it gets me through a lot and helps me not to beat myself up too much
YOU Should Watch Skip to Loafer (and then Read it)
A thoughtful romance anime adaptation isn’t easy to come by. Oh, sorry, let me correct myself. A thoughtful romance anime adaptation outside of Shounen romance manga isn’t easy to come by.
Three episodes into Skip and Loafer, however, and it’s clear that does not apply in this case. Even if you haven’t read the manga it’s obvious this is a project that everyone involved with cares about and is putting their all into. From the directing to the animation to the composition to the character designs, to the voice acting, it’s all been woven together so competently that the anime is not only remaining faithful to the manga but feels as if it is bringing the manga to life in a new way.
Now I started reading Skip to Loafer a little over a year ago, admittedly not very good at keeping up with chapter updates (due to my own personal flaw of never being able to keep up with monthly/weekly updates and is not at all a testament to the manga) and let me just say, this series could very easily become a popular favorite for many people including myself. This next comment is directed towards the anime onlys in particular: there is a lot more depth to these characters than given at the beginning of the story. That much might be obvious though. Just watching the first three episodes reminded me of the love Takamatsu has for all her characters and what seems like an appreciation for people in general.
Something else the anime has done well is capturing the manga’s sense of humor, something I honestly wasn’t expecting. A lot of the manga’s humor relied on timing and paneling so it was a pleasant surprise to see it translate to another medium so comfortably. It’s been a while since I enjoyed an anime this much. It’s been maybe half a year since I last touched Skip to Loafer’s manga and the adaptation has been the perfect way to freshen up my fond memories of it.
This post is mostly meant for anime only and people who maybe had their eyes on it while looking at the seasonal anime but weren’t sure whether to pick it up or not. That’s my reason for not going into the details of the story right now, but I definitely hope to write deeper pieces on it in the future. I couldn’t recommend this series enough.
And I think for a series like Skip to Loafer to be currently airing, when it has a trans woman as the caretaker of the protagonist and who serves as a casual, even subtle, representation while also being treated with sincerity is pretty significant.
10 Good Romances from 2020
10. The Half of it [movie: on Netflix]
This is at number ten mostly because it’s not technically a romance, but I thought it was worth fitting on this list somewhere considering it’s themes of longing, friendships, and familial bonds. It’s a slower paced film but it works in the story’s favor for the most part. You do end up wanting to see more by the end, more so because it doesn’t feel like much happens in the film other than the characters were engaging. One of the stronger points might just be the clear love and passion put into this project by Alice Wu. This was crafted with careful hands and I have a lot of respect for it. The engagement factor was it’s fault.
9. Happiest Season [movie: on Hulu]
Happiest Season is a Christmas romance movie that had a significant amount of talk around it for most of 2020 and of course it did, it’s a lesbian holiday film. It’s largely a comedic film, though the plot is the journey of someone coming out to their conservative family. It serves its purpose well. It’s entertaining, funny, and features Kristen Stewart.
8. Ao no Flag/ Blue Flag [manga]
You could also probably argue that Ao no Flag isn’t a romance but I’d have to disagree in this case with it’s major themes questioning the boundaries between platonic and romantic feelings. It also makes attempts at examining and looking into sexuality, although sloppily. At times even negative, but the intent never felt insincere . The art style is absolutely beautiful. The main three are wonderful. It would have benefited from a more thought out plot but it’s good for what it is.
7. My Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom [anime]
A sweet and hilarious fantasy romance with a unique premise. The anime has a cast of very endearing (although also incredibly dense) characters. It’s not at all what I’d expect from an otome-turned-isekai harem. It’s outrageous and has a vast love web to complicate matters, but all the characters are well meaning enough that it’s all quite fun to watch. This anime, if anything, is an interesting phenomenon and actually pretty clever. I’d strongly recommend it.
6. Love is War S2 [anime]
It has continued to be hilarious. More side characters are involved and the old ones have only been more active in the plots of this season. Production continues to be phenomenal. There’s not too much to say on this one. It doesn’t stray from the first season, so if you like that you’ll like this.
5. Feel Good [tv series: on Netflix]
The chemistry between the main two characters is amazing and what keeps the show so engaging. I watched the whole thing in one night. While entertaining, there are plenty of frustrating scenes as well and events and pieces of dialogue that I wish were written differently. The series is short, at only 6 episodes but manages to bring an emotional experience. Drug addiction is a heavy theme in the series along with loneliness, poor friendships, dependency, and codependency. I’d say it’s a drama with lots of wit. It’s a solid Netflix original if you have the time to watch it.
4. Adachi to Shimamura [anime]
With it’s slow pacing and confusing message via the alien character (if you know then you know), Adachi and Shimamura’s enjoyment relies on the characters, and the main two certainly carried the series. While the chemistry between them was questionable, their dynamic and their inner monologues reflecting on the relationship resonated with my own high school experiences to such a personal degree that these characters have become all time favorites of mine. I have to say that the mangaka did a really good job at capturing the experience of when queerness and friendship intertwine. Of course if you can’t relate to the characters this will be hard to watch, but give it try.
3. Fruits Basket S2 [anime]
Massively improved in soundtrack and execution compared to the first season of the reboot. Season two remains loyal to the manga’s story (which was expected) so naturally there’s more drama and deeper development given to a majority of the characters. It was by all means a good second season and I look forward to the finale.
2. Normal People [tv series: on Hulu]
Normal People is the type of story that emphasizes the flaws in people more than the strengths, but doesn’t polarize the characters and allows them to be relatable and human. Both main characters are deeply insecure, and end up being the only person they openly talk about their insecurities with. The story is divided by different phases of the main characters’ lives (high school, college, post). This structure serves for a sort of yin and yang narrative between the main characters not only in personality, but in their position in life at a given time. The camera work is simple, but beautiful. So much of the show is just talking and yet I was always fully captivated. If you have Hulu please give it a shot.
1. A Summer’s End- Hong Kong 1986 [visual novel]
The relationship between the two girls was rushed, but never to the point of ruining my enjoyment and the leads remained endearing and likable. The dialogue was dry at times, however it was sincere and delivered well in emotional scenes. With gorgeous visuals and an enticing soundtrack, it’s clear the visual novel was a passion project taking into consideration the independent studio behind it (Oracle and Bone). Despite its flaws I think the positives make up for it enough to create an emotive experience. I couldn’t recommend it enough.
