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But Baby, It’s Cold Outside

By Janet Houck     November 30, 2006


INUYASHA MOVIE 4: FIRE ON THE MYSTIC ISLAND
© Viz

With Colorado blanketed in snow and ice, my thoughts turn towards curling up in front of the fire with cocoa topped with whipped cream, and watching some warm and fuzzy anime with my loved ones. 

Many timeless titles fall under the general category of romantic. You have the slow movement towards attaining true love in Video Girl Ai, Maison Ikkoku and Kimagure Orange Road, all which are epic-long series with highs and lows that will have you rooting for the couples throughout the rollercoaster ride. You have love splashed with a hefty dose of slapstick (or more correctly, hammer) comedy in Ranma ½, Tenchi and Urusei Yatsura. After all, isn’t first love for third graders as being picked on a boy or girl in your class? 

Besides the classics, let me share some of my favorite series to cuddle up to and embrace my inner Harlequin soul. 

For destined love tied up in mythology, it’s definitely Fushigi Yuugi and Ayashi no Ceres (released in English as Ceres, Celestial Legend). Yes, the story (they have practically the same plot and characters: Naïve Magical Girl with Destined Fate falls in love with Bodyguard Boy, who has Magical Friends who help them and then pay the price, Boy and Girl get Together, Break Up, Together Again, Something Bad Happens, Everything’s Okay in The End) is amazingly clichéd, but it still works. I personally prefer Ceres’ version over the whining of Fushigi Yuugi’s Miaka. A rendition of this story can be found more recently in Inuyasha, former inhabitant of television screens and convention cosplay everywhere. (In case you didn’t know, I’m not a fan of Inuyasha; the shrill sounds of fangirls turned me off before I’d even seen an episode.) 

For lovers of Sailor Moon and other magic girl shows, try Pretear. You’ll fall in love with a cute girl with a Cinderella home life and a secret identity and destiny which involves intimately blending with her dominantly male guardians in order to use her demon-destroying powers. Or if you’re a sucker for girls in orphaned and penniless situations, you should already have seen Fruits Basket, the story of a girl adopted by a family with a secret curse: they turn into zodiac-based animals when hugged by someone of the opposite sex.  

If you drop the whole pity angle and just aim for maximum cuteness, you’re headed towards Pita-Ten, the story of a boy and his neighbors, an apprentice angel and an apprentice devil. It’s a nice story with a lot of gentle feelings and a lesson about friendship in the end. And then there is Kanon, the origin of the “Sad Girl in the Snow” meme (see Megatokyo for frequent examples). With a sequel currently airing in Japan, Kanon isn’t just a cute show without any plot, but it definitely focused a lot on artistic style over substance. 

Veering back to the more comedic side of the scale are the anime centered around students being “Hot for Teacher,” but not in the aggressive, over-the-top sense of pure comedic anime. I My Me! Strawberry Eggs (off-topic: I love that title!) has a comedic set-up, with a male teacher finding a job at a girls’ school with a female-only staff rule. With the use of complex clothing equipment and a voice-altering choker, he falls in love with one of his quieter students, and she with him, but not knowing that she is really a he. Their relationship is handled quite nicely where it could have been nothing but loud jokes until the end.  

For robot love, enter CLAMP’s Chobits. I didn’t have much expectation for this story in the beginning, but the one-sided, then two-sided love of a young man and his female robot companion who was erased before he met her drew me in. For a few minutes in the final episode, I thought that it really might not work out. Okay, so Chobits is My Fair Lady, Otaku style. That doesn’t make it any less of a great series to watch with a friend. 

DearS came out a few years after Chobits, and the designs look suspiciously similar, although the DearS are space aliens, not man-made electrical products. So if you have seen Chobits and want to see something similar, try a dollop of DearS. 

My final recommendation is one that wouldn’t appear on many lists, but I’ve always found it to be quite sentimental. Someday’s Dreamers is the story of a country girl moving to Tokyo to study to be a magic user. In Yumi’s world, magic users are just another variety of public servants, who perform magical services once the price has been paid and the paperwork filed. While this is ainly a coming-of-age story, romantic love plays an important role as Yumi’s final exam is to use her power to heal her instructor’s wounded heart, as he feels guilty for his girlfriend’s death. It’s an anime about the quiet, yet powerful love that drives people everyday. 

So as winter is blowing into your part of the world, have a hot drink and try out some anime titles to warm your heart.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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1 
dynames 12/1/2006 10:30:51 PM
Dissing Inuyasha because of pre-conceived opinions is just wrong. It's a great series. Plenty of action, good characters and a well-defined setting are strengths of this romantic fantasy.
glyph 12/7/2006 8:48:41 PM
I know that I should give it a try... maybe I'll use the kiddo as an excuse.
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