Feature: On Bad Romance in Anime

wolf girl

Last week I looked at some of the common elements of anime romances from the positive point of view. This post I want to look at some of the more problematic aspects of anime romance that seem to crop up again and again from personalities to full on stalking and imprisonment. Yep, these are definitely the marks of a bad romance. As always I’d love to hear your point of view in the comments below.

What features commonly appear in bad romance?

01. The guy doesn’t just come off as being a bit of a jerk, he is actually a jerk. Maybe there’s a reason for his damaged and warped personality but what he does is emotionally destructive to his love interest. Yet somehow, we’re supposed to be convinced that the girl will put up with this and should actually pursue this character despite the emotional trauma she’s dealing with, and that this is romantic.

While I know that there are many, many people trapped in emotionally abusive relationships it would be nice if so many romance stories didn’t glorify this. For a non-anime example we could most definitely point straight at Twilight. Edward is a controlling bully and his leaving Bella caused her to become nearly catatonic. This is not healthy. However, let’s go back anime and look at Wolf Girl and Black Prince. Whatever redeeming qualities Kyoya Sata may have or may develop later in the series he is a bully and the argument that Erika got herself into the mess with her lying doesn’t make it any better.

Of course there are plenty of other candidates out there for girls putting up with guys who manipulate them. Then again, we could easily turn that around and look at some of the truly horrendous girlfriends anime has given us over time.

02. Following on from number 1, we have the guy who wants a more physical relationship than the girl and is willing to push for it even when she clearly isn’t comfortable. While in comedies the guy in question will usually get slapped and dropped to the floor or beaten with a broom (hilarious, really) in serious romances what usually happens is the girl allows herself to be convinced. Generally speaking I avoid anime that goes down this road.

One I did watch was Say I Love You. While it isn’t too far over the line, Say I Love You definitely hovers on that borderline during the earlier episodes before the relationship starts to balance out a bit. For the most part Yamato is a generally nice guy (with a couple of rough edges) who helps Mei out and seems to like her but he is definitely more experienced in relationship and at times he is clearly pushing for more than she is willing to give.


Though mostly this is nothing compared to what happens to some guys in a lot of BL so maybe we should just be thankful for that and move on to the next point.

03. Anime romances tend to normalise stalkerish behaviour. Secret photo taking, finding out someone’s entire schedule, likes and dislikes of food, their home address and phone number, it seems nothing is off the table for some determined would-be partners in romantic anime. It would be an adorable display of affection if not for the creepy real world consequences of actual stalking.

However this particular behaviour has been normalised to the point where it is now parodied in comedies and played for laughs. Momokuri last year with Kurihara took this to extremes and while in the show it was played cute and for laughs with Kurihara having no ill intentions, one has to wonder what would happen if Momotsuki had ever tried to break up with her.

Of course, we see the far darker side of this behaviour in Mirai Nikki through the notorious Yuno Gasai who will genuinely do anything to keep Amano ‘safe’ including tying him to a chair and holding him in captivity.

This is probably my least favourite trope in anime romances.

04. The characters know nothing about each other but declare they are in love. How many times do we see the scene where the girl confesses to the guy having never actually spoken to him before? Why are you in love with someone you don’t know? There are so many assumptions being made here and it really makes me wonder how they expect a relationship to last when they can’t even speak to the guy properly.

Of course, there are just as many male characters confessing to girls they’ve only ever admired from afar so this isn’t exclusively a problem of the heroine of the story. I love it when they follow this up with an internal monologue that says they’ve always been watching that person. Yeah, because that will tell you everything about them, or you are journeying into the stalker territory from number 3.

05. The girl starts changing herself entirely based on the guy’s preference. She asks his opinion on everything and ceases to actually make any decisions on her own. It is like being in a relationship was akin to lobotomising the character and suddenly their brain has stopped functioning independently.

