The Best Romance Tropes According to Me

What are my favorite romance tropes?

The more I thought about this question of what are my favorite romance tropes the more I noticed that my interest in different tropes often depended on whether or not the story was an original story or fan-fiction. This brings me to a trope I have confusing feelings on-

Enemies to lovers

Enemies to lovers? Great in fanfiction. You get to explore what a romantic dynamic would look like between characters that are rivals/enemies in their canon universe. Depending on the writer this could be done brilliantly and even give you a sense that the original material cheated you.

However, how many cases of enemies to lovers done well exist in canon stories? I can’t even think of any at the top of my head. I want to say I like enemies to lovers but how can I when I only like the concept and potential but can’t think of a single example where I liked it?

Rivals to lovers, this trope’s sibling, is another good trope. Probably easier to find, but even this one you’ll mostly see in fanon. Could this have to do with rivals and antagonists often being the same gender of the protagonist? Probably, but there’s also a risk of toxicity being associated with any couple that forms out of this trope that I think a lot of writers want to avoid. There’s also the fact that in most cases love interests and rivals/enemies are planned and established from the very beginning of a story. Odds are the rival and love interest are separate characters that both interact with the protagonist on a regular basis from the start of the story. Their purposes are different. The only way enemies to lovers will ever happen is if the author planned for that enemy to eventually become a love interest.

Does that mean more authors should consider stories where the rival/enemy eventually becomes the love interest? Maybe? This could also lead to the rivalry being toned down as a result. Bottom line, it’s a complicated trope.

 

Love triangles

Love triangles are interesting to me because they seem to be consistently popular while also being one of the most criticized tropes even outside of the romance genre. Love triangles can be well written, gripping, and generally make a story better…but it’s hard. A good love triangle is hard to pull off and will usually have costs. Getting characters involved in love triangles will in most cases make them less likable. Which is fine. We all love-loving the bad guys. You know, so long as the story knows they’re a bad guy. Don’t try and make the audience sympathize with someone that’s stringing two people around. It. Won’t. Work. That is only one form of love triangles though. Not all of them are made up of this one person who is trying to pick between two people you often see pushed in many teen dramas. Love triangles can also take a form that goes more like A likes B, B likes C, and C likes A. What makes this form of love triangles work so much is that the characters know what they want. There’s love triangles where no one involved will admit their feelings because the person they like is the same person that their friend likes. You’ll grow impatient at times, but it works wonders for making the characters more empathetic. There’s also the love triangles that aren’t really love triangles and more of a hectic, love web.

An example of a love triangle I really like would be Toradora. The short lived love triangle in Orange is the New Black was well done. Gilmore Girls did a sort-of good job on the love triangle between Lorelei, Luke, and Christopher mostly just because Lorelei’s relationships with the two paralleled and contrasted in interesting ways.  Ranma 1/2 and School Rumble would be examples of the love web I described earlier. Glee would also be a contender for good love webs, and would be an exception among teen dramas. I still have issues with most of the love triangles in all of these. Toradora is the only one that gets a complete free pass.

 

Childhood sweethearts

God I love this one. It has similarities to friends to lovers but I think this trope stands on it’s own as well. Often times these stories will involve a separation of sorts. So really, it’s childhood sweethearts to strangers to lovers. There’s so much character development and character change necessary here and I love it. It has a lot of campy potential despite most of these tending to end rather sadly.

You see this one in love triangles a lot too. In most cases the childhood sweetheart looses. I think this has a lot to do with the childhood sweetheart being framed as “the safe route” and the “safe” love interest never wins. I could get into how much I dislike The Passionate vs The Safe Love Interest trope, but that’s a different blog post.

My Girl is kind of the go-to movie for this trope, I think. Though there won’t be a ‘to strangers to lovers’ part. There’s Anohana, 5 Centimeters per Second, No. 6, and do you see what I mean about the trope being cursed with sad endings.

Not much to say on this one. It’s a solid trope with not that many exceptions to discuss.

 

Friends to lovers

A trope that I think is necessary to separate from Childhood Sweethearts or Childhood Friends. Friends to Lovers often has a different pacing and tone compared to childhood sweethearts and it doesn’t run into bad endings nearly as often as the prior. What I really like about friends to lovers is that it works really well in both, dramas as well as romances that take themselves less seriously. It works in fanfiction really well (it’s the dream for most ships after all) as well written in canon. It’s an easier trope to do well.

When it comes to examples of Friends to lovers…the thing is that almost anything could technically count. There has to be some degree of friendship or acquaintanceship for romantic feelingss to develop from. I think the key is specifying long term friends to lovers.

Ron and Hermione. Easy. Toradora is here once again. Toradora is kind of perfect for a blog post like this since it’s layered with romance tropes and still manages to be amazing because it holds substance and that’s [I’m about to go on a mini tangent but I think it’s worth keeping in here] what I think is most important when it comes to tropes: does the story carrying the trope have any substance? It’s not the tropes or cliches that make a story bad. It’s how they are used and if there is anything there besides them. However, I firmly believe that it is easier to command substance from some tropes more than others [End of tangent]. Lorelei and Luke could fit here too. There’s also one of my favorite manwhas to date, ‘Our Relationship is…’. In Our Relationship the trope is the very core of the story unlike the other examples I’ve given. Please read ‘Our Relationship Is…’ it’s so good.

 

Fake Relationships

I’m just gonna come out and say it. I love fake dating stories. For one, they technically skip all the steps a usual romance takes since the chase takes a unique form. Here, the love interests are being thrown at each other’s friends and family right off the bat. They’re normally introduced to each others flaws and insecurities earlier than usual romances and if done well, do it without feeling out of place. It’s a pace I can get behind. There’s also guaranteed humor somewhere in there, which is nice.

The best part is that it’s just as entertaining to see in fanfiction as it is in canon material.

Bonus: if one of them tells their friends they’re “dating” s/o and the friends are like finally lmao, leaving the one involved having to internally question what do you mean finally we’re not even actually dating.

