February is a month usually many people get excited about particularly because it’s the month when people, most especially couples, express their love toward another person. In anime/manga, especially in shoujo series, we see at least one chapter about female characters fussing about how to make chocolates or how to give chocolates to the guys they are interested in. Sometimes, there are those who gets flustered so much they give chocolates in the guise of it being an obligatory one.
I thought I should write something love-related, too. I will share to you some of the clichés or tropes, my thoughts about them, and how I ended up not having a happy(?) ending like some characters in series I’ll mention.
Having childhood friends is quite a popular trope in anime and manga. That popular anime Nisekoi is apparently about the male protagonist trying to figure out who the girl he gave a promise to during his childhood was. The picture above are the MCs of Tamako Market (though the one I watched is Tamako Love Story; I think it’s cute). Edward Elric and Winry Rockbell fall on this one, too! We can clearly see on Fullmetal Alchemist (especially Brotherhood) how they care and support each other. Detective Conan, though not mainly romance, has a lot of characters who has been with each other since childhood (Ran/Shinichi and Kazuha/Heiji are prime examples). There are a whole lot more other notable main and supporting characters who are in love with their childhood friends in various anime/manga that I’m sure you can come up with some of them now.
I think this is one of those tropes that I will never get tired of. For me, it’s sweet to think that two people started off as friends from childhood, got to know a lot of their flaws and embarrassing moments, and still find charm in one another. It may be scary at first because romantic relationships can ruin friendship and it may ultimately end up with an irreparable relationship, but some times it’s worth the risk. I’ve got to admit that there are times when I don’t ship the character with the childhood friend, though. For various reasons exclusive to those series.
Personally, while I had some childhood friends, most of them moved away and I got no other means of contacting them. There’s this one guy I remember only the name. We played a lot with our other friends. We had a game much like tag which divided us into groups of two — girls and boys. Since we’re even in number, some girl friends proposed us having specific guys to capture. He was the one assigned to me. I was not a fast runner and he was a nice guy so they said that he’d let me catch him.
He did. But he also had failed and successful attempts to run away from me after being captured. I remember pulling his hair a lot to keep him from running. Once, I made him tear up because I pulled his hair after he made my best friend cried because of him and his friends. Yeah, I was kind of, uh, violent? But in my defense, it was not always the case. Pulling of hairs (or arms or shirts) when we’re playing that game. Other than, we talk nicely. I really like his younger sister, too! She’s so sweet!
But he had to move away because of his father’s job. I only knew the day before they moved. Our group of friends said he didn’t want me to know. They’re the ones who told me he’s got a crush on me, too. (Oh, I didn’t mention earlier that he was my first crush? Ah, yep. Because he’s nice even if there were times I hurt him physically.) His sister apparently knew about it so she was fond of me.
No tearful goodbyes happened but I was sad to see them go. They were good friends. We only got to know each other from kindergarten till 2nd grade.
Then, at times, we get these senpai-kouhai relationships, which are most of the times amusing and adorable. Platonic or not. Seeing the senpai giving, guiding, or teasing the kouhai is interesting to see. For those with romance, I enjoyed watching Skip Beat!, Nodame Cantabile, and Kyoukai no Kanata.
This is one of the most adorable relationships there is. I find it easily likeable especially when the characters have good chemistry. Most of those I’ve liked have the two leads in a rather funny relationship.
As for my reality, I remember that back in 5th grade, I was close to this 6th grader. He wasn’t sociable and he had tendency to be snappy, but he always wanted me to sit next to him in our school service. (He was always sitting behind the driver’s seat.) We get along well. I also had a good relationship with his younger brother, a year younger than I am, who used to frequently tease me. My classmates used to ‘ship’ me with him and he knew about it but he coolly shrugged those off and continued to force me (at times) to sit next to him.
That is a short-lived story, though, because he graduated and I had barely any news about him a year after and then none at all the next until now. Anyhow, that’s all in the past. I had a good time with him and I’m just sad that I lost an older brother figure.
Now, ahh, the tsundere female lead and the rich/popular/talented/nice guy (can be a mix of two, three, or all). There are a lot of these shows. Kaichou wa Maid-sama! is on the top of my list for a reason I’ll share later. Anyway, there are also Toradora, Shakugan no Shana, and Zero no Tsukaima. (Hey, Kugimiya Rie!) There’s just a lot of these.