10 Good Romances I Watched in 2019
As the title may suggest, not all of these romances are from 2019. I just happened to watch all of them this year. In these trying times we don’t get a lot of romance content. Go blame producers, not me.
10. Gilmore girls
A show with a homey atmosphere and small town charm. The writing trips over itself from time to time in the earlier seasons and often in the later ones. The protagonist probably had the least interesting love interests out of the characters we follow with the exception of Jess. The humor in Gilmore Girls is definitely hit or miss, being extremely corny. It’s a hard show to recommend but hard to blow off as well. If you make it through the first season odds are you’ll develop a soft spot for it.
9. Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches
It is both a blessing a curse that I go into shows without ever reading the synopsis. In the case of Yamada-kun, it’s a bit of both, considering I would’ve gone into the show with entirely different expectations if I knew it was a harem. All I noticed at first was the character designs and opening that ended up being far cuter than the story itself. Despite all this, I enjoyed the show. The concept of who and why girls from the school were witches was really interesting to me and the characters were interesting enough. I will say that the premise of the show is that witches can only activate their curse through a kiss meaning that, you guessed it, the lines of consent in this are often blurry so I wouldn’t recommend watching this if that’s something you can’t overlook.
8. Carole and Tuesday
The Sloppy storytelling and directing took a turn for the better in the second half. The sci-fi setting was also a lot more fleshed out in the second half and felt like it had a purpose. It became more clear that Carole and Tuesday had something to say with it’s premise and setting. Something Carole and Tuesday had from the very beginning was wonderful chemistry between our two protagonists (as the title would suggest). Adding the clumsiness of the first half, character chemistry, a good soundtrack, and solid animation; it earns a snug little spot in this list.
7. Love, Rosie
Had a really strong beginning. The rest of the film was good as well, but I found myself less invested near the end. The characters were mostly likable, the camera work was nice and Lily Collins is really pretty. Also a good actress. That too. Pretty good. I don’t have much else to say on this one.
6. End of the F***ing World, Season 2
Not sure what took the second season so long to come out, but I’m happy we got it. Our edgy teenagers are now, much more somber, young adults. The story once again focuses on the relationship between James and Alyssa to highlight both of their behavioral and emotional issues. Just like the first season, the camera work is great. The soundtrack is both endearing and fitting. We get more of Alyssa’s perspective this season along with the addition of party member, Bonnie. Bonnie’s role helped emphasize how the the other two had changed since the first season while also being a constant reminder of the two’s past. By the end of the season, for the first time, it felt like things might actually work out well for Alyssa and James.
5. Kono oto Tomare
Kono oto Tomare has its second season to thank for being so high on this list. It was originally going to be at nine or ten due to the poor delivery of dialogue and underwhelming punches in the first season,creating what generally felt like a melodramatic sports anime. However even in the first season I adored the characters, who were interesting and empathetic. The premise also reminded me of Glee- which I liked. Even at its worst Kono oto Tomare was still a good show. The second season fixed most of the issues I had with the first, creating the heartfelt drama that it was so clearly trying to be from the beginning. It built on the characters even more and developed the romances hinted at in the first season in a satisfying manner. As a sports/music anime it’s no surprise that the soundtrack is phenomenal. It stands out in this area compared to the others on this list.
I don’t think I’ve ever watched anything quite like Oresuki. Every episode the story would be flipped entirely upside down. The conflicts and even the premise were in a constant, rapid change. When you think you figured out where the plot for the series is going, that storyline gets wrapped up in a single episode and adds a few plot twists just make things a little more complicated creating a unique watching experience for the viewer. It’s witty sense of humor along with parodying common character archetypes in slice of life romances makes the show incredibly entertaining as well as hilarious .
Gamers surprised me in a number of ways regarding the characters and plot. It’s unique in a much more subtle way than Oresuki. A lot of things I expected to happen didn’t, and the characters ended up being a lot more facated than I expected from them. This series had a lot of fun with the absolutely ridiculous misunderstandings the characters consistently fell victim to and you know what, I had a ton of fun watching these idiots too. It’s short, fun, and adorable. I couldn’t recommend this one enough.
2. Kaguya-sama: Love is War
Love is war is amazing in every possible aspect. It’s witty, quick-paced, endearing and has incredibly likeable characters that are so ridiculous and yet still manage to remain empathetic. The soundtrack matches the tone of the series perfectly and I have no trouble listening to it on it’s own either. While the structure of the show is episodic, resulting in a bit of repetitiveness, there was always a sense that through each ordeal the characters changed a little bit or learned something. None of them are in the same place by the end which is something the show didn’t really need to do but was better for it. Love is War is genius but I’d recommend watching it when you’re in the mood to read a lot of dialogue and fully invest your attention. It’s quite a ride.
1.Fruits Basket (manga)
Yes, Fruits Basket is on this list again and I can’t promise I’m not crazy enough to put it on one of these again once the reboot is finished. I might not though, because the main reason I feel justified in using Fruits Basket in a list once again is because of the major differences and additional storylines in the manga that were not a part of the 2001 adaptation. Also I can say with full confidence that the manga is a masterpiece and I don’t think it would be fair of me to not give it it’s own place on one of these lists when the original anime did. Fruits Basket is ultimately a story about healing from trauma that neatly presents itself as a cute, shoujo romance. It promotes positivity through melancholic storytelling. The characters (particularly our main three) all change and go through strenuous character development out of their own will while also being inspired by those that care for them. It’s a story filled with heartfelt messages and themes making Fruits Basket not only an amazing series, but an important one as well.
Some honorable mentions of manga that would’ve made the list if it weren’t for them being ongoing series:
Oh and if you’d like to know what made my list in 2018 you can head over here on Tumblr.
The Horribly Uninspired Netflix Original: Let it Snow
I don’t know why I expected this movie to be good and I feel pretty dumb for it now. There were too many characters and all of them failed to be engaging or even really that likable. There was no interesting camera work or execution. If anything a lot of the acting was kind of…bad.
