Closure in Anime Romances


I swear, people think I’m kidding when I say True Tears is one of my favorite romance shows.

Not to say that their response is unwarranted – I mean, True Tears isn’t really a masterpiece in its own right, but what I’ve always looked for in the field of love and angst is that bit of resolution that puts to rest most (if not all) things stirred up in the span of how many episodes. If the guy or girl ends up with someone, whether it’s with the childhood friend, the eccentric girl, the unrequited admirer, or whoever, then I’m fine with it. Even if it’s the opposite end of the spectrum and the people involved separate or they break up and eventually move on, I’m fine with still. I hate seeing tacked on romances being played as just that; tacked on.

Closure, is surprsingly rare from the side of romance anime that I’ve seen as of late (haven’t seen that much of ’em, but I think shoujo romances get a free pass ’round these parts). Which is why I worded this post title like I did. I’m not saying there’s lack of resolution with shows tagged as romance. Rather, it’s the open-ended romances formed in shows not necessarily in the romance genre. I dunno, I guess I feel ripped off at times. Like, how episodes can be devoted to these two characters only for the show to end with the same two characters at the same place they started at. No progress. So why even put the attraction there?

Kanna.. You deserved betterA quick example I can pull up is Ano Natsu de Matteru from last year. Not purely romance, but it does use it as a means of advancing the plot. It also sports the all too common two boys is to three girls ratio that everyone knows is bound to go wrong somewhere. One of the show’s lenghtier build-ups (implying there was a few), was the dilemma of the interested classmate Kanna, whose feelings are directed towards the main guy, but at the same is the target of similar feelings of her childhood friend Tetsurou. What happens between the two of them? Well, by the end of the series they’re back to bickering with each other like good friends would. Yeah, sure, they’re blushing now but what was the four or so episodes of drama worth then (which really worked against the show in my opinion as it featured one of the best confession/confrontation scenes out there).

I guess it’s the idea of investing time into following the development, possibly even liking it for yourself, only to have the rug pulled under it at the last minute. At the least, that’s how it is for me. I suppose you can call me a big believer in OTP’s (though I more often than not root for the other girl, lol), but as I said, as long as there’s any form of reciprocation of fluffy feelings befitting the springtime of youth, then I have no complaints.

Do you guys feel the same? Or, do you think that closure isn’t always the end we want to have?

11 thoughts on “Closure in Anime Romances

  1. For me, what I look for in romances is the aftermath, not so much who ends up with who. In general, it’s not good to get hung up on one pairing/option in a harem show because ultimately most of them work so long as they’re executed well. If it’s done well enough, it’s fine even if the main couple don’t end up together. Granted, though, Ano Natsu shows how frustrating that is when done poorly.

    I prefer shojo/josei-targeted romances (Kare Kano/Kimi Wa Pet) because they go beyond the ending/confession scene by a fair amount, showing how a couple changes each other and evolves over time. It’s not exclusive to those demographics; the first season of White Album and Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien did a pretty good job with relationships that were actually underway. To be honest, I feel a little ripped off whenever a confession is something that only occurs in the last episode and “Did they end up a couple?” is the only question the show ever answers. There’s still a whole lot more to explore at that point that many anime just exclude. It’s not like they lack for time; most of the 4-episode arcs of Amagami SS had the characters dating by episode 3.

    • I suppose generalizing the conclusion to a romance as “who ends up with who” is a bit too much on my end, as there is as you said, aftermath (which is also well and good in my opinion as well).

      My main thing with shoujo/josei romances though is that it reaches points of passivity and indecision more often when compared to plain romances. Kimi no Todoke had this for a good half of the entire series (in the series’ defense though, I am aware that doing so is meant to show how much Sawako needs to develop).

      You have to wonder as well if it is in fact worth ten, fifteen, or twenty-four episodes just for the main guy to say “Yes, I would love to go out with you.”.

      • I don’t know if Kimi ni Todoke, with its super-shy protagonist, is really representative of the average shojo-targeted romance. In both Kare Kano and We Were There, the main couple is an item by episode 5. More recently, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun had a shared confession in the second episode. That’s not true of all anime, but in general I’ve found that the main couple gets together more quickly (especially relative to the total length of the story) in stories targeted towards a female audience. Granted, there isn’t a ton of shojo anime made today owing to the fact that female buyers tend to lean more towards shows like Kuroko and Free.