I just talked this trope up so much and the only good example I can think of is The Proposal. I don’t care what the ratings say, that movie is amazing. While You Were Sleeping, another Sandra Bullock movie, while I’m not the biggest fan of it personally, the movie fits the trope pretty well. There’s also…Nisekoi….I’m really not making a good argument for this trope

 

Return to Hometown

This isn’t a trope that only belongs to romances but man, if there isn’t something romantic about the concept. Something I really like about this one is that it puts the reader/viewer in the shoes of the main character. This trope can also be pretty broad. Do they meet a new person that moved into their small hometown while they were away and as a result, allow the main character to see the place in a new way? Are they forced to run into an old lover from their hometown, causing them to remember the things they loved but also hated about it? You can do so much with this one.

It’s campy. It’s nostalgic. It’s probably, definitely set in the fall or winter…which is the kind of atmosphere I can get into.

The only example of the trope going through my head right now is Kanon, which is a wonderful example please watch it if you haven’t. I looked up ‘return to hometown romance movies’ on google to see if something would spark my memory and the first search result was ‘hallmark movies’ so maybe there’s something in that pile of content I’m fine with avoiding for now.

 

Childhood Friends to Lovers

Ah. Last but not least, my absolute favorite trope, childhood friends to lovers. The best thing about childhood friends to lovers is that it can fit into almost every other trope that I’ve already mentioned at the same time. I know I’ve been saying this word a lot but I’m going to say it again: It’s campy. The campy potential is so strong. This trope is also just kind of guaranteed to be a slow burn, and I love my slow burns.

The characters have a deep understanding of each other, but often realize as they get older that there were things they might of misjudged about the other because kids aren’t exactly the best at empathy or understanding other people’s circumstances. There’s more opportunities to see character development. It shares a lot of strengths that childhood sweethearts has, the main difference being the romance comes later in this one.

Our Relationship is… fits here as well! Please read it! I’ll mention Kanon once again too. Ron and Hermione…again. Okay um. Let’s go with saying something I’d like to see in this genre more often: make it gay please.


That’s all I got for this one guys.

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The Gameplay of Building Relationships in Stardew Valley

Junkie, this is a blog about romance shows and manga…what gives?

Well…I don’t mind talking about romantic subplots or overtones in stories that aren’t explicitly a romance. It’s actually something I want to venture into more in the future. Sometimes this even means video games.

So. One of my favorite mechanics in Stardew Valley is the ability to build relationships with the different characters through giving gifts, talking to them, completing tasks for them if available, and how the closeness to a character is measured by hearts (you start with zero and ten is the max). What I really like is that if you want to max out the relationship with one of the characters you can’t only talk to them or only give them gifts (well… if you consistently give them gifts they love then you might be able to max the relationship but you wouldn’t have the enjoyment of seeing how their dialogue changes as you get closer to them…I’ll add to this later). The point is, you have to do a little bit of everything, and I like that.

I also like that the gifts in of themselves are a mechanism as well. Each character has gifts they love, like, are neutral towards, dislike, and hate. A certain gift can increase your relationship with one character but decrease it with another. Some characters have a limited amount of gifts they love or like, making it more difficult to get closer to them. Then there are characters that have tons of gifts they like which naturally makes it a lot easier to max out their relationship.

While this is nice, it’s kind of expected from a gift mechanism. For me, what makes the gifts interesting in Stardew Valley’s case is that the different things you do around town will make it easier to give gifts to some characters and harder for others. If your trying to get closer to Emily, Sebastian, or Maru then you’ll have a lot of mining to do. Meanwhile getting closer to characters like Leah, Shane, or Jodi will rely a lot more on foods (in Leah’s case try to keep it fresh and healthy), which means more farming and buying meals at the Saloon if you haven’t upgraded your house yet. Increasing your friendship points will unlock cutscenes (also called “heart events”) that are unique to each character. From my experience, it seems that there’s a heart event every two hearts for the marriable characters and the eighth heart event will typically involve a moment suggesting the character has romantic feelings for you. “Suggesting” being generous for some of them (I am 100% talking about Abigail right now).

I like these aspects of the game a lot, but what makes them really work is the game’s screenwriting. The characters are interesting and the different heart events you get with them are, for the most part, amazing. I was laughing my ass off during Emily’s eighth heart event and the same goes for Abigail’s. A lot of these cutscenes are intensely engaging and incredibly well done. You really feel for these people in your virtual town. Some of these heart events really hit hard. Some characters have almost all angsty cutscenes. For most of them, there’s a balance of bleakness and optimism behind all the cutscenes. All of this…pretty much made the heart events my favorite part of the Stardew’s gameplay. Whenever the heart meter went up for a character I would just walk around everywhere I knew the character normally goes just WAITING to trigger a cutscene. I would get so excited- sometimes they were the only reason I wanted to increase my friendship with characters because I always wanted to learn more about all these wonderful townspeople.

Lastly, I’d like to mention something slightly off topic but still somewhat connected to this and that’s Leah has an ex-girlfriend. Why is this important? Well. Something I’ve noticed about the game while playing is that the dialogue is gendered. Despite this, you can date any of the bachelors or bachelorettes no matter the gender of your character. While this is a nice mechanism that is becoming a part of more and more games, there’s something kind of…off about it. It gives this “ This game can be gay…if you want it to be. But it isn’t really gay” kind of energy. So oftentimes these characters will be straight up until you pursue them if that’s what you choose. Especially when in most cases the rest of the game and characters are fairly heteronormative. I’m not specifically including or excluding Stardew from this. Leah is a good exception but most of the characters do seem to come across as straight unless you as the mc want to make it gay.

So. Was the virtual dating aspect of Stardew Valley good? Yes. Very much so. I haven’t played all the heart events to all the characters, but for the ones I have, I found to be really well done and even the characters I haven’t unlocked that many heart events with I still find interesting and like. It’s just…pretty solid gameplay.

