Writing this list in particular has made me realize I need to watch more anime, because while there are probably many I would consider great out of shows I haven’t watched, there aren’t many out of the ones I have watched. When it comes to this topic, the top lists and discussions I’ll see are filled to the brim with picks, answers and (awesome) reasons about characters I don’t really know from shows I have yet to experience myself.
So, take my list with, not a grain of salt, but a lovely teaspoon of sugar. Because though I may not have personally witnessed many burgeoning romances in anime that makes my heart go doki-doki, there are still a few I consider charming in their own ways.
Edward Elric and Winry from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Felt this one was more important and powerful at the time I had watched Brotherhood, but I reserve my questioning of this blooming romance inside a rather serious world of danger and tragedy for its heartwarming pairing of these two damaged souls. They’ve been there for each other since childhood and continue to be the other’s support in times of need and in times of comfort. After all they’ve been through, I think it’s only all too right to allow this relationship to blossom beautifully at the end.
Celty and Shinra from Durarara!!
As far as odd couples go, this might be the oddest one on the list (though that could be debatable). Durarara is a strange and lively series that follows many exciting and extraordinary lives in the city of Ikebukuro. Celty Sturluson is one such entity, being a headless rider known through myth and Irish folklore as a Dullahan. Despite appearances and superstitious notions surrounding her existence and mythological roots, Celty is actually a really empathetic and (ironically) human individual. Though she has her insecurities about how people perceive her, thinking they’ll react horribly to her monstrous nature, she’s a pretty confident, optimistic, and down-to-earth woman. Funny enough, she may be the most human out of all the idiosyncratic people running amok in Ikebukuro.
Leave it to one eccentric underground doctor, Shinra Kishitani, to fall in love with this woman who tends to avoid people and keep to herself, calming her nerves, and breaking her out of her insecurities (though maybe not entirely). They compliment and make up for each other’s imperfections, often in really sweet and adorable ways. For a long time, Shinra’s love has been one-sided, but shortly into the series Celty reciprocates and it is strongly suggested (if not, outright said) that the two are engaged. These two love being around one another, because it’s when they’re most comfortable and happy. And isn’t that just the best?
Gohan and Videl from Dragon Ball Z / Super
You knew this one was coming if you read my last entry in this challenge. It’s the first ship I’ve ever shipped, and one of the first few romances in anime I got invested in. From awkward suspicion and mentorship to an awesome friendship and hidden manifesting love bursting to reveal itself in epic bouts of desperation and care for one another. It’s truly amazing how such a powerful and awesome romance matured so wonderfully in a shounen fighting anime. And one that will always remain close to my heart.
Okabe and Kurisu from Steins;Gate
During my experience watching Steins;Gate I discovered I am a sucker for the kind of love that can transcend time and space. I saw something similar in Gunbuster, but I won’t get into that here. I don’t I would have loved this show as much as I did had it not being for this tragically beautiful romance. Yes I totally buy into the connection formed between Okabe and Kurisu over a mutual interest and passion for science. Bickering turned to concern turned to support and ultimately flourishes into a romance born of sadness, loss, and love. An epic love story expressed through multiple worldlines that not even the supposed hand of fate can stop.
Araragi and Senjougahara from Bakemonogatari
“If our viewpoints are inconsistent, let’s talk it over.”
Perhaps the most straightforward and mature relationship on this list, the dynamic between Araragi and Senjougahara is one that continues to amaze me the more I read into it. What begins as what seems to be a play of power dynamics becomes more blunt, open, and oddly sincere. Something as little as Senjougahara allowing Araragi the honour of seeing her new clothes can have many different interpretations reading into the nuance of her language, though I imagine it comes down to arguments regarding the proposition and the power relations between them. You could say it’s Senjougahara’s way of intending to please Araragi or seeking his approval. But let’s not get into that too much. Instead let’s discuss what made this into such an alluring romance.
What struck me (and many others) was how formal Senjougahara professed her love for Araragi. It almost comes across as a demand in a weird, awkward, yet awesome way that pleases me. Once the terms are set and the two have both confessed their love for each other, everything feels right. Just wow. I can’t think of any other romances that develop in such an interesting and mature way as this and culminate into something so awesomely winsome. It’s the kind of love that can move this fanboy to tears.
Simon and Nia from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Gee, I wonder why I added the budding romance between the shy, reserved boy who became tremendously more confident and the best girl in the whole wide world, Nia – who also develops into a really strong character? Hmmm. I’ll you think about that one (hint: I was around Simon’s age when I first watched it).
Simon found Nia and was immediately captivated and left speechless by this mysterious and radiant girl. Once Nia learned of Simon’s depressive state she resolved herself to help him out of it in whatever way possible. In her attempts, however, she only made him feel worse by telling him to forget about Kamina. It wasn’t until Nia got captured that Simon became inspired to dig himself out of his rut and fight for something again – to save what would end up being an overjoyed Nia.
Watching this young love develop so awesomely and oh so adorably (cuddling Nia is the cutest thing ever) is one thing, but seeing them propose and have one of the saddest, most beautiful weddings in all of anime seven years later puts this legendary romance on a whole other level.
Isaac and Miria from Baccano!
As far as ideal relationships go, Isaac and Miria are living it better than anyone could ever hope to, and are extremely fortunate that they do. This pair of “idiotic lovers and thieves” are a magnificent duo of costume-wearing criminals who commit robberies as the most ignorant, bliss, and lovable pair of weirdos in the world. I can’t help but smile along when they come on screen. They’re just as fantastic as a couple as they are a comic duo, and flawlessly in-sync with one another.
Endlessly entertaining in many ways, these two delightful dimwits have become the happiest of relationship goals in my eyes: similar goals and interests, inseparable affection, happy and carefree attitudes, and amazing senses of humour. Easily one of the liveliest, hilarious, and utterly charming of couples I’ve had the good grace of knowing both inside anime and out. And they’re still together centuries later! In all their energetic, lighthearted, and uplifting joy of a romance.
Keima and Chihiro from The World God Only Knows (spoilers)
Now there are plenty of great romances to be found in this show (it is a harem anime, after all), and I have a great fondness for almost all of them. Though I’m usually not one to root for Loving Bully romance, but with Chihiro and the Trying Not To Cry ending, something cut deep. Yes dear viewer, this is a romance never (maybe) after. A regretful one that could have been the most perfect one of all for Keima, but such is the pain and loss of love affairs.
Keima’s first impression of Chihiro was a frustratingly ‘real girl’ – as real as real can be, with no distinctive features or “flags” to signal how to win her heart. He is then led to believe that he does not have to be the one to win her affection in order to release her escaped spirit and thus tries to help her pursue her own target for a relationship. However, Chihiro soon realizes that she actually loves Keima. Rage runs her off, but Keima rushes in pursuit and talks to her, letting her know she is capable of doing whatever she wants (in response to her insecurities) and kisses her after remarking he’ll be there if she needs it.
I’m not doing a good job explaining this one, but suffice it to say that out of all the girls Keima has “conquered”, the one to influence him the most was Chihiro. And it is revealed at the end, in a sad and remorseful confession to himself, that Keima too loved Chihiro very much. Just that he was too late in realizing it.