I’ll be making most of my references to hetero anime. I’ve yet to watch a number of yaoi and yuri anime to form a judgment. In my most humble opinion, you have to watch at least four to five anime of a particular genre before forming any conclusion. There are literally hundreds of anime out there and most of them are either English dubbed or subbed. I prefer and strongly recommend those which are subbed. The beauty of Nihonggo would most likely be lost if it’s dubbed (I have the same preference in watching other Asian dramas too). And how else can you appreciate “BAKA!” if not by hearing it?
I have been watching anime ever since I’ve been introduced to television. I instantly fell in love. We won’t go through the list of my animes. I have to tell you though that my hands down favorite anime of all time are Ruoruni Kenshin and Inuyasha. Although they’re set in the Meiji and Feudal Era, they pretty much have some of the same elements I would be talking about today: Romance and Comedy. You don’t have to be an otaku but if you have a little bit of quintessential weirdness like me, then you probably get all the tingles and doki doki of your kokoro from watching an anime. So what makes a RomCom anime RomCom anime?
- Make the male protagonist really smart, popular, tough or mysterious. Manga and anime creators sure know how to create “The Dreamy One”. What girl would not fall for Mr. Refreshing Kazehaya (Kimi Ni Todoke) with his brilliant smile, compassion for others, good brains and (according to Kuronuma) exuding with freshness? How about Usui Takumi (Kaicho wa Maid-Sama!) who’s talented in ANY sports, tall, blond good looks, a sly smile and a perverted alien with a knack for having the most surprising actions? Or would you rather have the tough Yoshida Haru (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun) who makes violence the answer to everything, punches everyone for you, feared by teachers and would openly declare that he would ”do” you? Let’s not make them just popular and tough. We give them soft hearts too. If he’s not out to protect you, he’s probably behind the wall or up the tree protecting a puppy or a kitten.
- Make the female protagonist the weird girl in school. To contrast and balance the perfection of the male protagonist, let’s make the female really flawed. You’ll fit the bill if you’re the gloomy one who doesn’t speak like Mei Tachibana (Suki-tte li na yo), the REALLY tall girl (Lovely Complex), the girl with a Sadako aura (Kimi Ni Todoke) or the girl class president with a secret in a heavily male populated school (Kaicho wa Maid Sama). Mix these with brutal honesty and clumsiness and voila! Mr. Popular falls for you.
- Put them in a high school set up. With the exception of a few romcom (e.g. Natsuyuki Rendezvous), most of them are quite effectively placed in a high school. Most romcom anime fans are young girls (*cough*) so it just follows that the creators would cater to their environment. A teenage girl would most likely imagine herself falling in love in high school, even if it’s a boarding school with butlers (Mei-chan no Shitsuji).
- Make his best friend fall in love with the same girl. It could also be HER best friend that falls for HER too. This happens almost every time I watch an anime. I say ”Goody!” It’s a great feeling girls. We have two good looking young men fighting for your love. The best friend will most likely to have the same qualities as the male protagonist: a handsome, popular, tough and smart dude. However, he has one thing the protagonist is missing (or doesn’t really care to have)… sense of humor. In the end, no matter how much you strongly root for him, he still ends up rejected. Friendzone! (How could you Chihayafuru!)
- Form a friendship circle. Since the popular male protagonist could easily attract friends, he would bring the weird girl into a circle which most likely will be couples too, a misunderstood ”school slut”, a joker, a smart and pretty girl/former love rival and the best friend. Make them eat soba or udon after school and they would help the main couple solve their problems despite their own. This is probably one thing I really love about RomCom animes. Friendship is just as important as love.
- Have a dose of life lessons. An anime, manga or even a Japanese drama would never be complete without leaving you words to remember by that can be masterfully quoted in a school essay. Another great thing about these animes is that it will give watchers something to reflect on without leaving the doki doki feeling in your heart. Let me drop a few of these lines here. “Human will wither away if they’re always alone. The only remedy would be to seek out other people. I hope you find someone whose presence is enough to soothe your pain.” (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun) “Do one good deed each day.” (Kimi Ni Todoke) “Live a pleasant life in the unpleasant world.” (Natsuyuki Rendezvous) Enough said.
- KISSES. I can’t really talk about this. You have to see it for yourself. Watch Sukitte ii na yo to ease your way in.
- “BAKA!” This is why I strongly prefer subbed than dubbed. This word is a requirement in every single Japanese show. Face it, you haven’t gone through life without saying idiot (or whatever it translates to in your language) to at least one person. Baka is a beautiful word to me. It’s not entirely an insult. It’s a great way to express your anger and frustration. It’s the character’s way of saying I love you when the scene becomes too cheesy to handle. Baka is a great substitute for “Suki da yo” though if I were the girl I would kill the creator if none of them would sukida me.
And there you have it. Now go away and fall in love!
P.S. All these stuff that I just listed means zero to Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki Kun. It may be under shoujo category but it breaks all boundaries. It is hilarious. It is golden and I will talk about it next time. Tada!