 

A Shitty Analysis of the New Fruits Basket Op

I meant to post this months ago

I love this opening so much more than the first one but that’s beside the point. The only thing that matters right now is how loaded with symbolism the second opening of the reboot is.

[mild manga spoilers ahead]
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The opening shot is Tohru opening her umbrella in the midst of a cloudy sky that the sun is slightly peeking through.

Then we get the title sequence as Tohru runs up a flight up of stares.

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At the top (and in front of Shigure’s house) she throws the umbrella up in the air, no longer needing it based on the her now sunny surroundings. 

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We then see the rest of the characters looking up from their umbrellas and what’s really important is to note from what angle the shots are.

Kyo and Yuki’s shots are both upward and you can’t see any part of their umbrella but the inside. Looking back to the very first time Tohru’s umbrella is shown in the opening, you can notice the inside is the only visible part aswell. The only difference is that her face is completely out of shot and all we can see is her extending grip. 

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With Shigure and Hanajima you can see the front of their umbrellas as well as the inside. I think this is indicating that these two are the main observers of our main trio. Neither of them are looking upward either, but straight ahead of them.

Something else important to notice would be how Shigure is only one with a shaded face- a hint that he isn’t as good-natured as we originally might think. Also note that he’s staring right into the camera which I think represents how shameless he tends to be about his more questionable actions and morals.

Hanajima, on the other hand, is barely shadowed but has one eye covered. I think this is mostly referencing her eye on Kyo, especially in scenes like when they visited Kyoko’s grave or later volumes when it became overwhelmingly clear that Kyo had romantic feelings for Tohru. Hanajima’s concerns and observations are a lot more genuine than Shigure’s. While she’s not afraid to interfere with how things play out (we see this during New Years), she does it from a place with her friends in mind rather herself (such as Shigure)

 The rest of the characters are shown with their umbrellas from afar.

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Then we get this super precious shot of young Tohru running with her mother into the sunset happily and carelessly as they lower their umbrellas.

For symbolic purposes, I’m assuming that Kyoko’s umbrella is black in this shot. It’s a fair assumption considering Tohru’s umbrella is different from the one we’ve seen her carrying in earlier in the opening and the brownish overtones suggesting this is a memory. If that wasn’t obvious enough the sunset should be clear symbolism of Kyoko’s death.

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Then we cut to Tohru, who is still at the top of the stairs in front of Shigure’s house. It’s sunny again and she’s not holding her umbrella which means everything we’ve seen after she threw her umbrella up has been through her eyes.

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We then get a super adorable sequence of all the characters dancing in direction to the camera. Based off what we’ve seen of all the character’s umbrellas, this whole sequence is in Tohru’s mind considering the pink background.

This is especially evident with the lingering Kyo and Yuki, just for Kyoko to be the next person. She’s the only character in the sequence that doesn’t move to the camera. She stands in the center of the shot. Her umbrella is also now a bright red with a butterfly on the side of it. This all further emphasizes that we’re in Tohru’s head right now considering Kyo and Yuki’s growing influence and her determination to keep her mother at the forefront.

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The next noticeable thing I want to mention is this shot of Kyo and Yuki as Tohru runs towards them. Ignoring the minor animation error of Kyo’s magical floating umbrella, both of their bodies are facing the direction the sun is about to protrude. Their backs are facing Tohru, but they’re both turning slightly in Tohru’s direction. Their body language is matching the symbolism of Tohru throwing aside her umbrella in the beginning–opening up.

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This is especially evident considering Tohru tosses aside her umbrella when she caught up with Yuki and Kyo and grabs their hands [insert she has two hands for a reason jokes here].

Something worth noting is that now it’s Tohru grabbing their hands and not the other way around. She’s now the one pulling them forward.

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Everyone else then joins in on the fun and tosses their umbrellas in the air.

There’s not much to say about the umbrella’s positions themselves except that Tohru, Yuki, and Kyo’s are noticeably closer to the camera. We’re also looking at the outside of the umbrellas for once.

While it’s kind of obvious why, realizing Kyoko’s umbrella is the only one from the opening that isn’t there definitely hits in a weird, painful way.

As for what the umbrellas themselves symbolize…I could see it representing a personal shield; each character is using their umbrella to protect themselves from something that’s beyond their control. Tossing away the umbrellas could symbolize no longer needing the protection because there’s nothing needing protection from. Thus, throwing the umbrellas in the air as well as Tohru tossing her’s once she gets to Shigure’s house. Considering this also brings a new light to the fact that we only see the inside part of Kyo and Yuki’s umbrellas. This could just boil down to Tohru being the closest to the two, thus grasping the trauma they went through especially. It could also be a representation of how these two are particularly stuck in their past compared to the other Sohmas.

A bonus:

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As I was writing this I noticed that there’s a cat on young Tohru’s umbrella which is really cute and I had to share with you all.

Gilmore Girls: The Love Interests

This post might get a little lengthy.

In Gilmore Girls, there are four girls we get to see coarse through different relationships throughout the seasons of the show. As someone who recently finished marathoning Gilmore Girls and has a blog based on romance shows and anime, I figured why not talk about all these relationships the characters went through.

Rory, as our main character, will go first. Talking about the different boyfriends she’s had will be fun because her taste is uhhh pretty questionable.

Dean is Rory’s first boyfriend and hence, the first love interest. I think we can all agree he was the worst. He actually started off pretty good, if not a little boring. However, it doesn’t take that long for him come off as dramatic with some sort of anger issue. He almost always put his feelings before Rory’s. When his marriage fell apart he got upset with Rory and made it out to be as if everything was her fault despite him being the one who cheated. He generally became less and less pleasant as the show went on and even at his best he was just generic and boring and while nice, still not that good of a boyfriend.

