While a fan of romantic comedies, I’ve often felt that they, intentionally or not, tend to “lessen” the value of other kinds of relationships. I find it difficult to immerse myself in stories where the characters don’t much exist outside of the main couple and their problems. It’s just as important to recognize the love between friends and siblings, so in celebration of Valentine’s Day, I’ll be listing both platonic and romantic pairings for my Top 5 Anime Duos of 2016.
1) Kae Serinuma and…Everyone?!
I may be cheating just a little with this first pairing. Kiss Him, Not Me follows Kae Serinuma as she finds herself thrown into a real-life “otome game.” After witnessing the death of a beloved anime character, Kae loses weight and becomes conventionally attractive – drawing the attention of four boys and even one girl from her school. However, as hinted by the title, our heroine is far more interested in seeing pretty boys being lovey-dovey with each other. While the love interests have their own reasons for pursuing her, it quickly becomes clear that as a group of friends, they work well together. Romantic or not, the chemistry between Kae and everyone else is refreshing to see in a reverse harem.
But let’s be real. Asuma Mutsumi is best boy.
2) Snow White and La Pucelle
As an avid fan of Black Rock Shooter and Puella Magi Madoka Magica, last year’s Magical Girl Raising Project drew my attention. Not only did this series leave me wondering which characters would survive to see another day, but opened my eyes to the first ever transgender magical girl to grace the anime world. That is, to my knowledge.
Protagonist Koyuki Himekawa realizes her lifelong dream of becoming a magical girl after being selected via a mobile game. During her first week as “Snow White,” Koyuki befriends a knight-like heroine named “La Pucelle” – and much to both her and our surprise, said heroine turns out to be an old friend. La Pucelle, otherwise known as Souta Kishibe, is in fact a young boy who has always shared his friend’s love for magical girls. Souta’s desire to be his own woman, fight for justice, and protect Koyuki are what cemented him a place as one of my favorite characters of all time. In turn, Koyuki’s idealism drives both of them to grow stronger as a crime-fighting team and as individuals. Their friendship (and near-romance) definitely deserve a place on this list even if it was cut short.
3) Mob and Arataka Reigen
There’s something about pseudo-parent characters that really appeal to me – and Arataka Reigen from Mob Psycho 100 is no exception. While a bit annoying at times, Arataka undoubtedly cares about his apprentice, “Mob.” Arataka and Mob respect each other as mentor and student, “father and son,” the latter finding his self-confidence with the former’s help. Our young hero struggles with his psychic abilities throughout the series, but in an analogy that I’m certain touched many viewers, his mentor equates such powers to a quirk. He reassures Mob that being superhuman is nothing to be ashamed about, and can instead, be used for good.
Through thick and thin, this odd duo is guaranteed to have each other’s backs.
4) Rem and Ram/Rem and Subaru
One of my favorite anime of last year was the time-looping madness known as Re:Zero. Unlike many shows in its likeness, I felt that Subaru’s misadventures did well to address the good, the bad, and the ugly consequences of being thrust into a new world. Twins Rem and Ram certainly don’t make his transition easy at first. But once we catch a glimpse of their old lives growing up in the demon village, we come to understand why the pair is so close. Though the younger Rem tends to stand out more than her sister, together they provide a deeply rich layer to the plot with a mix of envy, guilt, and love.
In addition to this duo, I’ve also decided to give Subaru and Rem a mention due to their amazing chemistry. While the former adores the female lead, Emilia, his treatment of Rem is far closer to what you’d see in a real relationship. Rather than put her on a pedestal, Subaru considers Rem an equal, a much valued friend. Rem, on the other hand, continues to support Subaru in his mission to win Emilia’s heart – even if it goes against her own feelings. To be honest, she deserves much better. At the very least, she’s emerged as the series’ most popular character.
5) Yuri and Viktor
Although I myself haven’t watched Yuri!!! On ICE (I know. Blasphemy.), it’s impossible to hear nothing of it. A friend of mine kept me well informed of the adorkable Yuri’s journey to the top, and it takes but a few minutes browsing on Tumblr to see everything Yuri and/or Viktor-related. While I still consider Nezumi and Shion of No.6 my favorite fictional gay couple, I commend the writing team behind Yuri!!! for portraying a healthy relationship in a genre that often perpetuates less than ideal stereotypes.