Friday, February 15, 2013

Fusion post: Top 5 Anime/Manga Couples

Hey there audience! 

In the spirit of ol' Saint Valentine (you know, the guy who was beheaded in Rome for marrying lovers in secret in opposition to the tyrannical rule of Emperor Claudius the Cruel?) Alice and I have gotten together to present our own personal Top 5 Anime/Manga Couples!

Now, Alice brought up a pretty good point when we were talking about the idea, we are guys and girls. In fact, I even think that it is safe to say that about 92% of all anime watchers on this planet are boys and girls.

So, not only will our lists and opinions differ semi-radically but the way that our readers will be looking at this lists might also play into this here... We will just have to see!

If we haven't included any of your favorites, we likely have not seen the anime that the couple is featured in. So we apologize in advance for that! 

We had hoped to post this on Valentines Day, but because science beckoned and we got into our writing/perfectionist modes, we came a bit late.

So without further adeu, we dive into the world of the animangaverse to ask the question "What is love?" and to ultimately decide from our viewing/reading experiences who plays that game the best.

Here are your countdowns
 offered by your very own dynamic duo: Alice and AvatarHippo!

We both hope you enjoy!

AvatarHippo's List: 

Honorable mention: Oji Karasuma and Tenma Tskumoto [School Rumble]

Alright, before all of you run off to your sheds to grab your pitchforks and torches, let me elaborate.

Before I start the actual list I wanted to put this couple down as an honorable mention apart from the list because I reflected a little about these two while I looked for screenshots for the next entry. And... it looks like I have arrived at a different conclusion about these two in the end.

Because romance...
Karasuma is, for lack of a better term, very... strange to say the least. And Tenma... REALLY is a clueless ditz who pursues him for a reason we could only hope to find in some alternate universe where vapid and emotionless personalities are sexy.

But, this (all in all) is probably what makes the relationship work for me at the very end because they both end up changing A LOAD at the very end.

The relationship throughout the series (in the anime) is incredibly dull, infuriating or hopeless (you guys take your pick -_-). It all consists of Tenma hopelessly pursuing a guy who for some unknown reason never seems to notice her.

I want to, however, take focus off of the anime and dive into the manga with this couple because, while the same events do occur, we do not really understand Oji's side of the relationship.

All is revealed by the end of the 260+ chapter manga and... I am really surprised to say that I was really impressed by the ending.

While I don't think one incredible ending exactly fixed the first infuriating 15/16ths of the manga where I had to watch a poor innocent Tenma become rejected again and again and again (to the point where it actually just got kind of sad), I wanted to mention this couple because there was more to meet the eyes between these two and that the drive of this one little Tenma can possibly inspire a person to overcome... some pretty impassable obstacles.

I would recommend reading the manga to see the ending that gave this awful-looking couple the honorable mention position I put it here for. You won't be sorry if you are a patient and forgiving bunch xD

#5: Kenji Harima and Eri Sawatchika [School Rumble]

NOW we move onto the actual list and the good stuff!

... Though I think I can hear sharpening stones spinning because not only is this couple from the same anime/manga as the previous entry, they both look like an awful couple at first glance and... well you will see.

To start off, both of the characters are on the total opposite ends of the social spectrum. Kenji Harima is a down and dirty delinquent gangster and Eri Sawachika is a rich spoiled "princess". Yea yea yea, I've never seen THIS set-up before...

But, cliche backgrounds aside, the magic of this pairing is that... they are on the opposite ends of every spectrum!

The reason I say this works is that they compensate for each others short comings quite beautifully. Harimas tenacity and positive outlook on life fills in Eris relative insecurity and fear to act and Eris class, reserve and understanding of people greatly help Harima with his general thick-headedness his tendency to act before thinking. And this is only to name a few of them, I could go on and on.

In the scenes that they are both in, they work incredibly well together and I just end up loving every panel/scene they are in together for many different reasons.

... However, you will not see the picture I just painted when looking at this couple once you see them interact for the first time. They frequently argue, bicker and become entangled in just about any misunderstanding they come across. But hey, that's what you get when you deal with an anime that centers it's comedy around misunderstanding I guess.