The next boy Rory dates is Jess. Jess is a tricky one to talk to about because while I love his character and find him to be one of the more interesting ones in the series, I really don’t like him as a boyfriend. All throughout their relationship Jess treated Rory horribly. He was moody, never talked to her about anything, and never even seemed like he actually wanted to be in the relationship. They were constantly arguing and most of the sweet moments between them were Jess’s attempt to make up for some shitty thing he did earlier. I liked him a lot more when he wasn’t dating Rory. Season 6 Jess was great, and maybe if the show took the route of Rory dating him once again things would be different and I could say I liked him better the second go around but that’s not what happened. Bottom line is, he’s a better character than Dean, also probably had more respect for Rory and I’d say he understood Rory better than Logan did too, but god he was a really bad boyfriend.

Last but not least, there’s Logan. Who has the opposite problem Jess did. Despite him being a complete douchebag and a personality I found to be quite unlikable, he was a surprisingly pretty decent boyfriend. My opinion of Logan moved around quite a bit through the course of the show. At first, I hated him. The way he teased Marty and talked to Rory immediately put a sour taste in my mouth. However after Dean broke up with Rory (for the third time?) at her grandparents’ party I realized that huh, I like the way he’s treating Rory. The way he tried to cheer her up felt very platonic. Was he already pining for her? Probably. But Logan never came across as more than friendly until he started very obviously teasing her when she was showing that one Chilton student around. Then there’s when Rory asked him why he never asked her out (because it was pretty evident they both liked each other at this point), and Logan’s reasoning was that he didn’t know how to be a boyfriend. By this point I like Logan. He respects Rory and wants her around even if only platonically because she’s special to him. However, cracks start to show. Rory changes a lot over the period of dating Logan. She changes a lot of things that were always a big part of her character like…not cooking and not exercising. Okay while those things were small, these changes in Rory made it a lot easier to realize that Rory and Logan don’t have a lot in common. They don’t even have common interests, not really. This made me start backtracking how much I actually like Logan and before I noticed Rory changing, I would’ve told you I think he made a better boyfriend than Jess. However, if there is one thing Jess has over Dean and Logan, it’s that he understands Rory better. Rory and Jess also just kind of clicked more. Rory and Logan followed the basic steps of being a good couple, but there wasn’t much that kept me wanting them to stay together or even like them together. They were just…there.

Lane

The only love interests you really need to remember for Lane would be Dave and her eventual endgame, Zach ( Zack? The internet can’t seem to make up its mind).  From my knowledge, the actor who played Dave ended up taking a role in another show thus bailing on Gilmore Girls. Which would explain the very weak “he got a scholarship in California” reasoning for why his character was suddenly disappeared. A lot of people seemed to like Dave more than Zach and I was certainly on that boat for a while myself but I gotta say, I started finding Lane and Zach a really fun couple to watch once Lane got pregnant. I really liked the scene where they bonded over not wanting to have the baby (in a mostly comedic fashion) and it was around that point it became clearer how much the two actually have in common. Somehow the two became more compatible after having twins. Go figure.

Paris

On to Paris…can we just forget that Tristan and Fleming ever happened? Joking, joking (mostly). Paris and Tristan never dated (thank god) and therefore were never love interests, but Paris’s hard to believe crush on him was enough to be sigh-worthy. There was That College Guy She Dated During Chilton That I Can’t Remember the Name Of who didn’t really do anything noteworthy. Then there’s…eighty years old Asher Fleming. Look, I could go on about how Fleming was way too old for Paris and how problematic their age gap is, but it’s 2019 now and I’m sure every Gilmore Girls fan has both, ranted about and heard ranting of it so I’ll move on. If there is one good thing I can say about Fleming, he gives us more of an idea of what Paris cares about when considering a romantic partner: intelligence. That’s about it, which also means she doesn’t really care if her relationship would otherwise be seen as weird. She probably wouldn’t even care if the person themself was deemed weird either. Which leads me to Doyle, in my opinion, the best boyfriend out of any of the boyfriends in the series. I love Doyle. He’s strange but charming, squeamish but also capable of being a leader, and genuinely cares for Paris. While it took a few tries, in the end, Paris found someone she made a perfectly odd pairing with. I mean hey, that’s how life usually works out I guess.

Lorelai

Now we get to Lorelai, who I think had the more interesting love interests. Despite that, I won’t be getting into Max and Jason because frankly, I don’t think anyone really cares about them that much. By around halfway through the show, it becomes increasingly obvious that the only two true possible endgames for Lorelai would be Luke or Christopher.

There’s a bit of a parallel between Luke and Christopher in the sense of how big of opposites they are. Where Christopher comes and goes throughout the show, always leaving an impact after leaving; Luke is a constant throughout the show, with some major moments but often just peacefully going along with the plot. While Chris is impulsive and rushes into things, Luke over thinks himself out of things. Lorelai’s parents hate Luke but they’ve always loved Chris. Christopher is immature while Luke is arguably the most mature character in Gilmore Girls.

I was impressed when I noticed just how lined up their differences were. I wasn’t something I expected from Gilmore Girls in all honesty.

I think most of us can agree that Luke was better for Lorelai. They balance each other out a lot better than Lorelai and Chris ever could. Luke and Lorelai’s differences were also manageable so long as they had good communication. Which they didn’t while they were dating and is why they ultimately broke up in season 6. Which brings me to another parallel: the marriages. Luke and Lorelai broke up because of postponing their wedding. Chris and Lorelai on the other hand, broke up because they had rushed into getting married. I could go on and say how Chris proposed to Lorelai in Paris, the city of love, while Lorelai proposed to Luke in his diner as well. The comparisons are all over the place.

The reasoning the show gives for Lorelai and Chris not working out is because “the timing was never right”  which I personally find to be bullshit. They were always too much alike to work out. I want to say I always expected and knew Luke would be who Lorelai ended up with but I’ll be honest, season 7 gave me a good scare. I still think their ending together was weak though.