I know this one isn’t fair but a character who pretty much has no identity outside of her relationship is Belldandy from Ah! My Goddess. Realistically, what little we see of her before Keiichi makes his wish doesn’t really reveal much of a personality to start with (other than sweet) and then she’s bound by his wish for most of the rest of the show. In this instance it kind of works but I still find these sorts of characters frustrating.

Belldandy - you are sweet but this is a bad romance.

That’s it from me on bad romance trends but feel free to suggest your own or provide more examples of the ones above.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Top 5: Use of Phones in Anime

Top 5 Use of Phones in Anime

We’ve all seen anime characters using their phones. Whether they are flip phones or the more recently prolific smart phones, characters do love their phones. My list today looks at 5 interesting ways characters use of phones in anime (okay, four interesting uses and one use that just worked well with the story).

These are the uses that stood out to me and felt like they were fairly integral to the story. Please feel free to add your favourite use of phones in anime in the comments below.

Top 5 Use of Phones In Anime

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mention to Haganai for having two characters who both owned phones being completely unable to use them.

Number 5: Yuri on Ice

This is the one that I said wasn’t all that interesting but worked well with the story. All the way through Yuri on Ice the characters used their phones to update where they were, take and post pictures and video and generally stay in contact. It was nice to see these characters simply using phones as part of their everyday rather than having them as a gimmick or an add on.

Plus, the camera rolls and videos stored on the characters phones were used for a fairly significant plot reveal toward the end of the series which would have seemed really lame if we hadn’t seen the characters using their phones all the way along.

Number 4: Mirai Nikki

Yes, future diary. I still don’t know why anyone would keep a diary on their phone but it is the basis for this anime that sets up a death match between diary users and each diary is given a power based on whatever the person was using the diary for. Our main character was recording everything that happened around him but not a thing about himself so his diary shows him the future for everything around him. Good thing his stalker/girlfriend was recording everything about him.

Number 3: Steins;Gate

Who wants to send a text message and change the past? Well, hopefully no-one after seeing the mess it got these characters into. It probably would have been better if they’d had a clue how they’d managed to accomplish building a time machine that could send text messages but even then they probably would have still gotten into the mess by changing world-lines and then having to essentially undo every single change.

Number 2: Noragami

Alright, the phone aspect isn’t very big in this one but I like that a god has been reduced to spraying his number all over town and that he can teleport to the person who has called him. During the first season at least this was one of the many ways this story was made to feel modern. The second season kind of loses a bit of this and that is probably to the show’s detriment.

Number 1: Eden of the East

It absolutely had to be. Phones given to a group of selected individuals with a large amount of money on it and charged with saving the country. What could possibly go wrong? I think it is the operator on the other end who is more extraordinary given pretty much any request can be answered provided they still have enough money.

If it wasn’t for the deadly consequences of participation this would very much be the best phone on this list to have. Aside from the Selecao’s phones though the other characters use their phones to connect and interact. Removing the phones, Eden of the East does not work as a story.

Top 5 Use of Phones in Anime

And that’s my list this week. What do you think about phones in anime?

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Future Diary Series Review



Amano is your completely typical loner who struggles with social interactions so spends most of his time writing a diary on his phone where he documents things that happen around him (not things he does because he does very little). He has two imaginary friends that he talks to when he’s alone at home and everything is kind of fine until one of his imaginary friends gives him phone the ability to see the future and it turns out he isn’t the only one with this ability and his imaginary friend isn’t so imaginary.


Future Diary is one of those stories that goes for an absolutely cool premise. Phones that tell the future, a death match to see who can become a god, crazy pink haired chick who has a major obsession with the main protagonist, etc, etc. The set up is just screaming that this show is edgy and cool. And in honesty, if you just watch the first two episodes it kind of pulls off the kind of tone it needs to sell this. Unfortunately, while the series has some truly spectacular moments, what it doesn’t have is cohesion and good pacing and the characters, while they fit into their assigned roles well enough, don’t really do enough to carry the downtime in this plot. So what we are left with are sensationalist moments that stick in your memory and a plot that ends up being wafer thin at best.