I can easily like popular, nice guys especially if they’ve got depth. Tsundere female characters, on the other hand, are either annoying or loveable to me, depending on the circumstances. I support some pairings with female leads who fall into this trope, but there are also times when I’d choose the nicer girl for the guy. If the male lead is the tsundere, however, it’s another story.
Now for my story. After 6th grade, during middle school for others, I met this guy who later on was ‘shipped’ with me. We weren’t classmates then, but the year after, we got the same class. Multiple seat rearrangements and there were multiple times we sat next to each other. He frequently teases me. About my voice, the way I speak, the messy and wavy hair I was too lazy to comb, about a lot of things.
Honestly, I really had a huge crush on him. The year before I think there was a chance that we could get together, because he confessed in a roundabout way. You could say that he was somehow a coward, or just plain shy, because he said those words too quickly. At first, I was so baffled I asked him again. His delivery was the same, but I was certain that it was that. Even so, I still asked him again, but he said that I should forget it.
In our third year, one of our classmates who love anime series, too, compared the two of us to Usui and Misaki because of the way Usui always teases Misaki and her responses to him. But I guess he just really enjoyed teasing me. Still does by the looks of it.
After that, he’s moved on in his life. He’s got a couple of girlfriends for some time. I remained on my own because I’m not ready for commitment yet. Even if nothing developed, we still remained friends. We’re good friends even now. But I’m still stressed out by the way our friends still tease us whenever we happen to attend same gatherings.
Anyway, moving on. The first age gap romance I’ve watched is from Cardcaptor Sakura — Rika and Terada. It’s even so subtle and unclear that you can argue that it’s not romance. The other ones I know are from manga series I read (or am reading) — Love So Life, Taiyou no Ie, Hirunaka no Ryuusei and Tsubaki Chou Lonely Planet. That very funny Takane to Hana is among these titles, too, along with Dengeki Daisy. I also support Ayane and Pin from Kimi ni Todoke even if Kento is there. Oh, and there’s also Yankumi and Shun of Gokusen, who I shipped hard when I was watching the live action drama that I was so disappointed when the series didn’t show what happened to the two. I chose to read the manga just for them. Yes, they’re also the first legitimate official couple that fall into that trope that I supported.
Honestly, most of the time in reality, a 10-year difference makes me uncomfortable. If I’d be in a relationship with an older guy, I’d want him to be 4 years older than me at most. I understand that some do fall in love even with a huge age gap, but I still can’t deny that it makes me a bit uncomfortable at first.
My story here happened during my second semester in the university. I had an instructor 8 years older than I am. He’s still young, less than 30. Many students, enrolled in his classes or not, have a crush on him. He’s good-looking, charming, and kind. A good teacher, too! He graduated cum laude and has good prose and poetry writing skills as well as sketching skills. Can’t blame us if we admire him, no?
The course subject I took with him had a library research paper for a final requirement. I had a difficult time but he helped me. He was able to joke around with me, too! He teases lots of students who got a bit close to him.
He was just a crush, though. Someone I admire and doesn’t desire to have a relationship with. Even so, I was so surprised to discover that he was in a relationship with another admirable male instructor in their department! Turns out, he is a bisexual. I was so shocked because they’re the types who don’t behave in an obvious way that they’re gay. (There are some professors and instructors who are open. One of them is my favorite Psychology prof.) They’re even two of the heartthrobs of the Humanities department. So yep. It took me by surprise.
But they’re now over and awkward but he’s got a new boyfriend and is happy with him. I’ve got to admit that I still ship him with his girl best friend whose name often shows up in his examples and exams, though.
And that’s all from me! There are a lot of tropes used for romance but I think these four are on top. After writing this, I realized that I don’t know where I got the guts to write something quite personal. I still hope you at least had even a bit of fun reading these stories. Please share some of the series you liked that have these tropes! Thanks for reading!
P.S. Remy actually published a post about anime romance tropes/clichés with some pretty personal stories like this, too, on Valentine’s day! Quite sure you’ve already read that one, though I’m still linking it to be sure because it’s an interesting post!