If I had to rank who had the best love interests it would probably go:

  1. Lorelai (she had the most common sense)
  2. Lane (went from a nice, but slightly boring bf to an asshole who became surprisingly decent once they had kids)
  3. Paris (two duds and a real winner)
  4. Rory (her taste was very questionable)

You know, that is considering the canon love interests.

Rory had three boyfriends, but what if there was another possible love interest in between the lines? Someone who has been by her side the whole time.

Well.

Then there’s Paris.

Paris…Again

Paris who had big, definitive goals for herself just like Rory. Who was hardworking and had a strong work ethic that Rory (arguably) had as well. Paris also has the qualities I liked the best in Jess. Paris could understand Rory’s studiousness and later on her personality in general. This also works vice versa. Pretty much every character has a hard time understanding Paris or simply downright disliking her but Rory always had a decent understanding of her even if the reasoning was something like “Oh, she’s just being Paris.”. She also makes up for my biggest problem with Jess, being moody and never communicating with Rory. Paris, on the other hand, is always quick to tell Rory exactly what she’s feeling and why.

Granted, Rory and Paris were never written to be love interests and even their friendship had some blemishes. I think the potential for Gellmore becoming a likable couple was at its highest in season three and four and slowly diminished as the show went on. In the end, Rory and Paris is a good concept that sadly works best in fanon.

Their relationship in canon was for the most part one-sided. Rory never seemed to want or need or even consider Paris’s help. I also don’t think the show drew out how the two have many similarities as well many differences (you know, the whole “you two have more in common than you might expect” schtick). I know it’s already in the show, but I would’ve liked to see them build on it more.

However, even though they would still have issues in canon, I think Paris could’ve been an improvement or just an interesting addition to the canon love interests even if she didn’t end up as endgame or had a short-lived relationship with Rory. But hey, what are you gonna do when a show was made in the earlier 2000′s.

All in all the love interests in Gilmore Girls were…okay. For the most part. Even the ones I liked had some baffling moments that I could rant about. The romantic relationships were never the part of Gilmore Girls that I think people enjoyed though. We watched for the familial relationships and dynamics that gave the show its charm.

That One Track from your favorite romance anime

So, I’m a whore for soundtracks. The amount of hours I’ve spent listening to various soundtracks is in the hundreds. Something I’ve noticed in discussions about good anime soundtracks is that romances are often left out, with the exception of Clannad and Your Lie in April. So here I am, ready to take the task nobody requested.

Before I start listing animes and their soundtracks I’d  like to first say that the thing about scores in anime, movies, video games, and even tv shows is that they usually have one track that’s easy to identify (ie. a theme song, a track that plays during a progression/training scene or a track that plays during the climax, etc.). Depending on the tone and atmosphere of the series, this track could be sad, fun, a mesh of the two, or something beyond those lines. Regardless it should affect how you feel and be memorable. So in this post, I’m talking about different romance anime and what I think is that one track from them.

1. Toradora- Lost My Pieces

There are a lot of tracks from Toradora that I adore, including Yuugure No Yakusoku and Ameiro Rondo. What makes Lost My Pieces work out, however, is the fact that it plays at the climax of the series and stands for a mental shift in the main character as well as a tonal shift in the series. What else is interesting is that this is the only time the track is ever played in Toradora. It really shows how effective it was, considering the track’s popularity. When most people think of Toradora’s soundtrack they’ll think of Lost My Pieces. This is certainly that one track that will make you…feel things.

2. Clannad- Roaring Tides

This one is probably more arguable considering how many tracks in Clannad are severe tear jerkers. Personally, Roaring Tides has always been that one track in Clannad that would without a doubt fuck me up. There’s just something about that piano…and the…everything. It’s a very dramatic piece and man is it good at heightening the drama in Clannad. Of course, Nagisa and SnowFeild are very close seconds and I can’t forget to mention Town, Flow of Time, People; or Existence; or the goddamn ending Dango Daikazoku (why does this show hate us).

3. Fruits Basket (2001)- Secret

Fruits Basket has a generally wacky soundtrack that covers a variety of tones. However, if there is one track that could be associated with the darker moments in the anime, one that always played when one of the characters talked in depth about the zodiac curse, it’s Secret. This track is a little different from the ones in Toradora and Clannad though. This one’s purpose isn’t to make the viewer cry. I think the track only has that effect from a nostalgic standpoint; listening to the track on its own after the fact adds quite a bit of feeling to this one. Secret is more or less, meant to set the atmosphere. That, put together with how often the track was used, makes it one of the more memorable ones. I can’t wait to add the reboot to this list.

4. Nana- Akai Ren

Nana’s soundtrack doesn’t get talked about that often even among its fans. I’m not talking about the vocal pieces that were played by Black Stones or Trapnest, but the background osts. The reason for this probably has to do with 1) the songs sung by Black Stones and Trapnest are on a separate CD than the background tracks and 2) there are a whopping 43 tracks on the CD of background tracks. Regardless, there are a number of tracks that stuck with me even after finishing the show and the best example of this would be Akai Ren, which made me cry EVERY SINGLE TIME it played. That piano still haunts me. What also haunts is the second ending, Starless Night. That one’s a close second.

5. Anohana- Secret Base

I’ve been avoiding using the openings and endings on this list, but I’ll make an exception for Secret Base considering it plays like a track in the background for emotional scenes on several occasions. I was considering using Last Train Home instead, but that track just…doesn’t hit the same way and isn’t utilized nearly as often as Anohana’s ed. Secret Base also has the advantage of not being played in its entirety until the most climatic and emotional part in the series (as if just a few seconds of the song wasn’t already enough).

6.  Your Lie in April- My Friend A Will Be My Accompanist

We all know the soundtrack for Your Lie in April is amazing. Whether it be the classical pieces performed by characters or the rest of the soundtrack that’s left for the background, but I think My Friend A is a particular track that’s memorable and easy to listen to on its own. It plays often throughout the show and because of that, I think it’s the most identifiable piece in the series. My Friend A is beautiful. It doesn’t even need the context of the show to make it an emotional listening experience. If anything this gives context to the show.