But seriously, these two just go AT each other and to be fair, it is both of their faults.

It should come as no surprise that Harima wants to become Tenma's main squeeze and his passion to reach his goals ends up making him become totally oblivious to about everything that is outside of that path to his love interest.
Why? Why couldn't you just shut that stupid devil up?

Cue Eri! She ends up falling for him and falling for him hard. But her problem is that she can never sum up the courage to tell him about her feelings for a wide variety of reasons.

Kenji may be my favorite male character in the history of fiction (seriously) but I do know all to well that this guy is just about as thick headed as Tenma.
Despite Kenji's  thickheadedness and Eri's... tsundereness, Kenji always manages to do all he can in order to assist her in all she ends up experiencing throughout the manga and anime.

They both share some pretty incredible scenes both in the anime and the manga (although I prefer the completeness of the manga) and I think all of those scenes demonstrate how genuine their chemistry is.

All in all, they both make a hard-to-forget pair and a memorable one in my opinion and by the end, everything between them is ended on a positive note.

Well... there is a reason why fanfiction exists I guess.

#4: Homura Akemi and Madoka Kaname [Puella Magi Madoka Magica]

Alright, I hope that after this one, the angry mob will stop pounding on my front door because again, this is a strange pair.

In fact, there is so little footage of them actually being together in the anime doing anything that could remotely be called affection that I literally had to go fan art hunting to put on this section.

So... why am I supporting a pairing where a love between the two isn't even shown very often? Hear me out, this pair is incredible for a few reasons.

First off, I will have to go out and SLIGHTLY spoil something in order to explain.

Homura and Madoka both become very close to each other because of the same fate that the two are entwined to as magical girls. You will not see their interaction very much at the beginning of the series... nor in the middle and, heck, not even very much around the end... that is until you get to episode 10 of this 12 episode series.

Uuuugh, the worst part about writing things like this are avoiding these spoilers! I am having a REALLY hard time trying to tell you how great I think this couple is without spoiling the greatest parts of the series!!!

Just know that there is a lot of perseverance and effort into preserving a friend of hers. And trust me, Homura's efforts are literally reality bending and world breaking.

And it is all because Madoka initially helped Homura to gain the courage and ability to change to become something much greater than what she could ever possibly become on her own.

And apparently I am not the only one who thinks that this couple is so great! Apparently a Japanese "film affiliate" literally BOUGHT the above image from the latest movie of the franchise depicting Homura and Madoka nuzzling.

And I am DEAD serious about this too. It is literally gone from the web and I only managed screenshot this one from a defunct Google Images link.

Still not convinced? Here is a receipt of the online auction results.

Ah... the things an otaku will do for love...

I won't use the crazy move this guy did to validate the relationship between these two characters, I will let episode 10 do that for me. Homura did quite a lot for the sake of just "friendship"...

In conclusion, they are a couple bound together by an inescapable fate and the things they both and up doing for each other over the course of the series just still catch my heart by a string watching them again. 

#3: Welkin Gunther and Alicia Melchiott [Senjou no Valkyria: Gallian Chronicles]

"Awww come on, I was just sketching some fish..."
So now that the mobs are gone, I am going to dive into my first of my favorite pairing's that actually became a couple in the anime, Alicia and Welkin.

Both of these two characters are set in a fictional version of our world. The year is 1935, at the dawn of an alternate version of World War II. Shit. Goes. Down.

The premise itself is kind of interesting and the setting is also really engaging because of its ties into contemporary themes such as racism, war and why we really fight amongst our own kind.

BUT what are complex themes doing here? I am here to talk about couples! And I am here to present the dynamic duo that the story follows!

 The two are nothing more than lowly civilians when they are both simultaneously caught within the gargantuan conflict between two superpower nations during the war. Sure, Alicia may be holding a gun in that picture but she only started recently holding that thing since the war started.

The two end up joining a militia together in their tiny nation of Gallia after their hometown is totally overrun by the East European Imperial Alliance (the bad/red guys). The two fight their way through a war against the enemy under a personal agreement between the two to reclaim the land that was once safe and precious to them and ensure that it will remain safe and precious for coming the future generations.

