The Immaturity Of Romance Anime

Isn’t it weird how so many romcoms end on the confession? If we’re lucky,we might even get a *gasp* time skip to show them with a happy family. What is it with the obsession of mangakas with the chase part of romance but borderline disinterest in developing things PAST the confession?

Today, let’s talk about that.

Credit to @Rosel_d on Twitter.

Man, I wish I had a consistent schedule like GMM.

Anyways, back to the topic. Think of all the romcoms you watch, and name three shows that actually have a confession by the halfway point and started the relationship of the two leads for real. Off the top of your head. Go on, I’ll wait.

.

.

Waiting’s over. You probably got one or two off the top of your head, but that third one probably took a bit more spelunking in the old memory caves. This time, I’m gonna help you and myself out by adding this link to MAL of the most popular romance anime. This might be a bit spoilery, and I haven’t seen ALL of the shows on the list, but I HAVE seen the majority. Let’s see how many shows in the top 100 have confessions mid-show instead of the climax. I also asked friends who had watched the shows that I personally haven’t.

Of the 100 shows (I count different seasons as part of the one show), I found that only 17 of them had relationships start before the show got even close to ending.

  • Sword Art Online
  • Chuunibyou
  • Clannad
  • Darling in the Franxx
  • Spice and Wolf
  • Rascal Does Not Dream Of A Really Long Name For An Anime
  • Ore Monogatari
  • Tsurezure Children
  • Kuzu no Honkai
  • The World God Only Knows
  • Kokoro Connect
  • Akagami no Shirayuki-hime
  • Lovely Complex
  • Nagi no Asukara
  • Tsuki ga Kirei
  • Bakuman
  • Monogatari series

Coincidentally, most of my top 10 favorite romance anime (in bold) are on this list. These shows are are near and dear to my heart for basically showing us what people do the chasing for.

If the romance is only a part of a larger narrative, I usually have no problem with it taking a while to start. There’s more important things going on, so hormones can wait. Fantasy anime such as Konosuba and Fate/Stay Night have their other genres to keep things interesting. In these cases, I don’t mind having the relationship take a while before starting.

However, romance anime have no demons lords to kill, or a holy grails to find and be disappointed by. Sure, there’s a cute gimmick like a club or whatever, but you know the selling point is the romance. How do you artificially lengthen the episodes when just talking should solve every single problem in the show?

Immaturity Of Characters

It’s strange how much focus is put on the pre-relationship part. The prelationship, if you will. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I sorta get why it’s so popular. Conventional though it may be, it is cute to see two people flirting, then getting embarrassed when somebody points that out. It’s the stunning image of youthful romance.

The Japanese seem to have this weird, idealized view of what love should be. It’s really cutesy, fun, but also extremely immature. Granted, the characters are usually young, and being young leaves you open to a lot of drama. It DOES get grating very fast though.

Misunderstandings

BRING OUT THE CHARTS!

Gamers! is both a satire AND victim of this trope. On the one hand, the main relationship ACTUALLY does happen by the midway point; Most of the cast is already paired with their significant other and are loyal. However, the entire crux of the show is being a near parody of the misunderstandings in all romcoms. The mental gymnastics and conveniently inappropriate situations these characters find themselves in make me believe these people got isekai’d to world where misunderstandings are the new normal.

Unfortunately for us, most romcoms play this trope straight. It’s insane how many episodes are dedicated to the same thing over and over again. All because the guy doesn’t get why the girl is upset, and the girl won’t come out and tell the guy why.

Image result for endless eight
Pic unrelated.

It’s a lazy and contrived way to make sure the status quo remains unbroken, and is usually one of the biggest detriments to the romcom genre as a whole. There’s plenty of ways to have a romcom not revolve around melodrama. Either parody it, or don’t have it at all.

Interrupting Confessions

Sometimes, a show thinks it’s funny and gives me hope that it’s gonna be a good show. They do this amazing buildup. The female character strengthens their resolve and goes out with MC to the festival/event/whatever. They have a good time, and are for ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES, on a date. It’s nearing midnight, and she’s ready for it. This is it, I’m gonna be the main gir-

Image result for anime fireworks confession
O

NO!