7. My Little Monster- Tetsukazu no Kanjou

Not as much of a tear jerker as it is just an adorable track that I often come back to. Maybe it’s a more of a track that elicits happy tears? My Little Monster’s soundtrack reminds me of Toradora’s in the sense that they both have fun scores that feature mostly quirky tracks with a few emotional ones sprinkled in. For this series,  it’s emotional one is Tetsukazu no Kanjou, which the show utilizes quite well. It often plays when the audience discovers something new about a character or see an emotional shift in them.

8. Snow White with the Red Hair- Reconciliation: The Beginning of Two People

The best word to describe Shirayuki’s soundtrack would be magical; it’s a true fantasy romance score. I was hesitant to mention this soundtrack at all because at first I felt that while Reconciliation is a gorgeous piece, it’s not overwhelmingly emotional, but I’m listening to it right now and have realized that uhhh it’s very emotional and I don’t know what I was thinking. And looking back, this track in specific added a lot to scenes and did, in fact, bring up several emotions. While (maybe) not tear-jerking, the track would definitely have you gushing at how sweet and precious the main couple is.

9. Bloom Into You- Earnest Wish

You know, you hear a lot of piano in romance series. A lot of violin. A lot of flute. But  clarinet? That’s not as common.  This track really makes you wish there was more luckily, a lot of the other pieces on Bloom Into You’s soundtrack also have clarinet in them. Anyways, any moment Earnest Wish started playing…I knew shit was about to go down. There was usually some dramatic wind (oftentimes blowing Touka’s hair) when it started playing. Something new would be revealed about the character’s backstory or their insecurities. Good piece. Very good piece.

10. Kanon- Winter Fireworks

Kanon has the misfortune of forever being compared to Clannad and living in its shadow. Something I think, however, that doesn’t deserve to be compared to Clannad would be Kanon’s soundtrack. Its score is unique and successfully conveys a winter essence. Winter Fireworks is the best example, but there are so many other amazing tracks. I just [making aggressive hand gestures] really love it.

11. Your Name- Sparkle

Your Name is really good at using its score to accelerate emotional scenes and generally flow with the mood of the film. Its best example of this would be Sparkle, which plays at the climax and man does it work. The pace of the track has the perfect amount of energy to go along with a beautiful running sequence that was emotional as all hell.

So far I have only talked about tear-jerker tracks, but romances are also completely capable of having a track memorable by how warm and happy it is.

12. Toradora (again)- Startup

Startup is probably the easiest to remember/call out but I think Happy Monday is a really close second that no one talks about. Startup is used similarly to Lost My Pieces, though more often. Where Lost My Pieces plays at an emotional climax, representing a progression in the characters, Startup always plays when one of the main characters is making a stride to better themselves or their situation (hence, progressing the story). It’s a great track and does its job well.

13. Kaichou wa Maid Sama- Main Theme

Man, I could dance to this track. I remember always feeling giddy when this track started playing. You knew things were about to get exciting. It’s the perfect amount of fun and cheesy for a hilarious and sweet shoujo such as Maid Sama.

14. Princess Jellyfish- Umi to Tsuki no Yume

While it’s hard to stream the entirety of Princess Jellyfish’s soundtrack for free, there are a few tracks that are easily accessible on youtube. Umi to Tsuki no Yume is one of them and lucky for me, it’s one of my favorite tracks as well as one that seemed to stick out to others as well. It’s very befitting of the show’s flamboyant yet down to earth atmosphere.

15. His and Her Circumstances- Peace Reigns in the Land

I love every track from Kare Kano but this one especially left a mark on me. There’s plenty of lovely piano pieces that you could you point to as that one track but I personally find the tracks with trumpet solos and soft drums to be the charming point in its score. Peace Reigns in the Land normally plays sometime during the beginning of episodes and really leaves you feeling like everything is gonna be okay. As for accessibility to the soundtrack, there are a few tracks you can find on Youtube and I managed to find the entirety of the soundtrack here on Soundcloud uploaded only five days ago (so who knows how long it’ll be up).

16. Nisekoi

Nisekoi’s production value was always too good for its own good and its soundtrack is no exception. I was torn between a number of tracks from Nisekoi to mention. Should I go with the sweet and warm Lost of Words that reminds me of summer? Or the fun and goofy Meirou I can still remember playing at the end of each episode years after watching? Or what if I go with the more bleak Nikuhaku to represent that one track that stuck out in the series? Well. It’s Meirou. Hate to be anticlimactic, but Meirou captures the tone and atmosphere of the series better than any other track in the series. It’s sweet but in a ridiculous kind of way.

17. Honey and Clover- Be Careful of Being Tricked!

I absolutely adore Honey and Clover’s soundtrack. It has an interesting range of instruments that gives it a unique charm. Be Careful of Being Tricked is no exception with its use of bongos, the organ, and acoustic guitar along with humming… It’s a good time. Bon Bon Bereppa was another track I thought of using for this list. Both tracks scream “How did I get myself in this situation?”. It was really hard to pick one over the other, to be honest. It came down to the organ.

18. Lovely Complex- Orchestra Na Risa

Generally, the score of Lovely Complex is goofy and a riot to listen to on its own. Orchestra Na Risa is one of the slower pieces, and a touching one at that. Somehow it manages to feel sweet and whimsical while still fitting in with all the other ridiculous tracks and antics in the show itself.


Honorable mentions??

  • Doukyuusei (the whole thing tbh)
  • From Up on Poppy Hill- Kokurikozaka kara (theme song)
  • Air TV- Natsukage
  • Yosuga no Sora- Kioku

Now there are plenty of romance anime I have yet to watch and I hope many of them will make me think to myself “Wow, this would’ve made a great addition to that blog post I made about romance anime with good soundtracks”. There are certain anime I’m even prepared for. But for now, I’m just writing about what I already know [it’s not a lot].