I think the reason this movie originally piqued my interest when I saw it on Netflix was because reading the synopsis reminded me of my last blog entry about romance tropes. I knew this was going to be filled with tropes- that’s kind of what I was hoping for, but the movie didn’t do anything with the tropes it used which made it feel souless and uninspired. I don’t think the creator’s cared about this one.
Alright let me take a quick step back. The movie isn’t… bad per say. It certainly doesn’t really do anything though. There’s no charm; there’s nothing that would make me want to watch this movie ever again.
There are two things I think the movie had going for it. One, the set. The snow-drowned town was beautiful (though I think better camera work could’ve really improved this feature) and I thought the “W” missing from Waffle Town’s sign so that it said “Affle Town” was really cute. I liked the diversity in the cast as well as characters, but because the story was so shallow and and not very well written, the diversity came across as an attempt to hide itself from being seen as a basic, bad romantic holiday film.
Also, apparently this was a book adaptation? Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances, written by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle. I will say that I’ve seen some fans of the book saying the movie is nothing like the book. Yet, seeing John Green’s name attached to this does not surprise me, and if each writer was responsible for only one story line I could easily guess which one he wrote, but this isn’t about my potentially controversial opinions on John Green’s work this is about how this book being adapted into a movie was a doomed idea from the beginning. In book format, combining three different story lines could work. It runs risks of being messy, having consistency errors, and some story lines dragging the rest down, but it is possible to be done decently. It’s just hard. Doing the same thing in a movie format is even harder. I mean, adapting one book to film is hard enough let alone three. This thing was never going to be good.
And… yeah. I actually don’t have much else to say. There isn’t enough about it to make me genuinely hate it but there wasn’t anything that made me enjoy it either.
I don’t think I could recommend a movie less. There’s not much that would make you enjoy it but there isn’t enough wrong with it to make it worth hate-watching either. This one is a skip, guys.
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The Best Romance Tropes According to Me
What are my favorite romance tropes?
The more I thought about this question of what are my favorite romance tropes the more I noticed that my interest in different tropes often depended on whether or not the story was an original story or fan-fiction. This brings me to a trope I have confusing feelings on-
Enemies to lovers
Enemies to lovers? Great in fanfiction. You get to explore what a romantic dynamic would look like between characters that are rivals/enemies in their canon universe. Depending on the writer this could be done brilliantly and even give you a sense that the original material cheated you.
However, how many cases of enemies to lovers done well exist in canon stories? I can’t even think of any at the top of my head. I want to say I like enemies to lovers but how can I when I only like the concept and potential but can’t think of a single example where I liked it?
Rivals to lovers, this trope’s sibling, is another good trope. Probably easier to find, but even this one you’ll mostly see in fanon. Could this have to do with rivals and antagonists often being the same gender of the protagonist? Probably, but there’s also a risk of toxicity being associated with any couple that forms out of this trope that I think a lot of writers want to avoid. There’s also the fact that in most cases love interests and rivals/enemies are planned and established from the very beginning of a story. Odds are the rival and love interest are separate characters that both interact with the protagonist on a regular basis from the start of the story. Their purposes are different. The only way enemies to lovers will ever happen is if the author planned for that enemy to eventually become a love interest.
Does that mean more authors should consider stories where the rival/enemy eventually becomes the love interest? Maybe? This could also lead to the rivalry being toned down as a result. Bottom line, it’s a complicated trope.
Love triangles are interesting to me because they seem to be consistently popular while also being one of the most criticized tropes even outside of the romance genre. Love triangles can be well written, gripping, and generally make a story better…but it’s hard. A good love triangle is hard to pull off and will usually have costs. Getting characters involved in love triangles will in most cases make them less likable. Which is fine. We all love-loving the bad guys. You know, so long as the story knows they’re a bad guy. Don’t try and make the audience sympathize with someone that’s stringing two people around. It. Won’t. Work. That is only one form of love triangles though. Not all of them are made up of this one person who is trying to pick between two people you often see pushed in many teen dramas. Love triangles can also take a form that goes more like A likes B, B likes C, and C likes A. What makes this form of love triangles work so much is that the characters know what they want. There’s love triangles where no one involved will admit their feelings because the person they like is the same person that their friend likes. You’ll grow impatient at times, but it works wonders for making the characters more empathetic. There’s also the love triangles that aren’t really love triangles and more of a hectic, love web.
An example of a love triangle I really like would be Toradora. The short lived love triangle in Orange is the New Black was well done. Gilmore Girls did a sort-of good job on the love triangle between Lorelei, Luke, and Christopher mostly just because Lorelei’s relationships with the two paralleled and contrasted in interesting ways. Ranma 1/2 and School Rumble would be examples of the love web I described earlier. Glee would also be a contender for good love webs, and would be an exception among teen dramas. I still have issues with most of the love triangles in all of these. Toradora is the only one that gets a complete free pass.
God I love this one. It has similarities to friends to lovers but I think this trope stands on it’s own as well. Often times these stories will involve a separation of sorts. So really, it’s childhood sweethearts to strangers to lovers. There’s so much character development and character change necessary here and I love it. It has a lot of campy potential despite most of these tending to end rather sadly.
You see this one in love triangles a lot too. In most cases the childhood sweetheart looses. I think this has a lot to do with the childhood sweetheart being framed as “the safe route” and the “safe” love interest never wins. I could get into how much I dislike The Passionate vs The Safe Love Interest trope, but that’s a different blog post.
My Girl is kind of the go-to movie for this trope, I think. Though there won’t be a ‘to strangers to lovers’ part. There’s Anohana, 5 Centimeters per Second, No. 6, and do you see what I mean about the trope being cursed with sad endings.
Not much to say on this one. It’s a solid trope with not that many exceptions to discuss.
Friends to lovers
A trope that I think is necessary to separate from Childhood Sweethearts or Childhood Friends. Friends to Lovers often has a different pacing and tone compared to childhood sweethearts and it doesn’t run into bad endings nearly as often as the prior. What I really like about friends to lovers is that it works really well in both, dramas as well as romances that take themselves less seriously. It works in fanfiction really well (it’s the dream for most ships after all) as well written in canon. It’s an easier trope to do well.
