Friday’s Feature: Reality in Romance

Victor - Yuri on Ice

With the Spring 2017 anime season wrapping up it is inevitable that a lot of people would be reviewing and discussing Tsuki ga Kirei. Overwhelmingly the reviews are positive and what I keep hearing again and again is how sweet the romance is, how pure it is, and how relatable and real it feels. It was a show I dropped early on but I’ve been watching double episodes over the last week to try to finish it and while I personally still find it incredibly slow moving I can also see some of the reasons why it has been held in such high regard by others, and yet it made me think about what I actually want from a romance story.

I’d like to put in here that I am not trying to actually review or critique the show.


And that’s the key word. It is a story. Fiction. The whole get swept away and dream of everything working out happily ever after with the guy/girl/whatever of your dreams. While grounding the whole thing in reality might work for some people and the relatablility might help them engage with the story, for me Tsuki ga Kirei misses the mark. It is sweet that these two young people are engaged in a first romance and learning what that means and how to deal. It’s actually kind of adorable. But as far as a story goes it seems lacking to me.

When tension is inserted into the plot through flat phone batteries, confiscated phones, petty jealousy, third wheels, and the like it really feels like someone remembered it was supposed to be a story and that in the last twenty minutes nothing has happened other than the cute girl avoided eye contact with the reasonable looking boy again. That might seem like a harsh evaluation and certainly if you are more caught up with the characters you might not agree, but while watching the episodes I am openly checking the time in almost three minute intervals just to make sure it hasn’t stopped entirely. Plus, they were pushing the credibility of reality when they had a teenage girl let her phone go flat when she knew he was likely to message her.

But again, this is all personal preference. I don’t like the romance in Tsuki ga Kirei because it is, for the most part, very believable and (for lack of better words) kind of dull. Guy meets girl, they like each other, have a few minor hiccups on their journey and continue on (I haven’t got to the end yet so don’t know if I have a happily ever after awaiting me or not). Essentially, it is so real that it feels like I should just sit in a shopping centre foodcourt and watch it unfold around me rather than watching the show.


Say, I Love You was another romance that I had difficulty enjoying. Despite a genuine fondness for the main character, I found the story slow moving and the character interactions mostly flat. The only reason I watched it more than once was a friend of mine quite liked the series. Admittedly, the third time I watched it through I started to really like it and I ended up buying it on DVD so all and all it couldn’t have been that bad. Essentially it depicted fairly believable high schoolers (other than the model who you have to admit was not a typical student even if her social networking issues were pretty relatable) engaging in relationships that were plagued by the usual issues of miscommunications, jealousy, and pettiness.

So what does it take for me to get into a romance?

Basically the romance needs to be one part of a bigger story. I need to feel that the interactions are moving somewhere and that there is a sense of movement in the plot and with the characters. It doesn’t hurt if the romance takes on a more fairy tale point of view either. There’s something to be said for sweet romances where people get swept off their feet and find their true love. It may not be ‘realistic’ but it makes for grandiose stories with characters I can get behind and fall in love with, at least for the duration of the show.


This is where I think Yuri on Ice really sold itself to me. It had Yuri’s story as an ice skater and the romance was an integral part of that story. I could relate to the ups and downs and misunderstandings in their relationship and yet it moved along quickly and had that sweeping feeling of things just moving forward inexorably to a predetermined ending. Basically it felt like a story infused with romance rather than a series of events between two characters that might end up with them being romantically intertwined. I know from reading some reviews of Yuri on Ice, that some viewers didn’t really relate to Victor and Yuri’s romance and felt it was too easy, too rushed, too forced, or too one sided, and that’s where personal preferences come in and probably the reason there are so many different kinds of romance story out there.

We all like a good romance (even those people who insist they don’t will have that one story that makes them smile/cry every time they watch it). For me though, I think I’d like my romance a little less realistic and a little more fantastical. I can see reality already so what I’m looking for in a story is something that has some connection to reality but goes that little bit further to bring something truly special or memorable to the table.

That said, I am going to finish watching Tsuki ga Kirei. Who knows, by the time I get to the end I might have even learned to love it. But I’m turning it over to you and asking you how you like your romance? Do you prefer the realistic, the sweet, the spicy, the funny, the dramatic, or some completely different style of romance altogether? I’d love to know.