Here is a playlist of the all the tracks I listed in this blog post

and here’s a playlist I made of all my favorite romance anime tracks that you can check out if you feel inclined.

 

Bloom into You- Episode 6

I’ll be honest, I’ve had a difficult time understanding what Yuu’s internal struggle was. The first thing I jumped to was internalized homophobia, in which she subconsciously stopped herself from acknowledging her feelings for Nanami. However as I went through more episodes that didn’t seem to be what was going on, or better yet there were other things interfering with her internal struggle as well.

It was the end of episode six that a few more things started clicking for me. Even though a lot of it had been things we’ve heard Yuu think before.

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So while her internal struggle and/or thoughts on love were ones I found to be relatable, her decisions surrounding Nanami had always been strange to me. Allowing Nanami to kiss her and openly discuss her crush on her was a big factor into what made me think Yuu was struggling with some sort internalized homophobia in which she was afraid to let her feelings for Nanami to surface.

But this line really changes that for me. It’s not that she’s okay with Nanami’s feelings because she subconsciously reciprocates them, but because she wants to understand them.

This actually goes back to the first episode with Yuu sitting on her bed, listening to one of those cd novels (I think that’s what they are?), anyways, it was a romance one and she was trying to understand that feeling of being in love like the characters.

Time skip to the end of episode one and onward and now there’s a real-life person who is in love with her.

However:

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Once again, I’ll say how I originally thought this was her denying her feelings. It was throughout out other episodes, and episode six specifically, it became more clear that Yuu honestly didn’t understand how being in love felt. She’s trying to understand what true love even is. Of course she can’t reciprocate feelings she doesn’t she can’t grasp.

Earlier in the episode she says how she wants to fall in love in love with Nanami, but doesn’t think she can. Which is reinforced in this scene.

Then things get even more interesting.

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Nanami wants Yuu to stay by her side despite her not returning her feelings, and vice versa. So why is it? Why do both of them want the other by their side? Yuu, who thinks she can’t fall in love but wants to learn what it’s like from Nanami. And Nanami, who has only shown her real, vulnerable persona to Yuu.

While they both care for the other and are both benefiting from their relationship, their feelings for the other are different. They’re on different levels.

Am I making sense? I feel like this isn’t making sense.

It’s just their relationship is really complex. The characters, their feelings, what they decide to do with those feelings. It’s all very complex and delicate.

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Once again you see a conflict in their feelings. Nanami saying “don’t change” could go back to when she kissed Yuu in episode one after she said she didn’t see anyone as special (in other words, her). Nanami likes that Yuu can see her for her and not as the strong persona she has put on, she doesn’t want Yuu to see her as special.

Meanwhile, Yuu wants to fall in love with Nanami. She wants to be able to see someone as special. I think the two’s idea about special is different as well. Yuu’s is in the idea of true love, meaning she probably associates finding someone special the same as simply valuing them. Nanami’s thoughts of special seem to be more rooted in putting someone on a pedestal. It’s just another thing to show that the two are in very different places metaphorically speaking.

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They’re in different places and yet they have a common emotion and reason for why they want to be by each other’s side. They are both lonely. Yuu who is lonely because she can’t comprehend feeling in love and Nanami because she’s hidden her true self in order to be more like her deceased sister. One has chosen to lock a part of herself away, while the other is constantly looking for a key, questioning if she even has something to unlock.

Nanami and Yuu can be interpreted in a lot of ways. I think that’s what makes them so difficult for me to understand. I did something most reviewers would avoid doing, looking at other’s opinions and thoughts on the show before I wrote out my own and turns out that Yuu is interpreted in a lot of ways.

Some people interpret her as being asexual. Some think she’s already in love with Nanami but has yet to understand what those feelings are. Some think she has yet to fall in love with her. I haven’t actually seen too many others interpret her actions or feelings as internalized homophobia which is understandable considering she doesn’t avoid Nanami or dislikes that she has a crush on her.

 

There’s more I want to talk about. I haven’t even gotten to Maki and Saeki, but I think I’ll hold off on talking about them for when I talk about this series as a whole.

Anyways, Bloom into You has a unique way of portraying unrequited love. With both parties being mutually happy to be at the other’s side even knowing their feelings aren’t the same. It’s not something you see too often.


~Consider this a Christmas gift before my end of the year post lol. I kind of wrote this on a whim so it might be a little sloppy. Sorry.~

Fruits Basket (2001): Subtle Romances and Fake Love Triangles

This piece has actually been sitting on my tumblr for a while now, but with the Fruits Basket reboot coming in March (yay!!) I thought why not post it on here?


Fruits Basket really surprised me with what it offered. I went into the show with a preconceived notion that it was going to be some average, flowery shoujo that gained its popularity out of nothing more than good timing.

Man

I was so wrong.

I mean, Fruits Basket isn’t even all that much of a romance in my eyes. There are romantic overtones, sure, but the show focused a lot more on the friendship that Tohru made with Kyo and Yuki than her possible romantic dynamic with them. To me, Fruits Basket is a lot more about finding good friends, trauma, and how those friends can help you heal from or move on from those traumas.

Fruits Basket is a lot of things.

A lot of things that make it so much more than any ole romance or shoujo.

The heart of the show is in the dynamic between Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki.

Fruits basket did a good job of getting me to like both, Kyo and Yuki, equally. I remember thinking around the tenth episode mark how I would be happy with Tohru ending up with either of them. As more episodes went on, however, the more I realized that Fruits Basket wasn’t about which guy she would pick and end up with. It wasn’t about her romantic feelings for them. It was about how all three of them shared similar struggles and how they could help each other through them and I wasn’t expecting that before getting into Fruits Basket at all. I feel like I’m repeating myself, but this is really crazy to me because I really thought Fruits Basket was going to be a regular romance shoujo with a love triangle. In the end, who was supposed to end up with who romantically wasn’t even important. What was important is that Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki needed each other. All three of them. I think in a way they were made for each other. The three of them were platonic soulmates if you will.

