in there that might be what I'm looking for.
The criteria you set up are so vague I can't really make a rec. Care to elaborate on what you're looking for, all I got is calm MC and they get in a relationship.
>overthinking trivial things like hand-holding/indirect kisses
That's just cultural differences.
Seconding Ore Monogatari. Misunderstandings are resolved quickly or avoided altogether, hand holding abounds (though there is some blushing at first), and the main couple gets together in episode 3/chapter 1 and it's all cute lovey shit from then on out.
Maybe calm wasn't the best description. I'm looking for comfy manga/anime/LN where there's an element of romance as well as relatively natural and believable character interactions. I'm trying to find works where the hero/heroine aren't socially challenged when it comes to being in a relationship.
If you've ever seen or read any of Adachi's stories, I'm pretty certain you'll instantly know what I'm talking about. In his works, the main hero and his romantic interest are able to interact with each other comfortably without overreacting to every little thing that could possibly be related to romantic overtones. The protagonist and heroine in Adachi's works often banter, spend time together, help each other, and get through everyday life all without the ever-so-common awkward stammering, constant blushing, and disastrous misunderstandings.
And although it is true that the Japanese tend to put more weight towards certain displays of affection, I'll say with first-hand certainty that the modern average citizen of Japan would not overreact over hand-holding or indirect kisses, "cultural differences" or not. Most of the emphasis from manga/anime placed on such trivial things is a result of trying to appeal to the socially awkward demographic - readers who are not quite as comfortable with basic romantic gestures.