When it comes to examples of Friends to lovers…the thing is that almost anything could technically count. There has to be some degree of friendship or acquaintanceship for romantic feelingss to develop from. I think the key is specifying long term friends to lovers.
Ron and Hermione. Easy. Toradora is here once again. Toradora is kind of perfect for a blog post like this since it’s layered with romance tropes and still manages to be amazing because it holds substance and that’s [I’m about to go on a mini tangent but I think it’s worth keeping in here] what I think is most important when it comes to tropes: does the story carrying the trope have any substance? It’s not the tropes or cliches that make a story bad. It’s how they are used and if there is anything there besides them. However, I firmly believe that it is easier to command substance from some tropes more than others [End of tangent]. Lorelei and Luke could fit here too. There’s also one of my favorite manwhas to date, ‘Our Relationship is…’. In Our Relationship the trope is the very core of the story unlike the other examples I’ve given. Please read ‘Our Relationship Is…’ it’s so good.
I’m just gonna come out and say it. I love fake dating stories. For one, they technically skip all the steps a usual romance takes since the chase takes a unique form. Here, the love interests are being thrown at each other’s friends and family right off the bat. They’re normally introduced to each others flaws and insecurities earlier than usual romances and if done well, do it without feeling out of place. It’s a pace I can get behind. There’s also guaranteed humor somewhere in there, which is nice.
The best part is that it’s just as entertaining to see in fanfiction as it is in canon material.
Bonus: if one of them tells their friends they’re “dating” s/o and the friends are like finally lmao, leaving the one involved having to internally question what do you mean finally we’re not even actually dating.
I just talked this trope up so much and the only good example I can think of is The Proposal. I don’t care what the ratings say, that movie is amazing. While You Were Sleeping, another Sandra Bullock movie, while I’m not the biggest fan of it personally, the movie fits the trope pretty well. There’s also…Nisekoi….I’m really not making a good argument for this trope
Return to Hometown
This isn’t a trope that only belongs to romances but man, if there isn’t something romantic about the concept. Something I really like about this one is that it puts the reader/viewer in the shoes of the main character. This trope can also be pretty broad. Do they meet a new person that moved into their small hometown while they were away and as a result, allow the main character to see the place in a new way? Are they forced to run into an old lover from their hometown, causing them to remember the things they loved but also hated about it? You can do so much with this one.
It’s campy. It’s nostalgic. It’s probably, definitely set in the fall or winter…which is the kind of atmosphere I can get into.
The only example of the trope going through my head right now is Kanon, which is a wonderful example please watch it if you haven’t. I looked up ‘return to hometown romance movies’ on google to see if something would spark my memory and the first search result was ‘hallmark movies’ so maybe there’s something in that pile of content I’m fine with avoiding for now.
Childhood Friends to Lovers
Ah. Last but not least, my absolute favorite trope, childhood friends to lovers. The best thing about childhood friends to lovers is that it can fit into almost every other trope that I’ve already mentioned at the same time. I know I’ve been saying this word a lot but I’m going to say it again: It’s campy. The campy potential is so strong. This trope is also just kind of guaranteed to be a slow burn, and I love my slow burns.
The characters have a deep understanding of each other, but often realize as they get older that there were things they might of misjudged about the other because kids aren’t exactly the best at empathy or understanding other people’s circumstances. There’s more opportunities to see character development. It shares a lot of strengths that childhood sweethearts has, the main difference being the romance comes later in this one.
Our Relationship is… fits here as well! Please read it! I’ll mention Kanon once again too. Ron and Hermione…again. Okay um. Let’s go with saying something I’d like to see in this genre more often: make it gay please.
That’s all I got for this one guys.
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The Gameplay of Building Relationships in Stardew Valley
Junkie, this is a blog about romance shows and manga…what gives?
Well…I don’t mind talking about romantic subplots or overtones in stories that aren’t explicitly a romance. It’s actually something I want to venture into more in the future. Sometimes this even means video games.
So. One of my favorite mechanics in Stardew Valley is the ability to build relationships with the different characters through giving gifts, talking to them, completing tasks for them if available, and how the closeness to a character is measured by hearts (you start with zero and ten is the max). What I really like is that if you want to max out the relationship with one of the characters you can’t only talk to them or only give them gifts (well… if you consistently give them gifts they love then you might be able to max the relationship but you wouldn’t have the enjoyment of seeing how their dialogue changes as you get closer to them…I’ll add to this later). The point is, you have to do a little bit of everything, and I like that.
I also like that the gifts in of themselves are a mechanism as well. Each character has gifts they love, like, are neutral towards, dislike, and hate. A certain gift can increase your relationship with one character but decrease it with another. Some characters have a limited amount of gifts they love or like, making it more difficult to get closer to them. Then there are characters that have tons of gifts they like which naturally makes it a lot easier to max out their relationship.
While this is nice, it’s kind of expected from a gift mechanism. For me, what makes the gifts interesting in Stardew Valley’s case is that the different things you do around town will make it easier to give gifts to some characters and harder for others. If your trying to get closer to Emily, Sebastian, or Maru then you’ll have a lot of mining to do. Meanwhile getting closer to characters like Leah, Shane, or Jodi will rely a lot more on foods (in Leah’s case try to keep it fresh and healthy), which means more farming and buying meals at the Saloon if you haven’t upgraded your house yet. Increasing your friendship points will unlock cutscenes (also called “heart events”) that are unique to each character. From my experience, it seems that there’s a heart event every two hearts for the marriable characters and the eighth heart event will typically involve a moment suggesting the character has romantic feelings for you. “Suggesting” being generous for some of them (I am 100% talking about Abigail right now).
I like these aspects of the game a lot, but what makes them really work is the game’s screenwriting. The characters are interesting and the different heart events you get with them are, for the most part, amazing. I was laughing my ass off during Emily’s eighth heart event and the same goes for Abigail’s. A lot of these cutscenes are intensely engaging and incredibly well done. You really feel for these people in your virtual town. Some of these heart events really hit hard. Some characters have almost all angsty cutscenes. For most of them, there’s a balance of bleakness and optimism behind all the cutscenes. All of this…pretty much made the heart events my favorite part of the Stardew’s gameplay. Whenever the heart meter went up for a character I would just walk around everywhere I knew the character normally goes just WAITING to trigger a cutscene. I would get so excited- sometimes they were the only reason I wanted to increase my friendship with characters because I always wanted to learn more about all these wonderful townspeople.