Bad anime. Go to your room.

For SOME reason, even though they already said the thing, they magically lose all their mettle and say some schmultz like “It’s okay for things to be the way they are” and not say the thing they’ve been getting ready THE WHOLE NIGHT to say.

My god, it’s just three words and three whole syllables. You are an idealized representation of what a Japanese teenager wants in girls, so why is not even ONE of them being straightforward?

And of course, the most useful trope of all for the hack writer-

Image result for first picture of a black hole
No, that’s not nearly dense enough.

The Dense MC

There we go.

How any person can be so dense that they are unable to comprehend the attraction of girls towards them, despite said girls quite literally throwing themselves at their feet, is something I will never understand. I’m an idiot that can’t read signals, but even I can see signals like this.

Image result for landing lights

I talk about this species of human in even more depth here.

Conclusion

Thankfully, in more modern times, these tropes have slowly fallen by the wayside. Writers are now realizing that hey, maybe there’s more to romance than people not talking about their feelings. What if we actually made them talk about it normally and not like it’s some taboo subject?

Image result for GoToubun manga

This revelation has caused many modern manga to adapt much stronger female characters. Gotoubun no Hanayome is fantastic harem manga because it does its absolute best to avoid every single harem trope in existence. It goes out of its way to develop its characters and their reasons for liking our MC. So far, it hasn’t once fell into the old trappings of your average harem manga.

Edit: I am a goddamn fool, do not listen to past me, GoToubun is pain

Plenty of manga are also making an effort to make both male and female characters more assertive and confident without the need to make them extroverts. Everybody has their own way of admitting their feelings, and it’s good to see mangakas realize that fact.

Here’s a few romance anime and manga I’ve seen recently that are of note:

  • Gotoubun No Hanayome
  • Kaguya: Love Is War
  • Ijinaraide, Nagatoro-san
  • That Girl is Not Just Cute
  • Horimiya
  • Karakai Jouzo no Takagi-san
  • High Score Girl

Thanks for reading, and until next time!

31 thoughts on “The Immaturity Of Romance Anime

  1. I actually don’t mind anime that build up to the confession as the climax (though it depends how invested I am in the characters and how contrived the delays feel and whether they are dealing with anything else other than a will they/won’t they situation). Then again, for sheer novelty, it is sometimes nice to see relationships that are already in motion, and I kind of enjoyed that about Ore Monogatari that it was about the progress after they got together more than whether they ended up together. Interesting post.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t know. The falling in love part tends to be more interesting than the being in love part. Probably why so many old stories ended with a marriage and a ‘happily ever after’. No one really wants to know that they argued bitterly for the rest of their lives, split up, or just actually did live happily.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown to enjoy character drama more, but I want BOTH. I’m not saying I dislike the falling in love part. That’s still amazing. I just want the rest of it and see how dynamics change. Happily ever after is fun and all, but I like seeing the ever after part, even if it’s in the last third.

        I mostly hate how artificial the length of some romance stories got for no good reason.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Gotta say I still love Toradora, though yeah, both MCs are pretty dense. Literally every other member of the cast figured out they should be together by about half way through the series.

    You know what romance jumps out at me? Stella and Ikki from Chivalry of a Failed Knight. Only one major misunderstanding that they took care of — in a realistic way. No tsundere denials. No misunderstandings driving them apart.

    It was major league refreshing.

    I think Karandi’s point about the falling in love stage being more interesting is spot on. Some of that might be because writers have such a hard time dramatizing the natural development of a loving relationship. That’s another reason I appreciate Ikki and Stella. It’s an action-based story, but their relationship is more romantic than most romances!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I did not like Chivalry of a failed knight, but I do think Crow has a point.

