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10 Best Things About Shonen Romance

CBR logo CBR 8/5/2022 Hannah Grimes
© Provided by CBR

Romance is a factor in nearly every anime, even if it's one that never allows its characters the downtime to think about such things, like in Attack On Titan. Anime doesn't have to be a romantic-comedy shojo or slice-of-life in order to have meaningful, well-written romance. In fact, in a genre as fast-paced and potentially deadly as the shonen genre, there are a lot of unique ways to write potentially romantic situations that can be even more impactful than their counterparts.

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A great example of this is Hinata's unforgettable, "I love you," to Naruto while she's standing between him and one of the most powerful villains in Naruto. Her lifelong crush is desperately crying for her to flee due to Pain being much more powerful, but she stands her ground because of just how much she loves him. This is just one example — there are many more factors that make shonen romance some of the best around.

Characters Are Willing To Die For Each Other Without Hesitation

There's a naturally strong bond between couples in any relationship, but this bond is intensified in shonen anime where characters' lives are frequently endangered. If partners aren't being separated from one another by missions or impending danger, they're being thrown onto the front lines together.

It's a common trope in shonen anime for one or both characters' true feelings to finally be revealed either right before an incredibly dangerous moment, or in the aftermath of one. And while it's been overdone at this point, it's still a sweet trope that can elicit strong emotions from fans if done correctly.

Viewers Feel Like Their Own Relationships Grow Alongside The Characters'

Many of the most popular shonen series have already been around for close to, or upwards, of two entire decades already. While it does mean that it'll take new fans a long time to get caught up, it also means that they'll get the experience of following the main characters for their entire lives.

Naruto is one of the best examples of this, as the main cast is followed all throughout Naruto and Naruto Shippuden, giving them ample time to grow and develop as the audience does alongside them. By the time many longtime viewers have serious relationships of their own, their children get to watch the characters' children grow in Boruto: The Next Generation.

There's Time For Many Satisfying Slow-Burn Tropes To Play Out

Even shonen series that are only a few dozen episodes long, like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, have ample time for satisfying slow-burn tropes to play out. One of the most heartwarming to watch when it's done correctly is that of childhood friends to lovers, as they realize just how inseparable their lives and feelings have become over time.

In Brotherhood's case, Edward and Winry initially act like they can't stand each other most of the time, but it's clear that the feelings are there buried underneath layers of playful jabs. By the end of the series, they're proclaiming their love for one another in an unforgettably dorky scene.

The Women Can Be Incredible & Powerfully Written

The shonen approach to romance is so refreshing because it's typically the woman who's the stronger of the two if she and her partner have to be compared at all. This is an incredibly welcome sight after being subjected to countless anime where female love interests end up falling into the helpless damsel-in-distress category.

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Since shonen anime is so heavily focused on action, there's a greater chance that the women in-universe will have devastatingly powerful abilities of their own in order to defend themselves. Characters like Izumi Curtis from Fullmetal Alchemist, Bulma from the Dragon Ball series, and Tsunade from Naruto are all prime examples.

Seeing Couples Work Well Together On The Battlefield Can Feel Intimate

In many cases, the adrenaline-pumping, life-threatening moments present all throughout shonen anime that don't necessarily seem romantic are the ones that help couples' bonds become even closer. After all, there's a lot at stake whenever a character is not only fighting to ensure that the series' Big Bad doesn't take over the world or wipe out humanity, but also fighting to ensure their loved one remains safe.

Whenever one member of a pairing gets injured, seeing how they work together to overcome their setbacks can be heart-warming as well. Riza and Roy at the end of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a great example of this, as Riza acts as Roy's temporary eyes and helps him aim his blasts.

There Are Tons Of Creative Enemies-To-Lovers Opportunities

Enemies-to-lovers is a standard trope no matter the genre, but shonen in particular is able to put explosive risks and twists into its villain-hero romances. There are two primary ways this trope is written, both with fantastic examples that left their mark on fans.

In some cases, enemies will have a toxic relationship before one eventually must end the life of the other, as seen with Stein and Medusa from Soul Eater. In other cases, the hero is able to make an impact on the villain's heart and bring about lasting change, like with Minene and Nishijima from Future Diary.

Love Can Drive Characters Past Their Typical Limitations

Love can drive characters to do things they otherwise wouldn't be capable of, but this limitation-breaking ability is one that's most obvious in the shonen genre. Hinata being able to stand up to her cousin, Neji, and remaining on her feet only due to Naruto's support is a classic example.

More recently, the relationship between Ymir and Historia in Attack On Titan has come to be beloved by fans for this same reason. After meeting and displaying their true selves to one another, Ymir and Historia are practically inseparable, and it's Ymir's influence that drives Historia forward and molds her into the confident Queen she becomes by the end of the series.

Their Relationship Can Be A Source Of Comfort In The Harshest Conditions

Oftentimes, characters within shonen anime are thrown into potentially deadly situations, regardless of whether they truly want to. This is especially true if they have some kind of obligation of service to uphold, like with the military, and characters are deployed away from their loved ones for extended periods of time.

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It's in these moments that they're able to remain calm and use the thought of their beloved and family to get them through whatever hardships they're facing. Maes Hughes proclaiming matter-of-factly that he can't die because he has a wife and child waiting for him at home during the Ishval War of Fullmetal Alchemist is a prominent example.

Love Can Be Found In The Most Unexpected Of Places

Everyone's more than familiar with the typical high-school slice-of-life or romantic-comedy relationship setup. Perhaps the fated couple meets outside of school, at a café or where one of them works, for example — but all of these potential meeting places are rather common, and only so many can be thought up before there aren't many fresh ideas left.

On the other hand, there are countless varied ways for characters to meet in shonen anime, like during the heat of battle or being trapped inside virtual reality together. Many of these first meetings also include incredibly high stakes that only serve to push the two characters even closer.

Watching Such Powerful Characters Fumble With Their Feelings Is Adorable

It's particularly endearing to watch characters in shonen anime who are strong enough to single-handedly take down a god still become incredibly flustered when they receive a compliment from their crush. There's something about the duality between being physically strong, yet emotionally sensitive, that's charming to so many people.

Incredibly cute moments spawn just after tense battles many times because of this, helping to cut through and ease some tension. A character could be on the verge of exhaustion after just taking down a particularly dangerous foe, before a few words of praise from their partner have them completely revitalized.

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