Lastly, I’d like to mention something slightly off topic but still somewhat connected to this and that’s Leah has an ex-girlfriend. Why is this important? Well. Something I’ve noticed about the game while playing is that the dialogue is gendered. Despite this, you can date any of the bachelors or bachelorettes no matter the gender of your character. While this is a nice mechanism that is becoming a part of more and more games, there’s something kind of…off about it. It gives this “ This game can be gay…if you want it to be. But it isn’t really gay” kind of energy. So oftentimes these characters will be straight up until you pursue them if that’s what you choose. Especially when in most cases the rest of the game and characters are fairly heteronormative. I’m not specifically including or excluding Stardew from this. Leah is a good exception but most of the characters do seem to come across as straight unless you as the mc want to make it gay.
So. Was the virtual dating aspect of Stardew Valley good? Yes. Very much so. I haven’t played all the heart events to all the characters, but for the ones I have, I found to be really well done and even the characters I haven’t unlocked that many heart events with I still find interesting and like. It’s just…pretty solid gameplay.
A Shitty Analysis of the New Fruits Basket Op
I meant to post this months ago
I love this opening so much more than the first one but that’s beside the point. The only thing that matters right now is how loaded with symbolism the second opening of the reboot is.
[mild manga spoilers ahead]
The opening shot is Tohru opening her umbrella in the midst of a cloudy sky that the sun is slightly peeking through.
Then we get the title sequence as Tohru runs up a flight up of stares.
At the top (and in front of Shigure’s house) she throws the umbrella up in the air, no longer needing it based on the her now sunny surroundings.
We then see the rest of the characters looking up from their umbrellas and what’s really important is to note from what angle the shots are.
Kyo and Yuki’s shots are both upward and you can’t see any part of their umbrella but the inside. Looking back to the very first time Tohru’s umbrella is shown in the opening, you can notice the inside is the only visible part aswell. The only difference is that her face is completely out of shot and all we can see is her extending grip.
With Shigure and Hanajima you can see the front of their umbrellas as well as the inside. I think this is indicating that these two are the main observers of our main trio. Neither of them are looking upward either, but straight ahead of them.
Something else important to notice would be how Shigure is only one with a shaded face- a hint that he isn’t as good-natured as we originally might think. Also note that he’s staring right into the camera which I think represents how shameless he tends to be about his more questionable actions and morals.
Hanajima, on the other hand, is barely shadowed but has one eye covered. I think this is mostly referencing her eye on Kyo, especially in scenes like when they visited Kyoko’s grave or later volumes when it became overwhelmingly clear that Kyo had romantic feelings for Tohru. Hanajima’s concerns and observations are a lot more genuine than Shigure’s. While she’s not afraid to interfere with how things play out (we see this during New Years), she does it from a place with her friends in mind rather herself (such as Shigure)
The rest of the characters are shown with their umbrellas from afar.
Then we get this super precious shot of young Tohru running with her mother into the sunset happily and carelessly as they lower their umbrellas.
For symbolic purposes, I’m assuming that Kyoko’s umbrella is black in this shot. It’s a fair assumption considering Tohru’s umbrella is different from the one we’ve seen her carrying in earlier in the opening and the brownish overtones suggesting this is a memory. If that wasn’t obvious enough the sunset should be clear symbolism of Kyoko’s death.
Then we cut to Tohru, who is still at the top of the stairs in front of Shigure’s house. It’s sunny again and she’s not holding her umbrella which means everything we’ve seen after she threw her umbrella up has been through her eyes.
We then get a super adorable sequence of all the characters dancing in direction to the camera. Based off what we’ve seen of all the character’s umbrellas, this whole sequence is in Tohru’s mind considering the pink background.
This is especially evident with the lingering Kyo and Yuki, just for Kyoko to be the next person. She’s the only character in the sequence that doesn’t move to the camera. She stands in the center of the shot. Her umbrella is also now a bright red with a butterfly on the side of it. This all further emphasizes that we’re in Tohru’s head right now considering Kyo and Yuki’s growing influence and her determination to keep her mother at the forefront.
The next noticeable thing I want to mention is this shot of Kyo and Yuki as Tohru runs towards them. Ignoring the minor animation error of Kyo’s magical floating umbrella, both of their bodies are facing the direction the sun is about to protrude. Their backs are facing Tohru, but they’re both turning slightly in Tohru’s direction. Their body language is matching the symbolism of Tohru throwing aside her umbrella in the beginning–opening up.
This is especially evident considering Tohru tosses aside her umbrella when she caught up with Yuki and Kyo and grabs their hands [insert she has two hands for a reason jokes here].
Something worth noting is that now it’s Tohru grabbing their hands and not the other way around. She’s now the one pulling them forward.
Everyone else then joins in on the fun and tosses their umbrellas in the air.
There’s not much to say about the umbrella’s positions themselves except that Tohru, Yuki, and Kyo’s are noticeably closer to the camera. We’re also looking at the outside of the umbrellas for once.
While it’s kind of obvious why, realizing Kyoko’s umbrella is the only one from the opening that isn’t there definitely hits in a weird, painful way.
As for what the umbrellas themselves symbolize…I could see it representing a personal shield; each character is using their umbrella to protect themselves from something that’s beyond their control. Tossing away the umbrellas could symbolize no longer needing the protection because there’s nothing needing protection from. Thus, throwing the umbrellas in the air as well as Tohru tossing her’s once she gets to Shigure’s house. Considering this also brings a new light to the fact that we only see the inside part of Kyo and Yuki’s umbrellas. This could just boil down to Tohru being the closest to the two, thus grasping the trauma they went through especially. It could also be a representation of how these two are particularly stuck in their past compared to the other Sohmas.
As I was writing this I noticed that there’s a cat on young Tohru’s umbrella which is really cute and I had to share with you all.
Gilmore Girls: The Love Interests
This post might get a little lengthy.
In Gilmore Girls, there are four girls we get to see coarse through different relationships throughout the seasons of the show. As someone who recently finished marathoning Gilmore Girls and has a blog based on romance shows and anime, I figured why not talk about all these relationships the characters went through.
