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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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.