What I really liked about their relationship was that it was built from the ground up among the shambles of destruction being total strangers from the beginning. Heck, Alicia even accused Welkin of being a spy from the enemy in their first meeting and threatened to shoot him!

I think that this, being strangers with reason to distrust one another, made the fact that they would both be serving in combat for the first time together, dependent on each other, all the more powerful. Because of the conflict going on, they only have each other to hold onto and trust as they form their militia to fulfill their mutual goals.

The two were always just a joy to watch together on screen. The comedy between the two was definitely not one of the primary factor of their chemistry but... it definitely helped. 

They are not over-the-top hilarious like most anime couples of the romance genre are these days but they have a lot of very meaningful moments as they practically create a world together. They give each other strength and hope for a better tomorrow no matter how dire things get in this progression.

And trust me when I am saying that is A LOT when you see some of the shit that goes down.

#2: Okabe Rintarou and Makise Kurisu [Steins;Gate]

I have been looking forward to talking about these two for a quite a while because they combine many of the aspects I enjoyed from the previous couples all wrapped up by the fact that they become a couple within the series~! (... well sort of)

Aherbullshitmmm... *cough*
Let me begin by saying the chemistry of these two characters are unmatched by any other on this or any list. These two become either a total riot or an emotional experience whenever they take center stage together.

They play off of each other's weaknesses very well; whether exploiting the hell out of these weaknesses for their own amusement or protecting and compensating for each others shortcomings. They both are two very strange looking halves that come together to form a very beautiful full and complete shape.

When it comes to what their relation actually amounts to, we can easily turn to their roles. In my opinion, despite how similar the relationships are in the broad perspective, their bond manages to top the one created by Homura and Madoka. (I wouldn't dare elaborate as to what these similarities are though because they are just... Oooooashfbjasklbfjasklslsnk *fangasm*)

While the relationship between Homura and Madoka was somewhat lopsided (with Homura putting most of the effort into it), the roles of these two are balanced to perfection. Okabe ends up doing a great deal of work and ends up dealing with a lot of the worst this series has to offer in terms or tragedy, but Makise is always there to give him someone to trust and support (and to support). The way that she actually handles Okabe always manages to put him into a good mood or snap him back to his usual mad scientist-ey self, something to help raise him up when he is in a world of hurt.

And BOY does he really get into a world of sad...

Again...This all sounds so horribly vague, I wish I was just talking to a group of people who have seen the anime right now so I could just go into all of the details I can but unfortunately I can't...    -_- (firstworldproblems)
Dude seriously, this scene is electric. Once you see this,
you won't ever see anything else quite like this!
But! Take my word for it when I say that these two have everything you could possibly want in an anime couple: hilarity, wittiness, cuteness, support, growth, sentimentality and most of all motivation.

The two keep each other in check, make sure the other is alright, safe and happy... and then proceed to act like their usual selves and prod and stab at each other's weaknesses like any familiar group of people would. 

#1: Arima Souichirou and Yukino Miyazawa [Kare Kano]

So here it is, my creme de la creme of anime couples and it is one you may not have even heard about.

I just REALLY want to relay the message that I am not doing this to get away from the mainstream, I am talking about these two because I want to present what I think is the most realistic and touching story between a romantic couple I have ever had the pleasure to experience.

Now, these two... What sets them apart from all of the rest is not the fact that they are from completely different backgrounds because we see plenty of that in lots of couples. They are set apart from the rest of the couples, in my opinion, because of their distinct situations and the fact that they both come into the relationship totally unprepared.

They both, in their own respective ways, live their lives as lies and essentially come to trust in themselves and live their lives with truth and confidence. (... explained in a nutshell)

Another worthy note, (this is not a big spoiler here in a 26 episode anime) the characters get together and actually engage in a romantic relationship very early on in the series. (If I remember correctly it may have been episode 4, I am not totally sure)

This, I believe, deviates from the "usual" where, in my experience, the anime closes with the main couple getting together and confessing their love and therefore allows the pair and the relationship they share to develop as the series progresses in front of us rather than in fanfictions written after the confession.

