My 2 cents regarding romance anime. I’d been musing on this topic for some time but then came to the conclusion that I’m stupid and tongue-tied and it’s better to just dump everything here.
The premise is – I like such stories. And at the same time I’m trying to avoid anime, which genres contain “romance”. Mostly because it’s an extremely hard task to show such a delicate topic without dropping to something vulgar or boring.
Yes, ideally we should have a main story where the plot line where two people are becoming a couple is on the background. Unfortunately, typically we have either one or the other. I want to cheer for characters we’ve already loved for other reasons. I wish we had more Yoko+Kamina or Lina+Gourri moments but at the same I understand that it would’ve ruined the main plot. And that because of the limited amount of such moments we enjoy them so much. Or I wish that KareKano had more, hm, activities in addition to their famous hat. And I want these “love time” moments to look organically in the world of the anime. And I want to see that people are getting closer not because the authors decided that they had to (how many those moments have we seen already?), but because there’s something between them.
Yeah, all this “I want” and “I wish” is probably the main reason that I rarely can enjoy romantic stories. That’s why Honey & Clover, in my opinion, is one of the best romantic stories we can find – thanks to the realistic characters, despite all theirs quirks and artistic nature, and to their believable feelings and actions (well, not that I completely agree with the idea of the Takemoto’s travel to Hokkaido…) Others… well, Nodame Cantabile is close. I like the first half of “Your lie in April” (the second part is about totally different things).
One more reason I don’t like typical romantic stories is that all of them sooner or later show us the moments “after a boy and a girl started dating”. Usually this is very awkward. 25 episodes without even holding the hands but with a couple of inevitable obstacles on their way to happiness. Love triangles, he’s late on the date, discharged batteries, “I knew that you’d never loved me”. Exaggerating everything: ” -You’ve never understood me, I’m so difficult, we should break up! -No, I understand you! -No, you don’t!” Then, one episode later, character #1 realizes that he/she was wrong. The shows consisting of 26 episodes repeats this not very tricky pattern several times. Orange (meh), Glasslip (meh), Bokura Ga Ita (MEH)… Again, it’s very difficult to get us feel that nerve, to make us believe that it’s not just a desperate attempt to keep our attention. I could believe Spike in Cowboy Bebop where he was ready to run to the opposite side of the universe just having heard one name. But remember characters of “Silent voice” and their suicide attempts? Or Nana and her problems?
Regarding these “after stories” – I’m really surprised, but Monogatari is one of series where relationships work, Senjougahara and Araragi have found their way to be together and I believe them.
The last thing that’s wrong with a typical romance anime is what characters do together. They can give each other presents, they can go home together… and that’s about it? Holding hands, kisses – c’mon, seems no one needs such vulgar things! I hate when it’s considered normal to show several dozens of episodes before characters can touch each other. At the same time – I don’t want to see sex scenes in anime. I’m not a prude but such scenes are usually made so embarrassingly badly (like in, Takhisis forgive me, Kuzu no Honkai) that I’d prefer to see a hat instead of this horrible scenes of vicious kisses and whatever.