      Wotakoi stands out to me as a strong example of a romantic comedy that mostly avoids the tropes you mention in this piece.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. It might be because I’ve read/watched a lot of it in a pretty short span of time, but I’ve been getting so tired of how tropey and cliche ridden the genre is. I know it’s indicative of the

    Liked by 1 person

    1. of the medium, but getting the same old situations, misunderstandings and archetypes used over and over is starting to get to me.
      I understand some people find comfort in the familiar, but desperation for something new and different is warping my brain when it comes to this genre. I think I might just need a break from it…

      (also, sorry for the double post. Accidentally hit send half way through typing somehow)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never cared for romance anime, though romance IN anime is always good. A good romance in a story where it isn’t the focus has always been my thing. Crow will champion Stella and Ikki from Knight, but I’ll always go to bat for Rin and Shirou from Blade Works, a rare moment I think where the Tsundere character makes it work.

    Love is War has shocked me by A) how good it is and B) how it has managed to stick around in my mind this year, and that does the romance thing quite well. I don’t know, it’s not a genre I dabble in that much.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Videogames developed in Japan are just as frustrating. Characters clearly attracted to each other but one of them is oblivious or they will just get flustered if there’s any “danger” of actually getting closer.

    It’s as if it isn’t permitted to go beyond the friend zone. And don’t get me started on male characters who are attracted to a female but get embarassed and run away if they see them in a revealing swimsuit or accidentally stumble upon them in a state of undress.

    I was actually shocked when I played the JRPG called The Last Story for the Wii, and MC Zael actually says the words “I love you” to Callista, and they actually marry at the game’s conclusion. It was a great game anyway but that part made me like it even more.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I rather enjoyed “Toradora!” It was pretty clear they had their romance going long before the final episode.

    A relationship doesn’t begin with a confession, it begins when the two people act like they are in a relationship. I suppose Japanese customs are different from US customs and that’s why “confession” seems so critical. Here, “like” and “love” are widely separated steps in the romantic process. In the US, dating is more of a “You’re fun to be with. Let’s see how it works out if we go out on a date.” It might take months of dating to turn into “I love you.” It may just stay recreational or fade away.

    Plus you’ve gotta look at who they expect to be watching. That’s usually teenagers. They aren’t known for their long term thinking. You write a romance to be as immature as the intended audience. Every teenager thinks that their current love will last forever. Given that assumption, they don’t need to see beyond the confession because they think the mission is complete right there.

    I really enjoy anime where there are different couples at different stages of the relationship curve. “Nana” was really good about that. And Nana’s relationship with Ren had existed and sort of concluded before the anime had even begun. Much of the show was about the rekindling of that relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I actually started reading a manga series recently that impressed me because it starts at the point where the lead characters begin dating and focuses on the relationship. It’s a yuri series called: How Do We Relationship? and I think you might enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Man, I much preferred Rhett & Link when they were still semi-obscure part time irregular You Tubers… They lost a lot when they moved to CA and hit the (relatively speaking) Big Time.

    That being said – you can’t miss out on My Love Story, where the confession is in like episode 3-4 of a two cour series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds fantastic for a 3-4 cour series.

      I agree, GMM lost a lol bit of charm when they went a bit too corporate. I miss the older videos when they were really odd and GMM felt more like a short podcast almost.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just had to listen to the BBQ song again… (R&L are, like me, from North Carolina.) I can’t show this to my Florida relatives because they’d be insulted… even though it’s true.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I adored reading Gotoubun no Hanayome. It was really the first harem I read when I started getting into the genre, and it ruined me because it was so much better than everything else.
    Kaguya-Sama: Love is War is amongst my favoueite manga I’m reading too.

    I’m just a simple minded creature when it comes to reading romance manga though. I know exactly what’s going to happen and it gets me. Every. Single. Time…

    I guess that’s why they are so interchangeable, they know just how to put your buttons and they just keep doing it. I still love it when things get shaken up though. I’d love for Shonen protagonists to actually get into relationships throughout the course of their main series. (Although as shonen, they won’t by definition. Because boys hate romance.)

    I’d love Uraraka to get with Midoriya for example, or at least have the two air things out, because lately it feels like her entire character has become her crush on Deku. (I haven’t read the manga yet, not sure if anything changes there, although I doubt it.)

    Liked by 1 person

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