Takeo is a brawny high school student who hasn’t had much luck finding love. Whenever Takeo falls for a girl, she falls for his best friend Makoto instead. However, everything for Takeo changes one day when he rescues a girl, Rinko, from a groper on the train. For once Takeo’s feelings of attraction are returned, and a budding relationship is formed. My Love Story!! follows the misadventures of Takeo and RInko’s young love.
This is not a formal review, but rather a more intimate look at what the two of us found enjoyable or otherwise, collaboratively written from both our viewpoints. MementoMorie has written a wonderful AniTAY review for My Love Story!! Neither my wife or I had watched this anime prior to us watching it together.
A common trope in shojo anime is to tease out the ‘will they, won’t they’ portion of a budding relationship until the final episode of the show. It’s a cheap tactic to keep viewers hooked until the end when the characters finally express their true feelings for one another… and it gets old seeing it crop up in shojo after shojo. My Love Story!! breaks the mold and actually puts the two main characters in a relationship and then follows that relationship’s progression. While it doesn’t sound like much on the surface, this change of pace was so welcome and appreciated by us that it made us wonder why more shows haven’t taken a similar approach. It’s amazing that something as simple as having characters be in a relationship instead of wanting to be in a relationship could breathe so much life into a genre that runs the risk of getting stale by hewing too close to established conventions.
It’s a simple conceit: put a dense but loveable boy in a full-grown man’s body and follow his bumbling attempts at romance. While the budding romance is so simple and common that it could easily have been a bore to watch… inserting Takeo into the mix always brought a smile to my face. His character is so exaggerated that it takes the mundane and makes it unique. Everything about him works so well: the expressive character design, the top-notch voice acting, the pitch-perfect dialogue… it’s a shame that the rest of the cast of characters don’t have the same sparkle. However, I feel that this is by design. Takeo is such a bold character that he needs the laconic best friend, Makoto, to act as a foil. My Love Story!! straddles the line between absurd and familiar, and more high-octane characters would detract from the main focus (and best part) of the show: Takeo and his unwitting antics.
I really enjoyed watching Takeo and Rinko develop a sweet relationship. The best part about their relationship is the fact that it is so incredibly pure and innocent. Takeo is adorably oblivious to the fact that Rinko is as swept up by him as Takeo is by her. It’s this shared blissful unawareness that is the heart of the show. These two lovebirds are constantly worried about how the other is feeling and what state their relationship is in. They hold each other in such high regard and the other person’s happiness is of utmost priority. Really, isn’t this the ideal budding romance at its core that everyone wants?
Rinko makes it her goal to make amazing ‘sweets’ that Takeo will enjoy to the point that he barely chews any of the delectable goodies because they are so tasty. It makes her so happy to see the joy on Takeo’s face when he bites into a new recipe. It is so FLIPPING adorable. It reminds me of when I first starting cooking for my husband. I remember watching him intently as he took the first taste of a new dish that I whipped up. There was always the same stream of thoughts in my head, “I hope he likes it. I hope he likes it. I love him so much, so he’ll like it, right? It’ll taste great because my love supersedes any burnt edges, right?” He may not have swallowed my meals down cobra style like Takeo, but as soon as he gave me that happy sigh and a smile, my thoughts were put to rest and replaced by feelings of success and happiness. I imagine that this is how Rinko feels each time she bakes for Takeo.
At this point you might be wondering how a simple romantic comedy about innocent love can sustain itself for 24 episodes. This is where the secret weapon of My Love Story!! comes in: nearly all of the supporting cast members will be getting into relationships… and none of them mirror Takeo and Rinko’s budding romance. Instead, Takeo and Rinko’s romance is used as a foil against the relationships of the supporting cast to examine the differences between them. These aren’t ‘will-they won’t-they’ relationships either. Characters confess feelings for one another and these confessions play out to a logical conclusion, unlike how so many other shojo anime would cut to credits. Additionally, even though My Love Story!! is an incredibly upbeat story, not every side relationship works out or is happily resolved. It gives My Love Story!! a multifaceted and varied look at relationships that wouldn’t be possible if the entire focus of the show was the romance between its leads. Granted, these other relationships are happening on the periphery of the main plot, but they are a welcome addition that prevents the formula from getting stale.
As I stated before, My Love Story!! straddles the line between the absurd and familiar. Having Takeo in any situation naturally ups the ante. However, there are times where the writers take things a little bit too far. Takeo catches steel beams, jumps from burning buildings, falls off precarious cliffs, and performs other death-defying feats. While we understand that these scenes are meant to amplify the sense of Takeo’s superhuman manliness, their inclusion also had the added effect of breaking the immersion. Anime tends to skew towards the fantastic, but so many other elements of the show we’re much more grounded. We’re fine with Takeo being strong… but when he catches a steel beam that would have killed even Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime it takes you out of the moment ever so briefly. Honestly, this is really just a minor gripe. Overall My Love Story!! handles Takeo and the comedy of his amazing physical feats extremely well.
Takeo’s relationship with his girlfriend Rinko is cute. Takeo’s best friend’s older sister Ai having a crush on Takeo is not. The show makes it clear that Takeo sees Ai as a surrogate big sister, which makes it super creepy when it turns out that she has been lusting after Takeo since their childhood. Ai is introduced when she returns home with the express purpose of dating Takeo because he has finally entered high school. Ai thought it would finally be acceptable for her, a freshman in college, to date him. The situation feels predatory and weird. It’s nice that she does the ‘right’ thing and supports Takeo in his current relationship, but when she returns to the series she mucks everything up once again by creating a love quadrangle. Perhaps it’s because I like Takeo’s relationship with Rinko so much, or perhaps it’s because I found Ai’s interest in Takeo squicky… but the parts of My Love Story!! with Ai in them fell flat for me.
Because this is not an official Ani-TAY review, we have eschewed the normal review card.
My Love Story!! is a charming shojo that explores what it’s like to be in a relationship for the first time. There is no fan service, the humor survives translations, and the characters are entertaining.
While there are many visual flairs particular to anime, the characters and the motivations running beneath the animation are solid enough that viewers new to anime won’t get lost. If you’re looking for a great romantic comedy that doesn’t dwell on the ‘will-they won’t-they’ trope, you can’t do any better than My Love Story!!.
My Love Story!! can be watched on Hulu and Crunchyroll streaming services. My Love Story!! is based on a manga series written by Kazune Kawahara, illustrated by Aruko, serialized in Shueisha’s Bessatsu Margaret magazine. The series was adapted to anime by Madhouse and is licensed for regional release in North America by Sentai Filmworks.
Interested in watching anime with your significant other? My wife and I have written a guide based off our experience watching anime together that offers some tips.