“I guess being able to date you, with all these people around us, is kind of like a miracle… I think I’ll hold on to this feeling and try not to regret it”
– Rinko Yamato
My Love Story!! (Ore Monogatari!!) follows Takeo Gōda, a tall and muscular student who doesn’t have much luck with women. Every girl he likes ends up falling for his best friend, Makoto Sunakawa, who is charming and good-looking. This all changes when he saves Rinko Yamato, a petite shy girl, from a groper. Yamato falls in love with Takeo, beginning a unique love story.
Review: / 5
Initially, I ranked this show at a four after my first watch through. However, after seeing many shoujo/romance/high school/comedy/slice of life anime series, I’ve bumped it up to a 4.5! This piece is incredible. It’s taken the slot for my favorite romance anime from Your Lie in April.
The majority of the complaints I see for this show stem from supposed “improper pacing”. But frankly that’s just dumb. Okay, dumb is too harsh and I can be more polite. It is, at minimum, too accepting of cliches and genre tropes. To say “the couple get together and then nothing happens afterwards” is an irritatingly shallow observation and denies the fundamentals of the show. The writers don’t tease us for 23 episodes with the standard maybe they’ll get together plot line and a climactic ending episode which attempts to answer that question. They don’t slap a “and they lived happily ever after” on the characters’ love.
Instead, the series explores the complexities of forging and maintaining romantic relationships. How do we allocate resources between platonic relationships and romantic ones; how do we juggle our time between activities such as work, studying and clubs, with socializing; how to manage conflicting emotions like jealousy and care for another’s needs.
Furthermore, it does this through the structure of an innocent and young perspective. These characters are still growing, still figuring out themselves and their opinions. How do we know what we feel? How do we communicate and act on those feelings? How do we cope with social pressures and expectations from our loved ones?
Branded as an innocent, good girl, Yamato struggles with desires she deems “impure”, even though many of us would disagree. She chooses the path of silent suffering and self-shaming, but ultimately she causes pain to Takeo as well. He often thinks and says he cannot help her–despite how he wants to– if she does not tell him what is wrong. However, once she reaches out for help, namely from Suna’s older sister, she is able to express her wants and needs.
Yes, her character is a cute, somewhat quiet, tiny, pretty girl, where pretty much everything about her screams kawaii. However, she isn’t reduced to her cuteness. She still has her hobby, baking, and her goal, to be a great pastry chef. She has genuine character flaws, namely hiding her feelings and opinions as in the scenario we looked at earlier. Her growth, while not immense by any means, is genuine and she is in no way underdeveloped. Rather, her characterization is gradual and mild, mirroring most human growth and offering greater realism.
Also, can we just appreciate how we’re given multiple hairstyles and outfits for Yamato?
Isn’t she just the cutest?
But really, what this shows is a commitment to small details. Takeo, too gets multiple shirts, my favorite being ‘mountain’. It may not seem like much, but the series becomes more believable. Outfit changes weren’t condensed into the beach episode! Can I get a hallelujah?!
Takeo isn’t your typical male lead, especially not in shoujo. Those lips. That nose. Them sideburns that you could light a fire and cook on. His hulking physique shatters genre and audience expectation, and while it’s true most girls aren’t attracted to Takeo and prefer his classically-beautiful best friend in the show, he finds in Yamato a heart that truly loves him for who he is, inside and out. Presenting him in this way acts as a refusal to fall into the svelte-yet-athletic body type we force onto young men. Takeo represents many of our underrepresented teenage boys and ushers forth a proclamation of body image acceptance.
What else? Well, this series offers us a cast of three main characters—
Wait, I thought this was a romance anime. Certainly you mean two with a developed support figure.
No, my friends, I mean three beautiful main characters. our lovely third wheel sunshine boy is even on the opening cake, lurking in the background:
Suna is the best best friend. He offers unyielding support to both Takeo and Yamato throughout the series, despite his seemingly aloof nature. And just as Takeo can’t control his burlish body, Suna, too, cannot control his beauty. While many of us wouldn’t think prettiness as a problem, Suna demonstrates the occasional shallowness of human nature. Many girls are attracted to him physically, but make no attempt to understand him personally.
And it is Suna, not Takeo, who is most isolated in the series. Guys tend to hate him because all the girls like him. Girls don’t bother trying to be friends because they want something more from him. If not lonely, it must be intensely secluded. Takeo is the only character (apart from Yamato) who wants nothing but friendship, and it is this friendship Suna cherishes above all else. He turns down numerous advances, not because he’s a conceited, handsome brat, but because those girls dis Takeo behind his back, stating: “Who would want to date girls that talk smack about your friends?”
Beyond these three characters, a fair amount of screen time is dedicated to flushing out the supporting cast and side plots. Friends and family get a substantial portion of the show, which is refreshing. Takeo’s parents are very present as well! Doubly refreshing! Among these characters, are of course, other romantic alternatives for our love birds. While love rivals are super over-used in anime, they make sense. These love triangles appear naturally, and the motivations behind them feel justified.
The rejections are handled well, though it would have been interesting to see some form of sway or conflict from our characters. The straight refusals are slightly unrealistic and is my one complaint of the show. It’s possible to be attracted to another while you’re in love, and to choose your love over that attraction. There was room for more of a commentary on love being a choice, rather than just a feeling, and it’s something I wish our writers had explored in greater detail.
Ultimately, it’s fantastic. Super cute with deep bits if you’re looking for them. Well done!
Watch on, annieme-niac!