Hey there, fans! It’s less than a week from the 14th of February, and do you know what that means? Valentine’s Day! It’s the season of romance and all the cheesy goodness that it brings with it, be it in the form of Valentine’s Day-themed television episodes, rerun after rerun of every romance flick ever made and, of course, lovers giving each other tokens of their affection: everything from a bouquet of flowers to a bucket of KFC. So, for this week, let us all put down our oversized katanas, power down our mechas, and stuff ourselves on the infectious feelings of love that’s been invading the airwaves, candy aisles, and inboxes! Let us wander from the realm of masculine shonen and get in touch with our feminine sides! Let’s enjoy some of the best shoujo (literally “little girl”) and jousei (literally “women”) anime that’s been put out recently, just for this week leading up to Valentine’s Day!
5. The World Only God Knows
While not quite a shoujo anime, it does address a certain part of the otaku culture that relates to “romance”: the dating sim! This anime stars Keima Katsuragi, an avid dating-sim player and enthusiast (calling himself the “God of Conquest”), and Elsie, a broom-wielding demon that is attached to him as a part of a demonic contract. His mission was to capture loose souls in the hearts of girls, who have to fall in love with Keima in order to dislodge them. The comedic twist is that Keima is forced to use his dating-sim skills to woo real-life girls… with various levels of success! If you need a laugh with your significant other or at the silliness of the entire concept, this show’s for you! And if you needed more convincing, I’ve written about it before in this post.
4. Princess Jellyfish
Keeping to the theme of the otaku, there exists an apartment building lovingly called Amamizukan where a flock of female otaku live as a small, sheltered Sisterhood of relatively anti-social nerd girls. The main character is Tsukimi Kurashita, a jellyfish-loving otaku (thus the title), who, after a small mishap involving a jellyfish, becomes friends with an beautiful, cross-dressing (!) hipster called Kuranosuke Koibuchi. This causes some drama with the rest of the group in Amamizukan, as Tsukimi tries her damnedest to hide this fact, keeping him a her in order to be their friend. Oh, and romantic hijinks ensue as Kuranosuke falls in love with Tsukimi, someone gets sexually blackmailed, and Amamizukan becomes a target for some urban redevelopment! It’s cute, nerdy, and, in its own way, challenges the concept of identity and beauty while simultaneously making fun of those who rely on it as a means to their end.
3. Honey and Clover
Now we’re getting into the more serious stuff! This anime fits right into the category of jousei, or a show that’s definitely aimed at older women, as it focuses more on the serious side of interpersonal relationships, friendships, and identity. The show is set in an art college in Tokyo, and it features a relatively small cast of characters, the majority of whom are young college students struggling to keep up with their studies and their social lives. As much I’d love to delve into the various love triangles, friendships, and other intimate details that make this anime such a treat to watch, I cannot, as it would take up too much room, and would spoil the majority of the plot! A serious romantic anime, for serious people who their drama with cutesy visuals and a very soft art style.
2. Ouran High School Host Club
Where do I start?! This entire series is a parody of the genre itself, taking all of the tropes of every single shoujo ever made (even the concept of the harem is reversed here). From the more flamboyant tropes, like the incredibly lavish school setting and the rose petals that seem to blow in from EVERYWHERE, to the more subtle ones, like the homoerotic subtext shared (and exploited, in this series) by the male members of the cast to the obvious pandering to the estrogen brigade’s various fantasies, nothing is safe from this parody! And yet, despite it being the most unrealistic and exaggerated shoujo out there, I found myself liking Haruhi Fujioka, the main character, and her struggle to keep up with both the club’s wishes and the many, many advances she has to endure from Tamaki Suou, the leader of the Host Club who brought Haruhi disguised as a male host (yes, more cross-dressing!). Within the comedy are characters that you find yourself caring about, especially as they start to become more fleshed out, and, as this is the season for such a thing, the cheesy romance is SO GOOD. Pity it’s only one season though!
1. 5 Centimeters Per Second
Then we are left with this. I was kind of hesitant to bring such a work to the number one spot, as it specifically deals with love unsaid and unrequited, themes that are not usually wanted in the season for the amorously inclined. However, it is because it specifically deals with such pathos and deep suffering in such a beautiful way (the art and animation quality is unmatched by any other series or movie in recent memory), I’m inclined to believe that it sort of increases the emotional impact felt by those who have love by reminding them of the sorrows of those who do have it. As for those who don’t have anyone this Valentine’s Day, it’s a catharsis. Sorta. The movie is short, and is the combination of three stories about the distances, however small, that separate people, and the consequences that come from such separation. It has a melodramatic feel to it, appropriate for the season, and the characters, however throw-away their names are, are developed well and quickly enough to get the heartstrings twanging when stuff goes down.
So, with that gem of a movie tugging on your heart strings, here’s hoping that your Valentine’s Day goes better than you’d expect it! See you next week!