That isn’t to say Future Diary isn’t a fun ride. If you just want to buckle in and watch the diary users hunt each other down and then pick each other off in increasingly violent ways than you will have a lot of fun with this story even if the ending does leave you wondering a bit (though I’ll talk more about the ending later). Each diary user has enough individualism both in their personality and in the way their diary operates to bring something fresh to the table and other than Yuno and Amano, none of them stick around long enough to become boring despite a lack of depth to their personalities. Although, the fact that they are all just a little bit broken and crazy certainly raises some questions.


At the heart of this story is Deus Ex Machina (yes, that is the name of the character). He’s one of Amano’s imaginary friends but it turns out he’s actually a god and he has set this game in motion in order to find a successor.  Which of course raised a number of questions:

01. Why can’t the god just choose a successor? Why does he need some elaborate game to determine who it should be?

02. Would you really want the lone survivor from a brutal death match actually being given that kind of power because even if they weren’t messed up to start with, surely you suspect they are going to be by the end?

03. Was the selection of all of these highly flawed individuals actually deliberate as a message that everyone is actually crazy and they just need a catalyst to send them over the edge or is that just wishful thinking that maybe there was more thought put into the cast than just what would be interesting on screen for the episode before the inevitable death sequence?


None of these questions get reasonable answers though there is some attempt to justify the game as a means of selection. However, considering Deus is at the centre of everything that happens, he’s an almost non-character. Even when Amano first introduces us to his imaginary friends it is Mur Mur who gets your attention as Deus is a decidedly passive character.

Which doesn’t stop him from painting a target on Amano’s back before the first episode is over. Deus declares, in front of all the other diary users, that Amano is his favourite to win the game. Um, did you want him dead? Or being a god did you already foresee how the game would play out regardless? Or am I once again just trying to find logic in something that is inherently just a cheap excuse to send all of the other members Amano’s way which certainly speeds up what could otherwise be a very slow story if we actually had to wait for Amano to figure anything out.


Speaking of Amano, as the main character he is rubbish. I like the idea of socially awkward loner being forced into this life or death situation but he is far too pathetic and his co-dependence on Yuno is problematic from the start (even before we knew just how crazy she was). More importantly, Amano fails time and again to grow as a character. Characters being pathetic early on is fine and understandable, but not learning and repeating similar mistakes over and over just becomes tedious.

Yuno on the other hand has become a running joke. She’s just so incredibly over the top. While she certainly has good reason to be deeply scarred, as a character she’s more of a caricature and it becomes very difficult to take her seriously as either a love interest or a threat (though clearly for the story to work we need to see her as both). By the way, if you have an issue with her tying Amano to a chair to protect him and then attempting to kill off the friends he has somehow come across throughout this story then you should probably pass on this story.


Moving on from the characters, the story itself is pretty standard for most of the run time. Introduce diary user, see their particular trick or trait, run around for a bit, confrontation, brutal death scene. There’s variations and at times the story introduces more than one diary user or builds in temporary alliances to shake things up, but ultimately the object of this story is just to knock down the players. The occasional interference from Deus or Mur Mur also breaks things up, and front and centre we have the tragic story of Yuno and Amano playing out. All of this works well enough, even if it isn’t amazing in terms of narrative.

Spoilers ahead.


Where the story goes off the rails is right at the end where we find out this is not the first time this death match has played out. The previous winner wasn’t happy with the way things ended and after acquiring the power of god created another reality, replaced themselves, and decided to given themselves a do-over. It certainly explains a few things and actions taken by the character and it is a nice idea for a twist but when we see how this match ends and what the winner does it all just seems like this story is trying too hard to justify itself rather than embracing that it is really just a popcorn worthy show.

End spoilers.

If you haven’t already seen Future Diary and you enjoy a story with a bit of violence, action, and a mild-psychological thriller element, then you will probably get quite a kick out of watching this series. However, if you aren’t a fan of that style there isn’t much else here to look at, unless you really want to know why Yuno is the craziest character ever.

I’d love to know what you thought of Future Diary.

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Karandi James.