“The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” – Rumi
Valentine’s Day is the holiday when we celebrate love. Maybe the world would be a lovelier place if we celebrated more often instead of limiting ourselves to just February 14th. The Japanese have a custom of twinned romantic holidays. On Valentine’s Day women share chocolate with the men they care for and a month later men return the gesture using white chocolate (in a celebration known as White Day). This article is written in celebration and reflection of those moments when men receive romance and affection.
Romance in anime takes many different models. It isn’t my style to focus on a single type. So I hope you’ll indulge me and enjoy a varied bouquet of moments.
Warning: spoilers are present in these moments regarding romance in the following animes. My hope is that sharing the moment will lead you, my reader, to want to watch the whole story on your own.
Romance in anime: a comforting moment – Re: Zero
GIF: White Fox
For the better part of Re: Zero, we are assailed by Subaru’s antics. Most of his madness is absorbed in the effort to impress Emilia and earn her affections. Subaru is under a curse (“Return by Death”) – additionally cursed by his own predisposition to overthink. When he fails, encounters death, and returns, his mind constantly searches for a way to succeed. Unfortunately this leads towards more overthinking and exhaustion. Emilia cures his madness in the form of a lap pillow. This intimate comforting moment breaks the dam of emotions Subaru had been holding back. It may seem cruel to tear down those walls, but it is necessary. Emilia has a love (even if ineffable at the time) for Subaru. Her lap pillow is all she can do for him.
Romance in anime: fighting for love – Naruto
GIF: Studio Pierrot
Sometimes confrontation is the only way to affirm one’s feelings for another. The ultimate confrontation is to fend off an attacker from the prone body of the one you care about. This is exactly what Hinata chooses to do when her loved one is on the brink of death. Her entire village was just smashed into the ground and Naruto was badly beaten by Pain. The village is left without anyone who could stand up to the assailant. But Hinata recalls all the times Naruto has stood up for her and cheered her on. This strengthens her resolve to protect him from Pain despite knowing the odds she faced. Her fight against her shyness culminates in a verbalization of love for Naruto is another major victory as well.
Romance in anime: mutual action – Yuri on Ice
You know how people say that when you finish another person’s sentences that you are so in tune with their thoughts that you might be in love? Well how about when your actions mirror your partner’s? (If you only click on one link, make it that one <3!) After a stressful day apart, Yuuri and Victor share the same reaction to seeing the other through the glass partition at the airport. They lock their gazes and immediately start sprinting for the door. Those people also say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and it is evident here. The one thing to make this scene ring with more romance is the exchange after their embrace. Victor is concerned about being there to be a better coach for Yuuri; Yuuri inadvertently proposes to Victor. How romantic is that?!?!
Romance in anime: speech about love – Accel World
Sometimes the hardest thing one can do is put into words exactly what love means to them. In a moment of pure desperation, Kuroyukihime aligns the thoughts in her heart. Then she shares them. I think it’d be a disservice to her for me to do anything but share exactly what she tells to Haruyuki.
“There’s a theory that the heartbeat is the base clock for how fast humans think. Why does an instant feel like dozens of seconds for race car drivers? Why does a minute feel like an eternity for lovers in close contact? It’s because your consciousness accelerates when your heart rate increases. The Brain Burst program is based on that theory. It uses the Neuro-Linker to speed up the heart clock a thousand times accelerating human consciousness. …my heart was racing nonstop whenever I was with you. Even without the Neuro-Linker or Brain Burst, I found myself living in accelerated time whenever I was with you. I was able to keep a smile on my face…because the time we spent together felt like an eternity.”
You don’t have to understand the techno-speak to get the underlying point. Love gives us the supernatural feeling of eternity. Feeling that special feeling with that special person has to be the essence of romance.
Now what would Valentine’s Day be without the female perspective? I reached out to my Erika-in-crime to submit the final moment for this romance in anime article. Fingers crossed that the following paragraph is just the first of many for her to write for Pure Fandom.
Romance in anime: Love is a flipping battlefield – Naruto
GIF: Studio Pierrot
My contribution to this article has got to be the culmination of the love story between Naruto’s parents, Minato and Kushina. Weird that we’ve got two Naruto moments since the show’s romantic moments are few and far between!
When I first met Kushina in these flashback episodes, it was a delight to find that while Naruto favors his father in appearance, he favors his mother in personality. Minato is level-headed and has a gentle demeanor; Kushina is stubborn and hot-headed (a little gap moe, anyone?). When they meet as children, Kushina is the new girl in the village, teased and outright bullied for being a foreigner and for her bright red hair. Minato doesn’t interact with Kushina much at first, but seems curious about her, and kinda watches her like a creeper for most of the episode. He’s often there when Kushina is bullied, standing by but not intervening, and Kushina concludes that he’s spineless.
However, when Kushina is kidnapped by ninjas from a different village who want to exploit her for her special chakra, Minato steps up. Kushina, as she’s being lead along by the kidnappers, cleverly drops pieces of her hair to leave a trail for anyone who comes in search of her, though she despairs that likely no one will miss her. Minato uses the hair to track her and rescues her from the clutches of the kidnappers. As they head home, Minato leaps in front of a full moon with Kushina in his arms (a trope mirrored later in a scene between Naruto and Hinata), he explains to Kushina that he had not intervened before out of respect–he knew she was strong enough to fight her own battles. But he says he stepped in this time because the battle was not her responsibility, but a battle between villages, and confesses he did not want to lose her.
Kushina, who is narrating this story for Naruto, tells her son that the hair everyone (including herself) had so maligned had become “the red thread of fate” that bound her and Minato together. And yeah, this sounds like the apex of cheesy, but when I think about the fact that this whole story is coming through Kushina’s spirit, and that she is sharing it with her son, who grew up lonely and parent-less, you have to be grateful for the sweetness of it, because it’s sweetness in a very difficult and often bleak fictional world.
Well I hope you’ve caught a serious case of #thefeels with these moments that we’ve picked. Honestly there are so many moments that capture romance in anime that I had a tall order in front of me to just pick 4. Feel free to leave a comment with your favorite romantic moment in anime. And definitely come back to read the follow up article for White Day!
Featured Image: Funimation
(I didn’t include your name in my selections, but I *HIGHLY* recommend it as it is a beautiful love story!)