Rory, as our main character, will go first. Talking about the different boyfriends she’s had will be fun because her taste is uhhh pretty questionable.
Dean is Rory’s first boyfriend and hence, the first love interest. I think we can all agree he was the worst. He actually started off pretty good, if not a little boring. However, it doesn’t take that long for him come off as dramatic with some sort of anger issue. He almost always put his feelings before Rory’s. When his marriage fell apart he got upset with Rory and made it out to be as if everything was her fault despite him being the one who cheated. He generally became less and less pleasant as the show went on and even at his best he was just generic and boring and while nice, still not that good of a boyfriend.
The next boy Rory dates is Jess. Jess is a tricky one to talk to about because while I love his character and find him to be one of the more interesting ones in the series, I really don’t like him as a boyfriend. All throughout their relationship Jess treated Rory horribly. He was moody, never talked to her about anything, and never even seemed like he actually wanted to be in the relationship. They were constantly arguing and most of the sweet moments between them were Jess’s attempt to make up for some shitty thing he did earlier. I liked him a lot more when he wasn’t dating Rory. Season 6 Jess was great, and maybe if the show took the route of Rory dating him once again things would be different and I could say I liked him better the second go around but that’s not what happened. Bottom line is, he’s a better character than Dean, also probably had more respect for Rory and I’d say he understood Rory better than Logan did too, but god he was a really bad boyfriend.
Last but not least, there’s Logan. Who has the opposite problem Jess did. Despite him being a complete douchebag and a personality I found to be quite unlikable, he was a surprisingly pretty decent boyfriend. My opinion of Logan moved around quite a bit through the course of the show. At first, I hated him. The way he teased Marty and talked to Rory immediately put a sour taste in my mouth. However after Dean broke up with Rory (for the third time?) at her grandparents’ party I realized that huh, I like the way he’s treating Rory. The way he tried to cheer her up felt very platonic. Was he already pining for her? Probably. But Logan never came across as more than friendly until he started very obviously teasing her when she was showing that one Chilton student around. Then there’s when Rory asked him why he never asked her out (because it was pretty evident they both liked each other at this point), and Logan’s reasoning was that he didn’t know how to be a boyfriend. By this point I like Logan. He respects Rory and wants her around even if only platonically because she’s special to him. However, cracks start to show. Rory changes a lot over the period of dating Logan. She changes a lot of things that were always a big part of her character like…not cooking and not exercising. Okay while those things were small, these changes in Rory made it a lot easier to realize that Rory and Logan don’t have a lot in common. They don’t even have common interests, not really. This made me start backtracking how much I actually like Logan and before I noticed Rory changing, I would’ve told you I think he made a better boyfriend than Jess. However, if there is one thing Jess has over Dean and Logan, it’s that he understands Rory better. Rory and Jess also just kind of clicked more. Rory and Logan followed the basic steps of being a good couple, but there wasn’t much that kept me wanting them to stay together or even like them together. They were just…there.
The only love interests you really need to remember for Lane would be Dave and her eventual endgame, Zach ( Zack? The internet can’t seem to make up its mind). From my knowledge, the actor who played Dave ended up taking a role in another show thus bailing on Gilmore Girls. Which would explain the very weak “he got a scholarship in California” reasoning for why his character was suddenly disappeared. A lot of people seemed to like Dave more than Zach and I was certainly on that boat for a while myself but I gotta say, I started finding Lane and Zach a really fun couple to watch once Lane got pregnant. I really liked the scene where they bonded over not wanting to have the baby (in a mostly comedic fashion) and it was around that point it became clearer how much the two actually have in common. Somehow the two became more compatible after having twins. Go figure.
On to Paris…can we just forget that Tristan and Fleming ever happened? Joking, joking (mostly). Paris and Tristan never dated (thank god) and therefore were never love interests, but Paris’s hard to believe crush on him was enough to be sigh-worthy. There was That College Guy She Dated During Chilton That I Can’t Remember the Name Of who didn’t really do anything noteworthy. Then there’s…eighty years old Asher Fleming. Look, I could go on about how Fleming was way too old for Paris and how problematic their age gap is, but it’s 2019 now and I’m sure every Gilmore Girls fan has both, ranted about and heard ranting of it so I’ll move on. If there is one good thing I can say about Fleming, he gives us more of an idea of what Paris cares about when considering a romantic partner: intelligence. That’s about it, which also means she doesn’t really care if her relationship would otherwise be seen as weird. She probably wouldn’t even care if the person themself was deemed weird either. Which leads me to Doyle, in my opinion, the best boyfriend out of any of the boyfriends in the series. I love Doyle. He’s strange but charming, squeamish but also capable of being a leader, and genuinely cares for Paris. While it took a few tries, in the end, Paris found someone she made a perfectly odd pairing with. I mean hey, that’s how life usually works out I guess.
Now we get to Lorelai, who I think had the more interesting love interests. Despite that, I won’t be getting into Max and Jason because frankly, I don’t think anyone really cares about them that much. By around halfway through the show, it becomes increasingly obvious that the only two true possible endgames for Lorelai would be Luke or Christopher.
There’s a bit of a parallel between Luke and Christopher in the sense of how big of opposites they are. Where Christopher comes and goes throughout the show, always leaving an impact after leaving; Luke is a constant throughout the show, with some major moments but often just peacefully going along with the plot. While Chris is impulsive and rushes into things, Luke over thinks himself out of things. Lorelai’s parents hate Luke but they’ve always loved Chris. Christopher is immature while Luke is arguably the most mature character in Gilmore Girls.
I was impressed when I noticed just how lined up their differences were. I wasn’t something I expected from Gilmore Girls in all honesty.
I think most of us can agree that Luke was better for Lorelai. They balance each other out a lot better than Lorelai and Chris ever could. Luke and Lorelai’s differences were also manageable so long as they had good communication. Which they didn’t while they were dating and is why they ultimately broke up in season 6. Which brings me to another parallel: the marriages. Luke and Lorelai broke up because of postponing their wedding. Chris and Lorelai on the other hand, broke up because they had rushed into getting married. I could go on and say how Chris proposed to Lorelai in Paris, the city of love, while Lorelai proposed to Luke in his diner as well. The comparisons are all over the place.