        What I do think, though, in regards to characters pairing up, if the show’s done a good job of making me care about the characters, I’ll want them to end up happy. If they’re going to not end up together without a damn good dramatic reason, I will end up frustrated. The thing about Kanna and Tetsurou for me wasn’t so much that they didn’t end up together as that they spent a lot of time at the end of the show on a weird-ass chase scene and didn’t spend real time on justifying or even clarifying their final status one way or the other.

        • Just goes to show how much I know about shoujo romances then 😀 Tonari was a mixed bag in my opinion (haven’t read the manga though), wherein the progression was indeed fast in terms of determining who likes who, but left little to be desired afterwards (granted, their “relationship” was meant to be peculiar at best). Found myself rooting for Natsume and Sasayan half-way through the series.

          True, and I guess the post didn’t reflect this sentiment as much but yeah, as long as the obvious loose ends are tied in some form or other, then I will see them off with a smile. AnoNatsu just laid the drama a tad bit too thick that it couldn’t be brushed off as “I said how I felt and I’m glad” kind of ordeal, and using a comedic cop-out (excusable though, since it really is a rom-com) just didn’t fit the bill. Compare that mess to, say, ef – a tale of memories, where everyone might not exactly be “happy”, but at the least they’re somewhere.

  2. *high five* I loved True Tears as well!

    Anyway I do feel that closure doesn’t work for many type of series. I’m fine with it if it’s a “pure romantic” story like True Tears, but in most romantic comedy it’s better to go for an undecided ending…:P

    • Oh yeah 😀

      For the most part it won’t really work with just added on romances (i.e. shounen love interests) because, well, they won’t really do much in advancing the plot, plus, these romances tend to be not good anyways. As for harems and rom-coms I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s “better”, but the good thing about it is they put the focus on a higher percentage with the girls instead of the one guy. I just wish that one guy had a specific someone he liked by the end is all

  3. The funny thing about romance focused shows, especially the more standard ones – chances are, even if there are a lot of girls introduced, the main heroine, or one with the most “main heroine-like” feel, will usually be the one the protagonist pick by the end of the series. Granted, I don’t watch a lot of romance focused shows but from what I watched (titles like Toradora and True Tears, etc..), I assume this hold true. Though anime like Amagami or Yosuga no Sora is a different matter due to their original material (visual novels) and the nature of their anime adaptions, in which they opted for different branching routes for different girls just like visual novels.

    • Pretty much, yeah 😀 (although, with True Tears, Noe was given the more main-heroine role, but she didn’t end up “winning” >_<).

      The main couple is at least guaranteed some sort of development by the end of the series, but it's the other characters who get involved that always get the short end of the emotional stick quite often (and the usual suspects are, as you said, shows that originate from VN's). Toradora barely made it work when it settled things between Ryuji and Minorin (not so much with Ami). Another show that sort-of compromised within itself is Clannad, wherein it was After-Story that sealed up all the loose ends.

  4. personally I never root for a character in a romance show at all. I’ve watched lots of shows that centers around a love triangle but I never once rooted for a character over the other (I don’t know,I just think it’s a bit stupid.No Offence to anyone though).I thought that All the shows I watched ended with the right paring even though I usually ended up preferring the other ones .

    I also love true tears a lot and I think that it has one of the better love triangles(I never even once considered true tears a harem though because the third girl had a bf and her own side story unlike say Toradora for example ) and I didn’t really mind the ending in true tears because both girls were equally developed in my opinion.

    I dislike omnibus format.I consider anime like photokano and yosuga no sora an absolute fail due to the former being so plain and the latter being filled with unnecessary almost hentai sex scenes though I heard that Amagami is good .

    • None taken 😀
      I think reading harem-ish manga made me like that. It’s not so much that I root for the character I like to “win”, it’s just that I don’t really like the other characters altogether. Out of the three heroines in true tears I only did like Noe, but I understand why she didn’t end up with Shinichiro by the end of the series.

      It really is, along with the ef series – which I think is equally as good if not better. If the ratio is 2 boys to 3 girls then it’s not really harem I think.

      I’ve never tried omnibus shows to be quite honest. The idea alone kinda turned me off. Usually these also feature a rather “transparent” main dude too.

  5. Pingback: Closure in Anime Romances – Corrolary: NagiAsu | Leap250's Blog

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