Thanks for reading.

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Karandi James.


13 thoughts on “Friday’s Feature: Reality in Romance

  1. I’m with you on this. This line “Basically the romance needs to be one part of a bigger story” captures my opinion of romance stories pretty well. I like a good love story despite my avoidance of romance anime or any kind of romance-centric shows. But I prefer that love to be only one part of the narrative, intertwined with another thread that works along with it.

    Although, I make exceptions for written stories. In that case, even if the story is purely romance and/or character focused, the sneak peek into the narrator’s head can potentially make the whole thing way more interesting in a way visuals and limited monologues can’t (for me that is.)

  2. When it comes to romance, I prefer manga than watching anime. Somehow, slow pace in an anime annoys me than a manga. If I had to say, I prefer things like Skip Beat, which actually lacks romance but has great character interaction. In essence, the character love and respect each other, even if they don’t say it out loud. Or Horimiya, where two sort of crazy people fell in love. It’s easygoing, and episodic, but there are so any interesting facets to Hori and Miyamura’s relationship.

  3. I do believe that just having two characters spending time well together can be more romantic than those (shows) screaming ROMANCE!

    A clear example is Koe no Katachi. Konbini Kareshi is this season’s example.

  4. Realistic or fantastic, I like them both. So long as the relationship has foundation that isn’t as petty as being the good looks of the other. I’m not that fond of love at first sights, too, because I enjoy seeing the characters gradually fall in love with each other. And I enjoy it best when the two are friends originally, so Akagami no Shirayukihime, Akatsuki no Yona, Kimi ni Todoke, and Skip Beat!, just to name some, are series on top of my list when it comes to romance (though we can say that Zen and Shirayuki’s love for each other is their motivation for working on toward a future together). But as you can notice, of these four titles, only one seems like its real focus is romance, because I also tend to enjoy those “story infused with romance” more than all-out romance.

    Oh, and I also loooove subtle romance (which are mostly seen outside the shoujo demographic). Like when you know there’s a special connection/chemistry the two characters have yet they are silent about it and just enjoying each others’ company. This makes all the looks and actions toward each other, their time alone, more meaningful to me.

    I did enjoy Tsuki ga Kirei. Like others, I found it sweet and pure and just so adorable. I like it because it’s not sickeningly sweet and the MCs are characterized well as middle schoolers.

    1. Thanks for the response. Zen and Shirayuki are awesome and I really loved watching them fall in love as well.
      I agree that the MCs are characterised well as middle schoolers in Tsuki ga Kirei, which is unusual for anime, but it hasn’t really made the story any more appealing to me. So while I appreciate it for what it is, I’m still not really enjoying it.

  5. Tsuki was, bar none, my AOTS last season… And from the poll you published the other day, I’m not alone. 🙂 When you get to the last ep, be sure and watch all the way through the credits.

    I used to like comedy romances, but not so much any more. I like rocky realistic romances and just plain more realistic romances much more nowadays.

  6. Interesting read! I was really pulled into the romance in My Little Monster, between Mizutani & Yoshida. A slice of life anime with this love story that never seemed to get fully formed. (It’s been a while since I seen it lol) I don’t watch a lot of ‘romantic’ anime so I was surprised how absorbed I became with it.

    1. Those two were adorable together (after the first episode where Yoshida came off as just a little too creepy). I really liked how their relationship formed and how both characters kept changing in response to their reflections about what was happening between them. It was really nicely handled. Just wish the show went a bit longer to fully develop the story and characters.

  7. Hmm, if only real life romance was as easy as the description you gave for Tsuki ga Kirei, it would really be something. Oh well, a bit of wishful thinking on my part, and getting completely off topic here lol. Sorry about that. Back to your question though, I like romance stories that have a heart in them, and actually manage to make you feel good as well. Where the characters struggle to overcome hardships, but are there for each other during the good and bad times. I liked the lovestory between Asuna and Kirito for instance in Sword Art Online. It just worked and felt pretty good to me too. So, that is pretty much how I like to see romance handled 😊

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