The reasoning the show gives for Lorelai and Chris not working out is because “the timing was never right” which I personally find to be bullshit. They were always too much alike to work out. I want to say I always expected and knew Luke would be who Lorelai ended up with but I’ll be honest, season 7 gave me a good scare. I still think their ending together was weak though.
If I had to rank who had the best love interests it would probably go:
- Lorelai (she had the most common sense)
- Lane (went from a nice, but slightly boring bf to an asshole who became surprisingly decent once they had kids)
- Paris (two duds and a real winner)
- Rory (her taste was very questionable)
You know, that is considering the canon love interests.
Rory had three boyfriends, but what if there was another possible love interest in between the lines? Someone who has been by her side the whole time.
Then there’s Paris.
Paris who had big, definitive goals for herself just like Rory. Who was hardworking and had a strong work ethic that Rory (arguably) had as well. Paris also has the qualities I liked the best in Jess. Paris could understand Rory’s studiousness and later on her personality in general. This also works vice versa. Pretty much every character has a hard time understanding Paris or simply downright disliking her but Rory always had a decent understanding of her even if the reasoning was something like “Oh, she’s just being Paris.”. She also makes up for my biggest problem with Jess, being moody and never communicating with Rory. Paris, on the other hand, is always quick to tell Rory exactly what she’s feeling and why.
Granted, Rory and Paris were never written to be love interests and even their friendship had some blemishes. I think the potential for Gellmore becoming a likable couple was at its highest in season three and four and slowly diminished as the show went on. In the end, Rory and Paris is a good concept that sadly works best in fanon.
Their relationship in canon was for the most part one-sided. Rory never seemed to want or need or even consider Paris’s help. I also don’t think the show drew out how the two have many similarities as well many differences (you know, the whole “you two have more in common than you might expect” schtick). I know it’s already in the show, but I would’ve liked to see them build on it more.
However, even though they would still have issues in canon, I think Paris could’ve been an improvement or just an interesting addition to the canon love interests even if she didn’t end up as endgame or had a short-lived relationship with Rory. But hey, what are you gonna do when a show was made in the earlier 2000′s.
All in all the love interests in Gilmore Girls were…okay. For the most part. Even the ones I liked had some baffling moments that I could rant about. The romantic relationships were never the part of Gilmore Girls that I think people enjoyed though. We watched for the familial relationships and dynamics that gave the show its charm.
That One Track from your favorite romance anime
So, I’m a whore for soundtracks. The amount of hours I’ve spent listening to various soundtracks is in the hundreds. Something I’ve noticed in discussions about good anime soundtracks is that romances are often left out, with the exception of Clannad and Your Lie in April. So here I am, ready to take the task nobody requested.
Before I start listing animes and their soundtracks I’d like to first say that the thing about scores in anime, movies, video games, and even tv shows is that they usually have one track that’s easy to identify (ie. a theme song, a track that plays during a progression/training scene or a track that plays during the climax, etc.). Depending on the tone and atmosphere of the series, this track could be sad, fun, a mesh of the two, or something beyond those lines. Regardless it should affect how you feel and be memorable. So in this post, I’m talking about different romance anime and what I think is that one track from them.
1. Toradora- Lost My Pieces
There are a lot of tracks from Toradora that I adore, including Yuugure No Yakusoku and Ameiro Rondo. What makes Lost My Pieces work out, however, is the fact that it plays at the climax of the series and stands for a mental shift in the main character as well as a tonal shift in the series. What else is interesting is that this is the only time the track is ever played in Toradora. It really shows how effective it was, considering the track’s popularity. When most people think of Toradora’s soundtrack they’ll think of Lost My Pieces. This is certainly that one track that will make you…feel things.
2. Clannad- Roaring Tides
This one is probably more arguable considering how many tracks in Clannad are severe tear jerkers. Personally, Roaring Tides has always been that one track in Clannad that would without a doubt fuck me up. There’s just something about that piano…and the…everything. It’s a very dramatic piece and man is it good at heightening the drama in Clannad. Of course, Nagisa and SnowFeild are very close seconds and I can’t forget to mention Town, Flow of Time, People; or Existence; or the goddamn ending Dango Daikazoku (why does this show hate us).
3. Fruits Basket (2001)- Secret
Fruits Basket has a generally wacky soundtrack that covers a variety of tones. However, if there is one track that could be associated with the darker moments in the anime, one that always played when one of the characters talked in depth about the zodiac curse, it’s Secret. This track is a little different from the ones in Toradora and Clannad though. This one’s purpose isn’t to make the viewer cry. I think the track only has that effect from a nostalgic standpoint; listening to the track on its own after the fact adds quite a bit of feeling to this one. Secret is more or less, meant to set the atmosphere. That, put together with how often the track was used, makes it one of the more memorable ones.
I can’t wait to add the reboot to this list.
4. Nana- Akai Ren
Nana’s soundtrack doesn’t get talked about that often even among its fans. I’m not talking about the vocal pieces that were played by Black Stones or Trapnest, but the background osts. The reason for this probably has to do with 1) the songs sung by Black Stones and Trapnest are on a separate CD than the background tracks and 2) there are a whopping 43 tracks on the CD of background tracks. Regardless, there are a number of tracks that stuck with me even after finishing the show and the best example of this would be Akai Ren, which made me cry EVERY SINGLE TIME it played. That piano still haunts me. What also haunts is the second ending, Starless Night. That one’s a close second.
5. Anohana- Secret Base
I’ve been avoiding using the openings and endings on this list, but I’ll make an exception for Secret Base considering it plays like a track in the background for emotional scenes on several occasions. I was considering using Last Train Home instead, but that track just…doesn’t hit the same way and isn’t utilized nearly as often as Anohana’s ed. Secret Base also has the advantage of not being played in its entirety until the most climatic and emotional part in the series (as if just a few seconds of the song wasn’t already enough).
