Valentine’s Day isn’t a happy holiday for everyone. In fact, it can be downright depressing. To avoid the misery, some run away from the love stuff on February 14th (out of sight, out of mind), but for me, even when I was a lonely single, I still always embraced the day as I drowned in nostalgia and ached with what-might-be’s and what-might-have-been’s.
If you’re going to go that same route and let the romance of the holiday consume you, why not do it with anime? And while anime all too often doesn’t go all the way, officially bringing a boy and girl together at the conclusion of the series, and fans have to settle for shipping their favorites, there are a few pairs that do get together and make for some wonderful couples. Here are some of my favorites (warning: there are spoilers ahead):
1. Sawako and Shota, Kimi ni Todoke
Don’t you just love them? Sawako is such a wonderful character—voiced perfectly, oozing with authenticity and kindness, and so so funny and sweet. But Shoto is her match. He’s the perfect guy, right? He has everything going for him, but doesn’t let popularity change him; from the very beginning, Shota sees Sawako for who she is and treats her with kindness in an environment (high school) that can be very ugly.
I admit it, though—I haven’t read the manga. I know, I know, I need to catch up and see what happens as they figure out what it means to be a relationship!
2. Yugo and Aki, Silver Spoon
There’s so much to like about Silver Spoon, and right at the center of all the goodness is the relationship between Yugo and Aki. These two are far from perfect, and the series isn’t afraid to drift away from idealism. Yugo starts out really messed up and grows steadily along the way, while the more we get to know Aki, the more we see her flaws (and I would argue she’s intentionally drawn as only somewhat pretty rather than as stunning). We root for the two to get together, but not as fulfillment of romance, but as the next step in what each can become.
3. Sakura and Syaoran, Cardcaptor Sakura
Recently, a close friend of my became engaged with someone she first dated long ago. Sometimes it takes a long time for a relationship to reach its pinnacle, it conclusion, its consummation. For Sakura and Syaoran, it really didn’t take that long in CCS time (a year or two?), but for the audience, it took more than fifteen years for our couple to officially get together (movies, companion series, and fan fiction aside).
And that’s part of what makes the Clear Card Arc so much fun, to see these two interact in a new light, and it’s beautiful because they’ve each grown so much, both as people and together in friendship and now into couplehood.
4. Ko and Aoba, Cross Game
Ko and Aoba may be my OTP— the one true pairing. Mitsuru Adachi’s calling cards are baseball and, well, death. When portrayed in anime, neither sports stories nor shocking deaths are typically the stuff of subtlety, and yet, Adachi’s story is so quietly compelling among the noise of loud characters and big games, and the growth of Ko and Aoba are so authentic and real. They don’t go on fake dates or throw jealous tantrums; they don’t even seem to like each other for most of the series run. But we know that beneath the veneer is a powerful connection between the two, bound by someone they both loved dearly. No need for talk about the red string of fate or romantic sequences with tearful music: these two have something deeper. Something real.
5. Tomoya and Nagisa, Clannad
If you know our blog, you probably could have guessed this last couple. Clannad After Story, with how it deals with loss, redemption, parenting, marriage, and relationships, grows more prominent in my mind as the years pass, as does the couple at the center of it. What a picture of two broken people—Nagisa with her sickness, anxiety, and fear, and Tomoya with his anger and abusive past—coming together and helping to heal each other through pouring on of compassion, grace, and sacrifice.
Clannad is a fairly long series, and it may be hard for today’s viewers to sit through a four-cour series that is light on action, but it’s absolutely worth it to see the journey these two take, and even further through Tomoya’s eyes as the last six or seven episodes move into territory so rare and unique in anime, and ever so meaningful and real.
Again, these are some of my favorite couples in anime—if I had given my ships (those pairings that I love seeing together, whether canon or not), you might see an entirely different five! But now it’s your turn! Tell me your OTP or some of your favorite anime couples/ships!