I don’t know, maybe it’s because a lot of the people making these lists (or voting in these lists) know little about actual romance (or it may just be that I completely suck at research) . But then again, love stories prey on the inexperienced – inspiring fantasy in those who love the idea of love, rather than portray a cinematic version of the truth.
I realize that the thing about my dissatisfaction with these lists (and the shows I often see in them) has to do with a certain maturity, having gone through my own romances in life and therefore having a perspective of what moments ring true and how such stories play out.
I won’t dwell on what I think of the lists I came across, the people who made them, and the shows I found in them. There are dynamics there that I don’t fully understand, and I feel I’ve condescended quite enough (which is not my intention in this post) anyway. Instead, I offer my own list of shows that I feel has a strong ring of truth in them in their love stories, that I can enjoy them as such, even if perhaps the shows they belong to are not romance shows to begin with.
To give some perspective, here’s a short list of films that are (or have) love stories that I resonate with (in no particular order):
- Before Sunrise, and Before Sunset
- (I feel like I should put When Harry Met Sally here but if I’m honest I really preferred) Sleepless in Seattle
- As Good as it Gets
- Something’s Got to Give
It’s not like I can’t enjoy fluffier fare such as Shakespeare in Love, 10 Things I Hate About You, Roman Holiday, Sabrina, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s – but films from the above incomplete list are ones that gave me pretty strong feelings without breaking my brain.
I’m not technically comparing the above films to the anime I consume, they’re just there to give a handle of what kinds of love stories I feel strongly about. 10 years ago, Before Sunset would already have been there, as well as Greencard; but it took subsequent rewatches and the like over the next decade to confirm my tastes for the other films. But 10 years ago my list would also have stuff I’d be very embarrassed to mention now (due the romantic idiocy of the content). Hence, why I don’t really want to condescend here (though I don’t think I was able to avoid doing so) any further than I already have.
Without further ado, here are anime shows that I think well of in terms of the love stories therein. [SPOILERS HIDDEN, click and drag to select text to read]
I immediately thought that it had one of the most intelligent takes on adolescence. Even if the characters themselves don’t resemble anyone I’ve ever known in high school, Miyazawa Yukino in particular is presented in such a complete and entertaining characterization that I easily swallow the histrionics involved in her romance with Arima Sochiro.
The extremities in their characterization actually serve to make the “realer” aspects of their romance stand out in high relief, and I can easily think of at least two moments that I was fully convinced of the show’s powers.
This show contains many things I’ve little patience for (a dragged-out realization by the characters regarding who they really love), but the show did well to make the characters very endearing. The high school love geometry does get some complexity without giving the lead male an implausible harem of admirers.
That said, I think the romance in the show (however nice) is secondary to what I find wonderful in its depiction of friendship, and of family.
What compels me to the love story herein is the power, haughtiness and vulnerability on one side of the love story that is patient, kind, (even if otherwise cruel), and nurturing of the love and person on the other side.
There’s a ton of male wish-fulfillment here, but again the outlandishness of the characterization brings out what I find precious: that from a very hetero-male perspective, it is the woman who makes us feel the very best about ourselves.
Best fucking downer love story. I appreciate how neither partner is vilified or accused of causing the breakdown of what started as an already troubled relationship. Perhaps love story isn’t appropriate here, save for the massive amount of respect and regard I feel coming from both sides of the dead romance.
It’s what adds the pain to the outcome: that these are good people who quite deserve to be happy together, but find it impossible to anyway.
The strengths of this love story in particular is rooted in the contrivances of its fantasy/SF setting, giving the characters what seems to be a great barrier that they’ve overcome; that there’s an unspoken thing in the universe that tells them that they shouldn’t be together, and yet they are.
This is interesting to me because it is all a matter of world-building and character nuance. There are no external conflicts or pressures that pry them apart. If anything the supporting cast is indeed quite supportive of their relationship. That said, there are moments big and quiet wherein the person who we are teased with as viewers gets to show strong feeling and love. This is the source of the romantic magic in the show.
Everything in the setting and story makes for an unreal cast that shows what feels to be a very real love.
I suppose I should include Honey and Clover, but I don’t really identify with most of the characters in the throes of their love stories… I enjoyed that show on almost in an entirely voyeuristic level. Also, Planetes – but since it sunk my ship I don’t have the same kind of affinity with the OTP despite both characters being awesome.
Like in film, I’m perfectly able to enjoy a fluffier love stories (Macross’ love triangles, Gundam 00’s Patrick x Kati, and a whole fleet of blush porn – the anime staple), but the above examples gave me what I feel are the things that ring true in love, as much as I’ve known it in my life.
I’m lucky that way. Happy Valentine’s Day from GMT+8. What shows would you recommend to me? To check what I’ve seen, here’s my anime list.