6. Your Lie in April- My Friend A Will Be My Accompanist
We all know the soundtrack for Your Lie in April is amazing. Whether it be the classical pieces performed by characters or the rest of the soundtrack that’s left for the background, but I think My Friend A is a particular track that’s memorable and easy to listen to on its own. It plays often throughout the show and because of that, I think it’s the most identifiable piece in the series. My Friend A is beautiful. It doesn’t even need the context of the show to make it an emotional listening experience. If anything this gives context to the show.
7. My Little Monster- Tetsukazu no Kanjou
Not as much of a tear jerker as it is just an adorable track that I often come back to. Maybe it’s a more of a track that elicits happy tears? My Little Monster’s soundtrack reminds me of Toradora’s in the sense that they both have fun scores that feature mostly quirky tracks with a few emotional ones sprinkled in. For this series, it’s emotional one is Tetsukazu no Kanjou, which the show utilizes quite well. It often plays when the audience discovers something new about a character or see an emotional shift in them.
8. Snow White with the Red Hair- Reconciliation: The Beginning of Two People
The best word to describe Shirayuki’s soundtrack would be magical; it’s a true fantasy romance score. I was hesitant to mention this soundtrack at all because at first I felt that while Reconciliation is a gorgeous piece, it’s not overwhelmingly emotional, but I’m listening to it right now and have realized that
uhhh it’s very emotional and I don’t know what I was thinking. And looking back, this track in specific added a lot to scenes and did, in fact, bring up several emotions. While (maybe) not tear-jerking, the track would definitely have you gushing at how sweet and precious the main couple is.
9. Bloom Into You- Earnest Wish
You know, you hear a lot of piano in romance series. A lot of violin. A lot of flute. But clarinet? That’s not as common. This track really makes you wish there was more luckily, a lot of the other pieces on Bloom Into You’s soundtrack also have clarinet in them. Anyways, any moment Earnest Wish started playing…I knew shit was about to go down. There was usually some dramatic wind (oftentimes blowing Touka’s hair) when it started playing. Something new would be revealed about the character’s backstory or their insecurities. Good piece. Very good piece.
10. Kanon- Winter Fireworks
Kanon has the misfortune of forever being compared to Clannad and living in its shadow. Something I think, however, that doesn’t deserve to be compared to Clannad would be Kanon’s soundtrack. Its score is unique and successfully conveys a winter essence. Winter Fireworks is the best example, but there are so many other amazing tracks. I just [making aggressive hand gestures] really love it.
11. Your Name- Sparkle
Your Name is really good at using its score to accelerate emotional scenes and generally flow with the mood of the film. Its best example of this would be Sparkle, which plays at the climax and man does it work. The pace of the track has the perfect amount of energy to go along with a beautiful running sequence that was emotional as all hell.
So far I have only talked about tear-jerker tracks, but romances are also completely capable of having a track memorable by how warm and happy it is.
12. Toradora (again)- Startup
Startup is probably the easiest to remember/call out but I think Happy Monday is a really close second that no one talks about. Startup is used similarly to Lost My Pieces, though more often. Where Lost My Pieces plays at an emotional climax, representing a progression in the characters, Startup always plays when one of the main characters is making a stride to better themselves or their situation (hence, progressing the story). It’s a great track and does its job well.
13. Kaichou wa Maid Sama- Main Theme
Man, I could dance to this track. I remember always feeling giddy when this track started playing. You knew things were about to get exciting. It’s the perfect amount of fun and cheesy for a hilarious and sweet shoujo such as Maid Sama.
14. Princess Jellyfish- Umi to Tsuki no Yume
While it’s hard to stream the entirety of Princess Jellyfish’s soundtrack for free, there are a few tracks that are easily accessible on youtube. Umi to Tsuki no Yume is one of them and lucky for me, it’s one of my favorite tracks as well as one that seemed to stick out to others as well. It’s very befitting of the show’s flamboyant yet down to earth atmosphere.
15. His and Her Circumstances- Peace Reigns in the Land
I love every track from Kare Kano but this one especially left a mark on me. There’s plenty of lovely piano pieces that you could you point to as that one track but I personally find the tracks with trumpet solos and soft drums to be the charming point in its score. Peace Reigns in the Land normally plays sometime during the beginning of episodes and really leaves you feeling like everything is gonna be okay. As for accessibility to the soundtrack, there are a few tracks you can find on Youtube and I managed to find the entirety of the soundtrack here on Soundcloud uploaded only five days ago (so who knows how long it’ll be up).
Nisekoi’s production value was always too good for its own good and its soundtrack is no exception. I was torn between a number of tracks from Nisekoi to mention. Should I go with the sweet and warm Lost of Words that reminds me of summer? Or the fun and goofy Meirou I can still remember playing at the end of each episode years after watching? Or what if I go with the more bleak Nikuhaku to represent that one track that stuck out in the series? Well. It’s Meirou. Hate to be anticlimactic, but Meirou captures the tone and atmosphere of the series better than any other track in the series. It’s sweet but in a ridiculous kind of way.
17. Honey and Clover- Be Careful of Being Tricked!
I absolutely adore Honey and Clover’s soundtrack. It has an interesting range of instruments that gives it a unique charm. Be Careful of Being Tricked is no exception with its use of bongos, the organ, and acoustic guitar along with humming… It’s a good time. Bon Bon Bereppa was another track I thought of using for this list. Both tracks scream “How did I get myself in this situation?”. It was really hard to pick one over the other, to be honest. It came down to the organ.
18. Lovely Complex- Orchestra Na Risa
Generally, the score of Lovely Complex is goofy and a riot to listen to on its own. Orchestra Na Risa is one of the slower pieces, and a touching one at that. Somehow it manages to feel sweet and whimsical while still fitting in with all the other ridiculous tracks and antics in the show itself.
- Doukyuusei (the whole thing tbh)
- From Up on Poppy Hill- Kokurikozaka kara (theme song)
- Air TV- Natsukage
- Yosuga no Sora- Kioku
Now there are plenty of romance anime I have yet to watch and I hope many of them will make me think to myself “Wow, this would’ve made a great addition to that blog post I made about romance anime with good soundtracks”. There are certain anime I’m even prepared for. But for now, I’m just writing about what I already know [it’s not a lot].
Here is a playlist of the all the tracks I listed in this blog post
and here’s a playlist I made of all my favorite romance anime tracks that you can check out if you feel inclined.