And that is exactly what this anime is all about, (no not fanfictions -_-) the development of not only the relationship between these two but getting over their own personal obstacles and developing past them.

Like I said earlier, this anime is very realistic because people who get together for the first time are far from perfect and they usually come into a relationship hiding things from the other person that they themselves are insecure about or not really sure what to make of their "condition".

The two have twists and turns, highs and lows and lots of other things that a lot of us have or will experience in relationships such as periods of separation. And hey, every anime/manga has those but these plot twists and turning points aren't necessarily brought on by an external force or a power, they are all primarily brought on by their own insecurities, doubts and emotions. That is really powerful because in the end, that is what dictates all of our relationships and that roller coaster ride that we always expect to experience when going through one.

Their relationship captures all of the feelings and steps of any relationship you and I would have and handles it all very realistically almost to a point where it is scary or saddening. And I know I haven't talked about their chemistry nor their personalities very much, but I totally refuse to. You will just have to see for yourselves what the magic of these two characters are. At some point, I know that most of you guys will relate to at least one thing between the two of them.

In the end, Arima and Yukino make the question known: "What happens after the confession?" and for that alone, I can't give them praise enough. But they both just give us so much more to relate to and to meditate on that I can't help but fall in love with what these two characters end up finding about each other, what they form together and most importantly, finding themselves in their respective partner.

Expect to hear from this anime again by the end of the month. I really really just got into the mood to watch it again. This is probably the most highly recommended anime to watch for February because it show's the audience what love is and how it really works. I do have to give the fair warning that the anime is kind of dated due to it's age, but I certainly hope that it is not much of a problem because, even now, it still looks like a beautiful anime in terms of imagery and design to me.

I hope that my couples list was not too vague for you guys. If you find these descriptions a bit lacking if you know about the couple, it is just because I wanted to save what I thought were the best bits for all of you guys to discover.

With this, AvatarHippo is signing off and I will leave it to Alice to kick my pairs in the keester. For she is the master of romance. Until next time!


Alice's List

5.) Mizushima Aoi x Hariya Riku (Koishi Tagari No Blue):

I remember reading this in the plane on my way to China. The two Asian men I was in between were staring at me while my face went through all the emotions this manga brought.

Before I start this, I just want to mention that this is a relatively unknown manga, so anyone whose reading this post right now, go out and read this manga! It's great.

Anyway! On to the lllooovveee. 

Within the first four pages of this manga it's pretty obvious that these two will end up together. I mean, it's the typical "be my fake girlfriend" set up. We all know it's a bad idea and that it'll just end up in the two falling in love with each other. But, what we didn't expect was the turmoil that this deception would bring.

Even after Riku breaks up with Aoi
he still tries to protect her.
Each of them tries so hard to give each other up, just so the other will be happy. There's a certain type of love that is so strong where a person thinks more about their loved one than themselves ..and this is exactly what these two have. Regardless of the pain, and sorrow, and heartbreak that will come from doing what they did, they knew that the other one would be happier because of it. 

And to be honest, these two are particularly great together because they went through so much heart break- at each other's hands none-the-less.

 Riku had to choose between something he had visioned and wanted since he was in middle school, and something that was right in front of him. Aoi, on the other hand,  had to choose between a great, great guy who would do absolutely anything for her, and the man she truly loves. It's an incredibly bitter-sweet manga because, aside from the main characters, the secondary characters involved with both Riku and Aoi were so great. Even Aoi and Riku saw that. It was a sort of lose-win situation with their love, because they were both in two very fulfilling and real relationships. In order for Riku and Aoi to be together, they would need to hurt someone they dearly loved.                                                                             

P.S- I'm trying really hard not to give too much away. There's just so many twists, character revelations, surprises, etc.  so I apologize if this is a bit jumbled. 

4.) Kirito x Asuma (Sword Art Online

This was one of those romances that kinda just happened. While watching the anime you got so into all the drama and deaths and fights that it brought with every episode that you don't even expect there to be romance. 

Frankly, Kirito came into the game as a way to escape reality, and when the game became his prision, it looked like his only goal was to beat it and get out. He isolated himself from guilds and communities and focused on just leveling up. 

