Finding a genuinely good romantic comedy in any audio/visual medium is extremely hard. For every sweet, heartfelt story about two people finding love, you have about twenty badly written, uncomfortably sexist tales filled to the brim with detestable characters suffering from contrived, fake problems. Even for us romantics at heart, it’s hard to recommend a love story with a universal sense of appeal. Japanese anime/manga may have the sloppiest track record when it comes to romcoms, because the bloated with subsections of harem scenarios, slapstick gags, and/or tenuous, teenage melodrama. Not to mention when the two people finally get together, it ends with a Victorian style kiss without any exploration of how the couple must continue to thrive or deal with their shifting environment.
Depending on the quality of the seasons, there might get one exemplary purely romantic anime out there. Some of them overcome their initial premise to have real romantic chemistry like Toradora or they live up to the hype of being a beautiful, romantic ride like my personal favorite, Clannad. For such a simple premise with a simple name, does Ore Monogatari stand as a memorable entry or bargain-bin throwaway title?
Series Director: Morio Asaka
Series Composition: Natsuko Takahashi
Character Design: Kunihiko Hamada
Animation Production: MADHOUSE
Synopsis: Takeo Gōda an extraordinarily strong, tall, high school freshman with a big, selfless heart and affable, but overbearing attitude. However, due to his hulking physique, he’s never had luck with women who all swoon over his suave, blasé best friend Makoto “Suna” Sunakawa. After getting suspended for attacking a groper on the train, Takeo is bewildered to find that he is the subject of affection from the girl he saved, Rinko Yamato. As the two discover mutual feelings for each other, Takeo and Rinko must deal with the awkward steps of first love with Suna as their pragmatic, emotional support.
Ore Monogatari!! or My Love Story!! immediately distinguishes itself from 90% of the romantic anime out there by having the two love interests confess their love within the first few episodes. There is no grand gesture made to put both characters on the spot or some strange promise made when they were children; Takeo and Yamato come together just like any couple does in real life. Suna single-handedly elevates Ore Monogatari by telling Takeo that Yamato likes him, kicking off their relationship. And you get to see this all play out by Episode 3. It takes most romantic shows an entire season or until the series finale before they confess their feelings.
After those three episodes, you get what I believe is the sweetest, most adorable, genuine romantic comedy in possibly all of anime. Takeo and Rinko’s relationship is so incredibly earnest and cute-as-the-dickens that you just root for it the whole way through to blossom into something magnificent. They have chemistry like a fizzy virgin cocktail; they simultaneously learn about the basic of being in a relationship, but it’s handled with just enough sugar-inducing kindness. Everyone in this show acts like a real person and the conflict stems from exploring sexuality to public displays of affection. You will not be seeing any frustrating miscommunications or faulty break-ups here. And that just makes the whole anime such a lovely watch from beginning to end.
If you aren’t sold on that alone, I can also assure you that the series is super funny. Takeo has this magnetic type of charm that makes all the guys in school love him and you’ll be cheering his praises as the show goes on. He’s selfless, kind, lively and even ridiculous, but all in a fashion that makes him the ultimate lovable goofball. On the other hand, Suna works as the great counterbalance to Goda because he seldom speaks, but is always keen with his observations. Many of the most comedic moments of the series come from the use of body language. The animators have added text to one-sided conversations to add someone’s real feelings or if they are too dense to understand the situation and that really gives weight to everyone’s interactions.
They find really effective ways to fill out the 24-episode season with the good-natured atmosphere. When the series doesn’t focus on the main relationship, they find really good ways to flesh out all the side characters. Takeo’s friends constantly try to engage in relationships with Rinko’s friends and Suna deals with a long-standing crush in a very elegant and realistic way. We also get to explore elements of Takeo and Suna’s personal life, as Suna’s sister Ai has to deal with her romantic feelings towards Takeo and Takeo’s mom gets pregnant over the course of the series. I really loved the development between Takeo’s parents because we get to see how their son inherited their amazing talents.
We do get small bits of development with Yamato, but her story centers mostly on liking Takeo and thinking about her future. She’s perhaps the most naïve out of everyone in the series, but her joy is super infectious, especially detailed by all the little moments where Takeo mutters, “I love her…” I mean, I’d want to date a girl who can bake the hardest French desserts automatically, but the creators and writers just sell all the cuteness. Every other episode has really fantastic peaks where you watch the relationship develop, with some of my personal favorites being “My Blue Ogre,” “My Ocean,” “My Strength,” and “My Birthday.”
Although I can see the series being too saccharine and tension-free for some people, I believe everyone should give this a try. Even the most jaded anime fans I know warmed up to the unflappable levels of goodwill and uncynical sweetness. Every episode ended with that right level of satisfaction or left you tense to see where it was going next. I can also see some people unhappy over the way the show creates dramatic moments from how squeaky clean Takeo and Yamato’s relationship is, but I found that every time the show went in a melodramatic direction, it paid off in a satisfying way. It would always zagged where most series would zig by reminding us that the series is composed of good, human people.
Ore Monogatari is my favorite anime of this year so far and is easily the best romantic comedy of the medium. There are great romantic dramas, but I can’t think of the series that is this genuinely positive and passionate over watching two people fall in love. And my god, both the OP and ED perfectly encapsulate everything fun, emotional, and cute about what the series is.
My Rating: 10 out of 10.
My Love Story!! is currently available on Crunchyroll/Hulu and is licensed by Sentai Filmworks. The original manga is ongoing, written by Kazune Kawahara/art by Aruko and published by Shueisha/Betsuma/Viz Media.
For more of Scott’s work, you can find it on the website One of Us.