While I’ve been watching K-On! just of late, it actually wasn’t what got me back to watching anime series. That honor (blame?) falls on Toradora!, which is part of my favorite genre, the high-school/college romantic comedy with love triangles more accurately represented by dodecahedrons.
K-On! would be an example of my OTHER favorite genre, the amped-up-cuteness Slice-of-life comedy. It’s basically Ichigo Mashimaro, just with musical instruments and older girls.
Anyway, Toradora! has a bunch of fun characters; you’ve got your male lead, who’s sensitive about his tough-guy looks and prone to outbursts of sudden housework, you’ve got your female lead, who’s 145cm, sensitive about… well, I’d say sensitive about her height, but really, sensitive about just about everything and prone to outbursts of sudden violence, and then you have the two characters who our main leads are actually in love with. The leads fall in hate more-or-less on first sight, but form an alliance for mutual assistance in landing the girl or guy of their dreams… and wackiness ensues.
It manages, I think, to pull off the “you think you know who’s winding up with whom, but are you really SURE?” thing for the majority of the series, which was fun. It has its big-reveal-all-the-characters-know-the-score episode a little early, which lets them do an extended ending that’s just about perfect, even if it does taunt the viewer for about an episode with the prospect of the characters doing something REALLY dumb that would probably have ruined the series for me if they’d decided to do it.
Anyway, if you likes your romantic comedies with a little deredere and a whole lot of tsuntsun, this is probably the one for you.
I’ve finally come up with, I think, the answer to why I watch tons of animated romantic comedies and shy away from most western live action ones; the Japanese have learned how to write RomComs for GUYS.
I mean, think about your average western romantic comedy plot. You’ve got your female lead, who is usually a hot actress they’ve tried to make into the mousey girl-next-door librarian type, like putting Sandra Bullock in glasses and a thick cardigan.
Give me a moment while I think on the topic of Sandra Bullock in glasses and a thick cardigan.
Anyway, she’s usually lacking in confidence.
She comes with at least one female friend who’s much better looking than she is and generally jaded on romance.
Moving right along, the male lead in your average western RomCom is, let’s say, rugged. Attractive, confident, either financially secure (if the woman is broke) or down-to-earth (if the woman has money). He’s almost perfect, he just needs Sandra Bullock to fix a couple of little things and fill up the gaping hole in his life.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not targeted to my demographic.
The thing with shows like Toradora, or Kanon, or most of the other romantic comedies I’ve seen recently, is that pretty much everyone is lacking in confidence and/or lightly-to-moderately broken in some way, and there’s a kind of mutual confidence building thing that goes on among the main characters. Also, they’re usually built up with a small army of characters, so the relationship develops in the middle of a community of friends, rivals, and onlookers, and you get subplots revolving around everyone elses’ own personal quests for The Right Guy, or Girl as the case may be.