Whether you find yourself in a long-term relationship, the honeymoon phase, or a field full of gastro-intestinal butterflies as you plan your romantic confession; relationships come with a many number of complexities.
Here, we examine how the Summer 2020 anime uniquely presented each of their focal relationships and characters.
Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, Oregairu)
Finally drawing to a close at the end of its third season, Oregairu fans were both disheartened at the potential for another season, yet relieved that their war conscription would finally be absolved. The titanic bloodbath that was Yuigahama versus Yukinoshita saw fatal casualties on both sides. Now, perhaps, the keyboard veterans storming the chatrooms can safely return from the front lines.
While, on the surface, Oregairu appears to be another generic romance anime, incredible care was given to crafting these realistic characters. Yukinoshita is a tsundere but is willing to open up about her life? Yuigahama is bubbly but shows traces of selfishness and sadness? Hikigaya is a misanthrope but slowly learns to love? I’m sorry, can someone please call daddy Miyazaki and tell him to remove such complex characters from my slice of life harem anime?
Hikigaya had been growing closer to both Yuigahama and Yukinoshita over these three seasons. The first saw the pair of girls as nothing more than nuisances to Hikigaya. The second saw them cement their roles as love interests. Finally, now in the third season, we have a choice being made. Who did he choose? You better get watching to find out!
Kanojo, Okarishimasu (Rent-a-Girlfriend)
Where normally, the ensemble casts of harem shows are set in high school, Rent-a-Girlfriend presents us with University students just coming to understand life in the adult world. It was very enjoyable to watch a cast who do not explode into mushroom clouds of embarrassment at the concept of hand-holding. Instead; sex, drinking, and depression (the holy trinity of new adult life) are showcased extensively.
Having been dumped by his cheating girlfriend and being introduced to a slew of love interests through the Rent-a-Girlfriend app, Kazuya is forced into a fake relationship with one of the app’s members. The harem has all the tropes you know and love. We’ve got the tsundere Chizuru, the one from his past and ex-girlfriend Mami, the shy Sumi, and the energetic extrovert Ruka.
While Rent-a-Girlfriend possesses a lot more humor than something like Oregairu, the characters were not as one-dimensional as expected. Instead, each love interest is fleshed out and given motivations for their affection, rather than being in love for no apparent reason (I’m looking at you, Infinite Stratos)! If you want a more mature relationship exploration, that advances past high school level drama, Rent-a-Girlfriend is a great watch.
Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-)
With the power to return by death (that is; to rewind time upon suffering a fatal injury), you would think Natsuki Subaru would have more things on his mind other than who should be his girlfriend. If the first season of Re:Zero shooed audiences toward Rem, this season claps back having placed her into a coma for the better portion of the runtime; thereby allowing Subaru and Emilia to become even closer.
Emilia has always been doubtful of herself primarily due to her half-elf racial subjugation. However, Subaru is always there to fight in her corner and this comes to a head in this season. Being tasked with undergoing a rigorous trial in order to escape entrapment, Emilia fails several times. Yet, Subaru cheers her on relentlessly and comforts her after each failure - assuring her that the following attempt will harbor different results.
The relationship between Subaru and Emilia is deepened significantly in this follow-up season. While, in other Shounen anime, love is brushed off to the side, Re:Zero takes the romantic elements bubbling below the surface and uses them to influence its overarching plot. It is rare nowadays to see such a strong connection plastered over the backdrop of such a complicated and unique premise which, arguably, could have carried the show all by itself. Subaru and Emilia’s relationship is the cherry on top of the delicious sundae of delight that is Re:Zero.
Uzaki-chan wa Asobitai! (Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!)
Sometimes you don’t want a deep story, multiple characters to keep track of, or crazy mystical premises diluting a love story. Sometimes, you just want to relax and have a few laughs. Uzaki-chan delivers on the hilarity in spades! A simple story of a boisterous and energetic underclassmen’s attempt at lifting the spirits of her dejected and intimidating senior, resulted in so much more heartstring-pulling and funny bone tickling than we expected.
Uzaki herself is the star of the show and her mismatched personality when compared to Sakurai’s results in some hilarious interactions. Behind all of it, however, is the writer’s ever-present elbow digging into your side - nudging you with every passing glance or blushing reaction. “You think they’re going to get together? Did you see that!? They just shared a drink! That’s an indirect kiss, you know!? I wonder if it means anything *wink wink*”
Uzaki and Sakurai bring out the best in each other. Uzaki lifts him from his degenerate ways with her high-flying spirit, and Sakurai keeps her grounded with his level-headedness. Uzaki-chan is a great example of how complete opposites can come together to forge an attraction.
So, there you have it. Summer of 2020 had some stellar relationships explored through a variety of different genres. Let us know what Summer anime you were watching this year and who your favorite pairing was.
Whether you were in search of a long-awaited conclusion to an ongoing saga, a blossoming new relationship still in the early days of life, or a flirtatious pairing that gives hints for what is to come; these anime wonderfully portray all the intricate details that revolve around being in a relationship. Hopefully, these recommendations serve you well as you explore the meaning of ‘love’.
Or you could just be a horny casual and watch Peter Grill sleep with a bunch of monster girls.