Building a Healthy Romance in Anime [OWLS Devotion Tour]

If you haven’t heard of OWLS before, it stands for Otaku Warrior for Liberty and Self-Respect. We are a group of content creators promoting the acceptance of everyone regardless of their disabilities, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. Each month with the help of pop culture, literature, and other forms of media, we explore real-world topics through these online tours, sharing personal experiences and analyzing pop culture.

If you want to know more about OWLS, you can take a look at the blog here.

When I think about some of my favorite anime couples, there’s not many that come to mind that seem healthy or realistic. Usually we have the ‘love is complicated’ couples that fall head over heels for each other quickly but deal with a lot of miscommunication and drama. We have the ‘will they, won’t they?’ couples that sometimes take an entire season to confess that they like each other which has some viewers (me) ripping their hair out in frustration. We have the couples that present one side as heavily devoted while the other is unaware or aloof. Sometimes we have a combination of different types, but mostly I hardly ever see a healthy romance play out, because it just doesn’t make for entertaining episodes to keep audiences coming back.

This is not to say that there are never healthy romantic relationships represented in anime. In fact, today’s post in exactly about that! In honor of this month’s theme for March’s OWLS tour, Devotion, I wanted to take a dive into the short-and-sweet anime My Love Story!!‘s leading couple, Takeo and Yamato, and their devotion to each other in a budding and healthy romance by breaking down what makes a real life relationship healthy and how their relationship fits the criteria.

March’s Prompt on Devotion: When we talked about fandoms, we show our appreciation and support by buying merchandise, cosplaying, writing fanfiction etc. In fact, our appreciation can end up looking like a sign of religious worship. For this month, we will be talking about how certain characters express devotion to others, objects, and values. We will also be discussing how devotion can turn into an unhealthy form of passion and obsession and the implications of that.

Contains spoilers for My Love Story!!


Brief intro: Meet Takeo Gouda, a tall and intimidating high school freshman who is a courageous hero to boys, but not a huge hit with the girls. With his best friend Makoto Sunakawa, Takeo attempts to navigate his lack of a love life. Unfortunately for Taeko, Sunakawa is every girl’s dream guy, much to Sunakawa’s disappointment. Comparing himself to his best friend takes Takeo’s confidence down a notch even though Sunakawa has shot down every girl who has confessed her love for him!

After saving innocent Rinko Yamato from a pervert on the bus, Takeo finds himself falling hard for the cute baker. However, he suspects that she is in love with Sunakawa. Putting his own feelings aside, Takeo decides that he will help Yamato win Sunakawa’s heart! But does she really like Sunakawa? Or are all those special treats really for Takeo? — Saturday Suggestion – Anime: My Love Story!!

The beginning or Takeo and Yamato’s relationship is very much in the vein of “will they, won’t they?” I admit that I usually get frustrated by these types of relationships, but I kept coming back to My Love Story!!, because I had to know if they were ever going get together! The pay off is oh so sweet if you can hang in there for a few episodes.

The devotion between Takeo and Yamato is so pure and so wholesome before they are even a couple. Takeo really likes her, but is so sure she actually likes his best friend Sunakawa, so he vows to make it happen for her despite his own feelings! Yamato simply continues to bring him treats and drop hints in hopes Takeo will notice her. But for an anime that’s so short and sweet, I’m going to try to dig a little deeper than just the “cute” surface.


Trust & Protection

In the very first episode, we witness Takeo protecting Yamato without even knowing her. While this is simply in Takeo’s personality, in Yamato’s eyes he was her hero. Not only did he protect her, but he also gained her trust. Yamato knew in that moment that Takeo was a good person which is why she chose to pursue him.

In a much later episode, Takeo first meets Yamato’s friends; he believes they will be as sweet and kind as she is. Unfortunately, they end up talking bad about him behind his and Yamato’s backs. They quickly change their tune when Takeo rescues them from a fire. Again, while it’s just in Takeo’s nature to help people, it shows Yamato that he can be trusted and will always protect her and those she cares about even if they aren’t very nice.


Respect & Kindness

Takeo has the utmost respect for Yamato. He even tells her that he will respect her physical wishes until she is older and more “mature.” While this leads to Yamato thinking that she isn’t as innocent as Takeo thinks she is, it ends in a mature conversation that lets Yamato tell Takeo her feelings about not being touched by him and that she does want to hug and holds hands with Takeo. It’s absolutely adorable, but also shows how much Takeo respects Yamato.

Sunakawa’s father’s surgery ends up being the same day as Yamato’s birthday celebration with Takeo. She tells him to go be with Sunakawa, because Sunakawa is more important than her birthday celebration. Yamato knows how deep the bond is between Sunakawa and Takeo and how important it is that Takeo be there for his best friend in his time of need. She respects their relationship, and is kind enough to take a step back when Sunakawa needs Takeo.

Sunakawa is a big part of Takeo’s life and has a role in his relationship with Yamato, too. They get along well and respect each other enough to give the other space to spend time with Takeo. Yamato even takes the time to invite Sunakawa on their dates and group dates in an effort to include him. And Sunakawa shows Takeo that she’s different from all the other crushes he had who would only get close to Takeo to get to Sunakawa.


Comfortable & Fun

Takeo and Yamato’s relationship ends up being fun as well as comfortable even with the little bit of drama that is stirred up outside of their relationship. In fact, I think it really starts with Yamato leaving her phone at Takeo’s when she brings him sweets as a thank you for saving her from the pervert so she could see him again. Speaking of sweets and baked goods, Yamato is a great baker and enjoys bringing Takeo (and Sunakawa) these treats each time they meet up. It’s a fun hobby for her and she enjoys watching Takeo eat them with so much enthusiasm.

I could go on to dissect more of the relationship between Takeo and Yamato, but this post would be too long, and you really should watch it for yourself! If you haven’t experienced an OWLS blog tour before, please check out the other members’ posts and their takes on devotion.

What anime relationships do you think represent a healthy dynamic? What about anime couples who express an unhealthy amount of devotion? Let me know in the comments below!

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