This is something that really frustrates me because I put off Fruits Basket for the longest time because I thought this was a going to just be a romance with a shitty love triangle. But the “love triangle” isn’t really even a love triangle, because Tohru never “picked” between the two, and I don’t think there would have been a point for her to pick between them. All I really wanted was for Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki to be happy. And I don’t think this could’ve been achieved without all three of them being together.  At least not in the anime (I haven’t read the manga, but I’m working on it. I am also aware that most people say the manga is way better than anime. Again, I’m working on it).

However, as I said, I ended up liking Yuki and Kyo equally. I would’ve been happy to see Tohru end up with either of them until I finished the show and actually realized it would’ve been a bad idea for her to pick sides (and wouldn’t have made much sense considering her character). When I was still looking at the three of them as a love triangle (this would be somewhere around the halfway mark), something that I really admired about it was how instead of the girl (Tohru) causing the two guys (Kyo and Yuki) to dislike each other, it’s actually the other way around. Kyo and Yuki have always disliked each other but it’s Tohru who builds a sort of bridge between the two. She’s the reason they get closer rather than the reason they’re relationship worsens.

So even when I look at Fruits Basket as a romance, and the relationship between Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki as a love triangle, it’s still really well done. Except for the fact that there’s no romantic endgame, that’s kind of a no-no in romances.

The three of them needing each other makes a lot of sense too. The dynamics of these three is amazing.

All three of them struggle with feeling alone, not belonging and you see the different ways they cope with those feelings. They have the same insecurities, just for different reasons.

I just…really love these three. Their characters work well off each other. They’re all already likable on their own, but together they have this charm that’s kind of hard to describe.

I think this might explain why it took me a while to watch Fruits Basket as well.

Outside of me avoiding it because I didn’t think it would be anything special, there were two times I tried watching Fruits Basket before in which I only made it halfway through the first episode. I was close to doing it again the third time I picked up Fruits Basket, but I kept watching and when Kyo showed up the way his energy contrasted with all the other character’s immediately gained my interest and then Tohru ends up falling on them and poof, Kyo and Yuki turn into animals and the first episode ends and by that point I’m actually invested and want to get to the next episode as soon as possible. Then I continued to watch and fell in love with our three main characters as well as being surprised with just how sad this show could get. The whole thing makes me feel silly now.

So if there’s one thing I’m trying to say in this it’s that Yuki, Tohru, and Kyo are a pretty good unit. (And also that Fruits Basket is more than seems)

However, this brings me to probably the one real problem I had with the show. There was too much time spent on side characters. It’s a fault of its time in all honesty. A lot of early 2000’s anime fell into that episodic trap of focusing on different side characters every episode. In Fruits Basket’s defense, the same side characters went back and forth through the episodes and they all had the same insecurities of not belonging as Kyo, Tohru, and Yuki and a lot of the times they would help reveal something new about the main three characters. While the only side characters I ended up genuinely liking were Tohru’s best friends, they all suffered from the same things Tohru, Yuki, and Kyo.

Everyone in Fruits Basket was an outcast. In one way or another.

And I think that might be why I and so many others love this series. We all know what it’s like to feel like you don’t belong somewhere, or that you don’t fit in, or that there’s no way you could be accepted for who you really are.

Some of us are like Tohru, who avoid bothering/annoying those around them at the price of their own wellbeing.

Some are like Kyo and lash out at everyone around them as an attempt to voice their frustration and emotions while avoiding being too vulnerable.

Some of us are like Yuki and constantly monitor our emotions to keep ourselves from feeling too strongly, just trying come off as a pleasant person while keeping in the fear that they might never make intimate friends.

I think everyone can relate to all three of these to some degree.

So yeah.

I cracked the code to why Fruits Basket is so beloved. And I’m a little annoyed about it. I’m annoyed it wasn’t marketed for the emotional and moving series that it was.

In the whole eight years that I’ve been watching anime, I’ve always thought Fruits Basket was widely liked because it’s a cute romance! And the boys are cute! Or drama! (because I thought the love triangle was going to be a big thing).

Now, this isn’t to say being a romance show or having romance in a show is a bad thing. I mean, what is this blog if that’s the case. There are even shows I can think of that would’ve been better off as romances than the genre they were. I’m not trying to say that Fruits Basket can’t be all these amazing things and a romance as well, either. Or that it can’t become a romance, or that there will never be a time in the story where Tohru could become romantically involved with one of the boys in a way that would make sense (I’m assuming there is an endgame in the manga). This post has to do a lot more with how I personally didn’t see it as a romance after finishing it when I had spent such a long time assuming this would be an average romance. I don’t want this to sound like I’m bashing romances. And the whole issue of calling something “just a romance” is a whole other issue that I don’t think I could cover in this blog post.

I just find Fruits Basket’s marketing strange. It’s not (just) a flowery shoujo. There isn’t that much flowery about the show. It deals with trauma from family and friends, and insecurities around being an outcast, and the extent to which Tohru tried not to burden others would actually scare me sometimes. Sure, it’s light-hearted at times, but I always felt this lingering feeling of sadness even during those scenes.

I could go on about all the other things I liked about Fruits Basket, but this is getting long. So, I’ll just leave by saying that I love Fruits Basket and if you haven’t watched it, I would seriously recommend it

Is this something that anyone else questions? I haven’t really looked at other reviews or other opinions people have on this show. There isn’t exactly a lively fanbase to fall on either. I can’t be the only one to come to this consensus, right?

I would love to hear what other people think of Fruits Basket. I’ve heard that the manga is a lot more depressing (as they usually are). To what degree would you consider Fruits Basket a romance? Do you think Tohru not ending up with Kyo or Yuki at the end was a pro or a con? Honestly, I’m really interested in people’s thoughts on this show.