It wasn't until episode 11 or 12 (I'm ballparking here, so don't get mad if I'm wrong) that the series really took a turn in a new direction. 

Asuna, one of the very few competent and high leveled woman players, came into the picture. And the mix of her guarded, strong personality and Kirito's laid back, yet passionate attitude blended perfectly. The two cleared dungeons together and worked as a team for the benefit of all the other players. 

Kirito's "I work for no one but myself" ideals took a 180 degree turn, and he started looking at SAO and all it's players as life more than a game. He and Asuna even bought a house and got married (in-game). They even end up having what could be looked at as a daughter. 

But what really makes this couple so special is the way they fight for each other. This isn't a typical romance where the biggest problem in their world is finding the right chocolates for Valentines's DEATH. Whenever a player dies in this world, their mind literally shuts down, taking the rest of their real life organs with it. So you can imagine how tough and careful they had to be in this world. Even Asuna and her kickass awesomeness saved Kirito's ass a few times. 

They literally risked their lives in order to protect each other. Defining in-game laws and doing what seemed like the impossible- beating the game. Their passion and love drove them to extreme lengths to protect and save each other. Even when they were back in the real world, their love never faltered. 
It helps that they're both insanely competent
and hot

I'd have this couple as number 1, if only Asuna hadn't been used purely for the sake of near tentacle rape in Season 2. Other than that, Kirito may be my favorite male in a romance series...Ever. I've never had a series focus so much on the guys point of view, and I've never seen a character as passionate as Kirito. This show is a must watch. 

~those feels. Tears were shed for days and nights while watching this.   

3.) Koyama Mitsuki  x Kira Takuto (Full Moon wo Sagashite

So beyond the incredibly melodramatic tone this anime has, the romance and story progression was absolutely beautiful. From the looks of it, this anime seems like it's going to be a happy go lucky, possibly magical girl type anime. But it's not. That adorable girl with an angel's voice...yeah, she's gonna die. And those cute people with animal costumes beside her? They're shinigami, and are there to kill her when the time comes. IT'S DAMN DEPRESSING.

Until you get to the very end, that is.

I just love him so much
But the whole series is practically about these two shinigami trying to protect and make Mitsuki's dreams come true. Takuto, whose in love with Mitsuki, even puts up with her heart being stuck on Eichi-kun, while fighting off the deadly memories of his past life that Mitsuki's presence brings. (note: if a shinigami remembers their past life, they disappear and become a wandering spirit) 

So this couple is kind of the protector-protected style romance...until the protector becomes the one that needs protectingNow, without giving too much away, I can also say that these two hold a bond far stronger than any bonds I've ever seen before...In any series. And that's when the fun stuff comes in.

When Mitsuki finally realizes how much Takuto has done for her, she finally...FINALLY allows herself to fall in love with him. But the thing that really made this romance for me was Takuto. He loved Mitsuki with everything in him. He'd give the world up for her, and in the end he pretty much did. 

Luckily, even depressing, tear-jerking, bawl worthy series have to have a happy ending!

Unfortunately, most of the series focused on Takuto's love, and Mitsuki's inability to move on and sort out her feelings for Eichi. I'd talk more about their relationship, but beyond the indirect signs of affection from Takuto to Mitsuki, there's not much more to say. Except that all the suspense and jumbled feelings makes for an even greater ending XD

Here's an example of a small difference between the
anime and the manga. I think I prefered the manga more just because of this moment
**If you guys want to know more about this series you can check out the posts I've done on it. I would recommend both watching and reading the manga. Both of them differ in the ending, but you need to watch series so you can hear the absolutely gorgeous songs this series offers** 

2.) Mogami Kyoko x Tsuruga Ren (Skip Beat)

If any of you have read my Skip Beat posts, then you all know how I feel about this couple. 

I fan girl ssoooo much about these two. No, they aren't technically a couple, but one day Kyoko will get her head out of her ass and Ren will stop being a passive agressive pussy and they will finally be together. I mean, to Japanese standards they've practically had sex. 

