Anime shows young romance can be both silly and realistic

Every anime season is filled with its share of love stories. Moreso than most western shows, young romance anime never feels afraid to give us a more realistic take on young love, with all the strange ups and downs that theme gives us. While not every depiction is without its issues, the result is usually a story that isn’t afraid to show a more flawed, grounded take on young romance.

Anime offers a more realistic take on young romance

Young romance anime in tomo-chan is a girl

The thing about young people is that they are, almost without exception, absolute idiots when it comes to matters of the heart. That isn’t their fault, of course; they suffer from the twin ailments of lacking experience with love that would give them context to what is happening and being so riddled with hormones that they often can’t think straight. They’re more likely to make silly mistakes because of these two factors, which can result in either drama or hijinks.

In the best cases, it will result in both.

Young romance tomo chan is a girl fist bump

Tomo-chan is a Girl! gives us a brilliant take on both these aspects of young romance in anime. The titular heroine is a muscular, tall, energetic young woman, which is exactly why we love her so much. She’s confident in matters like fighting or playing, but romance is something that escapes her. The more level-headed object of her desire, Junichi, isn’t much better. When she first confesses her love to him, he panics, puts her in a headlock, and calls her “bro” to try to diffuse the situation.

That’s an exaggerated take on the foolishness of young people in love, but it isn’t entirely outside the realm of possibility. When every step in the game of love is new and scary, panic is natural. The result is either overthinking everything to the point of inaction or doing whatever feels like the quickest way to diffuse the awkwardness of the situation.

Overthinking is the constant strategy of Miyuki Shirogane in Kaguya-sama: Love is War. The recent film, which picks up after the couple’s long-awaited first kiss, shows Shirogane constantly analysing the situation, resulting in an analysis paralysis that is the crux of the film’s tension. He is so busy trying to figure out where he stands with Kaguya following the dramatic embrace at the top of the school that he misses the obvious cues that all she really wants is for him to hold her bloody hand.

Anyone who has been in a new relationship has felt the pressure not to overstep boundaries while they explore new territory together. Are they the kind of couple that even holds hands in public? Or do they continue to maintain a physical boundary between them? Watching Shirogane struggle with this is both hilarious and deeply, uncomfortably relatable for almost every person watching.

My Dress-Up Darling is probably one of the best examples of this analysis paralysis, with both Gojo and Marin being chronically incapable of putting their feelings for each other into words. This show offers us a look at the dangers of this situation. The manga shows what happens when your inaction goes on too long, with our two cosplay-obsessed nerds becoming too comfortable in their current relationship to allow it to progress to the next inevitable stage.

I always enjoy seeing how anime handles the awkwardness of young romance because they’re not afraid to let it be awkward. Whether they’re played for laughs, drama, or a delightful mix of both, these are the moments that we can all relate to. Love is a messy situation to find yourself in when you’re older; it is positively chaotic as a young person. It’s good that anime isn’t afraid of showing that side of things.

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