One of my first top 5 lists was a list of my favourite romantic anime. While romance isn’t my favourite genre, it has always held a warm spot in my heart as romance done well can really move me emotionally and linger with me well after it is finished. So what are some of the common features of sweet and romantic anime? And what do you like in your romance?
01. For the most part they are focused on the female in the relationship. While some shows (particularly a few in recent years) have portrayed romance from a male’s point of view (or at least a male character’s point of view) the majority of romance focused anime follow the girl. This isn’t really surprising given the target audience for most romance anime are girls and as a general rule the romantic genre appeals more to a female audience. And while there are a lot of self-insert girls out there with limited personality besides a love of cooking and cleaning, because romance is such a prolific genre what we find are an array of female leads. From the super shy and fairly stereotypical right through to the oblivious and aggressive.
But that’s what makes romance so great is that if one doesn’t work for you there are plenty of other characters and romances to follow. 2018 turned out to be a bumper year for including a range of relationships and we saw monsters in love with humans, same sex couples, age gap couples and more or less any kind of relationship you’d like to see unfold. It was fantastic to see the diverse range on offer and hopefully 2019 will continue to give us great couples of all shapes and sizes so that everyone can find something to love.
02. This one isn’t in every anime but it is a common feature. The love interest starts out being kind of a jerk and the girl doesn’t like him very much. Then something happens and suddenly she sees him in a new light. This is actually pretty standard in all romances really (and a staple of romantic comedies) and it probably exists because otherwise you have to introduce external tension and conflict early on before the characters have really been established. By creating tension between the two you can focus more or less entirely on the characters without boring the audience to death with their adoring stares.
I’m not the biggest fan of this particular cliché because I’ve never understood why the girl continues to interact with someone who is that much of a jerk, but I do understand from a narrative point of view why it works. Besides, Tomoe may have been nasty to Nanami but he still ends up being one of my favourite male leads in a romance.
Of course, if we look at BL we’ll see a whole lot of incredibly horrible characters that end up being the love interest and while some work hard to try and redeem the character, it is still a trope I’d like to see vanish.
03. The epiphany moment. Despite being in a romance, the characters tend to be unusually dense about their emotions and the state of their relationship. Either one or both of the characters needs to realise they are actually in love or that the other one actually likes them or something. Usually this is accompanied by sparkles, tears, or sometimes a punch because why not. However it is the reveal moment for the character that the audience have been waiting for forever because the character is usually the last to realise it. But hey, at least most of us don’t believe we have arrhythmia because our heart starts beating fast at the sight of the guy.
04. There’s almost always a rival. Again, this is one of those necessary staples in order to inject some sort of tension or conflict into a story that is basically two people staring into each other’s eyes ad nausea and rivals can add quite a bit of personality to the story. Probably my favourite rival ever is Kurumi from Kimi ni Todoke. That’s mostly because she pretty much demonstrates every characteristic a rival might have rather than just being one type. It’s kind of interesting to watch her character transition.
While I don’t like her manipulative efforts early on (and we aren’t supposed to) you have to admit, Kurumi is a hard worker and ultimately she wasn’t really a nasty person so much as someone who was very driven by her goals. What makes her truly exceptional is that when she finally does confess and get turned down, she accepts this with reasonable grace and uses it as a chance to grow a bit as a person. A little bit. She still stirs the pot occasionally but mostly she moves on.
05. In anime romance tends to only get to the confession and dating stage, again there are exceptions. The vast majority finish the final episode on the confession, the first date, or a kiss and that is as much as we are getting of that story. Then again, given how red most of the characters get just trying to say the name of the person they are in love with I guess we can’t expect much more from them and it really isn’t needed given its the emotion of the relationship that has been conveyed.
There’s probably a cultural reason for this trend and it isn’t as if the romance is any worse for the lack of physical displays of affection, however it is interesting watching teenage characters get flustered over eye contact or brushing their finger tips.
Well, that does it from me today. What are your favourite parts of romantic anime or what is your favourite romantic anime?