The Problem with Romance Anime

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I have officially given up on romance anime. This isn’t because all romance anime is bad, though I personally think it is, but because I don’t like the romance genre in general. I haven’t enjoyed any romance novels I’ve read, I haven’t enjoyed any romance films I’ve watched and I honestly think romance shouldn’t even be a dominant genre in media at all. This doesn’t mean I hate it as a sub-genre or romance subplots in anime, only so long as they don’t become the main focus of the series.

The majority of the anime that I still have on my list ‘to finish off’, and have for some time, or I have plainly just dropped completely are dominantly of the romance genre. The few romance anime I have watched to the end are because someone adamantly stated that I should or because there was some other gimmick at the end of the series that made it more interesting. Even in these situations, I have come off these anime feeling like I have not enjoyed myself and have wasted my time. Now let me explain why by pointing out some problems that most romance anime have.

toradora23One dominant problem with romance anime is that the different relationships and characters are so incredibly unrealistic or very unlikely. Love octagons or colorful-haired harems that fight over one guy are not realistic, characters whose whole lives revolve around one relationship are not realistic and plot events specifically catered to draw together two characters who shouldn’t be together, or break apart two characters that should be together, are unrealistic. Another problem is that the entire premise of the story is a first world problem. Why should it matter to me if these characters don’t have the social skills to work out their relationships?

I mean I know love can make some people retarded but even in anime you should never go full retard. Finally, there’s a rule that stories need conflict and most conflict in romance comes from emerging relationships rather than relationships that have been going on for a while, therefore almost every romance anime is about relationships that are beginning and never about conflict between couples that have been together for a while. Adding to this, most of the  anime about young people is set in some kind of school, the most common setting in anime!

sakurasou-no-pet-na-kanojo-08-23In the end, I hate romance anime, whether it’s depressing or feel good or a bit of both, it generally comes down to the frustrating will they, won’t they question and as the famous comedian Patton Oswalt said; “All romance should be called one thing; trying to fuck. In this anime this guy and that girl are trying to fucking, in that anime this guy and this girl are trying to fuck. Will they fuck? Probably! From the creators of ‘Meh’ and the directors of ‘Nye’ brings you Err…” (Paraphrasing)

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Other ‘The Problem with’ Posts:

The Problem with Horror Anime

The Problem with Comedy Anime

The Problem with Slice of Life Anime

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28 Responses to The Problem with Romance Anime

  1. Black Rabbit says:

    I utterly hate romance Anime and manga I will not read or watch it,I highly prefer horror like Tokyo Ghoul,Deadman Wonderland and Corpes Party

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  5. fiddletwix says:

    While I really hate romance movies and novels, I do partake in romance anime and manga. While it’s far from my favorite genre, some stories I’ve found can be pretty damn sweet. I definitely see your views on the genre. In fact, your post made me realize that, when it comes to romance anime, I almost always end up just really hating one character or another or hell even the whole cast simply because they’re complete idiots or just horrible people that are made out to be our main protagonists or just simply likable characters. Name any romance anime that I’ve watched and I’m certain I can name one character that I ended up just full-on hating by the end. It’s like many romance anime don’t know how to make a story without ending up making it way too cheesy and sweet or creating terrible characters for the sake of conflict.

    I will say that if there’s one genre I’ve completely given up on it’s harems. It’s all the problems of a romance anime with loads of cliches, ridiculously setup fanservice, unrealistic and predictable plotlines, and usually flat and unmemorable/unlikable leads who will obviously end up together. I don’t like to say that I’ll never give a show a shot, but I just really cannot take another harem.

    • Lazarinth says:

      ‘Name any romance anime that I’ve watched and I’m certain I can name one character that I ended up just full-on hating by the end’
      Kokoro Connect?

  6. Everyone has different tastes. If you don’t like a specific genre then avoiding it makes sense. I don’t like 90% of romances, but occasionally I stumble across one that thaws my icy heart haha.

  7. I wholeheartedly agree that romance should never be a central focus of a story or that the plot should have more interesting points to it. There are only so many ways couples can fall in love, and most of them are covered, which causes romance stories to be very repetitive.

  8. Silvachief says:

    I think you’re right that we’ve put the nail in that coffin for good 😄 We’ve talked about the lack of anime featuring existing relationships as well, and I completely agree that the “will they, won’t they” approach to romance is radically overused. Still, I enjoy it when it’s done relatively well.

    One point, though. If realism in anime is what you want, you’re going to have a bad time =P Granted I get exactly what you mean.

  9. mirrorpurple says:

    But…but… Romance tho… *sniff sniff*

  10. somethingaboutlynlyn says:

    I’m just a curious reader, but which romance anime have you completed?

    I am a fan of romance and rom-com genre in anime and manga, but I get where you are coming from. Sometimes these story lines aren’t realistic enough.

    • Lazarinth says:

      This is hard because I’ve watched a lot that I know I’ve missed out here but the ones I remember are Toradora, both Clannads, Nagi no Asukara, Fruits baseket, Ef, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, Anohana though I guess that’s more drama and Kokoro connect and anything in my recommendations list you would consider romance which is probably none. This doesn’t touch on the amount of anime that I didn’t finish and I tried to get at least 10 episodes in with the others before I said ‘fuck this’ and dropped them. Try me, considering your tastes, I’ve probably dropped anime you would consider masterpieces.

      • somethingaboutlynlyn says:

        Oh man, “Try me, considering your tastes, I’ve probably dropped anime you would consider masterpieces,” sounds like a challenge. But I can’t think of any recommendations that would satisfy you.

    • Lazarinth says:

      In a way, I’d be surprised if there were any that weren’t on that list people would consider as up there. I was just seeing if I’ve watched what people consider the best of the best of romance anime.

      • somethingaboutlynlyn says:

        Well to me, Clannad was the best of the best. I’ve watched Air which is based on another Key visual novel, but I wouldn’t recommend it though.

        I don’t know what people consider the best of the best though. We all have different opinions, haha.

    • Lazarinth says:

      Oh! Clannad is an almost perfect example of what I put in this post of; ‘plot events specifically catered to draw together two characters who shouldn’t be together, or break apart two characters that should be together’ for overly contrived emotional affect.
      Spoilers!!!!
      I mean his wife dies, his daughter dies and at that point I wish he’d raised a dog that got run over on his birthday so he could sobbingly sing happy birthday to himself as a rain cloud specifically targeted on him began to pore down soon followed by him being mugged and then stabbed to death in the street. I hope this exaggeration shows the affect I’m talking about.

      • somethingaboutlynlyn says:

        What you said reminded me of the movie, John Wick.

        Okay, now I am curious. Did you watch School Days?

    • Lazarinth says:

      See! I knew I had forgotten a few romance anime I had watched to the end, and what an ending! I have to say that anime went from utter shit to holy shit in less than one episode.
      Funny, I actually liked John Wick, but then I do like the action genre. And it’s getting a sequel!

      • somethingaboutlynlyn says:

        Haha! So is “utter shit to holy shit in less than one episode” a good thing?

        Yeah, I actually enjoyed that movie too. It was action packed from beginning to end. I really liked the concept of that hotel he was staying in there though. I am also excited for the sequel.

    • Lazarinth says:

      As I said it was the ending. A somewhat unique ending doesn’t really make up for the rest of the series being utterly shit.

      • somethingaboutlynlyn says:

        True. The ending is unique. I interpreted it as them heading to their demise, or the other world, hell because they have no hope in their current world.

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