Kyoko and Ren have such a strange relationship, but it's insanely cute. None of us really have any idea what's going on in Kyoko's head- whether she's still hung up on getting back at Shou, or finally opening her heart up to Ren, her emotions and thoughts don't reflect her actions at all. She's fight the feelings she has for Ren in her head, but in her heart she acts so endearingly to him. It's some of the most real and raw feelings I've seen in an anime. I've never gone through an agressive way of showing a guy I like him, like the typical tsundere girl. But I have had internal battles between my head and my heart, just like a ton of real, down to earth girls (and guys). 

As for Ren, he's already battled off the demons that stop him from loving, but now he has even larger ones to deal with. And he puts his entire life and every inch of trust into Kyoko while he does so. He choses her over a deadly past. 

It's just such a beautiful, real romance. It's refreshing to see a more sophisticated romance than the typical high school shoujo series. The two of them are perfect for each other. They care for each other for real reasons, not superficial ones like typical shoujos, and they are willing to trust and support each other to their fullest extent. Again, beautiful.

**if you want more on Skip Beat! you can read my posts by clicking here**

1.) Honda Tohru x Sohma Kyo (Fruits Basket)


Fruits Basket...who hasn't read this? This...this....this masterpiece of a manga is mainstream for a reason, you know? 

In my opinion, Tohru and Kyo have the most meaningful relationship of all the other couples in this list. Tohru has this amazing personality that's able to tear down any walls people build between themselves and others, and Kyo is the epitome of an emotionally unavailable guy. He's spent so much of his life in isolation, and his whole family views him as an outsider. He's the black sheep of the zodiac family (or I guess orange cat in this case XD) 

But the amazing thing about these two is that they both hold the answer to each other's loneliness and heartbreak. It takes forever for Kyo to realize it, but he's the only person who can help Tohru start to heal after the death of her mother. His cute, shy, and genuine acts of affection with her fills the missing part of Tohru's heart. 
Read my blog post on this moment by clicking here 

And Tohru is the one who allows Kyo to open up to both his family and accept himself as the smexy cat that he is. She sees beyond the "monster" that the family thinks he is, and seems him for who he is. 

Unlike most series, they don't develop a relationship expecting it to turn into something romantic. Once Kyo warmed up to Tohru, it became more of a friendship and emotional support thing than an affectionate, touchy relationship (not like they could have that either). 

And as for that curse that keeps them apart? It just makes their relationship stronger, and their hugs even more special. 

And last but not least, that ending. When has a manga ever had such a meaningful ending? Aside from the whole romantic aspect of this manga, the character devolpment and growth was the highlight of this series. It showed how each of these cursed characters overcame the shackles that held them back from being happy.

There's nothing more I have to say about these two, because everyone knows just how special this relationship is. There's no more explaining to do but that. If you haven't read this manga (and anime, but the anime doesn't do it justice) DO IT NOW! 

Honorable Mention: Maron x Chiaki (Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne)

Our Valentines Day Conclusion:

Anime couples always seem to hit a heart string more so than real-life couples, and even movie couples. Why? Because the readers get to become a part of this love. Instead of just watching two characters fall in love, we get to feel all the joy, see all the emotions, and support them as they sort our their feelings and learn to truly love one another.

If I've learned anything in reading this post, it's that love isn't about the flowers or the jewelry or even the romance as Valentines Day suggests. All of these couples support each other. They protect each other. And most importantly, they genuinely care for each other, even if it's done in an aggressive manner. They could just be friends, or even rivals. But the connection between them is obvious. You can tell that they see each other for who they are, not what their image suggests or their reputation distorts. 

And I think the fact that there's a bond formed before the whole romance begins is what really sets all these series apart from the stereotypical romance genres. It gives good reason to why these couples are together; beyond the shallowness of usual couples. 

So for those of you who didn't have a special someone for Valentines Day, you can always live vicariously through anime ;) 

*Note*: For new updates and an anime friendly environment feel free to like us on Facebook! 

*This is AvatarHippo speaking*: We are attention whores so I will freaking destroy you if you don't <3

Happy Love Month from Anime/Manga Addict to you,

Alice <3



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